Using Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 imagery for estimating cotton crop coefficient, height, and Leaf Area Index

Gregoriy Kaplan, Lior Fine, Victor Lukyanov, Nitzan Malachy, Josef Tanny, Offer Rozenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In cotton, an optimal balance between vegetative and reproductive growth will lead to high yields and water-use efficiency. Remote sensing estimations of vegetation variables such as crop coefficient (Kc), Leaf Area Index (LAI), and crop height during plant development can improve irrigation management. Optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite imagery can be a useful data source since they provide synoptic cover at fixed time intervals. Furthermore, they can better capture the spatial variability in the field compared to point measurements. Since clouds limit optical observations at times, the combination with SAR can provide information during cloudy periods. This study utilized optical imagery acquired by Sentinel-2 and SAR imagery acquired by Sentinel-1 over cotton fields in Israel. The Sentinel-2-based vegetation indices that are best suited for cotton monitoring were identified, and the most robust Sentinel-2 models for Kc, LAI, and height estimation achieved R2 = 0.879, RMSE= 0.0645 (MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index, MTCI); R2 = 0.9535, RMSE= 0.8 (MTCI); and R2 = 0.8883, RMSE= 10 cm (Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI), respectively. Additionally, a model based on the output of the SNAP Biophysical Processor LAI estimation algorithm was superior to the empirical LAI models of the best-performing vegetation indices (R2 =0.9717, RMSE=0.6). The most robust Sentinel-1 models were obtained by applying an innovative local incidence angle normalization method with R2 = 0.7913, RMSE= 0.0925; R2 = 0.6699, RMSE= 2.3; R2 = 0.6586, RMSE= 18 cm for the Kc, LAI, and height estimation, respectively. This work paves the way for future studies to design decision support systems for better irrigation management in cotton, even at the sub-plot level, by monitoring the heterogeneous development of the crop from space and adapting the irrigation accordingly to reach the target development at different growth stages during the season.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108056
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Crop coefficient
  • Eddy covariance
  • LAI
  • Synthetic aperture radar
  • Vegetation indices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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