Aarhus University Seal

Vita Antoniuk

Spatiotemporal Winter Wheat Water Status Assessment Improvement Using a Water Deficit Index Derived from an Unmanned Aerial System in the North China Plain

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Agricultural droughts cause a great reduction in winter wheat productivity; therefore, timely and precise irrigation recommendations are needed to alleviate the impact. This study aims to assess drought stress in winter wheat with the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) with multispectral and thermal sensors. High-resolution Water Deficit Index (WDI) maps were derived to assess crop drought stress and evaluate winter wheat actual evapotranspiration rate (ETa). However, the estimation of WDI needs to be improved by using more appropriate vegetation indices as a proximate of the fraction of vegetation cover. The experiments involved six irrigation levels of winter wheat in the harvest years 2019 and 2020 at Luancheng, North China Plain on seasonal and diurnal timescales. Additionally, WDI derived from several vegetation indices (VIs) were compared: near-infrared-, red edge-, and RGB-based. The WDIs derived from different VIs were highly correlated with each other and had similar performances. The WDI had a consistently high correlation to stomatal conductance during the whole season (R2 between 0.63–0.99) and the correlation was the highest in the middle of the growing season. On the contrary, the correlation between WDI and leaf water potential increased as the season progressed with R2 up to 0.99. Additionally, WDI and ETa had a strong connection to soil water status with R2 up to 0.93 to the fraction of transpirable soil water and 0.94 to the soil water change at 2 m depth at the hourly rate. The results indicated that WDI derived from multispectral and thermal sensors was a reliable factor in assessing the water status of the crop for irrigation scheduling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1903
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by International Cooperation Project from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2017YFE0130500).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • evapotranspiration, fraction of transpirable soil water, irrigation requirements, UAV, water deficit index

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 314235177