Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences (MS)

Degree Level



Crop, Soil & Environmental Sciences


Leonel Espinoza

Committee Member

Richard Norman

Second Committee Member

Derrick Oosterhuis

Third Committee Member

Dharmendra Sarawat


Growth stage, INSEY, NDVI, Nitrogen, Optical Sensors


Ground-based active-optical (GBAO) crop sensors have become an effective tool to improve nitrogen (N) use efficiency and to predict yield early in the growing season, particularly for grass crops. Commercially available canopy sensors calculate the normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI) by emitting light in the red and near infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The NDVI is used to evaluate vigor status and to estimate yield potential. However, few studies have been conducted to compare the performance of commercially available sensors. Therefore, a study was conducted using the most common crop canopy sensors: i) N-Tech's GreenSeekerTM (GS), ii) Holland Scientific's Crop CircleTM (CC), and iii) Minolta's SPAD-502 chlorophyll content meter (CCM). The objective of this study was to find the optimum time for sensing and compare the relative performance of the sensors in estimating the yield potential of grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench). Treatments included six levels of N fertilization (0, 37, 74, 111, 148, and 185 kg N/ ha), applied in a single split 20 days after planting (DAP). Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with five replications, in four locations in Arkansas, during 2012 and 2013. Sensors readings at vegetative growth stages V3, 4, 5 and 6. Results from simple regression analysis showed that the V3-V4 growth stage correlated better with grain yield than readings collected and any other time. In season estimated yield (INSEY) obtained at V3 captured 41, 57, 78, and 61% of the variation in grain sorghum yield when red NDVI of GS, red NDVI of CC, red edge for CC and CCM, respectively, were used. Results from these studies suggest that the CC sensor has a better potential for in-season site-specific N application in Arkansas than the GS sensor. The GS reflectance values appear to saturate after the V3 stage, in contrast with CC values that allow for discrimination past the V3 Stage. Therefore, the red edge wavebands of CC appear to be better suited to develop relationships between spectral vegetation indices and agronomic parameters.