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Majd, AMS; Bleiweiss, MP; DuBois, D; Shukla, MK (2013). Estimation of the fractional canopy cover of pecan orchards using Landsat 5 satellite data, aerial imagery, and orchard floor photographs. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 34(16), 5937-5952.

Pecan orchards are the largest agricultural water consumer in the lower part of the Mesilla Valley, NM, USA. Knowledge of fractional canopy (FC) cover allows better crop water use assessment and orchard management. FC can be estimated from vegetation indices (VIs), such as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), the soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI), the simple ratio (SR), and the triangular vegetation index (TVI), using satellite imagery. The main objective of this research is to develop an approach to determine the FC from a simultaneous imagery campaign consisting of aerial imagery, orchard floor photographs, and satellite images. All the required data were collected based on satellite overpass times at three different times during the initial part of the growing season to enhance the quality of data and reduce errors. The data were processed using the software package Environment for Visualizing Images (ENVI (R) 4.6.1; ITT Research Systems Inc.). The orchard floor digital photographs were used as a ground truth data set that gave a good correlation to the aerial photography. The aerial images were then used to determine the relationship between the FC and the VIs using these corrected FCs'. The results showed significant correlation between NDVI and FC (R-2 = 0.80; p < 0.0001). Likewise, the calculated SR not only showed good correlation to the FCs but also verified the calculated NDVI. The results indicated that the methodology of this research can be applied to other tree crops as an aid in estimating the FC.



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