Measuring wheat senescence with a digital camera

F. J. Adamsen, Paul J. Pinter, Edward M. Barnes, Robert L. LaMorte, Gerard W. Wall, Steven W. Leavitt, Bruce A. Kimball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


Documenting crop senescence rates is often difficult because of the need for frequent sampling during periods of rapid change and the subjective nature of human visual observations. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of using images produced by a digital camera to measure the senescence rate of wheat and to compare the results with changes in greenness determined by two established methods. Measurements were made as part of an experiment to determine the effects of elevated CO2 and limited soil nitrogen on spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) at the University of Arizona's Maricopa Agricultural Center, near Phoenix, AZ. 'Greenness' measurements were made during senescence of the crop with a color digital camera, a hand-held radiometer, and a SPAD chlorophyll meter. The green to red (G/R) for each pixel in an image was calculated and the average G/R computed for cropped images from a digital camera representing 1 m2 for each treatment and sample date. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was calculated from the red and near-infrared canopy reflectances measured with a hand held radiometer. A SPAD reading was obtained from randomly selected flag leaves. All three methods of measuring plant greenness showed similar temporal trends. The relationships between G/R with NDVI and SPAD were linear over most of the range of G/R. However, NDVI was more sensitive at low values than G/R. G/R was more sensitive above G/R values of 1.2 than SPAD because the upper limits of SPAD measurements were constrained by the amount of chlorophyll in the leaf, while G/R responded to both chlorophyll concentration in the leaves as well as the number of leaves present. Color digital imaging appears useful for quantifying the senescence of crop canopies. The cost of color digital cameras is expected to decrease and the quality and convenience of use to improve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-724
Number of pages6
JournalCrop Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring wheat senescence with a digital camera'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this