Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (12): 1273-1288.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0231

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring the influence of soil types underneath the canopy in winter wheat leaf area index remote estimating

GAO Lin1,2,*, WANG Xiao-Fei1,2,3, GU Xing-Fa4, TIAN Qing-Jiu1,2,3,**(), JIAO Jun-Nan1,2, WANG Pei-Yan1,2, LI Dan4   

  1. 1International Institute for Earth System Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China

    2Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and Technology, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China

    3Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    4Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Online:2017-12-10 Published:2018-02-23
  • Contact: TIAN Qing-Jiu

Abstract: Aims Remote sensing is an effective and nondestructive way to retrieve leaf area index (LAI) from plot, regional and global range. Soil background is one of the confounding factors limiting remotely estimating LAI. And soil type contains a large proportion of soil background information, which can influence the optical properties of vegetation canopy and soil. However, our knowledge on the effects stemmed from soil types underneath the canopy on LAI remote estimating have been in shortage. Thus, this study aims to explore the influences of soil types underneath the canopy on winter wheat LAI remote estimating. Methods We analyzed the sensitivity variation of eight spectral indices, named normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), modified soil-adjusted vegetation index (MSAVI), modified chlorophyll absorption ratio index 2 (MCARI2), red edge inflection point (REIP), red edge amplitude (Dr), red edge area (SDr), red edge symmetry (RES), normalized difference spectral index (NDSI), to LAI in different soil types, and then we identified some spectral intervals or parameters that were insensitive to soil type variations underneath the canopy. We also compared the accuracy of two commonly used regression models, partial least squares regression (PLSR) and random forest regression (RFR), in estimating LAI for different soil types. We also explored the problems arising from applying the regression model developed in single soil type area to complex soil types area in retrieving LAI. Important findings This paper demonstrates the effects of soil types underneath the canopy on LAI retrieving. 1) The sensitivity of spectral indices to LAI is significantly different due to the soil type variation, but REIP has the least effects from soil type variation among the eight spectral indices. Meanwhile, the band selection algorithm of lambda-by-lambda not only chooses the most sensitive spectral interval for LAI, but also provides a feasible way to construct the spectral index that exhibits strong resistances to the effects of soil types underneath the canopy. 2) The accuracy of LAI estimation by regression models differs under soil type considered or not. So we suggest that in small scale researches, especially in a field scale, the ability of regression models in explaining variables is the priority consideration, while the PLSR is superior to RFR in this respect. Under the premise of unknown priori knowledge of land surfaces, the RFR is more suitable for retrieving LAI than PLSR, but land surface priori knowledge is still necessary. These findings provide the theoretical basis and methods for developing remotely sensing estimating LAI models adapted to various land surfaces. Further analysis is needed in applying the findings in more crop types, cultivars and growth stages.

Key words: remote sensing, soil type, winter wheat leaf area index, spectral indices, partial least squares regression, random forest regression