Comparison of eleven vegetation indices for estimating plant height of alfalfa and grass

J. O. Payero, C. M.U. Neale, J. L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


A great variety of vegetation indices, derived from remote sensing measurements, are commonly used to characterize the growth pattern of cropped surfaces. In this study, multispectral canopy reflectance data were obtained from grass (Festuca arundinacea) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) at Kimberly, Idaho, with the purpose of comparing the performance of 11 vegetation indices for estimating plant height of these two structurally different crop canopies. An additional purpose was to develop quantitative relationships between plant height and the different vegetation indices, which could be used to estimate plant height from remote sensing inputs. For alfalfa, good logistic growth relationships between plant height and all the different vegetation indices were found. The relationship resulted in r2 > 0.90 for all the vegetation indices, and r2 > 0.97 for most of them. While all the vegetation indices were very sensitive to changes in plant height at the beginning of the growing cycle, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), the Infrared Percentage Vegetation Index (IPVI , and the Transformed Vegetation Index (TVI) became insensitive to additional plant growth when alfalfa reached heights of 0.45, 0.40, and 0.45 m, respectively. All the other vegetation indices performed reasonably well for the entire range of alfalfa plant heights considered in this study (< 0.75 m). For grass, on the other hand, only 4 of the 11 vegetation indices, including the Band Ratio (RATIO), TVI, NDVI, and IPVI, resulted in a reasonably good linear relationship with plant height (r2 ≈ 0.76).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Engineering in Agriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Alfalfa
  • Grass
  • Plant height
  • Remote sensing
  • Vegetation index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of eleven vegetation indices for estimating plant height of alfalfa and grass'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this