Estimating crop coefficients using remote sensing-based vegetation index

Baburao Kamble, Ayse Kilic, Kenneth Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Crop coefficient (Kc)-based estimation of crop evapotranspiration is one of the most commonly used methods for irrigation water management. However, uncertainties of the generalized dual crop coefficient (Kc) method of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 56 can contribute to crop evapotranspiration estimates that are substantially different from actual crop evapotranspiration. Similarities between the crop coefficient curve and a satellite-derived vegetation index showed potential for modeling a crop coefficient as a function of the vegetation index. Therefore, the possibility of directly estimating the crop coefficient from satellite reflectance of a crop was investigated. The Kc data used in developing the relationship with NDVI were derived from back-calculations of the FAO-56 dual crop coefficients procedure using field data obtained during 2007 from representative US cropping systems in the High Plains from AmeriFlux sites. A simple linear regression model is (Kcndvi =1.457 NDVI-0.1725)developed to establish a general relationship between a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from a moderate resolution satellite data (MODIS) and the crop coefficient (Kc) calculated from the flux data measured for different crops and cropping practices using AmeriFlux towers. There was a strong linear correlation between the NDVI-estimated Kc and the measured Kc with an r2 of 0.91 and 0.90, while the root-mean-square error (RMSE) for Kc in 2006 and 2007 were 0.16 and 0.19, respectively. The procedure for quantifying crop coefficients from NDVI data presented in this paper should be useful in other regions of the globe to understand regional irrigation water consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1588-1602
Number of pages15
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Crop coefficient
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Modis
  • Ndvi
  • Nebraska
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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