Non-destructive detection of water stress and estimation of relative water content in maize

Arthur I. Zygielbaum, Anatoly A. Gitelson, Timothy J. Arkebauer, Donald C. Rundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Non-destructive estimation of leaf water content provides vital information about vegetation productivity. We report here on controlled seven day experiments using greenhouse-grown maize. Fifty plants were randomly assigned to two equal groups: water stressed and well watered. Spectroscopic, relative water content (RWC), and chlorophyll concentration measurements were made daily. Because water molecules absorb radiation in near- and middle-infrared, most efforts to sense water deficit remotely utilize infrared wavelengths. In these experiments, we identified a strong, systematic, and repeatable relationship between photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, 400700 nm) albedo and leaf RWC. We show that visible spectrum reflectance provides a means to detect early stages of plant stress and estimate leaf RWC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL12403
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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