Optical Sensing of Turfgrass Chlorophyll Content and Tissue Nitrogen

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078
  • 2 Oklahoma State University, Tulsa, OK 74106
  • 3 Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078
  • 4 Department Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078

Differences in soil microenvironment affect the availability of N in small areas of large turfgrass stands. Optical sensing may provide a method for assessing plant N needs among these small areas and could help improve turfgrass uniformity. The purpose of this study was to determine if optical sensing was useful for measuring turfgrass responses stimulated by N fertilization. Areas of `U3' bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], `Midfield' bermudagrass [C. dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy], and `SR1020' creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.) were divided into randomized complete blocks and fertilized with different N rates. A spectrometer was used to measure energy reflected from the turfgrass within the experimental units at 350 to1100 nm wavelengths. This spectral information was used to calculate normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI). These spectral indices were regressed with tissue N and chlorophyll content determined from turfgrass clippings collected immediately following optical sensing. The coefficients of determination for NDVI and GNDVI regressed with tissue N averaged r2 = 0.76 and r2 = 0.81, respectively. The coefficients of determination for NDVI and GNDVI regressed with chlorophyll averaged r2 = 0.70 and r2 = 0.75, respectively. Optical sensing was equally effective for estimating turfgrass responses to N fertilization as more commonly used evaluations such as shoot growth rate (SGR regressed with tissue N; r2 = 0.81) and visual color evaluation (color regressed with chlorophyll; r2 = 0.64).

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Contributor Notes

Corresponding author; e-mail bgregor@okstate.edu.