Remote detection of water stress conditions via a diurnal photochemical reflectance index (PRI) improves yield prediction in rainfed wheat

Friday, 19 December 2014
Lee Alexander Vierling1, Troy Sehlin Magney1 and Jan Eitel2, (1)University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, United States, (2)University of Idaho, McCall, ID, United States
Employing remotely sensed techniques to quantify the existence and magnitude of midday photosynthetic downregulation using the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) may reveal new information about plant responses to abiotic stressors in space and time. However, the interpretation and application of the PRI can be confounded because of its sensitivity to several variables changing at the diurnal (e.g., irradiation, shadow fraction) and seasonal (e.g., leaf area, chlorophyll and carotene pigment concentrations, irradiation) time scales. We explored different techniques to correct the PRI for variations in canopy structure and relative chlorophyll content (ChlR) using highly temporally resolved (frequency = five minutes) in-situ radiometric measurements of PRI and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) over eight soft white spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)field plots under varying nitrogen and soil water conditions over two seasons. Our results suggest that the influence of seasonal variation in canopy ChlR and LAI on the diurnally measured PRI (PRIdiurnal) can be minimized using simple correction techniques, therefore improving the strength of PRI as a tool to quantify abiotic stressors such as daily changes in soil volumetric water content (SVWC), and vapor pressure deficit (VPD). PRIdiurnal responded strongly to available nitrogen, and linearly tracked seasonal changes in SVWC, VPD, and stomatal conductance (gc). Utilizing the PRI as an indicator of stress, yield predictions significantly over greenness indices such as the NDVI. This study provides insight towards the future interpretation and scaling of PRI to quantify rapid changes in photosynthesis, and as an indicator of plant stress.