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Crop canopy reflectance sensor for guiding the variable-rate nitrogen application in sugarcane

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Lucas Rios do Amaral
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: Piracicaba.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALA/BC)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Jose Paulo Molin; José Laercio Favarin; Peterson Ricardo Fiorio; Paulo Sergio Graziano Magalhaes; Paulo Cesar Ocheuze Trivelin
Advisor: Jose Paulo Molin

Sugarcane nitrogen fertilization (N), even being extensively studied, is still a challenge to producers and researchers, mainly due to the high N response variability showed by this crop. For this reason, variable-rate N application is essential. Sensors that measure the crop canopy reflectance are an interesting alternative. Good results with this technology have been found for wheat and corn. However, despite the suitability of these sensors in identifying some sugarcane parameters, there are still many gaps to be answered, especially related to how convert the sensor readings in an N rate to be applied in the fields. Thus, the main objective of this thesis was to develop a method to guide the variable-rate N application in sugarcane, based on canopy sensor readings. To achieve this goal, it was necessary the following studies: 1) establish which is the most appropriate vegetation index to be used in sugarcane fields, among those possible to be obtained from the canopy sensor used, as well as which crop aspects can influence the readings; 2) evaluate the effectiveness of this equipment to identify the crop N response and its relationship with the sugarcane stalk yield; and 3) test some methodologies available in the literature in order to guide the sugarcane N fertilization. Plot and strips experiments with N rates were performed. All the experiments and some producing fields were evaluated, when the crop stem height was between 0.4 and 0.6 m, with the Crop Circle sensor, model ACS-430 (Holland Scientific, Lincoln, NE, USA). The sugarcane showed variable response to the N applied. Among the different vegetation indices calculated from the reflectance obtained by the sensor, the red edge vegetation indices showed the best results. The aboveground biomass was the crop parameter that highest interfered in the canopy sensor readings, indicating that the sensor was effective in estimating the sugarcane yield either. The intrinsic variability of each field, caused by ratoon damage and other limiting factors, prevents the implementation of some strategies pointed out in the literature. However, due to canopy sensor ability for yield estimation, it was proposed an algorithm to guide higher N rates in areas with greater crop vigor, assuming that in this situation is more promising to the plants absorbing N from the fertilizers. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 11/08882-7 - Sugarcane nitrogen fertilization management at variable rates supported by ground optical sensors
Grantee:Lucas Rios Do Amaral
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate