Relating Hyperspectral Vegetation Indices with Soil Salinity at Different Depths for the Diagnosis of Winter Wheat Salt Stress
Abundant shallow underground brackish water resources could help in alleviating the shortage of fresh water resources and the crisis concerning agricultural water resources in the North China Plain. Improper brackish water irrigation will increase soil salinity and decrease the final yield due to salt stress affecting the crops. Therefore, it is urgent to develop a practical and low-cost method to monitor the soil salinity of brackish irrigation systems. Remotely sensed spectral vegetation
... ral vegetation indices (SVIs) of crops are promising proxies for indicating the salinity of the surface soil layer. However, there is still a challenge concerning quantitatively correlating SVIs with the salinity of deeper soil layers, in which crop roots are mainly distributed. In this study, a field experiment was conducted to investigate the relationship between SVIs and salinity measurements at four soil depths within six winter wheat plots irrigated using three salinity levels at the Yucheng Comprehensive Experimental Station of the Chinese Academy of Sciences during 2017–2019. The hyperspectral reflectance was measured during the grain-filling stage of winter wheat, since it is more sensitive to soil salinity during this period. The SVIs derived from the observed hyperspectral data of winter wheat were compared with the salinity at four soil depths. The results showed that the optimized SVIs, involving soil salt-sensitive blue, red-edge, and near-infrared wavebands, performed better when retrieving the soil salinity (R2 ≥ 0.58, root mean square error (RMSE) ≤ 0.62 g/L), especially at the 30-cm depth (R2 = 0.81, RMSE = 0.36 g/L). For practical applications, linear or quadratic models based on the screened SVIs in the form of normalized differential vegetation indices (NDVIs) could be used to retrieve soil salinity (R2 ≥ 0.63, RMSE ≤ 0.62 g/L) at all soil depths and then diagnose salt stress in winter wheat. This could provide a practical technique for evaluating regional brackish water irrigation systems.