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Application of Sentinel-2A data for pasture biomass monitoring using a physically based radiative transfer model

Punalekar, S. M., Verhoef, A., Quaife, T. L. ORCID:, Humphries, D., Bermingham, L. and Reynolds, C. K. ORCID: (2018) Application of Sentinel-2A data for pasture biomass monitoring using a physically based radiative transfer model. Remote Sensing of Environment, 218. pp. 207-220. ISSN 0034-4257

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2018.09.028


A large proportion of the global land surface is covered by pasture. The advent of the Sentinel satellites program provides free datasets with good spatiotemporal resolution that can be a valuable source of information for monitoring pasture resources. We combined optical remote sensing data (proximal hyperspectral and Sentinel 2A) with a radiative transfer model (PROSAIL) to estimate leaf area index (LAI), and biomass, in a dairy farming context. Three sites in Southern England were used: two pasture farms that differed in pasture type and management, and a set of small agronomy trial plots with different mixtures of grasses, legumes and herbs, as well as pure perennial ryegrass. The proximal and satellite spectral data were used to retrieve LAI via PROSAIL model inversion, which were compared against field observations of LAI. The potential of bands of Sentinel 2A that corresponded with a 10 m resolution was studied by convolving narrow spectral bands (from a handheld hyperspectral sensor) into Sentinel 2A bands (10 m). Retrieved LAI, using these spectrally resampled S2A data, compared well with measured LAI, for all sites, even for those with mixed species cover (although retrieved LAI was somewhat overestimated for pasture mixtures with high LAI). This proved the suitability of 10 m Sentinel 2A spectral bands for capturing LAI dynamics for different types of pastures. We also found that inclusion of 20 m bands in the inversion scheme did not lead to any further improvement in retrieved LAI. Sentinel 2A image based retrieval yielded good agreement with LAI measurements obtained for a typical perennial ryegrass based pasture farm. LAI retrieved in this way was used to create biomass maps (that correspond to indirect biomass measurements by Rising Plate Meter (RPM)), for mixed-species paddocks for a farm for which limited field data were available. These maps compared moderately well with farmer-collected RPM measurements for this farm. We propose that estimates of paddock-averaged and within-paddock variability of biomass are more reliably obtained from a combined Sentinel 2A-PROSAIL approach, rather than by manual RPM measurements. The physically based radiative transfer model inversion approach outperformed the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index based retrieval method, and does not require site specific calibrations of the inversion scheme.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:79547


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