MODELLING BIOPHYSICAL PARAMETERS OF MAIZE USING LANDSAT 8 TIME SERIES
Keywords: variable importance, random forests, conditional inference trees, biophysical parameters, maize
Abstract. Open and free access to multi-frequent high-resolution data (e.g. Sentinel – 2) will fortify agricultural applications based on satellite data. The temporal and spatial resolution of these remote sensing datasets directly affects the applicability of remote sensing methods, for instance a robust retrieving of biophysical parameters over the entire growing season with very high geometric resolution.
In this study we use machine learning methods to predict biophysical parameters, namely the fraction of absorbed photosynthetic radiation (FPAR), the leaf area index (LAI) and the chlorophyll content, from high resolution remote sensing. 30 Landsat 8 OLI scenes were available in our study region in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. In-situ data were weekly to bi-weekly collected on 18 maize plots throughout the summer season 2015.
The study aims at an optimized prediction of biophysical parameters and the identification of the best explaining spectral bands and vegetation indices. For this purpose, we used the entire in-situ dataset from 24.03.2015 to 15.10.2015. Random forest and conditional inference forests were used because of their explicit strong exploratory and predictive character. Variable importance measures allowed for analysing the relation between the biophysical parameters with respect to the spectral response, and the performance of the two approaches over the plant stock evolvement.
Classical random forest regression outreached the performance of conditional inference forests, in particular when modelling the biophysical parameters over the entire growing period. For example, modelling biophysical parameters of maize for the entire vegetation period using random forests yielded: FPAR: R² = 0.85; RMSE = 0.11; LAI: R² = 0.64; RMSE = 0.9 and chlorophyll content (SPAD): R² = 0.80; RMSE=4.9.
Our results demonstrate the great potential in using machine-learning methods for the interpretation of long-term multi-frequent remote sensing datasets to model biophysical parameters.