Estimation of grapevine crop coefficient using a multispectral camera on an unmanned aerial vehicle

Deepak Gautam, Bertram Ostendorf, Vinay Pagay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Downloads (Pure)


Crop water status and irrigation requirements are of great importance to the horticultural industry due to changing climatic conditions leading to high evaporative demands, drought and water scarcity in semi-arid and arid regions worldwide. Irrigation scheduling strategies based on evapotranspiration (ET), such as regulated deficit irrigation, requires the estimation of seasonal crop coefficients (kc ). The ET-driven irrigation decisions for grapevines rely on the sampling of several kc values from each irrigation zone. Here, we present an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based technique to estimate kc at the single vine level in order to capture the spatial variability of water requirements in a commercial vineyard located in South Australia. A UAV carrying a multispectral sensor is used to extract the spectral, as well as the structural, information of Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines. The spectral and structural information, acquired at the various phenological stages of the vine through two seasons, is used to model kc using univariate (simple linear), multivariate (generalised linear and additive) and machine learning (convolution neural network and random forest) model frameworks. The structural information (e.g., canopy top view area) had the strongest correlation with kc throughout the season (p ≤ 0.001; Pearson R = 0.56), while the spectral indices (e.g., normalised indices) turned less-sensitive post véraison—the onset of ripening in grapes. Combining structural and spectral information improved the model’s performance. Among the investigated predictive models, the random forest predicted kc with the highest accuracy (R2: 0.675, root mean square error: 0.062, and mean absolute error: 0.047). This UAV-based approach improves the precision of irrigation by capturing the spatial variability of kc within a vineyard. Combined with an energy balance model, the water needs of a vineyard can be computed on a weekly or sub-weekly basis for precision irrigation. The UAV-based characterisation of kc can further enhance the water management and irrigation zoning by matching the infrastructure with the spatial variability of the irrigation demand.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2639
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimation of grapevine crop coefficient using a multispectral camera on an unmanned aerial vehicle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this