Reflectance-based assessment of spider mite "bio-response" to maize leaves and plant potassium content in different irrigation regimes

Christian Nansen, A.J. Sidumo, X. Martini, Katia Stefanova, Dale Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely accepted that pest infestations elicit a change in plant physiology, which cause detectable changes in crop leaf reflectance. In this study, we test the hypothesis that crop leaf reflectance may also be used to forecast the risk of pest infestation before they actually occur. We collected reflectance data in 160 spectral bands from 405 to 907. nm from excised leaf pieces from field grown maize plants under 3 irrigation regimes. Leaf material was collected at weekly intervals in two growing seasons. The same leaf pieces were used in choice bioassays with carmine spider mites to assess attractiveness to mites (spider mite "bio-response") across irrigation regimes. In one growing season, we also obtained nutritional element data (lipid, protein, soluble sugar, starch, lignin, Ca, P, Mg, K, S, and Cl) from whole maize plants. Principal component analysis showed that potassium content (K) was highly negatively correlated with spider mite bio-response. Relative reflectance at 740. nm showed a highly significant and positive trend across spider mite bio-response classes, and that potassium content showed a highly significant and negative trend across the same classes. Thus, we argue that relative reflectance at 740. nm may be used to predict both potassium content and risk of spider mite infestation. Based on extensive reviews, potassium leaf content is known to reduce susceptibility of crops to pests. The results presented provide encouraging support for remotely sensed risk assessment of pest infestations through reflectance-based monitoring of maize leaf attractiveness and highlight that reflectance based monitoring of crop susceptibility may be possible through careful management of macro element crop properties, such as potassium content. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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