Estimating Plant Nitrogen by Developing an Accurate Correlation between VNIR-Only Vegetation Indexes and the Normalized Difference Nitrogen Index

Creative Commons License

Çimtay Y.

Remote Sensing, vol.15, no.15, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 15
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/rs15153898
  • Journal Name: Remote Sensing
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, Compendex, INSPEC, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: agriculture, fertilizer, land cover, remote sensing, yield
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Nitrogen is crucial for plant physiology due to the fact that plants consume a significant amount of nitrogen during the development period. Nitrogen supports the root, leaf, stem, branch, shoot and fruit development of plants. At the same time, it also increases flowering. To monitor the vegetation nitrogen concentration, one of the best indicators developed in the literature is the Normalized Difference Nitrogen Index (NDNI), which is based on the usage of the spectral bands of 1510 and 1680 nm from the Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, the majority of remote sensing sensors, like cameras and/or satellites, do not have an SWIR sensor due to high costs. Many vegetation indexes, like NDVI, EVI and MNLI, have also been developed in the VNIR region to monitor the greenness and health of the crops. However, these indexes are not very well correlated to the nitrogen content. Therefore, in this study, a novel method is developed which transforms the estimated VNIR band indexes to NDNI by using a regression method between a group of VNIR indexes and NDNI. Training is employed by using VNIR band indexes as the input and NDNI as the output, both of which are calculated from the same location. After training, an overall correlation of 0.93 was achieved. Therefore, by using only VNIR band sensors, it is possible to estimate the nitrogen content of the plant with high accuracy.