Continuously Monitored Canopy Temperature as a Proxy for Plant Water Status


Water deficits are major limiters of crop yield worldwide. The detection of water deficits can be difficult. Measurements of the aerial and soil environment are often used to infer the water status and detect water deficits. Since crop yield accumulates incrementally and cumulatively over seasonal time scales, continuous direct monitoring of the water status of the crop may provide needed insight into plant/environment interactions. Canopy temperature can be measured near continuously on seasonal scales in the field. Cotton was grown under 11 irrigation regimes in 2009 and 2010 with water deficits from 26% to 86% of crop evapotranspiration. Yield varied accordingly from ~500 kg·ha-1 to ~2600 kg·ha-1. Canopy temperature was measured on a 15-minute interval for ~65 days in each year. Yield was described by a linear function of total water (irrigation + rain) for each year with similar slopes and different intercepts. When canopy temperature was used as a surrogate for total water, yield was linearly related to daytime leaf-to-air VPD, mean seasonal canopy temperature, mean seasonal daytime canopy temperature, and cumulative seasonal daytime canopy temperature. Limiting the analysis to daytime periods improved the ability to account for yield variation. Mean daytime seasonal canopy temperature and cumulative seasonal daytime temperature were most effective in accounting for yield variation across the seasons with a single regression line for both years.

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R. Mahan, J. , W. Young, A. and Payton, P. (2015) Continuously Monitored Canopy Temperature as a Proxy for Plant Water Status. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 2287-2302. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.614232.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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