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This paper assess the possibilities of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors currently in orbit for the maize monitoring defining the configurations (polarization and incidence angles at C-band) maximizing the sensitivity to plant growth and reducing the impact of the soil moisture on the signal. Temporal evolution of the signal was simulated in all the possible configurations using the radiative transfer model developed by the University of Rome "Tor Vergata." The input parameters came from an intensive field campaign providing a detailed description of maize crop over the Belgian Loamy site all along the 2003 growing season. The model was validated for vertical (VV) and horizontal (HH) polarization using ERS, ENVISAT, and RADARSAT observations. The C-band SAR signal in single polarization was found to be sensitive to crop growth till the leaf area index (LAI) reached 4.6 m2/m2, while the soil moisture influenced the signal for sparsely vegetated fields (LAI<2.7 m2/m2). Dual-polarizations indexes were found sensitive to maize growth and less sensitive to soil moisture variations. The VV/VH polarization ratios computed from signal recorded at high incidence angle (35° to 45°) could be considered to assess the crop growth till LAI reached 4.9 m2/m2 with low sensitivity to soil moisture. At the beginning of growth, the emergence of maize plants could be detected using the copolarized ratio (VV/HH) computed at low incidence angle. These indexes allow discriminating various crop conditions at a given date between fields of a same region.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:44 , Issue: 4 )
Date of Publication: April 2006