Table of Contents
Advances in Optical Technologies
Volume 2008, Article ID 359760, 8 pages
Research Article

Evaluation of Image Analysis to Determine the N-Fertilizer Demand of Broccoli Plants (Brassica oleracea convar. botrytis var. italica)

1Institute of Crop Production and Grassland Research (340), University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstr Straße 23, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany
2Institute of Special Crop Cultivation and Crop Physiology (370), Vegetable Science, University of Hohenheim, Emil-Wolff-Straße 25, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany

Received 1 October 2007; Revised 18 March 2008; Accepted 26 May 2008

Academic Editor: J. Fu

Copyright © 2008 Simone Graeff et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Numerous models have been developed for calculating optimum decision rules for nitrogen fertilization based on remote sensing techniques. New technologies related to digital image analysis may provide an alternative method to estimate nutrient status faster and more efficiently than current techniques. A series of field studies was conducted to determine the applicability of digital image analysis for nitrogen demand estimates in broccoli plants. Digital images were taken under constant light conditions in various wavelength ranges (380–1300 nm) using a digital imager. Images were processed for the parameters 𝑎 ∗ and 𝑏 ∗ in the 𝐿 ∗ 𝑎 ∗ 𝑏 ∗ color system. The image analysis showed a close correlation between the nitrogen status of broccoli plants and the parameter 𝑏 ∗ of the 𝐿 ∗ 𝑎 ∗ 𝑏 ∗ color system especially in the wavelength ranges 5 1 0 7 8 0 and 5 1 6 7 8 0  nm. The relationship between nutrient concentration in leaf dry matter and the parameters 𝑏 ∗ was used to determine the N fertilizer demand within the cultivation period. Estimated N amounts were applied as top dressing four weeks after setting and were 100 kg h a − 1 lower than the standard fertilizer rate. Calculated N balances indicated a total uptake of applied N amounts in the image-based N treatments without considerable yield loss. Thus, digital image analysis proved to be an effective means of determining nitrogen status and adjusting fertilizer applications to preserve or enhance crop quality and yield considering sustainability.