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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2017, Article ID 1353691, 17 pages
Review Article

Significant Remote Sensing Vegetation Indices: A Review of Developments and Applications

College of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Baofeng Su; nc.ude.fauswn@sfb

Received 24 January 2017; Accepted 13 April 2017; Published 23 May 2017

Academic Editor: Chenzong Li

Copyright © 2017 Jinru Xue and Baofeng Su. 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.


Vegetation Indices (VIs) obtained from remote sensing based canopies are quite simple and effective algorithms for quantitative and qualitative evaluations of vegetation cover, vigor, and growth dynamics, among other applications. These indices have been widely implemented within RS applications using different airborne and satellite platforms with recent advances using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Up to date, there is no unified mathematical expression that defines all VIs due to the complexity of different light spectra combinations, instrumentation, platforms, and resolutions used. Therefore, customized algorithms have been developed and tested against a variety of applications according to specific mathematical expressions that combine visible light radiation, mainly green spectra region, from vegetation, and nonvisible spectra to obtain proxy quantifications of the vegetation surface. In the real-world applications, optimization VIs are usually tailored to the specific application requirements coupled with appropriate validation tools and methodologies in the ground. The present study introduces the spectral characteristics of vegetation and summarizes the development of VIs and the advantages and disadvantages from different indices developed. This paper reviews more than 100 VIs, discussing their specific applicability and representativeness according to the vegetation of interest, environment, and implementation precision. Predictably, research, and development of VIs, which are based on hyperspectral and UAV platforms, would have a wide applicability in different areas.