Estimating Cotton Water Requirements Using Sentinel-2
Crop coefficient (Kc)-based estimation of crop water consumption is one of the most commonly used methods for irrigation management. Spectral modeling of Kc is possible due to the high correlations between Kc and the crop phenologic development and spectral reflectance. In this study, cotton evapotranspiration was measured in the field using several methods, including eddy covariance, surface renewal, and heat pulse. Kc was estimated as the ratio between reference evapotranspiration and the measured cotton evapotranspiration. In addition, a time series of Sentinel-2 imagery was processed to produce 22 vegetation indices (VIs) based on the sensor’s unique spectral bands. Empirical Kc – VI models were derived and ranked according to their prediction error. In accordance with previous studies, we found a strong correlation between the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and Kc (R2 = 0.94), and yet, we also identified other spectral indices that are more strongly correlated to Kc. The indices that were found to be the most suitable for Kc prediction were based on the red and red-edge bands (MTCI, REP, and S2REP). This progress in estimating cotton water consumption using satellite imagery that are available at no cost is a leap forward towards the development of crop irrigation requirements models. Consequently, this work sets the scene for near-real-time irrigation decision support systems.