The Potential of Spectral Measurements for Identifying Glyphosate Application to Agricultural Fields†
Glyphosate is one of the most widely used non-selective systemic herbicides, but nowadays its application is controversially discussed. Optical remote sensing techniques might provide a sufficient tool for monitoring glyphosate use. In order to investigate the potential of this technology, a laboratory experiment was set-up using pots with rolled grass sods. Glyphosate-treated plants were compared to drought-stressed and control plants. All pots were frequently measured using a field spectrometer and a hyperspectral-imaging camera. Plant samples were analysed for photosynthetic pigments, polyphenols and dry matter content. Eight selected vegetation indices were calculated from the spectral measurements. The results show that photosynthetic pigments were sensitive to differentiate between control and glyphosate treated plants already 2 days after application. From the vegetation indices, the normalized difference lignin index (NDLI) responded most sensitively followed by indices referring to photosynthetic pigments, namely, the carotenoid reflectance index (CRI-1) and the photochemical reflectance index (PRI). It can be concluded that spectral vegetation indices are, in principal, a suitable proxy to non-destructively monitor glyphosate application on agricultural fields. Further research is needed to verify its applicability under field conditions. An operational monitoring is, however, currently limited by the requirements for temporal and spectral resolution of the satellite sensors.