Soil salinity assessment through satellite thermography for different irrigated and rainfed crops

Published on
March 22, 2018

An article of Konstantin Ivushkin, Harm Bartholomeus, Arnold Bregt, Alim Pulatov, Elisabeth Bui and John Wilford: Soil salinity assessment through satellite thermography for different irrigated and rainfed crops, has been published in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, Volume 68, June 2018, Pages 230–237.


The use of canopy thermography is an innovative approach for salinity stress detection in plants. But its applicability for landscape scale studies using satellite sensors is still not well investigated. The aim of this research is to test the satellite thermography soil salinity assessment approach on a study area with different crops, grown both in irrigated and rainfed conditions, to evaluate whether the approach has general applicability. Four study areas in four different states of Australia were selected to give broad representation of different crops cultivated under irrigated and rainfed conditions. The soil salinity map was prepared by the staff of Geoscience Australia and CSIRO Land and Water and it is based on thorough soil sampling together with environmental modelling. Remote sensing data was captured by the Landsat 5 TM satellite. In the analysis we used vegetation indices and brightness temperature as an indicator for canopy temperature. Applying analysis of variance and time series we have investigated the applicability of satellite remote sensing of canopy temperature as an approach of soil salinity assessment for different crops grown under irrigated and rainfed conditions. We concluded that in all cases average canopy temperatures were significantly correlated with soil salinity of the area. This relation is valid for all investigated crops, grown both irrigated and rainfed. Nevertheless, crop type does influence the strength of the relations. In our case cotton shows only minor temperature difference compared to other vegetation classes. The strongest relations between canopy temperature and soil salinity were observed at the moment of a maximum green biomass of the crops which is thus considered to be the best time for application of the approach.

Keywords: Satellite thermography; Soil salinity; Australia; Landsat