Original Articles

Development of a ground truthing method for determination of rangeland biomass using canopy reflectance properties

Published in: African Journal of Range & Forage Science
Volume 17, issue 1-3, 2000 , pages: 93–100
DOI: 10.2989/10220110009485744
Author(s): L. Gerber


Veld condition assessment and establishment of grazing capacity norms provide guidelines for the formulation of sustainable practices. However, conventional monitoring methods are becoming inadequate to meet future challenges, where quantification of spatial and temporal variation is required. This study proposes an on-site remote sensing method for monitoring above-ground biomass in rangelands. A preliminary model was formulated, based on simple regression relationships between canopy reflectance properties and aboveground biomass. This model was validated in semi-arid environments (Nama-karoo and Kalahari) within the framework of spatial and temporal experimental trials. Model accuracy was found to be primarily a function of canopy structure and vegetation composition where increases in dwarf shrub presence resulted in greater variations of both NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and LAI (Leaf Area Index) measurements. Temporal variation in model accuracy could also be observed which seemed to be associated with precipitation events. It was concluded that the proposed remote sensing method has potential as a ground truthing technique for determination of rangeland biomass. Indications are that this method is well suited for use in grass dominated veld types. With further refinement, implementation of this technique should also be possible in dwarf shrublands.

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