Sensitivity study of Radarsat-2 polarimetric SAR to crop height and fractional vegetation cover of corn and wheat

Pages 1475-1490 | Received 26 Aug 2016, Accepted 11 Nov 2017, Published online: 29 Nov 2017

Increasing studies have been conducted to investigate the potential of polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in crop growth monitoring due to the capability of penetrating the clouds, haze, light rain, and vegetation canopy. This study investigated the sensitivity of 16 parameters derived from C-band Radarsat-2 polarimetric SAR data to crop height and fractional vegetation cover (FVC) of corn and wheat. The in-situ measured crop height and FVC were collected from 29 April to 30 September 2013, at the study site in southwest Ontario, Canada. A total of 10 Radarsat-2 polarimetric SAR images were acquired throughout the same growing season. It was observed that at the early growing stage, the corn height was strongly correlated with the SAR parameters including HV (R2 = 0.88), HH-VV (R2 = 0.84), and HV/VV (R2 = 0.80), and the corn FVC was significantly correlated with HV (R2 = 0.79) and HV/VV (R2 = 0.92), but the correlation became weaker at the later growing stage. The sensitivity of the SAR parameters to wheat variables was very low and only HV and Yamaguchi helix scattering showed relatively good but negative correlations with wheat height (R2 = 0.57 and R2 = 0.39) at the middle growing stage. These findings indicated that Radarsat-2 polarimetric SAR (C-band) has a great potential in crop height and FVC estimation for broad-leaf crops, as well as identifying the changes in crop canopy structures and phenology.

Additional information


This research was supported by the NSERC Discovery Grant to Dr. Jinfei Wang.


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