EGU22-2768, updated on 17 Nov 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

In situ radar measurements for monitoring the physiological functioning of wheat crops in the semi-arid area

Nadia Ouaadi1, Ludovic Villard1, Saïd Khabba2,3, Pierre-Louis Frison4, Jamal Ezzahar3,5, Mohamed Kasbani1, Pascal Fanise1, Adnane Chakir2,4, Valerie Le Dantec1, Mehrez Zribi1, Salah Er-Raki3,6, and Lionel Jarlan1
Nadia Ouaadi et al.
  • 1CESBIO, University of Toulouse, France
  • 2LMFE, Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  • 3CRSA, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco.
  • 4LaSTIG, Gustave Eiffel University, France.
  • 5MISCOM, Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  • 6ProcEDE, Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco

Irrigated agriculture is the largest consumer of freshwater in the world, particularly in the South Mediterranean region, that already suffers from water shortages. For a rational and sustainable management of water resources, monitoring the water stress status of plants can contribute to an optimal use of irrigation.

C-band radar data have shown great potential for monitoring soil and vegetation hydric conditions. Over forests, several studies have observed a diurnal cycle in the backscattering coefficient that can reach up to 1 dB between morning and evening measurements acquired by sun-synchronous satellites. This cycle is assumed to be related to the physiological functioning of trees, in particular to the diurnal cycle of the vegetation water content. A recent study also identified a diurnal cycle in the temporal coherence measured over tropical forests. The authors hypothesized that transpiration was the main factor in the decrease in coherence at dawn, especially since winds are almost zero at that time of day. While the diurnal cycle of radar data is well documented over trees, the behavior of annual crops is yet to be investigated. In this context, the objective of this work is to present a preliminary study of this behavior over wheat by assuming that water movement in the plant could lead to a daily cycle of the interferometric coherence and backscattering coefficient.

An experiment funded by LMI TREMA and TOSCA/CNES has been conducted over a winter wheat field in Morocco since January 2020. The experimental setup consists of six C-band antennas installed at the top of a 20 m high tower. It allows the full polarization acquisition of the backscattering coefficient and the interferometric coherence with a 15 minutes time step. The field is also equipped with an eddy covariance and weather stations that allow half-hourly measurements of evapotranspiration and wind speed. In addition to automatic measurements, field campaigns are also carried out to measure soil moisture, surface roughness, vegetation above-ground biomass and cover fraction.

The preliminary analysis of in situ radar acquisitions over the 2020 agricultural season reveals the existence of a diurnal cycle of the interferometric coherence whose amplitude increases with the development of vegetation. In particular, a drop in coherence was observed at dawn. This drop is concomitant with the increase in evapotranspiration, which may indicate that it could be due to the sapflow. On the other hand, low coherence values are recorded at the end of the afternoon, which may be related to wind peaks. For the backscattering coefficient, a good agreement is observed between the evolution of its daily average and the evolution of evapotranspiration. These results, which need to be consolidated, demonstrate the existence of important dependencies between the C-band response and the physiological functioning of wheat, which opens insights for the monitoring of crop water status using radar data acquired at sub-daily timescale. This rather highlights the interest of a future geostationary radar mission.

How to cite: Ouaadi, N., Villard, L., Khabba, S., Frison, P.-L., Ezzahar, J., Kasbani, M., Fanise, P., Chakir, A., Le Dantec, V., Zribi, M., Er-Raki, S., and Jarlan, L.: In situ radar measurements for monitoring the physiological functioning of wheat crops in the semi-arid area, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2768,, 2022.


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