Remote Sensing-Based Estimation of Advanced Perennial Grass Biomass Yields for Bioenergy

Hamada, Yuki
Zumpf, Colleen R.
Cacho, Jules F.
Lee, DoKyoung
Lin, Cheng-Hsien
Boe, Arvid
Heaton, Emily
Mitchell, Robert
Negri, Maria Cristina
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A sustainable bioeconomy would require growing high-yielding bioenergy crops on marginal agricultural areas with minimal inputs. To determine the cost competitiveness and environmental sustainability of such production systems, reliably estimating biomass yield is critical. However, because marginal areas are often small and spread across the landscape, yield estimation using traditional approaches is costly and time-consuming. This paper demonstrates the (1) initial investigation of optical remote sensing for predicting perennial bioenergy grass yields at harvest using a linear regression model with the green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI) derived from Sentinel-2 imagery and (2) evaluation of the model’s performance using data from five U.S. Midwest field sites. The linear regression model using midsummer GNDVI predicted yields at harvest with R2 as high as 0.879 and a mean absolute error and root mean squared error as low as 0.539 Mg/ha and 0.616 Mg/ha, respectively, except for the establishment year. Perennial bioenergy grass yields may be predicted 152 days before the harvest date on average, except for the establishment year. The green spectral band showed a greater contribution for predicting yields than the red band, which is indicative of increased chlorophyll content during the early growing season. Although additional testing is warranted, this study showed a great promise for a remote sensing approach for forecasting perennial bioenergy grass yields to support critical economic and logistical decisions of bioeconomy stakeholders.
bioenergy, switchgrass yields, perennial grass, remote sensing, spectral vegetation indices, green normalized difference vegetation index, yield prediction, Sentinel-2