Prediction of Maize Yields from In-Season GreenSeeker Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and Dry Biomass as Influenced by Different Nutrient Combinations

  •  Hillary M. O. Otieno    
  •  George N. Chemining’wa    
  •  Shamie Zingore    


To mitigate low maize productivity, improve on-farm planning and policy implementation, the right fertilizer combinations and yield forecasting should be prioritized. Therefore, this research aimed at assessing the effect of applying different nutrient combinations on maize growth and yield and in-season grain yield prediction from biomass and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) readings. The research was done in Embu and Kirinyaga counties, in Central Kenya. Nutrient combinations tested were P+K, N+K, N+P, N+P+K, and N+P+K+Ca+Mg+Zn+B+S. The results showed consistently lowest and highest NDVI reading, dry biomass, and grain yields due to P+K and N+P+K+Ca+Mg+Zn+B+S treatments, respectively. Positive NDVI responses of 56%, 14%, 15%, and 15% were recorded with N, P, K, and combined Ca+Mg+Zn+B+S, respectively. These nutrients, in the same order, recorded 54%, 20%, 8%, and 18% positive responses with biomass. The GreenSeeker NDVI reading with grain yield and aboveground dry biomass with grain yield recorded R2 ranging from 0.23-0.53 and 0.30-0.61 (in Embu), and 0.31-0.64 and 0.30-0.50 (in Kirinyaga), respectively. When data were pooled, the prediction strength increased, reaching a maximum of 67% and 58% with NDVI and biomass, respectively. Yield prediction was even more robust when the independent variables were combined through multiple linear model at both 85 and 105 days after emergence. From this research, it is evident that the effects of balanced fertilizer application are detectable from NDVI readings—providing a tool for tracking and monitoring nutrient management effects—not just from the nitrogen perspective as commonly studied but from the combined effects of multiple nutrients. Also, grain yield could be accurately predicted early before harvesting by combining NDVI and biomass yields.

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