Nitrogen concentration estimation on tomato leaves by VIS-NIR non-destructive spectroscopy
Ulissi, V.; Antonucci, F.; Benincasa, P.; Farneselli, M.; Tosti, G.; Guiducci, M.; Tei, F.; Costa, C.; Pallottino. F.; Pari, L.; Menesatti, P.
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Nitrogen concentration in plants is normally determined by expensive and time consuming chemical analyses. As an alternative, chlorophyll meter readings and N-NO3 concentration determination in petiole sap were proposed, but these assays are not always satisfactory. Spectral reflectance values of tomato leaves obtained by visible-near infrared spectrophotometry are reported to be a powerful tool for the diagnosis of plant nutritional status. The aim of the study was to evaluate the possibility and the accuracy of the estimation of tomato leaf nitrogen concentration performed through a rapid, portable and non-destructive system, in comparison with chemical standard analyses, chlorophyll meter readings and N-NO3 concentration in petiole sap. Mean reflectance leaf values were compared to each reference chemical value by partial least squares chemometric multivariate methods. The correlation between predicted values from spectral reflectance analysis and the observed chemical values showed in the independent test highly significant correlation coefficient (r = 0.94). The utilization of the proposed system, increasing efficiency, allows better knowledge of nutritional status of tomato plants, with more detailed and sharp information and on wider areas. More detailed information both in space and time is an essential tool to increase and stabilize crop quality levels and to optimize the nutrient use efficiency.