Assessment of MODIS spectral indices for determining rice paddy agricultural practices and hydroperiod

Lucia Tornos*, M. Huesca Martinez, Jose Antonio Dominguez, Maria Carmen Moyano, Victor Cicuendez, Laura Recuero, Alicia Palacios-Orueta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Rice agricultural practices and hydroperiod dates must be determined to obtain information on water management practices and their environmental effects. Spectral indices derived from an 8-day MODIS composite allows to identify rice phenometrics at varying degrees of success. The aims of this study were (1) to assess the dynamics of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI(1) and NDWI(2)) and Shortwave Angle Slope Index (SASI) in relation to rice agricultural practices and hydroperiod, and (2) to assess the capability for these indices to detect phenometrics in rice under different flooding regimes. Two rice farming areas in Spain that are governed under different water management practices, the Ebro Delta and Orellana, were studied over a 12-year period (2001–2012). The index time series autocorrelation function was calculated to determine index dynamics in both areas. Secondly, average indices were calculated to identify significant points close to key agricultural and flooding dates, and index behaviors and capacities to identify phenometrics were assessed on a pixel level. The index autocorrelation function produced a regular pattern in both zones, being remarkably homogeneous in the Ebro Delta. It was concluded that a combination of NDVI, NDWI(1), NDWI(2) and SASI may improve the results obtained through each index. NDVI was more effective at detecting the heading date and flooding trends in the Ebro Delta. NDWI(1), NDWI(2) and SASI identified the harvest and the end of environmental flooding in the Delta, and the flooding in Orellana, more effectively. These results may set strong foundations for the development of new strategies in rice monitoring systems, providing useful information to policy makers and environmental studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-124
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing
Early online date27 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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