Estimating foliar and wood lignin concentrations, and leaf area index (LAI) of Eucalyptus clones in Zululand using hyperspectral imagery.
To produce high quality paper, lignin should be removed from the pulp. Quantification of lignin concentrations using standard wet chemistry is accurate but time consuming and costly, thus not appropriate for a large number of samples. The ability of hyperspectral remote sensing to predict foliar lignin concentrations could be utilized to estimate wood lignin concentrations if meaningful relationships between wood and foliar chemistry are established. LAI (leaf area index) is a useful parameter that is incorporated into physiological models in forest assessment. Measuring LAI over vast areas is labour intensive and expensive; therefore, LAI has been correlated to vegetation indices using remote sensing. Broadband indices use average spectral information over broad bandwidths; therefore details on the characteristics of the forest canopy are compromised and averaged. Moreover, the broadband indices are known to be highly affected by soil background at low vegetation cover. The aim of this study is to determine foliar and wood lignin concentrations of Eucalyptus clones using hyperspectral lignin indices, and to estimate LAI of Eucalyptus clones from narrowband vegetation indices in Zululand, South Africa Twelve Eucalyptus compartments of ages between 6 and 9 years were selected and 5 trees were randomly sampled from each compartment. A Hyperion image was acquired within ten days of field sampling, SI and LAI measurements. Leaf samples were analyzed in the laboratory using the Klason method as per Tappi standards (Tappi, 1996-1997). Wood samples were analyzed for lignin concentrations using a NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) instrument. The results showed that there is no general model for predicting wood lignin concentrations from foliar lignin concentrations in Eucalyptus clones of ages between 6 and 9 years. Regression analysis performed for individual compartments and on compartments grouped according to age and SI showed that the relationship between wood and foliar lignin concentration is site and age specific. A Hyperion image was georeferenced and atmospherically corrected using ENVI FLAASH 4.2. The equation to calculate lignin indices for this study was: L1R= ~n5il: A'''''y . 1750 AI680 The relationship between the lignin index and laboratory-measured foliar lignin was significant with R2 = 0.79. This relationship was used to calculate imagepredicted foliar lignin concentrations. Firstly, the compartment specific equations were used to calculate predicted wood lignin concentrations from predicted foliar lignin concentrations. The relationship between the laboratorymeasured wood lignin concentrations and predicted wood lignin concentrations was significant with R2 = 0.91. Secondly, the age and site-specific equations were used to convert foliar lignin concentration to wood lignin concentrations. The wood lignin concentrations predicted from these equations were then compared to the laboratory-measured wood lignin concentrations using linear regression and the R2 was 0.79 with a p-value lower than 0.001. Two bands were used to calculate nine vegetation indices; one band from the near infrared (NIR) region and the other from the short wave infrared (SWIR). Correlations between the Vis and the LAI measurements were generated and . then evaluated to determine the most effective VI for estimating LAI of Eucalyptus plantations. All the results obtained were significant but the NU and MNU showed possible problems of saturation. The MNDVI*SR and SAVI*SR produced the most significant relationships with LAI with R2 values of 0.899 and 0.897 respectively. The standard error for both correlations was very low, at 0.080, and the p-value of 0.001. It was concluded that the Eucalyptus wood lignin concentrations can be predicted using hyperspectral remote sensing, hence wood and foliar lignin concentrations can be fairly accurately mapped across compartments. LAI significantly correlated to eight of the nine selected vegetation indices. Seven Vis are more suitable for LAI estimations in the Eucalyptus plantations in Zululand. The NU and MNU can only be used for LAI estimations in arid or semi-arid areas.