Biomass is a principal variable in crop monitoring and management and in assessing carbon cycling. Remote sensing combined with field measurements can be used to estimate biomass over large areas. This study assessed leaf biomass of Agave sisalana (sisal), a perennial crop whose leaves are grown for fibre production in tropical and subtropical regions. Furthermore, the residue from fibre production can be used to produce bioenergy through anaerobic digestion. First, biomass was estimated for 58 field plots using an allometric approach. Then, Sentinel-2 multispectral satellite imagery was used to model biomass in an 8851-ha plantation in semi-arid south-eastern Kenya. Generalised Additive Models were employed to explore how well biomass was explained by various spectral vegetation indices (VIs). The highest performance (explained deviance = 76%, RMSE = 5.15 Mg ha−1) was achieved with ratio and normalised difference VIs based on the green (R560), red-edge (R740 and R783), and near-infrared (R865) spectral bands. Heterogeneity of ground vegetation and resulting background effects seemed to limit model performance. The best performing VI (R740/R783) was used to predict plantation biomass that ranged from 0 to 46.7 Mg ha−1 (mean biomass 10.6 Mg ha−1). The modelling showed that multispectral data are suitable for assessing sisal leaf biomass at the plantation level and in individual blocks. Although these results demonstrate the value of Sentinel-2 red-edge bands at 20-m resolution, the difference from the best model based on green and near-infrared bands at 10-m resolution was rather small.
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