22 Feb 2022
22 Feb 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Monitoring the combined effects of drought and salinity stress on crops using remote sensing

Wen Wen1, Joris Timmermans1,2,3, Qi Chen1, and Peter M. van Bodegom1 Wen Wen et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, Box 9518, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, 1090 GE Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3Lifewatch ERIC, vLab & Innovation Centre, 1090 GE Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract. Global sustainable agricultural systems are under threat, due to projected increases of co-occurring drought and salinity with climate change. Combined effects of drought and salinity on agricultural crops have traditionally been evaluated in small-scale experimental studies. As such the need exists for large scale studies that increase our understanding and assessment of the combined impacts in agricultural practice in real life scenarios. This study aims to provide a new approach to estimate and compare the impacts of drought, salinity and their combination on crop traits at large spatial (138.74 km2) and temporal extents in the Netherlands using remote sensing observations. Specifically, for both maize and potato, we calculated five functional traits from Sentinel-2 observations, namely: leaf area index (LAI), the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (FAPAR), the fraction of vegetation cover (FVC), leaf chlorophyll content (Cab) and leaf water content (Cw). Individual and combined effects of the stresses on the seasonal dynamics in crop traits were determined using both one-way and two-way ANOVAs. We found that both stresses (individual and co-occurring) affected the functional traits of both crops significantly (with R2 ranging from 0.326 to 0.796), though with stronger sensitivities to drought than to salinity. While we found exacerbating effects within co-occurrent stresses, the impact-level depended strongly on the moment in the growing season. For both crops, LAI, FAPAR and FVC dropped the most under severe drought stress conditions. The patterns for Cab and Cw were more inhibited by co-occurring drought and salinity. Consequently, our study constitutes a way towards evaluating drought and salinity impacts in agriculture with the possibility of potential large-scale application for a sustainable food security.

Wen Wen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-50', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Wen Wen, 19 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-50', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Wen Wen, 19 Apr 2022

Wen Wen et al.

Wen Wen et al.


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Short summary
A novel approach for evaluating individual and combined impacts of drought and salinity in real-life settings is proposed using Sentinel-2. We found that crop responses to drought and salinity differ between growth stages. Compared to salinity, crop growth is most strongly affected by drought stress, and is, in general, further exacerbated when co-occurring with salinity stress. Our approach facilitates a way to monitor crop health under multiple stresses with potential large-scale applications.