U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 21 (2013) 103–112; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2012.07.020


Leaf chlorophyll content is an important variable for agricultural remote sensing because of its close relationship to leaf nitrogen content. The triangular greenness index (TGI) was developed based on the area of a triangle surrounding the spectral features of chlorophyll with points at (670 nm, R670), (550 nm, R550), and (480 nm, R480), where Rλ is the spectral reflectance at wavelengths of 670, 550 and 480, respectively. The equation is TGI = −0.5 [(670 − 480) (R670 R550) − (670 − 550) (R670R480)]. In 1999, investigators funded by NASA’s Earth Observations Commercialization and Applications Program collaborated on a nitrogen fertilization experiment with irrigated maize in Nebraska. Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) data and Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) data were acquired along with leaf chlorophyll meter and other data on three dates in July during late vegetative growth and early reproductive growth. TGI was consistently correlated with plot-averaged chlorophyll-meter values at the spectral resolutions of AVIRIS, Landsat TM, and digital cameras. Simulations using the Scattering by Arbitrarily Inclined Leaves (SAIL) canopy model indicate an interaction among TGI, leaf area index (LAI) and soil type at low crop LAI, whereas at high LAI and canopy closure, TGI was only affected by leaf chlorophyll content. Therefore, TGI may be the best spectral index to detect crop nitrogen requirements with low-cost digital cameras mounted on low-altitude airborne platforms.