Reflectance intensities of foliage are mostly due to biomaterials synthesised by plants. Adaptation to the continuously changing environment requires the regulated alteration of metabolic processes, which also influences the UV-VIS (Ultraviolet-Visible) and IR (Infra Red) spectra of leaves. For the calculation of various Vegetation Indices (VIs), e.g. NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), the common practice is to use the reflectance spectrum of the whole foliage and when individual leaves of the same plant are sampled, an average VI is derived. On the contrary, our method exploits the small differences between individual leaves of the same plant, making use of the similar distributions of measured reflectance values. Using particular wavelength pairs, linear regressions of reflectance intensities have been investigated. The parameters of these regressions (slope and intercept) have been compared to the temporal variations of the environmental factors, such as temperature, vapour pressure deficit and soil moisture. By assessing the sensitivity of the regression coefficient (slope) to the changing environment, wavelength pairs can be selected whose sensitivity change reflects the effect of soil moisture deficit on the plant. Based on the state-dependent correlations of the reflectance spectra of plant foliage, a new concept is presented that is capable of indicating the level of environmental stress, e.g. drought stress.
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