Field Measurement of Effective Leaf Area Index using Optical Device in Vegetation Canopy
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Leaf area index (LAI) is an essential canopy variable describing the amount of foliage in an ecosystem. The parameter serves as the interface between green components of plants and the atmosphere, and many physiological processes occur there, primarily photosynthetic uptake, respiration, and transpiration. LAI is also an input parameter for many models involving carbon, water, and the energy cycle. Moreover, ground-based in situ measurements serve as the calibration method for LAI obtained from remote sensing products. Therefore, straightforward indirect optical methods are necessary for making precise and rapid LAI estimates. The methodological approach, advantages, controversies, and future perspectives of the newly developed LP 110 optical device based on the relation between radiation transmitted through the vegetation canopy and canopy gaps were discussed in the protocol. Furthermore, the instrument was compared to the world standard LAI-2200 Plant Canopy Analyzer. The LP 110 enables more rapid and more straightforward processing of data acquired in the field, and it is more affordable than the Plant Canopy Analyzer. The new instrument is characterized by its ease of use for both above- and below-canopy readings due to its greater sensor sensitivity, in-built digital inclinometer, and automatic logging of readings at the correct position. Therefore, the hand-held LP 110 device is a suitable gadget for performing LAI estimation in forestry, ecology, horticulture, and agriculture based on the representative results. Moreover, the same device also enables the user to take accurate measurements of incident photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) intensity.