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I am trying to understand why I would use a near infrared as opposed to an infrared camera for data capture of vegetation health monitoring.

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about manifestations of biological health. – BMS Apr 2 '14 at 4:51

The EM reflection from plants is at a maximum in the range of wavelengths from 750nm to 950nm, that is the near infrared. The reflectivity is also highly dependant on the amount of cholorphyll present, and by implication the health of the plant.

NIR reflectivity

The graph is from this website, which has a more detailed discussion.

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