Posted on 18 August 2016 in by Martijn Houben

Gravimetric systems – Make or buy?

The question whether to make or to buy a phenotyping system is often discussed in early phases of such projects. Self-buildt solutions can be a cost effective alternative. Nevertheless,the experience of a professional manufacturer and the hard lessons they have learned in all their product iterations are hard to copy in a one time self-buildt system. Trevor Garnett from the Plant Accelerator (TPA) in Adelaide was facing the same problem. TPA as a research facilities does various experiments on drought stress and needed a reliable graviemtric irrigation system to apply precision watering and track the weight of hundrets of individual plants.

As a facility we provide plant phenotyping infrastructure for the Australian plant science community. Given the mostly dry nature of the Australian cropping environment there is considerable demand for infrastructure that allows control over soil water availability.

We looked at building our own gravimetric systems but when we talked to other scientists who built their own systems they suggested that based on their experience they would have bought an off the shelf system if it were available. The Phenospex team offered an off the shelf system in the Droughtspotter.  The team were good to talk to, they answered all my questions quickly and were responsive to my demands. They inspired trust which is important. The Droughtspotter installation was quick and we were up and running in a in a short time and the post installation support from Phenospex has been excellent. We have now used the Droughtspotter to run a range of experiments with wheat, sorghum, and grapevines. The level of precision, and ability to easily program individual pots, has allowed us to carry out experiments that would otherwise be unfeasible.

Trevor Garnett

For more information about the platform in Adelaide check their website (scroll down to DroughtSpotter)

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