FieldSCan for drought stress research in fields or greenhouses

FieldScale – a gravimetric system to monitor transpiration dynamics in field or greenhouses

FieldScale is a scalable high accuracy weighing system for pots and containers ranging from 5 to 500 kg. Transpiration rates are assessed by tracking the weight loss at high temporal resolution (minutes). The scalable design allows you to arrange FieldScale in multiple arrays with up to 320 plants per array and total capacities of up to 10,000 plants or more. FieldScale offers fast reading protocols and temperature compensation, which reduces errors due to temperature changes to 0.02%. With its flexible weighing range, FieldScale can be adapted to each specific application and to the required resolution. The rugged design allows the application under field conditions, but also in greenhouses and climatic chambers.


FieldScale Drawing

Why we developed FieldScale

Providing genotypes with improved tolerances towards drought has become a major focus in science and breeding programs around the world. Assessing water status has become a basic research method, which is increasingly performed by gravimetric measurements. The power of gravimetric measurements lies in its simplicity and the ability to gain integrated and resilient data over the day. We developed FieldScale as a robust and affordable solution for assessing the transpiration rates of hundreds of plants.

Example datasets

In one of his recent papers in the Journal of Experimental Botany Vincent Vadez et all. have shown various of examples of how FieldScale can accelerate your drought screening routines. More information about their research can be found at their website .

Salinity effect on transpiration

The graph above shows raw data generated by FieldScale under field conditions and demonstrates a typical trace of the evolution of the pot weight over time, before and after NaCl treatment, which further altered plant transpiration. This is a qualitative assessment and a proof-of-concept to assess how fast and accurate the system is able to detect changes in transpiration rates.
effect of NaCl on transpiration

Phenotyping for water saving traits

Using the high measuring frequency of FieldScale enables you to measure absolute differences in transpiration and its dynamics over the course of the day. In this study Vadez et al. 2015 assessed transpiration rates of two different Pearl Millet genotypes with Phenospex FieldSales. (VPD at noon noted in the graph). One genotype (PRLT) shows significantly less transpiration at high VPD. This “water saving trait” is of a benefit in a drought scenario and leads to higher yield. Please note that leaf area in this experiment was assessed with Phenospex PlantEye laser scanner.

How FieldScale helps your research…

 Give technology a meaning

We think there is more to deliver in phenotyping than just technology. All our products are designed with the intent to deliver meaningful features and results to our clients.

Transpiration is not steady

 Assess transpiration dynamics over the day

Plants dynamically adjust (within minutes) their transpiration rates in response to changes in environmental parameters like vapor pressure deficit (VPD), soil moisture, light and CO2. Yet, transpiration rates are typically only measured on a daily basis, especially in plant phenotyping. To better understand the dynamics of such changes, FieldScale tracks transpiration in intervals of 5 minutes or less. Typically, such accuracy would require investment in either a lot of labor force or expensive conveyor belts, and researchers still would not be able to achieve the same precision (down to 1g in high temporal resolution) as they could with FieldScale.

 Nobody wants a black box!

 Open Platforms for seamless access

We all know how difficult or inconvenient it can be to access the data of technical devices, especially when proprietary protocols are used. FieldScale is an open system that allows users to access RAW data or analyzed parameters at any level. Direct access to the embedded FieldScale computer can be set up with a public SSH protocol in order to download RAW data or calculated transpiration rates. In addition, the data can be stored in our HortControl database and accessed through a web interface from every computer or tablet in your network.

Let the system do the hard work

Easy to run and maintain system

FieldScale was designed to the IP67 standard to work in greenhouses and in the field. The system is built on individual mechanical platforms that can accommodate a single plant, multiple pots or large-scale containers. Depending on your experimental design, the pot size or number of plants per pot might vary. FieldScale can be built to accommodate pots from only 5 kg to large-scale 500 kg containers.

Bigger plants need more water

Include leaf area and biomass to compute water use efficiency

In combination with Phenospex FieldScan, using PlantEye, the drought performance of various genotypes in field conditions can be linked to growth dynamics. Integrating leaf area can be important when calculating and normalizing transpiration rates independent of plant size. By estimating plant biomass, water use efficiency can be estimated. With integrated environmental sensors, transpiration rates can be directly associated with environmental factors such as VPD or else transferred into thermal time.

Data isn’t knowledge!

Data Analysis Pipeline

Still, the best automation is not useful if you can’t make any sense of it. We bring all of your data together with open databases and interfaces to R to help you better understand how drought is influencing plant growth and transpiration rates.