Fieldscan with up to 20 PlantEye scans thousands of plants per hour

FieldScan – The high-throughput phenotyping platform

High precision screening of tens of thousands of plants under field conditions

Phenospex FieldScan is a platform for ultra-high-throughput plant phenotyping under field- or semi-field conditions. A carrier device transports dedicated sensors over the plants or plots and performs measurements 24/7. The platform enables capacities of tens of thousands of plants or plots with throughputs of 5,000 plants or higher per hour. FieldScan is designed to screen big populations used for breeding or research and combines high-precision phenotyping with high throughput. Irrigation units can be added to the carrier device for top-down irrigation with a diverse set of nozzles.

Why we designed FieldScan

Throughput and Precision at affordable costs

Automated high-throughput plant phenotyping is mostly limited to controlled environments like greenhouses or climatic chambers where space, and the possibility of expansion, is often limited by finances. But research shows that traits discovered under controlled environments can often be reproduced with only low correlation in in the field; hence, there is a strong need for platforms that allow for the assessment of plants under field conditions directly. Mobile platforms or UAVs have been developed and tested for these applications, but precision and payload has been limited. In addition, the operation of those platforms requires a lot of effort, and automation is challenging.

FieldScan uses mutliple PlantEyes to scan plants Environmental data is allways gathered with pehnotyping information in FieldScan LoadCells in FieldScan Plattform for gravimetric measurements

Our solution to these problems is FieldScan. Using our expertise in horticultural production, we developed a precision carrier device that moves a diverse set of sensors over plants to gather relevant environmental information, according to your needs. The platform can easily achieve throughput of several thousand plants or plots per hour and has been proven to work reliably under harsh conditions, such as those in central India. It can easily be scaled up and extended, it is cost efficient, and it allows for the new dimension of throughput. With FieldScan, we close the gap between the controlled environment and the field.

See how we established FieldScan at ICRISAT

How FieldScan helps your research

Give technology a meaning

We think there is a little 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.

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Automating the measurement of plants in fields is a big challenge. Humid, dusty, hot, cold and windy environments strongly increase the cost of high-tech solutions. Some of the machinery that might be used in such weather, such as irrigation systems and spraying robots, is readily provided by suppliers, who in many cases offer horticultural expertise and decades of experience. In order to provide tools for plant phenotyping, however, where high reliability needs to be coupled with high precision, we drew from the expertise of our partners in the horticultural industry and developed a one of a kind sensor carrier device. Following the maxim to remove the inessentials, we simplified the technology while cutting costs, and were able to achieve full automation and millimetre precision with little downtime and almost no maintenance requirements—over thousands of square meters.

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Integrated identification and quality control

Often, approaches using cameras in-field require a complicated calibration for both colour and size measurements. In addition to the uncertainty of the camera, the carrier device can cause problems when it is not positioned accurately. Our plant sensors also rely on the precision of the carrier device. However, despite the high accuracy of our carrier device, we have a diverse set of calibration targets in the field that increase the reliability and precision. Our PlantEye sensors do not require any colour calibration because they are able to operate in full sunlight. For later quality control, a diverse set of parameters like carrier speed or target height and size is constantly recorded.

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From pots to plots

The design of field experiments might change from year to year. The experimental design, the amount of plants, or even the crop itself—all might change. FieldScan allows researchers to either scan and integrate over plots or to consider individual plants. Scanner height and position can be adapted to accommodate various layouts and to be able to use the available area as efficiently as possible.

How do you control irrigation of your experiments in the field? green arrow style element

Irrigation and weighing systems

For drought stress experiments, outdoor rainout-shelters are commonly used to avoid unwanted precipitation. However, when using those shelters, some experiments need artificial irrigation systems. Irrigation nozzles can be added to FieldScan directly to be used as an irrigation system for your plants. These nozzles allow you to irrigate individual areas and to apply different drought scenarios. The combination of FieldScan with analytical balances (FieldScale) also allows you to assess transpiration dynamics gravimetrically.

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Environmental Monitoring is required

In many cases, phenotyping data is assessed without sufficient information about the environmental condition in which the phenotype was expressed (even in controlled environments). To properly interpret the data, and to be able to link the data to other data sets or experiments, precise information about the environment is key. For this reason, we track all environmental information with a sensor grid over the entire platform. Light, wind, temperature, relative humidity, leaf area, CO2 and other parameters are tracked following the requirements of your research.

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Open 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. In addition, FieldScan and PlantEye are open platforms that allow users to access RAW data or analyzed parameters at any level. Direct access to the embedded PlantEye computer can be set up with a public SSH protocol in order to download RAW data, 3D point clouds or the computed parameters. In addition, the data can be stored in our HortControl database and accessed through a web interface from any computer or tablet in your network.