FieldScan – Technology

Rail based Sensor Carrier Device

Central piece of our FieldScan system is the Sensor Carrier Device (SCD). Its main task is to move all sensors and other equipment such as irrigation system to the plants. To provide a simple yet reliable working system we took advantage from horticulture experience and made it precise enough for science. Our solutions are scalable and can be later on extended at affordable costs.

Sensor Carrier Device of FieldScan with PlantEye for high throughput plant field phenotyping

 

Other than large scale gantry systems, our SCD is designed in such a way that it will not shade any plants. As we do not need to stop to measure plants and therefore are constantly driving over the platform, we avoid any local effects even while scanning. In parking position, our SCD will be located off the growing space and therefore not influence plant growth.

Scanning Boom: up to 25m width

Rail Length: up to 250m

Moving speed: up to 15 m/min

Scanning speed: 3 m/min

 

Scalable Sensor Array – Parallelization for massive throughput

Some applications require very detailed dynamics of plant performance over day, especially shortly after applying specific treatments to plants. Nevertheless, even for rather simple protocols it is recommendable to screen multiple times a day to minimize the input of diurnal patterns or wind on your phenotypic data. To be able to always achieve the necessary throughput we’ve designed our sensor array. Depending on the requirements for throughput we can use more sensors to measure plants in parallel and therefore increase throughput. For lower throughput applications we move our sensors from one trench to the next and screen all trenches successively.

Sensor array moving 3D laser Scanner or other sensor over the plants for high throughput screening

 

Environmental Station – as much as needed, as little as possible

In an uncontrolled setting such as the field it is key to measure the environmental conditions plants are facing. For some parameters it might even be worth to consider local measurements to extrapolate micro climate differences (edge effects) of your field. For that reasons we provide our FieldScan with a sensor network to measure various parameters such as:

Temperature and Relative Humidity

Both temperature and relative humidity are important parameters to normalize measured parameters (e.g. using VPD or Thermal time). Therefore we use a sensor net of probes over the whole platform to get the spatial distribution of temperature and relative humidity in great detail. With that and the known growing location of all plants we can directly transform into thermal time using our R-Plugin.

Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR)

The intensity of radiation needed for the photosynthetic process plays an important role in the development of the phenotype. When integrated in functional plant models and combined with LAI it can represent the available energy for each plant in high detail. As it can be assumed (if no constructions, building or other vegetation shades plants locally) that PAR will be similar over the whole platform we have one central PAR sensor at the environmental Station central.

Wind

Wind speed is an essential parameter that needs to be considered when measuring morphological parameters such as height or leaf area. How strong wind speed will affect your measurements depends not only on the species but also on various other parameters such as treatments or growing phase. As wind speed is similar even on big platforms we measure wind speed in the environmental station central.

Precipitation

Among the platform rainfall sensors can be placed to measure the overall or local precipitation. Equipped with a small funnel they can extrapolate mm water per square meter. They can either be used to measure natural precipitation or to control artificially applied irrigation.

Environmental Station in Field Scan measuring wind speed and PARRain Gauge for measuring precipitation in field phenotyping

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In field identification and calibration

When screening plants in field conditions, identification and calibration are very important. As fields are never completely leveled we place metal barcodes (targets) in the field to calibrate our height and area measurements. Targets do not need to be placed in front of every single plant but should be distributed over the whole plat
form. With this approach we interpolate between targets and can get a height profile of the whole field for calibration. In addition our targets are used to identify plots within experiments.


PlantEye scanning barcode target for calibration of field measurements

Irrigation and Gravimetric Platforms – a powerful combination

When doing drought stress studies in the field there are various things that are needed. Rainout-shelters can help to simulate drought conditions in rainy summers. On the contrary side an automated irrigation system is needed when no natural rain is present or when irrigation should be completely controlled. Our Sensor Carrier Device can be built into rainout shelters and can easily be equipped with irrigation systems. As a last step our gravimetric systems that are also used in DroughtSpotter can be setup to measure transpiration rates of (potted) reference plants in the field.

Sensor carrier device can have an integrated irrigation system to water plants in controlled drought studies