A world first for automated measuring of crop growth and health in the field was installed for Rothamsted Research in 2015 by LemnaTec GmbH. This is the world’s largest and most sophisticated facility built and will revolutionize the way that crop health and growth are monitored in the field. The development of the facility has been supported by Rothamsted Research and BBSRC.
The Field Scanalyzer comprises of a gantry that supports a motorized measuring platform with multiple sensors. Crops within a 10m x 110m area can be monitored throughout the season with a high degree of resolution and reproducibility. The facility is fully automated and can operate 24 hours per day throughout the year.
On board illumination facilitates the data collection and sensors include multi-wavelength imaging systems, an imaging sensor to measure chlorophyll fluorescence decay kinetics and a laser system for 3D visualization and crop height determination.
Together these sensors will enable detailed monitoring of crop physiology, plant architecture, crop health and plant function, with unparalleled accuracy, and will contribute to our food security and sustainability programmes.
Dr Malcolm Hawkesford, co-lead of the 20:20 Wheat programme at Rothamsted Research commented: “We are delighted to have this facility at Rothamsted. As a crop scientist, I believe that this will enable us to collect arguably the most accurate and detailed dataset of crop growth and health ever.”
“Advances in other technologies have provided a wealth of information about the genetic composition of crop plants. This facility will enable us for the first time to monitor plants in terms of growth and their physiology, in real time in the field throughout their life-time. This will revolutionize the way that agricultural research is conducted”, Malcolm added.
Ben Niehaus, Head of the Field Scanalyzer project at LemnaTec commented: “We are proud to see this world’s first Field Scanalyzer, developed by multi-disciplinary team having been installed at the prestigious Rothamsted Research and are looking forward to jointly improve and develop the revolutionary data set which will be collected.”
The facility will be used initially to understand the development under field conditions of numerous pre-breeding wheat varieties that have been generated through the WGIN programme supported by Defra and the Wheat Initiative Strategic Programme (WISP) funded by BBSRC and led by the John Innes Centre in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and other university partners.
The facility was officially launched on Tuesday 7 July at Rothamsted Research at a special event hosted jointly with LemnaTec GmbH.