Field phenotyping with the platforms PhenoField & Hexacopter – University of Copenhagen

13 November 2012

Field phenotyping with the platforms PhenoField & Hexacopter

Technical specification
PhenoField is a mobile system designed for non-destructive, accurate, and reproducible measurements of plant characteristics under field condition. It is a computer vision system which integrates illumination, 5 megapixel camera, and computer technology with advanced multivariate image analysis and statistics. The shielded box design makes it possible to achieve the same data quality as for phenotyping of plants in green houses and growth cambers. Diodes (LED) provide light with nine narrow banded wavelengths as the basis of spectral reflectance analyses.

The Hexacopter is an unmanned drone of the rotary wing type. It carries digital cameras and colour vegetation indices are calculated from image analysis of the individual pixels. The Hexacopter provides lower spatial resolution than PhenoField and lower reproducibility in terms of absolute values due to fluctuations in natural light conditions. However, it has a much higher capacity than PhenoField and provides excellent information in terms of relative comparisons among plots. It is possible to calibrate assessments from the Hexacopter with data from PhenoField.

PhenoField is mounted on a tractor and registrations are tracked by GPS. The windowsize/plotsize is 1.2 metre x 1.5 metre. The Hexacopter has also a GPS but the accuracy is much lower. The Hexacopter weighs about 2 kg without camera. It is powered by a battery and flies approximately 20 minutes depending on the weight of the camera. It may carry a payload up to 1.5 kg. The Hexacopter may be controlled by a remote control unit or it can fly in an automatic mode by waypoint navigation.

The PhenoField and the Hexacopter platforms are currently developed to measure

  • Leaf coverage
  • Vegetation index/Biomass
  • Growth rate
  • Plant stress
  • Nutrient status
  • Weed infestations

The two platforms are part of the infrastructure for field experiments at The University of Copenhagen.

Target groups

  • Plant scientists
  • Breeders
  • Agro industries
  • Advisory companies