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Digital plant phenotyping is revolutionizing the field of agriculture, particularly in greenhouses and vertical farms. These advanced technologies offer numerous advantages for plant researchers, breeders, and producers, enabling them to accelerate research and monitor plant performance and quality by making informed decisions based on plant traits assessment from imagery.

When it comes to plant phenotyping in controlled conditions, like greenhouses or vertical farms, there’s 3 main pillars to it:

  1. High-throughput data collection
  2. Non-destructive assessments
  3. Real-time analysis and decisions

So, let's explore these 3 pillars in detail through a client use case highlighting the value of PhenoStation® in such conditions: Phenotyping for drought tolerance research on oak trees in collaboration with INRAE (France).

Video clip of the system developed for INRAE to assess oak trees in greenhouses.

High-throughput Data Collection

 

Digital phenotyping enables an accurate and automated collection of large datasets. This high-throughput approach accelerates the breeding and selection processes, as breeders and producers can analyze and assess and compare many plants or varieties in a shorter time. The precise and objective measurements provided by digital phenotyping technologies eliminate subjective biases, ensuring reliable data for analysis. Plant height, leaf area, biomass, flowering time, and disease symptoms are just a few examples of traits from our portfolio that can be accurately assessed.

Within INRAE’s project, the goal is to assess tree stress in controlled conditions to select varieties that will resist high temperature variations as these varieties should help maintain European forests density with maximum efficiency.

Thus, the traits of interest were the height, the biovolume, the leaf surface, the leaf temperature to measure stomatal conductance and evapotranspiration rates, and more… Measured on a regular basis (trees are phenotyped every day), these traits are giving us access to the dynamics of the tree development so then we can really understand the evolution of each variety and their resilience to climate change, which is simulated within the greenhouse. The system designed to assess the trees is tailor-made to the greenhouse specs (which was build before the start the digital phenotyping project) and integrate all the components to automate image acquisition and data processing.

INARE's Project Bespoke System.
INARE's Project Bespoke System.
Another PhenoStation® System Configuration (in this case tailored to a vertical farm needs).
Another PhenoStation® System Configuration (in this case tailored to a vertical farm needs).

Non-destructive Monitoring

 

The portfolio of sensors that can fit into a PhenoStation® is non-exhaustive, although at Hiphen we tested most equipment types for almost and decade now and we are well-versed at helping you selecting the equipment that will get the job done for your project.

What’s great about being compatible with a large sensor diversity is that we can access everything the human eye can see, and even more. All the industrial equipment that's inside Hiphen's PhenoStations complements each other and gives access to a lot of information, that we turn into decisions to boost your research.

While RGB is the representation of what the human eye can see, 3D sensing equipment puts everything into perspective adding a precious 3rd dimension to the RGB data, and the Thermal sensor let us access the inaccessible to understand deeper plant mechanisms.

The main benefit of using sensors is that all measurements made are non-destructive, so assessments are more repeatable and replicable within the growth cycle. This means breeders can observe plants over time, capturing their dynamic responses to environmental conditions or treatments without damaging them. The ability to make repeatable measurements on the same tree provides valuable insights into growth patterns and trait evolution through time. This non-destructive approach ensures continuous monitoring and evaluation, facilitating a deeper and quicker understanding of plant behavior for advanced research applications such as drought tolerance.

 

 

Real-time Data Analysis and Decision-making

 

Digital phenotyping technologies often integrate with advanced data analysis techniques and software platforms. This enables breeders and producers to analyze collected data in real-time, identifying patterns, correlations, and trends. Real-time analysis facilitates data-driven decision-making, allowing breeders to select promising varieties or make informed management choices in the greenhouse or vertical farm.

 

This is made possible thanks to an optimal sensor integration + an on-site data processing unit that is loaded with Hiphen Intelligence. Since acquisition protocols are thoroughly tested and validated, we ensure a high-quality data acquisition that is instantly sent to the processing unit, checked, processed, and then sent over to the data platform for visualization and validation.

By leveraging immediate insights, breeders can optimize resources, identify favorable traits, and streamline their breeding strategies to develop new and improved crop varieties more efficiently.

 

Resource Optimization

 

Greenhouses and vertical farms offer controlled environments, allowing precise manipulation of growth conditions. Digital phenotyping helps accessing quality monitoring and yield prediction by providing insights into plant responses to different environmental conditions. For drought tolerance research for example, the information can be utilized to fine-tune breeding selection with a Phenomic approach and improve overall crop productivity and resource utilization. Researchers, breeders and producers can enhance sustainability, reduce costs, and minimize environmental impact thanks to PhenoStation®.

 

Sincerely,

Your Hiphen Team
Topic brought to you by Alexandra BĂśRGY - Imaging Solutions Specialist @Hiphen.