Seed World

World’s Largest Field Phenotyping Robot Unveiled

Global plant phenotyping specialist LemnaTec has unveiled the largest field robot in the world, capable of continuously monitoring the development of crops under real growing conditions.
The new Field Scanalyzer was built for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) as part of a programme to “develop tools that enable an increase in the rate and extent of genetic improvement of the yield of bioenergy crops grown in the field”.
The machine is installed at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center in Arizona.
A huge motorised gantry, which can be positioned to an accuracy of within a few millimetres, travels down the field recording detailed information about each plant.
The data is then uploaded to a central database for further data processing and analysis.
Pioneered in the UK at the Rothamsted Research Centre, this revolutionary machine enables scientists to monitor crops in a field environment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
At the opening ceremony, a ribbon was cut by Dr Ellen D. Williams, Director of the ARPA-E, who was joined by VIPs from the US Government and directors of the world’s leading plant breeders and growers. Afterwards, LemnaTec gave a talk about the future of digital phenotyping and its positive impact on plant research. Breeders also gave talks, emphasising the importance of phenotyping technology to reduce the length of time required to develop new varieties.
Ben Niehaus, Chief Technology Officer at LemnaTec, commented: “Operating day and night, the Field Scanalyzer will move a payload of advanced cameras and sensors across a research plot measuring over one acre in area, generating arguably the most detailed measurements ever recorded for a bioenergy crop.”