CSIRO-developed FLECK™ technology: monitoring field trials
Phenonet: big brother in the back paddock
Researchers at the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre are using the CSIRO-developed FLECK™ technology to remotely monitor and record environmental conditions and plant performance in field trials.
10 December 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011
Smart sensor networks such as these are becoming increasingly important in plant phenomics where continuous analysis of plant growth and performance, matched with climatic conditions in the field, are mapped back to a plant’s genetic make-up.
The project is currently in its early stages with five FLECK™ nodes spread over a quarter acre field of newly-sown sorghum, millet and soybean at CSIRO’s Ginninderra research station in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Each solar-powered node is connected to sensors measuring solar radiation, air temperature, soil moisture, soil temperature and an infrared sensor which measures canopy temperature.
Using this new technology, the researchers hope to be able to ‘map’ environmental variation in light, temperature and soil moisture across the field to better evaluate and compare crop species.
Small variations in light intensity or soil moisture, for example, can impact on plant growth and performance.
By mapping these variations and correlating them with each plant’s genetic profile and performance, researchers may improve the accuracy and speed of plant breeding.
The sensors can also predict when frost or high temperature events may threaten crops, based on air, soil and canopy temperature, and humidity trends.
The sensors will then email a warning to the researcher, prompting them to visit the field site.
For more information about the project, please visit Phenonet: wireless sensors in agriculture.
Read other articles from the CSIRO Plant Industry newsletter.