The ETH field phenotyping platform FIP: A cable-suspended multi-sensor system

Norbert Kirchgessner, Frank Liebisch, Kang Yu, Johannes Pfeifer, Michael Friedli, Andreas Hund, Achim Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Crop phenotyping is a major bottleneck in current plant research. Field-based high-throughput phenotyping platforms are an important prerequisite to advance crop breeding. We developed a cable-suspended field phenotyping platform covering an area of ∼1ha. The system operates from 2 to 5m above the canopy, enabling a high image resolution. It can carry payloads of up to 12kg and can be operated under adverse weather conditions. This ensures regular measurements throughout the growing period even during cold, windy and moist conditions. Multiple sensors capture the reflectance spectrum, temperature, height or architecture of the canopy. Monitoring from early development to maturity at high temporal resolution allows the determination of dynamic traits and their correlation to environmental conditions throughout the entire season. We demonstrate the capabilities of the system with respect to monitoring canopy cover, canopy height and traits related to thermal and multi-spectral imaging by selected examples from winter wheat, maize and soybean. The system is discussed in the context of other, recently established field phenotyping approaches; such as ground-operating or aerial vehicles, which impose traffic on the field or require a higher distance to the canopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • crop
  • growth
  • image analysis


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