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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01145

Estimating Biomass and Canopy Height with LiDAR for Field Crop Breeding

 James D. Walter1, 2*, James Edwards1, 2,  Glenn McDonald2 and  Haydn Kuchel1, 2
  • 1Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), Australia
  • 2School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia

Above-ground biomass (AGB) is a trait with much potential for exploitation within wheat breeding programmes and is linked closely to canopy height (CH). However, collecting phenotypic data for AGB and CH within breeding programmes is labour intensive, and in the case of AGB, destructive and prone to assessment error. As a result, measuring these traits is seldom a priority for breeders, especially at the early stages of a selection programme. LiDAR has been demonstrated as a sensor capable of collecting three-dimensional data from wheat field trials, and potentially suitable for providing objective, non-destructive, high-throughput estimates of AGB and CH for use by wheat breeders. The current study investigates the deployment of a LiDAR system on a ground-based high-throughput phenotyping platform in eight wheat field trials across southern Australia, for the non-destructive estimate of AGB and CH. LiDAR-derived measurements were compared to manual measurements of AGB and CH collected at each site and assessed for their suitability of application within a breeding programme. Correlations between AGB and LiDAR Projected Volume (LPV) were generally strong (up to r = 0.86), as were correlations between CH and LiDAR Canopy Height (LCH) (up to r = 0.94). Heritability (H2) of LPV (H2 = 0.32 – 0.90) was observed to be greater than, or similar to, the heritability of AGB (H2 = 0.12 – 0.78) for the majority of measurements. A similar level of heritability was observed for LCH (H2 = 0.41 – 0.98) and CH (H2 = 0.49 – 0.98). Further to this, measurements of LPV and LCH were shown to be highly repeatable when collected from either the same or opposite direction of travel. LiDAR scans were collected at a rate of 2,400 plots per hour, with the potential to further increase throughput to 7,400 plots per hour. This research demonstrates the capability of LiDAR sensors to collect high-quality, non-destructive, repeatable measurements of AGB and CH suitable for use within both breeding and research programmes.

Keywords: wheat, Phenomics, High throughput phenotyping, Field phenotyping, plant breeding

Received: 19 May 2019; Accepted: 22 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Walter, Edwards, McDonald and Kuchel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. James D. Walter, Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), Urrbrae, Australia,