Performances Evaluation of a Low-Cost Platform for High-Resolution Plant Phenotyping

Sensors (Basel). 2020 Jun 2;20(11):3150. doi: 10.3390/s20113150.


This study aims to test the performances of a low-cost and automatic phenotyping platform, consisting of a Red-Green-Blue (RGB) commercial camera scanning objects on rotating plates and the reconstruction of main plant phenotypic traits via the structure for motion approach (SfM). The precision of this platform was tested in relation to three-dimensional (3D) models generated from images of potted maize, tomato and olive tree, acquired at a different frequency (steps of 4°, 8° and 12°) and quality (4.88, 6.52 and 9.77 µm/pixel). Plant and organs heights, angles and areas were extracted from the 3D models generated for each combination of these factors. Coefficient of determination (R2), relative Root Mean Square Error (rRMSE) and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) were used as goodness-of-fit indexes to compare the simulated to the observed data. The results indicated that while the best performances in reproducing plant traits were obtained using 90 images at 4.88 µm/pixel (R2 = 0.81, rRMSE = 9.49% and AIC = 35.78), this corresponded to an unviable processing time (from 2.46 h to 28.25 h for herbaceous plants and olive trees, respectively). Conversely, 30 images at 4.88 µm/pixel resulted in a good compromise between a reliable reconstruction of considered traits (R2 = 0.72, rRMSE = 11.92% and AIC = 42.59) and processing time (from 0.50 h to 2.05 h for herbaceous plants and olive trees, respectively). In any case, the results pointed out that this input combination may vary based on the trait under analysis, which can be more or less demanding in terms of input images and time according to the complexity of its shape (R2 = 0.83, rRSME = 10.15% and AIC = 38.78). These findings highlight the reliability of the developed low-cost platform for plant phenotyping, further indicating the best combination of factors to speed up the acquisition and elaboration process, at the same time minimizing the bias between observed and simulated data.

Keywords: 3D phenotyping; low-cost platform; plant imaging; structure for motion.

MeSH terms

  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum
  • Olea
  • Phenotype*
  • Plant Leaves*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Zea mays