Dominik Nieberg, a Master student in mechatronic engineering and research assistant at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück (UAS OS), is currently undertaking a two-month internship at The Plant Accelerator in Adelaide. His colleagues at UAS OS and collaborators at the University of Hohenheim work on optimising various sensor technologies for field phenotyping, such as integrated in the ‘BreedVision’ platform. One of those sensors is a light curtain array that generates shadow images.

While ordinary light curtains have a resolution of about 2.5 mm, Dominik is currently testing a novel, high-resolution sensor developed by iotec GmbH (Osnabrück, Germany) with a 64 µm resolution, allowing to measure plant organs and structures in detail. A curtain of laser light travels from a source to a detector positioned on opposite sides of the object of interest – in this case on opposite sides of the conveyor belt operating at The Plant Accelerator. As plants travel along the conveyor past the light curtain, the laser light is interrupted and 2D shadow images are generated at high resolution.

The internship at The Plant Accelerator allows Dominik to test the hardware on various plant species at different developmental stages. In addition, the data extracted from the shadow images can be compared and calibrated against the data gathered by the phenotyping equipment already present at The Plant Accelerator. During his internship, Dominik is working on optimising the hardware setup and analysing the shadow images to extract phenotypic traits of different plant species, such as height, area or morphological parameters.