An automated system for crop plant phenotyping and soil data collection

CSU’s McKay Lab, specialized in bioagricultural sciences and pest management, has contracted with Czero to help design and develop an automated system for agricultural field research. This tractor-mounted system, the first of its kind, will automate the process of collecting data to characterize the root systems of individual plants and below-ground soil conditions.

The CSU team and other partners will then use the CyVerse Big Data platform to analyze the data set for each plant, determine correlations to above-ground phenotypes, and identify trends in the larger sample set.

Funded by $6.1 million from ARPA-E’s ROOTS program

ARPA-E awarded $6.1 million for the project through its Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program.

ROOTS supports development of new technologies and crop cultivars to improve soil, increase water productivity, and reduce atmospheric buildup of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N20), an ozone precursor.

Its ambitions goals for the technology and cultivar development ROOTS funds include

  • 50% increase in soil carbon accumulation
  • 50% reduction in N2O emissions
  • 25% increase in water productivity

You can learn more about this and other ARPA-E ROOTS projects here. [PDF download]