Field‐based robotic phenotyping of sorghum plant architecture using stereo vision
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is known as a major feedstock for biofuel production. To improve its biomass yield through genetic research, manually measuring yield component traits (e.g. plant height, stem diameter, leaf angle, leaf area, leaf number, and panicle size) in the field is the current best practice. However, such laborious and time‐consuming tasks have become a bottleneck limiting experiment scale and data acquisition frequency. This paper presents a high‐throughput field‐based robotic phenotyping system which performed side‐view stereo imaging for dense sorghum plants with a wide range of plant heights throughout the growing season. Our study demonstrated the suitability of stereo vision for field‐based three‐dimensional plant phenotyping when recent advances in stereo matching algorithms were incorporated. A robust data processing pipeline was developed to quantify the variations or morphological traits in plant architecture, which included plot‐based plant height, plot‐based plant width, convex hull volume, plant surface area, and stem diameter (semiautomated). These image‐derived measurements were highly repeatable and showed high correlations with the in‐field manual measurements. Meanwhile, manually collecting the same traits required a large amount of manpower and time compared to the robotic system. The results demonstrated that the proposed system could be a promising tool for large‐scale field‐based high‐throughput plant phenotyping of bioenergy crops.