How to measure plants in field conditions?

Sure, lab equipment and convenience of controlled environment add obvious benefits to the agricultural research. At the same time, only field conditions can demonstrate the existing situation in your experimental plot.
by Maryna Kuzmenko | 11th September 2021 | 5 min read
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If you have already spent a few years in agriculture or ecology, you have seen a lot. In other words, you won’t be too confused by question how to measure plants in field conditions. Sure, lab equipment and convenience of controlled environment add obvious benefits to the agricultural research. At the same time, only field conditions can demonstrate the existing situation in your experimental plot.

Basics of plant measuring in field

  • Firstly, you need to create the simplest check list to understand that you have all the required equipment and understand what do you need to do in the field.
  • Set up clear goals (preferably, in accordance with SMART method) and it will help you not to waste time.
  • Check your equipment properly. It has to work as it is expected. For example, if you plan to use a mobile application, then check the battery charge. Also, if it’s affordable – get the power bank for your mobile phone. It may save your time and nerves.
  • Create a map of your field visit. If it is field scouting, then the map will look like traditional crop scouting route. Otherwise, set the geotagged points to have the most precise coordinates of your future location.
  • Even if it is a sunny day or, at least, your weather forecast suggests this, think about additional layer of clothes for you and safety wrap for your smartphone. Otherwise, you may lose not only the data, captured during the day, but also even your device.

Finally, if you think you are ready, check our quick video guides about the main steps how to measure plants, particularly, leaf area and chlorophyll content.

How to measure Nitrogen in plants non-destructively?

If you need to get Nitrogen status of your plants, there are variety of methods how to do this. One of the most innovative methods of measurement of Nitrogen content is estimation of Dark Green Colour Index (DGCI).

In this video you can see how you can measure Nitrogen in plants in field conditions with a smartphone.

Please, pay attention that you will require a colour calibration pad. Otherwise, your measurements will be relative but not absolute.

source: youtube

How to measure leaf area in maize?

Smartphone can help not only with chlorophyll content measurement but also with estimation of surface leaf area. For example, in this video you can see how to measure leaf area in maize using a mobile application Petiole Pro.

There are some important aspects about measurement of leaf area index with a smartphone:

  • You need to print your calibration pads in advance
  • Also, it is crucial to have some stable surface to put your smartphone on and conduct measurements. It can be a pile of books, a box, a bottle – any type of things. We call it “measuring stand“. The main goal of using this thing – to have the same height when you are calibrating camera and then for leaf area measurement.
  • It is possible to check the accuracy of measurement before each session. You can see the detailed instruction how to do this in our special video.

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