Overview equipment & tools

Innovative technologies in the NPEC greenhouse

Bosman Van Zaal has built the NPEC greenhouse on the Wageningen Campus, the design was developed by WUR with advice from PhenoKey. This greenhouse will provide specialised equipment for high throughput plant research. The five greenhouse compartments are fully automated and contain conveyor systems, gantries and watering systems. Furthermore, the compartments contain a suit of different cameras and sensors to measure and analyse a myriad of different plant characteristics with fully integrated interaction between all these different systems. The provided software will be very flexible; allowing for easy integration with software for data management, the climate control system and the data acquisition.

By early 2021 the NPEC Greenhouse will be ready for large scale research and experiments! Below more information on technologies included in the greenhouse can be found.

Bespoke conveyor system and gantries

SMO, the Belgian machine builder, is in charge of installing the bespoke conveyor system and two gantries to make optimal use of the NPEC greenhouse facilities. These will be based on the SMO-manufactured WIWAM range of high-throughput phenotyping machines. The gantries will be fitted into two of the NPEC greenhouse compartments and in the other two conveyor systems will be installed with measurement area with the imaging cabinets.

SMO is specialized in custom-made solutions in close cooperation with the customer. The WIWAM framework ensures smooth integration of a whole set of sensors to provide the operators with a unified interface. SMO will integrate different imaging sensors in a setup where most parameters regarding mechanical construction and facilities have been predetermined.

Imaging with CropReporter

PhenoVation, the camera system manufacturer, will provide the CropReporter. This cabinet with a monochrome camera and a filter wheel will provide whole plant imaging on a pixel scale of chlorophyll fluorescence, multi spectral measurements, colour and green/red fluorescence protein. The CropReporter will use PAM, OJIP, NIR, far red and custom protocols to image photosynthesis efficiency, chlorophyll index and anthocyanin index.

3D imaging - the Maxi-MARVIN

The Maxi-Marvin is a high throughput plant phenotyping device which has been developed in-house by Wageningen University & Research. The MARVIN technology generates 3D models of plants and accurately determines the size and shape of leaves and stems plus the overall architecture in milliseconds. SMO will integrate the Maxi-MARVIN in the conveyor-based phenotyping setup in the NPEC greenhouse.

Whole plant phenotyping with the Plantarray

Plant-Ditech, the Israeli Company of Research Excellence, will deliver the Plantarray system in the NPEC greenhouse. Plantarray is a high-throughput, gravimetric and multi-sensors-based screening platform. It measures continuously and simultaneously, multiple shoot and root physiological traits, as well as soil and atmosphere conditions for each plant in the greenhouse. Plantarray increases the ease with which plant stress can be determined during experiments.

Photo: Plantarray at Haifa Group R&D and innovation center.

PlantEye - 3D & Multispectral "Camera to Plant" laser scanners

The PlantEye is a unique 3D laser scanner which fuses the 3D data with multispectral information. It is developed specifically for the needs of plant scientists, breeders and farming automation.

The sensor computes a wide range of plant parameters in real time. These parameters describe the shape and the physiological status of plants, like the digital biomass, leaf area, height or plant health (NDVI and more).

PlantEye is developed with the "Camera to plant" principle. Therefore it is designed to be waterproof, temperature controlled and to function independent of environmental light. This enables it to deliver the same reliable data in the lab, greenhouse and even in the harshest field conditions.

The PlantEye's are delivered by the Dutch company Phenospex and will be mounted to the SMO Gantries.

Timeline

Autumn 2020 the greenhouse construction / climate control system will be ready. Installation of equipment including testing is scheduled for October – December 2020. Early 2021 NPEC Greenhouse will be ready for large scale research experiments! An overall timeline of NPEC can be found here: Timeline NPEC.