La Trobe
1153994_Nguyen,P_2021.pdf (2.74 MB)

Design of an unmanned ground vehicle and lidar pipeline for the high-throughput phenotyping of biomass in perennial ryegrass

Download (2.74 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-04-12, 00:19 authored by Tan Phat NguyenTan Phat Nguyen, PE Badenhorst, F Shi, German SpangenbergGerman Spangenberg, KF Smith, Hans DaetwylerHans Daetwyler
© 2020 by the authors. Li-censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Perennial ryegrass biomass yield is an important driver of profitability for Australian dairy farmers, making it a primary goal for plant breeders. However, measuring and selecting cultivars for higher biomass yield is a major bottleneck in breeding, requiring conventional methods that may be imprecise, laborious, and/or destructive. For forage breeding programs to adopt phenomic technologies for biomass estimation, there exists the need to develop, integrate, and validate sensor-based data collection that is aligned with the growth characteristics of plants, plot design and size, and repeated measurements across the growing season to reduce the time and cost associated with the labor involved in data collection. A fully automated phenotyping platform (DairyBioBot) utilizing an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) equipped with a ground-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor and Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) positioning system was developed for the accurate and efficient measurement of plant volume as a proxy for biomass in large-scale perennial ryegrass field trials. The field data were collected from a perennial ryegrass row trial of 18 experimental varieties in 160 plots (three rows per plot). DairyBioBot utilized mission planning software to autonomously capture high-resolution LiDAR data and Global Positioning System (GPS) recordings. A custom developed data processing pipeline was used to generate a plant volume estimate from LiDAR data connected to GPS coordinates. A high correlation between LiDAR plant volume and biomass on a Fresh Mass (FM) basis was observed with the coefficient of determination of R2 = 0.71 at the row level and R2 = 0.73 at the plot level. This indicated that LiDAR plant volume is strongly correlated with biomass and therefore the DairyBioBot demonstrates the utility of an autonomous platform to estimate in-field biomass for perennial ryegrass. It is likely that no single platform will be optimal to measure plant biomass from landscape to plant scales; the development and application of autonomous ground-based platforms is of greatest benefit to forage breeding programs.


The authors acknowledge financial support from Agriculture Victoria, Dairy Australia, and The Gardiner Foundation through the DairyBio initiative and La Trobe University.


Publication Date



Remote Sensing





Article Number



(p. 1-20)



Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.