Developing a low-cost 3D plant morphological traits characterization system

Li, Ji
Tang, Lie
Tang, Lie
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Tang, Lie
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Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringHuman Computer InteractionPlant Sciences Institute

A low-cost three-dimensional (3D) plant reconstruction and morphological traits characterization system was developed. Corn plant seedlings were used as research objects for development and validation of the 3D reconstruction and point cloud data analysis algorithms. In this application, precise alignment of multiple 3D views generated by a 3D time-of-flight (ToF) sensor is critical to the 3D reconstruction of a plant. Previous research indicated that there is strong need for high-throughput, high-accuracy, and low-cost 3D plant reconstruction and trait characterization phenotyping systems. This research produced a 3D reconstruction system for indoor plant phenotyping by innovatively integrating a low-cost 2D camera, a low-cost 3D ToF camera, and a chessboard pattern beacon array to track the position and attitude of the 3D ToF sensor and, thus, accomplished precise 3D point cloud registration over multiple views. Specifically, algorithms for beacon target detection, camera pose tracking, and spatial relationship calibration between 2D and 3D cameras were developed for such a low-cost but high-performance 3D reconstruction solution. A plant analysis algorithm in a 3D space was developed to extract the morphological trait parameters of the plants by analyzing their 3D point cloud data. The phenotypical data obtained by this novel and low-cost 3D reconstruction based phenotyping system were validated by the experimental data generated by instrument and manual measurement. The results demonstrated that the developed phenotyping system has achieved promising measurement accuracy, fast processing speed while offering a low hardware cost, lending itself to a practical means of acquiring detailed 3D morphological traits for automated indoor plant phenotyping.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Li, Ji, and Lie Tang. "Developing a low-cost 3D plant morphological traits characterization system." Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 143 (2017): 1-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.compag.2017.09.025. Posted with permission.