04 June 2019

Phenotyping tools for breeders and farmers

Phenotyping tools for breeders and farmers

Recently, the CRA-W has been involved in developing phenotyping tools in greenhouse and in field for crop plants.

In recent years, the CRA-W has had portable instruments for fluorimetry, spectroscopy and near-infrared imaging to characterise on-site the phenotype of different varieties of beets, potatoes and cereals. In particular, these tools are used to assess the biotic and abiotic stresses on seedlings in greenhouses or plants in the field. Various projects are currently underway at the CRA-W.


The Beetphen project, with federal funding (Belspo), has the goal of studying the sensitivity to powdery mildew of sugar beet varieties. Field observations are linked to ground-based data using portable fluorimeters and visible/near-infrared spectrometers as well as with data acquired by drones equipped with various sensors.


Meanwhile, the Phenwheat project, funded by the Walloon Region (DGO3), aims to characterise the growth dynamics of varieties of winter wheat resistant to various biotic and abiotic stresses using a platform for phenotyping by proxidetection. Various hyperspectral sensors are evaluated in it to study the sensitivity to fusarium of the ears and seeds of winter wheat varieties.


The First project, on internal funds of the CRA-W (Moerman), aims to develop tools that allow identification of genotypes associating resistance to pathogens and the efficiency of nitrogen use. The hyperspectral sensors are assessed in this case to study the sensitivity to late blight and nitrogen stress of potato varieties, both in the phytotron, in the greenhouse and in the field.


In addition to these measurements of plants on the ground, aerial images taken by means of drones, airplanes or satellites are also analysed at the CRA-W. All these phenotyping activities are part of the more general framework of the Belgian Plant Phenotyping Network (BPPN) which forms a link with the European Plant Phenotyping Network (EPPN). These networks aim to make phenotyping tools available to researchers and plant breeders in order to create tomorrow’s varieties that are more resistant to climatic and biotic stresses and less demanding of fertilisation and plant protection products. They will also provide farmers with the tools necessary for precision farming.


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