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Real-time, non-destructive and in-field foliage yield and growth rate measurement in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

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posted on 2023-05-03, 19:19 authored by Kioumars Ghamkhar, Kenji Irie, Michael Hagedorn, Jeffrey Hsiao, Jaco Fourie, Steve GebbieSteve Gebbie, Valerio Hoyos-Villegas, Richard George, Alan Stewart, Courtney Inch, Armin Werner, Brent BarrettBrent Barrett
Background In-field measurement of yield and growth rate in pasture species is imprecise and costly, limiting scientific and commercial application. Our study proposed a LiDAR-based mobile platform for non-invasive vegetative biomass and growth rate estimation in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). This included design and build of the platform, development of an algorithm for volumetric estimation, and field validation of the system. The LiDAR-based volumetric estimates were compared against fresh weight and dry weight data across different ages of plants, seasons, stages of regrowth, sites, and row configurations. Results The project had three phases, the last one comprising four experiments. Phase 1: a LiDAR-based, field-ready prototype mobile platform for perennial ryegrassrecognition in single row plots was developed. Phase 2: real-time volumetric data capture, modelling and analysis software were developed and integrated and the resultant algorithm was validated in the field. Phase 3. LiDAR Volume data were collected via the LiDAR platform and field-validated in four experiments. Expt.1: single-row plots of cultivars and experimental diploid breeding populations were scanned in the southern hemisphere spring for biomass estimation. Significant (P < 0.001) correlations were observed between LiDAR Volume and both fresh and dry weight data from 360 individual plots (R2 = 0.89 and 0.86 respectively). Expt 2: recurrent scanning of single row plots over long time intervals of a few weeks was conducted, and growth was estimated over an 83 day period. Expt 3: recurrent scanning of single-row plots over nine short time intervals of 2 to 5 days was conducted, and growth rate was observed over a 26 day period. Expt 4: recurrent scanning of paired-row plots over an annual cycle of repeated growth and defoliation was conducted, showing an overall mean correlation of LiDAR Volume and fresh weight of R2 = 0.79 for 1008 observations made across seven different harvests between March and December 2018. Conclusions Here we report development and validation of LiDAR-based volumetric estimation as an efficient and effective tool for measuring fresh weight, dry weight and growth rate in single and paired-row plots of perennial ryegrass for the first time, with a consistently high level of accuracy. This development offers precise, non-destructive and cost-effective estimation of these economic traits in the field for ryegrass and potentially other pasture grasses in the future, based on the platform and algorithm developed for ryegrass.


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Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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BioMed Central Ltd

Journal title

Plant Methods




Ghamkhar, K., Irie, K., Hagedorn, M., Hsiao, J., Fourie, J., Gebbie, S., Hoyos-Villegas, V., George, R., Stewart, A., Inch, C., Werner, A., & Barrett, B. (2019). Real-time, non-destructive and in-field foliage yield and growth rate measurement in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Plant Methods, 15, 72.

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