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Optical Sensor System Analyses Root Growth

Climate change brings new challenges to agriculture. In the project Hyperspectral Root Imaging, CTR developed in cooperation with the University of Agricultural Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, a system for plant root analysis.

[Translate to english:] Photonic Systems

The root is shown in black, the water concentration in shades of blue. It is easy to see that the water content decreases around some roots (lighter shade of blue). There the root has absorbed the ambient water.

Root growth

In order to keep track and analyse the growth of roots, the plants were cultivated in so-called rhizo boxes which have a transparent side panel made of glass. Any type of stress, such as lack of water, affects the development of the roots. An important functional parameter is the distribution of water in the substrate. Researchers are particularly interested in the area close to the roots, because one can conclude from the water concentration how active a root segment is.

Sensor system

The CTR researchers developed a photonic sensor system to make the water concentration visible. The system uses the wavelength range between 900 and 1700 nm. This wavelength range is interesting, because it contains the spectral characteristics which allow conclusions about the water concentration. With the sensor system, it is now possible to find out what types of crops are particularly efficient in the use of resources. On this basis plants can be selected, for example, that are resilient to drought.

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R&D Communication: Birgit Rader-Brunner
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