Comparing nadir and multi-angle view sensor technologies for measuring in-field plant height of upland cotton

Alison L. Thompson, Kelly R. Thorp, Matthew M. Conley, Diaa M. Elshikha, Andrew N. French, Pedro Andrade-Sanchez, Duke Pauli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Plant height is a morphological characteristic of plant growth that is a useful indicator of plant stress resulting from water and nutrient deficit. While height is a relatively simple trait, it can be difficult to measure accurately, especially in crops with complex canopy architectures like cotton. This paper describes the deployment of four nadir view ultrasonic transducers (UTs), two light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems, and an unmanned aerial system (UAS) with a digital color camera to characterize plant height in an upland cotton breeding trial. The comparison of the UTs with manual measurements demonstrated that the Honeywell and Pepperl+Fuchs sensors provided more precise estimates of plant height than the MaxSonar and db3 Pulsar sensors. Performance of the multi-angle view LiDAR and UAS technologies demonstrated that the UAS derived 3-D point clouds had stronger correlations (0.980) with the UTs than the proximal LiDAR sensors. As manual measurements require increased time and labor in large breeding trials and are prone to human error reducing repeatability, UT and UAS technologies are an efficient and effective means of characterizing cotton plant height.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number700
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Cotton
  • High-throughput phenotyping
  • Light detection and ranging
  • Plant height
  • Ultrasonic transducers
  • Unmanned aerial systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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