PhénoField® : a special field structure for crop phenotyping under drought conditions

The PhénoField® platform integrates moving rainout shelters and irrigation systems coupled with complex environmental sensors and high-throughput phenotyping technologies, allowing a broad range of field drought conditions to be applied while monitoring it and recording crop traits via non-destructive remote sensing. The device is designed in such a way that other modalities of stress can be cross-studied (nutritional stress, biotic stress, ...).

8 crop lines with the moving rainout shelters covering crops in case of rain and the phenotyping gantries making measurements on crops.

belongs to the French Plant Phenotyping Network (PHENOME – EMPHASIS-France), along with 9 other platforms.
Its location at Ouzouer-le-Marché, central France, makes PhénoField® a representative example of irrigated crop farms of the Paris Basin area.

Technical description

The experimental Phénofield® platform is equipped with 8 double-span moving rainout shelters for a total of 0.5 ha rain controlled crop area that allows 384 field trial microplots. Each one covers a 655 m² area so 48 field trial microplots. Each rainout shelter is seated on three 150 m long rails, which allow them to move to the desired crop growth area among the four available areas to ensure a correct crop rotation every year. The rainout shelters are provided with their own individual irrigation system, allowing a precise management of water supply in the experimental plots. Two booms per rainout shelter allow 16 different irrigation modalities (24 microplots). The precipitations collected by their roofs actually provide the water used in the irrigation network.

Several weather stations provide information on meteorological conditions, micro meteorological conditions, or drive the movement of the rainout shelters. Water soil conditions is managed by 100 TDR (Time-Domain Reflectometry) at 3 depths (30 cm, 60 cm and 90 cm), in control plots. These probes are used for the estimation of the plants water consumption of control plots during the experimental campaigns.

The whole of this infrastructure allows plants to be subjected to water stress at the desired period of its cycle and for the desired duration.
Fully robotized phenotyping gantries are installed over the moving rainout shelters rails, covering up to 768 micro-plots for frequent crop canopy measurements acquired via remote sensors, thus ensuring non-invasive measurements and the collection of large amount of deep phenotyping data.

Each 25 m wide gantry is able to lift a payload at a 6 m height, allowing data acquisition on any type of crop, even tall maize cultivars. This data is obtained with the sensors embarked in the HTPP sensor bay, mounted on the gantries during experimental campaigns.
This HTPP sensor bay features several types of optical sensors. Three RGB video cameras ensure the measurement of the green leaf area, while the quantification of the light reflected by the crop canopy and the biochemical composition of plants—through vegetation indices or chlorophyll content—are provided by a fully tunable spectroradiometer connected to four optical fibers. The 3D structure of the canopy is also recorded by laser light reflection (LIDAR), while an ultrasonic actuator, coupled to the robotized gantries, is used to maintain a constant distance between the crop canopy and the sensor bay.

Main characteristics of Phenofield


Fixed in Ouzouer le Marché (Center of France)


Interaction with drought conditions (nutritional stress, biotic stress, etc.), all crops <3 m height

Principle of operation

8 gantries with basket in automated displacement on rails with crop protection against rainfall

Number of plots

768 micro plots max
Phenotyping : 384 micro plots/day


Flexibility of passages (early stage insurance)
Automated movement once the measurement scenario is launched

On board sensors

RGB cameras, laser light reflection (LIDAR),
Spectroradiometer active measure with flash

Treatment Platform

Signal processing platform developed and maintained by the UMT CAPTE (Avignon)

 Scientific references

• Fournier A., Beauchêne K., Gouache D., De Solan B., Baret F., Lorgeou J., Flodrops Y., 2015.Phénofield, a high throughput phenotyping platform to screen genotype response to drought in field conditions. EPPN symposium. Barcelona (Spain) November 11th & 12th.
• Fournier A., Beauchêne K., De Solan B., Thomas S., Piquemal B., Bonnefoy M., Flodrops Y., Lorgeou J., Cohan J.P., 2016. Phénofield, a high throughput phenotyping platform to screen genotype response to drought under field conditions. 4th IPPS symposium. El Batan-Texcoco (Mexico), December 13th-15th


Katia BEAUCHÊNE, Phenofield platform coordinator
Manon BOISSIERES, Phenofield platform manager
ARVALIS-Institut du végétal, 45 voie Romaine, Ouzouer Le Marché, F 41240 BEAUCE LA ROMAINE

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