Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility

The CHAP Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility at Cranfield University brings the latest scientific knowledge and understanding to 21st century farming.

The research conducted here is helping to deliver more profitable farming, increased agricultural productivity, a greener environment, sustainable rural communities and a better diet for populations around the world.

These facilities are unique in providing precision control and monitoring of soil, water, crop and climate conditions allowing for entire rotation systems including required tillage operations in a realistic set up. Supported by a leading team of soil and crop scientists, the facilities enable farmers and agri-tech companies to develop and test innovative technologies to study soil-crop-water interrelationships and improve soil and crop health at pilot scale.

In addition, CHAP collaborates with Agri-EPI in the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility at Cranfield University, through the use of the in-glasshouse gantry-based phenotyping platform.

Our services include:

  • Replicating the whole crop production cycle (tillage, drilling, plant establishment, crop development, harvest and post-harvest) to test for optimum growing conditions, as well as testing the effect and fate of any plant/soil product. This can be achieved using the custom-built soil modules inside the glasshouse or pots in our walk-in growth rooms.
  • Research data is used to enhance the crop-protection qualities of soil, which are fundamental for resilient and sustainable crop health.
  • Effective cross-rotational use of cover and companion crops, optimising precision tillage for seedbed preparation, bio-remediation of soil structure, identification of quality traits/crop resilience markers, screening of germplasm challenged with specific soil conditions, investigating weed control, improved modelling of pesticide fate and resistance within soils, proof of concept and development of novel technologies and climate-change studies.
  • Monitor root development over time non-destructively using the CHAP root scanner, which is sensitive enough to observe root hairs in soil.
  • The erosion laboratory focuses on hydrology experiments covering run-off and leachate studies among others. It is also possible to test the effect of rainfall intensity and soil surface sealing on seedling germination and emergence, as well as contamination on salad leaves arising from rain splash soil detachment. The rainfall simulators can be calibrated with the CHAP laser optical distrometer to give representative rainfall events with realistic drop sizes, velocities and energy.
  • Collaboration with Agri-EPI to offer a glasshouse-based sensor platform for use in pilot-scale growth trials requiring phenotyping, including early detection of biotic and abiotic stresses, as well as the development of sensors for UAV applications.
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For any further information about this capability or to discuss a collaboration and/or grant for a commercially funded project, complete the form below.

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