Field Phenotyping under elevated CO2

The breedFACE facility allows growing plants under elevated CO2 in the field using Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology and quantifying plant traits from the automatic positioning system “Fieldsnake”.

The location of BreedFACE is currently in Campus Klein-Altendorf (50.628122, 6.98885), the experimental agricultural field station of the University Bonn, on a loamy-clay silt soil (luvisol). These rich soils are highly homogenous and in agricultural use for many years. The current practice is to allow for minimal two years before returning to the same field site such that crop rotation is followed and field homogeneity maintained. The BreedFACE is built such that under normal agronomic practice (fertilizers and pesticides applied by tractors) in breeder scale plots, from 1.5x3m, multiple genotypes can be cultivated at elevated CO2. Any crop that is suitable for the region and does not extend about 1 meter in height can be in principle grown under elevated CO2.

Figure 1: Breedface ring with Fieldsnake in winterwheat

The BreedFACE structure to elevate CO2 consists of an octagon of ~7.25 m steel pipes (~254 m2) that support PVC pipes with laser drilled holes each 20-30 cm for the ejection of CO2. CO2 is automatically controlled to be 600 ppm in the center of the ring. The steel pipes are fixed on modular poles that can increase in height with the growth of the plant canopy for homogenous CO2 applicatioon and standard agricultural practice. CO2 is obtained from two liquid CO2 storage tanks connected to a vaporizer. The storage tanks are placed on trailers which allows the BreedFACE to move location if needed. In total 3 rings can be operated simultaneously.

Figure 2: BreedFACE mobile liquid CO2 tank and vaporizer

The positioning system “Fieldsnake” is designed such that a large bridge of 21 meters can drive over the breedFACE rings and control areas. Along the bridge of the Fieldsnake a universal sensor mounting platform is moving which is GPS steered and positioned within <5cm accuracy automatic above plots. Sensors to quantify structural (e.g. PlantEye) and photosynthesis (e.g. LIFT) plant traits are integrated. Furthermore plant traits in the BreedFACE can be quantified from cameras mounted on Unmanned Air Vehicles in frequent use.

BreedFACE is part of the DPPN access, where DPPN e.V. aims to provide state-of-the-art infrastructures and phenotyping facilities for a wide range of plant traits from roots, shoots and seeds to the scientific community.

Last Modified: 31.01.2023