54The increase in population is leading to an unprecedented demand on agriculture and natural resources. To meet human and nature needs, food production must drastically increase while, at the same time, agriculture’s environmental footprint must decrease dramatically. In times of global change, a better understanding of the dynamic spatiotemporal adaptation of our crops is needed to provide the basis for crop breeding, management, and protection measures. To scientifically understand the mechanisms behind the dynamic structural and functional adaptation of plant traits, it is mandatory to phenotype plants under natural, that is, fluctuating environmental conditions in the field. Plant phenotyping aims for a quantitative description of plant traits, which is affected by genetic variation as well as by the environment.
In this chapter, we review and develop concepts for phenotyping of dynamic plant traits in the field. We give an overview on the most prominent sensors and measurement concepts that are the backbone for plant phenotyping initiatives. We focus on the quantification of most relevant traits, which are related to functional and structural root development, plant structure, water relations and transpiration, and photosynthetic energy conversion. In addition to the sensors and measurement modes, we review positioning systems that allow for a reproducible recording of experimental plots at different temporal and spatial resolution. Finally, the quantitative data on the plant’s phenotype is integrated with environmental data and information on anthropogenic impact to better understand gene × environment × management interactions, which ultimately will be the basis for a sustainable and resource-efficient use of our plant resources in a future bio-based economy.