Precision Agriculture

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 296–312 | Cite as

Crop height variability detection in a single field by multi-temporal terrestrial laser scanning

  • Dirk HoffmeisterEmail author
  • Guido Waldhoff
  • Wolfgang Korres
  • Constanze Curdt
  • Georg Bareth


Information on crop height, crop growth and biomass distribution is important for crop management and environmental modelling. For the determination of these parameters, terrestrial laser scanning in combination with real-time kinematic GPS (RTK–GPS) measurements was conducted in a multi-temporal approach in two consecutive years within a single field. Therefore, a time-of-flight laser scanner was mounted on a tripod. For georeferencing of the point clouds, all eight to nine positions of the laser scanner and several reflective targets were measured by RTK–GPS. The surveys were carried out three to four times during the growing periods of 2008 (sugar-beet) and 2009 (mainly winter barley). Crop surface models were established for every survey date with a horizontal resolution of 1 m, which can be used to derive maps of plant height and plant growth. The detected crop heights were consistent with observations from panoramic images and manual measurements (R2 = 0.53, RMSE = 0.1 m). Topographic and soil parameters were used for statistical analysis of the detected variability of crop height and significant correlations were found. Regression analysis (R2 < 0.31) emphasized the uncertainty of basic relations between the selected parameters and crop height variability within one field. Likewise, these patterns compared with the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from satellite imagery show only minor significant correlations (r < 0.44).


Terrestrial laser scanning RTK–GPS Crop surface models Spatial variability Crop height 



We thank the anonymous reviewers, who significantly improved the paper. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the CRC/TR32, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). We also like to thank Topcon GmbH (Germany) and RIEGL Laser Measurement Systems GmbH (Austria) for continuous support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

We declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Hoffmeister
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guido Waldhoff
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Korres
    • 1
  • Constanze Curdt
    • 1
  • Georg Bareth
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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