Systematic Evaluation of Field Crop Performance Using Modern Phenotyping Tools and Techniques

  • Christopher R. BoomsmaEmail author
  • Vladimir A. da Costa
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1864)


The genetic improvement of field crops through plant breeding and genetic modification is highly dependent on understanding, measuring, selecting, and manipulating phenotypes. Most phenotypes result from the complex interaction of a crop’s genetics with the environment and management practices in which that crop is grown. Linking gene to phenotype in field environments to create superior crop varieties can therefore be challenging, particularly for genetically complex traits that are difficult to measure. This chapter is designed to help readers overcome these difficulties by describing tools and techniques used in successful crop improvement programs. It provides methodologies that can be broadly applied across numerous situations irrespective of field crop, environment, modest financial resources, or other factors. The chapter’s focus is primarily on small- and large-scale, replicated, research plot-based screening trials since these trials are crucial, ubiquitous, and costly for both public- and private-sector crop improvement programs. To ease the understanding of the protocols discussed, this chapter’s materials and methods section is composed of ten subsections, with each subsection covering a critical portion of the field crop phenotyping process: regulatory, environmental, and safety considerations; trait identification and prioritization; environment characterization; field site selection; experimental design; field design, preparation, and management; crop and soil measurements; environmental monitoring; in-field data recording; and data management and analysis.

Key words

Field crop Environment characterization Field selection Experimental design Research plot Phenotyping Secondary trait Remote sensing Unmanned aerial vehicle 



The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), United States Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-AR0000593. The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the US Government or any agency thereof.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher R. Boomsma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vladimir A. da Costa
    • 2
  1. 1.American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of AmericaMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Kemin Industries, Inc.Des MoinesUSA

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