Universität Bonn

INRES Crop Science

Comparison of direct and indirect methods to measure leaf area index in summer crops / winter crops

Master Thesis

Research area

Crop Science

Motivation / State of the art / Relevance

Leaf area index (LAI) is an important indicator of the dynamics of crop growth as its directly related to light interception and thus, assimilate production. Destructive LAI is the most accurate method; however, it can be time consuming. Devices for indirect measurements such as the Sunscan device are available, but limited information is available on whether both measurements are comparable and if its accuracy may vary by crop or developmental stage.  

Methodology / Procedure / Workscope / external cooperation

Selected crops for this thesis will be maize and soybean. LAI will be collected by using the SunScan device and the destructive method. The sampling will be carried out two times during the season, one around BBCH 40 and 65.

The field experiment is located at a research center near Berlin; therefore, the student should be willing to travel to the experimental site near Berlin two times for a three-day visit for the data collection around mid-July and Early-August (subject to discussion). Expenses will be covered.

Please note there is also the option to conduct this thesis with winter crops (rapeseed, barley and rye, data collection in this case would be mid-April and mid-May).

Expected results

Understand whether the SunScan derived LAI data is comparable to the destructive method and whether the accuracy varies by crop and phenological stage.


6 Month



Previous knowledge

Crop physiology


Dr. Thomas Gaiser, Dr. Ixchel Hernandez


Dr. Ixchel Hernandez-Ochoa (ihernandez@uni-bonn.de)

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