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Calculate plant surface area with smartphone app

Posted on Aug 15 2014 | IANS

New York, Aug 15 : Researchers have developed Easy Leaf Area - a free software written in an open-source programming language - to allow users to accurately measure leaf area from digital images in seconds.

Leaf measurements are often critical in plant physiological and ecological studies. Traditional methods have been time consuming and sometimes destructive to plant samples.

"It has always been a challenge to measure leaf surface area without damaging the plants or spending long hours in the lab. I decided to attempt to write software to automatically measure leaf and scale area from smartphone images," said Hsien Ming Easlon, a researcher at University of California, Davis.

Leaf area measurements are essential for estimating crop yields, water usage, nutrient absorption, plant competition and many other aspects of growth.

The digital images were taken with the Apple I-Phone 4 but any current smartphone camera or digital camera will do.

Once the images are uploaded to a computer, Easy Leaf Area can process hundreds of images and save the results to a spreadsheet-ready CSV file.

The Windows executable software is free to download and can be modified to suit specific experimental requirements.

By automating data analysis, researchers can save countless hours of manual labour, improve the accuracy and consistency of their results and reduce potential damages to their plant samples.

The study appeared in the journal Applications in Plant Sciences.

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