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A Device for the Automated Measurement of Maize Stalk Stiffness and Strength

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Samuel McKinnon

Additional Presenters:
Jacob Chase, Suzanna Gilbert, Jarom Harris
Modern, high-yielding grain crops can be susceptible to wind-induced failure of the stalk. The development of grain crops that are both high-yielding and structurally robust requires automated testing of stalk strength. Stalk stiffness (flexural rigidity) has been shown to be highly correlated with stalk strength, and thus provides an excellent proxy for strength measurements (which are destructive). Flexural stiffness measurements enable strength to be estimated without causing damage, thus preserving the crop and enabling longitudinal studies.
We present a new device that will autonomously collect stalk stiffness data at a rate of 1 second per stalk. Existing devices require manual manipulation and take approximately 24 seconds per stalk, which is much too slow for modern breeding and genetics studies [1]. The new device will displace grain stalks with a load cell; by measuring force and displacement, flexural stiffness can be calculated. The device will be mountable to a vehicle that moves through the field. The automation of these measurements will enable many advances in the structural performance and development of crops.
[1] Cook, D. D., de la Chapelle, W., Lin, T.-C., Lee, S. Y., Sun, W., & Robertson, D. J. (2019). Darling: A device for assessing resistance to lodging in grain crops. Plant Methods, 15(1).
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #B20
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Douglas Cook