Unique technology now makes it possible for consultants and researchers to make leaf area index (LAI) measurements in all uniform sky conditions, greatly increasing efficiency and providing more accurate information on crop productivity. LI-COR Biosciences, producer of instrument systems for environmental research, announces the LAI-2200C Plant Canopy Analyzer, a non-destructive way to easily and accurately measure leaf area index.

?The new LAI-2200C utilizes gap fraction to easily and accurately compute leaf area index on all types of canopies, including row crops, under many different sky conditions.

?Previous technology in the field permitted leaf area index measurement only at specific sun angles or under cloud cover. "The new system implements light-scattering correction software that dramatically increases the instrument's application in all types of uniform sky conditions, making it more convenient to use," says Rod Madsen, LI-COR product manager.

"Leaf area index is one key driver of crop productivity. Leaf area index is directly related to many of the factors that farmers view as production reducers, such as lack of moisture, too much moisture, soil nutrients, hail damage, and pests. Understanding LAI can help reveal fields or portions of fields that may be under-producing," says Madsen. "The LAI-2200C overcomes many of the traditional problems associated with measuring LAI, allowing easier and more accurate measurements in daylight situations."

The LAI-2200C employs the gap fraction technique — a powerful and practical tool available for indirect sensing of plant canopy structure. While other types of LAI measurements, such as ceptometry, may be less effective, or inaccurate for row crops and non-uniform canopies, the LAI-2200C provides the ability to restrict the field of view (both azimuth and zenith), making it ideal for certain agricultural situations.