Plant growth and phenotyping

Crop Science

More versatile and efficient crop production systems require an in-depth understanding of dynamic plant growth processes. Novel time-lapse imaging procedures acting at different spatial and temporal scales are core elements of the toolbox of our interdisciplinary team. In climate chambers, greenhouses and field sites, we apply visual, near-infrared and thermal imaging to quantify shoot and root architecture, dynamic and short-term growth processes as well as photosynthesis, gas exchange and compound composition of major and alternative crops alike.

These ‘phenotyping’ analyses, in concert with a range of approaches from plant ecophysiology, breeding and molecular analysis, will help elucidating plant genotypes and crop production systems that are optimized to regionally differing ecological niches. Moreover, they will facilitate an improved understanding of basic rules governing plant-environment-management interactions. This in turn is a necessary prerequisite to ameliorate the knowledge transfer between lab and field as well as between plant biology and agricultural sciences.

Recent Publications

  • Evaluation of Image-Based Phenotyping Methods for Measuring Water Yam (Dioscorea alata L.) Growth and Nitrogen Nutritional Status under Greenhouse and Field Conditions
    Frossard, Emmanuel; Liebisch, Frank; Hgaza, Valerie Kouame; Kiba, Delwende Innocent; Kirchgessner, Norbert; Mueller, Laurin; Mueller, Patrick; Pouya, Nestor; Ringger, Cecil; Walter, Achim
    Agronomy-basel, 10.3390/agronomy11020249 FEB 2021
  • Rethinking temperature effects on leaf growth, gene expression and metabolism: Diel variation matters
    Kronenberg, Lukas; Yates, Steven; Ghiasi, Shiva; Roth, Lukas; Friedli, Michael; Ruckle, Michael E; Werner, Roland A; Tschurr, Flavian; Binggeli, Melanie; Buchmann, Nina; Studer, Bruno; Walter, Achim
    Plant Cell And Environment   DOI: 10.1111/pce.13958 DEC 2020
  • PhenoCams for Field Phenotyping: Using Very High Temporal Resolution Digital Repeated Photography to Investigate Interactions of Growth, Phenology, and Harvest Traits
    Aasen, Helge; Kirchgessner, Norbert; Walter, Achim; Liebisch, Frank
    Frontiers In Plant Science  DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00593  2020
  • Site-specific nitrogen management in winter wheat supported by low-altitude remote sensing and soil data
    Argento, F.; Anken, T.; Abt, F.; Vogelsanger, E.; Walter, A.; et al.
    Precision Agriculture  DOI: 10.1007/s11119-020-09733-3 JUN 2020
  • The platformGrowScreen-Agarenables identification of phenotypic diversity in root and shoot growth traits of agar grown plants
    Nagel, Kerstin A.; Lenz, Henning; Kastenholz, Bernd; Gilmer, Frank; Averesch, Andreas; et al.
    Plant Methods  DOI: 10.1186/s13007-020-00631-3 Published: JUN 23 2020
  • Status quo of adoption of precision agriculture enabling technologies in Swiss plant production
    Groher, Tanja; Heitkaemper, Katja; Walter, Achim; Liebisch, Frank; Umstaetter, Christina
    Precision Agriculture  DOI: 10.1007/s11119-020-09723-5  Published: DEC 2020
  • Assessment of Multi-Image Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Based High-Throughput Field Phenotyping of Canopy Temperature
    Perich, Gregor; Hund, Andreas; Anderegg, Jonas; Roth, Lukas; Boer, Martin P.; et al.
    Frontiers In Plant Science  DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00150 Published: FEB 25 2020
  • Spectral Vegetation Indices to Track Senescence Dynamics in Diverse Wheat Germplasm
    Anderegg, Jonas; Yu, Kang; Aasen, Helge; Walter, Achim; Liebisch, Frank; Hund, Andreas
    Frontiers In Plant Science 10 Article Number: 1749 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01749 JAN 28 2020
  • Effect of species identity and diversity on biomass production and its stability in cover crop mixtures
    Wendling, Marina; Charles, Raphael; Herrera, Juan; Amosse, Camille; Jeangros, Bernard; et al.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment,  DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.04.032, SEP 1 2019
  • Phenotyping a Dynamic Trait: Leaf Growth of Perennial Ryegrass Under Water Limiting Conditions
    Yates, S; Jaskune, K; Liebisch, F; Nagelmuller, S; Kirchgessner, N; Kolliker, R; Walter, A; Brazauskas, G; Studer, B
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 10 10.3389/fpls.2019.00344 MAR 22 2019
  • A spatio temporal spectral framework for plant stress phenotyping
    Khanna, R; Schmid, L; Walter, A; Nieto, J; Siegwart, R; Liebisch, F
    PLANT METHODS, 15 10.1186/s13007-019-0398-8 FEB 7 2019
  • Precision Farming at the Nexus of Agricultural Production and the Environment
    Finger, Robert; Swinton, Scott M.; El Benni, Nadja; Walter Achim
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF RESOURCE ECONOMICS 11:313-335,  DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-100518-093929, 2019
Achim Walter

Prof. Dr. Achim Walter
ETH Zurich
Institute of Agricultural Sciences
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 32 72

Research topics

  • Root and leaf growth analysis
  • Phenotyping
  • Ecophysiology
  • Plant Breeding
  • Biotic and Abiotic Stress
  • Agronomy



  • Primary and Secondary Metabolism
  • Image Processing
  • Epigenetics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Insect Interactions
  • Global Change Biology