Quantifying 3D vegetative growth and light environment for orchard trees with terrestrial lidar and computational modeling

In orchard plantation systems, vegetative growth is a critical plant ecophysiological process that regulates tree architecture, carbon sequestration, and production of tree crops. Tree carbon allocation and growth patterns are determined by both genetic differences and tissue-level micro-environment. However, accurate and cost-effective quantification of tree vegetative growth has been challenging, especially at fine spatial scales (e.g. branch-level). In this project, we propose to use portable terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to track fine-scale 3D changes in leaf area and woody volume for several cultivars of apple trees. The project will generate public and accessible workflow and software to quantify 3D tree architecture and vegetative growth and enhance our quantitative and predictive understanding of plant carbon allocation, which can guide sustainable management (e.g., pruning and optimizing carbon sequestration) for tree plantations and forests.

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