Autonomous root scanner

Within the framework of two Bachelor theses (Forest sciences, Civil engineering) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) this project will develop and test an RaspberryPi-based scanner system for autonomous, continuous imaging of roots and the rhizosphere (approx. 0-30 cm soil depth) in forestal and agricultural production systems.


Special emphasis will be laid on: 

  • low power supply (12 V, battery- and/or solar-powered, for field use)
  • low costs (to allow the operation of a sufficient number of scanner systems in the field for statistical reasons)
  • durability (waterproof housing, pressure and scratch resistant)
  • versatility under a broad range of environmental conditions (frost, condensing, etc.)
  • wireless communication for set-up, troubleshooting (and to readout images)

The function of a range of prototypes will be evaluated / demonstrated in a greenhouse experiment and in situ and timelapse movies of root system development will be created for use in teaching at BOKU.

Project Partners

Funding SouRce - 2018-2019

Call: Bachelor theses

Funded by: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Vienna Scientific Instruments GmbH

Funding duration: 6-9 month


  • Dannoura, M., Y. Kominami, N. Makita, and H. Oguma. 2012. Flat Optical Scanner Method and Root Dynamics Measuring Roots. Pages 127-133 in S. Mancuso, editor. Measuring roots - An updated approach. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Nakahata, R., and A. Osawa. 2017. Fine root dynamics after soil disturbance evaluated with a root scanner method. Plant and Soil 419:467-487.