Traceable Calibration, Performance Metrics, and Uncertainty Estimates of Minirhizotron Digital Imagery for Fine-Root Measurements

Publication Type: Journal Article

Authors: Joshua Roberti, Michael SanClements, Henry Loescher, Edward Ayres, Ben Bond-Lamberty

Source: PLoS ONE, Volume 9 p.e112362 (2014)

URL:
https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112362


Abstract

Even though fine-root turnover is a highly studied topic, it is often poorly understood as a result of uncertainties inherent in its sampling, e.g., quantifying spatial and temporal variability. While many methods exist to quantify fine-root turnover, use of minirhizotrons has increased over the last two decades, making sensor errors another source of uncertainty. Currently, no standardized methodology exists to test and compare minirhizotron camera capability, imagery, and performance. This paper presents a reproducible, laboratory-based method by which minirhizotron cameras can be tested and validated in a traceable manner. The performance of camera characteristics was identified and test criteria were developed: we quantified the precision of camera location for successive images, estimated the trueness and precision of each camera`s ability to quantify root diameter and root color, and also assessed the influence of heat dissipation introduced by the minirhizotron cameras and electrical components. We report detailed and defensible metrology analyses that examine the performance of two commercially available minirhizotron cameras. These cameras performed differently with regard to the various test criteria and uncertainty analyses. We recommend a defensible metrology approach to quantify the performance of minirhizotron camera characteristics and determine sensor-related measurement uncertainties prior to field use. This approach is also extensible to other digital imagery technologies. In turn, these approaches facilitate a greater understanding of measurement uncertainties (signal-to-noise ratio) inherent in the camera performance and allow such uncertainties to be quantified and mitigated so that estimates of fine-root turnover can be more confidently quantified. &copy2014 Roberti et al.

NEON Author(s):