The canopy foliage clumping effect is primarily caused by the non-random distribution of canopy foliage. Currently, measurements of clumping index (CI) by handheld instruments is typically time- and labor-intensive. We propose a low-cost and low-power automatic measurement system called Multi-point Linear Array of Optical Sensors (MLAOS), which consists of three above-canopy and nine below-canopy optical sensors that capture plant transmittance at different times of the day. Data communication between the MLAOS node is facilitated by using a ZigBee network, and the data are transmitted from the field MLAOS to a remote data server using the Internet. The choice of the electronic element and design of the MLAOS software is aimed at reducing costs and power consumption. A power consumption test showed that, when a 4000 mAH Li-ion battery is used, a maximum of 8-10 months of work can be achieved. A field experiment on a coniferous forest revealed that the CI of MLAOS may reveal a clumping effect that occurs within the canopy. In further work, measurement of the multi-scale clumping effect can be achieved by utilizing a greater number of MLAOS devices to capture the heterogeneity of the plant canopy.
Qu, Y., Fu, L., Han, W., Zhu, Y., & Wang, J. (2014). MLAOS: A multi-point linear array of optical sensors for coniferous foliage clumping index measurement. Sensors (Switzerland), 14(5), 9271–9289. https://doi.org/10.3390/s140509271