Australian Plant Phenomics Network (APPN)

Aerospace - astronomy - satellites, Agriculture - horticulture - viticulture, Biological and life sciences, Engineering, Environmental sciences and technologies, Information and computing sciences, Mathematical sciences, Physical sciences
Bioinformatics, Data access, Field-based observational infrastructure, Imaging and image analysis, Metadata, Phenotyping, Remote sensing, Specialised environments (grow rooms - secure remote access labs - laboratories)

About this Provider

APPN is a coordinated network of nine national research infrastructure nodes hosted by renowned plant research organisations across Australia. We provide open access to state-of-the-art plant phenotyping technologies, underpinned by multidisciplinary expertise and FAIR data principles, to enable research excellence and innovation, and to accelerate research output.

Our advanced imaging technologies and climate sensors enable researchers to study plants under different conditions (e.g. drought, heat or nutrient stress) as they can be grown in semi and fully controlled greenhouses, growth rooms and field environments. A variety of sensing technologies (e.g. RGB, fluorescence, hyperspectral, LiDAR) are available in APPN’s enclosed environments, or via airborne or ground-based vehicles in field or remote sites.

Semi and fully automated systems accelerate the speed, detail and accuracy of crop performance measurement across all growth stages. Sophisticated experimental design, data management and analysis of experimental data helps researchers and industry understand and address the biggest challenges facing Australian agriculture.

Contact Information


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The APPN team includes specialists in raising plants, managing controlled growth environments, advanced imaging systems, mechatronics, computer science and data science.

Our infrastructure is made available to academic and commercial plant scientists from Australia and around the world on a fee-based basis, to help address complex problems in plant and agricultural sciences.

APPN also makes its infrastructure and expertise available to early career researchers through our Postgraduate Internship Awards (PIA) program. This program is open to researchers enrolled at any Australian University and provides up to $10,000 of infrastructure access to help students study their plant science questions.


APPN aims to transform Australian plant science using innovative phenotyping, automation and data science to solve our nation’s biggest agricultural challenges. APPN aims to significantly accelerate the rate and precision of agricultural data collection through:

APPN provides researchers and industry with open access to multidisciplinary expertise and novel plant phenotyping infrastructure to deliver insights into crop performance in controlled environments and the field

We offer a suite of plant phenotyping tools available for deployment anywhere in Australia to support high-throughput and deep phenotyping in the field, including FieldExplorer, UAVs and large scale crop phenotyping and analysis.

APPN continuously tests and offers frontier technologies suitable for Australian conditions to underpin research excellence and innovation

APPN integrates Australia’s plant phenomics expertise into a nationwide, coordinated network that promotes knowledge transfer, resource sharing and collaboration

APPN develops and shares improved methods for plant phenotyping underpinned by FAIR data principles

We work to upskill researchers, students, industry stakeholders and APPN staff to maintain Australia’s position as a leader in plant phenomics.


APPN provides access to a range of advanced technologies that accurately and rapidly measure the performance of plants in different environments non-destructively and over time. We also deliver project design solutions tailored to the specific needs of facility users.

APPN infrastructure and expertise supports academia and industry pursuing research in the following areas:

Plant phenomics

Plant physiology

Plant pathology

Agricultural science

Crop disease and pest control

Crop nutrition and management

Crop science

Crop breeding / pre-breeding

Crop modelling

Crop management practices

Horticultural research and development

Plant genetics

Genetic engineering

Molecular biology

Synthetic biology

Environmental science

Data management

Data visualisation


APPN staff apply mechatronic engineering to plant phenotyping, develop advanced image analysis techniques (including novel applications of computer science and AI), and support best-practice data management and analysis, in order to advance understanding of plant form, function, performance and more.

Our diverse team offers expertise across a range of disciplines:

Digital plant phenotyping via advanced cameras and sensors.

Robotics and Automation of plant measurement

Biostatistics, experimental design and bioinformatics


Data analytics and software engineering

Plant and agricultural science


In general, research enabled by APPN is aimed at:

  • developing crops with an improved tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress
  • improving resource use efficiency in plants (e.g. water, nutrients, carbon),
  • improving decision making in crop management during crop production.

Climate sensor network.

Advanced experimental design, FAIR data management and analysis of experimental data.

Controlled environment phenotyping:

High-throughput plant phenotyping platforms equipped with a range of sensors (hyperspec, RGB, LiDAR)

Gravimetric irrigation systems (DroughtSpotter technologies)

X-ray CT scanning

Specialised controlled environment spaces capable of precisely simulating specific heat and frost events.

Rhizoboxes for root trait research.

Field phenotyping:

Ground-based and airborne vehicles equipped with a range of sensors (hyperspec, RGB, LiDAR)

Various handheld devices for crop monitoring

Rhizolysimeters for root trait research in near real world conditions.

Mobile phenotyping units to access remote areas:

Ground-based and airborne vehicles equipped with a range of sensors (hyperspec, RGB, LiDAR)

Various handheld devices for crop monitoring

Our facilities are available to academic and commercial plant scientists from Australia and around the world.

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Dr Stuart Newman

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Beryl Morris

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Merran Smith

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Prof Michael Dobbie

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Prof. Michael Dobbie has worked to establish and operate Phenomics Australia since its foundation in 2007, serving as CEO since 2013. Prior to leading the development and implementation of these national research infrastructures, Michael was a biomedical research with a PhD in Neurochemistry from the University of London and gained over 20 Years’ experience at the bench in field including genetics, vascular biology, cancer angiogenesis, neuroscience, metabolism, developmental biology, malaria and oxidative stress.

Mark Stickells

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Craig Humphrey

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Wojtek Goscinski

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Prof Sean Smith

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Dr Lisa Yen

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Tamin Darwish

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Michael Steer

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Dr Michelle Heupel

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Thomas McGoram

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James Whisstock

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Ceri Brenner

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Prof Pascal Perez


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Rosie Hicks

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Dr Jane Fitzpatrick

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Prof Andy Hogg

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Jamie Schultz

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Dr Debbie Eagles

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Heath Marks

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Tim Rawling


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Mark holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts (Ancient History), and Bachelor of Science with Honours (Astrophysics). Upon completion of his MBA, he received the Vice-Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Notre Dame, Australia.