SS1 SunScan Canopy Analysis System

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SS1 SunScanSunScan canopy analyserSS1 SunScan canopy analyserSS1 SunScan canopy analyser in low lying crops


"Our group has been working with the SunScan Canopy analysis system for over 10 years whilst researching the cultivation of table grapes, wine grapes and olives. The equipment is ideal for robust field work and we have benefitted greatly from its simple operation and easy downloading of data. We found the non-destructive LAI measurements that the SunScan produced to be highly correlated to destructive measurements in table grapes (y=0.982x-0.0366, R2=0.9825, n=18) and in wine grapes. The SunScan has been a great success in terms of meeting our experimental research needs." Dr. Yishai Netzer
Faculty of Agricultural, Food & Environmental Quality Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Measures incident and transmitted PAR in canopies
  • Direct display of Leaf Area Index (LAI)
  • Usable in cloudy and clear conditions  
  • Proven, research-grade canopy analyser
  • Ideal for phenotyping applications

The SunScan plant canopy analyzer system uses field measurements of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) in crop canopies to provide valuable information about Leaf Area Index (LAI) and biomass production.

The SunScan plant canopy analyser is optimised for low regular canopies such as most agricultural crops. The 1m probe enables rapid spatial averaging of large areas and PAR mapping for non-uniform crops such as vineyards and orchards. With the unique BF5 reference PAR sunshine sensor, the SunScan plant canopy analyser can be used in most weather conditions.




Three configurations are available:

SS1-COM Complete System

This is the complete package of SunScan items, including SunScan Probe, SunData Software, PDA, BF5 Sunshine Sensor, tripod and carrying case.

The full system provides a powerful canopy analysis tool. It can instantly calculate LAI, measure PAR interception using either spot readings or unattended logging, and measure sunflecks.

SS1-COM-R4 Complete System with Radio Link

Includes a radio link between the modified SunScan Probe and BF5 Sunshine Sensor.

The radio link has a range of 100m to 200m and replaces the cable between the SunScan Probe and BF5 – particularly useful in taller canopies or where readings are required at widely spaced locations.

SS1-STD3 Standard System

The Standard system comprises of the SunsScan Probe, SunData Software and PDA.

The Standard System is able to make the full range of SunScan measurements, including LAI. The probe has to serve as its own above-canopy reference, so requires steady light conditions.

Ease of use

The SunScan plant canopy analyzer probe consists of 64 PAR Sensors embedded in a 1m long probe. Whenever a reading is taken, all sensors are scanned and the measurements sent to a hand-held PDA, type RPDA2, via an RS232 interface. The average PAR level from the Probe is read, but all 64 individual readings can be stored for more complete PAR mapping, or making linear transects. Automatic logging can be selected to obtain readings over a period of time at a fixed point. If connected to a data logger the Probe can function as a Linear Quantum Sensor (also known as a line quantum sensor).

Windows Mobile PDA compatible

The SunScan plant canopy analyser is periodically updated and refined – building on valuable user feedback. The latest improvement enables SunScan to be used with compatible Windows Mobile PDAs, such as the RPDA2 hand-held PDA offered by Delta-T. The RPDA2 is very robust, easy to use and can hold more than 1 million readings on CompactFlash cards. LAI and other readings can be displayed, reviewed and stored in the field using SunData Software.


SunScan canopy analyser systems with the previous DCT2 Psion Workabout data terminal can be upgraded to the new RPDA2 with the benefit of improved ruggedness, simpler operation and full Windows Mobile capability.

Unique above-canopy reference sensor

The SunScan’s unique feature is an optional reference sensor, integrated into the design, to measure simultaneously the direct and diffuse light above the canopy. The BF5 Sunshine Sensor provides these above-canopy reference measurements quickly and conveniently. The BF5 uses an array of photodiodes and a unique shading pattern to calculate whether the sun is shining and to measure the direct and diffuse components of solar radiation. This completely avoids the need for troublesome shade ring adjustments required with conventional diffuse light sensors.

Radio Link option

An optional radio link connects the SunScan Probe and the BF5 reference sensor, removing the need for long connecting cables. The link operates over the 434MHz licence-free frequency and can transmit up to 250m line-of-sight or 100m to 200m in vegetation.

SunScan comparison with Li-Cor LAI-2000

A 2009 paper* in the Crop Science journal compared the use of SunScan canopy analyser and LAI-2000 systems for estimating LAI on upland rice grown in Benin. The authors found that the SunScan canopy analyser provided a highly significant measurement of LAI up to 4m2.m-2 compared to destructive sampling (slope of regression line = 1.00, R2 = 0.96) and in summary concluded that the SunScan can be used to estimate LAI of different upland rice cultivars with various types of canopy development. * Sone, C., K. Saito, and K. Futakuchi. 2009. Comparison of Three Methods for Estimating Leaf Area Index of Upland Rice Cultivars. Crop Sci. 49:1438-1443.

Leaf Area Index (LAI) in forests and woodlands

SunScan is ideal for analysing and characterising canopy in low regular canopies such as crops. However, for forest and woodland canopies, the Delta-T HemiView system is the correct choice.


 SunScan Probe type SS1
 Active area 1 m x 13 mm wide, sensor spacing 15.6 mm
 Spectral response 400 – 700 nm (PAR)
 Measurement time 120 ms
 Maximum reading 2500 µmol.m-2.s-1   
 Resolution 0.3 µmol.m-2.s-1  
 Linearity better than 1%
 Accuracy ± 10%
 Analogue output 1 mV per µmol.m-2.s-1  
Serial interfaceRS232, 9 pin female ‘D’ connector
 Environmental IP65, 0 – 60° C working temp
Size & Weight1300(l) x 100(w) x 130(h) mm, 1.7 kg
Power4 x AA Alkaline cells (lifetime up to 1 year)


Sunshine Sensor type BF5
Output sensitivity total & diffuse1 mV / µmol.m-2.s-1   PAR cosine corrected
AccuracyTotal ± 12%         ± 10 µmol.m-2.s-1
Diffuse ± 15%      ± 10 µmol.m-2.s-1
Temperature range-20 to + 50 °C with alkaline batteries
Range0 – 2500 µmol.m-2.s-1 (total & diffuse)
Spectral responsePAR (400-700 nm)
Power2 x AA Alkaline cells (lifetime up to 1 year)
Input voltage5 – 15 V DC (powered from SunScan)
Size & Weight120 x 122 x 95 mm, 635 g


Rugged PDA type RPDA2
Screen¼ VGA sunlight readable
Operating systemWindows Mobile 6
Display optionsa) LAI
b) PAR average
c) ALL individual sensor readings
EnvironmentalIP67, -30 °C to 60 °C, 1.2 m drop test
PowerRechargeable battery, 12 h continuous use
Memory>100 MB available
Size & Weight165 x 95 x 45 mm, 450 g


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