Intensive fields are installations set up to allow the detailed study in the field (natural light condition) of hundreds of plant micro-plots through frequent measures of several plant traits. Intensive fields are highly equipped in order to monitor both the plants phenotype and the environment during the plant growth cycle. The quasi-continuous data acquisition paired with the storage of time courses enables the study of the plant growth dynamics, which can be analyzed with respect to the dynamics of environmental variables. Intensive fields can therefore host experiments aimed at deciphering complex plant traits through the study of genotypic variation and genotype-by-environment interaction.
The combination of high frequency measurements and the high number of monitored variables (both phenotypic and environmental) makes intensive fields a framework for high throughput plant phenotyping under natural conditions. Additionally, some intensive field installations, referred to as semi-controlled intensive field sites, are equipped to alter specific key environmental conditions in order to simulate future climatic scenarios, for example through rainout shelters which can be used to generate drought or a FACE (Free-Air CO2 Enrichment) system to simulate elevated CO2 condition. There is usually a trade-off between the level of control and the throughput, intensive field installations typically involve some hundreds of micro-plots whereas high throughput field installations typically involve thousands of micro-plots.