Plant height is a key indicator to dynamically measure crop health and overall growth status, which is widely used to estimate the biological yield and final grain yield of crops. The traditional manual measurement method is subjective, inefficient, and time-consuming. And the plant height obtained by sampling cannot evaluate the height of the whole field. In the last decade, remote sensing technology has developed rapidly in agriculture, which makes it possible to collect crop height information with high accuracy, high frequency, and high efficiency. This paper firstly reviewed the literature on obtaining plant height by using remote sensing technology for understanding the research progress of height estimation in the field. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform with visible-light camera and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) were the most frequently used methods. And main research crops included wheat, corn, rice, and other staple food crops. Moreover, crop height measurement was mainly based on near-field remote sensing platforms such as ground, UAV, and airborne. Secondly, the basic principles, advantages, and limitations of different platforms and sensors for obtaining plant height were analyzed. The altimetry process and the key techniques of LiDAR and visible-light camera were discussed emphatically, which included extraction of crop canopy and soil elevation information, and feature matching of the imaging method. Then, the applications using plant height data, including the inversion of biomass, lodging identification, yield prediction, and breeding of crops were summarized. However, the commonly used empirical model has some problems such large measured data, unclear physical significance, and poor universality. Finally, the problems and challenges of near-field remote sensing technology in plant height acquisition were proposed. Selecting appropriate data to meet the needs of cost and accuracy, improving the measurement accuracy, and matching the plant height estimation of remote sensing with the agricultural application need to be considered. In addition, we prospected the future development was prospected from four aspects of 1) platform and sensor, 2) bare soil detection and interpolation algorithm, 3) plant height application research, and 4) the measurement difference of plant height between agronomy and remote sensing, which can provide references for future research and method application of near-field remote sensing height measurement.