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So, I didn't bother to figure out why the warning is there, but I figured out why your code doesn't work. Apparently, gazebo puts whatever your put inside <plugin> inside some <sdf> tags. I find this out by printing _sdf->ToString(" ");.

It showed this:

<plugin name='FieldGroundPlugin' filename=''>

You probably didn't expect the sdf tags to wrap it all.

change line 34 to say something like this->sdf = _sdf->GetElement("sdf"); instead of this->sdf = _sdf. Then it should behave the way you expect.

I think we should either document this better, or fix it so it doesn't add "sdf" tags. I'm not sure which is the better option.