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Plant Breeders Aren’t Robots, They’re Human

Published August 16, 2018 by Christopher Leonard, President, Agronomix Software Inc.


Each year, I spend several weeks analyzing data, navigating back and forth between Excel sheets and plugging in data. I have about a two-week window when this is all I do. I stop only to sleep and eat … and my family, well, they don’t see much of me during that time of year.

That was the story of one of our customers and, unfortunately, many plant breeders around the world share this same story.

There’s this finite window of time which plant breeders must work within to analyze six to 12 months worth of data they’ve been collecting and laboring over. Plant breeders are known to agonize over these decisions, as they significantly impact the future of their and/or the company’s plant breeding program, and thus products released onto the market.

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These can be multimillion-dollar decisions that have the potential to change the direction of a program — for better or for worse.

Once the decision is made about which hybrids, varieties or cultivars should advance in the breeding program, the seeds are then packaged and sent to the next phase of production — this could be in the next greenhouse over or in another hemisphere. Regardless, timing is everything, as agriculture hinges on cycles and you have to catch those windows of opportunity.

It’s going to be a stressful decision, regardless, and one you won’t likely stop worrying about. But why not make this process as easy and automatic as possible, while maintaining your family life? That’s what a highly relational database, such as AGROBASE Generation II®, can do for you.

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It can sometimes be hard to describe the value of a highly relational database and how it works. In short, a highly relational database is one in which all the data is interconnected, meaning you no longer have to navigate between Excel sheets, struggling to call up the information you want to see for comparison. With a few clicks of a button, the data can be sorted based on a number of criteria, ranging from the presence of a certain trait or characteristic to dates, and from locations to maturity.

This type of database automates data analysis and data recall, allowing you to spend your time evaluating and comparing the data from different trials. Not only does it automate data analysis, but it’s also known to shave days off the decision-making process.

While the software won’t make the decision for you, it will certainly give you confidence in making your decision, with all the data to back it up. Plus, you’ll be able to forego entering robot mode.

(First published on | August 2017)

Christopher Leonard, MBCS is President of Agronomix Software – leading software for plant breeders and variety testers.

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