Is Breeding Stuck or Moving Forward?
We are citizens of the world, meeting different people in different cultures. We listen as they share their challenges and struggles to maintain their breeding data only to find it is not available as they need it. Every company that we meet has some type of solution in place for recording and managing breeding information. Only a few have a modern solution that actually works. Many existing solutions are cumbersome and have been a frustration for their users for years. Perhaps the original data was not presented correctly or too many naming mistakes have occurred over time when different researchers are involved. This can lead to the painful conclusion that it is easy to make a mess out of quality breeding data. These bad experiences have left marks on users who now doubt that a new software implementation can actually end well.
It is genuinely difficult to find sophisticated and well-designed solutions to provide the information, management guidelines and support needed to answer the unexpected, out-of-the box questions that science often presents. No Excel or old SQL database can provide this.
Looking horizontally at breeding companies of the world emphasizes the technological gap between where we are and where we want to be. There are already many innovative IT solutions being offered but few are being adopted and implemented.
Our industry is quickly developing new technologies and solutions: advanced GMO methods, CRISPR, new legislations, emerging crops, new breeding intelligence algorithms, precision agriculture, social networks of genes and more. Increasingly large amounts of data are being collected by devices and less by man. Pictures collected by drones allow extracting phenotypic observations. Data sources sensors, robots, and seed counting and phenotyping machines can record, filter and analyze mega data. System recommendations for parent combinations to cross, irrigation, chemical treatments, storing conditions, propagation, weather forecasts, algorithms providing roadmaps etc. all aiming to help creating next generation supreme products. In reality, most companies still have messy, unorganized breeding databases (or just data) that is somehow ‘stuck’ and will not evolve.
In the future, data will stream from all those sources and be collected by one core breeding software solution. Knowing this is where agriculture is headed, it is clear that anyone involved with plant research must be preparing for this near-future reality and implement quality software than can interface different input sources simultaneously to backup and support data collection and breeding operations.