Why collect plant data with a scoring app ?

Romain Royer


Marketing Cooperator

February 13, 2024

10 min

To characterize plant phenotype, you observe its development and take notations in the field. You may use pen and paper or a tablet, what matters is how much energy you need to get useful results. There are 3 main ways to score plant traits:

  •  Paper leaves more freedom to the operator taking notations
  • Spreadsheets can be  applications are easy to use, but time-consuming, and they don't prevent from losing data
  • Professional applications such as RnDExp® Mobile enable to collect data securely and save time. Besides, special features such as image capture, vocal recognition and synchronization can be really handy.

Observations in the field according to some standards that enable to compare data. An application supports breeders all along the scoring campaign. Let's see the benefits brought about by a plant scoring app on three data collection processes.

Picture 06: Corn scoring at Caussade Semences.

Secure Flower monitoring with a plant scoring app

In this example we take notations from Morel's Cyclamen nursery. The technician follows a route along the field map. Labels on the plots of the map display information that ensure the operator is on the right plot, such as variety names. Every variable is configured with specific properties, such as shortcuts or limited choices. Those features of the plant scoring app are really important to avoid human mistakes, get homogeneous notations and accelerate the input.

  • Vigour notations are limited in number of digits to avoid typos that generate outliers.
  • The flowering date has been configured with a  "Date shortcut": 5 for today, 6 for tomorrow, 4 for yesterday, 3 for two days ago and so on.
  • All diseases are listed in a limited choice configured with a keyboad shortcut: 1 for Rust, 2 for Leaf Blight, 3 for Phoma and so on.

Such features are used also for Corn height notation, on every plot the technician measures several Corn stalks and input it in a "Plant-by-plant scoring" window. All the figures will be averaged into a plot notation by the plant scoring app.

Picture 02: Height scoring.
"Plant scoring app is really important to avoid human mistakes, get homogeneous notations and accelerate the input".

Automate vegetable monitoring with a plant scoring app

Several steps of vegetable scoring can be automated to help technicians save time and improve their efficiency in the greenhouse. A good example is the weight notation that can be digitalized by connecting identification and measurements devices.

Picture 03: Tomato weight direct input.

In the field, automation starts by digitalizing the route along which the technician will take notations. It enables the plant scoring app to select automatically the next plot to score. Then scoring can be accelerated by variable configurations such as "auto-enter", "auto-copy" or "default value".

Picture 04: Voice recognition radish scoring.

Voice recognition lets the operator manipulate the plants while "speaking" to the app. In this example the operator takes hand-free radish notations of drought resistance. The application tells the idenfiers, then the technician says directly the 3 notations one by one.

Taking pictures can be the best way for breeders to visualize the characteristics of a cultivar at a glance in their breeding software, but how to link the photo with the variety ID? A plant scoring app can uses tablet camera to capture the image directly in the notation database, which will be centralized in the research IT system.

Preparing a fleet of tablets, data transfers and synchronization

Preparing a notation campaign involves setting up several tablets with the same configuration so that all technicians take standardized notations at the same time. And at the end of the day, results are centralized in the research software. These operations can be done manually by Excel or CSV transfers, or by synchronization to a central server.

Every testing department has specific needs and customs, but most can save time and work more securely and comfortably by automating data transfers and sharing searches, such as Caussade Semences seed company's testing department who manage a fleet of dozens of tablets with RnDExp® Mobile plant scoring app.

After importing the field results from the plant scoring app, breeders and testers analyze the data directly in the breeding software.

Picture 05: Scoring data transfers.

Plant scoring app is the key to answer the challenges of real time and big data in field experimentation. Of course, some technical matters must be managed, such as battery life, connectivity, inaccurate notations, but it is still the most efficient and cost-effective way to collect data from the field.​ It reduces human mistakes without middleman entries or copies and increases productivity.

A critical insight of data collection is the preparation of the fieldbooks and data exports. Bridges between the plant scoring app and the plant breeding software are crucial to optimizes field experimentation Enabling more data to be collected and imported easily from every plot, it prepares the research department to bigger volumes of data (satellite, UAV, robots, environmental...).

A standard application such as RnDExp® Mobile is maintained over years and adapted to plant research needs. The professional application has very handy features for scoring plant experiment data. Many options are available to configure the tool to the way crop data is collected :

  • Interactive tools to guide users (Routes, Field Maps…)
  • Variables definition (Number? Letter?...)
  • Shortcuts to enter quickly data
  • Automatic calculations (Multi-Notations…)
  • Standard lists of variables
  • Shortcuts to save time and only store homogeneous data
  • Integrated to your research database or breeding software

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