Caussade optimizes its field monitoring
This story takes palce in the testing department of the French seed company Caussade Semences: In 2016 they decided to otimizes their notation fieldbooks for Corn testing :
Standardize the data collection
✔ Improve the reliability and efficiency of Caussade Semences' testing team data collection
✔ Save time for project managers to prepare notation campaigns
✔ Avoid errors for technicians taking notes on Excel, paper or Psion
Tablets with RnDExp® Mobile
✔ Panasonic FZ G1 tablet with special stylus adapted to the field conditions
✔ RnDExp Mobile software that combines field map and collect form
✔ Progressive integration year after year, and software evolutions to fit the requirements
Fast and secure monitoring
✔ 3 years after, nearly the whole testing department is equipped (100 000 plots)
✔ All share the same hardware and software, resulting in more efficient use and support.
✔ Most of the 40 users reckon they save time, avoid errors and avoid much stress.
Implementation of the digital fieldbook for data collection at Caussade semences' testing activities
Jean-Marie, Testing manager at Caussade Semences France:
« Before 2014, every team had its own ways to take notations on paper or in a software working on Psion handheld computers. In my team most data collection was done on Excel, with the help of a separate field map on paper. During the notation campaigns, we were lacking some features, mainly to change notation routes offline in the field, and to input scattered information such as validation.
Technically speaking, we were facing computing drawbacks as well: It was stressful to always be careful to have the right excel file, and the right field printed before going to the field, even more when taking notations abroad. With this heterogeneous organization, breeders, experimenters and technicians were taking much time to prepare the notation campaigns. As well, it was difficult to support their hardware, software or configuration because of the diversity of devices and methods. Some methods required to prepare the sheets just before the notation, and when problems occurred we were losing a precious time, sometimes even delaying notations to the next day. Worse of all, it happened to lose a sheet of paper, or data from a device.
“ During the notation campaign, we were lacking some features […] facing computing drawbacks”
In February 2014, I was looking for a more universal tool that could be used by everyone, and heard of Doriane ‘s application RnDExp® Mobile during Doriane’s User Days. It looked flexible, displayed a field map and was suitable for direct measure input from scales and other devices via serial port. We decided to try it and equipped two ruggedized ACER tablets and a few PCs. I did the configuration myself thanks to the documentation provided and some help from their support, and soon I managed to use RnDExp® Mobile to input flowering date from the field on a ruggedized tablet, and seed bags weight from a connected scale on a PC, with a barcode reader to identify the genotypes.
This season, a Corn breeder and two technicians have used Mobile to take notations. We have faced some issues, notably with non-waterproof styli, tablet touch-screen useless under the rain, and field map settings. But after some configuration, taking notations was fast and the application highly flexible. We especially appreciated flowering dates input with the field map to see which plot had already been recorded. I believed it could fit the needs of the whole department.
“ Soon I managed to use RnDExp® Mobile to input flowering date from the field on a ruggedized tablet, and seed bags weight from a connected scale on a PC”
2015 is the first large-scale campaign with RnDExp® Mobile. Field maps have been improved much with the last update of the software, and we have bought 30 PANASONIC ruggedized tablets FZ-G1 (and new waterproof styli!). Along with the IT coordinator Clarissa, we configured the software to new connected captures: Seed bag weights, Fresh weight, Dry weight. Pretty much all flowering date notations of the station (about 2 000 plots) and all the various notations of one Corn team have been done with RnDExp® Mobile that year. As well some activities of other stations started to use RnDExp® Mobile as well, for instance, 30% of the notations for Southern Europe Corn Testing activities were digitalized.
In 2016, all the validation notations have been done digitally. This means the whole station was “paper-less” from A to Z, confirming the potential of a homogeneous data collection system. Another benefit consists in enabling several technicians to share one tablet. Other stations were following the same path: 60% of S-E Corn Testing, and the experimenter in charge, Pierre, says they already saved time, even if it took him 1 week to prepare the software to its needs in the fields.
“ the whole station was “paper-less” from A to Z, confirming the potential of a homogeneous data collection system ”
This year, in 2017, the whole company’s research is using the software, including nurseries, breeding and testing activities. Nearly 100% of S-E Corn Testing notations (25 000 plots) have been recorded with RnDExp® Mobile.”
Pierre, experimenter in charge of Southern Europe Corn testing:
- « With my two colleagues, we started digital notations of flowering dates in 2015. The year after, we took more than half of our notations with the tablets, including rising and validity. I spent about one week preparing the digital notebooks, same as before to type down from paper, but now the software was configured for good!
- During 2017 campaign, for some personal reasons, my two experimenter colleagues could not take their notations, so I had three times more experiments to evaluate (25 000 plots). It took me less than 2 days to prepare all the field books, my team saved time in the field and reduced the risk to lose data. The best moment was when we imported the data to their central database, in 1 single day. No more typing nightmare!
- In the end, I saved about 15 working days, and especially appreciated the flexibility of the solution and the improvement of the features over the years according to our needs. »