“Elaborate statistics are not substitute
for meticulous experimentation.”
G.W. Snedecor

Sollio Agriculture upgrades its research software

5min

Sollio Groupe Cooperatif is the largest agriculture cooperative in Canada, clustering 50 cooperatives and accounting over 7,3 B$ income. The R&D program at the crop production research farm develops new varieties and conducts testing programs to provide the best seeds and advice to their 120 000 affiliate farmers.

The research farm involves 3 breeding programs (Barley, Oat and Soy) and 4 in testing (Winter and Spring Wheat, Forages, and agronomy). The team includes 4 researchers, 8 technicians and a staff of a dozen workers, conducting experimentation on about 90 000 plots spread over 70 locations.

INSIGHT :

Heterogeneous data and multiple software, with little traceability with complex data transfer

Every breeder was working on his own, and looking for historical data was a challenge

SOLUTION :

Centralize all data in a unique tool that fits researchers’ needs

All data has been imported in a unique plant breeding software configured to reproduce specific working habits

RESULTS :

Save time, avoid errors, and enhance collaboration

Each breeder works with powerful tools. The R&D department gained in efficiency

« At the end of harvest season, data analysis in RnDExp® has allowed us to understand the potential efficiency gains over our previous tools. » Alexandre Mailloux, Former Director of Research Department

Sollio Agriculture Cooperative upgrades its research software

Why change the software of your agronomy research department ?

« Until 2010 our research data was spread in Excel files and in Access database.  Analysis was done with Agrobase. Excel macros were not always working, it could be hard to find some key information in all these files and the Agrobase software could not centralize all data types. Moreover, this system was hard to make evolve along with researchers’ new needs. The team was notably looking for more traceability, and some standardization of their processes. » Roxanne Henrie, Wheat and Forage researcher at Sollio Agriculture

How have you upgraded your plant research software ?

« We were looking for a tool flexible enough to address diversified crop breeding programs and which would allow annual and multi-year crops testing programs. RnDExperience was the most suitable solution.

It all started with an audit by Doriane consultants who identified our needs, configured the software accordingly and imported our historical data. They trained our team to use and administrate the system and supported us during the first campaigns.

During the first few years, users often asked for new reports and configuration evolutions. Then they have reached a cruising speed. Now we are comfortable with the tool, we understand well the way information is organized and all the links within RnDExperience. » Roxanne Henrie

« RnDExp® Version 3 was put into production in only 5 months. The technical teams at Sollio Agriculture and Doriane consultants worked closely together to configure RnDExp™ according to the specific needs of users. » Alexandre Mailloux

Have you found the plant research features you were looking for ?

« Yes, RnDExperience comes with all the tools we needed for plant breeding. We especially appreciate to manage several species and share various programs efficiently in the same system. We have been able to manage our backcross programs, which was not possible with Agrobase. Forage evaluation has also been much improved thanks to multiple harvest and multiple-year management. » Roxanne Henrie

What benefits of the new software for agronomy researchers ?

« Many operations of our daily work have been improved. Among the most useful, we appreciate especially the label management, forms to collect data and update the inventory, and also the field maps. For instance:

  • Field data collection is still done with Excel on ruggedized tablets, notably Mesa from Harvestmaster or FZ-G1 from Panasonic. But importing data to the central database RnDExperience is fast and easy.
  • Customizable RnDExperience forms for inventories enable to input data directly and efficiently. Very useful in the warehouse to look for seed bags and update the stocks, or to double-check seed preparations.

Moreover, the statistical tools included in the software, and highly configurable, have helped us improve our analysis and save time in reporting. For example, our Excel reports for Multi-Location groupings include all results for every trial on various sheets of the file.

Now the software organizes our research, we save time, we have reduced the risk of errors and the whole team has gained in collaboration.

It is highly appreciated to have one unique tool to address all our breeding programs and also the diversified testing protocols. » Roxanne Henrie

How RnDExp software has boosted researchers’ collaboration ?

« We have realized it especially when telework became necessary during the sanitary crisis. The process vision enables to automate and manage every step, every task of a program. And since all the data is in the same database, we always know the advancement of the tasks, and we can react very fast if necessary. For instance, if a technician is sick, or when some program requires more work for seedings.

Also, digitalization of all the tasks through automated macros configured in RnDExperience facilitates workers management and limits risks of errors. Quality of work along the years structures our activity and enhances traceability of every batch. Standardized tools also facilitates training since all the teams use the same tools and the same database. » Roxanne Henrie

And do you enjoy working with Doriane ?

« We appreciate the constant evolution of RnDExperience, along with the new needs of the breeders. And some new features are surprisingly well thought and useful, such as the contextual help and including the documentation in the software.

Doriane consultants have always delivered high quality services, either on server and IT problems or for configuration challenges to meet specific business needs. And they always reply quickly, despite the 6-hour time difference.

Despite the distance I had the pleasure to come once in Nice to attend the annual user meeting named RnDays. I also appreciate the efforts Doriane always puts to include us in these meetings through remote conferences. » Roxanne Henrie

Roxanne Henrie is an agronomist, Wheat and Forage researcher at Sollio Agriculture's Crop Production Research Farm.

Administrator of RnDExp, she is the main contact of Doriane consultants and contributes to keep the software configured to the users’ needs.

Alexandre Mailloux, Former Director of Research Department of Sollio Agriculture (from 1989 to 2020)



Image credits:

Miniature de l'article : © 2021 Sollio Agriculture

Sollio Agriculture research farm from above : © Copyright 2021 Coopérateur

Wheat trial at Sollio Agriculture research farm: © Copyright 2021 Coopérateur

Soybean trial at Sollio Agriculture research farm: Le courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe © DBC Communications inc. 2019

Roxanne Henrie, Research professional at Sollio Agriculture : © Copyright 2021 Coopérateur

Alexandre Mailloux, Director of Research at Sollio Agriculture : © Copyright 2021 Coopérateur


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