What help do breeders need to find their way in the ever-increasing volumes of data? We visited Johan Willemsen at Fresh Forward to find some answers to this question. “Managing data and interpreting it quickly is an absolute must and the E-Brida Datawarehouse helps us with this.” Fresh Forward is a breeding company with more than 25 employees located in Huissen, the Netherlands. It has always focused on breeding strawberries and more recently added apples to its portfolio. Fresh Forward also has strong ties with the Wageningen University & Research Centre.
Johan Willemsen has been working for Fresh Forward for about four years as bioinformatics specialist and he supports the breeding team with data analyses. What’s more, he’s responsible for designing and analyzing molecular markers. He needs a constant flow of large volumes of data to make the right decisions for the intensive breeding process of ‘his’ strawberries and apples.
There’s a lot of building work going on at Fresh Forward’s new location, so Johan takes us straight into the greenhouses. We’re not surprised to discover that Johan loves to talk about his work! Trials are conducted with various seedlings and selections and a vast amount of data is captured during the process. “The trials are managed through E-Brida. And for the past 18 months, Fresh Forward has been using E-Brida’s Datawarehouse to report trial results to the breeders.”
Johan is enthusiastic about the Datawarehouse. It appears to play a central role in the selection process. The plant trials in the greenhouse and in Spain are scored on a wide range of properties which generates a vast continual flow of essential trial data. “Even though people will always be at the heart of the breeding process, managing the data and interpreting it quickly remains essential,” Johan continues.
The important factor for Johan is that the Datawarehouse gives him a much quicker overview in the period between trial assessments. He can save a great deal of time by making the right selections. He particularly appreciates the insight gained thanks to how the data is visualized and presented in charts. “You select a trial, you visualize it, and you have an instant overview. What’s more, you can compare trial results at the click of a button.” Using a Power BI report linked to the Datawarehouse, you can see immediately how a disease trial is going and gain insight into which parent plants are responsible for resistance. It’s easy to share these reports within the organization.
Own analyses via Power BI
And there’s extra added value too, because now you can make your own analyses via Power BI. It’s hardly surprising that Johan sees so many happy faces among his colleague breeders thanks to this extensive functionality. Colleagues can work more independently, interpret their interim trial results, and then adjust their breeding program accordingly. Everything is designed to help make the intensive selection process even faster and more complete for all involved.
Photos also play a major role in the breeding process. Although the functionality within E-Brida to take pictures of the strawberries at each stage is widely used, Johan thinks photos will be used even more intensively in the future. “Weighing data and yields are no longer recorded, they are photographed.” You want to make a photo of each harvest so the breeder can see and assess the results immediately. The Datawarehouse also has a role to play here, simply by passing on information to the breeder.
Weighing data and yields are no longer recorded, they are photographed.
Fresh Forward has a long-standing relationship with Agri Information Partners and Johan has been working closely with AIP colleagues for the past 18 months. It means we can all learn from each other and work together to support E-Brida and the Datawarehouse users even more effectively.
Thank you Johan, for your hospitality, time and cooperation!