Frank van Kampen of Pop Vriend Seeds
How does intensive collaboration with plant breeding companies bear fruit? What can we do better? Ad Ordelman of Agri Information Partners talks to Frank van Kampen of Pop Vriend Seeds about plant breeding management software. “It’s fantastic that all our trial data is now in one place.”
Pop Vriend Seeds (PVS) is a plant breeding company with some eighty employees based in Andijk, the Netherlands. The company focuses on vegetable crops such as spinach and beans and has recently started working with beetroot and carrots. Pop Vriend Seeds has been producing seeds for about sixty years and was originally a family-owned company. The company has recently been acquired by KWS.
Frank has been working at PVS for almost eight years and breeds beans, mostly for Europe and Oceania. PVS breeds these beans for the fresh market as well as for processing. The processing market consists of almost everything that is sold in a tin, jar or in frozen form, also known as canning and freezing.
PVS stands out with its product expertise and with their speedy response to queries and market demands. This is only feasible because of the short lines of communication within the organization, Frank admits. For spinach especially, new genetic material is brought to the market as soon as possible. This is one of the areas in which PVS is different from other seed suppliers.
E-Brida is ‘addictive’
PVS started using the E-Brida plant breeding management software seven years ago. In the early years, this software was mainly oriented towards the ornamental plant sector, Frank remarks. Much functionality has been added in recent years so it now supports the vegetable breeding at PVS very well. At the moment, E-Brida is part of the standard work flow at PVS.
Frank is an enthusiastic E-Brida user. “New features that offer new opportunities are added regularly”, explains Frank. “All observations are made via the tablet and stored in E-Brida. You don’t need a field book anymore. Everything is in the database. It’s just fantastic that all our trials data is in one place.”
It’s just fantastic that all our trials data is in one place.
Frank truly appreciates the use of tablets: “Taking pictures with the E-Brida Field App is addictive”, he says. “And it’s so convenient that the photos are added at the right place in the pedigree tree instead of being hidden in a folder somewhere in our network.”
Currently PVS is running a pilot project for phenotyping with drone images. Frank isn’t directly involved in this because spinach is the subject of this pilot. Spinach is a more suitable crop to test this technology, but Frank hopes that this technique will soon be available for his beans too. “Actual data points recorded by the drones are available directly in E-Brida.”
Actual data points recorded by the drones are available directly in E-Brida.
There are many factors to consider when assessing the performance of a variety, and that certainly goes for crops such as beans, Frank explains. Consider differences in soil structure, for example. “A sandbank or an old ditch can disturb the observations substantially. With drone images, you could map out a whole trial field and make corrections where necessary.”
PVS uses E-Brida for research and development. As soon as a variety becomes ‘experimental’, the trials are assessed with Mercado. When the variety enters the demo phase, it is also trialed at client locations. Based on the trial results we decide whether or not a variety will actually become commercial.
PVS uses Mercado to document all product characteristics for beans. The variety is described so that the product information is available for all company employees. Frank is happy with how user friendly Mercado is in combination with the Mercado Trials app. And so he stresses that this user friendliness must stay.
We enjoy working together with AIP. “You can make good arrangements with these fine people.” Frank particularly appreciates the honesty and transparency in the business relationship. “We’ll hear about it even if it doesn’t work out. They always look for a solution for the client.”
You can make good arrangements with these fine people.
Developing a new variety can be compared to developing software. The result of both processes should be a product that meets the client’s needs. But sometimes it’s rather tricky to achieve a full match. Frank: “There’s always something else we want to add, and we appreciate that we can talk about these things together.”
We also asked Frank if he has any improvement suggestions for us at AIP. “Yes!” replied Frank, “Please keep us informed of updates and how they can help us. When there’s a new version, we would like to know what we could do differently and more efficiently. We have developed our own way of working, but perhaps the update means we could save even more time in part of our workflow, with less chance of making errors. More information about the new functionality would help us use E-Brida more effectively, so we can get even more value from the software.”