Separating between plots in potato field trials can be a nuisance. Many breeders work with sticks that hold a label, with plot information and possibly a barcode. Problem is, these labels are not durable and information needs to be transferred from the crate to the field. This process is time consuming and prone to errors.
One of our customers of the E-Brida breeding software (more info: e-brida.com) came up with an innovative solution. They have injected RFID tags1 in golf balls. Every golf ball has its own unique RFID tag which corresponds with a number. Now, they place a golf ball in every crate. Each crate corresponds with one plot (usually one genotype) in the field trial. A PDA with RFID scanner is used to connect the golf ball to the right crate. Once this is done, the golf ball is planted in the field as the first “tuber” of the plot. When observations need to be taken, a reading stick (also used in livestock breeding) is used to read the RFID tags. The RFID tags can be read up till 20 cm underground. The PDA automatically navigates to the corresponding plot in the observation form and you can enter observations. The observation data is automatically synchronized with the breeding software E-Brida.
The last step in this process is harvesting the trial. A RFID reader is installed on the harvester. This reader recognizes the RFID in the golf ball which is harvested together with the potatoes. Whenever a new golf ball is recognized, the PDA navigates to the corresponding record. The workers can then enter the yield and other observations for that plot. The golf ball will travel along with the harvested potatoes to be planted again next year. When a plot is discarded the golf ball can be reassigned to a new plot.