The launch of Find My Seed is right around the corner, and here to give a little perspective on what it was like building our new seed selector tool is one of our agricultural engineers, Jessie Prenger-Bhalerao.
Many years ago when I told my family I decided to study Agricultural Engineering, the first question my Uncle James asked me was "can you tell which seed is really better than the others?". The farmers in my family described the sales pitch from seed company representatives: their seed always had better yields. But it was and is hard to tell if the advantages salesmen claimed played out that way in the fields. After 20 years (holy smokes!!), technology has advanced to a point that we can give them some help.
That’s what came to mind when the honchos at Agrible gave me an opportunity to help build Find My Seed - a tool to answer the question of seed performance for my uncles in West Central Ohio and for growers around the country. Our team has taken independent variety trials and compiled them in a powerful web-based tool that compares yields across varieties and lets growers select specific seed criteria and trials with locations, soils, and agronomic practices that match their own.
As I helped gather variety trials into the Find My Seed database, we worked out how seed performance would be evaluated. We were asking questions like, which corn hybrid had high yields across all its trials in our database, not just one eye-popping 300 Bu/acre yield in an Illinois test plot? Which seeds performed above average across different weather and management practices among trials? Which performed better in certain conditions like clay soils or reduced tillage? It has been amazing to watch the data, statistics, and comparisons get transformed by our design team into a fantastic user experience in the Find My Seed website.
No, we’re not collecting information for seed companies, and Agrible isn’t a subsidiary of a Big Ag Corporation; we aren’t the ones saying that “our seed is better”. What makes me so proud of Find My Seed is that we are helping growers make decisions by assembling the data (Big Data as the buzz word goes) and putting it in their hands. It’s the same kind of thing Agrible’s been doing with Morning Farm Report, our delivery platform for field-specific weather, workability, and yield forecasting.
In late summer 2015, my uncle told me he was selecting his 2016 season seeds. As the planting time gets closer, he’ll check the trials to see if his pick is a winner-or make a decision about switching the lot. We’ve just put a bunch of 2015 trial data into Find My Seed, and we are adding trial organizations’ data all the time. It took a while, but I can finally tell my family I’ve got some answers on this one!
Stay tuned for the official launch announcement of Find My Seed!