We have interviewed one of our E-Brida users in New Zealand. Below you will find an interview with Peter Alspach of Plant and Food Research.
Could you explain in short what is your role within PFR?
I’m a statistician who works mostly with PFR’s plant breeders.
What was the main reason for PFR to consider purchasing breeding software?
PFR has many plant breeding programmes, the data from which are scattered across various spreadsheets, in different formats, on various devices, and often with multiple slightly different versions. The need to bring all this together was the main driver behind the purchase.
Which aspect(s) made that PFR chose E-Brida?
To be clear: PFR has started a six-month test of E-Brida using two relatively small programmes (hops and wheat). Although we expect E-Brida will pass test, the final decision regarding whether it will meet the needs of PFR’s breeding effort has yet to be made (add. May 2013, AIP has passed the test and PFR has ordered additional licences). We had a lengthy requirements document covering system and functional requirements and assessed E-Brida as meeting almost three quarters of our needs. We were impressed with AIP’s openness and enthusiasm and pleased to see that their roadmap for future development covered some of the features that we felt were missing. Indeed, some of these have been implemented since our initial assessment.
How will PFR use the software?
PFR breeds over two dozen different crops including perennial fruit crops (e.g., kiwifruit and apples), inbred crops (e.g., grains and pulses) and non-inbred seed propagated crops (e.g., onions). We use a full range of techniques to assess the phenotypic performance: simple and complex quantitative measurements (e.g., fruit weight, HPLC analysis of flavour components, NIR), categorical (e.g. colour) and score traits (e.g., taste, vigour). Selection involves advanced statistical analysis (mixed models to compute breeding values, and we are considering incorporating Bayesian analyses). In addition, our molecular geneticists need good access to the phenotypic data of the breeders. If E-Brida passes the test with hops and wheat we expect it to be used by about 100 staff members including breeders, biometricians, molecular geneticist, marketers and management.
Why buy a product on the other side of the world?
PFR breeds crops for the world and has co-operative programmes with organisations in the USA, Canada and Europe. We sent our requirements document to all potential suppliers that we could find and narrowed our search down to three. After a week visiting each of these, we decided that E-Brida was the most promising.