Yield charts, soil analyses, crop growth information; breeders are collecting an increasing amount of data related to their soil and crops. To link this data in a practical and useful way, Wageningen UR and the Agrifirm cooperative have developed a so-called geo-platform, called Akkerweb where breeders can manage their plot data online and, if linked to GPS coordinates, project them straight onto plot maps. They can also immediately put the data to work via apps. An example is making a task chart for spreaders which adapt the use of fertiliser to specific locations. “Akkerweb is a starting point for precision agriculture”, says scientist Leendert Molendijk of Wageningen UR. “It was established as an open source environment and is independent. All knowledge parties can use it to provide apps as long as they are based on valid calculation rules.”
Akkerweb was developed based on the NemaDecide project, which bundles strengths and knowledge in the approach of harmful nematodes in potato farming. Companies and knowledge institutes from throughout the potato chain facilitate the exchange of information. “This is a fine example of how scientific knowledge is translated in the field,” Molendijk adds.
Breeders of seed potatoes can use Akkerweb to see the location of infections on their plots at a single glance. Via an app they can exchange data with the sampling institution, which takes samples, analyses them, and then immediately includes the results for each plot. Another app allows breeders to calculate scenarios: how will the nematode population develop when breeding a resistant variety or when a specific control method is applied? Moreover, the app enables breeders who choose to use chemical control methods to limit crop protection products to the exact spot where the infection is located. In this case the onboard computer takes over the data.
For Wageningen UR it is important to have a standardised method for exchanging data. “Now that we have the tools to link knowledge to data, we can start focusing on additional applications”, explains Thomas Been, scientist at Wageningen UR and technical manager of Akkerweb. “We see a growing number of scientists join the Akkerweb geo-platform to convert their knowledge and calculation rules into applications with an added value to breeders and chain partners. The platform therefore facilitates the knowledge flow into practice. And this is a joint effort: although Wageningen is still a co-owner, we have consciously retained a degree of distance from Akkerweb. The added value of the platform will only increase if other knowledge parties participate.”
Breeders who register to Akkerweb for free gain access to background maps (public geo-information such as aerial photographs, soil maps, plot demarcations) and can share their information with any party imaginable, such as the government, consultants, suppliers, clients and colleagues. Breeders always remain in full ownership of their own data, and must first provide approval before it can be used.