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Soybean seed index a huge benefit

Better comparisons, easy-to-use


November 14, 2007
By Ralph Pearce

48aAccording to a bevy of agribusiness professionals, information exchange is
a growing component in agriculture. And thanks to one researcher with Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Oil and Protein Seed Crop Committee (OOPSCC),
soybean growers in the province now have a valuable resource that provides varietal
information and timely comparisons.

Tom Welacky, a researcher with AAFC's Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research
Centre at Harrow, Ontario, worked for two years on the Variety Information and
Performance Profile (ViPP), releasing it in February of 2005. What makes it
unique and invaluable is its comprehensive nature; it encompasses all registered
varieties that have been tested in public trials. "The main inspiration
was to try to get the information quickly to the grower and in as simple a form
as possible, and still show some comparisons to them quickly," says Welacky,
who also praises the involvement of the OOPSCC in the project. In fact, Welacky
stresses the point that OOPSCC members were the main source of assistance in
designing the program.

One of the primary factors influencing the profile's development is the veritable
explosion of varieties that have become available to growers in the past 10
years. "The second main factor is that it was time to give growers an opportunity
to get information from something other than the hard copy of the performance
trials, and then trying to leaf back and forth, and compare, and write notes
about how this one performed against another," explains Welacky. "It
was primarily to get multiple varieties side-by-side, like a standardized catalogue."

Two parts, many possibilities
The profile can be accessed by going to the OOPSCC home page at www. oopscc.org/soyhome.html.
From there, viewers can scroll down to the ViPP link. There are two distinct
sections: Interactive Table One and Head to Head. Table One allows growers to
select varieties in their heat unit range and according to hilum, flower colour
and pubescence. They can choose varieties from a single seed company or multiple
companies. Clicking on an individual variety will provide its field data from
one to five years, including days to maturity, yield, plant height, hundred
seed weight, lodging index and, oil and protein content. The variety is measured
against the provincial test averages for each parameter.

Welacky admits that including the one year data is new and has its own set
of drawbacks, but that the growers made their wishes known. "They've been
demanding for a number of years that they want to see that data, and now they
have that opportunity."

In the Head to Head comparison section, growers can select a side by side comparison
of any two to five varieties that have been entered in the same test. The comparisons
will be made according to the same parameters as in the Interactive Table One
(see example, page 48). In both sections, the comparisons are also made in actual
units as opposed to an index.

Most of the two years Welacky spent developing the profile was in consultation
with growers and seed dealers, to gauge the kinds of information most valued
among growers. Now that the template is in place, as more varieties are registered
and become available, their data can be inserted into the profile quickly and
easily. -30-