Friday, October 26, 2012

Want to go paperless in the field? There's FieldLab for that!

I interrupt regular personal blog posting to give way to some insights from the Global Rice Science Partnership Asia review. Let's shift towards more scientific stuff, sort of...


Ten years ago, I'd go to the rice fields to collect data about flowering time every morning and come back to the lab to process the data that I collected in spreadsheets. One time, I was startled by one of those big birds that call rice fields their home. Then there was a time when I fell down into the rice paddy because I had slipped. On both occasions, the paper I was using to record my data in got muddied up. That made it hard for me to encode information into the computer.

At this year's Global Rice Science Partnership Asia Review, as I was listening to Ed Redona, the global coordinator for the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER), I learned that data entry in the field has moved forward a lot. Instead of just paper for data entry, researchers these days have a another field data entry platform:  an Android-based application called FieldLab. With it, anyone with an Android smartphone can go to the field and record their observations; this saves on time and on paper (thus, is more environmentally friendly).

Smartphones. Mobile applications. High-tech computing. Agriculture certainly now requires its students and practitioners to be increasingly tech-savvy.