Growers are always interested in trying to produce their crops better, more efficiently, or quicker to market. "But before trying something different (a new fertilizer, substrate or amendment, genetics or a process), they would probably want to see how it will work before using it for their entire production," says Janet Rippy, Ph.D. With a background as a published research scientist, a plant biologist and a soil chemist, she founded the company BioDART to help growers by designing trials, generating protocols to follow, processing data and providing unbiased interpretation of the results. "We can make your data work for you," she says.
Data science company
BioDART stands for Biological trial Design, Analysis, Reporting and Technical writing and is a data science company specifically created to cater to the needs of people involved in any kind of biological science.
"We see that growers have great ideas that need skilled trial design; or they may collect a lot of data that are “on the back burner” because higher priority activities are consuming their time. BioDART will process the data and provide unbiased results in a timely manner; which means growers or their researchers can continue with production or more trials with no break in their work-flow. Out-sourcing may also be considered as Third-party verification." she says.
She emphasises the importance of using sound scientific methods in research. "Sound scientific methods - which we incorporate in research and the protocols - reduce the chance of inadvertently confounding the trial results. For example, maybe there is an area on a greenhouse bench that gets more shade from overhead structures than does the rest of the bench. If the new item being tested happens to be in the pots that are in that shadier spot, one might think the poorer growth in those pots was caused by the new item being tested. Scientific methods would provide a scheme to ensure that all the pots in the trial are treated equally."
Standard Operating Procedures
Standardizing is an important topic in the industry in general. "Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) may sometimes be called Best Practices," Janet explains. "Every grower/employee knows how to do the jobs they do every day and may not see a need to right write down their processes. What happens if they are out for some reason like illness or vacation? Someone else takes on their duties, but may do them differently."
"SOPs would ensure consistency when different people are providing the same function," Janet adds. "They also provide continuity when training new personnel. SOPs can be written for every aspect of a business and can encompass anything from mixing fertilizer stock to spray schedules or the process used to pack and ship products." BioDART can write SOPs specific to any individual operation, according to that grower's practices and needs.
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Janet F.M. Rippy, Ph.D.