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1 year ago

The Partnership no. 18

Health of plants and

Health of plants and humans calls for smarter working methods several people to evaluate crops together or meet up, you have to come up with solutions that will help you overcome these problems as best you can. Some of them are there already, and all we have to do is reach out and grasp them. For example, there are already robot trolleys with cameras driving around in greenhouses and drones flying over trial fields. And there are more to come.” Observations Without Borders Two recurrent themes running through all the initiatives are robotisation and digital support. Both of these can help us to evaluate trials remotely and generate data (for example for phenotyping), process it and share it with each other and our clients. To get this digital transition operating in a structured and fruitful way, the Datalab together with Breeding and Marketing & Sales, came up with the Observations Without Borders idea (original title: Breeding Without Borders), which has been awarded the 2020 Enza Zaden Innovation Award. Faber: “Essentially, this boils down to collecting crop data in principle using vision technology, sensors, drones and robots. To make all the data accessible, link it to other existing data and present it in a way that will support decision-making. Basically it provides users across Enza Zaden worldwide with a dashboard representing all possible internal and external data for efficient decision making, but also sharing data with our worldwide customers if desired.” “The basis is already there but there is still a lot of development work to be done,” says Liesbeth Fijen. “For example, by developing data definitions and validation standards, we can get tools working even better and produce the right insights.” “By making the right tools available, we can look inside greenhouses and at trial fields anywhere in the world.” Nanne Faber This will ensure all processes at Enza Zaden run more smoothly and will enable us to optimally connect the expertise of all departments, such as breeding, seed production, sales and other disciplines. Marketing & Sales will be able to watch breeding trials directly, for example. “You can also have customers and producers from all over the world watching digitally,” the data specialist adds. It works the other way round as well, of course. “By making the right tools available, we can look inside greenhouses and at trial fields anywhere in the world, and we can check the data collected against local standards and needs.” Technology Our sector is currently battling two destructive viruses: ToBRFV and coronavirus. Both are having a major impact on the way we do business. Viruses are emerging as a catalyst for the digitalisation of processes and working methods, both here at Enza and within the fruit and vegetable chain as a whole. For many, this is taking some getting used to. The good news is that this technological (r)evolution also offers new opportunities and benefits. They may both be viruses, but that’s where the similarity ends. Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus – a member of the highly persistent Tobamo family – and the far less persistent coronavirus, which is responsible for Covid-19 in humans, have very little in common. Nonetheless, both are making their mark on the way we organise our business processes, go about our work and interact with each other and our external partners. To protect our plant capital and ourselves from viruses, we are taking strict hygiene measures, limiting access to greenhouses and crops, and keeping our distance from each other. Risk management The two latter aspects in particular are directly affecting the way we work. Datalab Manager Liesbeth Fijen and Program Manager Technology Nanne Faber know all about that. They are closely involved in coming up with, developing and implementing digital innovations that will allow us to perform better despite – or perhaps even thanks to – the many limitations almost all of us at Enza Zaden are facing. “It’s all about risk management,” says Nanne Faber. “The Tobamovirus was already making trials harder to evaluate. And then the coronavirus hit us. When it is no longer responsible for Field events and trade fairs go online Due to the coronavirus, group meetings and events such as open days and trade fairs are a thing of the past for now. This situation presents a tough challenge for an organisation like Enza Zaden, for whom personal contact with customers is key. But our communications department quickly picked up the gauntlet and is now working on relevant digital events with local marketing and communication specialists. Varied programmes “In the current circumstances, digital events are necessary if we are to continue to run our field days and showcase and profile new varieties,” Communications Manager Edith Bakker explains. “We create online options for organising field days. We want to work together internationally in this area. There will be digital campaigns around an event or theme, with plenty of digital contact points with our customers, and if possible physical ones too – although the possibilities for those will be very limited. We will be aiming to present varied and exciting programmes with personal presentations from different locations, video content and graphics. Naturally, participants will have plenty of options for sharing their feedback and asking questions.” Personal contact Does the switch to online mean that personal contact is now a thing of the past? “Definitely not,” Bakker emphasises. “After all, personal contact with customers is one of our distinguishing features. We want to keep it that way, but we will have to organise things differently – more one-onone. I can definitely see added value in online events for keeping customers and prospects informed on a large scale and involving them in our activities. The internet and digital collaboration can’t replace everything, but it does give us opportunities to reach out to our stakeholders in a smart, interactive way. The fact that everyone can visit online events from their home or workplace also has practical benefits, of course, as it saves a lot of time and money.” 18 | The Partnership The Partnership | 19

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