MULTI LOCATION TRIALS (MLT): A JOURNEY FROM TRIAL TO PERFECTION
In a country like India, where the agriculture industry plays a dominant role, it is imperative that research and development in the sector is prioritised. So that, with adequate infrastructure, technology and channelised processes, the seed companies can ensure profitability and marketability of their product before it reaches out to the farmer.
Multi Location Trials service is a one-of-its-kind offering where, selected set of seeds are tested at multiple locations across various parameters like yield capacity, pest & disease screening, soil conditions etc. This will help the company to determine production of the specific seed in that zone and further market it to the farmer on the basis of the screening results. This ensures that the crop chosen is suitable to the weather, soil, and water conditions of that particular zone. So MLT is a bridge between the R&D and small or midsize seed companies that enables them to identify better business prospects and expand their network.
Multi Location Yield Trial is a long, intensive and time-consuming screening process that involves four core phases. The selected hybrid variety of seeds undergo IHT (Initial Hybrid Trial) where over 1000 seeds are screened over a smaller area, followed by AHT (Advanced Hybrid Trial) where 500 selected seeds are tested over a slightly larger area. The seeds that clear this screening stage move to CCHT (Competitor Commercial Hybrid Trial) and lastly FAT (Farmer Adaptability Test). The number of hybrid seeds decreases and the area of screening increases with succeeding phases, and it is this rigorous process that ensures whether the hybrid seed variety is suitable for the hotspot location, finally becoming the pipeline variety for that location. So, larger the screening area, more precise the result!
Scope of Multi Location Trial is vast and mainly focused on increasing crop productivity and quality in the targeted hotspot areas. This involves mapping of the specific locations on the basis of its weather conditions, soil quality and seed adaptability. While some companies do have a mapping facility, in most cases new mapping is done and proposed to arrive at precise screening results over multiple parameters. Moreover, it also leads to creating lucrative business prospects.
Thus, outsourcing MLT services to a company that is experienced and has acquired a certain level of expertise is always a wise decision.
Despite being so beneficial to the overall agriculture industry, MLT comes with its own sets of challenges. And being an inhouse set-up, MLT is a different ball game altogether. Firstly, it is time and manpower intensive as trials need to be conducted at multiple locations, across multiple seasons for longer durations, only then the screening results can be accurate. Secondly, it’s a non core competency job, i.e. there is no dedicated training or course that can ensure a certain skilled people to take this up. Throughout the process, multiple people are involved at multiple levels, from the R&D expert and company executive to the farmer. Also, since Multi Location Yield Trial requires large pieces of land, it also turns out to be an investment-intensive process. Plus, investment in technology, research and innovation is just another addition. Last but not the least, unpredictability of pest/ disease attack and dynamic weather conditions also pose a challenge, because they may lead to skewed data. Even the drought & salinity tests can give varying results as some seed varieties may or may not adapt to these conditions. Overall, MLT is challenging at numerous fronts, investment, resources, and time.
On one end, technology upgrades, mechanisation, and AI technology are quickly taking over various sectors. But when it comes to MLT, scope of mechanisation is still limited in India as opposed to other countries. Owing to the tracts of land, diversity of crop and weather, technology is more of a supportive tool to the existing model rather than complete automation. However, drone technology is precisely used in some areas. Also, installation of weather stations efficiently offer forecasts that help in determining the next step of the crop. And, with satellite imaging, soil quality, pest attack, crop failure patterns, and weather changes can be tracked easily. Even if not fully mechanised, agriculture in general and MLT in particular are definitely benefitting from these technical innovations.
At Gubba Cold Storage, our Multi Location Trial facility is excellently equipped with an experienced team, modern infrastructure, and advanced technical processes that further enable and enhance our capabilities. With sustained interest and dedicated efforts, we have been successfully serving the industry across the country over 21 locations. Our services come with a promise of precision, accuracy, reliability, and cost-effectiveness, leading the industry towards newer avenues of growth.