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By Rubendran Sathupathy

Held at INTI International University on 19th October, the symposium “Data-Driven Insights into The Next-Generation Farming” discussed how data collection can be digitized and used in farming.

Ms. Cheong Shun Hui explaining the history of Codon Genomics in digitalizing data collection.

“Previously, data was decentralized. This made it hard for scientists to properly collate data,” said Ms. Cheong Shun Hui, Application Scientist at Codon Genomics Sdn. Bhd.

“However, centralized data allows us to be systematic,” she added. “For example, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board uses data collection to determine the phenotype of characteristics. Researchers then use this data to improve the efficiency of palm oil.”

According to the Merrian Webster dictionary, a phenotype are “the observable characteristics or traits of an organism that are produced by the interaction of the genotype and the environment.

An example of data collection used to detect diseases in oil palm.

Ms. Cheong added that Codon Genomics developed its own mobile application called Darwin to help in digitizing data collection.

“Darwin uses QR codes to scan and store samples,” she explained. “It can scan any form of data such as text, numbers, audio, images, videos, and documents. The collected data is automatically linked to a unique QR code representing the sample ID.

“Darwin can also link the study subject to the collected samples in the collection container by scanning QR codes. For example, you can scan the plant QR code, collect the leaf sample and keep it in a Falcon tube with QR code, allowing large-scale sampling on hundreds or thousands of plants without sample mix-up,” she said.

Key features of Darwin mobile app.

Ms. Cheong said that once the samples are deposited, they can be immediately accessed by users, which saves time.

“Digital data collection enables us to visualize data and look at traits and genetics. It is useful for researchers and acts as a data repository,” she emphasized.

Nevertheless, Ms. Cheong conceded that there remain privacy concerns in digitizing data.

“To mitigate this, Darwin uses a two-factor authentication security system to protect privacy. It also has a backup support system in case of unexpected shutdown and all data is backed up in cloud storage,” she said.

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