UW00010 - SAGI: EssCargoT

Project Summary

Project Start Date
30 June 2017
Project End Date
30 June 2020
Supervisor Name
Brian Cullis
University of Wollongong
The ongoing profitability and competitiveness of the Australian Grains Industry is supported by a GRDC portfolio of research projects that address both biotic and abiotic challenges to production and quality targets. These projects are in turn supported by a program of statistical research and development (SAGI3) that aims to maximize the outputs of applied research through consultation and research planning, and innovation in experimental design and the analysis of data arising from phenotypic and genetic studies. Statistics is an enabling discipline, with demands on it that are growing at an unprecedented rate as researchers seek to answer more complex questions, driven in part by the genomics revolution and ever expanding computing capacity. Many of the data sets facing today's biometrician were unthinkable in terms of size twenty years ago, and these two factors of size and complexity are challenging the computational tools used by data analysts. As statistics is to research projects, numerical computing is an enabling technology for modern statistical methods. The ability to fit complex statistical models to large data sets is the foundation of current statistical analysis methods in grains industry research and development. Currently, the analysis of data arising from the GRDC R&D portfolio is largely undertaken using the R implementation of the linear mixed models software ASReml. ASReml revolutionized the application of mixed models technology to the grains industry in the late 1990's, and has continued to mature in response to advances in biology and statistical methods. However, as already noted, the development of statistical methodology is dynamic, as is the omics revolution in agricultural research. The most effective adoption of new statistical methods is dependent on the availability of appropriate software. In the genomics era, the substantial increase in size and complexity of data sets requiring rigorous statistical analysis present computational challenges at the limits of ASReml; many breeding company's current selection decisions are being compromised by the inability of ASReml to either complete analyses in a timely manner, or fit the aspirational model. The proposed statistical software system, EssCargoT, aims to address these constraints and will be delivered as a library with two popular user interfaces: a standalone console application and in an R function package. The system will conform to the GNU public license and ultimately supersede the functionality of ASReml as currently used in grains industry research and development. In a second arm of the project (Output 4) the GRDC will be given consultancy advice on the conduct of on farm trials in Australia, with particular reference to the Online Farm Trials (OFT) resource http://www.farmtrials.com.au/. This output is distinct from, but fundamentally linked to, Outputs 1-3 through the commitment of SAGI in achieving maximum industry productivity through effective technology transfer. According to the website, the OLT project is an exciting initiative that brings nationwide grains research information directly to the grower, agronomist, researcher and the wider grain industry through innovative online technology, and it brings trial information and data together to produce useful outcomes for the grains industry. The information on the website sends a very positive message regarding the benefits of sharing farm trial information and utilising the site. However, there is little information in either the main web pages or the expression of interest form, on the specific type of trial information that is accepted and reported. Likewise, it is not clear how up to date the information is. Certainly, visitors to the site who wish to search and download trial reports are warned that the data and information on this website may not be accurate, current or complete (first point in Terms and conditions of use).
Published Date
14 February 2018

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