Databasing was Labeling seeds

Richard Haard
Sat, 26 Nov 2011 17:28:46 PST
So far as maintaining growing records there are many, many ways to 'skin a cat'. Here is mine:

My database system has evolved over time. It is a Filemaker Pro 10 application I wrote. It is a searchable database that is easy to use, intuitive and works on Mac and PC by multiple users simultaneously. I plan to eventually present my record keeping system to plant propagators and will have copies to share by spring. 

Putting all of the data about source, propagation protocols and performance in multiple plantings into fields/flats/pots into a single 'seed entry' is cumbersome so I have devised an interlinked system that allows a one to many hierarchy. Labels can be printed at each level. Summaries and lists are easily formatted and printed. There is no limit to types and categories of information, including digital images.

Here is the system.... The separate but linked databases are: Catalog, Inventory, Propagation, Field Map and Composite Field Map

1. Catalog db is the list of plants, or strains that I grow. For me, currently about 750 items. This db is useful for planning future plantings and seed acquisition needs.
2. In Inventory db, each seed collection is assigned a unique serial number. This is a place to keep info about source, current inventory, seed quality, etc. 
3. Directly linked to Inventory db is the propagation db. Each time I use seed from inventory it receives a unique 'batch' number. All are directly linked to serial number. Here I keep track of all pretreatments, variations in treatment and performance.  
4. Field Map db is a database to keep track of exactly where the plants are growing and their performance in that location. Each 'batch' may have several locations in field as a pot, flat or seedbed planting. All have a unique location code. Here the performance at a location can be tracked and the plants can be  lfound in a complex planting layout.
5. Composite field map is a compilation of all cropping based on location year to year. This way performance can be compared with location and rotations and cover cropping planned.

Searching - Since this is a one to many database system,  a keyword search in field map or composite would return many entries over many crop years for a single 'batch' or 'serial number'. Searching for plant types, field and etc will return handy lists complete with formatted summaries. Changes in Inventory db immediately show in Propagation db and Field Map db.

It's been fun and it works. Myself and three coworkers are using it every day. For permanent labels I use plastic waterproof labels and laser printer.  For temporary or indoor labels on seed-bags, etc I use a dymo printer. All are easy to format with the Filemaker program. 

I've found Filemaker very easy to use, manipulate and intuitively understand in comparison to 'Access'. 

Rich Haard
Bellingham, Washington  


More information about the pbs mailing list