Highlights from the IGAD outbreak sessions at RDA P9

During the past # IGAD17RDA pre-meeting (3-4 April, Barcelona), the IGAD Thematic Groups presented the results on their activities, lessons learned and future strategic and action plans with the main focus on research data management and semantics.

Did you know that the past #RDAPlenary  (3-7 April, 2017 Barcelona) gathered about 600 Data experts? This international event - under the theme #DataInfrastructures for #OpenScience - aimed to explore how best to exploit the data revolution to improve science and society through data-driven discovery and innovation.


The 9th RDA Plenary meeting was a working event, built around almost 73 breakout sessions of the RDA Working, Interest and Birds of a Feather Groups, scheduled in 8 breakout blocks over the 3 Plenary days:

# RDA 9th Plenary - Collocated & Associated Events - the full Program

# All discussions from the RDA Plenary 9 can be found on Twitter: @resdatall and #rdaplenary.


The Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) - since its inception in 2013 - has grown in a wide community of practice, becoming one of the RDA’s most prominent Thematic Groups for sharing experience and providing visibility to research and work in global agricultural data.

RDA-IGAD’s role has expanded with every successive Plenary* where IGAD has promoted good practices, with regard to data sharing policies, data management plans, data interoperability and semantics. All IGAD RDA pre-meeting sessions are an opportunity to assess the group’s evolution, take stock of existing issues, and lay the groundwork for concrete future action.

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative supports its partners to join IGAD (some of these groups function already as GODAN WGs), while contributing actively with work on open data, data interoperability and capacity development.

More than 110 data experts (from more than 35 countries and from 5 continents) played an active role during the two days IGAD pre-meeting. This latter was split into nine key discussion groups around the following topics:


On-Farm Data Sharing

Rice Data Interoperability

Metrics and indicators in agricultural science

Wheat Data Interoperability

Climate/Weather Data

Other crop Research Data Interoperability

Capacity development in the context of research data in agriculture

Soil Data Interoperability


NOTE: The RDA IGAD community is ever expanding and adding interesting new topics to its portfolio.


The IGAD panellists focused on a wide range of topics connected with research data management (RDM), open data and FAIR data, and semantics, with particular focus on rice, wheat, other crops, agrisemantics and soil data.

Below you can learn more about IGAD breakout session (3 April, 2017) opened by Ms Imma Subirats Coll (FAO of the UN),  Mr Ben Schaap (GODAN), Mr Ernest Abadal (University of Barcelona). The second day (4 April, 2017) of the IGAD pre-meeting focused on intensive discussions and interactions related to the issues addressed during the first pre-meeting day.



Issues addressed and topics discussed

SESSION: AgriSemantics

Devika Madalli (ISI, India)


Sophie Aubin (INRA, France)


Semantics for data interoperability: where are we?

  • What are the major semantic resources, tools and services used by the agrifood community to handle their data?

  • Where to find them? Who are the key players?

  • What is semantics applied to?

The report summarizing these issues will be published a couple of weeks after the RDA meeting by the Agrisemantics WG as its first deliverable.


Andres Ferreyra (Ag Connections LLC, US)

Toward Interoperability of Observations & Measurements Data in Production Agriculture: AgGateway’s Implementation of ISO 19156 and Semantic Infrastructure

AgGateway’s global effort toward interoperability identifies value in implementing an ISO 19156 – based model of observations and measurements for agricultural field operations. This work, centered on the PAIL, SPADE and ADAPT projects, emphasizes the explicit capture of the semantics of the various aspects of an observation.

Incorporating observations and measurements into AgGateway’s ADAPT common object model and format conversion plug-in architecture will enable widespread interoperability.


Xie nengfu, Sun wei and Zhang xuefu (CAAS, China)

Research on Knowledge Element Relation and Knowledge Service for Agricultural Literature Resource

The method mainly implements knowledge relation and knowledge service based knowledge element with standardized structure and knowledge level relation label. The proposed method can integrate knowledge element from diverse knowledge sources and produce new knowledge for user based on the knowledge extraction and classification. At last, a knowledge service model will be provided soon.


Hideaki Takeda and Sungmin Joo (National Institute of Informatics, NII, Japan)

Akane Takezaki and Daisuke Horyu (National Agriculture and Food Research Organization)

Development and Application of Agriculture Ontologies

The current status of agriculture ontologies to accelerate the data use in agriculture was presented.

The Agriculture Activity Ontology formalizes the activities in agriculture. The first application (under development) is to exchange formats between different farmer management  systems.

Another ontology is the Crop Ontology that standardizes the names of crops. Though its structure is simple, this ontology has links to many other standards in distribution industry and food industry.

SESSION: Metrics and Indicators in Agricultural Science

Ruth Bastow (Global Plant Council, United Kingdom)


Ellen Fest & Hugo Besemer (University of Wageningen, The Netherlands)


Agricultural Science: three bibliometric systems compared

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) uses bibliometric analyses extensively to assess the scientific performance of research groups.

The comparison of the following three bibliometric tools was presented:

  • The current system that uses Web of Science citation data and uses Essential Science Indicators as baselines.

  • Scival from Elsevier, that uses Scopus data and calculates its own baselines.

  • Incites from Clarivate Analytics that uses Web of Science data and uses baselines  derived from JCR categories.

These systems were used for the outputs of 22 research groups from WUR. The management decision which tool to adopt will be based on considerations, like the costs, additional functionalities and expected development of the different tools.

SESSION: Wheat and Rice Data Interoperability and other Crop Research Data

Esther Dzale-Yeumo (INRA, France)

Esther Dzale Yeumo (INRA, France) and Richard Fulss (CIMMYT, Mexico)

The wheat data interoperability guidelines: feedback, news and next steps

The wheat data interoperability guidelines result from a joint effort of the wheat research community and data experts, who wish to make their research data more accessible, interoperable and reusable. During more than 18 months, the Wheat Data Interoperability working group questioned the wheat research community about their usage of data standards, discussed and selected a set of recommendations based on some consensual criterias.


Hadi Quesnevilles (INRA, France)


WheatIS: A genetics and genomics information system for the wheat research community

WheatIS is conceived as distributed information system, acting as a hub for integrating wheat data produced and submitted to the public repositories. It relies on a network of 12 bioinformatics platforms working synergistically to provide an easy access to wheat data. These platforms, each considered as a WheatIS node, share their resources and propose several dedicated integrative databases, e.g. for genomic, genetic, and phenotype information, comparative genomics, and functional genomics. The hub, wheatis.org, provides centralized access to (i) the nodes and their resources, (ii) recommended data standards, (iii) a file repository to deposit and share the data among the scientific community, and (iv) a search in distributed databases for an easy data discovery.


Robert Davey (Earlham Institute, United Kingdom)


Grassroots: interoperable infrastructure for wheat data

The Grassroots project at the Earlham Institute represents a UK node of the Wheat Initiative Wheat Information System (WheatIS) to consolidate data and analyses, facilitating consistent approaches to generating, processing and disseminating public wheat datasets.

The Grassroots infrastructure comprises: a data management layer to provide structure to unstructured filesystems; interfaces to interact with local or cloud-based analysis platforms; a search layer to provide multi-faceted metadata and literature querying; a web server layer to deliver content and provide access to public programmatic interfaces.

Grassroots can be run locally or packaged in virtual containers and deployed on a variety of hardware thus representing a decentralised system, allowing information generators to retain control over their resources but allowing interconnected resources to access each other consistently.


Shaik N.Meera (Rice Knowledge Management Porta, India),

Ramil P. Mauleon (International Rice Research Institute, Philippines),

Pierre Larmande (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France)


Update on the Working Group on Rice Research Data Interoperability

Through a IGAD-GODAN meeting on February 2016, the Rice Research Data Interoperability Working Group  (RDI WG) was formed, the case statement was submitted, and is now formally recognized and endorsed by RDA.  

RDI WG intends to produce a set of guidelines on how to make rice research data easily shareable, reusable and interoperable in terms of functionalities and data types. The proposed common framework will help in describing, representing, linking and publishing rice data with respect to open standards. Implementing the framework will help cultivate a rice research ecosystem with people familiar with interoperability, organisations ready to collaborate, and common tools and services available.

RDI WG will utilize existing policies in place in the respective organizations regarding data access, and will adopt the recommendations and outcomes of RDA – CODATA Working Group on Legal Interoperability of Research Data. The work will directly align with the ongoing initiatives of hundreds of rice research organizations (including International Rice Research Institute and Africa Rice).

Updates on the 5 draft deliverables were also presented:

(1) A report on the survey of existing standards among rice research and development organizations;

(2) A set of recommendations on good practices, ontologies, tools and examples to create, manage and share data related to rice (based on the existing Wheat Data Interoperability Guidelines).

(3) Evaluation of prototype(s) on Rice specific data registry (RDA Persistent ID Types and Data Type Registry WGs as initial models), to produce  recommendations on how to develop this type of tools, and disseminated as good practices;

(4) Recommendations for a Rice ontology that should align existing rice ontologies, thesauri, controlled vocabularies, which could be the basis on multi-lingual conversion of ontologies  (but not a deliverable of RDI WG);

(5) Recommend best practices/method(s) for digitization of rice legacy data (using India's data repository as initial model).


Ruth Bastow (Global Plant Council, United Kingdom)


DivSeek - Harnessing Crop Diversity

DivSeek is a community driven effort consisting of a diverse set of partner organizations that have voluntarily come together to unlock the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks so that it can be utilized to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems.

SESSION: Soil Data Interoperability

Ben Schaap (GODAN, The Netherlands)


Peter Wilson (CSIRO, Australia), David Medyckyj-Scott (Landcare Research, New Zealand)

Where next for a global soil data exchange standard?

Soil data exchange and analysis is compromised by the lack of a widely agreed international standard for describing soils and the sampling and analytical activities relating to them. Observed and modeled data provides the critical evidence by which we can assess, use and monitor the state of the world's soils allowing us to manage them sustainably. Standards are being developed but in a fragmented way.  There are technical challenges but we also need to deal with governance and resourcing issues if we are to move forward and make significant progress.


Oleg Golozubov (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia)


Case study of distributed soil information system for Russia

There are numerous soil data holders and soil information institutions in Russia. The Soil Data Center of Moscow State University is the organizer of an experiment for the large-scale soil data exchange over a distributed network of soil data centers. The Soil Geographic Database of Russia (SGDBR) which is currently under development, is an information system designed as an internet-based resource to collect data on soil profiles and to integrate it with geographic and attribute databases.

SESSION: Capacity Development in the Context of Research Data in Agriculture

Imma Subirats (FAO of the UN, Italy)

Isaura Lopes Ramos (CTA) and Suchith Anand (GODAN)

Overview of  Capacity Development for Agriculture

There are many synergies in capacity development activities undertaken by IGAD and GODAN.

Among many points of discussion,the IGAD pre-meeting was also the springboard for the official launching of the Joint Building Synergies in Capacity Development Discussion Group,  in the context of research data in agriculture and their potential contribution to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The objective of this new group is to explore ideas for closer collaborations between RDA/IGAD - RDA/Geospatial IG - GODAN Capacity Development - CODATA and synergies to set up a Joint Curriculum WG with regard to education and training on Open Data in food and agricultural sciences.

All participants provided multidisciplinary inputs about best practices into the curriculum development process with the objective to expand the societal impact of open agricultural research. A particular focus was on sharing knowledge about training programs and platforms reducing digital divides so that researchers in developing countries can also benefit.

SESSION: Climate and Weather Data

Imma Subirats (FAO of the UN, Italy)

Rob Lokers (University of Wageningen, The Netherlands)


Weather and climate data supporting operational and strategic decision making in agriculture and food security

Several examples of weather and climate data based services and their impact on short and long term decision making were discussed. These examples are connected to a general framework for knowledge based decision making. Current challenges in deploying such services in developing countries were also addressed.


Tilemachos Koliopoulos (Technological Educational Institute of Athens - Telegeco Research Centre, Greece)

Weather data and soil agrochemicals' concentration data in a lake: risk assessment for the population living in the neighborhood

The case study of Lake Koronia was examined to apply the proposed data management modules. Hazardous concentrations have been found in the past in Lake Koronia in Greece. This means a concern for the fisheries, birds and the human population living nearby. In response to this, is performed a statistical study focused on assessing human health risks derived from environmental exposure to agricultural pesticides and associated soil data for a given lake around an examining water basin. A proper weather data management and hydrological analysis is made providing useful risk assessment results.

SESSION: Socio-economic data & agricultural diversity research

Devika P. Madalli (ISI, India)

Elisabetta Gotor (Bioversity International)

Elizabeth Arnaud (Bioversity International)

Marie-Angelique Laporte ( Bioversity International)

Gaia Gullotta (Bioversity International)

Francesco Caracciolo (University of Naples)

Aggregating and analysing biophysical, socio-economics and sociocultural data to identify indicators measuring  agricultural diversity research  impact on food security, rural poverty, health and nutrition, and natural resources management

The presentation stimulated the exploration of  options on data standards, tools and methods available or needed to aggregate biophysical  data with socio economic and cultural  data in order to identifies a number of measurable indicators.

The expected outcome of this presentation is to: generate a dialogue around the existing standards and ontologies that can help to produce FAIR socio economic data and current gaps, linking to existing ontologies for biophysical data like the Crop Ontology and Agronomy Ontology (AgrO), with the Agricultural and Nutrition Ontology and others, so that data sets can be  consumable and shareable within and outside the CGIAR.




SESSION: Geographic Data interoperability

Patricia Bertin (EMBRAPA, Brazil)


Andreas Kamilaris (IRTA Research&Technology Food and Agriculture)


Big data analysis and Integration of Geophysical information from the Catalan Agri-Technological sector

The presentation described efforts in combining geospatial information and big data analysis in order to measure the environmental impact of agriculture, with a focus on animal manure. The problems and issues of discovering, locating and understanding relevant datasets were discussed, together with suggestions on how data could become more open and easier to reach and understand.

SESSION: Research and Open Data Institutional Efforts

Elizabeth Arnaud (Bioversity International, France)


Medha Devare (CGIAR, France)

CGIAR’s Big Data Platform: Leveraging Data for Impact

The CGIAR’s Big Data Platform was presented. This platform: (1) addresses the necessity to enable a culture that values data as a product in itself with global public good potential, and applies best practices to managing and making it widely available following FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles;

(2) fosters collaboration and convening around big data and agricultural development via ambitious external partnerships to deliver the potential of big data to smallholder agriculture; (3) inspires big data approaches that deliver development outcomes through projects that solve key challenges. These may include projects that use big data analytics and ICTs to provide multi-disciplinary data to researchers, deliver novel information to farmers, monitor the state of agriculture and food security in real time and inform critical national, regional and global policies and decisions.


Chris Rawlings (Rothamsted Research, United Kingdom)


On the Track to Open Data for Agriculture: Jumping  the Hurdles

Rothamsted Research is working on improvement of the openness of its data. Current open data practices (accepted and implemented by Rothamsted Research units) as well as the bigger hurdles (that need to be removed before the complete adoption of these practices) were discussed. In particular, these hurdles include the resources available for data sharing, the research culture, the unrealistic economic value placed on data, the technical challenges and also issues arising from commercial and personal interest.


Johannes Keizer (GODAN secretariat strategic partnerships, eROSA project, Germany)

GODAN data ecosystem group and EC eROSA project: mapping data and stakeholders in Agricultural research,  model and first results

The GODAN data ecosystem group  and the eROSA project have as common goal the mapping of existing agricultural and nutrition data sources as one ingredient to develop information infrastructures. eROSA furthermore is intended to bring together the stakeholders in agricultural research infrastructure management.

The model that is used in the mapping exercise as well as the role of the CIARD RING in this exercise were discussed. The results of a bibliometric study to identify stakeholders in agricultural research infrastructure development were presented.


Peter McQuilton (Oxford e-Research Centre)

The BioSharing portal - linking databases, data standards and policies in the life, biomedical and environmental sciences

The BioSharing portal was presented. It is a curated, web-based, searchable portal of three linked registries of content standards, databases, and data policies in the life sciences, broadly encompassing the biological, natural and biomedical sciences. Endorsed by a community of over 20 organizations, including publishers (embedded in the data policies of 600 Springer Nature’s journals, PLOS , EMBO press, BMJ, F1000Research, BioMedCentral, Oxford University Press, Wellcome Trust Open Research), standardization groups (TDWG, CDISC, NIH LINCS), and research data management support initiatives and libraries (such as those at JISC, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford).

The report "BioSharing Recommendations: data repositories, standards and policies in the life, biomedical and environmental sciences" is currently open for community review until 4 May 2017.

SESSION: On Farm Data Sharing

Patricia Bertin (EMBRAPA, Brazil)


Pascal Bonnet (CIRAD, France)

Jean-Michel Sourisseau (UMR ArtDev, France)

Cédric Gaillard (UMR Moisa, France)

Laurence  Dedieu (CIRAD, France)

Michel Passouant (UMR Tetis, France)

Towards a community-led e-infrastructure for sharing research microdata from socio-economic surveys. Challenges, solutions and issues identified at CIRAD

The movement for sharing and opening research data (SORD) was presented. SORD  is a push - pull process  that combines a pushing demand from scientific publishers, donors,  governments and the society with a renewed and pulling   academic interest from research communities vis a vis their research data envisaged as “research commons”.

In order to effectively join the international movement for sharing research data in Agriculture, one needs to analyze the peculiarities and the practices of epistemic research communities.The presentation focused on some characteristics of the community in social and economic science.


Maritina Stavrakaki
Pythagoras Karampiperis
(Agroknow, Greece)

My vineyard as a Dataset

This slot was dedicated to VITIS, a toolkit for supporting Viticulture practice, which ranges from web-based environments for data management, and visualization to mobile apps (and sensors) for in-field data collection. The presentation focused on the heterogeneity of the supported data pool, and the data sharing tools/environments for end-users.


Thanks so much to everyone who participated in and attended this RDA-IGAD group meeting!

The slides from the IGAD pre-meeting at RDA P9 will be soon available on Open Knowledge in Agricultural Development (OKAD) F1000Research channel.

* IGAD at the previous RDA Plenaries:

Curious what the RDA Plenaries are all about?