Agricultural Research Data Network Increases Access to Historical Crop Data

Original by Susan McCarthy, National Agricultural Library, Ming Chan, National Agricultural Library, and Cheryl Porter, University of Florida in Research and Science Sep 08, 2021.

A corn field

Crop researchers are hungry for data to feed their crop models. There is a wealth of historical data that’s inaccessible because today’s crop model software applications cannot easily interpret it. USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) is working with the University of Florida and the Agricultural Research Data Network (ARDN) to solve this problem.

ARDN is dedicated to making high value datasets from past research and experiments compatible with crop models and other analytical tools. With support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), NAL and the University of Florida are piloting a “hackathon” approach to make this old data useful. Experts gather several times a year to create standardized vocabulary and extract relevant information to use in the AgMIP Crop Experiment data schema (ACE) – a widely used data format for agricultural models.

As part of the NIFA grant, the team will annotate four datasets using ARDN protocols. The initial datasets include research data from projects at Iowa State University, University of Georgia, the University of Arizona, and the Kellogg Biological Station. These annotated datasets will be available on NAL’s Ag Data Commons website. NAL also supports ARDN by hosting VMapper software on the Ag Data Commons website. VMapper creates a file which contains the “road map” for translating the original data into the ACE data format.

ARDN’s collaborative efforts will save crop modelers time and give them access to much more historical data, accelerating research and new discoveries.

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