Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Peyote and the International Plant Names Index

Monday, March 17th, 2014

International Plant Names Index

What a great resource to find as we near Spring!

From the webpage:

The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) is a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and lycophytes. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI will be a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community.

I entered the first plant name that came to mind: Peyote.

No “hits.” ?

Wikipedia gives Peyote’s binomial name as: Lophophora williamsii (think synonym).*

Searching on Lophophora williamsii, I got three (3) “hits.”

Had I bothered to read the FAQ before searching:

10. Can I use IPNI to search by common (vernacular) name?

No. IPNI does not include vernacular names of plants as these are rarely formally published. If you are looking for information about a plant for which you only have a common name you may find the following resources useful. (Please note that these links are to external sites which are not maintained by IPNI)

I understand the need to specialize in one form of names but “formally published” means that without a useful synonyms list, the general public has an additional burden to access publicly funded research results.

Even with a synonym list there is an additional burden because you have to look up terms in the list, then read the text with that understanding and then back to the synonym list again.

What would dramatically increase public access to publicly funded research would be to have a specialized synonym list for publications that transposes the jargon in articles to selected sets of synonyms. Would not be as precise or grammatical as the original, but it would allow the reading pubic to get a sense of even very technical research.

That could be a way to hitch topic maps to the access to publicly funded data band wagon.


I first saw this in a tweet by Bill Baker.

* A couple of other fun facts from Wikipedia on Peyote: 1. It’s conservation status is listed as “apparently secure,” and 2. Wikipedia has photos of Peyote “in the wild.” I suppose saying “Peyote growing in a pot” would raise too many questions.


Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


From the about page:

The CIARD Routemap to Information Nodes and Gateways (RING) is a project implemented within the Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative and is led by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR).

The RING is a global directory of web-based information services and datasets for agricultural research for development (ARD). It is the principal tool created through the CIARD initiative to allow information providers to register their services and datasets in various categories and so facilitate the discovery of sources of agriculture-related information across the world.

The RING aims to provide an infrastructure to improve the accessibility of the outputs of agricultural research and of information relevant to ARD management.

The registry of resources is being leveraged to provide more advanced services, based on the Data Catalogue Vocabulary (DCAT).

Agriculture is an ongoing and vital activity. No shortage of data to be collected, reconciled and repackaged as an information product.

I first saw this in a tweet by Stefano Bertolo.

India…1,745 datasets for agriculture

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Open Data Portal India launched: Already 1,745 datasets for agriculture

From the post:

The Government of India has launched its open Data Portal India (, a portal for the public to access and use datasets and applications provided by ministries and departments of the Government of India.

Aim: “To increase transparency in the functioning of Government and also open avenues for many more innovative uses of Government Data to give different perspective.” (“About portal,”

The story goes on to report there are more than 4,000 data sets from over 51 offices. An adviser to the prime minister of India is hopeful there will be more than 10,000 data sets in six months.

Not quite as much fun as the IMDB, but on the other hand, the data is more likely to be of interest to business types.

…Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Case statement: Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group

From the post:

The draft case statement for the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group has been released

The Wheat data interoperability WG is a working group of the RDA Agricultural data interest group. The working group will take advantage of other RDA’s working group’s production. In particular, the working group will be watchful of working groups concerned with metadata, data harmonization and data publishing. 

The working group will also interact with the WheatIS experts and other plant projects such as TransPLANT, agINFRA which are built on standard technologies for data exchange and representation. The Wheat data interoperability group will exploit existing collaboration mechanisms like CIARD to get as much as possible stakeholder involvement in the work.

If you want to contribute with comments, do not hesitate to contact the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group at Working group “Wheat data interoperability”.


Wheat initiative Information System:

GARNet report – Making data accessible to all:

Various relevant refs:

I know, agricultural interoperability doesn’t have the snap of universal suffrage, the crackle of a technological singularity or the pop of first contact.

On the other hand, with a world population estimated at 7.108 billion people, agriculture is an essential activity.

The specifics of wheat data interoperability should narrow down to meaningful requirements. Requirements with measures of success or failure.

Unlike measuring progress towards or away from less precise goals.

OpenAGRIS 0.9 released:…

Friday, August 30th, 2013

OpenAGRIS 0.9 released: new functionalities, resources & look by Fabrizio Celli.

From the post:

The AGRIS team has released OpenAGRIS 0.9, a new version of the Web application that aggregates information from different Web sources to expand the AGRIS knowledge, providing as much data as possible about a topic or a bibliographical resource within the agricultural domain.

OpenAGRIS 0.9 contains new functionalities and resources, and received a new interface in English and Spanish, with French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian translations on their way.

Mission: To make information on agricultural research globally available, interlinked with other data resources (e.g. DBPedia, World Bank, Geopolitical Ontology, FAO fisheries dataset, AGRIS serials dataset etc.) following Linked Open Data principles, allowing users to access the full text of a publication and all the information the Web holds about a specific research area in the agricultural domain (1).

Curious what agricultural experts make of this resource?

As of today, the site claims 5,076,594 records. And with all the triple bulking up, some 134,276,804 triples based on those records.

What, roughly # of records * 26 for the number of triples?

Which is no mean feat but I wonder about the granularity of the information being offered?

That is how useful is it to find 10,000 resources when each will take an hour to read?

More granular retrieval, that is far below the level of a file or document, is going to be necessary to avoid repetition of human data mining.

Repetitive human data mining being one of the earmarks of today’s search technology.

Chinese Agricultural Thesaurus published as Linked Open Data

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Chinese Agricultural Thesaurus published as Linked Open Data

From the post:

CAT is the largest agricultural domain thesaurus in China, which is held and maintained by AII of CAAS. CAT was the important fruit of more than 100 professionals’ six years hard work. The international and national standards were adopted while designing and constructing CAT. CAT covers areas including agriculture, forestry, biology, etc. It is organized in 40 main categories and contains more than 63 thousand concepts and most of them have English translation. In addition, CAT includes more than 130 thousand semantic relationships such as Use, UF, BT, NT and RT.

Not my favorite format but at least you can avoid a lot of tedious data entry.

Transformation and adding properties will take some effort but not as much as starting from scratch.

Open Access to Weather Data for International Development

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Open Access to Weather Data for International Development

From the post:

Farming communities in Africa and South Asia are becoming increasingly vulnerable to shock as the effects of climate change become a reality. This increased vulnerability, however, comes at a time when improved technology makes critical information more accessible than ever before. aWhere Weather, an online platform offering free weather data for locations in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia provides instant and interactive access to highly localized weather data, instrumental for improved decision making and providing greater context in shaping policies relating to agricultural development and global health.

Weather Data in 9km Grid Cells

Weather data is collected at meteorological stations around the world and interpolated to create accurate data in detailed 9km grids. Within each cell, users can access historical, daily-observed and 8 days of daily forecasted ‘localized’ weather data for the following variables:

  • Precipitation 
  • Minimum and Maximum Temperature
  • Minimum and Maximum Relative Humidity 
  • Solar Radiation 
  • Maximum and Morning Wind Speed
  • Growing degree days (dynamically calculated for your base and cap temperature) 

These data prove essential for risk adaption efforts, food security interventions, climate-smart decision making, and agricultural or environmental research activities.

Sign up Now

Access is free and easy. Register at Then, you can log back in anytime at  

For questions on the platform, please contact

At least as a public observer, I could not determine how much “interpolation” is going to the weather data. That would have a major impact on the risk of accepting the data provided at face value.

I suspect it varies from little interpolation at all in heavily instrumented areas to quite a bit in areas with sparser readings. How much is unclear.

It maybe that the amount of interpolation in the data is a factor of whether you use the free version or some upgraded commercial version.

Still, an interesting data source to combine with others, if you are mindful of the risks.

Cassava database becomes open access

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Cassava database becomes open access

From the post:

Cassavabase is a database of phenotypic and genotypic data generated by cassava breeding programs within the Next Generation Cassava Breeding (NEXTGEN Cassava) project*.

The database makes available breeding data immediately available, thereby providing cassava researchers and breeders a key reference data source. The Cassava plant (Manihot esculenta) feeds more than 500 million people mainly in Africa.

Besides phenotypic and genotypic data, Cassavabase  contains  cassava geographical maps, genome and sequences and other datasets produced within the NEXTGEN Cassava project. Data can be accessed through the web interface and also various tools are available to view the datasets. Cassavabase, and the advantages of open access data were presented at the recent G8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture held in Washington, D.C.

Cassava is a plant that isn’t subject to a Monsanto patent (I don’t think) or that requires Monsanto chemicals to grow properly.

That alone means you are unlikely to encounter references to it in globalization of agriculture discussions.

Why grow something you can’t sell internationally? While paying homage to Monsanto?

Answers suggest themselves to me but for now I simply wanted to make you aware of this dataset.

G8 – Open Data for Agriculture

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

G8 – Open Data for Agriculture (World Bank)

From the webpage:

At the 2012 G-8 Summit, G-8 leaders committed to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the next phase of a shared commitment to achieving global food security.

As part of this commitment, they agreed to “share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture, to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers, taking into account existing agricultural data systems.”

On April 29-30, the G8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture brought together open data and agriculture experts along with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, and World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte to explore more opportunities for open data and knowledge sharing that can help farmers and governments in Africa and around the globe protect their crops from pests and extreme weather, increase their yields, monitor water supplies, and anticipate planting seasons that are shifting with climate change.

Webcasts on open data for agriculture.

This is immediately applicable to some work I am doing (more on that, hopefully later in May) but I discovered that the webcasts are single session casts. That is the one I am watching now is almost nine (9) hours long.

Fortunately I have the agenda and can guess fairly close on the part that I want to see.

Good background information if you are interested in topic maps in this space.