Spotlight on the latest Interest Group on Agricultural Data (IGAD) Meeting at RDA P14

21 Nov 2019

During the recently ended Research Data Alliance (RDA) 14th Plenary meeting held in Helsinki, the Interest Group on Agricultural Data held a parallel session focusing on IGAD/RDA Recommendations: Implementing Good Practices in Agriculture.

This session presented various outputs and contributions from agricultural open data projects and other initiatives consuming and using data to support analysis, modeling or decision support tools.

If you are interested in reading the presentations held during IGAD, you can visit this page.

Programme Highlights

The IGAD was well attended with more than 30 participants who followed the programme that included panel discussions, presentations and breakout sessions. IGAD was represented in three occasions during RDA: IGAD Pre-meeting on 22nd, the breakout session on 23rd and the adoption session on 25th.

IGAD-Pre Meeting was held in University of Helsinki on 22 October 2019, prior to the RDA Plenary 14. The meeting was well attended with more than fifty participants from China, UK, Australia, Finland, USA, Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Morocco, Slovenia. IGAD Pre-Meeting was opened by the Chairs of the Interest Group, Imma Subirats (FAO) and Cynthia Parr (USDA) followed by a brainstorming session on stakeholders in the domain, the most important activities for agricultural data and challenges that IGAD members face in their work. During the day, speakers from different regions presented their work. Presentations are already available publicly.   

The breakout session of the IGAD Pre-Meeting in RDA Plenary was dedicated to the updates from the IGAD working groups as well as future planning for the interest group activities. New collaborative opportunities have been expressed such as expanding interoperability to all crops, connecting with ELIXIR community and working with GO-FAIR for the FAIR implementation guidance. New working groups in relation to these discussions are in the horizon in the coming months. Another important discussion point was on how to improve the communication and knowledge sharing within IGAD. It was agreed that IGAD will focus more on online activities to overcome the challenge of time and financial restriction for on-site participation to the meetings. One of the first activities in this context will be webinar series. IGAD Chairs will lead this process starting with speakers of the last IGAD Pre-Meeting to share their work widely through this webinar series. More to come on this topic in a few weeks.

This year, RDA had a new session during the Plenary which is called Adoption Session which domain based groups presented their work within RDA and introduced recommendations and outcomes published within these groups. IGAD community was represented in Agriculture domain. In this session, representatives from AgriSemantics, Wheat Data and Capacity Development Working Groups within IGAD had an opportunity to share their work with a larger community in RDA and answered many questions at the boot which was assigned for Agriculture Data domain.


For other pictures of RDA 14th Plenary, visit RDA page on Flickr.

PANEL DISCUSSION: QUICK NOTES

The following sub-questions guided the brainstorming session:

  • Who are your stakeholders?
  • What are the most important activities for agricultural data?
  • What are the top three barriers to your work?

Participants have highlighted a general lack of understanding of the legal aspects (i.e. privacy, data rights, property rights, etc.). Some participants stressed their institutions technological gap and the illiteracy divide faced by many users in their Countries. An interesting aspect that has emerged during the debate is the cultural resistance towards data sharing.

Attendees have also proposed to start Working Groups on all crops (not just rice), connections with the ELIXIR Community, and on Data privacy and how to de-identify research data in agronomy for better privacy of subjects.

SELECTED PRESENTATION ABSTRACTS

The Global Long-term Experiments in Agriculture Network (GLTEN) Metadata Portal presented by Richard Ostler, Rothamsted Research, UK

The GLTEN was launched in May 2018 with the aim of establishing a collaborative international network for long-term agricultural experiments (LTEs). The GLTEN now represents over 50 LTEs across the world and covers diverse and contrasting climate and environmental regions, crops and land management systems. To improve the visibility of LTEs and LTE datathe GLTEN has developed a searchable online metadata portal. The portal does not host data, but instead provides metadata about LTEs and directs users to the LTE data owners preferred data access process. The metadata portal uses a minimum information checklist approach to capture key facts about LTEs including design and treatment factors; cropping system; site characterisation including location, landscape, soil and climate properties; administrative information including data access & licensing, contacts and associated organisations; recorded measurements and observations and data availability. To ensure interoperability with related systems, the checklist is mapped to schema.org in line with DataCite mappings and metadata are annotated using existing publicly available ontologies and controlled vocabularies. Metadata are published using CC0 licensing and can be queried using the portal API."

If you are interested in this presentation, you might be interested in learning more in a specific webinar that is taking place on 20 November.

The Agrisemantics recommendations to improve data interoperability in agriculture presented by Sophie Aubin, INRA, France; Caterina Caracciolo, FAO, Italy; Brandon Whitehead, CABI, UK

The Agrisemantics working group focussed on the use of semantics as a tool to achieve better data interoperability, especially in the area of agriculture. During our talk, we will introduce the recommendations produced by the group, and illustrate our plans for their maintenance and extension. We will also hint at a few examples of adoptions already ongoing and invite the audience to share ideas and suggestions for further refinement and adoption of the Agrisemantics recommendations."

Intelligent Plant Data Linkage: A View from History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science presented by Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter, UK

The intersection of historically and sociologically informed philosophy of science, including existing work on data practices and modelling tools, fosters understanding of both the technical and the social conditions under which data can be mined and reused. Such understanding can help towards bridging the current gaps between cutting-edge data science solutions and domains of application, and produce strategies and tools for data linkage that take advantage of the latest computational innovations while at the same time being usable and useful to data users in different sectors and different parts of the world. Building on extensive experiences in the study of Open Data systems in biology and biomedicine, this talk will promote a discussion around which contributions the field of history, philosophy and social studies of science could make towards the development and governance of an intelligent system for plant data linkage, with the goal to promote a global, context-sensitive and sustainable knowledge base for research on food security and related environmental challenges. These may include: (1)  a systematic understanding of the global network of infrastructures and standards developed to enhance data interoperability, as well as the diversity of normative visions and criteria used to identify, classify, mine and visualise data; (2) an analysis of the historical roots of the various components of these networks, in an effort to explain current differences and specificities; (3) a critical overview of the role of collections in contemporary crop science, the relation between germplasm collections and digital databases, and the ethical and social issues raised by data collection and monitoring; (4) a framing of the relation between conservation and innovation within precision agriculture; (5) support towards developing semantics that can leverage the diversity of participants in agricultural knowledge production, while learning from comparable experiences in biomedicine and public health. "