RDA 8th Plenary Joint meeting: Joint meeting of IGAD and the WG related (Rice, Wheat, AgriSemantics and Soil)


Meeting agenda


1.- Introduction to the activities that IGAD has developed during the last six months by Imma Subirats

2.- Introduction to the working groups activities and their consolidation

2.1. Wheat data interoperability guidelines : why and how to adopt them by Esther Dzalé (INRA)

The growing number of numerical techniques offers unique opportunities to researchers to discover, access, and reuse data outside the original context in which these data are collected, in order to enable new analysis and discoveries. However, the disparate nature of the formats and vocabularies used to represent and describe the data has resulted in a lack of interoperability. 

The Wheat Data Interoperability working group has been created within the frame of the Research Data Alliance (https://rd-alliance.org) and under the umbrella of the International Wheat Initiative (http://www.wheatinitiative.org/), in order to provide a common framework for describing, and representing wheat data with respect to existing open standards. While interoperability is a wide concept, the working group sticked to the following definition from the European Interoperability Framework :  ‘An interoperability framework is an agreed approach to interoperability for organizations that wish to work together towards the joint delivery of public services. Within its scope of applicability, it specifies a set of common elements such as vocabulary, concepts, principles, policies, guidelines, recommendations, standards, specifications and practices.’ 

The framework proposed by the working group consists in guidelines and tools which aim to promote the adoption of common standards, vocabularies and best practices for wheat data management. It focuses on 6 data types (sequence variations, genome annotations, phenotypes, physical maps, germplasm and gene expression), based on a survey report  performed in June 2012 by the International Wheat Initiative.

The objective of the presentation is to describe the guidelines and explain through some examples why and how to adopt them.

2.2. Working Group on Rice Research Data Interoperability: A Conceptual Framework and Preliminary Analysis by Ramil Malauon (IRRI)

Rice is a staple food for some 4 billion people worldwide, providing 27% of the calories in low- and middle-income countries. Rice farming is associated with poverty in many areas. About 900 million of the world’s poor depend on rice as producers or consumers and, out of these, some 400 million poor and undernourished people are engaged in growing rice. The projected human population growth by 2040 requires an increase of 104 million tons of (milled) rice beyond the expected 2015 harvest of 475 million tons, coupled  with little scope for easy expansion of agricultural land or irrigation—except for some areas in Africa and South America. A concerted effort from rice researchers is needed to achieve the major leap in rice research technology needed to address the target yield increase.

While modern rice research and research data dates back to 19th century, the last five decades have seen the rapid development of high-throughput technologies that generate large quantities of data in basic, applied and adaptive research in rice sector. However, using these resources comprehensively, taking advantage of the associated cross-disciplinary research opportunities is a major challenge to both domain scientists and information technologists.

A globally coordinated rice research agenda warrants building a community framework/ standard to easily exchange research data across the globe. The Research Data Alliance (RDA) through its interest group namely, the Agriculture Data Interoperability Interest group became the neutral space to discuss the need to improve data exchange enabling data integration in this domain. The Rice Research Data Interoperability (RDI) Working Group was an outcome of this interest group, keeping in view the complexities of data, information, knowledge continuum of rice sector.

The working group aims to identify relevant use cases in order to produce a  “cookbook” on how to produce “rice data” that are easily shareable, reusable and interoperable in terms of functionalities and data types. Implementing the framework will help cultivate a rice research ecosystem with people familiar with interoperability, organisations ready to collaborate, and common tools and services. The work will directly align with the ongoing initiatives of hundreds of rice research organizations (including International Rice Research Institute and Africa Rice).

  • Understanding ongoing initiatives - existing work in Rice Data - through a community survey  - what difference can WG outputs can make among these initiatives. The survey will try to understand the systems (data content, ontologies/controlled vocabularies,  software technologies including APIs), breeding workflow, rice high throughput genotyping/genomics, avenues for harmonizing semantics for phenotyping and agronomy data, ontology based production management and various Interoperability issues.

  • Create a prototype data registry for test in line with IRRI's ongoing work - this helps providing guidelines for creating data registry for rice research organizations. IRRI and AfricaRice are the lead International Rice Research Institutions that have a reach to every NARS partner. A Data Registry created can immediately be taken to the national partners. RDI WG can leverage the strength of these two organizations.

  • Collect semantics and initiate a framework for a Rice ontology that aligns existing rice ontologies , thesauri, controlled vocabulary and prospect the multi-lingual conversion of ontologies. Many countries such as India and Thailand build their rice programs on semantic portals using standard rice ontology. RDI WG will work towards aligning all these ontologies to a common framework and design ways to using ontologies for collective intelligence and production and pest management.

  • Best practices for digitization of  rice legacy data based on Indian and Thai experiences. Most valuable and reusable data still lies in paper based documents. While generating the awareness among the policy makers in rice growing countries about the need for digitizing the legacy data, RDI WG will also work towards developing/ documenting best bet practices for effectively digitizing rice legacy data.

The proposed common framework will help describing, representing linking and publishing rice data with respect to open standards. Such a framework will promote and sustain rice data sharing, reusability and operability. The presentation also deals with the preliminary analysis made on rice research data repositories.

2.3.AgriSemantics Working Group by Devika Madalli

The goal of the Agrisemantics WG is to promote the use of semantic assets (vocabularies, taxonomies, thesauri and ontology) to support better sharing and interoperability of agricultural data. In this talk we will present the Case Statement of the WG, currently under revision by the RDA board. 

2.4. Soil Data Interoperability by Rainer Baritz (Global Soil Partnership)

The Soil Interoperability Working Group will promote the sharing of soil-related data through web services. It will advocate for targeted open soil data, building on defined use cases by GODAN stakeholders and members. The working group will closely interact with other initiatives related to the development of open soil standards promoting the exchange of digital soil data (OGC, ISO), and support and utilize these. Activities will build on, support, provide and use components of the global soil information system under the Global Soil Partnership (GSP).

The working group will seek to advocate for open soil data. Such data, available for a broad user community, designed for specific needs, will strengthen the capacity for innovative soil and interdisciplinary, agricultural research, around the globe.

This working group has the vision to become the key driver for building a soil e-infrastructure looking at various aspects of the soil data life cycle. 

2.5. On-Farm Data Sharing (OFDS) Interest Group Charter by Tom Morris (Director, Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory

Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) and Nicolas Tremblay (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada)

Farmers have the capability as they have never had before to critically evaluate management practices using field-scale replicated strip trials. Farmers have gained this powerful capability because yield monitors on combines enable accurate measurement of yields. Networks of farmers have become increasingly common to exploit the potential of yield monitors to evaluate management practices at the field level. Networks of farmers have also become increasingly common because farmers understand the power of evaluating management practices across many fields. Collection of results from strip trials across many fields requires protocols for data stewardship, that is, for data reporting, sharing and archiving. All farmer networks have developed data stewardship protocols. The protocols, however, vary from network to network, and the protocols are not easily accessible to people outside the networks. Creation of a standardized set of protocols for data stewardship that are publicly available would promote the formation of new farmer networks. More importantly, the creation of standardized protocols, especially for confidentiality and sharing of data, would enable the combining of results from many networks into one secure database. A combined database would facilitate analyses across space and time that would provide much more useful and robust answers to many applied questions about crop production practices, which would increase profitability and decrease environmental pollution caused by food production.   

3. Results of the Forums on Open Data and Open Science in Agriculture in Africa (Namibia, Kenya and Ghana by Justin Chisenga (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

4.- Investigating the Place of Research Data in Agricultural Information Access Initiatives by Adam Kriesberg (2016-2017 RDA/US Data Share Fellowship / University of Maryland College of Information Studies and USDA-ARS National Agricultural Library)

The agriculture research community has recently undertaken a series of projects to increase access to agricultural information such as the Global Agricultural Concept Scheme (GACS) project, an international semantic web initiative which can link to and from related controlled vocabularies, helping to build a network of agricultural information resources. This presentation will report on my RDA/US Data Share Fellowship project which examines the GACS initiative and collaboration on Linked Data and semantic vocabulary projects. Additionally, the project considers the degree to which GACS and the vocabularies it connects incorporate terms and concepts which specifically focus on access to research data. Through interviews with GACS team members, agricultural repository managers, and other semantic web professionals as well as analysis of reports and agriculture information access systems, this project explores how institutions collaborate on data curation projects and how the implementation of vocabularies such as GACS improves access to research data and other information.

5. Preparing the next RDA IGAD meeting in Barcelona (2017)

6. AOB

Group chair serving as contact person Imma Subirats Coll