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201505data-workshopMay 28, 2015 - A workshop was organized by AgMIP and USDA and held during May 11-15 at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, MD. Fifty-five participants attended the week-long workshop.

The goals of the workshop were to understand how to harmonize agricultural data collected from sites across the USA, demonstrate how a National Agricultural Data Network (NADN) might work, develop ideas for a roadmap on how to create such a network, and make recommendations to the USDA for developing an operational data network. Specific objectives were to:
1) Implement a prototype system to harmonize databases from representative NIFA and ARS projects that will make data accessible, usable, and interoperable for multiple crop models and other analyses;
2) Expand AgMIP IT tools used to operate multiple crop models to include nitrogen and phosphorus inputs and outputs and to complete translators for additional US-based cropping system models;
3) Select and document metadata and minimum variables that should be included in harmonizing data in other USDA research areas (e.g., dairy, beef, Life Cycle Assessment, and biofuels);
4) Create recommendations for USDA and a draft roadmap that will lead to broader harmonization of data with capabilities for on-line publication of harmonized, discoverable, accessible, and usable datasets.

The workshop was highly successful. An AgMIP database node was implemented on the server at the NAL with datasets from seven locations across the US harmonized as a prototype. A shared vision was developed for a “distributed network of linked, compatible agricultural databases into which researchers provide data that are easily shared among users with maximum impact of contributions and harmonized for easy discovery, open access and usability in models and statistical analyses.” The complexity of agricultural challenges facing the nation and the world are such that agricultural data stewardship and advanced tools are needed to enable sustainable production that can meet future national and international food, fiber, and bioenergy needs. A National Agricultural Data Network will accelerate progress towards sustainability and resilience to a changing climate by greatly enhancing the efficiency with which data from USDA projects are applied to research on agricultural systems analysis and modeling. A Roadmap for developing the NADN was provided to USDA along with recommendations.

For a full report, visit the AgMIP site at www.agmip.org