Production advice data
Data related to crop selection, crop and land management as typically found in extension services or government research institutes.
- Data on cultivars, landraces and farmer varieties including new releases
- Crop selection advice including new releases
- Crop calendars
- Agronomic recommendations
- intercropping, relay cropping, rotation
- resource-related farm advice
- Fertilizer recommendations
By providing the agronomic data as open data, farm extension recommendations can be shared more widely and updated more efficiently.
- When shared in an usable and understandable manner, farmers can use the data to improve their farming practice, resulting in a higher yields and more sustainable systems.
Use by other actors:
- Extension officers in the field can inform farmers using timely and accurate information, including the latest insights from research, leading to higher yields and more sustainable systems.
- Input suppliers can plan their business using the latest government recommendations in agriculture.
- A strong extension system increases the confidence of financial service providers in the risks they take while lending money or insuring farmers, facilitating financial inclusion.
- Knowledge of local varieties, practice and yield expectations helps financial service providers to make better risk estimates.
- Government extension information is shared more widely and changes implemented more swiftly, increasing the impact.
Many governments, especially in low-income countries, establish an extension network to support farming practice. Within those networks a lot of agronomic data exists. However, in most cases this information will not be available in a ready-to-publish format. Collecting the information from paper and digital instruction manuals and/or research documents, and entering it in a structured searchable database will take considerable effort. To reach wider audiences (including illiterate demographics), the information needs to be transformed into accessible formats, e.g. voice messaging, as well as in different local languages. A pragmatic approach for this is to start with information that is relatively easy to organise and has high value for farmers, such as information on fertilizer varieties and their specific characteristics, fertilizer recommendations per crop, and soil type. The advantage of having the information structured in a database is that it can be easily updated based on the latest research, while becoming immediately available to farmers or extension officers. In addition, sharing this data in an open format allows third parties to develop their own services, enhancing its spread and extension overall.
Examples of implementation
- The Ethiopian government distributes farm extension data and farm advice by mobile phone free of charge using Short Message Service (SMS) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). http://www.ata.gov.et/highlighted-deliverables/8028-agricultural-hotline/
- Extension information can also be distributed using video. DigitalGreen is a not-for-profit international organisation providing a platform to share video information via the internet, which once downloaded also works offline. http://www.digitalgreen.org/tools/
- Internationally sustainable land management best practices are shared in a database by World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT). https://www.wocat.net/
- FAO has developed the TECA platform for practical information, agricultural technologies and practices for smallholders. http://teca.fao.org/
- Similarly, the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) has developed an information sharing system designed to enhance knowledge exchange in support of Capacity Development (CD) for Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) http://tapipedia.org/
Initiatives that support interoperability
There are many detailed agronomic data standards originating from the science domain. They need expert use and can be found in the VEST/AgroPortal Map of Standards http://vest.agrisemantics.org/
Here we highlight:
- http://cavoc.org/ to describe agricultural activities.
- http://www.cropontology.org/ to describe different crop varieties.
- http://vest.agrisemantics.org/content/plant-environment-ontology to describe the growing conditions of a plant.
- http://vest.agrisemantics.org/content/pluto-plant-variety-database list of scientic names of all plant varieties in the world
Government in Action 9: Beyond extension services: Hotline 8082 in Ethiopia
To ensure all farmers have access to up-to-date information and knowledge in a timely manner the government of Ethiopia has developed a free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Short Message System (SMS) platform to share information on cereal, horticulture, and pulse/oil seed crops directly with farmers through mobile phones. In June 2015 the hotline had one million registered users.
Policy area: Optimizing agricultural practice
Key data category: Agricultural Production advice