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Created: May 12, 2003.
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FAO's AgMES Project Releases a New Application Profile for Encoding Metadata.

An AgMES Project newsletter reports on the public release of an AgMES-AGRIS Application Profile. The AgMES (Agricultural Metadata Element set) initiative "aims to encompass issues of semantic standards in the domain of agriculture with respect to description, resource discovery, interoperability and data exchange for different types of information resources." The AP documentation includes an XML DTD for use in encoding of the metadata. The design team will evaluate review comments on the specification during 2003 and incorporate feedback into the XML Schema and RDF Schema now under development. AGRIS is an international information system for the agricultural sciences and technology; it was created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1974 to facilitate information exchange and to identify world literature dealing with all aspects of agriculture. The new AGRIS Cataloguing Standard AGRIS: Guidelines for the Description of Information Objects in the International Information System on Agricultural Sciences and Technology documents specifications for the metadata set "that should be used as an exchange format for disseminating data through the AGRIS system." The Profile is based upon on the Dublin Core Elements and Qualifiers, the Agricultural Metadata Element Set, and the Australian Government Locator Service Metadata Set. The goal of the AGRIS Application Profile (AGRIS AP) "is to facilitate exposure of the metadata format currently in use to enable linking of various types of information systems in FAO that are presently unlinked, therefore allowing users to perform cross-searches. This approach would also facilitate the harvesting of data from participating countries; with the application of the AGRIS AP model, this harvesting process could be automated. The scope of application includes all forms of electronic publishing: databases, Web pages, national portals on scientific and technical information on Agriculture."

Bibliographic Information

AGRIS: Guidelines for the Description of Information Objects in the International Information System on Agricultural Sciences and Technology. GILW, Library and Documentation Systems Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Language: English. Version 1.0. February 2003. 84 pages. Supersedes: AGRIS Guidelines for Bibliographic Descriptions and Input Sheet Preparation, by M. Natlacen et al., January 1998.

About AgMES

"The AgMES Project lies within the framework of a wider and more comprehensive AgStandards Initiative which is an attempt to promote, among other things, the use of metadata through use of standardized agricultural metadata terms. [The goal of standardized metadata is to] facilitate resource discovery and interoperability between and among uniquely and richly described agricultural resources and the use of ontologies for establishing appropriate norms, vocabularies, guidelines and standards to facilitate the integration of data from different sources to engage in effective data exchange."

"The project AgMES defines elements, qualifiers, encoding schemes and controlled lists that are generic yet deemed necessary for the description of agricultural resources. The project recommendations take into account the proposed elements of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) as a starting point."

AgMES serves "as an umbrella under which namespaces can be defined for newly declared elements that are deemed necessary and are used for different resources (Document like Information Objects or DLIOs, projects, fishing gear presentations, images, technologies, practices, maps etc.) in all areas relevant to food production, nutrition and rural development."

The overall objective of the AgMES project is to define an interoperability layer using emerging standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of agricultural content. Specific tasks are to:

  • define a low barrier layer to aid primary resource discovery through promotion of "open" exchange of information initiatives i.e., the Open Archives Initiative (OAI)
  • define a richer layer to aid secondary resource discovery (especially non-digitized resources) and promote homogeneity of meta element description for agricultural resources
  • transfer the metadata specification in an appropriate machine-readable technical framework (viz. a common XML Document Type Description, XML schema extended DC metadata set, and RDF)
  • use the format as a common denominator to homogenize sets of results of the Multi-Host Server (search interface that enables parallel searching on distributed heterogeneous databases)
  • use the format for management of agricultural resources by data owners." [adapted from the AgMES project homepage]


The International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology (AGRIS/CARIS) is a "cooperative system [in which] participating centres input references to the literature produced within their boundaries and, in return, draw on the information provided by the other participants. The system collects bibliographic references (to date, about 3 million) to either conventional (journal articles, books) or non-conventional materials (sometimes called 'grey literature' e.g., theses, reports, etc.), not available through ordinary commercial channels. One of the main reasons for AGRIS' existence is to encourage the exchange of information among developing countries, whose literature would not be covered by other international systems... To date, 240 national, international and intergovernmental centres participate from all over the world..."

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