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Open Agricultural Data at Your Fingertips

Posted by Franz Hochstrasser, Research, Education, and Economics in Conservation Food and Nutrition Trade Research and Science
Apr 30, 2013

Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack officially launched the U.S. Government’s new Food, Agriculture and Rural virtual community on This will serve as a single access point for our related datasets, databases, tools, apps and data resources discussed throughout the G-8 Open Data for Agriculture conference. This effort supports our USDA Digital Strategy efforts to ensure high-value services and systems are available anywhere, any time and on any device.

Between USDA agencies, the US Geologic Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we have added more than 200 datasets, relevant to Natural Resources and the Environment. This includes global satellite data, helping us to enhance agricultural preparedness for climate and weather related variability and change.

Some of the USDA featured datasets and tools include:

The recently announced VegScape tool provides data and mapping capacity from our satellite-based U.S. crop condition vegetation assessment and monitoring web service. Geospatial metadata are now available directly through the community.

The Genetics and Genomics Databases benefits scientists and plant breeders through the streamlined and searchable catalog, including data published by our Agricultural Research Service, such as Soybase and MaizeGDB.

The Germplasm Resource Information Network  (GRIN) Global is a powerful and easy-to-use, web-based information management system for the world's plant genebanks, providing access to plant genetic resources in the face of challenges such as crop diseases and pests.

The community also features some new statistical products that support the U.N. Global Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Statistics.

In January, USDA’s Economic Research Service launched an ERS Content API (application programming interface), providing programmatic access to the primary content areas of the ERS public website, including Topics, Publications and the Amber Waves online magazine. The API will allow developers and others to build widgets, applications, and other projects using ERS content.

Finally, USDA is working to build a dynamic API for the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Quick Stats data. Quick Stats is the best source of agricultural census and survey data published by NASS. This API will be released in 2013.

All currently available APIs are catalogued on USDA’s Developer page. Stay tuned for updates!