Data Standards for Soil- and Agricultural Research
Authors: Carsten Hoffmann, Sina Schulz, Einar Eberhardt, Meike Grosse, Susanne Stein, Xenia Specka, Nikolai Svoboda, Uwe Heinrich
This living document has been produced in the framework of the German research initiative BonaRes (Soil as a sustainable resource for the bio-economy). The third version is published in the BonaRes Series, 2020 with more than 600 standards, as relevant for the soil- and agricultural research data management. As the report is a living document, the report is transferred to this web application to compile, discuss and recommend the latest state of data standards for soil and agricultural research.
It is grouped based on three major data life stages and might act as a helpful reference work for the soil-agricultural research data community.
The use of open and widely accepted standards is the basis for modern (FAIR, ) research data management. In this context, task of this report is to describe, compare, review and recommend standards for the whole data life and to assist soil- and agricultural scientists to store their research data into a data infrastructure to make them findable and accessible in the long-term for any reuse. Missing and competitive national and international standards and potential conflicts are stated and, based on internal and external expert knowledge, outstanding standards are highlighted and summarized to recommendations:
Favored = highly recommended for application
OK = acceptable alternative but maybe requires later transformation
In the Appendix the highly recommended standards as well as many code lists, glossaries and web links are listed in tables
The BonaRes Repository
In July 2017, the BonaRes Centre launched the BonaRes Repository for soil and agricultural research data. Beside data from national research projects, the repository is open for other soil-related data, e.g. from agricultural long-term field experiments (LTE). The BonaRes Centre provides DOI, easy access and long-term availability for all uploaded research data. According to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (2003) and the initiative “Digitale Information” , metadata and research data will not be subject to any restrictions on reuse. Metadata are always available and, after a limited embargo-time, also research data are provided accessible for the international research community. Further information is given in the BonaRes Data Guideline .
According to the GitHub FAIRMetrics, the BonaRes Repository serves all relevant elements of FAIR data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable, see ), and additionally, provides legal security for sensitive data and facilitate data up- and downloads. To meet these demands and to enhance research data reusability (FAIR Principle R 1.3), the use of relevant open community standards and data documentation during data life is necessary. Such standards concern, beside others, the classification and description of soils, field- and lab methods, agricultural technology, plant varieties, fertilizers, farming and agricultural business, data quality control, ontologies, data formats, data storage and -archiving, and metadata management. All standards which are recommended within this document are supported by the BonaRes repository. Research data which were collected under standardized conditions, described with coherent metadata, proofed by quality tests, and stored in the repository, will be visible, accessible and citable for any data reuse (e.g. modelling), exchange or review.
In the long term it is planned to consolidate the BonaRes Repository into international infrastructures for soil and agricultural research data. This requires data interoperability by internationally accepted and applied standards. Transformation tools may help to translate data from national to international valid systems and formats.
 Wilkinson, M., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. et al. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Sci Data 3, 160018 (2016). DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2016.18
 Berlin Declaration on Open Access (2003). https://openaccess.mpg.de/Berliner-Erklaerung.
 Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany (2013). http://www.allianzinitiative.de/en/.
 Svoboda, N. and U. Heinrich (2017). The BonaRes Data Guideline. BonaRes Data Centre. http://doi.org/10.20387/BonaRes-E1AZ-ETD7.