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About the Ag Data Commons


The Ag Data Commons is a public, government, scientific research data catalog and repository available to help the agricultural research community share and discover research data funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and meet Federal open access requirements.


Through the Ag Data Commons, the USDA National Agricultural Library (NAL) provides services to make USDA funded research data systems and data products Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). Critical functions the Ag Data Commons provides include:

  1. Scientific metadata creation and curation
  2. Public access to data through a catalog of USDA funded research and public APIs
  3. Data repository for long-term archiving (as required to support DOI service)

The Ag Data Commons is a general repository for research data related to food and agriculture, which enables the USDA’s compliance with both public access and open data requirements to make federally funded research data open, accessible, and machine-readable. Services offered increase discoverability for open agricultural research data and provide a repository for data without a discipline-specific repository. Thus, the Ag Data Commons helps USDA-funded researchers find data of interest and meet publisher requirements to provide access to data associated with publications.

Submit Data

USDA researchers and grant recipients may use the Ag Data Commons as a channel to meet public access requirements for their resulting data. See the Data Submission Manual for more information on how to register for an account and submit data.
The Ag Data Commons supports inclusion of the original raw or minimally cleaned data cited in papers or used to create any charts, graphs, tables, and so on. Summary data may accompany, but not take the place of, full minimally edited data. Review the Ag Data Commons Collection Policy for more information about the types of data and materials approved for submission.

Access Data

All data represented in the Ag Data Commons carries an open license with minimal restrictions on access and use. Users do not need to register for an account or be logged in to view and access data. If the data are stored in the Ag Data Commons as a downloadable file, a download icon appears next to the file description. Choose that icon to download the data. If the data are stored outside the Ag Data Commons, follow the link provided to access and download data from an external site. Direct any questions about accessing data at external links to the contact listed in the metadata record, as the Ag Data Commons does not manage these files.

Cite Data

Each record automatically generates an APA formatted suggested citation located at the bottom of the record page, ready for cut and paste. Where a journal article describing the dataset exists (i.e. a data paper), we encourage you to cite that article, as well as the Ag Data Commons record.

We suggest using the FAIRsharing.org citation https://doi.org/10.25504/FAIRsharing.83wDfe or RE3data.org citation http://doi.org/10.17616/R3G051 when citing the overall Ag Data Commons repository.

Metadata, Standards, and Unique Identifiers

The Ag Data Commons repository includes metadata fields and unique identifiers that may be output into a number of schemas to achieve a variety of functions.

  • Project Open Data v1.1 – Used for inclusion in data.gov and is DCAT compliant. Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT) is an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the web.
  • ISO 19115-2 and ISO 19115-3 - Defines the schema required for describing geographic information and services by means of metadata. This robust standard provides information about the identification, quality, lineage, spatial and temporal extent, distribution, and other properties of digital geographic data and services.
  • DataCite – Provides a list of core metadata properties chosen for an accurate and consistent identification of a resource for citation and retrieval purposes, along with recommended use instructions. This standard is associated with data DOIs.
  • ORCID – A unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from one another. Through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, ORCID supports automated linkages between authors and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized.
  • National Agricultural Library Thesaurus and Glossary – Online vocabulary tools of agricultural terms in English and Spanish cooperatively produced by the National Agricultural Library, USDA, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture as well as other Latin American agricultural institutions belonging to the Agriculture Information and Documentation Service of the Americas (SIDALC). NAL Thesaurus is used to select controlled vocabulary terms for subject indexing of AGRICOLA, PubAg and other databases.

Access Metadata

Ag Data Commons provides the following APIs to users. No registration or API key is currently required to use these features.

  • DKAN Project Open Data - DKAN provides catalog features that provide endpoints for JSON and RDF in compliance with the Project Open Data requirements. The Ag Data Commons uses the standard DKAN endpoint to provide a JSON listing of all published datasets and their metadata. We have created a customized version of that endpoint that is a filtered subset of the full data.json restricted only to those datasets with an Agricultural Research Service bureau code. This custom endpoint regenerates every Sunday and serves ARS metadata to the USDA Enterprise Data Inventory, for ingest into the United States Government data.gov catalog.
  • DKAN Datastore API - DKAN provides a datastore API. This API allows machine retrieval of the data contained in each tabular file in our repository. For example, to get the entire Ag Data Commons metrics data, try this example. This is a lookup by resource id of the resource belonging to the metrics dataset, which provides monthly statistics about the Ag Data Commons.
  • Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Program API - The ARS National Program API counts and retrieves titles for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) datasets in the Ag Data Commons. This API also counts and retrieves datasets by keyword, particularly the National Program Numbers. The ARS National Programs page describes the National Programs and their broader categories.
  • PubAg API - The Ag Data Commons provides a means to link cited articles to PubAg. The Ag Data Commons PubAg API retrieves records that have a PubAg citation for Primary, Methods, or Related article citations.

Database and Dataset Metrics

The Ag Data Commons metrics charts page gives a brief visual introduction to how much and what type of data we represent, as well as how the data is used. We update the data used to produce these charts monthly, and reference metrics on a live metrics page. We report our statistics to the Office of Science and Technology (OST). We also track inbound citations – specifically datasets cited by journal articles - publicly available on Zotero.

External Discovery and Access

Ag Data Commons supports open data discovery and access, and meets the criteria for inclusion in authoritative registries such as FAIRsharing, Re3Data, OpenDOAR, and DataCite, which collectively promote scientific standards, policies, and databases/repositories for the research community, funders, and publishers. Ag Data Commons also meets the criteria of the Enabling FAIR Data Project.

Stay Updated

Sign up for our email list to receive periodic updates and announcements about the Ag Data Commons.

  • Go to the ARS email list subscription page
  • Enter your email address and select Next
  • Choose the Ag Data Commons Announcements topic listed under the National Agricultural Library News and Information topic and select Submit