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Interoperability of agronomic long term experiment databases and crop model intercomparison: the Italian experience

Ginaldi, Fabrizio, Bindi, Marco, Marta, Anna Dalla, Ferrise, Roberto, Orlandini, Simone, Danuso, Francesco
European journal of agronomy 2016 v.77 pp. 209-222
climate change, computer software, crop models, cropping systems, databases, information management, simulation models
The IC-FAR national project (Linking long term observatories with crop system modelling for better understanding of climate change impact, and adaptation strategies for Italian cropping systems) initiated in 2013 with the primary aim of implementing data from 16 long term Italian agronomic experiments in a common, interoperable structure. The building of a common database (DB) structure demands a harmonization process aimed at standardising concepts, language and data in order to make them clear, and has to produce a well-documented and easily available tool for the whole scientific community. The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) has made a great effort in this sense, improving the vocabulary developed by the International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Applications (ICASA) and defining harmonization procedures. Nowadays, these ones have also to be addressed to facilitate the extraction of input files for crop model simulations. Substantially, two alternative directions can be pursued: adapting data to models, building a standard storage structure and using translators that convert DB information to model input files; or adapting models to data, using the same storage structure for feeding modelling solutions constituted by combining model components, re-implemented in the same model platform.The ICFAR information management system simplifies data entry, improves model input extraction (implementing System Dynamics ontology), and satisfies both the paradigms. This has required the development of different software tools: ICFAR-DB for data entry and storage; a model input extractor for feeding the crop models (MoLInEx); SEMoLa platform for building modelling solutions and performing via scripts the model intercomparison. The use of the standard AgMIP/ICASA nomenclature in the ICFAR-DB and the opportunity to create files with MoLInex for feeding AgMIP model translators allow full system interoperability.