Databases

Compiled by:
Mary V. Gold
Updated by: Michal McCullough
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
Information Research Services Branch
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ask a Question

June 2017

Introduction

This directory contains links to online searchable databases that pertain, in some degree, to sustainable/alternative agriculture.

The databases may contain book and article citations and abstracts, research project descriptions, full-text documents and spreadsheets, organizational contact information, plant and animal production information, and/or other kinds of data. The majority provide free online access and downloading. For information about searching fee-based (noted with $) databases and journals, contact AFSIC. (Select Topic: Alternative Farming.)

Database categories:

  • Primary Research and Literature Databases
    Commercial and institutional databases that focus on sustainable and alternative agricultural topics
  • Secondary Research and Literature Databases
    Commercial and institutional databases that cover some sustainable and alternative agricultural topics within a broader scope of agricultural or biological subjects
  • Related Databases
    A variety of Web link, online publication and special topic databases that include coverage of sustainable and alternative agricultural topics.
  • Selected Directories
    Online directories of agencies, organizations and businesses (including farms) selected to assist searchers in locating agricultural experts, support and policy guidance.
  • Selected Glossaries
    Online glossaries related to agricultural, environmental and technical topics selected to help searchers define and refine their searching terminology and techniques.

More Resources:
AFSIC Highlights
Finding Additional Specialized Agricultural Databases
Information about Obtaining Full-text Journal Articles

Primary Research and Literature Databases

This section lists commercial and institutional databases that focus on sustainable and alternative agricultural topics.

Organic Eprints

Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming (DARCOF); Forschungsinstitut fuer biologischen Landbau (FiBL) [Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland].
http://orgprints.org/
Literature and research. Citations, abstracts, mostly full-text documents.
Primarily European papers related to research in organic agriculture. The archive contains full-text papers in electronic form together with bibliographic information, abstracts and other metadata.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) National Projects Database
USDA. NIFA. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
http://www.sare.org/Project-Reports
Research. Project descriptions and reports; abstracts, some full-text documents.
Covers previously and currently funded USDA SARE projects (approximately 2500 since 1988) including dollar amount, years, and investigator information. Can be searched by keyword, title and project number; within region or state; or by type of project.

Secondary Research and Literature Databases

This section lists commercial and institutional databases that cover some sustainable and alternative agricultural topics within a broader scope of agricultural or biological subjects.

ASFA: Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts [$]
ProQuest.
http://proquest.libguides.com/asfa (Publisher's Web site)
Literature. Citations, abstracts.
ASFA is a component of the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Information System (ASFIS), formed by four United Nations agency sponsors of ASFA and a network of international and national partners. Database covers aquaculture, aquatic organisms, aquatic pollution and environmental quality; indexes over 5,000 serial publications, books, reports, conference proceedings, translations and limited distribution literature.

AGECON Search - Research in Agricultural and Applied Economics
University of Minnesota. Department of Applied Economics.
http://agecon.lib.umn.edu/
Literature and research. Citations, abstracts, full-text documents.
"Full text copies of scholarly research in the broadly defined field of agricultural economics including sub disciplines such as agribusiness, food supply, natural resource economics, environmental economics, policy issues, agricultural trade, and economic development."

AGRICOLA
USDA. National Agricultural Library.
https://agricola.nal.usda.gov/
Literature, audio-visual and electronic materials. Citations; some abstracts.
Two searchable bibliographic databases: the NAL Catalog (books, videos, etc.) and the Article Citation database. Emphasis is on USDA, U.S. Experiment Station and U.S. journal documentation.

AGRIS
United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
http://agris.fao.org/
Literature, audio-visual and electronic materials. Citations, some abstracts.
International information related to agricultural sciences and technology; literature citations contributed by a collaborative network of more than 150 institutions from 65 countries. French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and English interfaces.

Ag Data Commons
USDA. National Agricultural Library.
https://data.nal.usda.gov
Datasets.
The Ag Data Commons provides access to a wide variety of open data relevant to agricultural research and related domains. These may include subjects such as agronomy, genomics, hydrology, soils, agro-ecosystems, sustainability science, and economic statistics.

Biological & Agricultural Index Plus [$]
H.W. Wilson Company.
https://www.ebscohost.com/academic/biological-agricultural-index-plus
(Publisher's Web site)
Literature. Citations, abstracts, some full-text documents.
"Bibliographic database indexing English-language periodicals published in the United States and elsewhere... Periodical coverage includes a wide range of scientific journals, from popular to professional, that pertain to biology and agriculture. About 45 percent of the focus is on agriculture."

CAB Abstracts [$]
CABI Publishing.
http://www.cabi.org/publishing-products/online-information-resources/cab-abstracts/ (Publisher's Web site)
Literature. Citations, abstracts.
Bibliographic database covering the applied life sciences, including agriculture, forestry, human nutrition, veterinary medicine and the environment.

CRIS - Current Research Information System
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
http://cris.nifa.usda.gov/menu.html
Research. Project descriptions and reports; abstracts.
Descriptive records for all types of currently funded USDA research - projects at USDA agencies (including NIFA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants), State Land Grants and Experiment Stations. Individual SARE projects are NOT listed here, only the grant titles/amounts distributed to regional offices. Additional database "subfiles" include ICAR (Inventory of Canadian Agri-Food Research) and SIS (Science Information Systems of the Biological Resources Division (BRD), USGS). Most project records include investigator names, budget dollars, project dates and references to related published literature.

European Agricultural Research
The European Information System on Agricultural Research for Development (ARD), European Union.
https://www.ard-europe.org//
Research. Project citations, investigator/institution information and descriptions.
Information about agricultural research organizations, research projects, funding resources, experts, events and news focused on Europe and developing countries; several search options (left hand menu) and browse by topic/country options.

Forschungsinformationssystem Agrar (FISA)
Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE).
https://www.fisaonline.de/en/
Research. Project descriptions and reports; abstracts.
Database of agricultural and food science research projects funded by the German government at both the federal and state level. English and German interfaces. "Die deutsche agrarwissenschaftliche Literaturdatenbank des Fachinformationssystems Ernährung, Land-und Forstwirtschaft (FIS-ELF)."

Land, Soil and Water Database
Wageningen UR Library [Netherlands].
http://library.wur.nl/lsw/ or http://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/groenekennis?uitvoer/code=GROK
Literature. Citations, abstracts.
Bibliographic references to literature related to the sustainable use of our living environment. Topics include land - landscape planning, landscape ecology and land use planning; soil - geographical information systems, land evaluation, remote sensing, soil and nutrient management, soil protection and soil science; water - quantitative and qualitative water management, water protection, irrigation and drainage; and ecosystems - flora, fauna, forestry and agroecosystems. Contains over 100,000 records; search in several languages including English.

Find ARS Research Projects
USDA. Agricultural Research Service.
https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/projects/
Research. Project descriptions and reports; citations, abstracts, contact information, links to project Web sites.
Current ARS research project records (about 1200); search all projects by all fields, title, approach, objective and project number; or browse by keyword and international categories.

PubAg
USDA. National Agricultural Library.
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov
Literature. Citations. Abstracts.
PubAg contains "full-text articles, along with citations to peer-reviewed journal articles with links to publisher sites and elsewhere for full-text access." Core topics of the agricultural sciences covered "include … animal and crop production and protection, natural resources, sustainable agricultural systems, … agricultural statistics, … and Extension education.”
[Note – PubAg is not the same as AGRICOLA.]

Scientific Manuscript Database
USDA. Agricultural Research Service.
https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/find-a-publication/
Research.
Formerly known as TekTran. Selected published or soon-to-be-published articles of recent research results from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA.

Sistema de Información y Documentación Agropecuario de las Américas (SIDALC)
[Agricultural Information and Documentation System of the Americas]
Documentation and Publications Unit, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Costa Rica.
http://www.sidalc.net/en
Literature. Bibliographic citations only, some with abstracts.
Links to several international agricultural databases, agricultural information sites in each Latin American country, online journals and directories of agricultural libraries and specialists. It features a "megabase" of agricultural literature that was developed and is maintained by the Orton Memorial Library (IICA/CATIE). Available in English and Spanish.

Soil Health Research Landscape Tool
Soil Health Institute.
http://www.soilhealthinstituteresearch.org/Home/Search
Literature. Citations. Abstracts. Research.
A free online library and search engine that “consolidates and categorizes publicly available information, a first step to identifying and addressing priority gaps in soil health research.”

Water and Agriculture Information Center: Electronic Publications Database
USDA. NAL. Water and Agriculture Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/waic/databases
Access to more than 1,800 online documents covering water and agriculture.

Water Resources Abstracts [$]
CSA (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts).
http://search.proquest.com/waterresources/ (Publisher's Website)
Literature. Citations, abstracts.
Covers international "technical and scientific literature on water-related topics covering the characteristics, conservation, control, pollution, treatment, use and management of water resources. Abstracts are drawn from journals, books, conference proceedings, and technical reports in the physical and life sciences, as well as from engineering, legal and government publications."

Related Databases

This section lists a variety of Web link, online publication and special topic databases that include coverage of sustainable and alternative agricultural topics.

AgNIC, Agriculture Network Information Center
Agriculture Network Information Center.
https://www.agnic.org/
Cooperatively managed resource database containing Web sites, image collections, lists of publications, documents, databases, and other unique resources. Also provides a calendar of events; and access to librarians and subject specialists who can respond to individual questions.

ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Master Publication List
National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
https://attra.ncat.org/publication.html
Full-text outreach publications on all aspects of alternative/sustainable farming systems and practices.

Conservation Agriculture: Global Research & Resources
Conservation Agriculture Group, Cornell University.
http://mulch.mannlib.cornell.edu/index.html
Zotero research databases containing up-to-date conservation agriculture research information. Users can search, sort, and export bibliographic information about conservation agriculture research articles. Over 2,000 articles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA)
Cornell University Library.
http://chla.mannlib.cornell.edu/
4500 agricultural texts (1,834 books and 6 journals (288 volumes)) published from the early nineteenth century to the middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food science, forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science.

Cooperative Extension Search
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
https://search.extension.org/
A custom federated search engine that allows users to easily search extension publications and Web sites nationwide.

Global Change Master Directory
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Goddard Space Flight Center.
https://gcmd.nasa.gov/
Earth science data sets and services relevant to the global change and earth science research - more than 15,000 descriptions of Earth science data sets and services covering all aspects of Earth and environmental sciences, including agriculture.

Surf Your Watershed
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
https://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/locate/index.cfm
EPA's "Surf Your Watershed" contains a database of watershed groups throughout the nation (searchable by state, zip code, group name, keywords or stream name), information about ongoing wetlands projects, data from American Heritage Rivers Services and a directory of Web sites dedicated to environmental issues and information.

Plants
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
https://plants.usda.gov/
Standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. Search by names, or by plant characteristics including morphological, physiological and reproductive traits; growth requirements and economic uses. You may also search on various traits and geographical areas for alternative crops that may be suitable for small scale farming.

Plants For A Future
Plants for a Future [UK].
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx
Information for 7300 edible medicinal and useful plants. Search by common or family name; edible, medicinal or other use; geographical area or habitat; or keyword.

State and National Partners Map
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
https://nifa.usda.gov/land-grant-colleges-and-universities-partner-website-directory
Listings for the more than 100 colleges and universities that comprise the nation's Land-Grant University System. Interactive map provides a list of Land Grant institutions and their key constituent units, most notably the state Cooperative Extension Services.

Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP) Knowledgebase (SKB)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/64847
A collection of information resources (books, reports, journal articles, videos, movies, presentations) produced or identified, classified, and summarized by SANREM CRSP researchers. This database provides easy access to resources relevant to sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

UC SAREP Cover Crop Database
University of California. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP).
http://asi.ucdavis.edu/programs/sarep/research-initiatives/are/nutrient-mgmt/cover-crops-database1
Directory, encyclopedia; some full-text information; citations; some abstracts; images. Information pertaining to 40 crop species derived from journal articles, conference proceedings, standard textbooks, unpublished data and personal communications from researchers and farmers. Plant descriptions, cultural requirements and uses.

Web Soil Survey
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS).
https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/
Provides electronic access to full USDA soil survey report content and more. Data may be searched, customized, put into map format and/or downloaded.

Selected Directories

This section lists online directories of agencies, organizations and businesses (including farms,) selected to assist searchers in locating agricultural experts, support and policy guidance.

Sustainable Agriculture Organizations and Publications
ATTRA. Sustainable Agriculture.
https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/sustainable_ag/
National directory of sustainable agriculture grassroots groups, nonprofits, and agencies.

Sustainable Agriculture Organizations
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/sustainable-agriculture-organizations-and-information-providers

Cooperative Extension System Offices
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
https://nifa.usda.gov/Extension/

State Departments of Agriculture Directory
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
http://www.nasda.org/9383/States.aspx

Rural Development State and Local Offices
USDA. Rural Development.
http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices

Selected Glossaries

This section lists online glossaries related to agricultural, environmental and technical topics selected to help searchers define and refine their searching terminology and techniques.

A Glossary of Agriculture, Environment and Sustainable Development
Kansas State University. Agricultural Experiment Station.
http://www.k-state.edu/historicpublications/pubs/SB661.pdf (PDF|98KB)

Glossary for Agroforestry
International Centre for Research in Agroforestry.
http://www.bugwood.org/glossary/

Glossary of Crop Science Terms
Soil Science Society of America.
https://www.crops.org/publications/crops-glossary

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus and Glossary
USDA. National Agricultural Library; Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, et. al.
https://agclass.nal.usda.gov
The Thesaurus and Glossary are online vocabulary tools of more than 5,000 agricultural terms in English and Spanish ranging across agriculture and its many ancillary subjects.

Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/sustainable-agriculture-definitions-and-terms

AFSIC Highlights

Organic Roots
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://organicroots.nal.usda.gov/orc/home.xhtml
Research and literature.
Full-text historic USDA bulletins. Also known as Organic Agriculture Information Access, this database is an electronic collection of historic United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Technical Bulletins, Farmers Bulletins, and other USDA publications related to organic and sustainable agriculture. These documents were published before 1942 (before synthetic chemicals became widely used) and contain state-of-the-art information and data that is still very pertinent to today's organic and sustainable farmers.

Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/sustainable-agriculture-education-and-training-directory
Directory.
Describes and links to U.S. institutions and organizations offering undergraduate and graduate programs, research opportunities, or training in organic, alternative, or sustainable agriculture. Identifies student farms and research and demonstration farms.

Great Places to Find Information about Farming Alternatives
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/great-places-find-information-about-farming-alternatives
Directory.
Descriptions and links for 15 information-rich resources.

Applying for a SARE Grant?
USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/applying-sare-grant
Fact sheet.
Guidance and tools for research grant applicants.

Finding Additional Specialized Agricultural Databases

David Lubin Memorial Library
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome, Italy.
http://www.fao.org/library/en/
Contains: Library catalog and links to agricultural databases, journal lists, full-text documents and the FAO publications catalog. There is also information about AGLINET, a world-wide network of large international agricultural libraries working together to serve other member libraries. Includes country library directory.

Directory of Open Access Journals
Lund University Libraries [Sweden].
https://doaj.org/
Service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. There are now 9428 journals in the directory. Currently 6786 journals are searchable at article level. Agriculture, 151 journals listed; Biology, 286 journals listed.

Rural Community Development Resources
USDA. NAL. Rural Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/ric/community-development-resources

WAICENT Information Finder
United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
http://www.fao.org/publications/en/
Thousands of documents reflecting FAO technical information on agriculture and food security.

Water and Agriculture Information Center: Databases
USDA. NAL. Water and Agriculture Information Center.
https://www.nal.usda.gov/waic/databases

Information about Obtaining Full-text Journal Articles

The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) is unable to provide copies of full-text journal articles and commercially-produced reports directly to individuals. This is due to copyright law that restricts the distribution of these materials. There are several ways to receive copies of the articles you need. Most methods involve a fee.

  • From an academic library that carries the journal(s) of interest, in print or electronic format:
    Most academic library catalogs are now available for searching through the Web. Check catalog for journal title and back issue "holdings."
  • From an Interlibrary Loan request at your local public or academic library:
    Ask at your library about this service; present the complete journal citation if available. For information about the National Agricultural Library's participation in Interlibrary Loan and about Document Delivery Services, go to https://www.nal.usda.gov/borrow-materials. Non-U.S. searchers should consult an Agricultural Libraries Network (AGLINET) participating library for Interlibrary loan services in their country, http://www.fao.org/library/library-aglinet/en/
  • From a journal publisher's archives:
    Many publishers provide reprint distribution and/or online delivery services for individual journal articles or issues. Check with the individual publisher for availability.
  • From a commercial document delivery service

For information about AFSIC services: 301-504-6559; Ask a Question.