Paris, 9 March 2009

EFITA newsletter / 402 / European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Committee on the Uptake of Information Technology in Agriculture and in Rural Communities: IRELAND
I'd like to bring you up to date with recent Agri ICTdevelopments in Ireland.
Isita was represented (by myself) on a  national committee selected by the Minister for Agriculture and Food  (DAFF) to review the  "Uptake of Information Technology in Agriculture and in Rural Communities" .
The link below will bring you to the interim publication, posted on the DAFF website, that summarises our work to date:
As a matter of interest, seven of the thirteen members of the national committee are current ISITA members.
Contact: Mick HARKIN
E-mail : harkin(a)

Deadline Extended for Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment in MTSR'09
30 September - 2 October 2009 - MILAN, Italy
The aim of the Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment of MTSR'09 is to bring together researchers and practitioners that are working on agricultural and food & environment knowledge production,  organization, and exchange from a Semantic Web perspective. It aims to serve  as a discussion forum where interested experts will present the results of  their work, and establish liaisons with other groups that are working on  related subjects. In addition, it aims to outline the rich potential of  these subjects as an application field for advanced metadata- and  semantic-driven systems and services.

Topics include but are not limited to contributions dealing with the  following issues in the context of for agriculture, food & environment:
* Information standards and specifications
* Metadata schemas and application profiles
* Multilingual vocabularies, taxonomies, glossaries and thesauri
* Metadata generation, harvesting, and exchange
* Knowledge acquisition, elicitation and extraction
* Infrastructures, systems and services for knowledge organisation
* Knowledge repositories and archives
* Ontology approaches, models, theories, and languages
* Ontology development, integration, lifecycle, and evaluation
* Management of large ontology-driven knowledge bases

Interested authors can submit either full papers (12 pages) or short papers (6 pages) about complete or ongoing research. Papers should be original and not previously submitted to other venues. Submission will be available through the EasyChair submission system: The authors should indicate in the abstract or titleof their submission that it is intended for the Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment.

The submissions to the Special Track will be reviewed by a specially appointed Program Committee of highly-recognised experts. Accepted papers will be published in the book of MTSR'09 proceedings by Springer (CCIS Series). In addition, the authors will be invited to submit a revised version of their manuscripts for a Special Issue of an international journal.

Important dates:
 * 15 March 2009: Submissions (EXTENDED)
* 15 April 2009: Notifications
* 30 May 2009: Camera-ready of accepted papers
* 1-2 October 2009: MTSR in Milan

Special Session Chairs:
* Nikos Manouselis, Greek Research & Technology Network (Greece)
* Ioannis Athanasiadis, Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Switzerland)
* Johannes Keizer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Italy)

Contact: Nikos MANOUSELIS
E-mail: nikosm(at)

The project…
…aims to make a new digital soil map of the world using state-of-the-art and emerging technologies for soil mapping and predicting soil properties at fine resolution. This new global soil map will be supplemented by interpretation and functionality options that aim to assist better decisions in a range of global issues such as food production and hunger eradication, climate change, and environmental degradation. It is an initiative of the Digital Soil Mapping Working Group of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and is led by academic and research centres in all continents.
Contact: Alfred HARTEMINK
E-mail: alfred.hartemink(a)

Scientists to Map Out Earth’s Soil. New tool will help explain and solve world’s greatest environmental threats
New York, February 17, 2009 — Some of the answers to the world’s greatest challenges -- such as climate change, food security, and water scarcity -- lie right beneath our feet. Responding to these and other critical issues, a group of scientists from around the world announced today an ambitious new plan to digitally map the Earth’s soil and its properties. Scientists, industry leaders, and government officials gathered at Columbia University to launch, a pioneering new tool that will shape future policy making, especially in those regions of the world most vulnerable to environmental shocks.

Knowledge of the world’s soil resources is fragmented and dated. will provide accurate soil information in real-time as well as state of the art analysis of soil properties, meeting the needs of various stakeholders, including policymakers, the climate change community, farmers, other land users, and scientists.

“On the current trajectory we will not meet our Millennium Development Goal to cut hunger by half by 2015,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “We need to speed up, and fortunately can do so if we mobilize much greater global cooperation. Today’s meeting speaks to the MDG hunger challenge and many others as well, including climate change, agriculture deficiency, nutrition, and water availability.  Soil mapping is one of the pillars to the challenge of sustainable development and the Earth Institute is proud to be a founding partner in this undertaking.”

Work has already started in sub-Saharan Africa, through an $18 million grant awarded to the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to create Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS). AfSIS will be the first-ever, detailed digital soil map of that region’s 42 countries. The Nairobi-based Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of CIAT will lead this effort.

“The best science and technology available must be deployed immediately if Africa’s soils are to be managed in a sustainable manner,” said Kofi Annan, chairman of AGRA and former UN Secretary-General, in a pre-written statement. “Fortunately, this is exactly what is happening. I refer to the Africa Soil Information Service –AfSIS for short. AfSIS is a most welcome addition to the arsenal of tools deployed against the scourge of hunger in Africa, and I heartily congratulate the scientists who developed the project.”

The global digital soil map will use enormous advances in technologies for accurate collection and prediction of soil properties. Conventional soil maps, which are based on technology that existed before the computer, only provide descriptive, static information and are difficult to decipher for those outside the soil science community. Digital soil maps, which are essentially a spatial database of soil properties, are quantitative, dynamic, and will be comprehensible to scientists, policy makers, and government officials.

“Improved soil management for better crop productivity is crucial for providing food security – an intensifying challenge in the context of population growth, increasing numbers of hungry people, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture,” explained Pedro Sanchez, director of AfSIS and director of Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “This initiative will provide farmers, policy makers, and scientists crucial information on how to address declining soil fertility in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa,” Sanchez continued.

Part of the funding will also provide initial support for the formation of the global consortium that is developing the methodology and raising funds for The consortium, which is led by World Soil Information (ISRIC), also includes the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the US Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Australia), the University of Sydney, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the French Research Institute for Development.

The information system will be freely accessible on the Internet. A ministry of agriculture, for example, can access to anticipate fertilizer needs for farmers. Government officials will draw on the information to understand the extent of soil erosion and costs for addressing it. Scientists will utilize the data to forecast the effects of climate change. The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), a center at the Earth Institute, will work with regional partners around the world to integrate and deliver the data using rapidly developing information and communication technologies.
Contact: Kyu LEE
E-mail: klee(a)

Build Your Own Solar Panel Kits - Silicon Solar Inc (from ICT Update)
Solar Panel Kits enable you to make your own solar panels for less. Each kit includes all necessary interconnection components including: soldering iron, solder, tabbing, flux, solar cells, and instructions on how to make an inexpensive housing for the solar panel.

Dear Employees,

Due to the current financial situation, caused by the economic slowdown, your Senior Management has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 40 years of age and above on early retirement. This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to management to be eligible for the SHAFT scheme (Special Help After Forced Termination). Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (Scheme Covering Retired Early Workers). A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Management deems appropriate.

Persons, who have been RAPED, can only get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependants & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance). Obviously, persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Management.

Persons, who are not RAPED and are staying on, will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Management has always prided itself on the amount of SHIT it gives employees. Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring to the attention of your Supervisor. They have been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle..!

Enjoy the new term!
The Management

TEN tips for 2009 - and bon weekend folks!

1) Do not get into trouble.

2.) Aim for greater heights.

3) Stay focused on your job.

4) Exercise to maintain good health.

5) Practice Team work,

6) Rely on your trusted partner to watch your back.

7) Save for rainy days.

8) Rest and relax.

9) Always smile when your boss is around.

10) Nothing is impossible.

Contact: Mick HARKIN
E-mail: harkin(a)

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