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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2007

URLs in this document have been updated. Links enclosed in {curly brackets} have been changed. If a replacement link was located, the new URL was added and the link is active; if a new site could not be identified, the broken link was removed.

[Refereed article]

Science and Technology Resources on the Internet

Agronomy: Selected Resources

Marianne Stowell Bracke
Agricultural Sciences Information Specialist
Life Science Library
Purdue University Libraries
West Lafayette, Indiana

Copyright 2007, Marianne Stowell Bracke. Used with permission.


This bibliography contains a collection of web sites and online resources that pertain to the field of agronomy. This web bibliography, or "webliography," contains links and descriptions of agronomy web sites that cover general and background information, crop science, soil science, resources for K-12 teachers, databases, freely-available and subscription-based journals, and organizations. This webliography is useful for new agriculture librarians, librarians working in other disciplines and unfamiliar with the agricultural sciences, undergraduate students in agriculture, and the general public in need of information on agronomy.


Agronomy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, first appears as a term in the early 1800s to describe, "cultivation of the field." Today the definition is still much the same, though more descriptive in scope. Agronomy now refers to the agricultural sub-discipline that studies all aspects of soil management, crop production, and all the ways in which soils and crops interact. Soil management includes issues such as soil classification, irrigation and drainage, soil fertility, and tillage. Crop science generally refers to field crops like corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, etc., and may study the selection, breeding, management, and post-harvest treatment of crops, plant breeding, plant nutrition, and weed science. The study of turfgrass is also often included in agronomy.

Agronomy is a discipline that is not widely understood to those outside of the agricultural sciences. Agronomy rarely appears in library and information science publications, and when it does, is part of the larger field of agriculture. The study of agronomy, most specifically the study of crop and soil sciences, is an essential component of agriculture and has many ties to other disciplines such as engineering, biology, and environmental sciences. ISTL has published webliographies on related areas such as Plant Genetics (Spring 1997), Water (Summer 1997), and Plant Conservation (Winter 2006), but this webliography is unique in its focus on agronomy.

This webliography is a starting point for those beginning to do research in agronomy and looking for online resources. Users may include new agriculture librarians, librarians working in another subject discipline, undergraduate students in agronomy or agricultural sciences, or members of the general public researching issues in agronomy. The webliography begins by providing links to general and background information for both agriculture and agronomy to provide a grounded understanding of the basics of the disciplines. The two major areas of agronomy, crop and soil sciences each have a section of web sites devoted to targeted information on those topics. Links to databases and journals are also listed and would allow for more in-depth and focused searching on any agronomy topic.

Scope and Methods

Agronomy is the broad term given to describe the study of crop and soil sciences. The resources selected generally exemplify the broadest concept of agronomy and reflect the intertwined nature of the study of crops and soils. Only a select number of sites that focused on crop science, soil science, or a particular sub-area (e.g., corn) were included due to the large number of sites in existence. The sites included were chosen because of the substantial amount and research quality of content contained on the site. Either area, crop or soil science, could easily be explored in detail in individual webliographies.

Language was also a determining factor. Agronomy is an international subject; only web sites that were at least partially in English were considered for inclusion. This was rarely a concern as the majority of web sites were in English or provided an English mirror site.

Both freely available and for-fee journals were included. Many important research journals in agronomy require a fee-based subscription. The fee-based journals listed here come from the 2005 ISI Journal Citation Reports for Agronomy. They are listed in the order of the highest impact factor (3.063) to the lowest, with a cutoff at an impact factor of .75. Other excellent resources are the web sites of universities that have programs in agronomy, crop, or soil science. These sites frequently contain a wealth of information about current research and projects that are happening on state, national, and international levels. There are numerous university sites in existence, so only a select group of the sites that provide the most substantial information to reach a broad audience were chosen. A few select sites of K-12 educational materials were included. In addition to appealing to the obvious audience, these sites often have very basic agronomy information and may be of interest to undergraduate students or individuals without a background in science or agriculture as a way to get started.

Web sites were selected from searching general search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, and Yahoo. More focused searching was done through the AgNIC portal, and the web sites for the National Agricultural Library (NAL), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). References resources included Ulrich's Periodicals Directory and Associations Unlimited. Online databases used were ISI's Web of Knowledge, Agricola, CAB, Library and Information Abstracts, and Library Literature and Information Science.

General Information

AgNIC (Agriculture Network Information Center)
This agricultural information portal hosted and maintained by the National Agricultural Library houses information from land grant universities and other organizations around the country. This is a great resource for finding trusted information in the form of state extension publications and university-published materials regarding agronomy. The site can be searched, which includes the wide variety of materials in the sub-sites, as well as browsed by topic. Information found here is at a range of levels, from K-12 to the general public to researchers. Here are a few specific AgNIC sites devoted to areas of agronomy:


Pacific Island Crops

Plant Science

Rice Research

Rice Research for Developing Countries

Soil Health


Sustainable Agriculture

Turf Grass

Winter Sowing

Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO): Agriculture, Biosecurity, Nutrition and Consumer Protection
This FAO division provides a wealth of information on many agricultural topics, including crop and soil sciences. Some interesting items to note are the full text of the recent FAO Soils Bulletin, The Importance of Soil Organic Matter, and the link to the Soil and Water Management & Crop Nutrition page (

National Agricultural Library (NAL)
The NAL site provides lots of general information about agriculture, such as an agricultural glossary, a search of the USDA site, and links to the full-text of numerous USDA publications. This site also covers more specific areas of information in areas called Information Centers These include agronomy-related areas as invasive species, water quality, and rural issues. Additionally, the site links to NAL's catalog and AGRICOLA, an article database described below. The site features an ask-a-librarian service, browsability by subject or audience, and highlights from their collection. Overall, it is very easy for someone familiar or unfamiliar with agronomy to access the level of information needed.

National Agronomy Manual (NAM)
This government manual outlines the policy for agronomy activities, as well as providing protocols for uniform implementation of agronomy tools and applications. It also contains a detailed section on the responsibilities of agronomists.

USDA Agriculture
This is just one section of the complex USDA web site. Like other sites mentioned above, this contains government agency-produced information on many areas of agriculture. Examples of this information include the Agricultural Census, full-text government reports and agricultural magazines, tools for agricultural practitioners, and information on current and potential laws and regulations. Within this, there are many areas related to agronomy that are of interest, such as pest management, weather and climate, commodities information, and nutrient management. This site provides both practical information and tools for practitioners in the field and scholarly information for researchers and students.

Crop Sciences

Crop Explorer
Produced by the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA, this website provides an analytical tool of crop condition information from around the world. Information covered includes weather, soil moisture, vegetation index, satellite data, growing seasons, and additional related resources.

Crop Production
This USDA site focuses on some of the economical issues of agronomy and the research that supports making quality decisions. Areas include a section on crop yields by county and by state, yield forecasting information, and annual world crop production summaries. Additionally charts and maps of crops are available, as well as downloadable geospatial data.

Crop Profiles and Timelines
This site provides crop profiles and timelines searchable by state or region and by crop. The crop profiles provide a synopsis of known information for a crop in a given state. For example, this might include overall production information, growing seasons, common pests and diseases with damage and control information, weeds and individuals to contact for further data. This information is developed by the Integrated Pest Management Center, which is sponsored by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service of the USDA.

Introductory Plant Pathology Resources
This site is created by the American Phytopathological Society and is aimed at college students. Topics covered range from an introduction to major pathogen groups to plant disease management simulations to general topics in plant pathology. Especially useful are the full-text articles arranged by pathogen groups.

National Plant Germplasm System
Part of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, this page provides information on efforts to preserve the genetic diversity of plants, particularly food crops. Information includes links to national germplasm repositories and their areas of study and ways to request samples of germplasm.

Plant Diseases & Damage
This site maintained by Iowa State University provides pictures and descriptive articles for various diseases and insect damage that can affect crops. The crops covered are alfalfa, barley, corn, oak tater, oats, soybeans, and wheat.

Plant Management Network (PMN)
The resource is a unique cooperative effort of partners from industry, non-profit organizations, and universities. Although complete access requires a subscription, this site still provides lots of useful information on crop and soil sciences for free. This includes the full text of a few recent articles and a public archive for older articles for all four of the journals published by PMN ({Applied Turfgrass Science}, {Crop Management}, {Forage and Grazinglands}, and Plant Health Progress). Additionally, the PMN newsletter can be subscribed to for free. With a paid subscription, the site also provides an extensive plant image database, information on variety trials, a searchable plant science database, and the full text of reports like the Arthropod Management Tests.

PLANT Facts: Horticulture and Crop Science in Virtual Perspective
Developed at Ohio State University, this site contains collections of data and multimedia tools. Although there is a strong emphasis on horticulture, what is particularly valuable for crop scientists is the search engine that concentrates on only plants and the searchable database of images. These images cover insects, diseases, and turf.

Plants Database
This site maintained by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the USDA, has a wealth of information on plants. Although covering many aspects of plants in general, there are still many areas of interest to crop science. For instance, there is a database of alternative crops for small scale farmers, an image gallery, a section on invasive and noxious weeds, a crop nutrient tool, and a list of plants by state with both scientific and common names.

Transgenic Crops
This site, presented in English or Spanish, strives to present balanced information on the hot button topic of transgenic crops. These are also referred to as genetically modified or GM crops. Not only does this site cover particular areas such as plant breeding and evaluation and regulation, there are also areas targeted to specific audiences. These include teachers, nutritionists, journalists, and extension agents.

Soil Sciences

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soils Website
This site contains massive amounts of soil information, including practical tools and downloadable data sets. The site contains a soil extent mapping tool, hurricane disaster response maps, ground-penetrating radar soil suitability maps, and online versions of current soil surveys. Sub-sites of interest:

Photo Gallery
This presents photos of examples of types of soil, soil profiles, and soil landscapes.

Soil Surveys
This site is also useful in documenting the existence of historical soil surveys by state and links to the full text when available.

Soil Taxonomy
This provides a PDF version of the government document, Soil Taxonomy, A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys, 2nd ed.

Soil Texture Calculator
By entering the percentage of sand and clay in a soil sample, this calculator will figure out the soil texture for the user.

World Soil Resources
This links to global and regional soil maps, technical papers, professional organizations and other resources.

Smithsonian Soils Exhibit
Although the exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History won't open until 2008, this web site will continue to increase in content over the next two years. Currently, it has the exhibit overview which highlights areas such as soil as life, the role of soil in the environment, food and medicine from the soil, and soil in cultural history. It also includes a detailed list of educational materials received for the exhibit.

Soil Biology Movies
This site contains 16 streaming videos with sound on life in the soil. Produced by Dr. Tom Loynachan of Iowa State University, each video replicates a lecture describing a living item found in the soil. Examples include nematodes, protozoa, mites, earthworms, and bacteria. Best viewing requires a high speed Internet connection and Macromedia Flash player.

University Sites

This is an area where there are numerous, information-rich web sites that fall into this category. Only a select number of sites were chosen as examples. Most University agronomy sites provide focused information for their direct user community -- faculty, researchers, and current and potential students of the department. Sites selected also displayed a depth and breadth of information that would interest the general public, K-12 students, and researchers outside of the department or university. Many of these sites feed information into their state's extension agency, organizations that offer a wealth of quality information generated by researchers and professionals for practitioners and the general public. All sites below are for Agronomy Departments unless otherwise noted.

Iowa State University

Kansas State University

Louisiana State University

Purdue University

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Department of Crop Sciences)

Washington State University (Department of Crop & Soil Sciences)

Resources for K-12 Teachers

This is an area with many resources available on the web. These are just a small selection of particularly well done sites that encourage children to get excited about agronomy at an early age. Many include general information about agronomy that would appeal to those new to agronomy of any age.

Demonstrations in Soil Science
This is a site created at Purdue and features a collection of soil experiments that can be used in the classroom or for science fair exhibits.

Dr. Dirt
Dr. Dirt, a.k.a. Dr. Clay Robinson of West Texas A&M University, aims this site towards grades K-8. It contains over 15 modules for students to learn about erosion, irrigation, the nutrient cycle of soils, global implications of soil, and much more. Students can check out the FAQ or submit their own question to Dr. Dirt.

Education Center: The Plant Health Instructor (K-12 Plant Path-Waysto Science)
Sponsored by the American Phytopathological Society, this site is chock full of information for teachers and experiments for the K-12 set. It contains upcoming programs and workshops for science teachers to keep current, lesson plans, and an illustrated glossary. Experiments cover plant viruses, parasites, and fungi.

The Great Plant Escape
This clever, award-winning site, in both English and Spanish, offers six "cases" for students to solve involving the impact of plants and crops on people. Hosted by a carrot and a sprout, each case is set up like a mystery that walks kids through outcomes for each case, background materials and facts, definitions, and experiments.

Natural Resources Conservation Service K-12 Resources on Soils
This site contains a list of soil-based lesson plans not listed elsewhere in this list.

Soils Sustain Life: Educational Resources for Teachers
This site, developed by the Soil Science Society of America, includes lessons and experiments, such as soil texture analysis and creating crayons out of soil, and is useful for most any area of the country. Other helpful resources include soil facts and definitions.


AGRICOLA is one of the best known agricultural databases. The National Agricultural Library (NAL) provides a free version, but a fee-based version is also available through many database vendors. The NAL version has two components: the NAL catalog that searches the book, a-v materials, serials, and other materials held by the Library; and the Article Citation Database which includes citations, often with abstracts, to articles, books, and reports. Full text is not provided. If the full text is available on a web site, a link is provided. These links are becoming more and more common as the database is updated. This site also provides information on options for receiving a copy of the material if there is no full text available. This site is particularly useful due to its connectivity with other USDA agricultural resources.

This free database contains both international and national agricultural research, as well as the often hard-to-find grey literature such as white papers and informally published reports. This database is frequently updated and currently provides citations and abstracts to over 2.3 million references that date back to 1975. Though the full text is not included, the latest search interface provides a Google link to immediately search for full text with each citation. Because many of these are published by governmental and not-for-profit organizations, some of the full text is freely available. This database is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO.

CAB, now known by only its initials, once stood for the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau. CAB DIRECT is CAB International's (CABI) own interface to the CAB database, although several other standard database vendors can provide access. All are fee-based. Currently, CAB is up to 4 million records dating back to 1973 and provides only scholarly, peer-reviewed citations and abstracts. Records are international in scope, covering journals, books, technical reports, bulletins, and conference proceedings. CAB describes itself as covering all aspects of applied life sciences. Only about 5% is devoted to soil science, but plant sciences (including horticulture which is considered separate from agronomy) covers almost 20%. Crop science covers crop protection and management, plant breeding and genetic resources, organic farming and biofuel crops.

CAB recently introduced CAB Abstracts Archive, which is available for a separate fee from CAB Abstracts. The Archive includes citations from 1913 through 1973, totaling over 1.8 million references.

Current Research Information System (CRIS)
Sponsored by the USDA, this database tracks ongoing and recently completed funded research and educational projects in agriculture and other closely affiliated areas. Research can be funded by any number of organizations, including USDA agencies, state agricultural experiment stations, land-grant universities, and other cooperating state institutions, to name a few. The site provides both a basic and a complex search of the research projects listed in CRIS. Research project reports include names of investigators, funding agency, objectives of the project, approaches to research, progress or summaries, and resulting publications. This would be an ideal place for grant-seeking researchers to begin their investigation of funding opportunities. It provides the researcher with an idea of what agencies have funded in the past. It can be a tool to gauge the uniqueness of a proposal by seeing what research is in progress or has been completed in a particular area.


The journals listed below include both open access and fee-based titles. The majority of scholarly, research journals in agronomy are fee-based. Full text for some of these titles may be available for developing countries through one of the following projects established by FAO. This FAO initiative, along with a number of major publishers, provides access to scientific literature for countries that would otherwise be unable to gain access on their own due to the high cost of journal literature.

Open Access Journals
Agronomy Research, 2003-present online
This journal is published by the Estonian Research Institute of Agriculture and covers agronomy broadly.

Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (BASE), 1997-present online
Published by les Presses agronomiques de Gembloux, it covers agronomy as well as a number of other agricultural and biological topics.

Breeding Science, 2001-present online
Published by the Japanese Society of Breeding, this journal focuses on crop and plant breeding.

Communications in Biometry and Crop Science, 2006-present online
This journal addresses theoretical and experimental research in crop and biometrical sciences.

Japanese Journal of Crop Science, 2003-present online
This title is published by the Crop Science Society of Japan and covers all aspects of crop science.

Journal of Agronomy, 2004-present online
This journal is published by the Asian Network for Scientific Information and is available through the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Plant Production Science, 2003-present
Another title published by the Crop Science Society of Japan, this journal covers field crops and resource plants.

Fee-Based Journals
Theoretical and Applied Genetics: International Journal of Plant Breeding Research, commenced 1929 (all years available online)
Published by Springer, this journal covers all areas of plant genetics, genomics, and biotechnology.

Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, commenced 1964 (1984-present available online; 1984-1994 available freely)
This Elsevier title addresses the inter-relationship between meteorology and agronomy.

European Journal of Agronomy, commenced 1992 (1996-present available online)
This journal is the official publication of the European Society for Agronomy and is published by Elsevier. The focus is primarily crop sciences, in areas such as crop physiology, production and management, agroclimatology, plant-soil relationships, crop quality, and agroecosytems.

Postharvest Biology and Technology, commenced 1991 (all years available online)
This Elsevier journal encourages interdisciplinary research submissions. Areas covered include postharvest storage, quality evaluation, packaging, handling and distribution of crops, ecology, and plant physiology.

Advances in Agronomy, commenced 1949 (2001-present available online)
Technically a book series, this long-running series is known for publishing the newest and highest-quality agronomy research.

Molecular Breeding, commenced 1995 (all years available online)
Published by Springer, this title brings together research and practice. Examples of topics include field evaluation of transgenic crops or the structural and functional genomics of crops.

Plant Pathology, commenced 1952 (1996-present available online)
This Blackwell title is published on behalf of the British Society for Plant Pathology. It addresses any and all aspects of plant pathology.

Plant and Soil: an International Journal of Plant-Soil Relationships, commenced 1948 (all years available online)
This Springer journal publishes research that addresses the interface of plant biology and soil sciences and that is of general interest to a broad range of scientists.

Weed Research, commenced 1961 (all years available online)
This Blackwell journal is the official journal of the European Weed Research Society. It publishes all aspects of weed research. Weeds are defined here as, "plants that impact adversely on economic, aesthetic or environmental aspects of any system."

Weed Science, commenced 1951 (2000-present available online)
This title is published by the Weed Science Society of America. It includes research on all aspects of weeds, including the biology, physiology, management and control, and herbicides.

European Journal of Plant Pathology, commenced 1994 (Formerly Netherlands Journal of Plant Pathology, 1937-present available online)
Published in cooperation with the European Foundation for Plant Pathology, this journal publishes epidemiological, ecological, biochemical, physiological and molecular aspects of plant diseases.

Agronomy Journal, commenced 1907 (1998-present available online)
This American Society of Agronomy publishes this journal covering all facets of crop and soil sciences.

Field Crop Research, commenced 1978 (1995-present available online)
This Elsevier title publishes research on aspects of crops, such as crop ecology, agronomy, physiology, breeding, productivity, and product quality.

Pest Management Science, commenced 1970 (2000-present available online)
This journal covers all aspects of crop protection and pest control. It is published by Wiley for Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).

Crop Protection, commenced 1982 (1995-present available online)
Crop Protection is the official journal of the International Association for the Plant Protection Society (IAPPS) and is published by Elsevier. It includes all practical aspects of weed, pest, and disease control.

Agronomie (became Agronomy for Sustainable Development in 2005), commenced 1981 (2000-present available online)
This journal publishes on any aspects of cropping systems as they pertain to sustainable development. All content is freely available 24 months after publication and goes back to 2000. Additionally, authors are given the option of making their articles immediately open access for a fee.

Crop Science, 1961-present (1998-present available online)
The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) publishes this title. Areas of research include crop breeding and genetics, crop physiology and metabolism, crop ecology, production and management, seed physiology, turfgrass, plant genetics, and pest management.

Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science-Zeitschrift fur Pflanzenernahrung und Bodenkunde, commenced 1946 under the German title (1999-present available online)
This Wiley title covers soil science and soil-plant interactions.

Grass and Forage Science, commenced 1946 (all years available online)
Blackwell publishes this title that is both the Journal of the British Grassland Society and the Official Journal of the European Grassland Federation. Articles cover all climatic zones and topics such as grass and forage production, management, and utilization.

Euphytica: International Journal of Plant Breeding, commenced 1952 (all years available online)
Published by Springer, this journal covers all theoretical and applied aspects of plant breeding.

Agricultural Water Management, commenced 1976 (all years available online)
This title publishes on topics such as irrigation and drainage of cultivated areas, ground and surface water in nutrient cycling, erosion and desert creep, control of flooding, and other agricultural water management issues. Elsevier is the publisher.

Plant Breeding, commenced 1912 as Zeitschrift für Pflanzenzüchtung (1986-present available online
This Blackwell journal focuses on all aspects of crop plant breeding, including the genetics, physiology, pathology, and development of crops.

Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, commenced 1949 as Zeitschrift für Acker- und Pflanzenbau (1999-present available online)
Published by Blackwell, the focus of this journal is the effects of stress on crop production. This may include drought, chemical constraints, and extreme temperatures.

Breeding Science, commenced 1951 (1994-present available online freely)
Published by the Japanese Society of Breeding, 1994 on is available freely through the National Institute for Informatics. Most research focuses on crop and plant breeding.


United States
American Society of Agronomy (ASA)
The ASA is one of the most important scientific societies for providing educational materials, scholarly and trade publications, and networking opportunities in agronomy. The site offers an RSS feed of articles of interest from a variety of sources that would be difficult to check individually. Despite its name, the Society does have strong international interests and works with many affiliates around the globe. Because of the highly intertwined relationships, ASA is closely connected with the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). There is even a shared site, that mirrors the construction of the ASA site and links to each of the individual sites as appropriate. There is also the ability to search across all publications produced by the three organizations, although full text is available only to individual or institutional members.

Crop Science Society of America CSA)
CSA's website features a similar RSS feed of articles. It includes articles of general interest to agronomy and articles specific to crop science.

Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
SSSA's site also has an RSS feed of recent articles making headlines. Additionally, this site links to other soil sites and soil science projects around the country.

Publications Handbook and Style Manual for the ASA/CSSA/SSSA

This blog serves all three organizations and covers issues that have interest across the board. Topics for discussion often cover science policy and legislation before the House and Senate.

Agronomic Science Foundation (ASF)
The ASF is also affiliated closely with ASA/CSSA/SSA. It is an organization that provides funding to further research in the areas of agronomy, soils, and crop sciences. Funding largely comes from individual and corporate donations.

Agronomy Society of New Zealand
Although focused largely on New Zealand agronomy, this site does list a substantial number of links detailing the industrial and research aspects of New Zealand and Australian agronomy.

Australian Society of Agronomy
The highlights for this site include the full text for their conference proceedings back to 1992 and full text news articles on a variety of agronomy topics.

Canadian Society of Agronomy
This site, fully available in either English or French, features past newsletters, information on awards, and has an extensive job seeker/recruiter area.

Crop Science Society of Japan (CSSJ)
CSSJ was founded in 1927 and has provided an organization to disseminate information on crop sciences and agriculture nationally and internationally. Most notably, they publish two open access journals, Plant Production Science and the Japanese Journal of Crop Science.

European Society for Agronomy (ESA)
ESA promotes agronomy within Europe. However, much of the site is limited to members. One area that is freely available is a searchable database of articles. These articles were submitted by ESA members as being significant in the field of agronomy.

International Union of Soil Sciences
This site has a very extensive list of divisions in soil science which acts as a good introduction to the outline of soil science studies.

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