AGRIS Hubs - Latvia

In this short document, the work and experience of the AGRIS Hub in Latvia is described, along with an overview of food and agricultural science and the role of AGRIS in the country.

Food and agricultural science in Latvia

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for managing scientific activities in Latvia. It ensures the development and implementation of science policy; organizes the financing and evaluation of scientific institutions; coordinates international research cooperation at the national level; and is responsible for the planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring of science policy in higher education and research institutions.

Latvian research policy has been developed in 2021 in accordance with the national guidelines for science, technology development and innovation and the 2005 Law on Scientific Activity (IZM, 2021).

The Fundamental and Applied Research programme, which is the national programme financed by the state, “aims to create new knowledge and technological know-how” in all scientific fields (IZM, 2021). Annual open calls are organized by the programme and carried out by the Latvian Research Council, who also evaluate the proposals. The main fields of the programme include environmental engineering and energy; environmental biotechnology; food and beverage technology; and agricultural, forest and veterinary sciences.

There are several institutions that play an important role in the food and agricultural sciences in the country, and they are briefly introduced below.

  • The Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU) covers scientific areas that are related to the sustainable use of natural resources. Biosciences include agricultural sciences, as well as related sub-branches in life-sciences, medicine and health. Its priority research fields include agricultural sciences – agriculture, forest management, fishing, veterinary medicine and food hygiene. The main research activities concern, among others, studies of soil and land as basic resources for agriculture, improving plant productivity and yield quality through environmentally friendly technologies, forest ecology and forestry studies, and food safety and risks (LLUa, 2021).
  • The Institute of Horticulture is part of LLU, and its research activity focuses on the diversification and breeding of horticultural crop cultivars suitable for the Baltic Sea region; environmentally-friendly horticultural production systems; storage and processing technologies; and basic biological research for horticulture science (Dārzkopības institūts, 2021).
  • The Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics (AREI) has a special focus on crop breeding, crop management technologies, crop quality and the development of sustainable rural areas. The main research directions of the institute are field crop genetics and breeding for integrated and biological farming systems; development of sustainable field crop growing technologies for various farming systems; evaluation of field crop quality for effective use; production of feed; economics of sustainable development of bio-resource industries; efficiency of production processes and company competitiveness; and sustainable development of territories. AREI has provided economic analyses for the agricultural, food production and fisheries sectors, and its activities have been performed in four locations in Latvia, which makes it possible to organize research in various environments (LLUb, 2021).
  • The Institute of Agronomy, LLU carries out scientific studies; breeds perennial grasslands and prepares seeds of the highest grade and latest varieties; examines the economic characteristics of arable crop varieties in conventional and organic farming; and prepares young scientists in accordance with the doctoral programmes of the university (LLUc, 2021).
  • The Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment (BIOR) covers topics related to public and animal health, food and environmental quality, and the sustainable use of fish and other aquatic resources. This is made possible by performing research work corresponding to international standards, high-quality scientific expert examinations, laboratory examinations, and other services at the international level (BIOR, 2021).
  • The Institute of Plant Protection Research (Agrihorts), LLU focuses on the research of useful organisms in agriculture, the development of new plant protection technologies and the research of resistance and residue of plant protection products. The employees of the institute are experienced specialists who carry out research within the framework of state-funded projects, participate in international research projects and actively cooperate with farmers looking for solutions to control harmful organisms in various crops (LLUd, 2021).
  • The Latvian State Forest Research Institute (Silava) is the main centre for forest science in Latvia. The institute carries out research on topics related, among others, to forest ecology, silviculture and forest entomology; forest operations and energy; forest phytopathology and mycology; forest tree breeding; climate change; and wildlife management (Silava, 2008).

Additionally, the Latvian research system is aligned with the European Research Area (ERA) to synchronize the Latvian research system with the research systems of other European Union (EU) member states, improve research results to EU standards and strengthen the capacity of scientists in Latvia to solve global societal challenges.

Fundamental Library of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies

The Fundamental Library of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU FB) was founded in 1939 (LLUe, 2021). The library obtained a stock of books – 13 000 copies on agriculture and forestry – from the University of Latvia. It is part of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU), which is the higher education and science establishment of the Republic of Latvia, where scientific research as well as academic and professional study programmes are carried out.

During World War II, the library suffered heavy losses. After the end of the war, the collection had to be formed anew. Today, the library’s collection consists of more than 410 000 records, including books, serials, periodicals, dissertations, electronic editions, videos, standards and maps (LLUe, 2021). The majority of the publications are in Latvian and Russian. (see Figure 1).

Languages of publications at the Fundamental Library of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies

Figure 1. Languages of publications at the Fundamental Library of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies. Source: Fundamental Library stock summary book, 2020

Information about collections and books issued by the library are sent to international scientific database developers such as Scopus, Web of Science, CABI Publishing and EBSCO Publishing. The aim is to provide access and raise awareness among international scientific databases about the publications of LLU researchers and teaching staff. Each database has an industry selection team (advisory board) that performs an assessment on the inclusion of LLU expenses for data indexing.

AGRIS and the Fundamental Library of LLU

Since 1994, the Fundamental Library of LLU has operated as the AGRIS Hub in Latvia. The Fundamental Library joined AGRIS to share and make the achievements of Latvian scientists in food and agricultural science more globally visible. Table 1 shows the number of papers published in AGRIS until mid 2021.

Number of papers from key institutions published in the AGRIS database

Table 1. Number of papers from key institutions published in the AGRIS database. Source: Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, 1994 - mid 2021

For the formation of the database, the library provided AGRIS with bibliographic records of literature published in Latvia on food, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other allied industries. This enables the work of scientists from Latvia's agricultural and allied industries to be promoted globally.

The data sent to AGRIS to be indexed is processed in accordance with metadata recommendations developed by AGRIS and international standards, which helps to improve the quality of the information in Latvian shared on the FAO database ​(Subirats and Zeng, 2020). The AGRIS database collects bibliographical references of publications from Latvia and other countries on the following topics related to agriculture:

  • crop production, plant protection, seed farming, energy crops, livestock farming (in particular dairy and meat production), organic farming, soil science;
  • agricultural engineering and energy as well as alternative energy sources;
  • forest science, fisheries and beekeeping, veterinary medicine;
  • food science and technology; and
  • studies in economics, regional development, sociology, public administration and the use of information technologies in those sectors.

Relevance of AGRIS in Latvia

The AGRIS database covers bibliographical references to the studies of scientists from Latvia on agriculture. This includes topics such as crop production, plant protection, seed farming, energy crops and livestock farming – in particular, dairy and meat production (see Figure 2). Other topics covered are organic farming, soil science, agricultural engineering and energy, alternative energy sources, forest science, fisheries and beekeeping.

Percentage of Latvia’s AGRIS collection content topics

Figure 2. Percentage of Latvia’s AGRIS collection content topics. Source: Fundamental Library stock summary book and website, 2020

Since 1994 a total of 16 898 bibliographic records have been transmitted to AGRIS from Latvia, with the number of records transmitted annually over the past decade remaining quite consistent (see Table 2).

116 898 bibliographic records have been transmitted to AGRIS from Latvia

Table 2. Number of the transmitted bibliographic records (BR) to AGRIS. Source: AGRIS database, 1994−2020
 

The Latvian records present in AGRIS consist of conference papers and journal articles, while the main topics are agriculture, forests and forestry, and engineering. The number of page views per month has increased significantly from 2019 to 2020, from about 50 000 to almost 70 000 (see Figure 3).

otal page views on AGRIS website in 2020
Figure 3. Total page views on the AGRIS website in 2020. Source: AGRIS database, 2020
 

The majority of the AGRIS collection on Latvia is made of conference papers and journal articles (see Figure 4).

AGRIS collection on Latvia is made of conference papers and journal articles

Figure 4. Latvia’s AGRIS collection content types, %. Source: AGRIS database, 2020
 

The investment in the development of the AGRIS database helps to improve the impact of agricultural sciences and technologies on food security as well as rural livelihoods and the responsible use of natural resources in Latvia. In the years 2010 - 2020, 95 percent of printed publications were accompanied by internet addresses, i.e. a uniform resource locator (URL), as well as a digital object identifier (DOI) to the full texts of documents.

Next steps

The Fundamental Library of LLU looks forward to implementing reference management tools, such as Zotero or Mendeley, to enhance document metadata description in resource description and access (RDA) format. Zotero is a free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (such as PDF files). Mendeley is a company based in London that provides products and services for academic researchers. It is most known for its reference manager, which is used to manage and share research papers and generate bibliographies for scholarly articles.

RDA is the new standard for descriptive cataloguing, providing data elements, instructions and guidelines on recording content, and formulating bibliographic metadata for description and access to information resources. It covers all types of content and media held in libraries and related cultural organizations, such as museums and archives, and it is designed for the digital world. The metadata created by following RDA instructions are well formed according to international models for user-focused linked data applications that are compatible with existing records in online library catalogues, and they are also adaptable to new and emerging database structures. RDA is the successor to the second edition of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2), which is still the most widely used cataloguing standard worldwide.

Moreover, the elaboration of guidelines in Latvian for the description of the documents in Zotero or Mendeley is also a step that would be very appreciated and welcomed. Finally, improving the quality of bibliographic records by using modern language spelling tools is another objective of the library’s future steps.

References

BIOR. 2021. Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR” [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.bior.lv/en

Dārzkopības institūts. 2021. Dārzkopības institūts [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.darzkopibasinstituts.lv/en

IZM. 2021. Research programmes. In: Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.izm.gov.lv/en/research-programmes

FAO. 2021a. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. www.fao.org/ home/en/

FAO. 2021b. Sustainable Development Goals. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/en/

FAO. 2021c. AGRIS. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/agris/

FAO. 2021d. AGRIS. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/agris/data-providers

LLUa. 2021. Research fields. In: Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitāte [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.llu.lv/en/research-fields

LLUb. 2021. Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics. In: Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitāte [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.llu.lv/en/institute-of-agricultural-resources-and-economics

LLUc. 2021. Zemkopības Zinātniskais institūts. In: Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitāte [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://www.zzi.llu.lv/?mi=352

LLUd. 2021. Augu aizsardzības zinātniskais institūts “Agrihorts.” In: Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitāte [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. http://agrihorts.llu.lv/en

LLUe. 2021. Fundamentālās bibliotēkas. In: Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitāte [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. https://llufb.llu.lv/lv

Silva. 2008. Latvijas Valsts mežzinātnes institūts "Silava" [online]. Riga. [Cited 20 July 2021]. http://www.silava.lv/mainen/aboutus.aspx

Subirats, I. and Zeng, M.L. 2020. Linked Open Data Enabled Bibliographical Data (LODE-BD) 3.0 – A practical guide on how to select appropriate encoding strategies for producing Linked Open Data Enabled Bibliographical Data [online]. Rome, FAO. [Cited 20 July 2021]. www.fao.org/agris/publications/linked-open-data-enabled-bibliographical-data-lode-bd-30-practical-guide-how-select