AGROVOC is the corporate thesaurus of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It covers topics related to the interest of FAO, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, environment and related domains. AGROVOC is a multilingual resource, available in 19 languages (translations into 5 languages is under development). It contains an average of 40.000 terms in each of the available languages.
AGROVOC was first developed in the 1980s to standardize the indexing process for the AGRIS database in order to make searching simpler and more efficient, and to guide the user to the most relevant resources. Currently, AGROVOC is used in traditional library applications, as well as in information management electronic environment.
AGROVOC as a Thesaurus
The traditional AGROVOC Thesaurus is made up of terms, connected by hierarchical and non-hierarchical relations. The relations used are the classical relations used in thesauri: BT (broader term), NT (narrower term), RT (related term), UF (non-descriptor). Scope notes and definitions are used in AGROVOC to clarify the meaning and the context of terms.
Pollution NT: Acid deposition NT: Air pollution NT: Nonpoint pollution NT: Sediment pollution NT: Water pollution RT: Environmental degradation RT: Pollutants RT: Pesticides
Air pollution BT: Pollution RT: Atmosphere RT: Greenhouse effect
These relationships build the structure for the AGROVOC thesaurus. For instance, knowing that a broader term for "Air pollution" is "Pollution" and that related terms are "Atmosphere" and "Greenhouse effect " defines the scope of information represented by these terms. Additional scope notes are used in AGROVOC to clarify the meaning and the context of terms when necessary. Taxonomic and geographical terms are tagged for easy searching, filtering and downloading.
AGROVOC as a Concept Scheme
A "reacher" version of AGROVOC is also available, which in addition to "terms" also uses the notion of "concept", and a larger set of relations between concepts. A concept is represented by all the terms, preferred and non-preferred, in all languages, to which it is associated. Both concepts and terms participate in relationships with other concepts and terms:
The AGROVOC concept scheme is expressed in several formats including Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS).
VocBench: AGROVOC's editing tool
VocBench is a web-based multilingual working environment for managing the AGROVOC. VocBench allows users to add, edit, and delete terms and concepts, and create relationships between them. It supports collaborative work organized in a formal workflows aimed at ansuring data quality.
AGROVOC Web services
AGROVOC is accessible via web services, which can be called from any client application. The web services are hosted on Apache Axis running on Tomcat. They are invoked via standard SOAP calls, returning a standard SOAP response. Using web services, changes on the AGROVOC Concept Server can be accessed immediately, reducing the time and effort necessary to download and incorporate the latest version of the AGROVOC Concept Server data into applications.
AGROVOC can be downloaded freely for non-commercial use. It is available in MySQL, MS Access, RDF, OWL, SKOS, Postgres, TagText, XML, and ISO2709.