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Potter Gates, J. 1996. New literature for new crops. p. 151-154. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.

New Literature for New Crops

Jane Potter Gates

    1. AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access)
    2. AGRIS International
    3. CAB Abstracts
    4. CRIS
    5. TropAg
    6. U.K. Centre for Economic Botany Bibliographic Database
  3. NEW CROP MONOGRAPHS 1980-1995

The United States government has long recognized the importance of agriculture in keeping people well-fed, well-clothed, and well-housed, as well as acknowledging the role of science in helping to achieve and sustain those conditions through exploration and research. In the pursuit of new crops, the importance of bibliographic information in the success of such exploration and research cannot be over-emphasized. Since 1862, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the National Agricultural Library (NAL), has collected, compiled, and disseminated information relevant to that mission.


The National Agricultural Library (NAL), part of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is the largest agricultural library in the world. NAL has 10 subject specific information centers that provide customized services to the agricultural community and others. All of the Centers can be accessed electronically through the NAL gopher and the NAL homepage (see addresses below). The Centers include: Agricultural Trade and Marketing, Alternative Farming Systems, Animal Welfare, Aquaculture, Biotechnology, Food and Nutrition, Plant Genome Database. Rural Technology Transfer, and Water Quality.

Established even earlier than the NAL, the U.K.'s Centre for Economic Botany was originally conceived by Sir William J. Hooker, in 1847, to "render great service, not only to the scientific botanist, but to the merchant, the manufacturer, the physician, the chemist, the druggist, the dyer, the carpenter, and the cabinet maker and artisans of every description, who might here find the raw materials employed in their several professions correctly named." Dr. James Morley, Director of the Centre, states that "almost 150 years later the significance of this statement is more apparent than ever, given increasing awareness of the importance of plants as sources of useful raw materials." The Centre houses more than 75,000 botanical artifacts.

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) is a national sustainable agriculture information service designed to be used by commercial farmers. ATTRA also offers technical assistance and sustainable agriculture information free of charge to Extension agents, agricultural support groups, researchers, educators, and agribusinesses. In addition to providing customized research, ATTRA offers three types of standard materials: "Information Packages, Summaries, and Resource Lists." Located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, ATTRA can be reached by phone: 1-800-346-9140.


AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access)

This resource of the National Agricultural Library is a bibliographic database consisting of literature citations for journal articles, monographs, serials, theses, patents, proceedings, audiovisual materials, software, computer files, and technical reports relating to all aspects of agriculture since 1965. Librarians and experienced information specialists at the NAL will perform searches of AGRICOLA upon request. There is no charge for this service unless the search requires more than one hour, in which case there is a cost-recovery fee. Many people prefer to do their own searching, either online or through use of AGRICOLA on diskette. AGRICOLA is available for search and retrieval through commercial vendors. (Some commercial vendors: Knight-Ridder, 2440-El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040; OCLC/EPIC, 6565 Frantz Road, Dublin, OH 43017; Silver Platter, 100 River Ridge Drive, Norwood, MA 02062).

Citations in AGRICOLA include selected journal articles. NAL receives over 25,000 journals, and 1,410 titles are indexed into the database. Some titles are indexed comprehensively, some selectively, and both categories include some foreign language publications. The List of Journals Indexed in AGRICOLA 1995 is available from NAL in hardcopy, and electronically on both NAL's gopher ( and its worldwide web homepage (

AGRIS International

In addition to AGRICOLA, other databases available through commercial vendors are important sources of information on new crops. Countries other than the U.S. are covered more comprehensively in the database AGRIS International, which corresponds in part to AgrIndex, published monthly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The Agris International database serves as a comprehensive inventory of worldwide agricultural literature that reflects research results, food production, and rural development. Subject coverage focuses on many topics.

CAB Abstracts

CAB Abstracts is a comprehensive file of agricultural and biological information and contains all records in the 26 main abstract journals published by CAB International. Over 8,500 journals in 37 different languages are scanned for inclusion, as well as books, reports, theses, conference proceedings, patents, annual reports, and guides. Significant papers are abstracted, while less important works are reported with bibliographic details only. The journals included in CAB cover all aspects of agriculture and animal science.


The best source for information about current USDA research is the Current Research Information Service (CRIS) database. It is available electronically:


TropAg database covers literature related to practical aspects of agriculture in tropical and subtropical regions from 1975.

U.K. Centre for Economic Botany Bibliographic Database

The Centre Economic Botany Bibliographic Database contains over 150,000 literature references, covering the uses of plants from around the world (excluding major crop species), with references dating back to the mid-19th Century. It provides access to detailed information--by species, vernacular names, geographical area, uses and/or properties, materials (timber, fibre, textiles, paper, oils, waxes, cosmetics, etc.), medicines, and fuels. The Database, only one activity of the Centre, is unfortunately not available on disk. However, Dr. J. Morley will discuss the Centre's fee policy and following mutual agreement as to terms will run a search on a particular species, use, country, or any combination thereof. Contact:


All of the resources listed above are sources of information about agriculture, including new crops. Recent information on new crops also include a number of monographs in the NAL collection that have been published since 1980. These are listed below (NAL call numbers listed in brackets).

Last update June 4, 1997 aw