3 eBusiness Standards, Guidelines, and Implementation Technologies



AgGateway was established in 2005 with the mission to promote, enable and expand eBusiness in agriculture. With its focus on enablement, AgGateway facilitates standards-based agriculture-industry eBusiness implementation projects. During projects, AgGateway facilitates the process of:

  • developing business use cases
  • identifying supporting messages
  • documenting context-specific message implementation guidelines
  • connecting with its industry identifier directory
  • agreeing on transport and routing protocols

AgGateway’s membership is open to any company doing business in agriculture. AgGateway prefers to partner with organizations to facilitate implementing standards and guidelines already available, but it is quite proficient at developing its own.


The Open Application Group (OAG) is AgGateway’s partner for developing, maintaining, and publishing message standards. OAG has developed global, cross-industry standards since the 1990s and released OAGIS 10 in 2013, which introduced support for agriculture and chemical industry requirements.


From 2001 to 2011, AgXML developed standards and guidelines applicable to grain and oilseed production processes. In 2012 its member companies agreed to conduct further standards-related activities within AgGateway’s Grain Council.


The Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) is a user platform that provides resources and know-how for the increased use of electronic and electrical systems in farming. It is an important source of reference data used in messages applicable to field operations.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is well known and produces a number of standards applicable to agriculture. ISO 11783/10 is one standard with particular eBusiness applicability to agriculture in that it provides the basis for messages that support to field operations.


The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) develops standards that are foundational to agriculture. While they don’t develop eBusiness standards per se, their work gives rise to improvements in agriculture that require eBusiness support to fully realize the benefits. ASABE is also an excellent source of glossary terms and definitions.


GS1 manages identifiers for legal entities, locations, products, and logistics units, which AgGateway uses.


Several other standards groups are relevant to the agriculture industry, but not in agriculture-specific ways. Notably, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business, the Object Management Group, and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems (OASIS).

Business Process Guidelines

In the agriculture industry, AgGateway has developed business process guidelines to describe the process that is being electronically enabled (to a level of specificity agreed-upon by contributors). This provides clear context to business message standards. These guidelines are expressed in one or both of the following ways:


  • Business use cases of various levels of formality and detail
  • User stories/vignettes


  • UML activity diagrams
  • UML state diagrams
  • BPMN diagrams

To date, the most common use of the business process guidelines is to provide a solid starting point for discussions among a community of trading partners, and then of course between trading partner pairs. Rarely are business process guidelines viewed as standards, although the designation is frequently discussed.

Message Standards and Implementation Technologies

Ag eStandards: In the agriculture industry, AgGateway has partnered with OAG to develop and maintain Ag eStandards. These are business message standards that describe the structures and data types of business messages identified in the business process guidelines. These standards are in XML Schema form. Many message names follow the form object + verb. For example, OrderCreate and InventoryActualUsage. However, there are some message names that are only an object. For example, Invoice and CertificateOfAnalysis. Ag eStandards messages have a consistent structure with a header and body; and within the body properties, partners, and details.

Message Use Guidelines: Messages are defined for use in a specified context, where the context category is primarily process type (e.g., order-to-cash). However, messages are generally implemented in a context that is further defined by categories such as industry (e.g., agriculture, seed) and geopolitical (e.g., European Union, North America). AgGateway has facilitated processes to document how messages are used in these more specific contexts using specially formatted Excel files produced by CLICK, which is described next.

CLICK: Business managers and developers often need to comprehend message standards. There are XML Schema tools like oXygen XML and XML Spy, but these tools are perceived as expensive and too technical for business-level message browsing. In response to this issue, AgXML, CIDX, and OAG funded development of a tool for Ag eStandards that AgGateway uses called CLICK. CLICK is tool for:

  • Exploring Ag eStandards, including

    • Structure
    • What structure/data is required, what is optional, and what may repeat
    • Data types, including internal code lists
    • List of messages an element is used in
    • List of parent elements for a given element
  • Producing Excel expressions of messages (the ones used to document message use guidelines as described in the previous section)
  • Producing sample instance documents
  • Copying Xpaths

OAGIS 10: In 2013 OAG completed a four-year effort to produce its next generation eBusiness message standards, OAGIS 10. Among the many new features and capabilities is support for agriculture and chemical industry message requirements. OAGIS is much more flexible than Ag eStandards, and is a proven global, cross-industry standard. OAGIS has proven effective as a canonical for information exchange within companies. It has a steep learning curve, but those willing to persevere are positioned for years of eBusiness effectiveness.

OAGIS is a sophisticated message library. OAGIS messages are called Business Object Documents (BODs) and always follow the form verb + noun. For example, ProcessPurchaseOrder, and ShowInventory.

ISO 11783/10 with Extensions: AgGateway specifies use of the ISO 11783/10 with AgGateway-defined extensions for certain messages that support field operations.

Identifier Standards, Guidelines, and Implementation Technologies

AGIIS, GTINs, and GLNs: AgGateway provides an identifier directory service called the Agriculture Industry Identification System (AGIIS). AGIIS provides identifiers and associated attributes for businesses, consumers and locations (using GS1’s Global Location Numbers or GLNs); identifiers and associated attributes for seed license agreements; identifiers and associated attributes for some products/logistics units (using GS1’s Global Trade Item Number).

Code Lists: Ag eStandards specifies use of ISO, UN/CEFACT, ANSI ASC X12 code lists.

AgGateway Platform: AgGateway is currently exploring a next-generation platform to support identifier and other reference data requirements for the agriculture industry. AgGateway envisions a solution that will modernize AGIIS in a way that provides support for new requirements and does so using a solution architecture designed for extensibility and incremental improvements.

Bar Code and RFID Guidelines: AgGateway has also developed and published bar code and RFID guidelines. GS1 provided valuable input into their development.

Transport & Routing Standards and Guidelines, and Implementation Technologies

Guidelines: In the agriculture industry, AgGateway has developed transport & routing guidelines for both ebXML Message Service Specification (ebMS) and web services. Standards and supporting technologies in this area are constantly advancing. AgGateway constantly considers how it can develop guidelines to keep pace. Technologies under consideration as the end of 2013 include reconsideration of WSDL use and RESTful web services.

NEXUSe2e: AgGateway financially contributed to the development of NEXUSe2e (also known as Ag eMessenger). NEXUSe2e is an open-source eBusiness messaging server that supports the ebMS and Web Services protocols. It has been implemented by a number of companies within the agriculture industry.

AgGlossary.org: AgGateway’s Precision Agriculture Council released a glossary in 2014. The glossary team reached out to federal government agencies, state governments, academia, industry groups and AgGateway councils for input. In addition to the basic term/definition functionality, the glossary team implemented support for ontology development. The glossary can be found – and contributed to – at AgGlossary.org.

Reference Data Implementation Technology

In 2012 and 2013, the AgGateway SPADE (Standardized Precision Agriculture Data Exchange) project team worked on requirements for a reference data index. A reference data index provides navigable/searchable paths to reference data sources, including identifier directories. Reference data is a critical complement to business message standards.

Further development of a reference data index requirements will continue in the SPADE Project, but in close coordination with AgGateway platform development.

Data Ownership and Privacy Guidelines

In 2014 AgGateway’s Data Privacy and Security Committee published a white paper to help the agriculture industry consider ways to incorporate data privacy best practices and standards into their operations. The paper is also intended to provide recipients of farm data and their customers with areas to consider when using that data. The paper, which is publicly accessible at www.AgGateway.org, includes key terminology to encourage consistency across the industry.

The Data Privacy and Security Committee considers the white paper a living document that will continue to be updated given the issueÆs importance, especially as farmers create and use an increasing amount of data to better manage their operations.

< Back to White Paper Home    Chapter 1   Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4