Chapter 1 Overview

This book is intended to quickly introduce users to TERRA REF data through a series of tutorials. TERRA REF has many types of data, and most can be accessed in multiple ways. Although this makes it more complicated to learn (and teach!), the objective is to provide users with the flexibility to access data in the most useful way.

The first section walks the user through the steps of downloading and combining three different types of data: plot level phenotypes, meteorological data, and images. Subesquent sections provide more detailed examples that show how to access a larger variety of data and meta-data.

1.1 Pre-requisites

While we assume that readers will have some familiarity with the nature of the problem - remote sensing of crop plants - for the most part, these tutorials assume that the user will bring their own scientific questions and a sense of curiosity and are eager to learn.

These tutorials are aimed at users who are familiar with or willing to learn programming languages including R (particularly for accessing plot level trait data) and Python (primarily for accessing environmental data and sensor data). In addition, there are examples of using SQL for more sophisticated database queries as well as the bash terminal.

Some of the lessons only require a web browser; others will assume familarity with programming at the command line in (typically only one of) Python, R, and / or SQL. You should be willing to find help (see finding help, below).

1.1.1 Technical Requirements

At a minimum, you should have:

  • An internet connection
  • Web Browser
  • Access to the data that you are using
    • The tutorials will state which databases you will need access to
  • Software:
    • Software requirements vary with the tutorials, and may be complex

1.1.2 User Accounts and permission to access TERRA REF data

The first few chapters in the ‘vignettes’ section use publicly available sample data sets. Subsequent sections are also written to use publicly available data sets, but some of the examples require data that requires users to sign up. To sign up, you will need to 1) fill out the TERRA REF Beta user questionaire ( and 2) request access to specific databases.

1.2 Ways of Acessing Data

1.3 Other Resources

The TERRA REF website:

The TERRA REF Technical Documentation:

1.3.1 Finding help