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Agriculture, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2012), Pages 282-492

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Modelling Nitrogen Losses from Sheep Grazing Systems with Different Spatial Distributions of Excreta
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 282-294; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040282
Received: 28 June 2012 / Revised: 7 September 2012 / Accepted: 10 September 2012 / Published: 25 September 2012
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to assess the effect that the randomised versus even distribution of excreta (dung and urine) may have on modelling nitrogen (N) losses by leaching, volatilisation and denitrification from a grazing system. A range of stock densities (from
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The aim of this study was to assess the effect that the randomised versus even distribution of excreta (dung and urine) may have on modelling nitrogen (N) losses by leaching, volatilisation and denitrification from a grazing system. A range of stock densities (from 200 to 2000 sheep/ha, equivalent to an annual stocking rate of 3 to 33 dry sheep equivalent (DSE)/ha respectively) were simulated to represent an increasing application of N excreta to a grazed 1 hectare area either distributed randomly or uniformly. This study found that the proportion of annual N inputs lost by denitrification were significantly lower and leaching N losses were higher at high stocking densities compared to if excreta was distributed uniformly. The results of this study indicate that N losses from a sheep grazing system could be adequately modelled assuming uniform distribution of excreta at stocking densities up to 1200 sheep/ha (equivalent to an annual stocking rate of 20 DSE/ha). But at higher stock densities, when N loads are high, the spatial distribution of excreta is important and models need to explicitly deal with the distribution of dung and urine N returns. Full article
Open AccessArticle Pollen Sterility—A Promising Approach to Gene Confinement and Breeding for Genetically Modified Bioenergy Crops
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 295-315; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040295
Received: 1 August 2012 / Revised: 10 September 2012 / Accepted: 18 September 2012 / Published: 16 October 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2837 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Advanced genetic and biotechnology tools will be required to realize the full potential of food and bioenergy crops. Given current regulatory concerns, many transgenic traits might never be deregulated for commercial release without a robust gene confinement strategy in place. The potential for
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Advanced genetic and biotechnology tools will be required to realize the full potential of food and bioenergy crops. Given current regulatory concerns, many transgenic traits might never be deregulated for commercial release without a robust gene confinement strategy in place. The potential for transgene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops is widely known. Pollen-mediated transfer is a major component of gene flow in flowering plants and therefore a potential avenue for the escape of transgenes from GM crops. One approach for preventing and/or mitigating transgene flow is the production of trait linked pollen sterility. To evaluate the feasibility of generating pollen sterility lines for gene confinement and breeding purposes we tested the utility of a promoter (Zm13Pro) from a maize pollen-specific gene (Zm13) for driving expression of the reporter gene GUS and the cytotoxic gene barnase in transgenic rice (Oryza sativa ssp. Japonica cv. Nipponbare) as a monocot proxy for bioenergy grasses. This study demonstrates that the Zm13 promoter can drive pollen-specific expression in stably transformed rice and may be useful for gametophytic transgene confinement and breeding strategies by pollen sterility in food and bioenergy crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Water Use and Water-Use Efficiency of Three Perennial Bioenergy Grass Crops in Florida
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 325-338; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040325
Received: 31 July 2012 / Revised: 26 September 2012 / Accepted: 29 September 2012 / Published: 19 October 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (269 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over two-thirds of human water withdrawals are estimated to be used for agricultural production, which is expected to increase as demand for renewable liquid fuels from agricultural crops intensifies. Despite the potential implications of bioenergy crop production on water resources, few data are
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Over two-thirds of human water withdrawals are estimated to be used for agricultural production, which is expected to increase as demand for renewable liquid fuels from agricultural crops intensifies. Despite the potential implications of bioenergy crop production on water resources, few data are available on water use of perennial bioenergy grass crops. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare dry matter yield, water use, and water-use efficiency (WUE) of elephantgrass, energycane, and giant reed, grown under field conditions for two growing seasons in North Central Florida. Using scaled sap flow sensor data, water use ranged from about 850 to 1150 mm during the growing season, and was generally greater for giant reed and less for elephantgrass. Despite similar or greater water use by giant reed, dry biomass yields of 35 to 40 Mg ha−1 were significantly greater for energycane and elephantgrass, resulting in greater WUE. Overall, water use by the bioenergy crops was greater than the rainfall received during the study, indicating that irrigation will be needed in the region to achieve optimal yields. Species differ in water use and WUE and species selection can play an important role with regard to potential consequences for water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle The Agricultural Ethics of Biofuels: The Food vs. Fuel Debate
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 339-358; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040339
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 25 October 2012 / Accepted: 26 October 2012 / Published: 6 November 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Plant-based transportation fuels were the focus of extended criticism in the press, especially during 2008 when a portion of the blame for a spike in global food prices was associated with growth of the United States’ corn ethanol industry. The critique is based
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Plant-based transportation fuels were the focus of extended criticism in the press, especially during 2008 when a portion of the blame for a spike in global food prices was associated with growth of the United States’ corn ethanol industry. The critique is based on an unsophisticated portrayal of the ethical issues at stake in the food security implications of biofuel. Three ethical critiques can be leveled at the food vs. fuel debate. First, although market drivers of biofuels indeed skew consumption of agricultural grains, this is not a problem that is unique to biofuels. Second, the critique does not reflect an adequate understanding of the way that rising food prices and changes in agricultural technology affect the food security of the poorest people. Third, although rising food prices could be beneficial to poor farm producers among the world’s poor, it is unlikely that benefits will materialize in the absence of concerted programs to deliberately select biofuel development strategies that are targeted to strengthen food security for poor and small-holding producers. An adequate agricultural ethics for biofuels will require commitment by both private and public sector biofuel developers to ensure that potentially positive attributes of biofuel development are realized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Addition of Fish Oil to Cream Cheese Affects Lipid Oxidation, Sensory Stability and Microstructure
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 359-375; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040359
Received: 12 September 2012 / Revised: 15 October 2012 / Accepted: 16 October 2012 / Published: 12 November 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (360 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The objective of this study was to investigate the differences in the oxidative stability during storage of fish oil enriched cream cheeses when fish oil was added either as neat oil or pre-emulsified oil with sodium caseinate, whey protein isolate, or a combination
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The objective of this study was to investigate the differences in the oxidative stability during storage of fish oil enriched cream cheeses when fish oil was added either as neat oil or pre-emulsified oil with sodium caseinate, whey protein isolate, or a combination of milk proteins and phospholipids as emulsifier. Results showed that the addition of fish oil decreased the oxidative stability of cream cheeses regardless of the addition method, especially when the cheese was stored longer than five weeks. The oxidative stability of fish oil enriched cream cheeses was highest when fish oil was added as neat oil or in a delivery emulsion prepared with a combination of milk proteins and phospholipids. Adding the fish oil in a delivery emulsion prepared with whey protein or caseinate resulted in a less oxidative stable product. It was furthermore shown that the microstructure of the cream cheeses was affected by fish oil addition, and it was suggested that the change in microstructure was partly responsible for the oxidative stability of the cream cheeses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Food and Health: A Paradigm Shift in Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle Potential of Waste Water Use for Jatropha Cultivation in Arid Environments
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 376-392; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040376
Received: 28 July 2012 / Revised: 22 November 2012 / Accepted: 29 November 2012 / Published: 4 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (294 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water is crucial for socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems. With the actual population growth and in view of future water scarcity, development calls for improved sectorial allocation of groundwater and surface water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Instead of intensifying the pressure
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Water is crucial for socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems. With the actual population growth and in view of future water scarcity, development calls for improved sectorial allocation of groundwater and surface water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Instead of intensifying the pressure on water resources, leading to conflicts among users and excessive pressure on the environment, sewage effluents, after pre-treatment, provide an alternative nutrient-rich water source for agriculture in the vicinity of cities. Water scarcity often occurs in arid and semiarid regions affected by droughts and large climate variability and where the choice of crop to be grown is limited by the environmental factors. Jatropha has been introduced as a potential renewable energy resource since it is claimed to be drought resistant and can be grown on marginal sites. Sewage effluents provide a source for water and nutrients for cultivating jatropha, a combined plant production/effluent treatment system. Nevertheless, use of sewage effluents for irrigation in arid climates carries the risk of salinization. Thus, potential irrigation with sewage effluents needs to consider both the water requirement of the crop and those needed for controlling salinity build-up in the top soil. Using data from a case study in Southern Morocco, irrigation requirements were calculated using CROPWAT 8.0. We present here crop evapotranspiration during the growing period, required irrigation, the resulting nutrient input and the related risk of salinization from the irrigation of jatropha with sewage effluent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Biofuels and the Future of Food: Competition and Complementarities
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 414-435; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040414
Received: 14 September 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 19 November 2012 / Published: 11 December 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (362 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we draw the key linkages between future biofuels growth on agricultural commodity prices, and highlight some of the key uncertainties over OECD fuel and energy policies, and their implications for global agricultural markets and the world food situation. Our results
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In this paper, we draw the key linkages between future biofuels growth on agricultural commodity prices, and highlight some of the key uncertainties over OECD fuel and energy policies, and their implications for global agricultural markets and the world food situation. Our results show some of the implications that biofuels expansion has on crop area expansion in regions where environmental concerns exist over land use change and the possible impacts on the environment. We also point to some promising areas for future research and specify some implications for policy interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle The Policy Objectives of a Biofuel Industry in Canada: An Assessment
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 436-451; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040436
Received: 8 October 2012 / Revised: 5 November 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 17 December 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Canada has a huge stock of biomass resources, which provides a basis (and a temptation) for development of a major bio-fuels industry. Both federal and provincial governments have engaged in a wide array of subsidies, mandates, and other measures to stimulate production and
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Canada has a huge stock of biomass resources, which provides a basis (and a temptation) for development of a major bio-fuels industry. Both federal and provincial governments have engaged in a wide array of subsidies, mandates, and other measures to stimulate production and consumption of biofuels. As a result, biofuels has become a growth industry in Canada with production of ethanol almost 10 times higher than it was ten years earlier. However, this has come at considerable cost to taxpayers. Increased biofuel production has resulted in minimal reduction in greenhouse gases, short run (but not long run) increases in net farm income (that benefited grain and oilseed producers but hurt livestock producers), large increases in the prices of farm land due to the higher grain and oilseed prices, and minimal impacts on rural economic diversification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Biological Characterization of Cynara cardunculus L. Methanolic Extracts: Antioxidant, Anti-proliferative, Anti-migratory and Anti-angiogenic Activities
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 472-492; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040472
Received: 12 October 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 19 December 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (793 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cynara cardunculus (Cc) is a multipurpose species; beyond its use in southwestern European cuisine, it is also used for the production of solid biofuel, seed oil, biodiesel, paper pulp and cheese, as well as animal feed. In addition, Cc has a long tradition
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Cynara cardunculus (Cc) is a multipurpose species; beyond its use in southwestern European cuisine, it is also used for the production of solid biofuel, seed oil, biodiesel, paper pulp and cheese, as well as animal feed. In addition, Cc has a long tradition of use in folk medicine as a diuretic and liver protector. The value of this species as a source of bioactive compounds is known; however, pharmacological use would further increase its cultivation. The main goal of the current work was to evaluate the potential of Cc as source of anti-carcinogenic phytochemicals. Different methanolic extracts obtained from wild and cultivated plants were tested for antioxidant activity and effect on breast tumor cell viability. The most effective extract, both as antioxidant and inhibition of tumor cell viability, was tested for effects on angiogenesis and tumor cell migration capacity. All the extracts tested had high antioxidant activity; however, only green leaves and dry head extracts exhibit anti-proliferative activity. Green cultivated leaves (GCL) were the most effective extract both as antioxidant and inhibiting the proliferation of tumor cells; it is equally active inhibiting tumor cell migration and in vivo angiogenesis. GCL extract is an effective inhibitor of several key points in tumor development and thus a promising source of anti-carcinogenic phytochemicals. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Functional Food and Organic Food are Competing Rather than Supporting Concepts in Europe
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 316-324; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040316
Received: 24 July 2012 / Revised: 1 October 2012 / Accepted: 8 October 2012 / Published: 17 October 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (178 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A review of recent literature pertaining to organic and functional food was conducted according its conceptual background. Functional and organic food both belong to fast growing segments of the European food market. Both are food according to the European food regulations, but organic
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A review of recent literature pertaining to organic and functional food was conducted according its conceptual background. Functional and organic food both belong to fast growing segments of the European food market. Both are food according to the European food regulations, but organic food is further regulated by the European regulation for organic agriculture and food production. This regulation restricts the number of food additives and limits substantial changes in the food. This may cause problems in changing the food based on single constituents or attributes when applying the concept of functional food to organic food production. Claims of the influence of the food positively on health can only be accepted as true when the claims have been tested and then validated by the EU-Commission. Whereas functional food focuses on product comparison based on specific constituents or attributes, organic food as a whole has no placebo for comparison and effects on environment and society are not part of the health claim regulation. Therefore it seems rather difficult to establish the health claims of organic foods. Consumers buy organic food out of an emotional attitude and associate the food with naturalness. In contrast, the decision for buying functional food is related to rationality and consumers associate functional food with a more technological approach. For this reason, the authors conclude that the concept of functional food seems not to support organic food production in Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Food and Health: A Paradigm Shift in Agriculture)
Open AccessReview Green Tea as an Agricultural Based Health Promoting Food: The Past Five to Ten Years
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 393-413; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040393
Received: 5 September 2012 / Revised: 16 November 2012 / Accepted: 20 November 2012 / Published: 5 December 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (528 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The consumption of tea originated in ancient China over 4000 years ago and is currently the second most popular beverage in the world after water. Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.
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The consumption of tea originated in ancient China over 4000 years ago and is currently the second most popular beverage in the world after water. Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The link between tea intake, most notably green tea, and health has resulted in intense research on the components responsible for preventing the onset of several chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer, obesity and diabetes. In particular, the high levels of chemically diverse phenols (e.g., phenolic acids, flavonoids) present in tea exhibit potent protective properties against many of these diseases. Although health related research on green tea and its predominant phenol (catechins) has been on-going for decades, major advances have occurred in the last 5–10 years. Therefore, this review focuses on seminal studies reported primarily within the last five years but not extending past ten years on the link between health and green tea with an emphasis on the catechins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Food and Health: A Paradigm Shift in Agriculture)
Open AccessReview Structural Features and Healthy Properties of Polysaccharides Occurring in Mushrooms
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 452-471; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040452
Received: 19 October 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 18 December 2012
Cited by 20 | PDF Full-text (240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Polysaccharides from mushrooms have attracted a great deal of attention due to the many healthy benefits they have demonstrated, such as immunomodulation, anticancer activity, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, antiviral and antimicrobial effects, among others. Isolation and purification of polysaccharides commonly involve
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Polysaccharides from mushrooms have attracted a great deal of attention due to the many healthy benefits they have demonstrated, such as immunomodulation, anticancer activity, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, antiviral and antimicrobial effects, among others. Isolation and purification of polysaccharides commonly involve several steps, and different techniques are actually available in order to increase extraction yield and purity. Studies have demonstrated that the molecular structure and arrangement significantly influence the biological activity; therefore, there is a wide range of analytical techniques for the elucidation of chemical structures. Different polysaccharides have been isolated from mushrooms, most of them consisting of β-linked glucans, such as lentinan from Lentinus edodes, pleuran from Pleurotus species, schizophyllan from Schizophyllum commune, calocyban from Calocybe indica, or ganoderan and ganopoly from Ganoderma lucidum. This article reviews the main methods of polysaccharide isolation and structural characterization, as well as some of the most important polysaccharides isolated from mushrooms and the healthy benefits they provide. Full article
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