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Agriculture, Volume 3, Issue 1 (March 2013), Pages 1-209

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Crop and Tillage Effects on Water Productivity of Dryland Agriculture in Argentina
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 1-11; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010001
Received: 9 October 2012 / Revised: 25 December 2012 / Accepted: 31 December 2012 / Published: 7 January 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (289 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Rising demands for food and uncertainties about climate change call for a paradigm shift in water management with a stronger focus on rainfed agriculture. The objective here was to estimate water productivity of different crops under no-till (NT) and conventional till (CT), in
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Rising demands for food and uncertainties about climate change call for a paradigm shift in water management with a stronger focus on rainfed agriculture. The objective here was to estimate water productivity of different crops under no-till (NT) and conventional till (CT), in order to identify rotations that improve the water productivity of dryland agriculture. We hypothesized that NT and cereal crops would have a positive effect on overall water productivity. Crop yield and water use data were obtained from a 15 year experiment (1993 to 2008) on an entic Haplustoll in the semiarid Pampa, Argentina, with a rotation of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), corn (Zea mays L.), sunflower (Helianthus annus), and soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.). The results indicated an improved water productivity of all crops under NT compared with that of CT; however, the response of cereals (corn +1.0 kg ha−1 mm−1, wheat +1.3 kg ha−1 mm−1) was higher than that of sunflower (+0.3 kg ha−1 mm−1) and soybean (+0.5 kg ha−1 mm−1). Crop type had a higher impact on water productivity than did tillage system. In agreement with our hypothesis, cereal crops were more efficient (corn 9.8 and wheat 6.9 kg ha−1 mm−1) compared with soybean 2.4 and sunflower 3.9 kg mm−1, but the economic water productivity of sunflower (0.9 US$ ha−1 mm−1) almost equaled that of wheat (1.1 US$ ha−1mm−1) and corn (1.2 US$ ha−1 mm−1). We concluded that the use of the synergy between NT and water efficient crops could be a promising step towards improving food production in semiarid regions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Pyrolysis Kinetics of Physical Components of Wood and Wood-Polymers Using Isoconversion Method
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 12-32; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010012
Received: 12 November 2012 / Revised: 29 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 January 2013 / Published: 14 January 2013
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (1217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Two hardwood species, namely red oak and yellow-poplar, were separated into their bark, sapwood and heartwood components. The samples were tested for calorific value, specific gravity, proximate analysis, mineral composition, chemical composition, ultimate analysis, and thermo-chemical decomposition behavior. In addition, the thermo-chemical decomposition
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Two hardwood species, namely red oak and yellow-poplar, were separated into their bark, sapwood and heartwood components. The samples were tested for calorific value, specific gravity, proximate analysis, mineral composition, chemical composition, ultimate analysis, and thermo-chemical decomposition behavior. In addition, the thermo-chemical decomposition behaviors of cellulose, xylan, and lignin polymers were also tested. Thermo-chemical decomposition behavior was assessed using a thermo-gravimetric (TGA) system by heating the sample from 50 °C to 700 °C at the heating rates of 10, 30 and 50 °C/min under nitrogen. The activation energy was calculated for various fractional conversion values using the isoconversion method. The results showed that char yields of lignin, cellulose and xylan were 41.43%, 4.45% and 1.89%, respectively, at the end of pyrolysis. Furthermore, cellulose, xylan and lignin decomposed dramatically in the temperature range of 320 °C to 360 °C, 150 °C to 230 °C and 100 °C to 410 °C, respectively, with decomposition peaks occurring at 340 °C, 200 °C and 340 °C, respectively. In addition, the maximum activation energy for cellulose was 381 kJ/mol at 360 °C and for xylan it was 348 kJ/mol at 210 °C. Full article
Open AccessArticle Crop and Soil Responses to Using Corn Stover as a Bioenergy Feedstock: Observations from the Northern US Corn Belt
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 72-89; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010072
Received: 21 December 2012 / Revised: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 31 January 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is a potential bioenergy feedstock, but little is known about the impacts of reducing stover return on yield and soil quality in the Northern US Corn Belt. Our study objectives were to measure the impact of three
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Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is a potential bioenergy feedstock, but little is known about the impacts of reducing stover return on yield and soil quality in the Northern US Corn Belt. Our study objectives were to measure the impact of three stover return rates (Full (~7.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1), Moderate (~3.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1) or Low (~1.5 Mg ha yr−1) Return) on corn and soybean (Glycine max. L [Merr.]) yields and on soil dynamic properties on a chisel-tilled (Chisel) field, and well- (NT1995) or newly- (NT2005) established no-till managed fields. Stover return rate did not affect corn and soybean yields except under NT1995 where Low Return (2.88 Mg ha−1) reduced yields compared with Full and Moderate Return (3.13 Mg ha−1). In NT1995 at 0–5 cm depth, particulate organic matter in Full Return and Moderate Return (14.3 g kg−1) exceeded Low Return (11.3 g kg−1). In NT2005, acid phosphatase activity was reduced about 20% in Low Return compared to Full Return. Also the Low Return had an increase in erodible-sized dry aggregates at the soil surface compared to Full Return. Three or fewer cycles of stover treatments revealed little evidence for short-term impacts on crop yield, but detected subtle soil changes that indicate repeated harvests may have negative consequences if stover removed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Protein Hydrolysates from Agricultural Crops—Bioactivity and Potential for Functional Food Development
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 112-130; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010112
Received: 4 November 2012 / Revised: 8 February 2013 / Accepted: 17 February 2013 / Published: 25 February 2013
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (211 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There has been an unprecedented demand for inexpensive plant-derived protein hydrolysates in recent years, owing to their potential nutritional applications. This review examines existing evidence regarding protein hydrolysates from agricultural crops such as wheat, soy, rapeseed, sunflower and barley. The bioactivity of these
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There has been an unprecedented demand for inexpensive plant-derived protein hydrolysates in recent years, owing to their potential nutritional applications. This review examines existing evidence regarding protein hydrolysates from agricultural crops such as wheat, soy, rapeseed, sunflower and barley. The bioactivity of these protein hydrolysates, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities are discussed. In addition to evidence regarding their potential to enhance human nutrition, the effect of the hydrolysates on the techno-functional properties of foods will be reviewed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Antioxidants in Different Potato Genotypes: Effect of Drought and Wounding Stress
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 131-146; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010131
Received: 29 November 2012 / Revised: 16 February 2013 / Accepted: 17 February 2013 / Published: 28 February 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Potatoes are regarded as a significant antioxidant source in human nutrition. However, different types of environmental stress may affect the level of antioxidants in their tuber tissue. In this study, two purple breeding clones and the yellow fleshed cultivar (cv.) Agave were grown
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Potatoes are regarded as a significant antioxidant source in human nutrition. However, different types of environmental stress may affect the level of antioxidants in their tuber tissue. In this study, two purple breeding clones and the yellow fleshed cultivar (cv.) Agave were grown in the glasshouse under control with drought stress conditions for two consecutive years. After harvest, the tubers were analysed for concentrations of antioxidants measured as ascorbic acid equivalent (ACE) and trolox equivalent (TXE) in fresh tissue and after wounding. In addition, the peroxidase enzyme (POD) activities and total amounts of anthocyanins (Ac) were assayed. Drought stress caused a significant decrease in tuber yield but had no significant effect on Ac, POD, ACE and TXE. Wounding stress significantly induced the POD activity in control and drought stressed tubers of all genotypes. Also the ACE and TXE were notably increased by wounding in cv. Agave. This was less pronounced in the purple clones which in general displayed a higher level of antioxidants. The results revealed significant differences between genotypes and that the effect of drought stress on the level of antioxidants is smaller than that of wounding stress. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Importance of Groves for Cattle in Semi-Open Pastures
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 147-156; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010147
Received: 21 January 2013 / Revised: 17 February 2013 / Accepted: 27 February 2013 / Published: 13 March 2013
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Abstract
Groves are of ecological importance, but can reduce the productivity of pastures. They may be used by cattle for nutrition as well as for comfort and shelter. To describe the importance and to estimate the influence of cattle on groves, the behavior of
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Groves are of ecological importance, but can reduce the productivity of pastures. They may be used by cattle for nutrition as well as for comfort and shelter. To describe the importance and to estimate the influence of cattle on groves, the behavior of cattle around trees and shrubs was observed on six semi-open pastures in the mountain range of Thuringia and the Southern Black Forest (Germany). The groves were divided into formations, species and structures. The cattle used the groves more for browsing than rubbing. Significantly preferred species calculated by Chesson-Index were dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), black elder (Sambucus nigra), fly honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum), plum (Prunus domestica), osier (Salix viminalis), white beam (Sorbus chamaemespilus), and guelder rose (Viburnum opulus). The browsing preference is discussed in relation to nutritional importance and as self-medication. Cattle suppressed some species according to the utilization frequency, but for other species, there was no correlation. The animals preferred the tree hedges in comparison to the other formations. Hedges were utilized as shelter in extreme weather. In addition, under high browsing pressure, hedges were sustained and regenerated. Hedges on pastures turned out to be important for cattle under several aspects and accordingly should be preserved. Full article
Open AccessArticle Fatty Acid, Flavonol, and Mineral Composition Variability among Seven Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc. Accessions
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 157-169; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010157
Received: 5 February 2013 / Revised: 25 February 2013 / Accepted: 26 February 2013 / Published: 14 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (205 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Horse gram [Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc.] seeds containing high concentrations of fatty acids, flavonols and minerals should provide government, public and private organizations with a nutritious and healthy food for use by malnourished and food deprived people worldwide. Seeds from seven horse
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Horse gram [Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc.] seeds containing high concentrations of fatty acids, flavonols and minerals should provide government, public and private organizations with a nutritious and healthy food for use by malnourished and food deprived people worldwide. Seeds from seven horse gram accessions, geographically adapted to Griffin, GA, USA were analyzed for fatty acid, flavonol, and mineral concentrations using gas chromatography, reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography, and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy, respectively. Significant year effects occurred for stearic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic, gadoleic, and lignoceric acids. Oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acid ranged from 8.9%–16.8%, 40.3%–45.6%, and 11.6%–14.3%, respectively, as percent of total fatty acids measured (total oil ranged from 2.32% to 2.87%). Seed concentrations of myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol ranged from 0–36 μg/g DW, 0–27 μg/g DW, and 240–316 μg/g DW, respectively and the only year effect was observed for kaempferol among the horse gram accessions. Year effects were found for Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Ni, and S. Mean concentrations of macrominerals (Ca, K, Mg, P, and S) and microminerals (Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn) ranged from 1.3–14 mg/g DW, and 1.0–95.0 μg/g DW, respectively. Several correlations were observed among several fatty acids, flavonols, and minerals. The mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid correlated significantly with linoleic acid (r = −0.64), arachidic acid (r = −0.61), Ca (r = 0.50) and Zn (r = 0.51, all at P < 0.01). The flavonol, myricetin correlated significantly with quercetin (r = 0.92, P < 0.0001), while quercetin correlated with Ca (r = 0.82, P < 0.0001) and kaempferol correlated with Mg (r = 0.61, P < 0.01). Several mineral correlations were found including Fe with K (r = 0.66) and Mg (r = 0.56, both at P < 0.01). These seven horse gram accessions can be used in breeding programs to facilitate the production of superior cultivars with favorable fatty acid profiles, flavonol content, and mineral compositions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Food and Health: A Paradigm Shift in Agriculture)

Review

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Open AccessReview Elicitors: A Tool for Improving Fruit Phenolic Content
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 33-52; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010033
Received: 30 November 2012 / Revised: 11 January 2013 / Accepted: 12 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (291 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fruits are one of the most important sources of polyphenols for humans, whether they are consumed fresh or as processed products. To improve the phenolic content of fruits, a novel field of interest is based on results obtained using elicitors, agrochemicals which were
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Fruits are one of the most important sources of polyphenols for humans, whether they are consumed fresh or as processed products. To improve the phenolic content of fruits, a novel field of interest is based on results obtained using elicitors, agrochemicals which were primarily designed to improve resistance to plant pathogens. Although elicitors do not kill pathogens, they trigger plant defense mechanisms, one of which is to increase the levels of phenolic compounds. Therefore, their application not only allows us to control plant disease but also to increase the phenolic content of plant foodstuffs. Pre- or post-harvest application of the most commonly used elicitors to several fruits is discussed in this review. Full article
Open AccessReview Biofuel-Food Market Interactions: A Review of Modeling Approaches and Findings
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 53-71; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010053
Received: 4 November 2012 / Revised: 19 January 2013 / Accepted: 22 January 2013 / Published: 4 February 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (448 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The interaction between biofuels and food markets remains a policy issue for a number of reasons. There is a continuing need to understand the role of biofuels in the recent spikes in global food prices. Also, there is an ongoing discussion of changes
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The interaction between biofuels and food markets remains a policy issue for a number of reasons. There is a continuing need to understand the role of biofuels in the recent spikes in global food prices. Also, there is an ongoing discussion of changes to biofuel policy as a means to cope with severe weather-induced crop losses. Lastly, there are potential interactions between food markets and advanced biofuels, although most of the latter are expected to be produced from non-food feedstocks. This study reviews the existing literature on the food market impacts of biofuels. Findings suggest that initial conclusions attributing most of the spike in global food prices between 2005 and 2008 to biofuels have been revised. Instead, a multitude of factors, in addition to biofuels, converged during the period. Quantitative estimates of the impacts of biofuels on food markets vary significantly due to differences in modeling approaches, geographical scope, and assumptions about a number of crucial factors. In addition, many studies do not adequately account for the effects of macroeconomic changes, adverse weather conditions and direct market interventions during the recent food price spikes when evaluating the role of biofuels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessReview Pinto Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) as a Functional Food: Implications on Human Health
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 90-111; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010090
Received: 17 December 2012 / Revised: 28 January 2013 / Accepted: 29 January 2013 / Published: 22 February 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (535 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Most foods are considered functional in terms of providing nutrients and energy to sustain daily life, but dietary systems that are capable of preventing or remediating a stressed or diseased state are classified as functional foods. Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) contain
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Most foods are considered functional in terms of providing nutrients and energy to sustain daily life, but dietary systems that are capable of preventing or remediating a stressed or diseased state are classified as functional foods. Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) contain high levels of chemically diverse components (phenols, resistance starch, vitamins, fructooligosaccharides) that have shown to protect against such conditions as oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many types of cancer, thereby positioning this legume as an excellent functional food. Moreover, the United States has a rich dry bean history and is currently a top producer of dry beans in the world with pinto beans accounting for the vast majority. Despite these attributes, dry bean consumption in the US remains relatively low. Therefore, the objective of this manuscript is to review dry beans as an important US agricultural crop and as functional food for the present age with an emphasis on pinto beans. Full article
Open AccessReview Potential Nutritional Benefits of Current Citrus Consumption
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 170-187; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010170
Received: 30 November 2012 / Revised: 1 February 2013 / Accepted: 17 February 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (259 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Citrus contains nutrients and phytochemicals that may be beneficial for health. We collected citrus production and consumption data and estimated the amount of these compounds that are consumed. We then compared the amounts of citrus and citrus-derived compounds used in studies that suggest
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Citrus contains nutrients and phytochemicals that may be beneficial for health. We collected citrus production and consumption data and estimated the amount of these compounds that are consumed. We then compared the amounts of citrus and citrus-derived compounds used in studies that suggest a health benefit to the amounts typically found in citrus. Data is scarce, but suggests that citrus consumption might improve indices of antioxidant status, and possibly cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity. Full article
Open AccessReview Enhanced Accumulation of Vitamins, Nutraceuticals and Minerals in Lettuces Associated with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF): A Question of Interest for Both Vegetables and Humans
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 188-209; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010188
Received: 3 December 2012 / Revised: 8 February 2013 / Accepted: 1 March 2013 / Published: 20 March 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (315 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is extensively grown and is the most widely used food crop for the called “Fourth Range” of vegetables. Lettuce exhibits healthy properties mainly due to the presence of antioxidant compounds (vitamins C and E, carotenoids, polyphenols) alongside significant
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Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is extensively grown and is the most widely used food crop for the called “Fourth Range” of vegetables. Lettuce exhibits healthy properties mainly due to the presence of antioxidant compounds (vitamins C and E, carotenoids, polyphenols) alongside significant fibre content and useful amounts of certain minerals. Lettuce can establish a mutualistic association with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). The establishment of the symbiosis involves a continuous cellular and molecular dialogue between both symbionts, which includes the activation of antioxidant, phenylpropanoid or carotenoid metabolic pathways. The presence of AMF colonizing roots of greenhouse-grown lettuces can induce an accumulation of secondary metabolites, vitamins and minerals in leaves that overcome the dilution effect due to the increased size of mycorrhizal plants. Therefore, AMF would allow the intake of minerals and compounds with antioxidant properties to be enhanced without increasing the consumption of lettuce in the diet. In addition, increased quantities of secondary metabolites may help lettuce plants to withstand biotic and abiotic stresses. Our review discusses the influence exerted by several environmental factors and agronomic practices on the ability of AMF for enhancing the levels of vitamins, nutraceuticals and minerals in leaves of green and red-leaf types of lettuces. Full article
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