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Agriculture, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2013), Pages 599-760

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial Casting a Wider Net: Understanding the “Root” Causes of Human-Induced Soil Erosion
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 613-628; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040613
Received: 14 June 2013 / Revised: 15 August 2013 / Accepted: 27 August 2013 / Published: 25 September 2013
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Abstract
Although science has helped us to identify and measure the threat of soil erosion to food production, we need to cast a wider net for effective solutions. Honest assessment suggests, in fact, that this kind of eco-agri-cultural issue exceeds the traditional boundaries of
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Although science has helped us to identify and measure the threat of soil erosion to food production, we need to cast a wider net for effective solutions. Honest assessment suggests, in fact, that this kind of eco-agri-cultural issue exceeds the traditional boundaries of scientific interest. The issue of soil erosion spills out so many ways that it demands a holistic interdisciplinary approach. In this paper we explore a systems “in context” approach to understanding soil erosion built upon the interplay of Aristotle’s virtues of episteme, techne, and phronesis. We model the synergy of collaboration, where diverse ways of knowing, learning and being in the world can offer proactive soil conservation strategies—those that occur from the inside-out—instead of reactive policies, from the outside-in. We show how positivist scientific attitudes could well impede conservation efforts insofar as they can inhibit educational pedagogies meant to reconnect us to nature. In so doing, we make the ultimate argument that disparate fields of knowledge have much to offer each other and that the true synergy in solutions to soil erosion will come from the intimate interconnectedness of these different ways of knowing, learning and being in the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Evaluation of CO2 Application Requirements for On-Farm Mass Depopulation of Swine in a Disease Emergency
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 599-612; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040599
Received: 23 July 2013 / Revised: 30 August 2013 / Accepted: 5 September 2013 / Published: 25 September 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (851 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
When an emergency swine disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), occurs, it will be necessary to rapidly and humanely depopulate and dispose of infected and susceptible pigs to limit viral replications and disease spread. Methods other than handling individual pigs will be
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When an emergency swine disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), occurs, it will be necessary to rapidly and humanely depopulate and dispose of infected and susceptible pigs to limit viral replications and disease spread. Methods other than handling individual pigs will be required to achieve the necessary rapidity. Suitable and practical on-farm methods will require depopulating large numbers of pigs at a time outside confinement buildings. The process must be easily implemented with readily available materials and equipment, while providing for the safety and well-being of personnel. Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) is the means of choice, and this study analyzed the methods and requirements for delivering the gas into large volume truck bodies, corrals, dumpsters or other such chambers that may be used. The issues studied included: How the gas should be introduced to achieve the needed spatial distribution; whether plenums are required in the chambers; and the importance of sealing all chamber cracks and edges except around the top cover to limit CO2 dilution and leakage. Analysis was done using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, and primary results were verified experimentally. The CFD findings and experimental results are compared, and recommendations are discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Risk Priority Number: A Measuring Instrument for Hygienic Management on Broiler Farms, Reflecting Their Campylobacter Status
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 700-714; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040700
Received: 28 June 2013 / Revised: 2 September 2013 / Accepted: 8 September 2013 / Published: 17 October 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (792 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hygiene management is essential for rearing Campylobacter free broiler flocks. In this study, several hygiene factors (e.g., thinning, water supply, stable cloths, stable condition, stable environment, etc.) are categorized and aggregated in a developed risk priority number (RPN). This number is measuring
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Hygiene management is essential for rearing Campylobacter free broiler flocks. In this study, several hygiene factors (e.g., thinning, water supply, stable cloths, stable condition, stable environment, etc.) are categorized and aggregated in a developed risk priority number (RPN). This number is measuring the quality of hygiene management of a broiler farm with one single value (range: 801–4005 points), the higher the RPN, the better is the hygiene status. The distribution of the values is left skewed and none of the 53 examined Austrian broiler farms reached the maximum. Cecal samples (n = 610) from broilers at the point of slaughter determined the Campylobacter status of the farms. Farms with a high RPN consistently produced more Campylobacter free batches than farms with a low RPN. Ranking of the broiler farms based on their RPN was significantly correlated with their microbiological results for Campylobacter detection (Spearman’s correlation coefficient = 0.646). The risk priority number is an easy tool for the assessment and measurement of the hygiene management system at a broiler farm. Besides the educational benefits of the RPN, benchmarking against the mean value or the maximum is possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety Management and Poultry Production)
Open AccessArticle Practicality of Biochar Additions to Enhance Soil and Crop Productivity
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 715-725; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040715
Received: 25 August 2013 / Revised: 12 September 2013 / Accepted: 25 September 2013 / Published: 17 October 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (407 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The benefits of biochar to soils for agricultural purposes are numerous. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention to improve the soil, displace an amount of conventional fossil fuel based fertilizers, and sequester carbon. However, the variable application rates, uncertain feedstock
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The benefits of biochar to soils for agricultural purposes are numerous. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention to improve the soil, displace an amount of conventional fossil fuel based fertilizers, and sequester carbon. However, the variable application rates, uncertain feedstock effects, and initial soil state provide a wide range of cost for marginally improved yield from biochar additions, which is often economically impracticable. The need for further clarity on optimizing biochar application to various crop yields is necessary if it is to gain widespread acceptance as a soil amendment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)
Open AccessArticle Temporal Variation of SOC Enrichment from Interrill Erosion over Prolonged Rainfall Simulations
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 726-740; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040726
Received: 5 July 2013 / Revised: 3 October 2013 / Accepted: 15 October 2013 / Published: 23 October 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (2621 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sediment generated by interrill erosion is commonly assumed to be enriched in soil organic carbon (SOC) compared to the source soil. However, the reported SOC enrichment ratios (ERSOC) vary widely. It is also noteworthy that most studies reported that the ER
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Sediment generated by interrill erosion is commonly assumed to be enriched in soil organic carbon (SOC) compared to the source soil. However, the reported SOC enrichment ratios (ERSOC) vary widely. It is also noteworthy that most studies reported that the ERSOC is greater than unity, while conservation of mass dictates that the ERSOC of sediment must be balanced over time by a decline of SOC in the source area material. Although the effects of crusting on SOC erosion have been recognized, a systematic study on complete crust formation and interrill SOC erosion has not been conducted so far. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of prolonged crust formation and its variability on the ERSOC of sediment. Two silty loams were simultaneously exposed to a rainfall simulation for 6 h. The ERSOC in sediment from both soils increased at first, peaked around the point when steady-state runoff was achieved and declined afterwards. The results show that crusting plays a crucial role in the ERSOC development over time and, in particular, that the conservation of mass applies to the ERSOC of sediment as a consequence of crusting. A “constant” ERSOC of sediment is therefore possibly biased, leading to an overestimation of SOC erosion. The results illustrate that the potential off-site effects of selective interrill erosion require considering the crusting effects on sediment properties in the specific context of the interaction between soil management, rainfall and erosion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)
Open AccessArticle Effect of Different Feed Structures and Bedding on the Horizontal Spread of Campylobacter jejuni within Broiler Flocks
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 741-760; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040741
Received: 15 July 2013 / Revised: 10 October 2013 / Accepted: 20 October 2013 / Published: 30 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (767 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, we investigated the effects of different feed structures and beddings on the spread of C. jejuni in broiler flocks, and the effect on the cecal microbiota. Broiler chickens raised in 24 eight-bird group cages on either rubber mat or wood
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In this study, we investigated the effects of different feed structures and beddings on the spread of C. jejuni in broiler flocks, and the effect on the cecal microbiota. Broiler chickens raised in 24 eight-bird group cages on either rubber mat or wood shavings were fed either a wheat-based control diet (Control), a diet where 50% of the ground wheat was replaced by whole wheat prior to pelleting (Wheat), or a wheat-based diet, such as the control diet diluted with 12% oat hulls (Oat). Samples from the cloacal mucosa of all birds were taken daily for C. jejuni quantification and cecum samples were collected at the end of the experiment for C. jejuni quantification and microbiota analyses. We have shown a statistically significant effect of increased feed structure on the reduced spread of C. jejuni in chicken flocks, but no significant differences were detected between types of structure included in the feed. No significant changes in the dominating microbiota in the lower lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract were observed, which indicates that feed structure only has an effect on the upper GI tract. Delaying the spread of C. jejuni in broiler flocks could, at time of slaughter, result in fewer C. jejuni-positive broilers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety Management and Poultry Production)
Figures

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessReview Role of Arthropods in Maintaining Soil Fertility
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 629-659; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040629
Received: 6 August 2013 / Revised: 31 August 2013 / Accepted: 3 September 2013 / Published: 25 September 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (520 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In terms of species richness, arthropods may represent as much as 85% of the soil fauna. They comprise a large proportion of the meso- and macrofauna of the soil. Within the litter/soil system, five groups are chiefly represented: Isopoda, Myriapoda, Insecta, Acari, and
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In terms of species richness, arthropods may represent as much as 85% of the soil fauna. They comprise a large proportion of the meso- and macrofauna of the soil. Within the litter/soil system, five groups are chiefly represented: Isopoda, Myriapoda, Insecta, Acari, and Collembola, the latter two being by far the most abundant and diverse. Arthropods function on two of the three broad levels of organization of the soil food web: they are plant litter transformers or ecosystem engineers. Litter transformers fragment, or comminute, and humidify ingested plant debris, which is deposited in feces for further decomposition by micro-organisms, and foster the growth and dispersal of microbial populations. Large quantities of annual litter input may be processed (e.g., up to 60% by termites). The comminuted plant matter in feces presents an increased surface area to attack by micro-organisms, which, through the process of mineralization, convert its organic nutrients into simpler, inorganic compounds available to plants. Ecosystem engineers alter soil structure, mineral and organic matter composition, and hydrology. The burrowing by arthropods, particularly the subterranean network of tunnels and galleries that comprise termite and ant nests, improves soil porosity to provide adequate aeration and water-holding capacity below ground, facilitate root penetration, and prevent surface crusting and erosion of topsoil. Also, the movement of particles from lower horizons to the surface by ants and termites aids in mixing the organic and mineral fractions of the soil. The feces of arthropods are the basis for the formation of soil aggregates and humus, which physically stabilize the soil and increase its capacity to store nutrients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)
Open AccessReview Soil Erosion from Agriculture and Mining: A Threat to Tropical Stream Ecosystems
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 660-683; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040660
Received: 23 July 2013 / Revised: 7 September 2013 / Accepted: 13 September 2013 / Published: 30 September 2013
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (2635 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In tropical countries soil erosion is often increased due to high erodibility of geologically old and weathered soils; intensive rainfall; inappropriate soil management; removal of forest vegetation cover; and mining activities. Stream ecosystems draining agricultural or mining areas are often severely impacted by
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In tropical countries soil erosion is often increased due to high erodibility of geologically old and weathered soils; intensive rainfall; inappropriate soil management; removal of forest vegetation cover; and mining activities. Stream ecosystems draining agricultural or mining areas are often severely impacted by the high loads of eroded material entering the stream channel; increasing turbidity; covering instream habitat and affecting the riparian zone; and thereby modifying habitat and food web structures. The biodiversity is severely threatened by these negative effects as the aquatic and riparian fauna and flora are not adapted to cope with excessive rates of erosion and sedimentation. Eroded material may also be polluted by pesticides or heavy metals that have an aggravating effect on functions and ecosystem services. Loss of superficial material and deepening of erosion gullies impoverish the nutrient and carbon contents of the soils; and lower the water tables; causing a “lose-lose” situation for agricultural productivity and environmental integrity. Several examples show how to interrupt this vicious cycle by integrated catchment management and by combining “green” and “hard” engineering for habitat restoration. In this review; we summarize current findings on this issue from tropical countries with a focus on case studies from Suriname and Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)
Open AccessReview Managing Soil Erosion in Northern Ireland: A Review of Past and Present Approaches
Agriculture 2013, 3(4), 684-699; doi:10.3390/agriculture3040684
Received: 25 June 2013 / Revised: 18 September 2013 / Accepted: 30 September 2013 / Published: 15 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (572 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent decades, the off-site transport of sediment and nutrients from agricultural land into the neighbouring natural and built environment has become a more pressing environmental sustainability issue than the on-site threats of soil erosion in many of the world’s temperate regions. In
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In recent decades, the off-site transport of sediment and nutrients from agricultural land into the neighbouring natural and built environment has become a more pressing environmental sustainability issue than the on-site threats of soil erosion in many of the world’s temperate regions. In the temperate region of Northern Ireland, recent studies have highlighted the off-site issue of soil erosion by water in the present day, and projected that the problem may become more widespread and serious in a changing climate. This review paper examines how this problem is being managed in the present day, and draws on examples of policy in other countries to consider how the role of policy needs to be modified for more effective management. Farmers are generally not adhering to present-day policy and “keeping their land in good agricultural and environmental condition”. A range of suggested changes in policy and practice is offered, ranging from educating farmers on erosion mitigation and remediation to developing specific policies aimed at targeting soil erosion and conservation as their sole objective. An increase in the evidence base from measured erosion rates in the field is postulated to be the most likely route to achieving policy changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion: A Major Threat to Food Production and the Environment)

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