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Agriculture, Volume 8, Issue 2 (February 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Local food production is often based on low-intensive agricultural systems. This gives local [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Phenotypic Variation and Genetic Diversity in Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Mutants
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020030
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 11 February 2018 / Accepted: 20 February 2018 / Published: 24 February 2018
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Abstract
In this study, phenotypic variation and genetic diversity, important factors to decide germplasm for rice breeding, were evaluated among 15 rice mutants attained from the MNU (N-Nitroso-N-methylurea) mutation. The correlation coefficient values among these phenotypic characteristics were calculated. The
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In this study, phenotypic variation and genetic diversity, important factors to decide germplasm for rice breeding, were evaluated among 15 rice mutants attained from the MNU (N-Nitroso-N-methylurea) mutation. The correlation coefficient values among these phenotypic characteristics were calculated. The results showed that full grain number per plant was the most relevant factor contributing to grain yield per plant, and grain length to width ratio was the key parameter affected to amylose content. Furthermore, the genetic variation among mutants was estimated by Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers related to amylose content trait. Fifty-six polymorphism markers covering across eleven rice chromosomes were recorded with an average of 3.02 alleles per locus. The average value of polymorphism information content was 0.47. By using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) clustering, four clusters were generated with the genetic similarities ranging from 0.52 to 0.91. The variation among groups was 34%, while the variation among individuals within groups was 66%. Findings of this study provided useful genetic background and phenotypic information of collected rice mutants to breed rice cultivars with improved quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Breeding in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Phytoaccumulation of Copper from Irrigation Water and Its Effect on the Internal Structure of Lettuce
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020029
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 23 February 2018
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Abstract
There is much concern about the cleanup of toxic contaminants in the environment as human activities increase. The objective of this research was to study the effects of different rates (0, 0.3 and 0.5 g·L−1) of (CuCl2) used for
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There is much concern about the cleanup of toxic contaminants in the environment as human activities increase. The objective of this research was to study the effects of different rates (0, 0.3 and 0.5 g·L−1) of (CuCl2) used for irrigation and its translocation in shoots and roots of three varieties: Romaine lettuce (local), Redina lettuce (red) and iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) after 97 days. There was a significant difference in fresh weight and dry weigh for all varieties of lettuce. Differential accumulation and translocation of copper (Cu) in the root and leaf of vegetables were investigated using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Red plant accumulated higher amounts of Cu (1.89 mg·kg−1) in root and (0.71 mg·kg−1) in shoot compared to the other three plant species. The accumulation coefficient (AC) and translocation factor (TF) of Cu in three varieties was higher in red followed by local and iceberg. At high concentrations (CuCl2: 0.5 g·L−1), the light micrographs obtained from the leaf samples of copper-treated plants showed changes and a reduction in the number and the distribution of chloroplasts in palisade and spongy parenchyma cells. All cultivars were able to accumulate significant amounts of Cu, but they have severe symptoms of phytotoxicity when the copper concentration was high. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Impact of the Genetic–Environment Interaction on the Dynamic of Nitrogen Pools in Arabidopsis
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020028
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 4 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Mineral nutrient availability and in particular nitrogen abundance has a huge impact on plant fitness and yield, so that plants have developed sophisticated adaptive mechanisms to cope with environmental fluctuations. The vast natural variation existing among the individuals of a single species constitutes
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Mineral nutrient availability and in particular nitrogen abundance has a huge impact on plant fitness and yield, so that plants have developed sophisticated adaptive mechanisms to cope with environmental fluctuations. The vast natural variation existing among the individuals of a single species constitutes a great potential to decipher complex traits such as nutrient use efficiency. By using natural accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana that differ for their pattern of adaptation to nitrogen stress, we investigated the plant response to nitrate supplies ranging from 0.01 mM up to 50 mM nitrate. The biomass allocation and the different nitrogen pools in shoot and in roots were monitored to establish the nutrition status of each plant. Analysis of variation for these traits revealed genetic differences between accessions for their sensibility to nitrate availability and for their capacity to produce shoot biomass with the same nitrogen nutrition index. From the correlation matrix of all traits measured, a statistical model was formulated to predict the shoot projected area from the nitrate supply. The proposed model points out the importance of genetic variation with respect to the correlation between root thickness and amino acids content in roots. The model provides potential new targets in plant breeding for nitrogen use efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Phosphorus Transport in Arabidopsis and Wheat: Emerging Strategies to Improve P Pool in Seeds
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020027
Received: 21 November 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 10 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient for plants to complete their life cycle. P taken up from the soil by the roots is transported to the rest of the plant and ultimately stored in seeds. This stored P is used during germination to
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Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient for plants to complete their life cycle. P taken up from the soil by the roots is transported to the rest of the plant and ultimately stored in seeds. This stored P is used during germination to sustain the nutritional demands of the growing seedling in the absence of a developed root system. Nevertheless, P deficiency, an increasing global issue, greatly decreases the vigour of afflicted seeds. To combat P deficiency, current crop production methods rely on heavy P fertilizer application, an unsustainable practice in light of a speculated decrease in worldwide P stocks. Therefore, the overall goal in optimizing P usage for agricultural purposes is both to decrease our dependency on P fertilizers and enhance the P-use efficiency in plants. Achieving this goal requires a robust understanding of how plants regulate inorganic phosphate (Pi) transport, during vegetative growth as well as the reproductive stages of development. In this short review, we present the current knowledge on Pi transport in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and apply the information towards the economically important cereal crop wheat. We highlight the importance of developing our knowledge on the regulation of these plants’ P transport systems and P accumulation in seeds due to its involvement in maintaining their vigour and nutritional quality. We additionally discuss further discoveries in the subjects this review discusses substantiate this importance in their practical applications for practical food security and geopolitical applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Commoditization of Rural Lands in the Semi-Arid Region of Chile—The Case of the Huentelauquén Agricultural Community
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020026
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 28 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
The agri-pastoralist communities of the semi-arid region of Chile, with their unusual common land ownership, have not escaped economic neo-liberalism. The general pattern of insatiable demand of land for agricultural production, mining, energy generation and real-estate development has become a challenge for these
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The agri-pastoralist communities of the semi-arid region of Chile, with their unusual common land ownership, have not escaped economic neo-liberalism. The general pattern of insatiable demand of land for agricultural production, mining, energy generation and real-estate development has become a challenge for these communities. How are these processes affecting the traditional practices of these localized agri-food systems, based on rain-fed-agriculture, pastoralism and the fading practice of transhumance? In this article, we look at how the Huentelauquén Agricultural Community in the Canela Commune has dealt with, reacted to, and been affected by regional economic shifts geared towards market liberalization. In particular, we analyze the structural changes in the community in regard to alienation of the commons and changes in land tenure. Qualitative interviews were conducted with key informants in this setting. To provide a richer contextual setting, this article draws on several other empirically-based works on the commons’ emergence and evolution, land commoditization and local struggles for livelihoods. Our study shows that a community can adopt different strategies when dealing with powerful sectoral development that can involve resistance as well as positioning that seeks to find favorable terms of engagement. Our findings highlight that processes affecting the traditional commons are resulting in the re-appropriation and re-occupation of the land. This is resulting in social differentiation, weakening of the community’s social bonds, depeasantization and further degradation of an already vulnerable ecosystem. In sum, these shifts are posing an existential threat to this form of traditional agri-pastoralism. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Assessing and Explaining the Efficiency of Extensive Olive Oil Farmers: The Case of Pelion Peninsula in Greece
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020025
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 11 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
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Abstract
The production of olives and olive oil in the Mediterranean region is one of the most important cultivations. The continuous changes imposed by the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards strengthening the influence of market forces have increased the necessity for the assessment
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The production of olives and olive oil in the Mediterranean region is one of the most important cultivations. The continuous changes imposed by the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards strengthening the influence of market forces have increased the necessity for the assessment of the efficiency of production protocols or patterns being implemented by the farmers. As regards olive trees cultivation, the efficiency of inputs utilization has not been studied in depth, despite the fact that this is a critical issue for both farmers and consumers. This study evaluates the efficiency rates of 100 Greek agricultural holdings specialized on olive trees cultivation by implementing a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) input oriented model. The inputs being used are land, fertilizers, agrochemicals, labour, and energy. The output being used is the revenue of each holding. The results quantify the significant variations of efficiency scores, providing evidence that there is space for restructuring the production process, in order to improve efficiency and thus decrease the production cost of inefficient farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oil Production)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Farmers’ Criteria for Pesticide Selection and Use in the Pest Control Process
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020024
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 29 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 12 February 2018
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Abstract
Chemical pesticides have been widely overused by farmers in Iran, but farmers’ criteria for pesticide selection and use are not well understood. A field survey of 411 farmers was carried out in Mazandaran, Iran, to study farmers’ criteria for selecting and using pesticides
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Chemical pesticides have been widely overused by farmers in Iran, but farmers’ criteria for pesticide selection and use are not well understood. A field survey of 411 farmers was carried out in Mazandaran, Iran, to study farmers’ criteria for selecting and using pesticides in the pest control process and explaining differences in selection criteria among farmers. From a list with a total of 25 criteria, five main groups were identified as key decision criteria for pesticide selection and use, using factor analysis. These groups included: (i) performance and effectiveness criteria, (ii) awareness and information criteria, (iii) technical and operational criteria, (iv) environmental criteria, and (v) financial and accessibility criteria. Performance and effectiveness criteria had the highest importance for farmers when selecting and using pesticides (mean 3.45), followed by financial and accessibility criteria (mean 3.28). Farmers who received training regarding pesticide use (mean 2.23 vs. 1.90) and farmers who had experience with integrated pest management (IPM) practices (mean 2.46 vs. 1.79) tended to consider environmental criteria when selecting and using pesticides. Similarly, farmers who experienced health risks related to working with pesticides (mean 2.0 vs. 1.77), farmers who used protection when spraying (mean 2.58 vs. 1.87), and farmers who knew about natural enemies of pests (mean 2.11 vs. 1.85) tended to consider environmental criteria when selecting and using pesticides. Farmers without off-farm income tended to consider financial and accessibility criteria more than farmers with off-farm income (mean 3.40 vs. 3.18). Farmers with college education favored awareness and information criteria, whereas experienced farmers favored the criteria of performance and effectiveness. Farmers with a high income showed a tendency to prefer performance and effectiveness criteria more than farmers with less income. Farmers who thought that pesticides are hazardous preferred environmental criteria more than farmers who thought that pesticides are not hazardous. Farmers who believed in the effectiveness of alternatives to chemical pest control (e.g., use of biological control, pheromone traps, or cultural control) preferred performance and effectiveness criteria less than farmers who believed no effectiveness or slight effectiveness of alternatives to chemical pest control. The findings provide useful information for better understanding factors affecting farmers’ choices of pesticides and for improving future extension courses related to farmers’ decisions about pesticide use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pesticides in Agriculture System)
Open AccessArticle Territorial Governance and Social Innovation: The Cases of San Pedro Capula’s Artisanal Cheese and the Rice (Oryza Sativa) of Morelos, Mexico
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020023
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 30 January 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract
Over the last thirty-five years, Mexico has maintained a trade liberalization policy which has depressed food production and has reconstructed the structure of the agri-food sector; this has generated a higher food dependence and insecurity. In order to face this structural change, new
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Over the last thirty-five years, Mexico has maintained a trade liberalization policy which has depressed food production and has reconstructed the structure of the agri-food sector; this has generated a higher food dependence and insecurity. In order to face this structural change, new organizational and socio-productive dynamics have emerged in communities, which take into consideration food diversity, heritage and cultural conditions of rural areas. In this paper, we use the theoretical approach of Localized Agrifood Systems (LAFS) and the operative concepts of governance and social innovation to analyze and understand the efforts that at the base of society are created to grant development of productive systems. Therefore, we present the results of an investigation based on the exploration of two LAFS cases; in these cases, different strategies to achieve development have been established: the elaboration of artisanal cheese in the state of Hidalgo, and the production of rice in the state of Morelos, Mexico. Research results show the importance of concepts such as Social Innovation (SI) and Governance within the framework of localized agri-food systems in rural studies, this, in order to identify the needs and potentials of family farming and producer’s groups inside the new contexts generated by globalization and market liberation process. Full article
Open AccessArticle Localized Agri-Food Systems and Biodiversity
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020022
Received: 20 November 2017 / Revised: 22 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
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Abstract
Interest in localized agri-food systems has grown significantly in recent years. They are associated with several benefits and are seen as important for rural development. An important share of the academic debate addresses the contribution of localized food systems to the current and/or
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Interest in localized agri-food systems has grown significantly in recent years. They are associated with several benefits and are seen as important for rural development. An important share of the academic debate addresses the contribution of localized food systems to the current and/or future sustainability of agriculture. Sustainability is defined in several ways, but many scholars recognize that sustainability can only be achieved by a combination of socio-economic, cultural, and environmental aspects. However, the attributes and indicators used for sustainability analyses also differ. Biodiversity is, for instance, often not included in analyses of environmental sustainability even if biodiversity is of crucial importance for longer-term ecological sustainability. To contribute to the debate about the importance of localized food production for sustainability from the environmental point of view, specifically with regard to biodiversity, this is therefore discussed based on the results of several studies presented in this paper. The studies focus on Nordic low-intensity livestock systems related to species-rich semi-natural grasslands. All the studies show that low-intensive agriculture and use of semi-natural grasslands may play an important role in maintaining biodiversity on both small and large scales. They also show that milk and dairy products from free-ranging livestock in heterogeneous landscapes with semi-natural grasslands may have a unique quality associated with local grazing resources. Thus, producers can combine production of food of documented high nutritional and gastronomic value with maintenance of biodiversity, i.e., localized agri-food production based on low-intensive agriculture systems and semi-natural grasslands may be a win-win recipe for both farmers and the society. Full article
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Open AccessArticle What Prompts Agricultural Innovation in Rural Nepal: A Study Using the Example of Macadamia and Walnut Trees as Novel Cash Crops
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020021
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
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Abstract
Agricultural innovations are important, especially as climatic conditions around the world have been subject to increasing change over the past decades. Through innovation, farmers can adapt to the changing conditions and secure their livelihoods. In Nepal, 75% of the population depends upon agriculture,
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Agricultural innovations are important, especially as climatic conditions around the world have been subject to increasing change over the past decades. Through innovation, farmers can adapt to the changing conditions and secure their livelihoods. In Nepal, 75% of the population depends upon agriculture, which is impacted by climate change, migration, and feminisation. In this context, it is important to understand what drives a household to start agricultural innovation to increase its economic benefits and resilience in the face of multiple pressures. We sought a comprehensive understanding of these drivers by investigating the determinants of rural innovation, using macadamia and walnut trees as examples of novel, potentially commercialised cash crops. After conducting an in-depth household survey that divided farmers into those who cultivate nuts and those who do not, we analysed the socio-economic and cultural characteristics of each category using statistical tests and a multiple logistic regression. Our results show that the individual variables of ethnicity, wealth and “years of experience with fruit trees” correlate significantly with nut cultivation. The results of the multiple regression suggest that “years of experience with tree cultivation” and “having an income through fruit trees” most influence nut cultivation. Overall, we conclude that nut cultivation is an accepted and promising cash crop mostly grown by wealthier households, and that, for poor, landless, or female-headed households to benefit, alternative business models and new policies must be explored and developed. We further suggest that this is also true for other nut or other cash crop trees that have gained recent attention in Nepal such as almond, hazelnut, or pecan farming. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Elemental Sulfur as Fertilizer Ingredient on the Mobilization of Iron from the Iron Pools of a Calcareous Soil Cultivated with Durum Wheat and the Crop’s Iron and Sulfur Nutrition
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020020
Received: 28 October 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
The granules of conventional fertilizers have been enriched recently with 2% elemental sulfur (S0) via a binding material of organic nature and such fertilizers are suitable for large scale agriculture. In a previous work, we demonstrated that a durum wheat crop
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The granules of conventional fertilizers have been enriched recently with 2% elemental sulfur (S0) via a binding material of organic nature and such fertilizers are suitable for large scale agriculture. In a previous work, we demonstrated that a durum wheat crop that received the enriched fertilization scheme (FBS0-crop) accumulated a higher amount of Fe compared to the durum wheat crop fertilized by the corresponding conventional fertilization scheme (F-crop). In this study, we investigated the effect of S0 on the contingent mobilization of iron from the iron pools of the calcareous field that affiliated the durum wheat crop and the corresponding effect on the crop’s iron nutrition and sulfur nutrition. A sequential extraction of Fe from root zone soil (rhizosoil) was applied and the fluctuations of these fractions during crop development were monitored. The fertilization with FBS0 at sowing affected the iron fractions of the rhizosoil towards iron mobilization, thus providing more iron to the crop, which apart from the iron nutrition fortified the crop’s sulfur nutrition, too. No iron was found as iron attached to carbonates of the rhizosoil. Fluctuations of the iron pool, bound or adsorbed to the organic matter, were exactly the opposite to those of the iron pool associated with the clay particles in both treatments, suggesting iron exchange between the two pools. Replenishment of the F-crop’s Fe content and a deficit in the FBS0-crop’s Fe content in the rhizosoil were found at the end of the cultivation period. Furthermore, the initiation of the fast stem elongation stage (day 125) constituted a turning point. Before day 125, the use of FBS0 increased the iron concentration in the main stems and this was an early fortification effect, followed by an increase in the organic S concentration. Following day 125, the FBS0-crop consisted of plants with higher main stems and less tillers. A late fortification effect was observed in the iron concentration of the main stems and their heads after the stage of complete flowering. Prior to harvesting in the FBS0-crop, all plant parts were heavier, with more iron and organic sulfur accumulated in these plant parts, and the obtained commercial yield of the FBS0-crop was higher by 27.3%. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Living Mulch Performance in a Tropical Cotton System and Impact on Yield and Weed Control
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020019
Received: 19 November 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is a major crop in the Vidarbha region of central India. The vertisol soils on which much of the cotton is grown have been severely degraded by the tropical climate, excessive tillage and depletion of organic matter. Living
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Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is a major crop in the Vidarbha region of central India. The vertisol soils on which much of the cotton is grown have been severely degraded by the tropical climate, excessive tillage and depletion of organic matter. Living mulches have the ability to mitigate these problems but they can cause crop losses through direct competition with the cotton crop and unreliable weed control. Field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at four locations in Vidarbha to study the potential for growing living mulches in mono-cropped cotton. Living mulch species evaluated included gliricidia [Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.], sesbania [Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.], sorghum sudan grass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench × Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench ssp. Drummondii (Nees ex Steud.) de Wet & Harlan] and sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.). Living mulch height was controlled through mowing and herbicides were not used. Living mulches generated 1 to 13 tons ha−1 of dry matter across sites and years. Weed cover was negatively correlated with both living mulch biomass and cover. Where living mulches were vigorous and established quickly, weed cover was as low as 7%, without the use of herbicides, or inter-row tillage. In a dry year, living mulch growth had a negative impact on cotton yield; however, in a year when soil moisture was not limiting, there was a positive relationship between cotton yield and living mulch biomass. Use of living mulches in cotton production in the Vidarbha region of India is feasible and can lead to both effective weed suppression and acceptable cotton yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessArticle Territorial Governance. A Comparative Research of Local Agro-Food Systems in Mexico
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8020018
Received: 25 November 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
The article attempts to provide a theoretical discussion on territorial governance by presenting both the neo-institutionalist position and the De Sousa Santos’ alternative models, with a view of highlighting the dimensions that can be relevant to understanding the territorial dynamics of Local Agro-food
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The article attempts to provide a theoretical discussion on territorial governance by presenting both the neo-institutionalist position and the De Sousa Santos’ alternative models, with a view of highlighting the dimensions that can be relevant to understanding the territorial dynamics of Local Agro-food Systems (LAFS). The paper aims to build up a system of indicators, structured in four dimensions, concerning the territorial governance of LAFS: (i) multi-level coordination; (ii) democratic participation and accountability; (iii) cooperation among producers and other stakeholders and (iv) relationships with the environment. We verify, as a hypothesis, that the typology of markets to which the identity-based products are directed plays a decisive role in the way that processes of territorial governance of LAFS are constructed. The results of an empirical research, developed in four LAFS in Mexico, are presented: prickly pear cactus in Morelos, blackberry in Michoacán, cuitlacoche (corn smut) in Tlaxcala and coffee in Veracruz. Two types of territorial governance of LAFS may be distinguished: those that can be strengthened by the geographical and organisational proximity of the markets and the action of local stakeholders and governments—prickly pear cactus and cuitlacoche—versus those which are devoted to export and are conducted by large companies in which marketing networks involve certification mechanisms and a large number of institutions—coffee and blackberry. Full article
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