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Agriculture, Volume 8, Issue 4 (April 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The continuous tracing of soil water content provided by proximal gamma-ray spectroscopy shows high [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Simulated Tillage in Combination with Post-Shattering Temperature Conditions on Senna obtusifolia and Xanthium strumarium Seed Survival, Seedling Emergence and Seedbank Potential
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040061
Received: 24 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
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Abstract
Two of the most troublesome weeds in soybean, cotton, and corn in cropping systems of mid-south United States (US) are Senna obtusifolia and Xanthium strumarium. Understanding their population dynamics, particularly weed seedling emergence patterns, is important for the timely implementation and the
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Two of the most troublesome weeds in soybean, cotton, and corn in cropping systems of mid-south United States (US) are Senna obtusifolia and Xanthium strumarium. Understanding their population dynamics, particularly weed seedling emergence patterns, is important for the timely implementation and the success of weed management strategies. Identifying the sources of variation of emergence patterns could greatly improve our ability to predict emergence timing. A three-years field study was conducted to determine the effect of environmental conditions on S. obtusifolia and X. strumarium seedling emergence and seedbank potential. The experiment was conducted with two seed sources; X. strumarium burs and S. obtusifolia seeds from a single maternal plant source, and X. strumarium burs and S. obtusifolia seeds from multiple maternal plant sources, both being exposed either to 5 cm burial depth (buried) or left on the soil surface (soil surface) in the fallow or planted in spring after their storage under chilled (chill) or room temperature (no chill) conditions. X. strumarium and S. obtusifolia seedling emergence was lower from burs and seeds that were planted in the soil in September as compared with the chill and/or no chill seeds/burs stored for six months. X. strumarium seedling emergence was reduced from 37 to 1% when burs were left on the soil surface when compared to buried burs. S. obtusifolia seedling emergence was reduced from 47 to 13% when seeds were left on the soil surface as compared to buried. At the end of the experimental period, the soil seedbank of X. strumarium had been significantly depleted, whereas the remaining seeds of S. obtusifolia were viable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Management)
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Open AccessArticle Modelling Soil Water Content in a Tomato Field: Proximal Gamma Ray Spectroscopy and Soil–Crop System Models
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040060
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 17 April 2018 / Published: 19 April 2018
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Abstract
Proximal soil sensors are taking hold in the understanding of soil hydrogeological processes involved in precision agriculture. In this context, permanently installed gamma ray spectroscopy stations represent one of the best space–time trade off methods at field scale. This study proved the feasibility
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Proximal soil sensors are taking hold in the understanding of soil hydrogeological processes involved in precision agriculture. In this context, permanently installed gamma ray spectroscopy stations represent one of the best space–time trade off methods at field scale. This study proved the feasibility and reliability of soil water content monitoring through a seven-month continuous acquisition of terrestrial gamma radiation in a tomato test field. By employing a 1 L sodium iodide detector placed at a height of 2.25 m, we investigated the gamma signal coming from an area having a ~25 m radius and from a depth of approximately 30 cm. Experimental values, inferred after a calibration measurement and corrected for the presence of biomass, were corroborated with gravimetric data acquired under different soil moisture conditions, giving an average absolute discrepancy of about 2%. A quantitative comparison was carried out with data simulated by AquaCrop, CRITeRIA, and IRRINET soil–crop system models. The different goodness of fit obtained in bare soil condition and during the vegetated period highlighted that CRITeRIA showed the best agreement with the experimental data over the entire data-taking period while, in presence of the tomato crop, IRRINET provided the best results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling for Water Management in Agriculture Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Characterisation of Castor (Ricinus communis L.) Seed Quality Using Fourier Transform Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Combination with Multivariate Data Analysis
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040059
Received: 19 February 2018 / Revised: 4 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 17 April 2018
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Abstract
The potential of single-seed near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy was investigated to characterise castor seeds based on their seed viability and seed oil content. Distinct differences between viable and non-viable seeds were observed in the principal component analysis (PCA) analysis. Furthermore, the PCA compared heavy
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The potential of single-seed near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy was investigated to characterise castor seeds based on their seed viability and seed oil content. Distinct differences between viable and non-viable seeds were observed in the principal component analysis (PCA) analysis. Furthermore, the PCA compared heavy and medium seeds with light seeds, which were comparable to the clusters of viable and non-viable seeds, respectively. Prediction accuracies of 98.7% and 99.6% were obtained with the partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) model with a classification error rate of 0.8% and 1.1% for the training set and test set, respectively. The NIR spectral regions having chemical information from the oil in castor seeds were found to be vital for determination of seed viability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Bringing the Consumer Back in—The Motives, Perceptions, and Values behind Consumers and Rural Tourists’ Decision to Buy Local and Localized Artisan Food—A Swedish Example
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040058
Received: 7 March 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
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Abstract
This article highlights the motivational factors behind consumers’ and tourists’ decisions to buy local artisan cheese in Jämtland (Sweden). Empirically, the case itself diverts from the typical Franco-Mediterranean case in which both the actions of producers and consumers are embedded in historical, long-term
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This article highlights the motivational factors behind consumers’ and tourists’ decisions to buy local artisan cheese in Jämtland (Sweden). Empirically, the case itself diverts from the typical Franco-Mediterranean case in which both the actions of producers and consumers are embedded in historical, long-term culinary traditions and territorial features, nor is it the typical farmers’ market or another market-driven direct produce system. The main purpose is to shed light on the motivational factors behind the purchasing decision of consumers and tourists by studying the attributes that consumers embody in the products. The article is based on two consumer surveys/short interviews, the first conducted in June 2012 and the second in February 2017. The results were tested against/related to the wider local food discussion conceptualized through four types of attributes. Namely, intrinsic and extrinsic attributes; post-modernity and environmental attributes; geographical and territorial attributes; and local and rural development attributes. The results in this article clearly show that consumers value a combination of different attributes from both market-driven direct produce systems and close typicity systems. Therefore, the construction of proximity from the point of view of the consumer can be derived from a complex set of attributes and motivational factors not normally highlighted in the localized food discussion. Full article
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Open AccessReview An Overview of the Post-Harvest Grain Storage Practices of Smallholder Farmers in Developing Countries
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040057
Received: 2 March 2018 / Revised: 4 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 15 April 2018
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Abstract
Grain storage loss is a major contributor to post-harvest losses and is one of the main causes of food insecurity for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Thus, the objective of this review is to assess the conventional and emerging grain storage practices for
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Grain storage loss is a major contributor to post-harvest losses and is one of the main causes of food insecurity for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Thus, the objective of this review is to assess the conventional and emerging grain storage practices for smallholder farmers in developing countries and highlight their most promising features and drawbacks. Smallholder farmers in developing countries use conventional grain storage structures and handling systems such as woven bags or cribs to store grain. However, they are ineffective against mold and insects already present in the grain before storage. Different chemicals are also mixed with grain to improve grain storability. Hermetic storage systems are effective alternatives for grain storage as they have minimal storage losses without using any chemicals. However, hermetic bags are prone to damage and hermetic metal silos are cost-prohibitive to most smallholder farmers in developing countries. Thus, an ideal grain storage system for smallholder farmers should be hermetically sealable, mechanically durable, and cost-effective compared to the conventional storage options. Such a storage system will help reduce grain storage losses, maintain grain quality and contribute to reducing food insecurity for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Importance of Agronomic Practice on the Control of Wheat Leaf Diseases
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040056
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 4 April 2018 / Accepted: 6 April 2018 / Published: 8 April 2018
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Abstract
Soil tillage and crop rotation are considered important tools in wheat leaf disease control; however, the results of investigations are inconsistent. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the soil tillage system and cropping sequence on the development
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Soil tillage and crop rotation are considered important tools in wheat leaf disease control; however, the results of investigations are inconsistent. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the soil tillage system and cropping sequence on the development of winter wheat leaf diseases in 2012–2017. The disease development was assessed in a two-factor experiment: (a) soil tillage system; and (b) crop rotation. Foliar fungicides were used uniformly in all variants. The results showed that tan spot (caused by Pyrenophora tritici-repentis) dominated in 2012, 2013, and 2016, but the level of Septoria tritici blotch (Zymoseptoria tritici) was essentially lower and exceeded the severity of tan spot only in 2015. The agronomic practice used significantly influenced only the development of tan spot. Reduced soil tillage and continuous wheat sowing substantially increased tan spot severity, especially when both practices were used simultaneously. Short crop rotation (only wheat and oilseed rape) provided sufficient control of tan spot in ploughed fields, whereas in non-ploughed fields, the level of this disease did not decrease. The results could be explained by differences in the pathogens’ life cycle: P. tritici-repentis ascospores in wheat debris is the main source of infection; in contrast, Z. tritici spreads by conidia from living plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Disease Control in Agriculture)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Crop Systems, Quality and Protection of Diplotaxis tenuifolia
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040055
Received: 8 March 2018 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
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Abstract
Perennial wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia (L.) D.C.) is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Brassicaceae with a cosmopolitan distribution. Traditionally harvested as a spontaneous herb, today it is a crop species of increasing importance after the diffusion of the ready-to-use salads in the
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Perennial wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia (L.) D.C.) is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Brassicaceae with a cosmopolitan distribution. Traditionally harvested as a spontaneous herb, today it is a crop species of increasing importance after the diffusion of the ready-to-use salads in the vegetable retail markets. Besides relevance as a food crop, its consumption is prompted by consideration in the traditional medicine of several peoples in the native areas of the Mediterranean and western Asia based on recognized health beneficial effects. In fact, the leaves have notable nutritional properties related to their contents of glucosinolates and some antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin C and flavonoids, which entitle their dietary inclusion for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This paper provides an overview on aspects concerning the biology, crop management, nutritional properties, industrial processing and uses of perennial wall-rocket. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Adjustment of Weed Hoeing to Narrowly Spaced Cereals
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040054
Received: 6 March 2018 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 4 April 2018
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Abstract
Weed hoeing can be successfully performed in wide row crops, such as sugar beet, maize, soybean and wide spaced cereals. However, little experience is available for hoeing in narrow cereal row spaces below 200 mm. Yet, mechanical weed control can pose an alternative
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Weed hoeing can be successfully performed in wide row crops, such as sugar beet, maize, soybean and wide spaced cereals. However, little experience is available for hoeing in narrow cereal row spaces below 200 mm. Yet, mechanical weed control can pose an alternative to herbicide applications by reducing the herbicide resistant populations present in the field. In this experiment, it was investigated whether hoeing is feasible in cereals with 150 and 125 mm row spacings. The trial was set up at two locations (Ihinger Hof and Kleinhohenheim) in southwest Germany. Three different conventional hoeing sweeps, a goosefoot sweep, a no-till sweep and a down-cut side knife were adjusted to the small row widths, and hoeing was performed once with a tractor and a standard hoeing frame which was guided by a second human operator. The average grain yield, crop and weed biomass, and weed control efficacy of each treatment were recorded. The goosefoot and no-till sweep were tested at driving speeds of 4 and 6 km·h−1. The down-cut side knife was applied at 4 km·h−1. The results indicate that hoeing caused no yield decrease in comparison to a conventional herbicide application or manual weeding. The highest yield with a mechanical treatment was recorded for the no-till sweeps at both trial locations. Hoeing was performed successfully in narrowly spaced cereals of 150 and 125 mm, and the weed control efficacy of the mechanical treatments ranged from 50.9% at Kleinhohenheim to 89.1% at Ihinger Hof. Future experiments are going to focus on more distinct driving speeds ranging from 2 to 10 km·h−1 and performing more than one pass with the hoe. Additionally, combining the mechanical weeding tools with a camera-steered hoeing frame could increase accuracy, allow for higher working speeds and substitute the second human operator guiding the hoe. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessing the Economic Impacts of Pesticide Regulations
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040053
Received: 14 March 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 3 April 2018
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Abstract
Economic impacts of pesticide regulations are assessed using five alternative methodologies. The regulations include crop supply-enhancing eradication programs and crop supply-decreasing pesticide bans. Alternative assessment methodologies differ regarding assumptions about market price and crop acreage adjustments. Results show that market and producer adjustments
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Economic impacts of pesticide regulations are assessed using five alternative methodologies. The regulations include crop supply-enhancing eradication programs and crop supply-decreasing pesticide bans. Alternative assessment methodologies differ regarding assumptions about market price and crop acreage adjustments. Results show that market and producer adjustments substantially impact conclusions about winners and losers from regulations, and estimated welfare effects can differ widely between the different methodologies. For small technological changes such as the hypothetical pendimethalin regulation, farm budgeting and sector modeling yield similar estimates. For more severe technological changes—like the boll weevil eradication program—simple budgeting approaches lead to a substantial bias. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pesticides in Agriculture System)
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Open AccessArticle Translocation of Endosulfan from Soil to Ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer)
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040052
Received: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 3 April 2018
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Abstract
This study was conducted to examine the translocation of highly residual agrochemical in soil, the endosulfan (total), to ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer). The soil with the level of the amount of 5.0 mg kg−1 of endosulfan (total) was prepared
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This study was conducted to examine the translocation of highly residual agrochemical in soil, the endosulfan (total), to ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer). The soil with the level of the amount of 5.0 mg kg−1 of endosulfan (total) was prepared in a Wagner pot into which the seedling of ginseng was transplanted and then the specimens of ginseng (root, leaf, and stem) were collected quarterly and analyzed through GC-MS. The level of residual of endosulfan (total) in the soil has decreased from 4.28 mg kg−1 (April 2013) to 1.94 mg kg−1 (December 2014) while the level in the specimens of leaf and stem of ginseng respectively sampled according to its growth phase in June and September from 2013 and 2014 showed an increase from 0.56 mg kg−1 (June 2013) to 2.46 mg kg−1 (September 2013) and decrease from 0.29 mg kg−1 (June 2014) to 0.18 mg kg−1 (September 2014). For the case of the root of ginseng, the level of the amount of 10.77 mg kg−1 of endosulfan (total) was detected in June 2013 and then, the level has decreased to the level of 4.88 mg kg−1 in December 2014. The translocation of residual endosulfan (total) in soil to ginseng with time was identified. The amount of residuals of α-endosulfan and β-endosulfan was also decreased with time however, the ratio of endosulfan-sulfate, the main metabolite, was gradually increasing. The retention of metabolite (endosulfan-sulfate) in soil identified thereby thus suggests the potential of its translocation to plants in the case of the soils containing the residual of endosulfan (total). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pesticides in Agriculture System)
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Open AccessReview 22 Years of Governance Structures and Performance: What Has Been Achieved in Agrifood Chains and Beyond? A Review
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040051
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 31 March 2018
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Abstract
Although the existing literature has shown that the choice of governance structure plays a key role in inter-organizational performance, the nature of construct measurability still remains equivocal. The diversity of terminologies used means that the full potential of most studies may be lost
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Although the existing literature has shown that the choice of governance structure plays a key role in inter-organizational performance, the nature of construct measurability still remains equivocal. The diversity of terminologies used means that the full potential of most studies may be lost in the confusion of indistinctive and misapplied terms. To better understand the relationship between governance structures and performance, a descriptive systematic review was conducted on the extant literature; essentially, to provide a comprehensive point of reference for researchers interested in this research area and to identify future research gaps. A simple analytical framework—Search, Appraisal, and Synthesis—was used to extract data. A total of 110 peer-reviewed journal articles were identified and analyzed. The results indicated that different governance structures are positively related to performance except for the spot market. The findings provide strong evidence that under certain circumstances, the contractual governance structure is negatively related to performance. Whereas in other circumstances, there is a positive interaction. Furthermore, the results revealed that numerous proxy indicators have been used to measure governance structures and performance. Overall, this study provides new insights on the relationship between governance structures and performance in the agrifood sector and beyond. The contribution of the study, implications, and suggestions for future research outlook are discussed in relation to governance structures and performance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fate of Fertilizer-Derived N Applied to Enhance Rice Straw Decomposition in a Paddy Field during the Fallow Season under Cool Temperature Conditions
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040050
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
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Abstract
A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the fate of nitrogen (N) derived from fertilizer (fertilizer-derived N) applied to a paddy field after rice harvesting to promote rice straw decomposition during the fallow season, and to determine its effect on soil N fertility
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A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the fate of nitrogen (N) derived from fertilizer (fertilizer-derived N) applied to a paddy field after rice harvesting to promote rice straw decomposition during the fallow season, and to determine its effect on soil N fertility in northern Japan. A frame containing soil mixed with rice straw and 15N-labeled fertilizer (4.3 g N m−2 ammonium sulfate [AS] or lime-nitrogen [LN]) was placed into a paddy field on a gray lowland soil during the fallow season (October–April), and the following rice-growing season (May–September). Before cultivation (April), the percentages of fertilizer-derived N in soil + straw were higher for LN (55–72%) than for AS (41–63%). At the harvesting stage (September), the percentages of fertilizer-derived N in plants were significantly higher for LN (4.9–6.2%) than for AS (3.4–5.3%), and the percentages in soil were also significantly higher for LN (42–61%) than for AS (31–38%). This could be attributed to the nitrification inhibitory effect of LN and result in the suppression of N losses via leaching. Consequently, fertilizer-derived N could contribute to the maintenance of soil N fertility, and this effect could be higher for LN than AS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Deterioration of Morocco’s Vegetable Crop Genetic Diversity: An Analysis of the Souss-Massa Region
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040049
Received: 7 March 2018 / Revised: 25 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
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Abstract
Crop domestication and breeding efforts during the last half-century in developed countries has significantly reduced the genetic diversity in all major vegetable crops grown throughout the world. This includes developing countries such as Morocco, in which more than 90% of all farms are
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Crop domestication and breeding efforts during the last half-century in developed countries has significantly reduced the genetic diversity in all major vegetable crops grown throughout the world. This includes developing countries such as Morocco, in which more than 90% of all farms are less than 10 ha in size, which are generally maintained by subsistence farmers who try to maximize crop and animal productivity on a limited land area. Near Agadir, in the remote Anti-Atlas mountain areas of the Souss-Massa region, many small landowner vegetable growers are known to still utilize crop populations (landraces). Thus, an assessment of the current status of vegetable landraces was made in this mountainous region of Southwestern Morocco during 2014. This assessment indicated that a significant loss of vegetable crop landraces has occurred in the last 30 years in this region of Morocco. Although many vegetable crops are still maintained as landrace populations by small subsistence farmers in remote areas in the Souss-Massa region, only 31% of these farmers cultivated landraces and saved seed in the villages assessed, with the average farmer age cultivating landraces being 52 years old. Moreover, the approximated loss of vegetable crop landraces over the last 30 years was an astounding 80 to 90%. Vegetable crops notably lost during this time period included carrot (Daucus carota), fava beans (Vicia faba), melon (Cucumis melo), pea (Pisum sativum), watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicon). The most significant loss was tomato as no landraces of this crop were found in this region. The vegetable crop landraces that are still widely grown included carrot, melon, onion (Allium cepa), turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa), and watermelon, while limited amounts of eggplant (Solanum melongea), fava bean, pea, pepper (Capsicum annuum), and pumpkin (Cucurbita moshata and C. maxima) were found. This recent genetic deterioration will have a profound influence on future Moroccan agricultural productivity, as the genetic diversity within these landraces may be the only resource available to allow these smaller subsistence farmers to cope with changing environmental conditions for the optimization of crop production in their harsh climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity of Vegetable Crops, A Living Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle Precision for Smallholder Farmers: A Small-Scale-Tailored Variable Rate Fertilizer Application Kit
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040048
Received: 9 February 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 20 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
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Abstract
Precision agriculture technology at the hands of smallholder farmers in the developing world is often deemed far-fetched. Low-resource farmers, however, are the most susceptible to negative changes in the environment. Providing these farmers with the right tools to mitigate adversity and to gain
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Precision agriculture technology at the hands of smallholder farmers in the developing world is often deemed far-fetched. Low-resource farmers, however, are the most susceptible to negative changes in the environment. Providing these farmers with the right tools to mitigate adversity and to gain greater control of the production process could unlock their potential and support rural communities to meet the increasing global food demand. In this study, a real-time variable rate fertilizer application system was developed and tested as an add-on kit to conventional farm machinery. In the context of low investment costs for smallholder farmers, high user-friendliness and easy installment were the main concerns for the system to be viable. The system used nitrogen (N)-sensors to assess the plant nutrient status on the spot and subsequently adjust the amount of fertilizer deposited according to the plant’s needs. Test bench trials showed that the add-on kit performed well with basic operations, but more precision is required. Variability between N-sensors and metering systems, combined with power fluctuations, created inaccuracies in the resulting application rate. Nevertheless, this work is a stepping stone towards catalyzing the elaboration of more cutting-edge precision solutions to support small-scale farmers to become successful, high producing agro-entrepreneurs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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Open AccessEditorial Smart Machines, Remote Sensing, Precision Farming, Processes, Mechatronic, Materials and Policies for Safety and Health Aspects
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040047
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 16 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality research papers, as well as review articles, addressing recent advances on systems, processes, and materials for work safety, health, and environment. Original, high-quality contributions that have not yet been published, or that are
[...] Read more.
The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality research papers, as well as review articles, addressing recent advances on systems, processes, and materials for work safety, health, and environment. Original, high-quality contributions that have not yet been published, or that are not currently under review by other journals or peer-reviewed conferences, have been sought. The main topics have been the protection system aimed to agricultural health and safety especially applied to mechanization sector (harvester, chippers), often involved in accidents at work, in the context of Directive 2006/42/EC, and to other families of risk as the chemical one and issues pertinent to safety. Methodologies for gradual and sustainable safety improvements on farms have been investigated in the vision of preliminary applications. Furthermore, the application of technologies aimed to the improvement and facilitation of operations in the agriculture sector as monitoring, precision farming, internet of things, application of evolved networks and machines of new conception. Full article
Open AccessArticle Enhanced Dispersion and Removal of Ammonia Emitted from a Poultry House with a Vegetative Environmental Buffer
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040046
Received: 14 February 2018 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 22 March 2018
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Abstract
Vegetative environmental buffers (VEBs), which are composed of tolerant trees, shrubs, and tall grasses, can be used to control and reduce the transport of ammonia (NH3) emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs). However, the effectiveness of VEBs has not been quantitated.
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Vegetative environmental buffers (VEBs), which are composed of tolerant trees, shrubs, and tall grasses, can be used to control and reduce the transport of ammonia (NH3) emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs). However, the effectiveness of VEBs has not been quantitated. In this study, we measure the dispersion and removal of NH3 in simulated emissions from a small broiler house that was equipped with a VEB. The dispersion enhancement due to the VEB was estimated by comparing the measured downwind concentration of the co-released tracer gas, methane (CH4), to the theoretical CH4 concentrations at the same distance downwind without the VEB. The accuracy of the theoretical downwind concentrations calculated using the forward Lagrangian stochastic (fLS) technique was 95%, which was validated by comparing the measured and calculated CH4 concentrations in a separate experiment without the VEB. The VEB enhanced the dispersion of CH4 and reduced the downwind concentration to 63% of the theoretical concentration. In addition to dispersion, the VEB removed another 22% of the NH3, resulting in a net 51% decrease of the theoretical downwind concentration. These results clearly demonstrated that the VEB was effective both in dispersing and removing NH3 emitted from the broiler house. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Chicken Manure Application on Cassava Biomass and Root Yields in Two Agro-Ecologies of Zambia
Agriculture 2018, 8(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8040045
Received: 23 February 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 6 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
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Abstract
Fertilizer application is known to increase crop yields and mitigate net soil nutrient mining due to continuous removal. However, smallholder farmers rarely apply adequate fertilizers because of high cost, limited availability and lack of awareness. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect
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Fertilizer application is known to increase crop yields and mitigate net soil nutrient mining due to continuous removal. However, smallholder farmers rarely apply adequate fertilizers because of high cost, limited availability and lack of awareness. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of chicken manure on cassava root and biomass yield at Kabangwe and Mansa, two locations representing agroecological zones II and III, respectively, in Zambia. With the aim of exploring alternative soil fertility management for smallholder farmers, the effect of sole chicken manure and mineral fertilizers was evaluated on cassava. The treatments were four levels of chicken manure (0, 1.4, 2.8, 4.2 ton/ha) and a single level of mineral NPK applied at 100N-22P-83K kg/ha as recommended. The design was a Randomized Complete Block (RCBD), with three replications using the improved cassava variety “Mweru” during the 2015/2016 growing season. The results showed significant (p < 0.05) treatment effects on cassava root yields and yield components (fresh and dry root, leaf, stem, and total biomass) at both sites. The highest mean fresh (27.66 ton/ha) and dry root yield (9.55 ton/ha), and total fresh biomass (53.68 ton/ha) and dry biomass (16.12 ton/ha) production were achieved with the application of 4.2 ton/ha of chicken manure. This treatment showed 71% and 81% fresh root yield advantage over the control at Mansa and Kabangwe, respectively. While the marginal rate of return (MRR) was negative for the mineral fertilizer, it was positive for all the chicken manure treatments with the maximum (315%) achieved from the application of 4.2 ton/ha. The study concludes that application of chicken manure significantly increases the yield and biomass production of cassava and is economically efficient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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