Agriculture2014, 4(3), 239-259; doi:10.3390/agriculture4030239 (registering DOI) - published 17 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Hydrothermal carbonization of spent osmotic solution (SOS), a waste generated from osmotic dehydration of fruits, has the potential of transformation into hydrochars, a value-added product, while reducing cost and overall greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste disposal. Osmotic solution (OS) and spent osmotic solution (SOS) generated from the osmotic dehydration of blueberries were compared for their thermo-chemical decomposition behavior and hydrothermal carbonization. OS and SOS samples were characterized for total solids, elemental composition, and thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA). In addition, hydrothermal carbonization was performed at 250 °C and for 30 min to produce hydrochars. The hydrochars were characterized for elemental composition, Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area, particle shape and surface morphology. TGA results show that the SOS sample loses more weight in the lower temperature range than the OS sample. Both samples produced, approximately, 40%–42% (wet-feed basis) hydrochar during hydrothermal carbonization but with different properties. The OS sample produced hydrochar, which had spherical particles of 1.79 ± 1.30 μm diameter with a very smooth surface. In contrast, the SOS sample produced hydrochar with no definite particle shape but with a raspberry-like surface.
Abstract: Widespread outbreaks of avian influenza occurred in 2004–2005. The outbreaks resulted in extensive losses for the poultry sector in East and South East Asia. Thailand suffered a tremendous impact from the disease. Later, in 2006, there was another outbreak of the aforementioned disease in poultry production clusters (PPCs) in Nakhon Phanom province in the northeastern region of Thailand. In this study, we conducted an intervention by working together with the Department of Livestock Development officials to improve the biosecurity level of PPCs in this province. The methods employed in the intervention included meetings to build understanding and hear about various ideas and problems among stakeholders; instructions; having the farmers perform self-evaluations of the level of biosecurity on the farms; and measures for motivating farmers, e.g., farm contests and handing out awards. The results revealed the following information: After intervention, attraction to wild bird of poultry farms in PPCs decreased (p < 0.05), because the farmers cut down trees around farm and poultry housing. Moreover, biosecurity system planning inside farms in PPCs increased (p < 0.05). The scores for biosecurity system planning inside farms that increased following the intervention are a positive sign that farmers will continue to develop better biosecurity systems on their farms.
Abstract: Promising energy crops such as Jatropha curcas Linnaeus (JCL), which are planted on marginal lands, or microalgae such as Chlorella, which are cultivated in ponds located on mudflats or deserts, have been regarded with high hopes to solve the shortage of food crops and increase the amount of biodiesel (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, FAME) production. However, the annual yields of biomass and transport fuels (t/ha) of both are still unclear and often exaggerated in the literature. Large portions of JCL biomass, including tree trunks and leaves, can also be used to generate electricity along with FAME, which is produced from seed lipids. Meanwhile, lipid extracted algae (LEA) are composed of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids other than glycerides which are unable to be esterified to form FAME and much more abundant in the microalgae than oil cake in the oil crops. Therefore, it has been strongly suggested that not only transesterification or esterification but also Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process and bio-electricity generation should be considered as routes to produce biofuels. Otherwise, the yield of biofuel would be extremely low using either JCL or Chlorella as feedstock. The Life-Cycle Inventories (LCI) of the biofuel processes with whole biomass of JCL and Chlorella were compared based on their net energy ratio (NER) and CO2 emission saving (CES). It was shown that the technological improvement of irrigation, cultivation, and processing for either economic-crops or microalgae were all necessary to meet the requirements of commercial biofuel production.
Abstract: Isabgol (Plantago ovata Forsk.) is an important medicinal plant having high pharmacological activity in its seed husk, which is substantially used in the food, beverages and packaging industries. Nevertheless, isabgol lags behind in research, particularly for genomic resources, like molecular markers, genetic maps, etc. Presently, molecular markers can be easily developed through next generation sequencing technologies, more efficiently, cost effectively and in less time than ever before. This study was framed keeping in view the need to develop molecular markers for this economically important crop by employing a microsatellite enrichment protocol using a next generation sequencing platform (ion torrent PGM™) to obtain simple sequence repeats (SSRs) for Plantago ovata for the very first time. A total of 3447 contigs were assembled, which contained 249 SSRs. Thirty seven loci were randomly selected for primer development; of which, 30 loci were successfully amplified. The developed microsatellite markers showed the amplification of the expected size and cross-amplification in another six species of Plantago. The SSR markers were unable to show polymorphism within P. ovata, suggesting that low variability exists within genotypes of P. ovata. This study suggests that PGM™ sequencing is a rapid and cost-effective tool for developing SSR markers for non-model species, and the markers so-observed could be useful in the molecular breeding of P. ovata.
Abstract: This article is intended as a review of the current situation regarding the impact of olive cultivation in Southern Spain (Andalusia) on soil degradation processes and its progression into yield impacts, due to diminishing soil profile depth and climate change in the sloping areas where it is usually cultivated. Finally, it explores the possible implications in the regional agricultural policy these results might have. It tries to show how the expansion and intensification of olive cultivation in Andalusia, especially since the late 18th century, had as a consequence an acceleration of erosion processes that can be identified by several indicators and techniques. Experimental and model analysis indicates that the rate of soil erosion accelerated since the expansion of mechanization in the late 1950s. In addition, that unsustainable erosion rates have prevailed in the region since the shift to a more intense olive cultivation systems by the end of the 17th Century. Although agroenvironmental measures implemented since the early 2000s have reduced erosion rates, they are still unsustainably high in a large fraction of the olive area in the region. In the case of olive orchards located in steeper areas with soils of lower water-holding capacity (due to coarse texture and stone content), cumulative erosion has already had a high impact on reducing their potential productivity. This is one of the factors that contributes towards increasing the gap between these less intensified orchards in the mountainous areas and those in the hilly areas with more gentle slopes, such as for instance the lower stretches of the Guadalquivir River Valley. In the case of olive orchards in the hilly areas with better soils, easier access to irrigation and lower production costs per unit, the efforts on soil conservation should be oriented towards limiting off-site damage, since the soil water-storage function of these soils may be preserved in the medium term even at the current soil erosion rates. The assessment made in this manuscript should be regarded as an initial approximation, since additional efforts in terms of increasing experimental records (for current or historical erosion) and of improving model analysis, with more comprehensive studies and more robust calibration and validation processes, are required.
Abstract: The laser-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) method is a non-invasive remote sensing technique for measurement of photosynthetic performance of plants under laboratory and field conditions. We report here a long-term comparative study to monitor the performance of different cultivars of barley and sugar beet during the growth season of these crops. The LIFT measurements provided useful results about photosynthetic light use efficiency on selected leaves in the canopy of the studied crops. The different canopy architectures, with different optical properties, influenced the LIFT measurements.