Open AccessArticle
How Can Multifunctional Agriculture Support a Transition to a Green Economy in Africa? Lessons from the COMACO Model in Zambia
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 48; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030048 -
Abstract
This paper examines the link between the green economy and multifunctional agriculture. In particular, the paper uses the case of the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) initiative, an agro-based enterprise promoting a multifunctional agriculture model in Eastern Zambia, to examine how the [...] Read more.
This paper examines the link between the green economy and multifunctional agriculture. In particular, the paper uses the case of the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) initiative, an agro-based enterprise promoting a multifunctional agriculture model in Eastern Zambia, to examine how the potential of smallholder farmers can be harnessed to support a transition towards the green economy. The empirical data on which the paper is based were collected through questionnaire surveys and in-depth interviews conducted with farmers and other actors in the agricultural sector. The results of the study show that a number of elements underpinning the COMACO model including sustainable land management practices, conservation outreach, community markets, value addition, and conservation dividends have great potential to deliver benefits related to the green economy. However, to truly foster a transition towards a green economy, a number of constraints need to be overcome. These include lack of a supportive policy and institutional framework, technological backwardness, and lack of consumer awareness of environmental information instruments such as eco-labelling. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Projecting Future Change in Growing Degree Days for Winter Wheat
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 47; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030047 -
Abstract
Southwest Oklahoma is one of the most productive regions in the Great Plains (USA) where winter wheat is produced. To assess the effect of climate change on the growing degree days (GDD) available for winter wheat production, we selected from the CMIP5 [...] Read more.
Southwest Oklahoma is one of the most productive regions in the Great Plains (USA) where winter wheat is produced. To assess the effect of climate change on the growing degree days (GDD) available for winter wheat production, we selected from the CMIP5 archive, two of the best performing Global Climate Models (GCMs) for the region (MIROC5 and CCSM4) to project the future change in GDD under the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 8.5 and 4.5 future trajectories for greenhouse gas concentrations. Two quantile mapping methods were applied to both GCMs to obtain local scale projections. The local scale outputs were applied to a GDD formula to show the GDD changes between the historical period (1961–2004) and the future period (2006–2098) in terms of mean differences. The results show that at the end of the 2098 growing season, the increase in GDD is expected to be between 440 °C and 1300 °C, for RCP 4.5, and between 700 °C and 1350 °C for RCP 8.5. This increase in GDD might cause a decrease in the number of days required to reach crop maturity, as all the GCM/statistical post-processing combinations showed a decreasing trend of those timings during the 21st century. Furthermore, we conclude, that when looking at the influence of the selected GCMs and the quantile mapping methods on the GDD calculation, the GCMs differences originated from the significant spatial and temporal variations of GDD over the region and not the statistical methods tested. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Food For Life Catering Mark: Implementing the Sustainability Transition in University Food Procurement
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 46; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030046 -
Abstract
This article presents a case study of the application of the Soil Association’s Food For Life Catering Mark at two universities in England: Nottingham Trent University and University of the Arts London. This procurement initiative has had noteworthy success in the U.K., [...] Read more.
This article presents a case study of the application of the Soil Association’s Food For Life Catering Mark at two universities in England: Nottingham Trent University and University of the Arts London. This procurement initiative has had noteworthy success in the U.K., with more than 1.6 million Catering Mark meals served each weekday. This article, based on 31 in-depth interviews conducted in 2015, is the first to examine its impact and significance at the university level. In particular, this article tests the concepts of the niche, regime and landscape in the multi-level perspective (MLP), a prominent theoretical approach to sustainability transition, against the experience of the Food For Life Catering Mark. The article confirms the importance of the landscape level of the MLP in the food sustainability transition, while adding additional considerations that need to be specified when applying the MLP to the food sector. By highlighting the essential role of civil society organizations (CSOs), public institutions and many champions, this article proposes that more room must be made within the MLP for the explicit role of agency, champions and the implementation process itself. Indeed, this article argues that implementation, the daily practice, is deserving of both increased recognition and theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Feasibility Assessment of Converting Sugar Mills to Bioenergy Production in Africa
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 45; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030045 -
Abstract
World sugar production has consistently overrun demand in the past five years. Moreover, in 2017 the European Sugar Regime will expire, ending the quota system and preferential sugar prices, largely affecting small producers, particularly in Africa. Diversification emerges as an option for [...] Read more.
World sugar production has consistently overrun demand in the past five years. Moreover, in 2017 the European Sugar Regime will expire, ending the quota system and preferential sugar prices, largely affecting small producers, particularly in Africa. Diversification emerges as an option for sugar-oriented mills. Two evident alternatives are ethanol and electricity production that allow better use of molasses and cane fibers, respectively. Molasses is the cheapest feedstock for ethanol production, while the cane fibers—in the form of bagasse—are readily available at the mill. The transition from sugar to sugar, ethanol and electricity may require substantial investment capital, yet our results show that significant progress can start at relatively small cost. In this work, we use simulations to explore the impact of ethanol and electricity production in an existing sugar mill in Mozambique. In spite of the large amounts of energy obtained from ambitious scenarios, such as Ethanol-2 and Ethanol/EE, molasses-based ethanol (Ethanol-1 scenario) seems more attractive in economical and infrastructural terms. High opportunity costs for molasses, low oil prices and enabling institutional conditions, such as mandatory blending mandates, to promote bioenergy remain a challenge. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems through the Lenses of a Complex System Thinking Approach—A Bibliometric Review
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 44; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030044 -
Abstract
The multidimensionality and complexity of assuring food security in a sustainable and inclusive way requires us to think in systems. Yet, sector specific models or agricultural productivity models are not able by construction to represent the non-linearity and time-dependent nature of the [...] Read more.
The multidimensionality and complexity of assuring food security in a sustainable and inclusive way requires us to think in systems. Yet, sector specific models or agricultural productivity models are not able by construction to represent the non-linearity and time-dependent nature of the relations underpinning the agri-food system. Two alternative modelling approaches, i.e., System Dynamics (SD) and Agent Based Models (ABM), gained increasing attention in particular after the food commodities prices spikes in 2007 thanks to the conceptual and structural advantages that they provide to the study of food system complexity. In this paper, we develop a first, rigorous bibliometric analysis based on pattern recognition analysis reviewing the peer review journal publications focused on agri-food systems. Using the ISIWeb of Science dataset provided by Thomson Reuters, we apply citation/co-citation semantic metrics to analyse publications from 1970 to 2016 in the field of agricultural models divided in two categories that we define as: (i) agricultural complex systems modelling (ACSM) that includes SD and ABM modelling exercised; and (ii) agricultural modelling (AM) that includes traditional approaches to agri-food systems modelling rooted on the neoclassical approach (e.g., Computable General Equilibrium Models and Partial Equilibrium Models). The publications are identified by applying a filter of specific keywords to the search. We then compare how both approaches appear in the literature looking at the number of publications and citations by scientific journals, identifying key authors and journals, their frequency, the impact factor and citations, and looking at their trend through time. Results show the prevalence of AM approaches for the analysis of the agri-food sector on one side, and the smaller but growing contribution of the ACSM community and literature on the other. We conclude by remarking the need for more systematic analyses on the contribution of the two approaches to the analysis of the complex dynamics and behaviour of agri-food systems to inform evidence-based policies for sustainable and inclusive agriculture. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Irrigation Analysis Based on Long-Term Weather Data
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 42; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030042 -
Abstract
Irrigation management is based upon delivery of water to a crop in the correct amount and time, and the crop’s water need is determined by calculating evapotranspiration (ET) using weather data. In 1994, an ET-network was established in the Texas High Plains [...] Read more.
Irrigation management is based upon delivery of water to a crop in the correct amount and time, and the crop’s water need is determined by calculating evapotranspiration (ET) using weather data. In 1994, an ET-network was established in the Texas High Plains to manage irrigation on a regional scale. Though producers used the ET-network, by 2010 public access was discontinued. Why did producers allow a valuable irrigation-management tool to be eliminated? Our objective was to analyze the effect of declining well capacities on the usefulness of cotton ET (ETc) for irrigation. Thirty years (1975–2004) of daily ETc data were used to compare irrigation demand vs. irrigation responses at four locations, analyzed for multiple years and range of well capacities for three irrigation-intervals. Results indicated that when well capacities declined to the point that over-irrigation was not possible, the lower well capacities reduced the value of ETc in terms of the number of irrigations and total amount of water applied. At well capacities <1514 L·min−1 the fraction of irrigations for which ETc information was used to determine the irrigation amount was <35% across years and irrigation intervals. The value of an ETc-based irrigation may fall into disuse when irrigation-water supplies decline. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Policies Supporting Local Food in the United States
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 43; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030043 -
Abstract
Local food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policies in recent years throughout the United States as consumer demand has grown. Local foods have been linked to several government priorities—including enhancing the rural economy, the environment, and supporting [...] Read more.
Local food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policies in recent years throughout the United States as consumer demand has grown. Local foods have been linked to several government priorities—including enhancing the rural economy, the environment, and supporting agricultural producers. This article provides an overview of U.S. Federal, State and regional policies designed to support local food systems. It details the latest economic information on policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature. Federal policies related to local food systems were greatly expanded by the 2008 Farm Bill, and are further expanded in the Agricultural Act of 2014. United States policies address several barriers to the further expansion of local food markets, including scaling up output of small farms to address the needs of larger commercial outlets, lack of infrastructure for increasing local food sales, ability to trace product source, and producer education regarding local food expansion. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Creole Hens and Ranga-Ranga: Campesino Foodways and Biocultural Resource-Based Development in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 41; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030041 -
Abstract
Biocultural heritage-based products, including regional specialty foods, are increasingly part of sustainable rural development strategies. While export-oriented biocultural products are often the most visible, we examine the role of campesino gastronomic heritage in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia, as a case [...] Read more.
Biocultural heritage-based products, including regional specialty foods, are increasingly part of sustainable rural development strategies. While export-oriented biocultural products are often the most visible, we examine the role of campesino gastronomic heritage in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia, as a case study of a local market-centered biocultural resource-based development strategy reflected in an alternative agri-food network. We develop a biocultural sustainability framework to examine this network from ecological, economic and sociocultural perspectives. Data are drawn from interviews (n = 77), surveys (n = 89) and participant observation, with primary and secondary producers of traditional and new products, as well as restaurant owners, market vendors and local consumers. We find that campesino biocultural heritage and the alternative agri-food network surrounding it represent an influential territorial project that underpins many household economies, particularly for women. We conclude that the relatively small investments by local governments to promote campesino gastronomic heritage are having positive ripple effects on small-scale producer livelihoods and on biocultural sustainability. We suggest that further support to increase market access and reduce other barriers to participation in alternative food networks will likely increase the options and benefits available to small-scale producers mobilising campesino gastronomic heritage within the local economy. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 40; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030040 -
Abstract
This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some [...] Read more.
This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some important foods from urban eaters back through retailers, processors and transporters to the primary producers. Particular attention is given to the functioning of the market places and how new actors enter into the food system. These reveal that more important to the system than competition are various forms of collaboration. Of particular interest is how a wide range of small-scale and interdependent actors produce the food and get it to urban eaters at a city feeding scale without large vertically- or horizontally-integrated corporate structures. This “symbiotic food system” is an existing alternative to the corporate-dominated agri-business food system; it can and does deliver at scale and in a way that better responds to the needs of people in poverty who are buying food and the interests of food producers. It is not perfect in Dar es Salaam, but the food system is working and is a model that should be built on. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Values-Based Supply Chains as a Strategy for Supporting Small and Mid-Scale Producers in the United States
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 39; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030039 -
Abstract
Consumers are increasingly interested in the “values” associated with the food they eat and are often willing to pay more for food for which there is a “story” that links farm to fork. The “values” associated with these foods may be that [...] Read more.
Consumers are increasingly interested in the “values” associated with the food they eat and are often willing to pay more for food for which there is a “story” that links farm to fork. The “values” associated with these foods may be that they are locally produced, by small or mid-scale farms, or use production practices that enhance the environment. Wholesale channels that provide marketing options for small and mid-scale producers and support these values are referred to as “values-based supply chains” (VBSCs). Goals of VBSCs are to: (1) provide greater economic stability for producers and others along the supply chain; and (2) provide high quality, regional food to consumers. After a brief overview of VBSCs, we then describe three cases—a specialty food manufacturer, a natural food cooperative and a regional “food hub”—representing different entry points along the food supply chain. We analyze them regarding the common benefits of VBSCs: transparency, fair prices to farmers and ease of purchasing from small and mid-scale producers. We conclude with common themes that emerge for VBSCs of the future and what it will take to strengthen them within regional food systems. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Farmer’s Knowledge and Perceptions on Rice Insect Pests and Their Management in Uganda
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 38; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030038 -
Abstract
Rice is a new crop in Uganda, but has quickly grown in importance. Between 2000 and 2010, total area under rice cultivation in the country grew by 94% from 140,000 ha. Changes in the agro ecosystem due to expansion in rice area [...] Read more.
Rice is a new crop in Uganda, but has quickly grown in importance. Between 2000 and 2010, total area under rice cultivation in the country grew by 94% from 140,000 ha. Changes in the agro ecosystem due to expansion in rice area may have altered the pest status of rice insect pests. However, far too little attention has been paid to assessing the prevalence and importance of rice insect-pests in Uganda. In this study, we interviewed 240 lowland-rice farming households from eight districts within the north, east and central regions of Uganda about their perceived insect-pest problems and control measures employed, if any. A semi-structured questionnaire was used. The farmers ranked rice insect pests as the most important biotic constraint in rice production, with stem borers and the African rice gall midge (AfRGM) perceived to be the 1st and 2nd most detrimental insect pests, respectively. In spite of this, only 36% of the respondents could positively identify symptoms of AfRGM damage on rice plants, while 64% were familiar with stem borer damage. Over 60% of interviewed farmers expressed confidence in the effectiveness of insecticides for controlling rice insect pests. Cultural control measures were not popular among the farmers. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Fungal Metabolites for the Control of Biofilm Infections
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 37; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030037 -
Abstract
Many microbes attach to surfaces and produce a complex matrix of polymers surrounding their cells, forming a biofilm. In biofilms, microbes are much better protected against hostile environments, impairing the action of most antibiotics. A pressing demand exists for novel therapeutic strategies [...] Read more.
Many microbes attach to surfaces and produce a complex matrix of polymers surrounding their cells, forming a biofilm. In biofilms, microbes are much better protected against hostile environments, impairing the action of most antibiotics. A pressing demand exists for novel therapeutic strategies against biofilm infections, which are a grave health wise on mucosal surfaces and medical devices. From fungi, a large number of secondary metabolites with antimicrobial activity have been characterized. This review discusses natural compounds from fungi which are effective against fungal and bacterial biofilms. Some molecules are able to block the cell communication process essential for biofilm formation (known as quorum sensing), others can penetrate and kill cells within the structure. Several targets have been identified, ranging from the inhibition of quorum sensing receptors and virulence factors, to cell wall synthesizing enzymes. Only one group of these fungal metabolites has been optimized and made it to the market, but more preclinical studies are ongoing to expand the biofilm-fighting arsenal. The broad diversity of bioactive compounds from fungi, their activities against various pathogens, and the multi-target trait of some molecules are promising aspects of fungal secondary metabolites. Future screenings for biofilm-controlling compounds will contribute to several novel clinical applications. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Developing Mid-Tier Supply Chains (France) and Values-Based Food Supply Chains (USA): A Comparison of Motivations, Achievements, Barriers and Limitations
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 36; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030036 -
Abstract
Mid-tier supply chains/values-based food supply chains have emerged, in both France and the United States, as viable alternatives for small and mid-sized farms that had previously struggled. These supply chains deliver more products to a larger region than short supply chains such [...] Read more.
Mid-tier supply chains/values-based food supply chains have emerged, in both France and the United States, as viable alternatives for small and mid-sized farms that had previously struggled. These supply chains deliver more products to a larger region than short supply chains such as farm-direct markets and are distinguished from the dominant long supply chains by (1) products that are differentiated from the mainstream based on superior quality, environmental stewardship and social responsibility; and (2) the characteristics of the strategic relationships that link the supply chain participants. On the demand side, regional supermarkets, restaurants, public and private institutional buyers, and individual consumers have demonstrated their eagerness to seek out and pay premiums for these types of high-quality food products that are delivered via trusted and transparent supply chains and characterized by their authentic farming stories. The set of case studies presented in this paper (three from each country) will highlight both the parallels and differences in the development of these innovative supply chains between two countries with quite dissimilar agricultural and food sector traditions and policies. Full article
Open AccessReview
Fertility of Herbivores Consuming Phytoestrogen-containing Medicago and Trifolium Species
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 35; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030035 -
Abstract
Despite their unrivalled value in livestock systems, certain temperate, pasture, legume species and varieties may contain phytoestrogens which can lower flock/herd fertility. Such compounds, whose chemical structure and biological activity resembles that of estradiol-17α, include the isoflavones that have caused devastating effects [...] Read more.
Despite their unrivalled value in livestock systems, certain temperate, pasture, legume species and varieties may contain phytoestrogens which can lower flock/herd fertility. Such compounds, whose chemical structure and biological activity resembles that of estradiol-17α, include the isoflavones that have caused devastating effects (some of them permanent) on the fertility of many Australian sheep flocks. While the persistence of old ‘oestrogenic’ ecotypes of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) in pasture remains a risk, genetic improvement has been most effective in lowering isoflavone production in Trifolium species; infertility due to ‘clover disease’ has been greatly reduced. Coumestans, which can be produced in Medicago species responding to stress, remain a potential risk in cultivars susceptible to, for example, foliar diseases. In the field, coumestrol is often not detected in healthy vegetative Medicago species. Wide variation in its concentration is influenced by environmental factors and stage of growth. Biotic stress is the most studied environmental factor and, in lucerne/alfalfa (Medicago sativa), it is the major determinant of oestrogenicity. Concentrations up to 90 mg coumestrol/kg (all concentrations expressed as DM) have been recorded for lucerne damaged by aphids and up to 600 mg/kg for lucerne stressed by foliar disease(s). Other significant coumestans, e.g., 4’-methoxy-coumestrol, are usually present at the same time. Concentrations exceeding 2000 mg coumestrol/kg have been recorded in diseased, annual species of Medicago. Oestrogenicity of some Medicago species is also influenced by maturity and senescence. Studies in Israel, North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia have confirmed that coumestans in lucerne, represent an acute or sub-acute loss of reproductive efficiency in herbivores, e.g., sheep, cattle, and possibly horses. When sufficiently exposed peri-conception, coumestrol, sometimes present in lucerne, be it as pasture, hay, silage, pellets, meal, and sprouts, is associated with what can be an insidious, asymptomatic, infertility syndrome. Most livestock research with oestrogenic lucerne has been conducted with sheep. Ewes may be at risk when the coumestrol concentration in their diet exceeds 25 mg/kg. In studies where lambing was compared for lucerne and a phytoestrogen-free treatment, the mean decrease in lambs born/ewe was 13%; ewes on lucerne, exhibited a lower frequency of multiple births. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Engaging Farmers in Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Assessing Intercropping as a Means to Support Farm Adaptive Capacity
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 34; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030034 -
Abstract
Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable and adaptation-prone sources of livelihood facing climate change. Joint adaptation planning by farmers and researchers can help develop practically feasible and environmentally and economically sound adaptation actions as well as encourage the proactive building of [...] Read more.
Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable and adaptation-prone sources of livelihood facing climate change. Joint adaptation planning by farmers and researchers can help develop practically feasible and environmentally and economically sound adaptation actions as well as encourage the proactive building of farm adaptive capacity. Here, the perceptions of Finnish farmers and rural stakeholders regarding intercropping, the cultivation of two or more crop genotypes together in time and space, as a means to prepare for climate change, were collected in an open workshop. Our aim was to identify the potentials and challenges associated with intercropping, its role as an adaptation strategy, and in farm adaptive capacity. Qualitative analysis revealed better yield security, increased nutrient and protein self-sufficiency, soil conservation and maintenance, reduced pathogen pressure and regulation of water dynamics as the main perceived potentials of intercropping. Potentials relating to the farm economy and environment were also recognized. The main challenges associated with intercropping were related to the lack of information on crop variety performance and optimal yielding in mixtures, industry and policy requirements for seed purity, more complicated crop management and harvesting, and the economic risks associated with experimenting with novel mixtures. Nitrogen-fixing legumes; deep-rooted species, such as lucerne (Medicago sativa L.); special crops, such as herbs in forage mixtures; and autumn-sown winter oilseeds and cereals were highlighted as the most promising intercrops. Because the recognized potentials relate to the safeguarding of field cropping from anticipated climate change and the associated weather variability, we conclude that intercropping can serve as one adaptation strategy to strengthen the adaptive capacity of Finnish farms. However, assuring markets and policies that allow the development of intercropping, performing experiments to assess the benefits and implement options in practice, and providing farmers and farm advisors with more knowledge on the method represent the critical prerequisites for the broader adoption of intercropping. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Development Interventions and Agriculture Adaptation: A Social Network Analysis of Farmer Knowledge Transfer in Ghana
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 32; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030032 -
Abstract
Social ties play an important role in agricultural knowledge exchange, particularly in developing countries with high exposure to agriculture development interventions. Institutions often facilitate agricultural training projects, with a focus on agroecological practices, such as agroforestry and agrobiodiversity. The structural characteristics of [...] Read more.
Social ties play an important role in agricultural knowledge exchange, particularly in developing countries with high exposure to agriculture development interventions. Institutions often facilitate agricultural training projects, with a focus on agroecological practices, such as agroforestry and agrobiodiversity. The structural characteristics of social networks amongst land managers influences decision-making to adopt such adaptive agroecoloigcal practice; however, the extent of knowledge transfer beyond direct project participants is often unknown. Using a social network approach, we chart the structure of agrarian knowledge networks (n = 131) in six communities, which have been differentially exposed to agriculture development interventions in Ghana. Farmer network size, density and composition were distinctly variable; development project-affiliated farmers were embedded in larger networks, had non-affiliated farmers within their networks, were engaged in more diverse agricultural production and reported adopting and adapting agroecological practice more frequently. Such bridging ties that link across distinctive groups in a network can expose network members to new and innovative agroecological practices, such as increasing agrobiodiversity, thus, contributing to livelihood strategies that mitigate environmental and market risk. Furthermore, we show that these knowledge networks were crop-specific where network size varied given the type of crop produced. Such factors, which may influence the rate and extent of agroecological knowledge diffusion, are critical for the effectiveness of land management practices as well as the persistence of agriculture development interventions. Full article
Figures

Open AccessReview
Climate Change: Seed Production and Options for Adaptation
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 33; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030033 -
Abstract
Food security depends on seed security and the international seed industry must be able to continue to deliver the quantities of quality seed required for this purpose. Abiotic stress resulting from climate change, particularly elevated temperature and water stress, will reduce seed [...] Read more.
Food security depends on seed security and the international seed industry must be able to continue to deliver the quantities of quality seed required for this purpose. Abiotic stress resulting from climate change, particularly elevated temperature and water stress, will reduce seed yield and quality. Options for the seed industry to adapt to climate change include moving sites for seed production, changing sowing date, and the development of cultivars with traits which allow them to adapt to climate change conditions. However, the ability of seed growers to make these changes is directly linked to the seed system. In the formal seed system operating in developed countries, implementation will be reasonably straight forward. In the informal system operating in developing countries, the current seed production challenges including supply failing to meet demand and poor seed quality will increase with changing climates. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Evaluation of Exogenous Application of Salicylic Acid on Physiological Characteristics, Proline and Essential Oil Content of Chamomile (Matricaria chamomila L.) under Normal and Heat Stress Conditions
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 31; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030031 -
Abstract
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of exogenous application of salicylic acid concentrations on the physiological and biochemical traits and essential oil content of chamomile under normal and heat stress conditions as induced by delayed sowing. The experiments [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of exogenous application of salicylic acid concentrations on the physiological and biochemical traits and essential oil content of chamomile under normal and heat stress conditions as induced by delayed sowing. The experiments were conducted during 2011–2012 as a factorial using a randomized complete block design with three replications, in a very hot region. The factors included five salicylic acid concentrations (0 (control), 1, 10, 25 and 100 mg·L−1) and three chamomile cultivars (Bushehr, Bona, Bodegold). The seeds of chamomile were sown on two different sowing dates including an optimum planting date and a late planting date. The physiological traits (plant height, capitol diameter, 1000 grain weight, fresh and dried flower weight), total chlorophyll, proline and essential oil content were investigated. Analysis of variance showed that the effect of the environmental conditions (normal and heat stress) was significant on all physiological and biochemical traits with the exception of the essential oil content. The heat stress decreased physiological traits and total chlorophyll in comparison with the normal conditions but it had no significant effect on the essential oil content. Findings indicated that the application of exogenous salicylic acid improves essential oil content in chamomile cultivars under environmental heat stress conditions. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle
Theorizing Agri-Food Economies
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 30; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030030 -
Abstract
This paper discusses agri-food economies and how they evolve over time. It also analyses how these economies, which often have contradictory dynamics, are theorized. A central thesis of the paper is that different theoretical representations not only reflect the differences in agro-economies [...] Read more.
This paper discusses agri-food economies and how they evolve over time. It also analyses how these economies, which often have contradictory dynamics, are theorized. A central thesis of the paper is that different theoretical representations not only reflect the differences in agro-economies and their developmental tendencies, but are also important drivers that actively shape the trajectories that they describe. The paper concludes by arguing that, more often than not, it is the newly emerging alternatives that are taking the initiative, responding to changing socio-economic demands while the hegemonic systems are merely reacting to the emerging alternatives. While it is possible that the alternatives might be appropriated and ‘conventionalized’ by the hegemonic systems, it is equally possible that the alternatives, especially when interconnected and rooted in democratic institutions, might induce a generalized crisis in the food systems that are currently dominant. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Crop Management as an Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Early Modern Era: A Comparative Study of Eastern and Western Europe
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 29; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030029 -
Abstract
Effective adaptation determines agricultural vulnerability to climate change, especially in the pre-industrial era. Crop management as an agricultural adaptation to climate change in recent human history, however, has rarely been systematically evaluated. Using Europe as our study area, we statistically compared yield [...] Read more.
Effective adaptation determines agricultural vulnerability to climate change, especially in the pre-industrial era. Crop management as an agricultural adaptation to climate change in recent human history, however, has rarely been systematically evaluated. Using Europe as our study area, we statistically compared yield ratio of wheat, rye, barley, and oats (an important performance indicator of an agrarian economy) between Eastern and Western Europe in AD 1500–1800. In particular, a statistical comparison was made of crop yield ratio in the two regions during the warm agricultural recovery period AD 1700–1800. The general trend of crop yield in Eastern and Western Europe basically followed the alternation of climatic epochs, in which the extreme cooling period in AD 1560–1660 drastically reduced the crop yield ratio. The yield ratio of rye in Eastern and Western Europe was very similar throughout the entire study period. However, the yield ratio of wheat, barley, and oats showed different patterns in the two regions and increased drastically in Western Europe in the warm agricultural recovery period, which might have contributed to rapid socio-economic development in Western Europe and eventually the East–West Divide in Europe in the following centuries. Full article