Open AccessTechnical Note
Innovative Solution for Reducing the Run-Down Time of the Chipper Disc Using a Brake Clamp Device
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 71; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080071 -
Abstract
Wood-chippers are widely used machines in the forestry, urban and agricultural sectors. The use of these machines implies various risks for workers, primarily the risk of contact with moving and cutting parts. These machine parts have a high moment of inertia that can
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Wood-chippers are widely used machines in the forestry, urban and agricultural sectors. The use of these machines implies various risks for workers, primarily the risk of contact with moving and cutting parts. These machine parts have a high moment of inertia that can lead to entrainment with the cutting components. This risk is particularly high in the case of manually fed chippers. Following cases of injury with wood-chippers and the improvement of the technical standard (ComitéEuropéen de Normalisation-European Norm) EN 13525: 2005 + A2: 2009, this technical note presents the prototype of an innovative system to reduce risks related to the involved moving parts, based on the “brake caliper” system and electromagnetic clutch for the declutching of the power take-off (PTO). The prototype has demonstrated its potential for reducing the run-down time of the chipper disc (95%) and for reducing the worker’s risk of entanglement and entrainment in the machine’s feed mouth. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
What Is the Role of Agro-Met Information Services in Farmer Decision-Making? Uptake and Decision-Making Context among Farmers within Three Case Study Villages in Maharashtra, India
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 70; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080070 -
Abstract
Scientific studies of climate and meteorology focusing on India show significant increase in the variability and frequency of extreme precipitation events. The increased variability of weather patterns places a huge constraint on farmer’s ability to make strategic agricultural practice decisions. In response, public
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Scientific studies of climate and meteorology focusing on India show significant increase in the variability and frequency of extreme precipitation events. The increased variability of weather patterns places a huge constraint on farmer’s ability to make strategic agricultural practice decisions. In response, public and private agro-met information services disseminate agro-met information to farmers. Yet, studies still show that there are constraints related to access and understanding of the information. An agro-met information service is based on scientific input from meteorology coupled with agricultural information and this information package is disseminated to farmers. Based on a study in three villages in Maharashtra, India, we show that the relevance of agro-met information differs depending on the decision-making situation. Several factors play an important role in farmer’s agricultural decision-making. The usefulness of the agro-met information from farmer perspectives depends on the access, salience, and credibility of the information. Some subscribers complained about the credibility and the salience of services, while others painted a more positive picture of the service, arguing that there was value in receiving such information. The subscribers mainly valued agro-met information for the ability to undertake precautionary actions. We found that agricultural decision-making was discussed in different arenas; these arenas represented possibilities for farmers to contextualize agro-met information and thereby translate information to timely and appropriate actions suited to the specific local context. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Length of Operational Life and Its Impact on Life-Cycle Costs of a Tractor in Switzerland
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 68; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080068 -
Abstract
Assuming full exhaustion of their estimated service life—also referred to as estimated technical working life—the low annual utilisation of agricultural machines in Switzerland leads to a long operational life. To determine the costs of an additional year’s service, we calculate the life-cycle costs
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Assuming full exhaustion of their estimated service life—also referred to as estimated technical working life—the low annual utilisation of agricultural machines in Switzerland leads to a long operational life. To determine the costs of an additional year’s service, we calculate the life-cycle costs (LCCs), which encompass all costs for an 82 kW four-wheel-drive tractor over its entire operational life. Assuming full utilisation of the estimated service life of 10,000 h, five operating versions are compared, each with an operational life of between 10 and 30 years and matched annual utilisations between 1000 h and 333 h. A key finding is that an additional year in service increases LCCs by 4.5% of the tractor’s purchase price. In addition, we carry out a sensitivity analysis by applying discount rates of between 0% and 4%, finding that a comparatively high discount rate of 3% leads to almost identical LCCs for all operating versions. We conclude that the annual utilisation and the resulting duration of operational life have a strong impact on LCCs. A short operational life associated with high annual utilisation is a promising strategy for substantially cutting machinery costs. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Adoption of Web-Based Spatial Tools by Agricultural Producers: Conversations with Seven Northeastern Ontario Farmers Using the GeoVisage Decision Support System
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 69; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080069 -
Abstract
This paper reports on the findings of a multi-site qualitative case study research project designed to document the utility and perceived usefulness of weather station and imagery data associated with the online resource GeoVisage among northeastern Ontario farmers. Interviews were conducted onsite at
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This paper reports on the findings of a multi-site qualitative case study research project designed to document the utility and perceived usefulness of weather station and imagery data associated with the online resource GeoVisage among northeastern Ontario farmers. Interviews were conducted onsite at five participating farms (three dairy, one cash crop, and one public access fruit/vegetable) in 2014–2016, and these conversations were transcribed and returned to participants for member checking. Interview data was then entered into Atlas.ti software for the purpose of qualitative thematic analysis. Fifteen codes emerged from the data and findings center around three overarching themes: common uses of weather station data (e.g., air/soil temperature, rainfall); the use of GeoVisage Imagery data/tools (e.g., acreage calculations, remotely sensed imagery); and future recommendations for the online resource (e.g., communication, secure crop imagery, mobile access). Overall, weather station data and tools freely accessible through the GeoVisage site were viewed as representing a timely, positive, and important addition to contemporary agricultural decision-making in northeastern Ontario farming. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Safety-Critical Manuals for Agricultural Tractor Drivers: A Method to Improve Their Usability
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 67; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080067 -
Abstract
This work sets out the planning phases adopted for the first time to put together a manual on injury and accident prevention in the use of farm tractors. The goal is to convey information more effectively than at present, while taking the end
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This work sets out the planning phases adopted for the first time to put together a manual on injury and accident prevention in the use of farm tractors. The goal is to convey information more effectively than at present, while taking the end users’ opinions into consideration. The manual was devised, created, and tested based on a human-centred design (HCD) process, which identified the operators’ requirements using a participatory ergonomics (PE) strategy. The main topics of the manual were outlined by engaging the users in a qualitative research activity (i.e., focus groups and workshops with final users), and the contents were prioritized and labelled by way of a noun prioritization activity. The users were involved right up to the choice of graphics and print layout in order to orient the publication to the farming context. The research activity highlighted a divergence between the operators’ requirements and the topics currently dealt with in the sector publications. The project resulted in the publication of the “Safe Tractor” manual, which features some innovations. The experience highlighted the need to adopt HCD processes to create innovative editorial products, which can help speed up the dissemination of safety culture in the primary sector. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Disentangling the Effects of Tillage Timing and Weather on Weed Community Assembly
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 66; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080066 -
Abstract
The effect of tillage timing on weed community assembly was assessed at four locations in the Northeastern United States by tilling the soil every two weeks from April to September and quantifying the emerged weed community six weeks after each tillage event. Variance
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The effect of tillage timing on weed community assembly was assessed at four locations in the Northeastern United States by tilling the soil every two weeks from April to September and quantifying the emerged weed community six weeks after each tillage event. Variance partitioning analysis was used to test the relative importance of tillage timing and weather on weed community assembly (106 weed species). At a regional scale, site (75.5% of the explained inertia)—and to a lesser extent, timing—of tillage (18.3%), along with weather (18.1%), shaped weed communities. At a local scale, the timing of tillage explained approximately 50% of the weed community variability. The effect of tillage timing, after partitioning out the effect of weather variables, remained significant at all locations. Weather conditions, mainly growing degree days, but also precipitation occurring before tillage, were important factors and could improve our ability to predict the impact of tillage timing on weed community assemblages. Our findings illustrate the role of disturbance timing on weed communities, and can be used to improve the timing of weed control practices and to maximize their efficacy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Traditional Cheese Production and an EU Labeling Scheme: The Alpine Cheese Producers’ Opinion
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 65; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080065 -
Abstract
In 2012, the European Union introduced two optional quality terms (OQT) as new tools for the enhancement of food products. Two years later, the requirements for the use of the OQT “mountain product” were defined to enhance agricultural production in harsh environments, such
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In 2012, the European Union introduced two optional quality terms (OQT) as new tools for the enhancement of food products. Two years later, the requirements for the use of the OQT “mountain product” were defined to enhance agricultural production in harsh environments, such as mountain areas. This new tool aimed at promoting local development, maintaining the economic activities in mountain areas and redistributing wealth. The present research aims at understanding if farmers perceived this tool as useful and evaluates their level of awareness. To this aim, a sample of 68 traditional cheese producers from the North West Alpine Arch was interviewed. The results show that some cheese producers have a positive attitude towards the concepts set out in the OQT “mountain product” and consider it a useful tool to promote and enhance their products. Some critical elements are also discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Promoting Smallholder Adoption of Conservation Agriculture through Mechanization Services
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 64; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080064 -
Abstract
The importance of conservation agriculture (CA) is discussed in the context of producing food for a growing population while, at the same time, conserving and improving the natural resource base: sustainable crop production intensification. CA requires mechanization, and the necessary equipment may be
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The importance of conservation agriculture (CA) is discussed in the context of producing food for a growing population while, at the same time, conserving and improving the natural resource base: sustainable crop production intensification. CA requires mechanization, and the necessary equipment may be beyond the reach of the majority of smallholder farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. A logical solution to this situation is to provide CA mechanization services from private sector entrepreneurs. These will be well-equipped with appropriate CA equipment and will usually benefit from specific training on the technical aspects of CA machinery operation and on the business skills needed to run a profitable venture. The technical skills to be reinforced include: equipment selection, calibration of planters, seeders and sprayers, field operation, maintenance and repair. Business skills needed include: market research and feasibility studies, business planning, calculation of operational costs, partial budgets, break-even points and cash flows. The case is made for local manufacture to reduce the costs of machinery acquisition and to encourage local adaptation. Start-up costs are discussed together with the options of obtaining finance. Guidelines for marketing and managing the mechanization service provision business are developed. These include the importance of contracts, work planning, regular maintenance schedules and record keeping. Finally the most appropriate vehicle for delivering the training and sustaining support is considered. Formal training courses are a good starting point, but can be expensive to organize and execute. Individual counselling from extension sources is a viable option when the quality of the service is high enough. Study groups of involved entrepreneurs should be encouraged and supported to overcome the problems that will inevitably arise in new business ventures. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Forage Plant Ecophysiology: A Discipline Come of Age
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 63; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080063 -
Abstract
The first use of the term “ecology” is credited to German scientist Ernst Haekel in 1866, who used the word to describe the total science of relationships between organisms and their environment [1].[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Analyzing the Environmental Impact of Chemically-Produced Protein Hydrolysate from Leather Waste vs. Enzymatically-Produced Protein Hydrolysate from Legume Grains
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 62; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080062 -
Abstract
Protein hydrolysates are largely used as plant biostimulants for boosting crop growth, and improving crop tolerance to abiotic stresses and fruit quality. Protein hydrolysate-based biostimulants are mostly produced by chemical hydrolysis starting from animal wastes. However, an innovative process of enzymatic hydrolysis of
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Protein hydrolysates are largely used as plant biostimulants for boosting crop growth, and improving crop tolerance to abiotic stresses and fruit quality. Protein hydrolysate-based biostimulants are mostly produced by chemical hydrolysis starting from animal wastes. However, an innovative process of enzymatic hydrolysis of legume-derived proteins has been recently introduced by few companies. The objective of this study was to evaluate the energy use and environmental impact of the production processes of enzymatically-produced protein hydrolysate starting from lupine seeds and protein hydrolysate obtained from chemical hydrolysis of leather wastes through the application of life cycle assessment (LCA). The LCA method was applied through the software GEMIS “Global Emission Model for Integrated Systems”, elaborated at L’Oko-Institute in Germany, and the parameters taken into account were: CO2 emissions in g per kg of protein hydrolysate; the consumption of fossil energy expressed in MJ per kg of protein hydrolysate; and water consumption reported in kg per kg of protein hydrolysate. In the case of legume-derived protein hydrolysate, the evaluation of the energy use and the environmental impact started from field production of lupine grains and ended with the industrial production of protein hydrolysate. In the case of animal-derived protein hydrolysate, the LCA method was applied only in the industrial production process, because the collagen is considered a waste product of the leather industry. The type of hydrolysis is the step that most affects the energy use and environmental impact on the entire industrial production process. The results obtained in terms of CO2 emissions, fossil energy consumption and water use through the application of LCA showed that the production process of the animal-derived protein hydrolysate was characterized by a higher energy use (+26%) and environmental impact (+57% of CO2 emissions) in comparison with the enzymatic production process of lupine-derived protein hydrolysate. In conclusion, the production of legume-derived protein hydrolysate by enzymatic hydrolysis is more environmentally friendly than the production of animal-derived protein hydrolysate through chemical hydrolysis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Small-Scale Biofuel Production in Brazil: Lessons for Developing Countries
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 61; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070061 -
Abstract
Small-scale biofuel initiatives to produce sugarcane ethanol are claimed to be a sustainable opportunity for ethanol supply, particularly for regions with price-restricted or no access to modern biofuels, such as communities located far from the large ethanol production centers in Brazil and family-farm
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Small-scale biofuel initiatives to produce sugarcane ethanol are claimed to be a sustainable opportunity for ethanol supply, particularly for regions with price-restricted or no access to modern biofuels, such as communities located far from the large ethanol production centers in Brazil and family-farm communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. However, smallholders often struggle to achieve economic sustainability with ethanol microdistilleries. The aim of this paper is to provide an assessment of the challenges faced by small-scale bioenergy initiatives and discuss the conditions that would potentially make these initiatives economically feasible. Ethanol microdistilleries were assessed through a critical discussion of existent models and through an economic analysis of different sugarcane ethanol production models. The technical-economic analysis showed that the lack of competitiveness against large-scale ethanol distillery, largely due to both low crop productivity and process efficiency, makes it unlikely that small-scale distilleries can compete in the national/international ethanol market without governmental policies and subsidies. Nevertheless, small-scale projects intended for local supply and integrated food–fuel systems seem to be an interesting alternative that can potentially make ethanol production in small farms viable as well as increase food security and project sustainability particularly for local communities in developing countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Precision Farming in Hilly Areas: The Use of Network RTK in GNSS Technology
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 60; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070060 -
Abstract
The number of GNSS satellites has greatly increased over the last few decades, which has led to increased interest in developing self-propelled vehicles. Even agricultural vehicles have a great potential for use of these systems. In fact, it is possible to improve the
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The number of GNSS satellites has greatly increased over the last few decades, which has led to increased interest in developing self-propelled vehicles. Even agricultural vehicles have a great potential for use of these systems. In fact, it is possible to improve the efficiency of machining in terms of their uniformity, reduction of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. with the aim of (i) reducing the timeframes of cultivation operations with significant economic benefits and, above all, (ii) decreasing environmental impact. These systems face some perplexity in hilly environments but, with specific devices, it is possible to overcome any signal deficiencies. In hilly areas then, the satellite-based system can also be used to safeguard operators’ safety from the risk of rollover. This paper reports the results obtained from a rural development program (RDP) in the Lazio Region 2007/2013 (measure project 1.2.4) for the introduction and diffusion of GNSS satellites systems in hilly areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis and Diagnosis of the Agrarian System in the Niayes Region, Northwest Senegal (West Africa)
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 59; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070059 -
Abstract
The agrarian system Analysis and Diagnosis is used for this study, the goal of which was to provide a corpus of basic knowledge and elements of reflection necessary for the understanding the Niayes farming systems dynamics in Senegal, West Africa. Such holistic work
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The agrarian system Analysis and Diagnosis is used for this study, the goal of which was to provide a corpus of basic knowledge and elements of reflection necessary for the understanding the Niayes farming systems dynamics in Senegal, West Africa. Such holistic work has never been done before for this small region that provides the majority of vegetables in the area, thanks to its microclimate and access to fresh water in an arid country. Reading of the landscape and historical interviews coupled with fine-tuned household surveys were used to build a typology of agricultural production units (each type being represented by a production system). The main phases within the region’s history were distinguished. Before colonization, agriculture was based on gathering and shifting agriculture (millet and peanut) in the southern region and transhumant stockbreeding in the North. During colonization, market gardening became a source of income as a response to cities’ increasing demand. Two major droughts (in the 1970s and 1980s) have accelerated this movement. Extension of market gardening areas and intensification of activities were made possible by Sahelian migrants’ influx and the creation of mbeye seddo, a contract that allows for sharing added value between the employer and seasonal workers, named sourghas. Over the past 20 years, the “race for motorization” has created important social gaps (added value sharing deserves review) and a risk of overexploitation of groundwater. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Do Movement Patterns of GPS-Tracked Cattle on Extensive Rangelands Suggest Independence among Individuals?
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 58; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070058 -
Abstract
In behavioral studies, cattle within the same pasture are not considered as independent experimental units because of the potential confounding effects of the herd’s social interactions. However, evaluating cattle behavior on extensive rangelands is logistically challenging for researchers, and treating individual animals as
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In behavioral studies, cattle within the same pasture are not considered as independent experimental units because of the potential confounding effects of the herd’s social interactions. However, evaluating cattle behavior on extensive rangelands is logistically challenging for researchers, and treating individual animals as independent experimental units may be beneficial for answering specific research questions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association patterns among global positioning system (GPS)-tracked cattle at six different study sites in the western United States. A Half-Weight Index (HWI) association value was calculated for each pair of GPS-tracked cows (i.e., dyad) to determine the proportion of time that cattle were within 75 m and 500 m of each other. Cattle at two study sites exhibited relatively low mean HWI-association values (i.e., less than 0.23 HWI); whereas, cattle at other study sites tended to have greater mean HWI associations (i.e., greater than 0.35 HWI). Distinguishing features between study sites with low and high association values were the management of cattle prior to the study, herd size, pasture size, and the number of watering points. However, at all ranches except one, at least 75% of all dyadic associations had HWI values of less than 0.5 at 500 m, indicating that most of the GPS-tracked cows were greater than 500 m from each other for over 50% of tracking period. While interactions among cattle in the same pasture are often inevitable, our data suggests that under some situations, movement patterns of a sub-set of individual GPS-tracked cows may have levels of independence that are sufficient for analysis as individual experimental units. Understanding the level of independence among GPS-tracked cattle may provide options for analysis of grazing behavior for individual cattle within the same pasture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Grasslands and Croplands Have Different Microbial Biomass Carbon Levels per Unit of Soil Organic Carbon
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 57; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070057 -
Abstract
Primarily using cropped systems, previous studies have reported a positive linear relationship between microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and soil organic carbon (SOC). We conducted a meta-analysis to explore this relationship separately for grasslands and croplands using available literature. Studies were limited to those
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Primarily using cropped systems, previous studies have reported a positive linear relationship between microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and soil organic carbon (SOC). We conducted a meta-analysis to explore this relationship separately for grasslands and croplands using available literature. Studies were limited to those using fumigation–extraction for MBC for field samples. Trials were noted separately where records were distinct in space or time. Grasslands were naturally occurring, restored, or seeded. Cropping systems were typical of the temperate zone. MBC had a positive linear response to increasing SOC that was significant in both grasslands (p < 0.001; r2 = 0.76) and croplands (p < 0.001; r2 = 0.48). However, MBC increased 2.5-fold more steeply per unit of increasing SOC for grassland soils, as compared to the corresponding response in cropland soils. Expressing MBC as a proportion of SOC across the regression overall, slopes corresponded to 2.7% for grasslands and 1.1% for croplands. The slope of the linear relationship for grasslands was significantly (p = 0.0013) steeper than for croplands. The difference between the two systems is possibly caused by a greater proportion of SOC in grasslands being active rather than passive, relative to that in croplands, with that active fraction promoting the formation of MBC. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Optimal Mechanization Processes for Harvesting Hazelnuts Based on Geospatial Technologies in Sicily (Southern Italy)
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 56; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070056 -
Abstract
Sicily is a region located in the southern Italy. Its typical Mediterranean landscape is appreciated due to its high biodiversity. Specifically, hazelnut plantations have adapted in a definite area in Sicily (the Nebroidi park) due to specific morphological and climatic characteristics. However, many
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Sicily is a region located in the southern Italy. Its typical Mediterranean landscape is appreciated due to its high biodiversity. Specifically, hazelnut plantations have adapted in a definite area in Sicily (the Nebroidi park) due to specific morphological and climatic characteristics. However, many of these plantations are not used today due to adverse conditions, both to collect hazelnuts and to reach hazel groves. Though a geospatial analysis, the present paper aims to identify which hazelnut contexts can be actively used for agricultural, economic (e.g., introduction of a circular economy) and energetic purposes (to establish a potential agro-energetic district). The examination revealed the most suitable areas giving several criteria (e.g., slope, road system), ensuring an effective cultivation and consequent harvesting of hazelnuts and (ii) providing security for the operators since many of hazelnut plants are placed in very sloped contexts that are difficult to reach by traditional machines. In this sense, this paper also suggests optimal mechanization processes for harvesting hazelnuts in this part of Sicily. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phenotypic Variability Assessment of Sugarcane Germplasm (Saccharum officinarum L.) and Extraction of an Applied Mini-Core Collection
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 55; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070055 -
Abstract
The sugarcane germplasm collection located in Khuzestan, Iran, is one of the most important genetic resources with valuable accessions from different continents. However, this collection has not been properly used by breeders due to the extremely large population. The aim of this study
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The sugarcane germplasm collection located in Khuzestan, Iran, is one of the most important genetic resources with valuable accessions from different continents. However, this collection has not been properly used by breeders due to the extremely large population. The aim of this study was to phenotypically characterize the sugarcane germplasm and form a mini-core collection. Hence, 13 morphological traits were evaluated on 253 accessions. The primary germplasm was grouped into 10 clusters based on partial repeated bisection (RB) data, where the smallest cluster contained three accessions from two breeding centres (USA and Cuba). Using principal component analysis (PCA), the first two PCs (principal component) explained 59.5% of the total variation. A mini-core of 21 accessions was created by using the maximization strategy, with a low mean difference percentage (MD = 2.31%) and large coincidence rate of range (CR = 93.96%). The sugarcane mini-core represented the major diversity of the primary collection. The means and medians between the mini-core and the primary collection did not differ significantly. Accessions with high sugar and cane yield, originating from the USA, Cuba, Argentina, and South Africa, were in the mini-core collection. In this paper, we established, for the first time, an applied mini-core collection in sugarcane germplasm. The mini-core collection, as a breeding collection, is a highly suitable, manageable, and efficient subset for the enhanced use of sugarcane germplasm in breeding programs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Toward Improved Adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the Lake Erie Basin: Perspectives from Resilience and Agricultural Innovation Literature
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 54; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070054 -
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) runoff from agricultural sources is a recognized environmental problem, particularly in regions draining into Lake Erie. This problem may well be exacerbated particularly through increased magnitude and frequency of extreme climatic events (e.g., excessive precipitation and droughts). On the physical sciences
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Phosphorus (P) runoff from agricultural sources is a recognized environmental problem, particularly in regions draining into Lake Erie. This problem may well be exacerbated particularly through increased magnitude and frequency of extreme climatic events (e.g., excessive precipitation and droughts). On the physical sciences side, the recent extensive literature focuses on structural Best Management Practices (BMPs) which have the potential to mitigate both surface and sub-subsurface P losses. Modeling studies show that there is still a lack of adoption of these P-related voluntary BMPs by the farmers. At the same time, and while the social sciences side of the literature on structural BMPs adoption weakly affirms the latter, this paper argues that the literature on resilience and on agricultural innovation can better inform our understanding of the limited adoption of phosphorus related structural BMPs by farmers in the Lake Erie Basin. Full article
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Validation of the Ability of a 3D Pedometer to Accurately Determine the Number of Steps Taken by Dairy Cows When Housed in Tie-Stalls
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 53; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070053 -
Abstract
The automation of farm tasks in dairy production has been on the rise, with an increasing focus on technologies that measure aspects of animal welfare; however, such technologies are not often validated for use in tie-stall farms. The objectives of the current study
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The automation of farm tasks in dairy production has been on the rise, with an increasing focus on technologies that measure aspects of animal welfare; however, such technologies are not often validated for use in tie-stall farms. The objectives of the current study were to (1) determine the ability of the IceTag 3D pedometer to accurately measure step data for cows in tie-stalls, and (2) determine whether the leg on which the pedometer is mounted impacts step data. Twenty randomly selected Holstein dairy cows were equipped with pedometers on each rear leg and recorded for 6 h over three 2-h periods. Two observers were trained to measure step activity and the total number of steps per minute were measured. Hourly averages for right and left leg data were analyzed separately using a multivariate mixed model to determine the correlation between pedometer and video step data as well as the correlation between left and right leg step data. The analysis of the video versus pedometer data yielded a high overall correlation for both the left (r = 0.93) and right (r = 0.95) legs. Additionally, there was good correlation between the left and right leg step data (r = 0.80). These results indicate that the IceTag 3D pedometers were accurate for calculating step activity in tie-stall housed dairy cows and can be mounted on either leg of a cow. This study confirms that these pedometers could be a useful automated tool in both a research and commercial setting to better address welfare issues in dairy cows housed in tie-stalls. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Potentially Contaminated River Water on Agricultural Irrigated Soils in an Equatorial Climate
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 52; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070052 -
Abstract
Globally, it is estimated that 20 million hectares of arable land are irrigated with water that contains residual contributions from domestic liquids. This potentially poses risks to public health and ecosystems, especially due to heavy metals, which are considered dangerous because of their
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Globally, it is estimated that 20 million hectares of arable land are irrigated with water that contains residual contributions from domestic liquids. This potentially poses risks to public health and ecosystems, especially due to heavy metals, which are considered dangerous because of their potential toxicity and persistence in the environment. The Villavicencio region (Colombia) is an equatorial area where rainfall (near 3000 mm/year) and temperature (average 25.6 °C) are high. Soil processes in tropical conditions are fast and react quickly to changing conditions. Soil properties from agricultural fields irrigated with river water polluted by a variety of sources were analysed and compared to non-irrigated control soils. In this study, no physico-chemical alterations were found that gave evidence of a change due to the constant use of river water that contained wastes. This fact may be associated with the climatic factors (temperature and precipitation), which contribute to fast degradation of organic matter and nutrient and contaminants (such as heavy metals) leaching, or to dilution of wastes by the river. Full article
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