Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Beyond Food Provisioning: The Transformative Potential of Grassroots Innovation around Food
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010006 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The newly-emerged ethical foodscape includes multiple expressions of innovation around food. With reference to the Italian context, this paper focuses on the transformative potential of the experiences of social innovation, innovative grassroots initiatives, which have been significantly contributed to shaping the food culture
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The newly-emerged ethical foodscape includes multiple expressions of innovation around food. With reference to the Italian context, this paper focuses on the transformative potential of the experiences of social innovation, innovative grassroots initiatives, which have been significantly contributed to shaping the food culture and production-consumption practices during the last two decades. While still consolidating their fundamentals and facing the challenge of growth, the networks behind them continue to be engaged in an effort of innovation, inside and outside their niche. The paper explores these dynamics. Understanding how these networks are managing their transformative capacity and what are the opportunities and challenges arising in the relation with the mainstream system may help to better capture and value the potential of this innovation niche, drawing useful lessons for fostering its expression and for a broader transition to more equitable and sustainable food systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Practices for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Rice Production in Northeast Thailand
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010004 -
Abstract
Land management practices for rice productivity and carbon storage have been a key focus of research leading to opportunities for substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. The effects of land management practices on global warming potential (GWP) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI) from rice
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Land management practices for rice productivity and carbon storage have been a key focus of research leading to opportunities for substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. The effects of land management practices on global warming potential (GWP) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI) from rice production within the farm gate were investigated. For the 13 study sites, soil samples were collected by the Land Development Department in 2004. In 2014, at these same sites, soil samples were collected again to estimate the soil organic carbon sequestration rate (SOCSR) from 2004 to 2014. Surveys were conducted at each sampling site to record the rice yield and management practices. The carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, Net GWP, and GHGI associated with the management practices were calculated. Mean rice yield and SOCSR were 3307 kg·ha−1·year−1 and 1173 kg·C·ha−1·year−1, respectively. The net GWP varied across sites, from 819 to 5170 kg·CO2eq·ha−1·year−1, with an average value of 3090 kg·CO2eq·ha−1·year−1. GHGI ranged from 0.31 to 1.68 kg·CO2eq·kg−1 yield, with an average value of 0.97 kg·CO2eq·kg−1 yield. Our findings revealed that the amount of potassium (potash, K2O) fertilizer application rate is the most significant factor explaining rice yield and SOCSR. The burning of rice residues in the field was the main factor determining GHGI in this area. An effective way to reduce GHG emissions and contribute to sustainable rice production for food security with low GHGI and high productivity is avoiding the burning of rice residues. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
State Support in Brazil for a Local Turn to Food
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010005 -
Abstract
The local turn to food is often claimed to be a way to increase the value-added component retained by primary producers and to provide healthy, fresh and affordable food to consumers. Rio do Grande do Sul in Brazil has several governmental support programs
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The local turn to food is often claimed to be a way to increase the value-added component retained by primary producers and to provide healthy, fresh and affordable food to consumers. Rio do Grande do Sul in Brazil has several governmental support programs that aim to empower family farmers and open up new market opportunities for them. This article examines these programs, investigates how small-scale farmers engage with them and the resultant changes in farming and marketing practices that ensue. The article uses cluster and content analysis to identify and interpret the extent, and the different ways, in which these farmers engage with and make use of the local knowledge and innovation system. The results provide useful insights into how policy instruments improve the performance of family agribusinesses, helping them to make better use of the resources available to them, encouraging farm diversification, and strengthening local interrelations between producers and consumers. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Development and Testing of a Device to Increase the Level of Automation of a Conventional Milking Parlor through Vocal Commands
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010003 -
Abstract
A portable wireless device with a “vocal commands” feature for activating the mechanical milking phase in conventional milking parlors was developed and tested to increase the level of automation in the milking procedures. The device was tested in the laboratory and in a
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A portable wireless device with a “vocal commands” feature for activating the mechanical milking phase in conventional milking parlors was developed and tested to increase the level of automation in the milking procedures. The device was tested in the laboratory and in a milking parlor. Four professional milkers participated in the experiment. Before the start of the tests, a set of acoustic models with speaker-dependent commands defined for the project was acquired for each milker using a dedicated “milker training procedure”. Two experimental sessions were performed by each milker, with one session in the laboratory and a subsequent session in the milking parlor. The device performance was evaluated based on the accuracy demonstrated in the vocal command recognition task and rated using the word recognition rate (WRR). The data were expressed as %WRR and grouped based on the different cases evaluated. Mixed effects logistic regression modeling was used to evaluate the association between the %WRR and explanatory variables. The results indicated significant effects due to the location where the tests were performed. Higher values of the %WRR were found for tests performed in the laboratory, whereas lower values were found for tests performed in the milking parlor (due to the presence of background noise). Nevertheless, the general performance level achieved by the device was sufficient for increasing the automation level of conventional milking parlors. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Agriculture in 2016
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010002 -
Abstract The editors of Agriculture would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Can Phosphate Salts Recovered from Manure Replace Conventional Phosphate Fertilizer?
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010001 -
Abstract
Pig farming produces more manure than can reasonably be spread onto surrounding fields, particularly in regions with high livestock densities and limited land availability. Nutrient recycling offers an attractive solution for dealing with manure excesses and is one main objective of the European
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Pig farming produces more manure than can reasonably be spread onto surrounding fields, particularly in regions with high livestock densities and limited land availability. Nutrient recycling offers an attractive solution for dealing with manure excesses and is one main objective of the European commission-funded project “BioEcoSIM”. Phosphate salts (“P-Salt”) were recovered from the separated liquid manure fraction. The solid fraction was dried and carbonized to biochar. This study compared the fertilizing performance of P-Salt and conventional phosphate fertilizer and determined whether additional biochar application further increased biomass yields. The fertilizers and biochar were tested in pot experiments with spring barley and faba beans using two nutrient-poor soils. The crops were fertilized with P-Salt at three levels and biochar in two concentrations. Biomass yield was determined after six weeks. Plant and soil samples were analysed for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium contents. The P-Salt had similar or even better effects than mineral fertilizer on growth in both crops and soils. Slow release of nutrients can prevent leaching, rendering P-Salt a particularly suitable fertilizer for light sandy soils. Biochar can enhance its fertilizing effect, but the underlying mechanisms need further investigation. These novel products are concluded to be promising candidates for efficient fertilization strategies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sorghum Biomass Production for Energy Purpose Using Treated Urban Wastewater and Different Fertilization in a Mediterranean Environment
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 67; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040067 -
Abstract
With the aim at enhancing the sustainability of biomass production in the Mediterranean area, this paper analyzes, for the first time, the production of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) biomass for bioenergy production using urban treated wastewaters and bio-fertilization. For this purpose,
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With the aim at enhancing the sustainability of biomass production in the Mediterranean area, this paper analyzes, for the first time, the production of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) biomass for bioenergy production using urban treated wastewaters and bio-fertilization. For this purpose, the effects on biomass production of three different fertilizations (no-nitrogen control, biofertilizer, and mineral ammonium nitrate), four levels of constructed wetland (CW) wastewater restitutions (0%, 33%, 66% and 100%) of crop evapotranspiration (ETc) and three harvesting dates (at full plant maturity, at the initial senescence stage, and at the post-senescence stage) were evaluated in a two year trial. For bio-fertilization, a commercial product based on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi was used. Mineral nitrogen (N) fertilization significantly increased dry biomass (+22.8% in the first year and +16.8% in the second year) compared to the control (95.9 and 188.2 g·plant−1, respectively). The lowest and highest biomass production, in 2008 and 2009, was found at 0% (67.1 and 118.2 g·plant−1) and 100% (139.2 and 297.4 g·plant−1) ETc restitutions. In both years, the first harvest gave the highest biomass yield (124.3 g·plant−1 in the first year and 321.3 g·plant−1 in the second), followed by the second and the third one. The results showed that in Mediterranean areas, constructed wetlands treated wastewaters, when complying with the European restrictions for their use in agriculture, may represent an important tool to enhance and stabilize the biomass of energy crops by recycling scarce quality water and nutrients otherwise lost in the environment. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Self-Organization and the Bypass: Re-Imagining Institutions for More Sustainable Development in Agriculture and Food
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 66; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040066 -
Abstract
In exploring the social dynamics of agrofood movements in Ecuador as examples of self-organization (i.e., locally distributed and resolved development), this article departs from a preoccupation with innovation by means of design and the use of scaling as a metaphor for describing research
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In exploring the social dynamics of agrofood movements in Ecuador as examples of self-organization (i.e., locally distributed and resolved development), this article departs from a preoccupation with innovation by means of design and the use of scaling as a metaphor for describing research contributions in agriculture and food. The case material highlights that much development is contingent, unpredictable, and unmanageable as well as unbound to fixed spaces or places. In their study of people’s daily practice, the authors do not find clear boundaries between dichotomies of internal–external, lay–expert, traditional–modern, or local–global organization, but heterogeneous blends of each. For the purposes of sustainable development, this highlights the need for attention to be paid to relationships (social, material, and biological), adaptation (the capacity to innovate), and responsibility (adherence to norms of sustainability). Far from romanticizing self-organization, the authors acknowledge that people and their institutions share varying degrees of complicity for the goods as well as the bads of their economic activity, such as mass soil degradation, agrobiodiversity loss, and poisoning by pesticides. Nevertheless, even under highly difficult conditions, certain actors effectively bypass the limitations of formal institutions in forging a socio-technical course of action (i.e., policy) for relatively healthy living and being. As such, the authors have come to appreciate self-organization as a neglected, if paradoxical, resource for policy transition towards more sustainable agriculture and food. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Systemic Analysis of Food Supply and Distribution Systems in City-Region Systems—An Examination of FAO’s Policy Guidelines towards Sustainable Agri-Food Systems
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 65; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040065 -
Abstract
The world is continuously transforming to supply growing cities and urbanization processes are still driving important changes in our current food systems. Future sustainability constraints are emphasizing that Food Supply and Distribution Systems (FSDS) are deeply embedded in city-region systems with specific technical
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The world is continuously transforming to supply growing cities and urbanization processes are still driving important changes in our current food systems. Future sustainability constraints are emphasizing that Food Supply and Distribution Systems (FSDS) are deeply embedded in city-region systems with specific technical and socio-ecological characteristics. This paper aims to provide a systemic understanding on FSDS focusing the integration of urban and rural structures considering the system biophysical boundaries and societal targets. A qualitative framework model, based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s FSDS literature, has been developed by using Systems Thinking (ST) and System Dynamics (SD) approaches. The model analysis suggested that to increase sustainability and resilience of food systems large emphasis has to be maintained on: (i) estimation of local territorial carrying capacities; (ii) land use planning to enhance connections among rural supplies and city needs; (iii) city policies, to regulate emergent market size and local scale of production; (iv) technological efficiency at farm, distribution and market levels; (v) urban, peri-urban and rural functional linkages that considers social metabolic balances; (vi) rural development as a core point for building sustainable food systems and counteracting the urbanization growth. These key areas are relevant to test new paths of cities-regions reconfiguration towards the transition to resilient agri-food systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combination of Fuzzy Logic and Analytical Hierarchy Process Techniques to Assess Potassium Saturation Percentage of Some Calcareous Soils (Case Study: Fars Province, Southern Iran)
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 59; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040059 -
Abstract
This research was carried out to evaluate the capability of a combined fuzzy logic-based approach and analytical hierarchy process (AHP) for potassium saturation percentage (KSP) estimation in some calcareous soils of southern Iran. Based on a reconnaissance soil survey, 52 soil series were
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This research was carried out to evaluate the capability of a combined fuzzy logic-based approach and analytical hierarchy process (AHP) for potassium saturation percentage (KSP) estimation in some calcareous soils of southern Iran. Based on a reconnaissance soil survey, 52 soil series were selected and different physical and chemical properties were determined. Five soil parameters including clay, cation exchange capacity, calcium carbonate equivalent, electrical conductivity, and organic carbon were chosen for analysis. Mapping was developed with the kriging method for each parameter. Different fuzzy membership functions were employed and weights for all parameters were calculated according to AHP. Finally, KSP classes were provided for each land unit. Results indicated that about 60% of the studied area is classified as having moderate to high KSP content (>3%) and 40% of had low or very low KSP content (<3%). Then 15 sample points were used for determination of the accuracy of the fuzzy method. Results showed that the fuzzy and AHP methods have a high accuracy for KSP estimation in the studied soils. Further development of the fuzzy and AHP methods would be worthwhile for improving the accuracy of KSP analysis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Application of Increasing Concentrations of Contaminated Water on the Different Fractions of Cu and Co in Sandy Loam and Clay Loam Soils
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 64; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040064 -
Abstract
This study aimed to establish the fate of copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) in sandy loam and clay loam soils that had been irrigated with increasing concentrations of contaminated water. A sequential extraction procedure was used to determine the fractions of Cu and
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This study aimed to establish the fate of copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) in sandy loam and clay loam soils that had been irrigated with increasing concentrations of contaminated water. A sequential extraction procedure was used to determine the fractions of Cu and Co in these soils. The concentration of bioavailable Cu and Co on clay loam was 1.7 times that of sandy loam soil. Cu on sandy loam soil was largely in the organic > residual > exchangeable > water-soluble > carbonate fractions, whereas on clay loam soil the element was largely in organic > exchangeable > residual > carbonate > water-soluble fractions. Co was largely observed in the exchangeable, water-soluble, and carbonate fractions, but with no particular trend observed in both soil types. When crops are grown on sandy soils that have a low capacity to hold heavy metals, the resulting effect would be high uptake of the heavy metals in crop plants. Because the predominant forms of Cu and Co vary in soils, it is expected that the metals will behave differently in the soils. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Tillage on Organic Carbon Stabilization in Microaggregates in Different Climatic Zones of European Russia
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 63; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040063 -
Abstract
Tillage may affect the microstructural organization of soil, including the distribution of microaggregates with different mechanical strengths. We quantified the impact of tillage treatment on the amount and distribution of free organic matter, microaggregates (unstable and stable under low intensity sonification) and their
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Tillage may affect the microstructural organization of soil, including the distribution of microaggregates with different mechanical strengths. We quantified the impact of tillage treatment on the amount and distribution of free organic matter, microaggregates (unstable and stable under low intensity sonification) and their components, in the upper horizons of zonal soils of the Center of the Russian Plain. Under plowing, the carbon content decreases, both in unstable and stable microaggregates. The loss of carbon in unstable microaggregates was ~24%, whereas in stable microaggregates, it was ~37%, relative to native soils. The carbon content of organic (LFoc) and organo-clay (Clayrd) fractions in unstable microaggregates (CLFoc/CClayrd) was almost identical in the upper horizons of native soils: the ratio of these components is for Albeluvisols (1.1), Phaeozem (0.8) and Chernozems (1.0). Under plowing, these decrease to: Albeluvisols and Chernozems (0.6) and Phaeozem (0.5). The shares of carbon accumulated within the unstable and stable microaggregates (Cunstable/Cstable) are constant under equilibrium conditions and show a tendency to decrease from north to south on the order of: Albeluvisols and Phaeozem (2.2) > Chernozems (1.0). Under plowing, they increase to: Albeluvisols (3.0) and Phaeozem (3.2) > Chernozems (1.5). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sustaining Chili Pepper Production in Afghanistan through Better Irrigation Practices and Management
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 62; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040062 -
Abstract
Water management and utilization is an ongoing problem in developing countries with semi-arid to arid climates such as Afghanistan. The lack of effective irrigation systems are oftentimes the most limiting factor for maximizing agricultural productivity in these countries. In Afghanistan, the most widely
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Water management and utilization is an ongoing problem in developing countries with semi-arid to arid climates such as Afghanistan. The lack of effective irrigation systems are oftentimes the most limiting factor for maximizing agricultural productivity in these countries. In Afghanistan, the most widely used irrigation methods are basin/border for cereal crops and furrow for vegetables and grapes, although drip irrigation is a technology that could be used to significantly improve water use efficiency (WUE) in horticultural crop production. Therefore, three irrigation methods (basin, furrow, and drip) were evaluated for their influences on chili pepper production and WUE at the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) Badam Bagh Agricultural Research and Demonstration Farm in Kabul over the 2009 and 2010 growing seasons. Results from this study indicated that both drip and furrow irrigation provided similar high chili pepper plant growth and yield responses compared to the low amounts provided by basin irrigation (p ≤ 0.05). The drip and furrow irrigation methods provided a similar low incidence of Phytophthora blight disease, as 4% and 7% of chili pepper plants were visually afflicted by this disease, respectively, while an astounding 69% of chili peppers grown with basin irrigation had symptoms of this disease. Drip irrigation resulted in the best overall WUE (p ≤ 0.05), as this water delivery method utilized the least amount of water and provided the highest chili pepper yield. Furrow irrigation provided a lower WUE compared to drip, but was greater than that of basin irrigation. Although this study indicated that drip irrigation had the greatest WUE for chili pepper production, furrow irrigation is still the method of choice by farmers in Afghanistan to provide water to this crop. The associated costs with pressurized drip irrigation systems are too expensive for farmers to purchase and maintain, which has led to the widespread use of surface irrigation. Moreover, the resistance of growers to change to newer and more advanced technologies is commonplace in many developing countries, and without some type of improvement to current water management practices at the farm level, there is a bleak outlook to maximize agricultural productivity in these areas of the world with limited rainfall and minimal water resources. Although it is essential to sustain this important resource through better irrigation management practices, on-farm agricultural economics are often more important than the needs of future generations and the environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nested Markets, Food Networks, and New Pathways for Rural Development in Brazil
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 61; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040061 -
Abstract
This paper applies the frameworks of nested markets and alternative food networks to two empirical cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, aiming to analyse the construction and dynamics of these markets in order to demonstrate how their dimensions of
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This paper applies the frameworks of nested markets and alternative food networks to two empirical cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, aiming to analyse the construction and dynamics of these markets in order to demonstrate how their dimensions of quality, location, and nature are built and sustained, especially with regard to their interface with broader markets and their contributions to rural development practices, policies, and processes. The paper focuses on the study of rural tourism in Caminhos de Pedra Route, in the municipality of Bento Gonçalves, and the Farmers’ Market, in the municipality of Passo Fundo. Both cases represent alternative practices and processes of rural development and bear features that associate them to the nested markets. It is noteworthy that the influence of conventional food markets in these cases shows that nested markets do not operate in isolation but coexist and are continuously in connection with broader agri-food markets. In this sense, despite being subject to criticism and showing limitations, nested markets constitute increasingly robust strategies for rural development practices, processes, and policies, being able to create opportunities for families’ livelihood in rural areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Frequency Domain Probe Design for High Frequency Sensing of Soil Moisture
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 60; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040060 -
Abstract
Accurate moisture sensing is an important need for many research programs as well as in control of industrial processes. This paper describes the development of a high accuracy frequency domain sensing probe for use in obtaining dielectric measurements of materials suitable for work
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Accurate moisture sensing is an important need for many research programs as well as in control of industrial processes. This paper describes the development of a high accuracy frequency domain sensing probe for use in obtaining dielectric measurements of materials suitable for work ranging from 300 MHz to 1 GHz. The probe was developed to accommodate a wide range of permittivity’s ranging from εr = 2.5 to elevated permittivity’s as high as εr = 40. The design provides a well-matched interface between the soil and the interconnecting cables. A key advantage of the frequency domain approach is that a change of salt concentration has a significantly reduced effect on ε′, versus the traditional time-domain reflectometry, TDR, measured apparent permittivity, Ka. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Seasonal Canopy Temperatures for Normal and Okra Leaf Cotton under Variable Irrigation in the Field
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 58; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040058 -
Abstract
Temperature affects a number of physiological factors in plants and is related to water use, yield and quality in many crop species. Seasonal canopy temperature, measured with infrared thermometers, is often used in conjunction with environmental factors (e.g., air temperature, humidity, solar radiation)
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Temperature affects a number of physiological factors in plants and is related to water use, yield and quality in many crop species. Seasonal canopy temperature, measured with infrared thermometers, is often used in conjunction with environmental factors (e.g., air temperature, humidity, solar radiation) to assess crop stress and management actions in cotton. Normal and okra leaf shapes in cotton have been associated with differences in water use and canopy temperature. The okra leaf shape in cotton is generally expected to result in lower water use and lower canopy temperatures, relative to normal leaf, under water deficits. In this study canopy temperatures were monitored in okra and normal leaf varieties for a growing season at four irrigation levels. Differences in canopy temperature (<2 °C) were measured between the two leaf shapes. As irrigation levels increased, canopy temperature differences between the leaf shapes declined. At the lowest irrigation level, when differences in sensible energy exchanges due to the okra leaf shape would be enhanced, the canopy temperature of the okra leaf was warmer than the normal leaf. This suggests that varietal differences that are not related to leaf shape may have more than compensated for leaf shape differences in the canopy temperature. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
From Short Food Supply Chains to Sustainable Agriculture in Urban Food Systems: Food Democracy as a Vector of Transition
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 57; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040057 -
Abstract
In industrialized nations, local food networks have generally been analyzed through alternative food systems, in spite of the fact that they are much more diverse than this would imply. In France, ‘short food chains’ are both a continuation of a long tradition and
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In industrialized nations, local food networks have generally been analyzed through alternative food systems, in spite of the fact that they are much more diverse than this would imply. In France, ‘short food chains’ are both a continuation of a long tradition and a recent trend which now extends beyond activists, to consumers and producers as well. This paper will explore the conditions under which these chains can change the practices and knowledge of ordinary actors in urban food systems, from producers to urban consumers and policy-makers, in the area of agriculture and sustainability. It will consider the case study of the creation and development of an urban open-air market which has been analyzed using intervention research with input from economic sociology. We will highlight how personal relations, which are encouraged by a participatory context, support the evolution of practices and knowledge. We will also illustrate how a system of produce labelling has emerged as a mediation resource, and has increased changes as well as participation within the re-territorialization of the urban food system. By describing a concrete expression of food democracy which is spreading in France via a free collective trademark, and by showing its role in the transition of ‘ordinary’ actors towards a more sustainable agriculture, this paper will shine new light onto local food chains as well as traditional short food chains, and will call for more research on the subject. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Detection and Differentiation between Laurel Wilt Disease, Phytophthora Disease, and Salinity Damage Using a Hyperspectral Sensing Technique
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 56; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040056 -
Abstract
Laurel wilt (Lw) is a fatal disease. It is a vascular pathogen and is considered a major threat to the avocado industry in Florida. Many of the symptoms of Lw resemble those that are caused by other diseases or stress factors. In this
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Laurel wilt (Lw) is a fatal disease. It is a vascular pathogen and is considered a major threat to the avocado industry in Florida. Many of the symptoms of Lw resemble those that are caused by other diseases or stress factors. In this study, the best wavelengths with which to discriminate plants affected by Lw from stress factors were determined and classified. Visible-near infrared (400–950 nm) spectral data from healthy trees and those with Lw, Phytophthora, or salinity damage were collected using a handheld spectroradiometer. The total number of wavelengths was averaged in two ranges: 10 nm and 40 nm. Three classification methods, stepwise discriminant (STEPDISC) analysis, multilayer perceptron (MLP), and radial basis function (RBF), were applied in the early stage of Lw infestation. The classification results obtained for MLP, with percent accuracy of classification as high as 98% were better than STEPDISC and RBF. The MLP neural network selected certain wavelengths that were crucial for correctly classifying healthy trees from those with stress trees. The results showed that there were sufficient spectral differences between laurel wilt, healthy trees, and trees that have other diseases; therefore, a remote sensing technique could diagnose Lw in the early stage of infestation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Determinants of the Use of Certified Seed Potato among Smallholder Farmers: The Case of Potato Growers in Central and Eastern Kenya
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 55; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040055 -
Abstract
Potato yields in sub-Saharan Africa remain very low compared with those of developed countries. Yet potato is major food staple and source of income to the predominantly smallholder growing households in the tropical highlands of this region. A major cause of the low
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Potato yields in sub-Saharan Africa remain very low compared with those of developed countries. Yet potato is major food staple and source of income to the predominantly smallholder growing households in the tropical highlands of this region. A major cause of the low potato yields is the use of poor quality seed potato. This paper examines the factors determining the decision to use certified seed potato (CSP), as well as the intensity of its use, among potato growers with access to it. We focused on potato growers in the central highlands of Kenya and used regression analysis to test hypotheses relating to potential impediments of CSP use. The study found that the distance to the market (a proxy for transaction costs), household food insecurity, and asset endowment affect the decision to use CSP. However, the effect of the intensity of use of CSP depends on how the intensity variable is defined. Several other control variables also affect the decision and extent of CSP use. The study concludes that transaction costs, asset endowment, and household food insecurity play a major role in the decision by smallholder potato farmers to use CSP and the extent to which they do so. We also discuss the policy implications of the findings. Full article
Open AccessArticle
PDO as a Mechanism for Reterritorialisation and Agri-Food Governance: A Comparative Analysis of Cheese Products in the UK and Switzerland
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 54; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040054 -
Abstract
The protection of geographical indications (European regulation 1151/2012) is arguably the most significant initiative, certainly within Europe, that promotes foods with territorial associations and reorganises agri-food chain governance through a strategy of reterritorialisation. Research on Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) and Protected Geographical
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The protection of geographical indications (European regulation 1151/2012) is arguably the most significant initiative, certainly within Europe, that promotes foods with territorial associations and reorganises agri-food chain governance through a strategy of reterritorialisation. Research on Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) suggests that they generate significant economic value at an EU-level, especially in certain countries. They can also help to deliver territorial rural development policy and develop new food markets. In this paper we examine the way the PDO scheme has been developed and applied in one commodity sector (cheese) in two countries (Switzerland and the UK), where the uptake of PDOs is variable. We adopt a food chain approach and examine specific cheese product case studies (at micro and meso levels) in both countries to better understand how the PDO scheme (as a territorialisation and respacing strategy) is implemented. L’Etivaz and Le Gruyère are examined in Switzerland. Single Gloucester and West Country cheddar are examined in the UK. The PDO scheme is an important governance strategy and regulatory system, but despite strict guidelines regarding implementation and geographical infrastructure there are notable differences between the UK and Switzerland in terms of how the label is used to organise and respatialise food chains: it is framed as a strategy to protect the rural economy in Switzerland but is promoted more as a mechanism to communicate and reconnect with consumers in the UK. Full article