Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Agro-Ecological Practices on Soil Losses and Cash Crop Yield
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 103; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120103 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of agro-ecological practices on soil losses, by assessing experimental field topography changes and cauliflower crop yield after an artificial extreme rainfall event. Data were collected in an innovative experimental device in which different
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The aim of this study was to determine the impact of agro-ecological practices on soil losses, by assessing experimental field topography changes and cauliflower crop yield after an artificial extreme rainfall event. Data were collected in an innovative experimental device in which different combined agronomic strategies were tested such as hydraulic arrangement, crop rotations and agro-ecological service crops (ASC) introduction. The collection of elevation data was carried out in kinematic way before rainfall, and in punctual surveys to evaluate the effects of artificial event on this parameter. Non-parametric tests were performed to evaluate differences between samples. High-resolution digital elevation models were generated from independent data using kriging, and elevation difference maps were produced. The results indicated that the data before and after the artificial rainfall were statistically different. The raised strips suffered soil loss showing that the strip with permanent intercropping was higher than that in the absence of ASC. A significant rise of elevation was registered in the furrowed strips after rainfall, and deposition of soil occurred at the lowest areas of the experimental field. Moreover, the study showed a relationship between cash crop yield and elevation: the areas with lower elevation (higher flooding) were characterized by the lowest yield. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Farmers’ Technical Knowledge about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Olive Production
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 101; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120101 -
Abstract
While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach of pest control, contributing to reduced use of pesticides and risks on human health and the environment, farmers have shown limited interest in practicing this method. The present study explored the levels of technical
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While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach of pest control, contributing to reduced use of pesticides and risks on human health and the environment, farmers have shown limited interest in practicing this method. The present study explored the levels of technical knowledge about integrated management of the olive fly (Bactrocera oleae) among olive growers in Roudbar County of Iran and factors underpinning olive farmers’ technical knowledge of integrated management. Data were collected in a survey of olive farmers, on the basis of a structured questionnaire. Almost half of the farmers (48.4%) had good to excellent levels of technical knowledge of integrated management, while almost a third of the farmers (35.4%) had a moderate knowledge level. However, a noticeable portion of the farmers (15.9%) had poor knowledge of integrated management. Moreover, most farmers showed average knowledge of the adverse effects of pesticides on human health. While most farmers showed good levels of social participation, cooperation with institutes, and participation in extension activities, they showed low levels of community involvement (involvement in a group of people that have and share common interests with each other). Olive imports and the lack of a common action for olive fly control were perceived as the main barriers of IPM adoption among most farmers. Regression analysis revealed that increased community involvement, large area under olive farming, participation in education activities, and high farming experience promoted farmers’ technical knowledge of integrated olive fly control. Strengthening growers’ technical knowledge of IPM through community involvement and extension services among inexperienced small-scale olive farmers is recommended for reducing possible unnecessary insecticide sprays in olive production. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Validity of the Mechanical Threshing of Onion Seeds from the Point of View of Seed Quality
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 102; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120102 -
Abstract
Background: The production of seeds for horticultural crops has seen a steady growth since 2006. Onion is one of the most widespread crops that followed this trend until 2013, undergoing a slight decline in 2016. Even though these crops are characterized by high
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Background: The production of seeds for horticultural crops has seen a steady growth since 2006. Onion is one of the most widespread crops that followed this trend until 2013, undergoing a slight decline in 2016. Even though these crops are characterized by high economic value, they present some important issues such as high costs and labor required by some operations such as threshing. The purpose of this study is the evaluation of a patented and dedicated system for mechanical threshing throughout the evaluation of seed quality parameters. Methods: The study was conducted comparing seed samples mechanically threshed obtained from 12 companies and samples of the same batches manually threshed to determine the maximum qualitative potential. The chosen terms for comparison are the most important qualitative parameters included within ISTA standards for seed evaluation. Results: The mechanically threshed seeds show lower values for all the considered quality parameters compared to those found in the control samples. In the same way, there is also greater variability. Conclusions: The introduction of the dedicated mechanical systems allows the reduction of seed processing time while maintaining the quality standards within the limits of merchantability, but for obtaining higher standards, further analysis is necessary. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of the Almond Harvesting and Hulling Mechanization Process: A Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 100; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120100 -
Abstract
The aim of this paper is the analysis of the almond harvesting system with a very high level of mechanization frequently used in Apulia for the almond harvesting and hulling process. Several tests were carried out to assess the technical aspects related to
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The aim of this paper is the analysis of the almond harvesting system with a very high level of mechanization frequently used in Apulia for the almond harvesting and hulling process. Several tests were carried out to assess the technical aspects related to the machinery and to the mechanized harvesting system used itself, highlighting their usefulness, limits, and compatibility within the almond cultivation sector. Almonds were very easily separated from the tree, and this circumstance considerably improved the mechanical harvesting operation efficiency even if the total time was mainly affected by the time required to manoeuvre the machine and by the following manual tree beating. The mechanical pick-up from the ground was not effective, with only 30% of the dropped almond collected, which mainly was caused by both the pick-up reel of the machine being unable to approach the almonds dropped near the base of the trunk and the surface condition of the soil being unsuitably arranged for a mechanized pick-up operation. The work times concerning the hulling and screening processes, carried out at the farm, were heavily affected by several manual operations before, during, and after the executed process; nevertheless, the plant work capability varied from 170 to 200 kg/h with two operators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Impacts of Large-Scale Agro-Industrial Sugarcane Production on Biodiversity: A Case Study of Wonji Shoa Sugar Estate, Ethiopia
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 99; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120099 -
Abstract
Despite the intense debates on the land acquisition effects of large-scale Ethiopian sugarcane plantations and the consequences for food security, the impact on biodiversity has received less attention. We compared remnant patches in the sugarcane zone to the adjacent woodlands to determine the
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Despite the intense debates on the land acquisition effects of large-scale Ethiopian sugarcane plantations and the consequences for food security, the impact on biodiversity has received less attention. We compared remnant patches in the sugarcane zone to the adjacent woodlands to determine the impacts of sugarcane on the diversity, composition, and structure of woody species. We recorded individual woody specimens with diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 2.5 cm from 56 quadrats of 200 m2 at each site in a systematic, random, and gradient-oriented transect design. In addition, we employed a trait-based risk assessment framework to examine the threat posed by agro-industrial sugarcane production on mammals, birds, and rodents. A total of 56 woody species, 38 in the woodlands and 30 in the sugarcane zone, were identified. The proportion of non-native woody species was higher (63%) in the sugarcane zone than in the adjacent woodlands (1%). The rodents and mammals were more abundant in the woodlands than in the sugarcane zone. Although we did not investigate all of the bird and mammal species, our results identified six rodent species, five mammal species, and one bird species as susceptible to sugarcane agriculture activities. The results suggest that large-scale agro-industrial sugarcane production impacts species diversity, composition and abundance of species, and species’ resource requirements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Safety Improvements on Wood Chippers Currently in Use: A Study on Feasibility in the Italian Context
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 98; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120098 -
Abstract
Following formal opposition by France, the harmonized safety standards regarding manually-loaded wood chippers (EN 13525:2005+A2:2009) which presumed compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR) required by the Machine Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC), have recently been withdrawn, and a new draft of the
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Following formal opposition by France, the harmonized safety standards regarding manually-loaded wood chippers (EN 13525:2005+A2:2009) which presumed compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR) required by the Machine Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC), have recently been withdrawn, and a new draft of the standard is currently under revision. In order to assess the potential impact of the expected future harmonized standards within the Italian context, this study has examined the main issues in implementing EHSRs on wood chippers already being used. Safety issues regarding wood chippers already in use were identified in an analysis of the draft standard, through the observation of a number of case studies, and qualitative analysis of the essential technical interventions. A number of agricultural and forestry operators and companies participated in the study, pointing out the technical and economic obstacle facing the safety features requested by the pending new standard. It emerged that the main safety issues concerned the implementation of the reverse function, the stop bar, and the protective devices, the infeed chute dimension, the emergency stop function, and the designated feeding area. The possibility of adopting such solutions mainly depends on technical feasibility and costs, but an important role is also played by the attitude towards safety and a lack of adequate information regarding safety obligations and procedures among users. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Analysis of the Cause-Effect Relation between Tractor Overturns and Traumatic Lesions Suffered by Drivers and Passengers: A Crucial Step in the Reconstruction of Accident Dynamics and the Improvement of Prevention
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 97; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120097 -
Abstract
The evaluation of the dynamics of accidents involving the overturning of farm tractors is difficult for both engineers and coroners. A clear reconstruction of the causes, vectorial forces, speed, acceleration, timing and direction of rear, front and side rollovers may be complicated by
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The evaluation of the dynamics of accidents involving the overturning of farm tractors is difficult for both engineers and coroners. A clear reconstruction of the causes, vectorial forces, speed, acceleration, timing and direction of rear, front and side rollovers may be complicated by the complexity of the lesions, the absence of witnesses and the death of the operator, and sometimes also by multiple overturns. Careful analysis of the death scene, vehicle, traumatic lesions and their comparison with the mechanical structures of the vehicle and the morphology of the terrain, should help experts to reconstruct the dynamics of accidents and may help in the design of new preventive equipment and procedures. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Exploring the Future Potential of Jute in Bangladesh
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 96; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120096 -
Abstract
The study assesses the future potential of the jute sector in Bangladesh by examining its growth performance, international competitiveness, profitability, and production efficiency using national time-series data of over the period 1973–2013 and farm survey data from 289 farmers from two major jute
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The study assesses the future potential of the jute sector in Bangladesh by examining its growth performance, international competitiveness, profitability, and production efficiency using national time-series data of over the period 1973–2013 and farm survey data from 289 farmers from two major jute growing areas of Bangladesh. Results revealed that the jute sector has experienced substantial growth in area, production, productivity, prices, and exports. However, productivity has stagnated during the latter 10-year period (2004–2013), while it grew at a rate of 1.3% per annum (p.a.) during the first 31-year period (1973–2003). Only traditional jute production is globally competitive, although financial profitability of white jute is relatively higher (benefit cost ratio = 1.24 and 1.17, respectively). Land, labor, and irrigation are the main productivity drivers for jute. The mean production efficiency of jute is estimated at 75% indicating substantial scope to improve yield by eliminating inefficiency. Marginal farmers are relatively inefficient. Policy implications include investments in research and development, irrigation, and tenurial reform and export protection for white jute in order to revive the sector and boost export earnings. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperTechnical Note
Mechatronic Solutions for the Safety of Workers Involved in the Use of Manure Spreader
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 95; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110095 -
Abstract
An internationally acknowledged requirement is to analyze and provide technical solutions for prevention and safety during the use and maintenance of manure spreader wagons. Injuries statistics data and specific studies show that particular constructive criticalities have been identified on these machines, which are
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An internationally acknowledged requirement is to analyze and provide technical solutions for prevention and safety during the use and maintenance of manure spreader wagons. Injuries statistics data and specific studies show that particular constructive criticalities have been identified on these machines, which are the cause of serious and often fatal accidents. These accidents particularly occur during the washing and maintenance phases—especially when such practices are carried out inside the hopper when the rotating parts of the machine are in action. The current technical standards and the various safety requirements under consideration have not always been effective for protecting workers. To this end, the use of SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) allowed us to highlight critical and positive aspects of the different solutions studied for reducing the risk due to contact with the rotating parts. The selected and tested solution consists of a decoupling system automatically activated when the wheels of the wagon are not moving. Such a solution prevents the contact with the moving rotating parts of the machine when the worker is inside the hopper. This mechatronic solution allowed us to obtain a prototype that has led to the resolution of the issues related to the use of the wagon itself: in fact, the system guarantees the stopping of manure spreading organs in about 12 s from the moment of the wheels stopping. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Agrocentric Analysis of Regional Rain Patterns as They Relate to a Rained Cotton Cropping System on the Southern High Plains of Texas
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 93; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110093 -
Abstract
Rain is the major limiter of cotton yields on the Southern High Plains of Texas. Rain can be analyzed in terms of its effect on the crop. An “agro-centric rain” analysis assesses the amounts and timing of rain events within a defined management
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Rain is the major limiter of cotton yields on the Southern High Plains of Texas. Rain can be analyzed in terms of its effect on the crop. An “agro-centric rain” analysis assesses the amounts and timing of rain events within a defined management system. Cotton on the Southern High Plains of Texas at Lubbock, TX, USA was analyzed in terms of the crop water environment associated with 70 potential cotton crop seasons over the period from 2006 to 2015. For the 10-year period, the 238-day cotton growing season was divided into seven potential cotton crop seasons of 154-days each. Rain and crop water status (as reference and crop evapotranspiration) were calculated for each of the 70 potential cotton crop seasons. The highest rain amounts were associated with earlier plantings. Maximum values of reference evapotranspiration were associated with the mid-season plantings and minimum values with the earliest and latest plantings. Crop stress (rain-reference evapotranspiration) showed a pattern with maximum stress associated with the earliest plantings. Crop water status across potential cotton crop seasons can vary with planting date across years and it may be possible to exploit the variation to improve yield in terms of germplasm and management practices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phytotoxicity and Chemical Characterization of Compost Derived from Pig Slurry Solid Fraction for Organic Pellet Production
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 94; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110094 -
Abstract
The phytotoxicity of four different composts obtained from pig slurry solid fraction composted by itself (SSFC) and mixed with sawdust (SC), woodchips (WCC) and wheat straw (WSC) was tested with bioassay methods. For each compost type, the effect of water extracts of compost
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The phytotoxicity of four different composts obtained from pig slurry solid fraction composted by itself (SSFC) and mixed with sawdust (SC), woodchips (WCC) and wheat straw (WSC) was tested with bioassay methods. For each compost type, the effect of water extracts of compost on seed germination and primary root growth of cress (Lepidium Sativum L.) was investigated. Composts were also chemically analysed for total nitrogen, ammonium, electrical conductivity and heavy metal (Cu and Zn). The chemicals were correlated to phytotoxicity indices. The mean values of the germination index (GI) obtained were 160.7, 187.9, 200.9 and 264.4 for WSC, WCC, SC and SSFC, respectively. Growth index (GrI) ranged from the 229.4%, the highest value, for SSFC, followed by 201.9% for SC, and 193.1% for WCC, to the lowest value, 121.4%, for WSC. Electrical conductivity showed a significant and negative correlation with relative seed germination at the 50% and 75% concentrations. A strong positive correlation was found for water-extractable Cu with relative root growth and germination index at the 10% concentration. Water-extractable Zn showed a significant positive correlation with relative root growth and GI at the 10% concentration. These results highlighted that the four composts could be used for organic pellet production and subsequently distributed as a soil amendment with positive effects on seed germination and plant growth (GI > 80%). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Study of the Lateral Stability of Self-Propelled Fruit Harvesters
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 92; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110092 -
Abstract
Self-propelled fruit harvesters (SPFHs) are agricultural machines designed to facilitate fruit picking and other tasks requiring operators to stay close to the foliage or to the upper part of the canopy. They generally consist of a chassis with a variable height working platform
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Self-propelled fruit harvesters (SPFHs) are agricultural machines designed to facilitate fruit picking and other tasks requiring operators to stay close to the foliage or to the upper part of the canopy. They generally consist of a chassis with a variable height working platform that can be equipped with lateral extending platforms. The positioning of additional masses (operators, fruit bins) and the maximum height of the platform (up to three meters above the ground) strongly affect machine stability. Since there are no specific studies on the lateral stability of SPFHs, this study aimed to develop a specific test procedure to fill this gap. A survey of the Italian market found 20 firms manufacturing 110 different models of vehicles. Observation and monitoring of SPFHs under real operational conditions revealed the variables mostly likely to affect lateral stability: the position and mass of the operators and the fruit bin on the platform. Two SPFHs were tested in the laboratory to determine their centre of gravity and lateral stability in four different settings reproducing operational conditions. The test setting was found to affect the stability angle. Lastly, the study identified two specific settings reproducing real operational conditions most likely to affect the lateral stability of SPFHs: these should be used as standard, reproducible settings to enable a comparison of results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interactive Effects of N-, P- and K-Nutrition and Drought Stress on the Development of Maize Seedlings
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 90; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110090 -
Abstract
Global climate change is likely to increase the risk of frequent drought. Maize, as the principal global cereal, is particularly impacted by drought. Nutrient supply may improve plant drought tolerance for better plant establishment during seedling growth stages. Thus, this study investigated the
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Global climate change is likely to increase the risk of frequent drought. Maize, as the principal global cereal, is particularly impacted by drought. Nutrient supply may improve plant drought tolerance for better plant establishment during seedling growth stages. Thus, this study investigated the interactive effects of drought and the application of the nutrients N, P and K either individually or in combination. The maize seedlings were harvested between 12 and 20 days after sowing, and the leaf area, shoot fresh and dry weight and root dry weight were determined, and shoot water content and root/shoot dry weight ratio were calculated. Among the N, P and K fertilization treatments applied individually or in combination, the results showed that there was generally a positive effect of combined NPK and/or NP nutrient supply on shoot growth such as leaf area, shoot fresh and dry weight at day 20 after sowing under both well-watered and drought conditions compared with no nutrient supply. Compared with the effect of N and P nutrient supply, it seems that K was not limiting to plant growth due to the mineralogical characteristics of the illitic-chloritic silt loam used, which provided sufficient K, even though soil tests showed a low K nutrient status. Interestingly, the root/shoot ratio remained high and constant under drought regardless of NPK application, while it decreased with NPK applications in the well-watered treatment. This suggests that the higher root/shoot ratios with N, NP, PK and NPK under drought could be exploited as a strategy for stress tolerance in crop plants. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Physical Chemistry of Pesticides in Soil and Water
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 91; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110091 -
Abstract
Soils are the ultimate examples of physically and chemically irregular mixtures. They are also dynamic. Early investigators consequently did not understand the physical chemistry of pesticides in soil and water. By taking shortcuts instead of trying to understand the physical chemistry, they measured
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Soils are the ultimate examples of physically and chemically irregular mixtures. They are also dynamic. Early investigators consequently did not understand the physical chemistry of pesticides in soil and water. By taking shortcuts instead of trying to understand the physical chemistry, they measured the wrong variables, used the wrong units, calculated the wrong parameters, and totally ignored chemical stoichiometry. Theoretical concepts for the physical chemistry of pesticides in soil have been published during the last quarter century. They are experimentally supported. Yet, chemically incorrect descriptions persist in the literature to this day. That has serious environmental and economic consequences. In particular, government regulators make legally binding pesticide decisions based on computer predictions that are wrong by 1 to 3 orders of magnitude. This needs the attention of scientists, governments, and multinational corporations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Variable Rate Chemical Sprayer for Monitoring Diseases and Pests Infestation in Coconut Plantations
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 89; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100089 -
Abstract
An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a
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An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a power system, a chemical tank and pump, a crane, a nozzle with a remote monitoring system, and motion and crane controlling systems. As the target was confirmed, the nozzle was moved towards the target area (tree canopy) using the remote monitoring system. The pump then sprayed chemicals to the target at a specified rate. The results suggested optimal design values for 5–9 m tall coconut trees, including the distance between nozzle and target (1 m), pressure (1.5 bar), spraying rate (2.712 L/min), the highest movement speed (1.5 km/h), fuel consumption (0.58 L/h), and working capacity (0.056 ha/h). The sprayer reduced labor requirements, prevented chemical hazards to workers, and increased coconut pest controlling efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Possible Noise Reduction Arrangements inside Olive Oil Mills: A Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 88; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100088 -
Abstract
Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially
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Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially performed by using a mechanical pressing process (traditional olive oil mills), or by the centrifugation process (modern olive oil mills). The aim of this paper is to evaluate in detail the noise levels within a typical olive oil mill located in the northern part of the Apulia region during olive oil extraction. The feasibility of this study focusing on the assessment of workers’ exposure to noise was tested in compliance with the Italian-European Regulations and US standards and criteria. Several measurements of the noise emission produced by each machine belonging to the productive cycle were carried out during olive oil production. The results obtained were then used to evaluate possible improvements to carry out in order to achieve better working conditions. An effective reduction in noise could probably be achieved through a combination of different solutions, which obviously have to be assessed not only from a technical point of view but also an economic one. A significant reduction in noise levels could be achieved by increasing the area of the room allotted to the olive oil extraction cycle by removing all the unnecessary partition walls that might be present. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring and Precision Spraying for Orchid Plantation with Wireless WebCAMs
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 87; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100087 -
Abstract
Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation.Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation
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Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation.Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation density of pests and diseases. Image data was processed through an algorithm created in MATLAB® (The MathWorks, Inc., Natick, USA). Corresponding to the orchid’s growth stage and its infestation density, varying levels of fertilizer and chemical injections were administered. The acquired LARS images from wireless WebCAMs were positioned using geo-referencing, and eventually processed to estimate vegetative-indices (Red = 650 nm and NIR = 800 nm band center). Good correlations and a clear cluster range were obtained in characteristic plots of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI) against chlorophyll content. The coefficient of determination, the chlorophyll content values (μmol m−2) showed significant differences among clusters for healthy orchids (R2 = 0.985–0.992), and for infested orchids (R2 = 0.984–0.998). The WebCAM application, while being inexpensive, provided acceptable inputs for image processing. The LARS platform gave its best performance at an altitude of 1.2 m above canopy. The image processing software based on LARS images provided satisfactory results as compared with manual measurements. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Adapting Agricultural Production Systems to Climate Change—What’s the Use of Models?
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 86; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100086 -
Abstract
Climate change poses a challenge to agricultural production and its impacts vary depending on regional focus and on the type of production system. To avoid production losses and make use of emerging potentials, adaptations in agricultural management will inevitably be required. Adaptation responses
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Climate change poses a challenge to agricultural production and its impacts vary depending on regional focus and on the type of production system. To avoid production losses and make use of emerging potentials, adaptations in agricultural management will inevitably be required. Adaptation responses can broadly be distinguished into (1) short-term incremental responses that farmers often choose autonomously in response to observed changes and based on local knowledge and experiences, and (2) long-term transformative responses that require strategic planning, and which are usually implemented at a larger spatial scale. Models can be used to support decision making at both response levels; thereby, different features of models prove more or less valuable depending on the type of adaptation response. This paper presents a systematic literature review on the state-of-the-art in modelling for adaptation planning in agricultural production systems, investigating the question of which model types can be distinguished and how these types differ in the way they support decision making in agricultural adaptation planning. Five types of models are distinguished: (1) empirical crop models; (2) regional suitability models; (3) biophysical models; (4) meta-models; and (5) decision models. The potential and limitations of these model types for providing decision-support to short- and long-term adaptation planning are discussed. The risk of maladaptation—adaptation that implies negative consequences either in the long term or in a wider context—is identified as a key challenge of adaptation planning that needs more attention. Maladaptation is not only a risk of decision making in the face of incomplete knowledge of future climate impacts on the agricultural production system; but it can also be a threat if the connectedness of the agroecosystem is not sufficiently acknowledged when management adaptations are implemented. Future research supporting climate change adaptation efforts should thus be based on integrated assessments of risk and vulnerabilities (considering climate variability and uncertainty). To secure adaptation success in the long term, frameworks for monitoring management adaptations and their consequences should be institutionalised. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Magnesium on Gas Exchange and Photosynthetic Efficiency of Coffee Plants Grown under Different Light Levels
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 85; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100085 -
Abstract
The aimof the present study was to investigate the effects of magnesium on the gas exchange and photosynthetic efficiency of Coffee seedlings grown in nutrient solution under different light levels. The experiment was conducted under controlled conditions in growth chambers and nutrient
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The aimof the present study was to investigate the effects of magnesium on the gas exchange and photosynthetic efficiency of Coffee seedlings grown in nutrient solution under different light levels. The experiment was conducted under controlled conditions in growth chambers and nutrient solution at the Department of Plant Pathology of the Federal University of Lavras. The treatments consisted of five different Mg concentrations (0, 48, 96, 192 and 384 mg·L−1) and four light levels (80, 160, 240 and 320 µmol photon m−2·s−1). Both the Mg concentration and light levels affected gas exchange in the coffee plants. Photosynthesis increased linearly with the increasing light, indicating that the light levels tested were low for this crop. The highest CO2 assimilation rate, lowest transpiration, and highest water use efficiency were observed with 250 mg·Mg·L−1, indicating that this concentration was the optimal Mg supply for the tested light levels. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Whole-Body Vibration in Farming: Background Document for Creating a Simplified Procedure to Determine Agricultural Tractor Vibration Comfort
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 84; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100084 -
Abstract
Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such
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Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such as farming. Despite the wide variability of agricultural surface profiles, studies have shown that with changing soil profile and tractor speed, the accelerations resulting from ground input present similar spectral trends. While on the one hand such studies confirmed that tractor WBV emission levels are very dependent upon the nature of the operation performed, on the other, irrespective of the wide range of conditions characterizing agricultural operations, they led researchers to set up a possible and realistic simplification and standardization of tractor driver comfort testing activities. The studies presented herewith indicate the usefulness, and the possibility, of developing simplified procedures to determine agricultural tractor vibration comfort. The results obtained could be used effectively to compare tractors of the same category or a given tractor when equipped with different seats, suspension, tyres, etc. Full article
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