Open AccessArticle
Influence of Composted Dairy Manure and Perennial Forage on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Fractions during Transition into Organic Management
Agriculture 2017, 7(5), 37; doi:10.3390/agriculture7050037 -
Abstract
Composted dairy manure (CDM) is among the management practices used in transitioning from a conventional to an organic agricultural system. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the impact of several organic nitrogen (N) sources on: (i) soil organic C (SOC) and
[...] Read more.
Composted dairy manure (CDM) is among the management practices used in transitioning from a conventional to an organic agricultural system. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the impact of several organic nitrogen (N) sources on: (i) soil organic C (SOC) and soil total N (STN) content; (ii) soil C and N distribution among soil fractions; and (iii) N mineralization. This study was initiated in 2007 on a recently renovated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) field located at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center near Fort Collins, Colorado. The soil type is a Fort Collins loam (fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Aridic Haplustalfs). Alfalfa and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) were interseeded with the grass mixtures as organic N sources. Three grass treatments were established with and without alfalfa or sainfoin. The CDM was also applied to the grass and to grass-alfalfa mixture at a rate of 22.4 Mg ha−1 in 2008 and at rates of 0, 11.2, and 22.4 Mg ha−1 in 2009. Soil samples were collected from the 0–5 cm and 5–10 cm depths in the fall of 2008 and 2009. Throughout the study period, SOC and STN were significantly influenced by depth, but not by treatment combinations. Averaged across the treatments, SOC was greater by 13.7% in 2008 and 24.2% in 2009 at 0–5 than the 5–10 cm depth. Similarly, STN was significantly higher by approximately 9.4% at 0–5 cm in 2008 and 18.7% in 2009 compared with the 5–10 cm depth. The C and N parameters studied and their distributions among various fractions (mineralizable, slow, and resistant) were influenced by the C and N contents of the added CDM. The low C and N contents of the CDM added in the second year of the study did not contribute to soil C and N build-up. The results generated from this study supported our hypothesis because the quality of CDM addition highly influenced C and N distribution among different fractions. Overall, for a transitioning system, CDM should to be added based on the manure-N content to ensure an adequate amount of N addition. To fully evaluate treatment benefits, a longer study period would be required to allow for system adjustment. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Organic No-Till Systems in Eastern Canada: A Review
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 36; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040036 -
Abstract
For more than a decade, studies have aimed to adapt the agronomy of organic no-till systems for the environmental conditions of Eastern Canada. Most research on organic no-till practices in Eastern Canada has been conducted in the province of Québec, where 4% of
[...] Read more.
For more than a decade, studies have aimed to adapt the agronomy of organic no-till systems for the environmental conditions of Eastern Canada. Most research on organic no-till practices in Eastern Canada has been conducted in the province of Québec, where 4% of farms are certified organic, and results from these trials have been published in technical reports available in French. The objective of this review was to revisit previous research work on organic farming in Eastern Canada—the majority of which has been published as technical reports in the French language—in order to highlight important findings and to identify information gaps. Cover crop-based rotational no-till systems for organic grain and horticultural cropping systems will be the main focus of this review. Overall, a few trials have demonstrated that organic rotational no-till can be successful and profitable in warmer and more productive regions of Eastern Canada, but its success can vary over years. The variability in the success of organic rotational no-till systems is the reason for the slow adoption of the system by organic farmers. On-going research focuses on breeding early-maturing fall rye, and terminating cover crops and weeds with the use of bioherbicides. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Reduced Tillage and No-Till in Organic Farming Systems, Germany—Status Quo, Potentials and Challenges
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 35; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040035 -
Abstract
Only 34% of all German farms apply reduced tillage (RT), while approximately 1% of the arable land is under no-tillage (NT). Statistics for organic farming are not available, but the percentages are probably even lower. The development of German organic RT and NT
[...] Read more.
Only 34% of all German farms apply reduced tillage (RT), while approximately 1% of the arable land is under no-tillage (NT). Statistics for organic farming are not available, but the percentages are probably even lower. The development of German organic RT and NT has been strongly driven by pioneer farmers for 40 years, and supported by field trials since the 1990s. The main motive for conversion to RT is increased soil quality, followed by reduced labor costs. NT combined with high-residue cover crops plays only a very small role. Rather, German organic farmers resort to shallow ploughing, a reduced number of ploughing operations in the rotation and/or substitution of the ploughing with non-inversion tillage. In field trials, winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yields were reduced up to 67% by using RT methods compared to inversion tillage treatments due to reduced mineralization and increased weed pressure, both of which are major obstacles that impede the wider adoption of RT and NT by German organic farmers. Improvement of NT and RT (rotations, implements, timing) in organic farming is a task of both agricultural practice and science. A number of conventional farmers who have recently converted to organic farming are already familiar with RT. These farmers will act as a thriving factor to implement their experience after conversion and contribute to further innovations of RT in organic farming. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Cover Crop-Based, Organic Rotational No-Till Corn and Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Atlantic United States
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 34; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040034 -
Abstract
Cover crop-based, organic rotational no-till (CCORNT) corn and soybean production is becoming a viable strategy for reducing tillage in organic annual grain systems in the mid-Atlantic, United States. This strategy relies on mechanical termination of cover crops with a roller-crimper and no-till planting
[...] Read more.
Cover crop-based, organic rotational no-till (CCORNT) corn and soybean production is becoming a viable strategy for reducing tillage in organic annual grain systems in the mid-Atlantic, United States. This strategy relies on mechanical termination of cover crops with a roller-crimper and no-till planting corn and soybean into cover crop mulches. Here, we report on recent research that focuses on integrated approaches for crop, nutrient and pest management in CCORNT systems that consider system and regional constraints for adoption in the mid-Atlantic. Our research suggests that no-till planting soybean into roller-crimped cereal rye can produce consistent yields. However, constraints to fertility management have produced less consistent no-till corn yields. Our research shows that grass-legume mixtures can improve N-release synchrony with corn demand and also improve weed suppression. Integration of high-residue inter-row cultivation improves weed control consistency and may reduce reliance on optimizing cover crop biomass accumulation for weed suppression. System-specific strategies are needed to address volunteer cover crops in later rotational phases, which result from incomplete cover crop termination with the roller crimper. The paucity of adequate machinery for optimizing establishment of cash crops into thick residue mulch remains a major constraint on CCORNT adoption. Similarly, breeding efforts are needed to improve cover crop germplasm and develop regionally-adapted varieties. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Organic Agriculture and the Quest for the Holy Grail in Water-Limited Ecosystems: Managing Weeds and Reducing Tillage Intensity
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 33; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040033 -
Abstract
Organic agricultural production has become a major economic and cultural force. However, in water-limited environments the tools used for weed control and nutrient supply, namely tillage and cover crops, may not be environmentally or economically sustainable as tillage damages soil and cover crops
[...] Read more.
Organic agricultural production has become a major economic and cultural force. However, in water-limited environments the tools used for weed control and nutrient supply, namely tillage and cover crops, may not be environmentally or economically sustainable as tillage damages soil and cover crops use valuable water. Thus, a major challenge has been finding appropriate ways to minimize tillage and terminate cover crops while still controlling weeds and obtaining cover crop ecosystem services. One approach to achieve this is through the economically viable integration of crop and livestock enterprises to manage weeds and terminate cover crops. In this article we (1) review research needs and knowledge gaps in organic agriculture with special focus on water-limited environments; (2) summarize research aimed at developing no-till and reduced tillage in organic settings; (3) assess approaches to integrate crop and livestock production in organic systems; and (4) present initial results from a project assessing the agronomic and weed management challenges of integrated crop-livestock organic systems aimed at reducing tillage intensity in a water-limited environment. The goal of eliminating tillage in water-limited environments remains elusive, and more research is needed to successfully integrate tactics, such as cover crops and livestock grazing to increase organic farm sustainability. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Organic, Inorganic Fertilizers and Plant Spacing on the Growth and Yield of Cabbage
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 31; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040031 -
Abstract
The impact of chemical farming and the negative consequences on the environment and human health in Bangladesh are on the rise. Organic farming is gaining attention and increasing globally because it is eco-friendly, safe and has benefits for human health. A field study
[...] Read more.
The impact of chemical farming and the negative consequences on the environment and human health in Bangladesh are on the rise. Organic farming is gaining attention and increasing globally because it is eco-friendly, safe and has benefits for human health. A field study was conducted at the horticulture farm of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh, to evaluate the growth and yield performance of cabbage cv. Atlas—70 using organic and inorganic fertilizers in various plant spacing arrangements. Two factor experiments were conducted on plant spacings of 60 cm × 40 cm (S1), 60 cm × 50 cm (S2) and 60 cm × 60 cm (S3) and fertilizers vermicompost (T1), biogen (T2), integrated plant nutrient system (IPNS) Organic (⅔) + inorganic (⅓) (T3) and inorganic (T4). IPNS (T3) application increased the marketable yield (54.77 t·ha−1) of cabbage. The highest marketable yield (48.75 t·ha−1) was obtained with a plant spacing of 60 cm × 40 cm (S1). No significant variation was found in plant spacings S1 and S2. The treatment combination of S2T3 recorded the highest plant height (37.81 cm), plant spread (47.75 cm), cabbage head (21.80 cm), stem length (12.31 cm), thickness of the cabbage head (12.53 cm) and marketable yield (65.0 t·ha−1). The results suggest that IPNS (T3) combining organic and inorganic fertilizer applications with a 60 cm × 50 cm spacing (S2T3) increases the yield performance of cabbage. Full article
Open AccessReview
Global Biofuels at the Crossroads: An Overview of Technical, Policy, and Investment Complexities in the Sustainability of Biofuel Development
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 32; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040032 -
Abstract
Biofuels have the potential to alter the transport and agricultural sectors of decarbonizing societies. Yet, the sustainability of these fuels has been questioned in recent years in connection with food versus fuel trade-offs, carbon accounting, and land use. Recognizing the complicated playing field
[...] Read more.
Biofuels have the potential to alter the transport and agricultural sectors of decarbonizing societies. Yet, the sustainability of these fuels has been questioned in recent years in connection with food versus fuel trade-offs, carbon accounting, and land use. Recognizing the complicated playing field for current decision-makers, we examine the technical attributes, policy, and global investment activity for biofuels (primarily liquids). Differences in feedstock and fuel types are considered, in addition to policy approaches of major producer countries. Issues with recent, policy-driven trade developments are highlighted to emphasize how systemic complexities associated with sustainability must also be managed. We conclude with near-term areas to watch. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Nitrous Oxide Emission from Organic Fertilizer and Controlled Release Fertilizer in Tea Fields
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 29; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030029 -
Abstract
A field experiment was conducted for two years in the Green Tea Laboratory of Saitama Prefectural Agriculture and Forestry Research Center, Iruma, Saitama, Japan from March 2014 to December 2015. Controlled release fertilizers (CRF) or organic fertilizers (ORG), which are a mixture of
[...] Read more.
A field experiment was conducted for two years in the Green Tea Laboratory of Saitama Prefectural Agriculture and Forestry Research Center, Iruma, Saitama, Japan from March 2014 to December 2015. Controlled release fertilizers (CRF) or organic fertilizers (ORG), which are a mixture of chicken manure and oil cake, were applied with the amount of 450 kg·N·ha−1·year−1 in 2014 and 397 kg·N·ha−1·year−1 in 2015. Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from soil in green tea fields were measured by the closed chamber method. The results showed that CRF has significantly lower N2O compared to ORG. The cumulative N2O emissions from CRF accounted for 51% of N2O emissions from ORG fields and 138% of control with no fertilizer treatment. The N2O flux from the row was higher than that under the canopy, since fertilizer was applied on the row. However, the total emission from the area between the rows was lower than that under the canopy because the area ratio between the row and canopy was 1:5. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Impact of Practice Change on Runoff Water Quality and Vegetable Yield—An On-Farm Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 30; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030030 -
Abstract
Intensive agricultural practices in farming systems in eastern Australia have been identified as a contributor to the poor runoff water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A field investigation was carried out to measure the off-farm water quality and productivity in a
[...] Read more.
Intensive agricultural practices in farming systems in eastern Australia have been identified as a contributor to the poor runoff water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A field investigation was carried out to measure the off-farm water quality and productivity in a coastal farming system in northeastern Australia. Two vegetable crops (capsicum and zucchini) were grown in summer 2010–2011 and winter 2011 respectively using four different management practices (Conventional—plastic mulch, bare inter-row conventional tillage and commercial fertilizer inputs; Improved—improved practice with plastic mulch, inter-row vegetative mulch, zonal tillage and reduced fertilizer rates; Trash mulch—improved practice with cane-trash or forage-sorghum mulch with reduced fertilizer rates, minimum or zero tillage; and Vegetable only—improved practice with Rhodes grass or forage-sorghum mulch, minimum or zero tillage, reduced fertilizer rates). Results suggest improved and trash mulch systems reduced sediment and nutrient loads by at least 50% compared to conventional systems. The residual nitrate nitrogen in soil accumulated at the end-of-break crop cycle was lost by deep drainage before the subsequent sugarcane crop could utilize it. These results suggest that future research into establishing the linkages between deep drainage, groundwater quality and lateral movement into adjacent streams is needed. The improvement in runoff water quality was accompanied by yield reductions of up to 55% in capsicum and 57% in zucchini under trash mulch systems, suggesting a commercially unacceptable trade-off between water quality and productivity for a practice change. The current study has shown that variations around improved practice (modified nutrient application strategies under plastic mulch, but with an inter-space mulch to minimize runoff and sediment loss) may be the most practical solution to improve water quality and maintain productivity. However, more work is required to optimize this approach and thus reduce the size of any potential productivity and profitability gap that would necessitate an expensive policy intervention to implement. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessReview
Surface and Subsurface Transport of Nitrate Loss from the Selected Bioenergy Crop Fields: Systematic Review, Analysis and Future Directions
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 27; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030027 -
Abstract
Nitrate loss from bioenergy crop fields has attracted considerable attention during the last few years because of its potential negative impact on aquatic and human health. Both controllable and uncontrollable factors for nitrate loss have been the subject of several previous studies. Due
[...] Read more.
Nitrate loss from bioenergy crop fields has attracted considerable attention during the last few years because of its potential negative impact on aquatic and human health. Both controllable and uncontrollable factors for nitrate loss have been the subject of several previous studies. Due to differences in climate, biophysical dissimilarities and land management characteristics in different parts of the world the factors affecting nitrate loss are often inconsistent and hence difficult to generalize. Therefore, reanalyzing the experimental field or plot scale studies to understand the nitrate loss factors in crop fields is useful and necessary in developing management strategies for reducing nitrate loss. This research synthesized and investigated 36 peer reviewed scientific journal articles related to selected bioenergy crop fields that included: continuous corn, corn in rotation with soybean, switchgrass and Miscanthus to conduct a meta-analysis of the available research. In this study, factors such as drain tile spacing, tillage practices, type and timing of the fertilization rate, irrigation and various other factors, which are challenging to represent in regression equations, were also systematically analyzed. In addition, various other agronomic characteristics that are attributed too nitrate loss are caused by perennially planted bio energized crops such as Miscanthus and switchgrass. Results indicated that 49% of nitrate loss through surface runoff from corn fields is directly related to the annual precipitation and fertilization rate. Multiple linear regression equations were developed to estimate the annual subsurface nitrate loss for the continuous corn fields with a R2 value of 0.65, 0.58 and 0.26 for sandy loam, silty loam and clay loam, respectively. Our analysis resulted in the conclusion that corn has a 2 to 3 times higher nitrate loss in surface runoff compared to switchgrass. Likewise, continuous corn and corn in rotation with soybean contributed more than 9 times the subsurface loss of nitrate compared to the established subsurface loss attributed to the Miscanthus and switchgrass. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Pectin Extraction Conditions and Polyphenol Profile from Citrus x lantifolia Waste: Potential Application as Functional Ingredients
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 28; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030028 -
Abstract
The citrus by-products pectin and polyphenols were obtained from Citrus x lantifolia residues. The use of acid type, solute-solvent ratio, temperature, and extraction time on pectin yield recovery was evaluated using a factorial design 34; pectin physicochemical characterization, polyphenol profile, and
[...] Read more.
The citrus by-products pectin and polyphenols were obtained from Citrus x lantifolia residues. The use of acid type, solute-solvent ratio, temperature, and extraction time on pectin yield recovery was evaluated using a factorial design 34; pectin physicochemical characterization, polyphenol profile, and antioxidant activity were also determined. Results indicated a total polyphenol content of 3.92 ± 0.06 mg Galic Acid Equivalents (GAE)/g of citrus waste flour in dry basis (DB), with antioxidant activity of 74%. The presence of neohesperidin (0.96 ± 0.09 mg/g of citrus flour DB), hesperidin (0.27 ± 0.0 mg/g of citrus flour DB), and ellagic acid (0.18 ± 0.03 mg/g of citrus flour DB) as major polyphenols was observed. All of the factors evaluated in pectin recovery presented significant effects (p < 0.05), nevertheless the acid type and solute-solvent ratio showed the greatest effect. The highest yield of pectin recovery (36%) was obtained at 90 °C for 90 min, at a ratio of 1:80 (w/v) using citric acid. The evaluation of pectin used as a food ingredient in cookies elaboration, resulted in a reduction of 10% of fat material without significant texture differences (p < 0.05). The pectin extraction conditions and characterization from these residues allowed us to determine the future applications of these materials for use in several commercial applications. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Phytochemistry and Agro-Industrial Potential of Native Oilseeds from West Africa: African Grape (Lannea microcarpa), Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), and Butter Tree (Pentadesma butyracea)
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 24; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030024 -
Abstract
Ethnobotanical investigations on local oilseed species in Burkina Faso revealed that oils from tree oilseeds are frequently used for food, cosmetics and traditional medicine by local people. To test the bio-preservative capacity, the effect of the oilseed extracts on the stabilization of Shea
[...] Read more.
Ethnobotanical investigations on local oilseed species in Burkina Faso revealed that oils from tree oilseeds are frequently used for food, cosmetics and traditional medicine by local people. To test the bio-preservative capacity, the effect of the oilseed extracts on the stabilization of Shea butter was evaluated. Levels of bioactive phyto-components were evaluated through several methods. Some aspects of the quality of oilcakes were evaluated based on their inhibitory capacity on the endogenous digestive enzymes of cattle. For fat stabilizing quality, the extract from Lannea microcarpa Engl. & K. Krause has showed the largest increase (91.47%) in the Rancimat induction time (TIR) of Shea butter. Using DPPH and FRAP methods for prevention or scavenging of free radicals, the results evidenced the highest activity with extracts of L. microcarpa. With respect to the feed quality of the oilcakes, the IC50 obtained with α-amylase and trypsin have showed that the ethanolic extracts of Pentadesma butyracea Sabine (1824) is less toxic for cattle. These results suggest that phenolic compounds extracted from these native oilseeds, especially those of Lannea microcarpa, can be used as biological antioxidants for bio-preservation of edible fats. In addition, the by-products of the oil-extraction can be valorized as nontoxic and protein-rich oilcakes for livestock feed. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Changes in Carbon Cycling during Development of Successional Agroforestry
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 25; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030025 -
Abstract
Successional agroforestry systems (SAFS) mimic the structure of natural forests while providing economical outputs. This study clarifies how carbon cycling and carbon sequestration change during successional development of SAFS. In Brazil, three successional stages of SAFS, 6, 12, and 34 years old, were
[...] Read more.
Successional agroforestry systems (SAFS) mimic the structure of natural forests while providing economical outputs. This study clarifies how carbon cycling and carbon sequestration change during successional development of SAFS. In Brazil, three successional stages of SAFS, 6, 12, and 34 years old, were compared in terms of carbon balance. Aboveground biomass, fruit harvest, litterfall, soil respiration, and soil organic carbon were measured for two years and analyzed. Carbon sequestration expressed by net primary productivity increased with age of SAFS from 9.8 Mg·C·ha−1·year−1 in 6-year-old system to 13.5 Mg·C·ha−1·year−1 in 34-year-old system. Accumulation of plant biomass and increased internal carbon cycling in SAFS led to an intensive sequestration of carbon. SAFS can be a sustainable way of agricultural production on vulnerable tropical soils. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Rural Labor Resource Change on the Technical Efficiency of Crop Production in China
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 26; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030026 -
Abstract
This paper probes effects of the evolvement of labor resources on technical efficiency in crop production in rural China. Based on twelve years of data on crop production of 30 provinces in China, a stochastic frontier production function model is used to measure
[...] Read more.
This paper probes effects of the evolvement of labor resources on technical efficiency in crop production in rural China. Based on twelve years of data on crop production of 30 provinces in China, a stochastic frontier production function model is used to measure crop production efficiency in three crop-functional areas—the production area, the consumption area, and the balanced area. Then effects of both quantity and quality change in labor force on technical efficiency in different regions of China are analyzed. Results show that rural China generally has an increasing number of employees shifted to non-agricultural sectors and a decreasing trend of the stock of human capital. However, both these two changes in rural labor force have significantly positive effects on improving crop production efficiency. In addition, China’s technical inefficiency is at an average of 22.2%. Dynamically, the technical efficiencies show a tendency to rise steadily throughout China and in three areas, while the consumption area possesses the highest technical efficiency. Those results may lend some experience for other countries that are currently experiencing rural labor force and economic transition. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Development and Evaluation of Poly Herbal Molluscicidal Extracts for Control of Apple Snail (Pomacea maculata)
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 22; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030022 -
Abstract
Golden Apple Snail (GAS) is the most destructive invasive rice pest in Southeast Asia. The cost of synthetic molluscicides, their toxicity to non-target organisms, and their persistence in the environment have propelled the research of plant-derived molluscicides. Most research efforts have focused on
[...] Read more.
Golden Apple Snail (GAS) is the most destructive invasive rice pest in Southeast Asia. The cost of synthetic molluscicides, their toxicity to non-target organisms, and their persistence in the environment have propelled the research of plant-derived molluscicides. Most research efforts have focused on individual plant extracts for their molluscicidal potency against GAS and have not been proven to be entirely effective in rice field conditions. Selective combination of synergistically acting molluscicidal compounds from various plant extracts might be an effective alternative. In this direction, ethanolic extracts from six different plants (Neem, Tobacco, Nerium, Pongamia, Zinger, and Piper) were evaluated against Pomacea maculata Perry. Of the various combinations studied, a binary extract (1:1) of nerium and tobacco (LC90 177.71 mg/L, 48 h), and two tri-herbal extract formulations (1:1:1) of (nerium + tobacco + piper) and (nerium + tobacco + neem) were found to be most effective, with LC90 values of 180.35 mg/L and 191.52 mg/L, respectively, in laboratory conditions. The synergistic effect of combined herbal extracts resulted in significant reduction in LC90 values of the individual extracts. The findings of this study demonstrate that the selective combinations of potent molluscicidal herbal extracts are effective for management of P. maculata under laboratory conditions. Full article
Figures

Open AccessReview
Fusarium Wilt Affecting Chickpea Crop
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 23; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030023 -
Abstract
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) contributes 18% of the global production of grain legume and serves as an important source of dietary protein. An important decrease in cropping area and production has been recorded during the last two decades. Several biotic and abiotic constraints
[...] Read more.
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) contributes 18% of the global production of grain legume and serves as an important source of dietary protein. An important decrease in cropping area and production has been recorded during the last two decades. Several biotic and abiotic constraints underlie this decrease. Despite the efforts deployed in breeding and selection of several chickpea varieties with high yield potential that are tolerant to diseases, the situation has remained the same for the last decade. Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceris (Foc) is the major soilborne fungus affecting chickpeas globally. Fusarium wilt epidemics can devastate crops and cause up to 100% loss in highly infested fields and under favorable conditions. To date, eight pathogenic races of Foc (races 0, 1A, 1B/C, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) have been reported worldwide. The development of resistant cultivars is the most effective method to manage this disease and to contribute to stabilizing chickpea yields. Development of resistant varieties to fusarium wilt in different breeding programs is mainly based on conventional selection. This method is time‐consuming and depends on inoculum load and specific environmental factors that influence disease development. The use of molecular tools offers great potential for chickpea improvement, specifically by identifying molecular markers closely linked to genes/QTLs controlling fusarium wilt. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Suppression of CH4 Emission by Rice Straw Removal  and Application of Bio‐Ethanol Production Residue  in a Paddy Field in Akita, Japan
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 21; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030021 -
Abstract
To elucidate the effects of rice straw removal and rice straw‐based bio‐ethanol production residue application on rice growth and methane (CH4) emission from a paddy field, a lysimeter experiment with three treatments (application of rice straw after harvesting (the rice‐straw plot); removal of
[...] Read more.
To elucidate the effects of rice straw removal and rice straw‐based bio‐ethanol production residue application on rice growth and methane (CH4) emission from a paddy field, a lysimeter experiment with three treatments (application of rice straw after harvesting (the rice‐straw plot); removal of rice straw and the application of bio‐ethanol production residue (the Et‐residue plot); removal of rice straw (the no‐application plot)) was conducted over three years. Though the grain yields in the Et‐residue and no‐application plots tended to be slightly higher than that in the ricestraw plot, there were no significant differences among the plots (530–546 g∙m−2). Suppression of CH4 emission by the treatments was found clearly in the early part of the growing season. The total CH4 emissions during the rice‐growing season (unit: g∙C∙m−2∙period−1) followed the order of the noapplication plot (11.9) < the Et‐residue plot (14.6) < the rice‐straw plot (25.4), and a significant difference was found between the no‐application and rice‐straw plots. Consequently, bio‐ethanol production from rice straw and a following application of its residue to paddy fields is considered to be a promising technology which can obtain new sustainable energy and suppress CH4 emission without any inhibition on rice growth. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessEditorial
Guest Editorial: Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 19; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030019 -
Abstract
There is interest in reducing or even eliminating tillage in organic production systems. In this special Issue, research teams in Europe and North America summarize recent and on-going efforts to develop conservation-tillage systems that can be used on commercial organic farms. While progress
[...] Read more.
There is interest in reducing or even eliminating tillage in organic production systems. In this special Issue, research teams in Europe and North America summarize recent and on-going efforts to develop conservation-tillage systems that can be used on commercial organic farms. While progress is being made in the development of organic no-tillage (no-till) systems, considerable work still needs to be done before there will be wide-spread adoption by organic farmers. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Impact of a Warming Micro‐Climate on Muooni  Farmers of Kenya
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 20; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030020 -
Abstract
Rainfed agriculture has become highly vulnerable to the depleting water resources in most arid and semi‐arid tropics (ASATs) under the effect of climate change. The impact has certainly been very high in Muooni catchment where more than 99% of the natural forest has
[...] Read more.
Rainfed agriculture has become highly vulnerable to the depleting water resources in most arid and semi‐arid tropics (ASATs) under the effect of climate change. The impact has certainly been very high in Muooni catchment where more than 99% of the natural forest has been cleared. The warming micro‐climate is accelerated by extended deforestation, unsustainable irrigation, and water over‐abstraction in the catchment by eucalyptus and other exotic trees. The dwindling crop yields add to the farmer’s suffering. Farming communities have created various innovative ways of coping with a warming environment to increase their agriculture resiliency. These include, among others, rain water management, reforestation and agro‐forestry. To what extent have these practices been disturbed by the increasing temperatures, and decreasing rainfalls and river discharges in Muooni catchment? This study used statistical forecast techniques to unveil the past, current and future variations of the micro‐climate in Muooni catchment, and relevant factors determining farmers’ vulnerability to drought. Muooni catchment is warming by 0.8 to 1.2 °C in a century as a result of a changing micro‐climate. These changes are mainly driven by deforestation due to the high urbanization rate and agricultural practices in Muooni catchment. Centennial rainfall is subsequently plummeting at 30 to 50 mm while discharges are decreasing from 0.01 to 0.05 m3∙s−1, with unmet water demands of 30% to 95% and above. In view of the current trends of the population growth and urbanization in Muooni, agricultural expansion is seriously threatened if no appropriate policy, extension service and science based emergency measures are put in place by the Government of Kenya. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on Soil  Properties and the Growth, Yield and Quality of  Tomato in Mymensingh, Bangladesh
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 18; doi:10.3390/agriculture7030018 -
Abstract
Field trials were conducted on tomato for yield and quality of fruits using different types of organic and inorganic fertilizers at the horticulture farm of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh. Fertilizer treatments were tested on two varieties of tomato ca. Roma VF and
[...] Read more.
Field trials were conducted on tomato for yield and quality of fruits using different types of organic and inorganic fertilizers at the horticulture farm of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh. Fertilizer treatments were tested on two varieties of tomato ca. Roma VF and BARI 15. The fertilization treatments were T1, vermicompost (12 t/ha); T2, compost (10 t/ha); T3, integrated plant nutrient system (IPNS) or mixed fertilizers (organic 2/3 part and inorganic 1/3 part); T4, inorganic fertilizers; and a control (T5). Results showed growth and yield (20.8 t/ha) in tomato were higher in the IPNS treatment. A higher number of fruits per plant (73.7) and plant height (73.5 cm) were obtained from mixed fertilizers (organic 2/3 + inorganic 1/3) or IPNS (integrated plant nutrient system) in Roma VF than other treatments. Fruit yield and diameter were found statistically significant. No significant difference was observed in the quality (total soluble solids) of tomato fruits in both varieties’ response to the treatments. The electrical conductivity and pH of the soil were improved by the application of organic manure. Full article
Figures

Figure 1