Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play a major role in the uptake of nutrients by agricultural plants. Nevertheless, some agricultural practices can interrupt fungal-plant signaling and thus impede the establishment of the mycorrhizal symbiosis. A field experiment performed over a 5-year period demonstrated that both the absence of tillage and of nitrogen (N) fertilization improved AMF colonization of wheat roots. Moreover, under no-till conditions, N uptake and aboveground biomass production did not vary significantly between N-fertilized and N-unfertilized plots. In contrast, both N uptake and above ground biomass were much lower when N fertilizer was not added during conventional tillage. This finding strongly suggests that for wheat, no-till farming is a sustainable agricultural system that allows a gradual reduction in N fertilizer use by promoting AMF functionality and at the same time increasing N uptake.
Abstract: The mobilization of nutrients from fish sludge (i.e., feces and uneaten feed) plays a key role in optimizing the resource utilization and thus in improving the sustainability of aquaponic systems. While several studies have documented the aerobic and anaerobic digestion performance of aquaculture sludge, the impact of the digestate on plant growth has yet to be understood. The present study examines the impact of either an aerobic or an anaerobic digestion effluent on lettuce plant growth, by enriching a mixture of aquaculture and tap water with supernatants from both aerobic and anaerobic batch reactors. The lettuce plants grown in the hydroponic system supplied with supernatant from an anaerobic reactor had significantly better performance with respect to weight gain than both, those in the system where supernatant from the aerobic reactor was added, as well as the control system. It can be hypothesized that this effect was caused by the presence of NH4+ as well as dissolved organic matter, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and fungi, and humic acid, which are predominantly present in anaerobic effluents. This study should therefore be of value to researchers and practitioners wishing to further develop sludge remineralization in aquaponic systems.
Abstract: In recent years, Archaea have, with increasing frequency, been found to colonize both agricultural and forest soils in temperate and boreal regions. The as yet uncultured group I.1c of the Thaumarchaeota has been of special interest. These Archaea are widely distributed in mature vegetated acidic soils, but little has been revealed of their physiological and biological characteristics. The I.1c Thaumarchaeota have been recognized as a microbial group influenced by plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi, but appear to have distinct features from their more common soil dwelling counterparts, such as the Nitrosotalea or Nitrososphaera. They appear to be highly dependent on soil pH, thriving in undisturbed vegetated soils with a pH of 5 or below. Research indicate that these Archaea require organic carbon and nitrogen sources for growth and that they may live both aerobically and anaerobically. Nevertheless, pure cultures of these microorganisms have not yet been obtained. This review will focus on what is known to date about the uncultured group I.1c Thaumarchaeota formerly known as the “Finnish Forest Soil” (FFS) Archaea.
Abstract: About 1% of New Zealand farmland is managed organically. Nitrogen is the nutrient most likely to limit organic crop production. A potential solution is incorporation of compost to supply N. About 726,000 t of municipal garden and kitchen wastes are sent to landfills annually. Composting offers a means of reducing the impact of landfill wastes on the wider environment. Organically certified compost (N content typically 2% to 2.5%) is available from some municipal composting plants. To be effectively used on organic farms, the rate of N release (mineralization) must be known. Laboratory incubations were conducted to quantify mineralization of compost N under controlled (temperature and moisture) conditions. Nitrogen availability and crop yields from a one-off application of compost (25–100 t·ha−1) were also assessed in two field trials (using cereal and forage crops). The results suggested that a relatively small part (13%–23%) of compost N was used by the crops in 3–4 years. Much of this was mineral N present at the time of application. Mineralization rates in the laboratory and field studies were much lower than expected from published work or compost C:N ratio (considered an important indicator of N mineralization potential of composts).
Abstract: High air temperatures during the crop growing season can reduce harvestable yields in major agronomic crops worldwide. Repeated and prolonged high night air temperature stress may compromise plant growth and yield. Crop varieties with improved heat tolerance traits as well as crop management strategies at the farm scale are thus needed for climate change mitigation. Crop yield is especially sensitive to night-time warming trends. Current studies are mostly directed to the elevated night-time air temperature and its impact on crop growth and yield, but less attention is given to the understanding of night-time soil temperature management. Delivering irrigation water through drip early evening may reduce soil temperature and thus improve plant growth. In addition, corn growers typically use high-stature varieties that inevitably incur excessive respiratory carbon loss from roots and transpiration water loss under high night temperature conditions. The main objective of this study was to see if root-zone soil temperature can be reduced through drip irrigation applied at night-time, vs. daytime, using three corn hybrids of different above-ground architecture in Uvalde, TX where day and night temperatures during corn growing season are above U.S. averages. The experiment was conducted in 2014. Our results suggested that delivering well-water at night-time through drip irrigation reduced root-zone soil temperature by 0.6 °C, increase root length five folds, plant height 2%, and marginally increased grain yield by 10%. However, irrigation timing did not significantly affect leaf chlorophyll level and kernel crude protein, phosphorous, fat and starch concentrations. Different from our hypothesis, the shorter, more compact corn hybrid did not exhibit a higher yield and growth as compared with taller hybrids. As adjusting irrigation timing would not incur an extra cost for farmers, the finding reported here had immediate practical implications for farm scale adaptation to hot environments.
Abstract: Drought at pre-anthesis stages can influence barley growth and results in yield losses. Therefore, it is important to understand how drought at pre-anthesis can affect different traits associated with yield reduction in barley. The objective of this study was to understand the relevance of the genetic background of major flowering time genes in barley plants subjected to pre-anthesis drought and its impact on yield and yield components. A glasshouse experiment using a Randomized Complete Block Design was conducted to investigate the effect of drought and its timing on yield and yield components on eleven barley genotypes, which were selected to represent genetic diversity of major flowering time genes (PPDH1, PPDH2, HvVrn1, HvVrn2 and HvVrn3). Barley plants were exposed to three water regimes, non-stressed and stressed, which was applied at two pre-anthesis growth stages, tillering (SS) and stem elongation (SE). Results identified differences among genotypes in all measured traits. Grain yield, grain number and "thousand kernel weight" were reduced in all genotypes due to drought, irrespective of the growth stage. Early flowering genotypes had better performance as reflected in higher yield compared with late flowering genotypes. Results verified the fundamental importance of early flowering to improve productivity in response to pre-anthesis drought. The results of this study can help in selecting barley lines for future breeding purposes with improved resilience to drought conditions in Mediterranean environments.