Open AccessArticle
Simulating the Probability of Grain Sorghum Maturity before the First Frost in Northeastern Colorado
Agronomy 2016, 6(4), 44; doi:10.3390/agronomy6040044 -
Abstract
Expanding grain sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] production northward from southeastern Colorado is thought to be limited by shorter growing seasons due to lower temperatures and earlier frost dates. This study used a simulation model for predicting crop phenology (PhenologyMMS) to [...] Read more.
Expanding grain sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] production northward from southeastern Colorado is thought to be limited by shorter growing seasons due to lower temperatures and earlier frost dates. This study used a simulation model for predicting crop phenology (PhenologyMMS) to estimate the probability of reaching physiological maturity before the first fall frost for a variety of agronomic practices in northeastern Colorado. Physiological maturity for seven planting dates (1 May to 12 June), four seedbed moisture conditions affecting seedling emergence (from Optimum to Planted in Dust), and three maturity classes (Early, Medium, and Late) were simulated using historical weather data from nine locations for both irrigated and dryland phenological parameters. The probability of reaching maturity before the first frost was slightly higher under dryland conditions, decreased as latitude, longitude, and elevation increased, planting date was delayed, and for later maturity classes. The results provide producers with estimates of the reliability of growing grain sorghum in northeastern Colorado. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Tillage Systems and Wheat Yield under Climate Change Scenarios
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 43; doi:10.3390/agronomy6030043 -
Abstract
In this study, the effects of three different main preparatory tillage operations: ploughing at 0.4 m (P40) and 0.20 m (P20) depth and harrowing at 0.20 m depth (MT) were investigated. The tillage operations were carried out at two different times, as [...] Read more.
In this study, the effects of three different main preparatory tillage operations: ploughing at 0.4 m (P40) and 0.20 m (P20) depth and harrowing at 0.20 m depth (MT) were investigated. The tillage operations were carried out at two different times, as the soil water content increased over time from rainfall: (low, 58% (LH) and high, 80% (HH) of field capacity). Results obtained from the soil monitoring carried out before and after tillage showed high values of soil strength in terms of Penetration resistance and shear strength particularly in deeper soil layers at lower water content. During tillage, fossil-fuel energy requirements for P40 LH and P20 LH were 25% and 35% higher, respectively, with respect to the HH treatments and tractor slip was very high (P40 LH = 32.4%) with respect to the P40 HH treatment (16%). Soil water content significantly influenced tractor performance during soil ploughing at 0.40 m depth but no effect was observed for the MT treatment. The highly significant linear relations between grain yield and soil penetration resistance highlight how soil strength may be good indicator of soil productivity. We conclude that ploughing soil to a 0.20 m depth or harrowing soil to a 0.20 m depth is suitable for this type of soil under climate change scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Synergistic Effects of Agronet Covers and Companion Cropping on Reducing Whitefly Infestation and Improving Yield of Open Field-Grown Tomatoes
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 42; doi:10.3390/agronomy6030042 -
Abstract
Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) are one of the biggest vegetable crops in the world, supplying a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fibre in human diets. In the tropics, tomatoes are predominantly grown under sub-optimal conditions by subsistence farmers, with exposure [...] Read more.
Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) are one of the biggest vegetable crops in the world, supplying a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fibre in human diets. In the tropics, tomatoes are predominantly grown under sub-optimal conditions by subsistence farmers, with exposure to biotic and abiotic stresses in the open field. Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius) is one of the major pests of the tomato, potentially causing up to 100% yield loss. To control whitefly, most growers indiscriminately use synthetic insecticides which negatively impact the environment, humans, and other natural pest management systems, while also increasing cost of production. This study sought to investigate the effectiveness of agronet covers and companion planting with aromatic basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) as an alternative management strategy for whitefly in tomatoes and to evaluate the use of these treatments ontomato growth and yield. Two trials were conducted at the Horticulture Research and Training Field, Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya. Treatments comprised a combination of two factors, (1) growing environment (agronet and no agronet) and (2) companion planting with a row of basil surrounding tomato plants, a row of basil in between adjacent rows of tomato, no companion planting. Agronet covers and companion cropping with a row of basil planted between adjacent tomato rows significantly lowered B. tabaci infestation in tomatoes by 68.7%. Better tomato yields were also recorded in treatments where the two treatments were used in combination. Higher yield (13.75 t/ha) was obtained from tomatoes grown under agronet cover with a basil row planted in between adjacent rows of the tomato crop compared to 5.9 t/ha in the control. Non-marketable yield was also lowered to5.9 t/ha compared to 9.8 t/ha in the control following the use of the two treatments in combination. The results of this study demonstrate the potential viability of using companion cropping and agronet covers in integrated management of B. tabaci and improvement of tomato yield. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Special Issue: Nitrogen Transport and Assimilation in Plants
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 41; doi:10.3390/agronomy6030041 -
Abstract The doubling of the world’s agricultural production for the past four decades has been associated with a seven-fold increase in nitrogen (N) fertilization [1] which has caused major detrimental impacts onthediversityandfunctioningofthenon-agriculturalbacterial,animalandplantecosystems,notably through the process of freshwater and marine ecosystem eutrophication [2].[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Climate Change on Cultivar Choice: Adaptation Strategies of Farmers and Advisors in German Cereal Production
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 40; doi:10.3390/agronomy6030040 -
Abstract
The objective of this study is to understand which requirements for cereal cultivars—with regard to climate change adaptation—are in demand by farmers and advisors, and to clarify whether there are any differences in their assessments. A comparative survey was used to collect [...] Read more.
The objective of this study is to understand which requirements for cereal cultivars—with regard to climate change adaptation—are in demand by farmers and advisors, and to clarify whether there are any differences in their assessments. A comparative survey was used to collect data from 410 farmers and 114 advisors in Germany. The majority of both farmers and advisors reported perceivable effects of climatic change on plant production. The increase in droughts and hot spells, the increased incidence of torrential rain, and mild winters were mentioned as the main effects of climate change. For climate change adaptation, the farmers and advisors mostly relied on a locally-adapted cultivar selection. It is estimated that eco-stability, grain yield, resistance to lodging and drought tolerance are important cultivar properties. In the study, farmers and advisors equally pointed out the need for additional cultivar evaluation according to eco-stability. Finally, only minor differences regarding farmers’ and advisors’ assessments were found within the study. The outcome of this research points to the need of implementing farmers’ demands in cultivar recommendations. For example, an impartial assessment of cultivars’ eco-stability could help support the choice of cultivars and reduce the growing risks in cereal production with regard to climate change. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Influence of Formulation on the Cuticular Penetration and on Spray Deposit Properties of Manganese and Zinc Foliar Fertilizers
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 39; doi:10.3390/agronomy6030039 -
Abstract
Foliar fertilization, or the application of nutrient solutions to the foliage of plants, has become a very important tool as a supplement to traditional soil fertilization. So far, knowledge about the real mechanisms of foliar nutrient uptake is still limited. In this [...] Read more.
Foliar fertilization, or the application of nutrient solutions to the foliage of plants, has become a very important tool as a supplement to traditional soil fertilization. So far, knowledge about the real mechanisms of foliar nutrient uptake is still limited. In this study different manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) carriers differing in their solubility and chemical characteristics (chelated or non-chelated, with or without the presence of a surfactant-penetrant) were compared with regard to their penetration characteristics through enzymatically-isolated cuticles. The experiments were explicitly conducted under high humidity conditions in order not to penalize compounds with a higher deliquescent point. The results show that Mn penetrates more rapidly through the cuticle than Zn ions for unknown reasons. The addition of a surfactant-penetrant enhances the penetration rate in the case of Mn ions. This trend is much less pronounced for zinc ions. Formulations based on insoluble carriers, such as carbonate or oxide, only poorly penetrate through the cuticle. In order to rapidly control micronutrient deficiency problems, only fully water soluble micronutrient carriers should be used. Full article
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Open AccessShort Note
In Winter Wheat, No-Till Increases Mycorrhizal Colonization thus Reducing the Need for Nitrogen Fertilization
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 38; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020038 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Anaerobic and Aerobic Fish Sludge Supernatant on Hydroponic Lettuce
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 37; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020037 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Elusive Boreal Forest Thaumarchaeota
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 36; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020036 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Municipal Compost as a Nutrient Source for Organic Crop Production in New Zealand
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 35; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020035 -
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 [...] Read more.
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). Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Effect of Irrigation Timing on Root Zone Soil Temperature, Root Growth and Grain Yield and Chemical Composition in Corn
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 34; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020034 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Pre-Anthesis Water Deficit on Yield and Yield Components in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Plants Grown under Controlled Conditions
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 33; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020033 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Prairies Thrive Where Row Crops Drown: A Comparison of Yields in Upland and Lowland Topographies in the Upper Midwest US
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 32; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020032 -
Abstract
Cellulosic biofuel production is expected to increase in the US, and the targeted establishment of biofuel agriculture in marginal lands would reduce competition between biofuels and food crops. While poorly drained, seasonally saturated lowland landscape positions are marginal for production of row [...] Read more.
Cellulosic biofuel production is expected to increase in the US, and the targeted establishment of biofuel agriculture in marginal lands would reduce competition between biofuels and food crops. While poorly drained, seasonally saturated lowland landscape positions are marginal for production of row crops and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), it is unclear whether species-diverse tallgrass prairie yield would suffer similarly in saturated lowlands. Prairie yields typically increase as graminoids become more dominant, but it is uncertain whether this trend is due to greater aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) or higher harvest efficiency in graminoids compared to forbs. Belowground biomass, a factor that is important to ecosystem service provisioning, is reduced when switchgrass is grown in saturated lowlands, but it is not known whether the same is true in species-diverse prairie. Our objectives were to assess the effect of topography on yields and live belowground biomass in row crops and prairie, and to determine the mechanisms by which relative graminoid abundance influences tallgrass prairie yield. We measured yield, harvest efficiency, and live belowground biomass in upland and lowland landscape positions within maize silage (Zea mays L.), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and restored tallgrass prairie. Maize and winter wheat yields were reduced by more than 60% in poorly drained lowlands relative to well-drained uplands, but diverse prairie yields were equivalent in both topographic settings. Prairie yields increased by approximately 45% as the relative abundance of graminoids increased from 5% to 95%. However, this trend was due to higher harvest efficiency of graminoids rather than greater ANPP compared to forbs. In both row crops and prairie, live belowground biomass was similar between upland and lowland locations, indicating consistent biomass nutrient sequestration potential and soil organic matter inputs between topographic positions. While poorly drained, lowland landscape positions are marginal lands for row crops, they appear prime for the cultivation of species-diverse tallgrass prairie for cellulosic biofuel. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Towards a Better Understanding of Agronomic Efficiency of Nitrogen: Assessment and Improvement Strategies
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020031 -
Abstract
Agronomic N-use efficiency is the basis for economic and environmental efficiency, and an effective agro-ecosystem management practice, improving nutrient use efficiency, is a crucial challenge for a more sustainable production of horticultural, industrial and cereal crops. However, discrepancy between theory and practice [...] Read more.
Agronomic N-use efficiency is the basis for economic and environmental efficiency, and an effective agro-ecosystem management practice, improving nutrient use efficiency, is a crucial challenge for a more sustainable production of horticultural, industrial and cereal crops. However, discrepancy between theory and practice still exists, coming from large gaps in knowledge on net-N immobilization/mineralization rates in agro-ecosystems, as well as on the effects of indigenous and applied N to crop response. A more thorough understanding of these topics is essential to improve N management in agricultural systems. To this end, the present Special Issue collects research findings dealing with different aspects of agronomic efficiency of N in different agro-ecosystems, and environmental impact derived from fertilization management practices. In particular, the Special Issue contains selected papers, which concern a wide range of topics, including analyzing tools, options of management, calculation equation and modeling approaches. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Little Potential of Spring Wheat Genotypes as a Strategy to Reduce Nitrogen Leaching in Central Europe
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020029 -
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) losses negatively impact groundwater quality. Spring wheat genotypes varying in N-fertilizer recovery were studied (by using lysimeters) for their potential to minimize NO3-N leaching during spring and summer, over a three-year period. Additionally, we examined to what extent [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) losses negatively impact groundwater quality. Spring wheat genotypes varying in N-fertilizer recovery were studied (by using lysimeters) for their potential to minimize NO3-N leaching during spring and summer, over a three-year period. Additionally, we examined to what extent root growth and NO3-N leaching explain the well-known difference found between apparent and isotopic N recovery. The genotypes were grown under low (2 g m−2) and high (27 g m−2) N fertilizer supply. On average, the apparent and isotopic recoveries of N fertilizer by wheat were 43% and 51%, respectively. The three genotypes varied in fertilizer N recovery but not in NO3-N leaching, which only accounted for 15% of the applied N fertilizer. The differences in N uptake, fertilizer N recovery and root growth among the genotypes were not associated with the leached NO3-N because root growth and N uptake were not well synchronized with NO3-N leaching. Already at stem elongation 70% to 98% of the season-long NO3-N leaching had already taken place. Thus, the ability to minimize in-season NO3-N leaching by using spring wheat genotypes with higher fertilizer N recovery was limited because maximum N leaching occurred in the early crop season. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Design, Development, and Performance Evaluation of a Trash-Board Moldboard Plow for the Interaction between Soil and Straw with Two Different Water Content Levels
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 30; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020030 -
Abstract
A two-year field study was conducted to investigate the performance of a lightweight trash-board moldboard plow (with and without a trash-board), as influenced by stubble height and water content. Both fields were measured for the performance of a trash-board moldboard plow when [...] Read more.
A two-year field study was conducted to investigate the performance of a lightweight trash-board moldboard plow (with and without a trash-board), as influenced by stubble height and water content. Both fields were measured for the performance of a trash-board moldboard plow when used during the optimization of the plowing depth, the water content, and the reaction forces. The results showed that in the first year, when a trash-board was required, the results were significantly different. The fields had lower draft and reaction force in the soil with only stubble height, which was greater than that in the soil with dense straw for all water content levels. This was also observed in the second year for the whole depth. This study shows that the moldboard plow with a trash-board provided minimum draft and reaction forces with only straw and heavy straw. The results indicate that straw nearby shear significantly increased displacement for all treatments, with variance of straw nearby moldboard. Hence, the results verify that a trash-board continuously created large soil fragmentation with different water content. Straw labels create a position of straw which also allows for better results. It is important to install trash-boards with the moldboard plow for heavy straw incorporation. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Development and Integration of an SSR-Based Molecular Identity Database into Sugarcane Breeding Program
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020028 -
Abstract
Sugarcane breeding is very difficult and it takes 12 to 14 years to develop a new cultivar for commercial production. This is because sugarcane varieties are highly polyploid, inter-specific hybrids with 100 to 130 chromosomes that may vary across geographical areas. Other [...] Read more.
Sugarcane breeding is very difficult and it takes 12 to 14 years to develop a new cultivar for commercial production. This is because sugarcane varieties are highly polyploid, inter-specific hybrids with 100 to 130 chromosomes that may vary across geographical areas. Other obstacles/constraints include the small size of flowers that may not synchronize but may self-pollinate, difficulty in distinguishing hybrids from self progenies, extreme (G × E) interactive effect, and potential variety mis-identification during vegetative propagation and varietal exchange. To help cane breeders circumvent these constraints, a simple sequence repeats (SSR)-based molecular identity database has been developed at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA. Since 2005, approximately 2000 molecular identities have been constructed for clones of sugarcane and related Saccharum species that cover geographical areas including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, USA (Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii), and Venezuela. The molecular identity database is updated annually and has been utilized to: (1) provide molecular descriptors to newly registered cultivars; (2) identify in a timely fashion any mislabeled or unidentifiable clones from cross parents and field evaluation plots; (3) develop de novo clones of energy cane with S. spontaneum cytoplasm; (4) provide clone-specific fingerprint information for assessing cross quality and paternity of polycross; (5) determine genetic relatedness of parental clones; (6) select F1 hybrids from (elite × wild) or (wild × elite) crosses; and (7) investigate the inheritance of SSR markers in sugarcane. The integration of the molecular identity database into the sugarcane breeding program may improve the overall efficacy of cultivar development and commercialization. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
Apricot Breeding at the Faculty of Horticulture in Lednice
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020027 -
Abstract
The aim of the apricot-breeding program in the Horticultural Faculty in Lednice, that has been developed since 1981, is to obtain new adaptable cultivars, which combine most of the valuable biological traits. Standard breeding techniques, such as crossing by emasculation and hand [...] Read more.
The aim of the apricot-breeding program in the Horticultural Faculty in Lednice, that has been developed since 1981, is to obtain new adaptable cultivars, which combine most of the valuable biological traits. Standard breeding techniques, such as crossing by emasculation and hand pollination, self-pollination and open pollination, were employed. A total of 1.154 crossings were produced from more than 110 different parents. So far more than 20,000 seedlings have been obtained, of which about 13,000 have already been evaluated. The most interesting selections were grafted and planted in trial orchards (we now have more than 650 elite genotypes). Ten of these have already been registered, and further promising new hybrids have been submitted for registration and law right protection (Betinka, Candela, Sophia and Adriana). The basic prerequisite for the initiation of the breeding program was a large collection of genetic resources, established and gradually supplemented since the 1970s. At the present time, we preserve and manage more than 300 accessions of apricot trees. In the frame of the descriptive work of the genetic resources and in order to use in breeding, a collection of apricots has been evaluated. We selected the genotypes and characters relating to an increased level of adaptation to the environment. Full article
Open AccessReview
Nitrogen Economy and Nitrogen Environmental Interactions in Conifers
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020026 -
Abstract
Efficient acquisition, assimilation and economy of nitrogen are of special importance in trees that must cope with seasonal periods of growth and dormancy over many years. The ability to accumulate nitrogen reserves and to recycle N determine to a great extent the [...] Read more.
Efficient acquisition, assimilation and economy of nitrogen are of special importance in trees that must cope with seasonal periods of growth and dormancy over many years. The ability to accumulate nitrogen reserves and to recycle N determine to a great extent the growth and production of forest biomass. The metabolic relevance of two key amino acids, arginine and phenylalanine, as well as other processes potentially involved in the nitrogen economy of conifers are discussed in the current review. During their long life cycles, conifers not only cope with cyclical annual and long-term changes in the environment but also interact with other organisms such as herbivores and symbionts. The interactions of biotic and abiotic factors with conifer nitrogen metabolism will also be outlined in this review. Full article
Open AccessReview
Emerging and Established Technologies to Increase Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Cereals
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/agronomy6020025 -
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) fertilizers are one of the most expensive inputs in agricultural settings. Additionally, the loss of N increases costs, contributes to soil acidification, and causes off-site pollution of the air, groundwater and waterways. This study reviews current knowledge about technologies for [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) fertilizers are one of the most expensive inputs in agricultural settings. Additionally, the loss of N increases costs, contributes to soil acidification, and causes off-site pollution of the air, groundwater and waterways. This study reviews current knowledge about technologies for N fertilization with potential to increase N use efficiency and reduce its negative effects on the environment. Classic inorganic sources such as urea and ammonium sulfate are the major sources utilized, while controlled N release fertilizers have not been significantly adopted for cereals and oil crops. Microorganisms, with the exception of Rhizobium sp. in soybeans, are also not widely used nowadays (e.g., plant growth-promoting bacteria and cynobacteria). The interest in implementing new N fertilization knowledge is stimulating the development of sensors to diagnose the N status and decision support systems for integrating several variables to optimize sources, rates and methods of application. Among potential new technologies we identified the incipient development of nanofertilizers, nutrient formulations to coat seeds, and recycled nutrients. Furthermore, increasing concern about the environmental consequences of N may facilitate the implementation of innovations outside the farm such as more effective regulations to guide N fertilization and methods to manufacture N fertilizers that are more energy-efficient and less CO2 equivalent emitting. Full article