Abstract: Weed infestations and associated yield losses require effective weed control measures in soybean and sugar beet. Besides chemical weed control, mechanical weeding plays an important role in integrated weed management systems. Field experiments were conducted at three locations for soybean in 2013 and 2014 and at four locations for sugar beet in 2014 to investigate if automatic steering technologies for inter-row weed hoeing using a camera or RTK-GNSS increase weed control efficacy, efficiency and crop yield. Treatments using precision farming technologies were compared with conventional weed control strategies. Weed densities in the experiments ranged from 15 to 154 plants m−2 with Chenopodium album, Polygonum convolvulus, Polygonum aviculare, Matricaria chamomilla and Lamium purpureum being the most abundant species. Weed hoeing using automatic steering technologies reduced weed densities in soybean by 89% and in sugar beet by 87% compared to 85% weed control efficacy in soybean and sugar beet with conventional weeding systems. Speed of weed hoeing could be increased from 4 km h−1 with conventional hoes to 7 and 10 km·h−1, when automatic steering systems were used. Precision hoeing technologies increased soybean yield by 23% and sugar beet yield by 37%. After conventional hoeing and harrowing, soybean yields were increased by 28% and sugar beet yield by 26%.
Abstract: Leaf developmental traits are an important component of crop breeding in small-grain cereals. Surprisingly, little is known about the genetic basis for the differences in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) leaf development. The two barley row-type classes, i.e., two- and six-rowed, show clear-cut differences in leaf development. To quantify these differences and to measure the genetic component of the phenotypic variance for the leaf developmental differences in both row-type classes we investigated 32 representative spring barley accessions (14 two- and 18 six-rowed accessions) under three independent growth conditions. Leaf mass area is lower in plants grown under greenhouse (GH) conditions due to fewer, smaller, and lighter leaf blades per main culm compared to pot- and soil-grown field plants. Larger and heavier leaf blades of six-rowed barley correlate with higher main culm spike grain yield, spike dry weight, and harvest index; however, smaller leaf area (LA) in two-rowed barley can be attributed to more spikes, tillers, and biological yield (aboveground parts). In general, leaf growth rate was significantly higher between awn primordium and tipping stages. Moderate to very high broad-sense heritabilities (0.67–0.90) were found under all growth conditions, indicating that these traits are predominantly genetically controlled. In addition, our data suggests that GH conditions are suitable for studying leaf developmental traits. Our results also demonstrated that LA impacts single plant yield and can be reconsidered in future breeding programs. Six-rowed spike 1 (Vrs1) is the major determinate of barley row-types, the differences in leaf development between two- and six-rowed barleys may be attributed to the regulation of Vrs1 in these two classes, which needs further testing.
Abstract: Geostatistical tools were used to estimate spatial relations between wheat yield and soil parameters under organic farming field conditions. Thematic maps of each factor were created as raster images in R software using kriging. The Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) calculated the principal component analysis raster images for soil parameters and yield. The correlation between the raster arising from the PC1 of soil and yield parameters showed high linear correlation (r = 0.75) and explained 48.50% of the data variance. The data show that durum wheat yield is strongly affected by soil parameter variability, and thus, the average production can be substantially lower than its potential. Soil water content was the limiting factor to grain yield and not nitrate as in other similar studies. The use of precision agriculture tools helped reduce the level of complexity between the measured parameters by the grouping of several parameters and demonstrating that precision agriculture tools can be applied in small organic fields, reducing costs and increasing wheat yield. Consequently, site-specific applications could be expected to improve the yield without increasing excessively the cost for farmers and enhance environmental and economic benefits.
Abstract: Recent progress in genotyping allows for studies of the molecular genetic basis of cold resistance in cereals. However, as in many other fields of molecular genetic analysis, phenotyping for high numbers of genotypes is still a major bottleneck. The use of chlorophyll fluorescence measurements as an indicator for freezing stress is a well established and rapid method for evaluation of frost tolerance. In order to extend the applicability of this technique beyond plants grown under controlled conditions in growth chambers and sacrificed for the test, here we study its applicability for leaves harvested from field trials during winter and subjected to freezing tests. Such an approach allows for simultaneous studies of the advancement of cold hardening and other components of winter survival apart from frost tolerance. It is shown that cutting or senescence of cut leaves does not have adverse effects on the outcome of subsequent freezing stress tests. The time requirements for field sampling and laboratory testing on high numbers of genotypes allow for the application of the proposed approach for genotyping/phenotyping studies.
Abstract: Chromosomal translocations in wheat derived from alien species are a valuable source of genetic diversity that have provided increases in resistance to various diseases and improved tolerance to abiotic stresses in wheat. These alien genomic segments can also affect multiple traits, with a concomitant ability to alter yield potential in either a positive or negative fashion. The aim of this work was to characterize the effects on yield of two types of translocations, namely T4-derived translocations from Thinopyrum ponticum, carrying the leaf rust resistance gene Lr19, and the TC14 translocation from Th. intermedium, carrying the barley yellow dwarf virus resistance gene Bdv2, in Australian adapted genetic backgrounds and under Australian conditions. A large range of germplasm was developed by crossing donor sources of the translocations into 24 Australian adapted varieties producing 340 genotypes. Yield trials were conducted in 14 environments to identify effects on yield and yield components. The T4 translocations had a positive effect on yield in one high yielding environment, but negatively affected yield in low-yielding environments. The TC14 translocation was generally benign, however, it was associated with a negative impact on yield and reduced height in two genetic backgrounds. The translocation was also associated with a delayed maturity in several backgrounds. The T4 translocations results were consistent with previously published data, whilst this is the first time that such an investigation has been undertaken on the TC14 translocation. Our data suggests a limited role for each of these translocations in Australia. The T4 translocations may be useful in high yielding environments, such as under irrigation in NSW and in the more productive high rainfall regions of south-eastern Australia. Traits associated with the TC14 translocation, such as BYDV resistance and delayed maturity, would make this translocation useful in BYDV-prone areas that experience a less pronounced terminal drought (e.g., south-eastern Australia).
Abstract: The effects of regional water management practices (WMPs) on the soil salinity of a representative rice field under Mediterranean conditions (Thessaloniki plain, Greece) were investigated. The temporal variation of soil salinity parameters in the soil solution and in the exchangeable phase was monitored at and below the root zone (15–20 and 35–40 cm) during the growing season. The comparative analysis (ANOVA for p = 0.05) of the measurements before and after the growing season showed that: (a) for the soil solution of the 15–20 cm layer, Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, HCO3− and EC were significantly reduced, Na+ remained constant and Cl− increased, while in the 35–40 cm layer no significant differences were detected to all parameters except for Cl− which was increased; (b) for the exchangeable cations Ca2+, Mg2+ and K+ no significant differences were found, while exchangeable Na+ and ESP were significantly increased in both soil layers during the short period of soil drying before harvest. The final values of Na+ and ESP were quite low to indicate soil degradation hazard. Overall the results showed adequate performance of WMPs to preserve a good soil salinity status but with the cost of high water consumption, exceeding 2000 mm.