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Agronomy, Volume 11, Issue 6 (June 2021) – 243 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Moringa oleifera Lam. is cultivated as a new summer super-forage field crop in Israel, yet no weed control protocol has been developed for it. The objective of the study was to evaluate weed control tools for the moringa agro-system in semi-arid regions. We tested various herbicides applied pre (PRE) and post (POST) crop emergence and cultivation methods, with an emphasis on crop safety. The PRE herbicides were the most effective and safe control mean, with minor crop fresh weight reductions. The POST herbicides were also effective, yet their crop safety level was lower. Cultivation was less effective than the herbicide treatments and caused higher fresh weight reduction. However, this means was more effective when applied at earlier stages. Our results show the potential use of different herbicides and non-chemical tools and set the basis for a future IWM protocol for moringa. View [...] Read more.
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Article
Factors Influencing Adoption of Compost Made from Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste and Purchasing Pattern: A Survey of Italian Professional and Hobbyist Users
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1262; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061262 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 364
Abstract
Composting represents an alternative for the management of the organic fraction from municipal waste. However, the adoption of compost made from municipal waste is not yet widespread across all European countries, including Italy. Being ‘professional’ (i.e., farmers and gardeners) and ‘hobbyists’ the most [...] Read more.
Composting represents an alternative for the management of the organic fraction from municipal waste. However, the adoption of compost made from municipal waste is not yet widespread across all European countries, including Italy. Being ‘professional’ (i.e., farmers and gardeners) and ‘hobbyists’ the most representative categories of compost buyers in Italy, this study investigated their attitude toward municipal waste compost adoption and their purchasing pattern, pointing out criticalities and strategies to promote a wider use of this kind of compost. For the two categories of users, frequency of use of different information, buying habits, opinions on marketing issues, and factors which encourage compost utilization were investigated. The ‘professionals’ and ‘hobbyists’ reported different purchasing behaviors in terms of quantity, frequency, and preferred packaging format. The capability of compost from municipal waste to improve soil characteristics and its low environmental impact were identified as the most significant aspects for users, while availability of economic subsidies was not a determining factor for municipal waste compost adoption. With regard to the information sources, the broader use of personal communication channels like peers’ suggestions may have influence on compost adoption pointing out how social influence can promote sustainable behavior and influence users’ purchasing choices. Full article
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Review
The Future of Essentially Derived Variety (EDV) Status: Predominantly More Explanations or Essential Change
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1261; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061261 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 331
Abstract
This review examines the categorization of Essentially Derived Varieties (EDV) introduced in the 1991 revision of the Convention of the Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales (UPOV). Other non-UPOV member countries (India, Malaysia, and Thailand) have also introduced the concept of [...] Read more.
This review examines the categorization of Essentially Derived Varieties (EDV) introduced in the 1991 revision of the Convention of the Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales (UPOV). Other non-UPOV member countries (India, Malaysia, and Thailand) have also introduced the concept of essential derivation. China, a UPOV member operating under the 1978 Convention, is introducing EDVs via seed laws. Challenges in the implementation of the concept and progress made to provide greater clarity and more efficient implementation are reviewed, including in Australia and India. The current approach to EDV remains valid provided (i) clarity on thresholds can be achieved including through resource intensive research on an individual crop species basis and (ii) that threshold clarity does not lead to perverse incentives to avoid detection of essential derivation. However, technological advances that facilitate the simultaneous introduction or change in expression of more than “a few” genes may well fundamentally challenge the concept of essential derivation and require a revision of the Convention. Revision could include deletion of the concept of essential derivation coupled with changes to the breeder exception on a crop-by-crop basis. Stakeholders might also benefit from greater flexibility within a revised Convention. Consideration should be given to allowing members to choose if and when to introduce changes according to a revised Convention on a crop specific basis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Policies in Plant Breeding—Rights and Obligations)
Review
Potential Application of Genomic Technologies in Breeding for Fungal and Oomycete Disease Resistance in Pea
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1260; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061260 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 323
Abstract
Growth and yield of pea crops are severely affected by various fungal diseases, including root rot, Ascochyta blight, powdery mildew, and rust, in different parts of the world. Conventional breeding methods have led to enhancement of host plant resistance against these diseases in [...] Read more.
Growth and yield of pea crops are severely affected by various fungal diseases, including root rot, Ascochyta blight, powdery mildew, and rust, in different parts of the world. Conventional breeding methods have led to enhancement of host plant resistance against these diseases in adapted cultivars, which is the primary option to minimize the yield losses. To support the breeding programs for marker-assisted selection, several successful attempts have been made to detect the genetic loci associated with disease resistance, based on SSR and SNP markers. In recent years, advances in next-generation sequencing platforms, and resulting improvements in high-throughput and economical genotyping methods, have been used to make rapid progress in identification of these loci. The first reference genome sequence of pea was published in 2019 and provides insights on the distribution and architecture of gene families associated with disease resistance. Furthermore, the genome sequence is a resource for anchoring genetic linkage maps, markers identified in multiple studies, identification of candidate genes, and functional genomics studies. The available pea genomic resources and the potential application of genomic technologies for development of disease-resistant cultivars with improved agronomic profile will be discussed, along with the current status of the arising improved pea germplasm. Full article
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Article
Aluminum Toxicity in Sweet Cherry Trees Grown in an Acidic Volcanic Soil
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1259; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061259 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 504
Abstract
Chile is the world’s largest exporter of sweet cherries. New plantings have been shifted to southern regions, where aluminum (Al) phytotoxicity could be a serious constraint on establishing orchards in acidic volcanic soils. This study investigated the effects of soil Al on growth [...] Read more.
Chile is the world’s largest exporter of sweet cherries. New plantings have been shifted to southern regions, where aluminum (Al) phytotoxicity could be a serious constraint on establishing orchards in acidic volcanic soils. This study investigated the effects of soil Al on growth and macronutrient uptake in non-bearing ‘Bing’ on Gisela®6 trees grown in 120 L pots containing volcanic soil with four concentrations of exchangeable Al (0.12, 0.40, 0.60, and 1.24 cmol kg−1). At the end of the first and second seasons after planting, the trees were destructively harvested, and individual organs were analyzed for dry weight, Al concentration, and macronutrient concentration. Increasing soil Al concentrations had a detrimental effect on nutrient uptake and growth, particularly in the second season. However, fine-root growth was significantly reduced from the first season and from low soil Al concentrations. In sweet cherry trees, Al was preferentially accumulated in root tissues and its translocation to aerial organs was restricted. In addition, Al accumulation in fine roots, in conjunction with a reduction in root growth, severely restricted the uptake of N, P, K, Mg, and, particularly, Ca. Therefore, soil acidity must be corrected to ensure the successful establishment of sweet cherry orchards in southern Chile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil-Plant Interaction: Focus on Plant Growth and Soil Biodiversity)
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Article
Exploring the Relationship between Information-Seeking Behavior and Adoption of Biofertilizers among Onion Farmers
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1258; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061258 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 368
Abstract
Recently, there has been increasing concern about reducing and replacing chemical fertilizers with biofertilizers to enhance soil fertility and maintain agroecosystems and sustainable agricultural production. Given that knowledge of biofertilizers is information-intensive, the lack of information-seeking behavior (ISB) might be the primary constraint [...] Read more.
Recently, there has been increasing concern about reducing and replacing chemical fertilizers with biofertilizers to enhance soil fertility and maintain agroecosystems and sustainable agricultural production. Given that knowledge of biofertilizers is information-intensive, the lack of information-seeking behavior (ISB) might be the primary constraint for farmers adopting biofertilizers. This study aimed to analyze how ISB influences farmers’ adoption of biofertilizers, using a sample of 228 onion farmers in Al-Ahsa Governorate, Saudi Arabia. The results indicate that most farmers had a moderate level of ISB. The most frequently accessed sources were mobile applications, extension institutions, and progressive farmers. The results of cluster analysis show that farmers’ ISB differed significantly according to their main occupation. Among the onion farmers, 35%had adopted biofertilizers. The findings also reveal that farm size, attitude toward biofertilizers, the credibility of information sources, and the usefulness of the information positively and significantly influence farmers’ adoption of biofertilizers. It was concluded that understanding the relationship between adoption and ISB could assist policymakers in focusing on knowledge diffusion when designing extension programs and advisory services to facilitate better usage of biofertilizers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farmers’ Adoption of Agricultural Innovations and Their Impact)
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Article
Results of Laboratory Studies of the Automated Sorting System for Root and Onion Crops
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1257; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061257 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 307
Abstract
The roller and sieve machines most commonly used in Russia for the post-harvest processing of root and tuber crops and onions have a number of disadvantages, the main one being a decrease in the quality of sorting due to the contamination of working [...] Read more.
The roller and sieve machines most commonly used in Russia for the post-harvest processing of root and tuber crops and onions have a number of disadvantages, the main one being a decrease in the quality of sorting due to the contamination of working bodies, which increases the quantity of losses during sorting and storage. To obtain high-quality competitive production, it is necessary to combine a number of technological operations during the sorting process, such as dividing the material into classes and fractions by quality and size, as well as identifying and removing damaged products. In order to improve the quality of sorting of root tubers and onions by size, it is necessary to ensure the development of an automatic control system for operating and technological parameters, the use of which will eliminate manual sorting on bulkhead tables in post-harvest processing. To fulfill these conditions, the developed automatic control system must have the ability to identify the material on the sorting surface, taking into account external damage and ensuring the automatic removal of impurities. In this study, the highest sorting accuracy of tubers (of more than 91%) was achieved with a forward speed of 1.2 m/s for the conveyor of the sorting table, with damage to 2.2% of the tubers, which meets the agrotechnical requirements for post-harvest processing. This feature distinguishes the developed device from similar ones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Agriculture: Towards Automation)
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Article
Resistance to Three Distinct Begomovirus Species in the Agronomical Superior Tropical Pumpkin Line AVPU1426 Developed at the World Vegetable Center
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1256; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061256 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
The Squash Leaf Curl China Virus (SLCCNV) and Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi Virus (ToLCNDV) are species of Begomovirus (whitefly-vectored Geminiviridae) and cause serious damage to the cucurbit crops of the genus Cucurbita in the areas of South and Southeast Asia, across [...] Read more.
The Squash Leaf Curl China Virus (SLCCNV) and Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi Virus (ToLCNDV) are species of Begomovirus (whitefly-vectored Geminiviridae) and cause serious damage to the cucurbit crops of the genus Cucurbita in the areas of South and Southeast Asia, across Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, respectively. Cucurbita moschata’s inbred line AVPU1426, developed at the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) from a Bangladeshi landrace through pedigree selection, was observed to be resistant to both begomoviruses in field tests conducted at the WorldVeg Research and Training Station, Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand, which is a hotspot for these viruses. When AVPU1426 was tested for reaction to inoculation by viruliferous whiteflies with Squash Leaf Curl Philippines Virus (Taiwan strain) (SLCPV-TW) in the screen net-house at WorldVeg headquarters in Taiwan, it showed good resistance, though SLCPV-TW DNA-A could be detected in all inoculated plants, indicating that it did not show immunity to this virus. The objective of this study was to validate the resistance to SLCCNV and ToLCNDV in AVPU1426 by using whitefly-mediated inoculations to determine the mode of inheritance of the resistance. The results showed that AVPU1426 was resistant to SLCCNV and ToLCNDV. Upon crossing AVPU1426 with a susceptible check variety, Waltham Butternut, the resistance to both begomoviruses was observed to be conferred by a single recessive gene. This open-pollinated pumpkin line AVPU1426 bears flat round, mottled green immature fruits with yellow flesh in mature fruit. The fruit yield of AVPU1426 (20.74 t/ha−1) was comparable to ‘Rajah’ (18.61 t/ha−1), a recently released commercial F1 hybrid of East-West Seed (EWS). The fruit of AVPU1426 were estimated to have a good average β-carotene content (1.57 mg/100 g fresh weight). This line is a good source to breed pumpkins resistant to the three begomoviruses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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Review
A Review of Climate-Smart Agriculture Research and Applications in Africa
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1255; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061255 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 447
Abstract
Funders and governments are promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as key to agricultural adaptation under climate change in Africa. However, with its progressions still at the policy level and framework description, there is a need to understand the current developments and activities conducted within [...] Read more.
Funders and governments are promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as key to agricultural adaptation under climate change in Africa. However, with its progressions still at the policy level and framework description, there is a need to understand the current developments and activities conducted within the CSA research field. We conducted a scientific mapping and analyses of CSA research studies in Africa to understand the (i) thematic trends, (ii) developments, (iii) nature of collaboration networks, and (iv) general narratives supporting the adoption and application of CSA in Africa. Results show that several African countries had endorsed CSA as an approach to addressing agricultural productivity challenges, supporting adaptation strategies, and building resilience to climate change. However, a majority do not have national Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment Plans (CSAIPs). Additionally, CSA research in Africa is still developing, with only a few countries dominating the research outputs. For a successful implementation of CSA, a framework provided by the CSAIPs must be established to guide the processes. This will provide a framework to guide the integration of government programs, policies, and strategic plans by combining other inputs from stakeholders to support decision making and implementation of CSA. Full article
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Article
Automating Uniformity Trials to Optimize Precision of Agronomic Field Trials
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1254; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061254 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 264
Abstract
Plot size has an important impact on variation among plots in agronomic field trials, but is rarely considered during the design process. Uniformity trials can inform a researcher about underlying variance, but are seldom used due to their laborious nature. The objective of [...] Read more.
Plot size has an important impact on variation among plots in agronomic field trials, but is rarely considered during the design process. Uniformity trials can inform a researcher about underlying variance, but are seldom used due to their laborious nature. The objective of this research was to describe variation in maize field trials among field plots of varying size and develop a tool to optimize field-trial design using uniformity-trial statistics. Six uniformity trials were conducted in 2015–2016 in conjunction with Iowa State University and WinField United. All six uniformity trials exhibited a negative asymptotic relationship between variance and plot size. Variance per unit area was reduced over 50% with plots 41.8 m2 in size and over 75% when using a plot size >111.5 m2 compared to a 13.9 m2 plot. Plot shape within a fixed plot size did not influence variance. The data illustrated fewer replicates were needed as plot size increased, since larger plots reduced variability. Use of a Shiny web application is demonstrated that allows a researcher to upload a yield map and consider uniformity-trial statistics to inform plot size and replicate decisions. Full article
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Article
Preliminary Application of Vermicompost in Rice Production: Effects of Nursery Raising with Vermicompost on Fragrant Rice Performances
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1253; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061253 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 245
Abstract
Vermicompost is an excellent organic fertilizer, but the application of vermicompost in fragrant rice production has not yet been reported. Seedling nursery is an important component of rice production. The present study firstly applied vermicompost in fragrant rice production through nursery raising. The [...] Read more.
Vermicompost is an excellent organic fertilizer, but the application of vermicompost in fragrant rice production has not yet been reported. Seedling nursery is an important component of rice production. The present study firstly applied vermicompost in fragrant rice production through nursery raising. The seedlings of three fragrant rice cultivars were raised in matrix with different rations of vermicompost (the treatment without vermicompost was taken as the control), and the growth parameters and physiological characters of seedlings were investigated. The results showed that, compared with the control, the application of vermicompost significantly (p < 0.05) increased the plant height, stem diameter, fresh weight, and dry weight of fragrant rice seedlings by 11.22–24.73%, 38.34–65.87%, 16.74–30.46%, and 16.61–35.16%, respectively. Nursery raising with vermicompost significantly (p < 0.05) enhanced the net photosynthetic rate by 5.99–12.93%, relative to the control. Higher contents of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, carotenoids, and total chlorophyll were recorded in vermicompost treatments than in the control. Compared with the control, vermicompost treatments also increased root length, surface area, mean diameter, root volume, root tip number, and root activity of fragrant rice seedlings by 12.42–27.82%, 15.04–38.65%, 12.64–23.12%, 42.41–63.58%, 18.62–24.95%, and 12.01–26.29%, respectively. Moreover, nursery raising with vermicompost enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes including superoxide, peroxidase, and catalase by 7.97–24.21%, 17.11–44.99%, and 7.37–15.95%, respectively, relative to the control. Moreover, 7.92–29.40% lower malondialdehyde contents were recorded in vermicompost treatments compared with the control. Therefore, nursery raising with vermicompost could be a good agronomy practice in machine-transplanted fragrant rice. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of the Tolerance Ability of Wheat Genotypes to Drought Stress: Dissection through Culm-Reserves Contribution and Grain Filling Physiology
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1252; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061252 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 767
Abstract
Drought stress is one of the limiting factors for grain filling and yield in wheat. The grain filling and determinants of individual grain weight depend on current assimilation and extent of remobilization of culm reserves to grains. A pot experiment was conducted with [...] Read more.
Drought stress is one of the limiting factors for grain filling and yield in wheat. The grain filling and determinants of individual grain weight depend on current assimilation and extent of remobilization of culm reserves to grains. A pot experiment was conducted with eight wheat cultivars at the Pot House to study the grain filling and the contributions of reserves in culm, including the sheath to grain yield under drought stress. Drought stress was enforced by restricting irrigation during the grain-filling period. The plants (tillers) were harvested at anthesis, milk-ripe, and maturity. The changes in dry weights of leaves, culm with sheath, spikes, and grains; and the contribution of culm reserves to grain yield were determined. Results revealed that drought stress considerably decreased the grain filling duration by 15–24% and grain yield by 11–34%. Further, drought-induced early leaf senescence and reduced total dry matter production indicate the minimum contribution of current assimilation to grain yield. The stress reduced the contribution of culm reserves, the water-soluble carbohydrates (WSCs), to the grains. The accumulation of culm WSCs reached peak at milk ripe stage in control, varied from 28.6 to 84 mg culm−1 and that significantly reduced in the range from 14.9 to 40.6 mg culm−1 in stressed plants. The residual culm WSCs in control and stressed plants varied from 1.23 to 8.12 and 1.00 to 3.40 mg g−1 culm dry mass, respectively. BARI Gom 24 exhibited a higher contribution of culm WSCs to grain yield under drought, while the lowest contribution was found in Kanchan. Considering culm reserves WSCs and their remobilization along with other studied traits, BARI Gom 24 showed greater drought tolerance and revealed potential to grow under water deficit conditions in comparison to other cultivars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Crop Physiology and Stress)
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Article
Water and Nutrient Balance in an Ornamental Cascade Cropping System
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1251; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061251 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 349
Abstract
Seedlings of Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Dracaena deremensis and Dracaena marginata were grown in plastic containers filled with sphagnum peat-moss to assess the effects of three different water systems on plant growth, water saving and nutrient removal during the experimental period. The experiment lasted [...] Read more.
Seedlings of Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Dracaena deremensis and Dracaena marginata were grown in plastic containers filled with sphagnum peat-moss to assess the effects of three different water systems on plant growth, water saving and nutrient removal during the experimental period. The experiment lasted for 8 weeks and consisted of three water systems. These consisted of an open draining system fertigated with a standard nutrient solution (system T0) and two closed systems: sequential reuse of the leachate (system T1) and sequential reuse of the leachate with the addition of H2O2 (system T2). Over the course of the experiment, samples of water and supplies generated in each water treatment were collected weekly, and from these data water volume and nutrient loads were calculated. The addition of H2O2 to the leachate resulted in an enhancement in plant dry weight in Dracaena deremensis and Dracaena marginata. Regarding anion loads (Cl, NO3, H2PO4, SO42−) in these water systems, there was a removal rate of 42%, 28%, 27% and 28%, respectively, in the closed systems compared to the open system. For the cation loads (Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+) in these water systems, there was a removal rate from 28% to 29%, respectively, in the closed systems compared to the open system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management of Crops Fertigation)
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Article
Comparative Study of Biostimulant Properties of Industrially and Experimentally Produced Humic Substances
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1250; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061250 - 20 Jun 2021
Viewed by 337
Abstract
Demand for new biological technologies in agriculture is ever growing, particularly with respect to the need of restoring the soil organic matter and soil fertility. Products of natural origin are developed to stimulate plant growth and productivity. Humic substances (HS) are the decay [...] Read more.
Demand for new biological technologies in agriculture is ever growing, particularly with respect to the need of restoring the soil organic matter and soil fertility. Products of natural origin are developed to stimulate plant growth and productivity. Humic substances (HS) are the decay products of living matter, with high molecular weight and complex structure. Nowadays, HS are industrially produced from various materials like peat, lignin, soil and compost. The objective of this study is to make a comparison of the impact of HS of different origin on plant development. In total, eight different HS were used; four were extracted from various materials and four were commercially available products. To evaluate the stimulating effect, three different species of plants were used (Triticum aestivum, Sinapis alba, Lepidum sativum). The tests were carried out on Phytotestkit plates, germinating the seeds in different solutions of HS in various concentrations in dark, with or without added nutrient solution. Then, the growth parameters were measured. All tested products showed increase in at least some concentrations compared with the control sample. Significant differences in the stimulating effect of HS depending on their origin were found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humic Substances: A Novel Eco-Friendly Fertilizer)
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Article
Preliminary Predictive Model of Termiticidal and Repellent Activities of Essential Oil Extracted from Ocotea quixos Leaves against Nasutitermes corniger (Isoptera: Termitidae) Using One-Factor Response Surface Methodology Design
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1249; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061249 - 20 Jun 2021
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Termites are one of the most challenging pests that agriculture and urban environments are faced with. They bring substantial losses in annual and perennial crops and damage wood components at construction sites. The development of natural products with biological activity for termite control [...] Read more.
Termites are one of the most challenging pests that agriculture and urban environments are faced with. They bring substantial losses in annual and perennial crops and damage wood components at construction sites. The development of natural products with biological activity for termite control is an ecological alternative in the search to replace conventional products. Hence, the aim of this research was to predict the termiticidal and repellent effects of the essential oil from Ocotea quixos leaves on Nasutitermes corniger using a one-factor response surface methodology design. The variable analysed was the concentration of essential oil in ethanol at an interval of 0.3–0.05% for anti-termite activity and between 0.12 and 0.01% for repellent action. A 100% mortality rate was found at concentrations higher than 0.12% and at the minimum concentration analysed, the effect was 22.2%. As for the repellent action, the concentration of 0.12% was able to repel 100% of the termites and at 0.01% it repelled 48.9%. The analysis of the essential oil from Ocotea quixos leaves by GC-MS resulted in the presence of 42 compounds, 39 of them elucidated. The main compounds were (E)-cinnamyl acetate (36.44%), (E)-cinnamaldehyde (27.03%), (E)-β-caryophyllene (5.21%) and (E)-methyl isoeugenol (4.18%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants)
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Article
Phytohormonal and Transcriptomic Response of Hulless Barley Leaf in Response to Powdery Mildew Infection
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1248; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061248 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 422
Abstract
Powdery mildew (PM) caused by Blumeria graminis (DC.) Golovin ex Speer f. sp. hordei Marchal (Bgh) is one of the major yield reducing diseases in hulless barley (Hordeum vulgare L. var. nudum Hook. f.). Genotypes with contrasting resistance to PM [...] Read more.
Powdery mildew (PM) caused by Blumeria graminis (DC.) Golovin ex Speer f. sp. hordei Marchal (Bgh) is one of the major yield reducing diseases in hulless barley (Hordeum vulgare L. var. nudum Hook. f.). Genotypes with contrasting resistance to PM offer unique opportunities to explore the transcriptome in order to understand the expression changes in genes and pathways. In this study, we explored the phytohormone levels and transcriptome of a Bgh susceptible (XL19) and resistant (ZYM1288) hulless barley genotypes at 0, 5, 12, 24, and 36 h post infection (hpi) with Bgh. We found relatively higher levels of abscisic acid, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid, and cytokinins in ZYM1288. The transcriptome analyses identified 31,354 genes that were enriched in signaling, energy, and defense related pathways. Higher numbers of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found in XL19 as compared to ZYM1288 after 5 (3603 vs. 2341) and 12 hpi (3530 vs. 2416). However, after 24 and 36 hpi, the number of DEGs was higher in ZYM1288 as compared to XL19 i.e., 3625 vs. 3034 and 5855 vs. 2725, respectively. Changes in hormone levels drove downstream expression changes in plant-hormone signaling that helped ZYM1288 to perform better under Bgh infection. The expression of DEGs in MAPK-signaling and Toll-like receptor signaling pathways, glucosinolate biosynthesis, glutathione metabolism, brassinosteroid metabolism, and energy related pathways indicated their common roles in defense against PM. Key genes related to PM-resistance were upregulated in the resistant genotype. These genes provide key information towards differences in both genotypes towards resistance to PM. The transcriptomic signatures explored in this study will broaden our understanding towards molecular regulation of resistance to PM in hulless barley. Full article
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Article
Genetic Gain for Grain Micronutrients and Their Association with Phenology in Historical Wheat Cultivars Released between 1911 and 2016 in Pakistan
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1247; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061247 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 445
Abstract
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), being a staple food crop, is an important nutritional source providing protein and minerals. It is important to fortify staple cereals such as wheat with essential minerals to overcome the problems associated with malnutrition. The experiment was designed [...] Read more.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), being a staple food crop, is an important nutritional source providing protein and minerals. It is important to fortify staple cereals such as wheat with essential minerals to overcome the problems associated with malnutrition. The experiment was designed to evaluate the status of 11 micronutrients including grain iron (GFe) and zinc (GZn) in 62 wheat cultivars released between 1911 and 2016 in Pakistan. Field trials were conducted over two years and GFe and GZn were quantified by both inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrophotometer (EDXRF). The GZn ranged from 18.4 to 40.8 mg/kg by ED-XRF and 23.7 to 38.8 mg/kg by ICP-OES. Similarly, GFe ranged from 24.8 to 44.1 mg/kg by ICP-OES and 26.8 to 36.6 mg/kg by EDEXR. The coefficient of correlation was higher for GZn (r = 0.90), compared to GFe (r = 0.68). Modern cultivars such as Zincol-16 and AAS-2011 showed higher GFe and GZn along with improved yield components. Old wheat cultivars WL-711, C-518 and Pothowar-70, released before 1970, also exhibited higher values of GFe and GZn; however, their agronomic performance was poor. Multivariate analysis using eleven micronutrients (Fe, Zn, Al, Ca, Cu, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Se and P) along with agronomic traits, and genome-wide SNP markers identified the potential cultivar with improved yield, biofortification and wider genetic diversity. Genetic gain analysis identified a significant increase in grain yield (0.4% year−1), while there was negative gain for GFe (−0.11% year−1) and GZn (−0.15% year−1) over the span of 100 years. The Green Revolution Rht-B1 and Rht-D1 genes had a strong association with plant height and grain yield (GY), while semi-dwarfing alleles had a negative effect on GFe and GZn contents. This study provided a valuable insight into the biofortification status of wheat cultivars deployed historically in Pakistan and is a valuable source to initiate a breeding strategy for simultaneous improvement in wheat phenology and biofortification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Genetics, Genomics and Breeding of Cereal Crops)
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Article
Post-Harvest Enhancing and Botrytis cinerea Control of Strawberry Fruits Using Low Cost and Eco-Friendly Natural Oils
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1246; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061246 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 461
Abstract
This work investigates an experimental study for using low-cost and eco-friendly oils to increase the shelf life of strawberry fruit. Three natural oils were used: (i) Eucalyptus camaldulensis var obtuse, (ii) Mentha piperita green aerial parts essential oils (EOs), and (iii) Moringa [...] Read more.
This work investigates an experimental study for using low-cost and eco-friendly oils to increase the shelf life of strawberry fruit. Three natural oils were used: (i) Eucalyptus camaldulensis var obtuse, (ii) Mentha piperita green aerial parts essential oils (EOs), and (iii) Moringa oleifera seeds n-hexane fixed oil (FO). Furthermore, a mixture of EOs from E. camaldulensis var obtusa and M. piperita (1/1 v/v) was used. The treated fruits were stored at 5 °C and 90% relative humidity (RH) for 18 days. HPLC was used to analyse the changes in phenolic compounds during the storage periods. The effects of biofumigation through a slow-release diffuser of EOs (E. camaldulensis var obtusa and M. piperita), or by coating with M. oleifera FO, were evaluated in terms of control of post-harvest visual and chemical quality of strawberry fruits. The post-harvest resistance of strawberry fruits to Botrytis cinerea fungal infection was also evaluated. As a result, the EO treatments significantly reduced the change in visual and chemical quality of strawberry fruit. Additionally, changes in the titratable acidity of moringa FO-coated strawberry fruits were delayed. EO treatments improved total soluble solids, total phenols, ascorbic acid, antioxidants and peroxidase. E. camaldulensis var obtusa and M. piperita (1/1 v/v) EO-vapour fruit exhibited a slower rate of deterioration, compared to other treatments in all tested, in two experiments. The lowest colour change (ΔE) was observed inthe fruit treated with E. camaldulensis var obtusa EO and M. oleifera FO. HPLC showed changes in phenolic compounds’ concentration, where p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, gallic acid, ferulic acid and ellagic acid were mostly identified in the fruits treated with the oils. SEM examination confirmed the potential decrease in fungal growth as the fruits were treated with EOs. In conclusion, the treatment of EOs during different storage periods showed promising characterisations for strawberry fruit quality. Full article
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Communication
Modeling Soil Water Content and Crop-Growth Metrics in a Wheat Field in the North China Plain Using RZWQM2
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1245; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061245 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 437
Abstract
Soil water content (SWC) is an important factor restricting crop growth and yield in cropland ecosystems. The observation and simulation of soil moisture contribute greatly to improving water-use efficiency and crop yield. This study was conducted at the Shandong Yucheng Agro-ecosystem National Observation [...] Read more.
Soil water content (SWC) is an important factor restricting crop growth and yield in cropland ecosystems. The observation and simulation of soil moisture contribute greatly to improving water-use efficiency and crop yield. This study was conducted at the Shandong Yucheng Agro-ecosystem National Observation and Research Station in the North China Plain. The study period was across the winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) growth stages from 2017 to 2019. A cosmic-ray neutron probe was used to monitor the continuous daily SWC. Furthermore, the crop leaf area index (LAI), yield, and aboveground biomass of winter wheat were determined. The root zone quality model 2 (RZWQM2) was used to simulate and validate the SWC, crop LAI, yield, and aboveground biomass. The results showed that the simulation errors of SWC were minute across the wheat growth stages and mature stages in 2017–2019. The root mean square error (RMSE) and relative root mean square error (RRMSE) of the SWC simulation at the jointing stage of winter wheat were 0.0296 and 0.1605 in 2017–2018, and 0.0265 and 0.1480 in 2018–2019, respectively. During the rain-affected days, the RMSE (0.0253) and RRMSE (0.0980) for 2017–2018 were significantly lower than those of 2018–2019 (0.0301 and 0.1458, respectively), indicating that rain events decreased the model accuracy in the dry years compared to the wet years. The simulated LAIs were significantly higher than the measured values. The simulated yield value of winter wheat was 5.61% lower and 3.92% higher than the measured yield in 2017–2018 and in 2018–2019, respectively. The simulated value of aboveground biomass was significantly (45.48%) lower than the measured value in 2017–2018. This study showed that, compared with the dry and cold wheat growth period of 2018–2019, the higher precipitation and temperature in 2017–2018 led to a poorer simulation of SWC and crop-growth components. This study indicated that annual abnormal rainfall and temperature had a significant influence on the simulation of SWC and wheat growth, especially under intensive climate-change stress conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Irrigation)
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Study Protocol
Phenotyping Anther Extrusion of Wheat Using Image Analysis
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1244; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061244 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 365
Abstract
Phenotyping wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is time-consuming and new methods are necessary to decrease labor. To develop a heterotic pool of male wheat lines for hybrid breeding, there must be an efficient way to measure both anther extrusion and the size of [...] Read more.
Phenotyping wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is time-consuming and new methods are necessary to decrease labor. To develop a heterotic pool of male wheat lines for hybrid breeding, there must be an efficient way to measure both anther extrusion and the size of anthers. Five hundred and ninety-four soft red winter wheat lines in two replications of randomized complete block design were phenotyped for anther extrusion, a key trait for hybrid wheat production. A device was constructed to capture images using a mobile device. Four heads were sampled per line when anthesis was evident for half the heads in the plot. The extruded anthers were scraped onto a surface, their image was captured, and the area of the anthers was taken via ImageJ. The number of anthers extruded was estimated by counting the number of anthers per image and dividing by the number of heads sampled. The area per anther was taken by dividing the area of anthers per spike by the number of anthers per spike. A significant correlation (R=0.9, p<0.0001) was observed between the area of anthers per spike and the number of anthers per spike. This method is proposed as a substitute for field ratings of anther extrusion and to quantitatively measure the size of anthers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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Article
Utilizing TVDI and NDWI to Classify Severity of Agricultural Drought in Chuping, Malaysia
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1243; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061243 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 386
Abstract
Agricultural drought is crucial in understanding the relationship to crop production functions which can be monitored using satellite remote sensors. The aim of this research is to combine temperature vegetation dryness index (TVDI) and normalized difference water index (NDWI) classifications for identifying drought [...] Read more.
Agricultural drought is crucial in understanding the relationship to crop production functions which can be monitored using satellite remote sensors. The aim of this research is to combine temperature vegetation dryness index (TVDI) and normalized difference water index (NDWI) classifications for identifying drought areas in Chuping, Malaysia which has regularly recorded high temperatures. TVDI and NDWI are assessed using three images of the dry spell period in March for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. NDWI value representing water content in vegetation decreases numerically to −0.39, −0.37 and −0.36 for the year 2015, 2016 and 2017. Normalized difference vegetation indices (NDVI) values representing vegetation health status in the given area for images of years 2015 to 2017 decreases significantly (p ≤ 0.05) from 0.50 to 0.35 respectively. Overall, TVDI in the Chuping area showed agricultural drought with an average value of 0.46. However, Kilang Gula Chuping area in Chuping showed a significant increase in dryness for all of the three years assessed with an average value of 0.70. When both TVDI and NDWI were assessed, significant clustering of spots in Chuping, Perlis for all the 3 years was identified where geographical local regressions of 0.84, 0.70 and 0.70 for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 was determined. Furthermore, Moran’s I values revealed that the research area had a high I value of 0.63, 0.30 and 0.23 with respective Z scores of 17.80, 8.63 and 6.77 for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017, indicating that the cluster relationship is significant in the 95–99 percent confidence interval. Using both indices alone was sufficient to understand the drier spots of Chuping over 3 years. The findings of this research will be of interest to local agriculture authorities, like plantation and meteorology departments to understand drier areas in the state to evaluate water deficits severity and cloud seeding points during drought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoinformatics Application in Agriculture)
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Article
Biochar Improves Root Growth of Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb. Container Seedlings
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1242; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061242 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 361
Abstract
Background: The faulty development of the root system is a major threat that affects the survival rate of container seedlings of Sapium sebiferum in the transplanting and reforestation processes. The current study was conducted to determine the impact of biochar on the root [...] Read more.
Background: The faulty development of the root system is a major threat that affects the survival rate of container seedlings of Sapium sebiferum in the transplanting and reforestation processes. The current study was conducted to determine the impact of biochar on the root growth and development of S. sebiferum container seedlings. Methods: Varied concentrations (1%, 3%, and 5%) of straw and bamboo biochar were applied in six groups, whereas the control group (CK) was only treated with matrix. Results: The treatment with 3% straw biochar (C2) proved to be the most effective soil conditioner for cultivating S. sebiferum seedlings. Moreover, C2 increased seedling height (58.92%); ground diameter (33.86%, biomass of the over-ground part (12.73 g), the underground part (7.48 g), and the fibrous part (0.076 g) compared to the CK (control). Conclusions: Biochar not only improved the root morphology by developing primary lateral roots, but it also accelerated the assimilation of N from the matrix to indirectly facilitate stem growth through enhancing NR activity. The change in root growth strategy contributed to the growth in S. sebiferum seedlings, thereby improving the survival rate during transplanting and reforestation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of Biochar on Organisms)
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Article
Earthworm Abundance Changes Depending on Soil Management Practices in Slovenian Vineyards
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1241; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061241 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 382
Abstract
Earthworms are key indicators of soil quality and health in vineyards, but research that considers different soil management systems, especially in Slovenian viticultural areas is scarce. In this investigation, the impact of different soil management practices such as permanent green cover, the use [...] Read more.
Earthworms are key indicators of soil quality and health in vineyards, but research that considers different soil management systems, especially in Slovenian viticultural areas is scarce. In this investigation, the impact of different soil management practices such as permanent green cover, the use of herbicides in row and inter-row areas, use of straw mulch, and shallow soil tillage compared to meadow control for earthworm abundance, were assessed. The biomass and abundance of earthworms (m2) and distribution in various soil layers were quantified for three years. Monitoring and a survey covering 22 May 2014 to 5 October 2016 in seven different sampling dates, along with a soil profile at the depth from 0 to 60 cm, were carried out. Our results showed that the lowest mean abundance and biomass of earthworms in all sampling periods were registered along the herbicide strip (within the rows). The highest abundance was found in the straw mulch and permanent green cover treatments (higher than in the control). On the plots where the herbicide was applied to the complete inter-row area, the abundance of the earthworm community decreased from the beginning to the end of the monitoring period. In contrast, shallow tillage showed a similar trend of declining earthworm abundance, which could indicate a deterioration of soil biodiversity conditions. We concluded that different soil management practices greatly affect the soil’s environmental conditions (temperature and humidity), especially in the upper soil layer (up to 15 cm deep), which affects the abundance of the earthworm community. Our results demonstrated that these practices need to be adapted to the climate and weather conditions, and also to human impacts. Full article
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Article
Seeding Rate Effects on Hybrid Spring Wheat Yield, Yield Components, and Quality
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1240; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061240 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 343
Abstract
Agronomic practices, such as planting date, seeding rate, and genotype, commonly influence hard red spring wheat (HRSW, Triticum aestivum L. emend. Thell.) production. Determining the agronomic optimum seeding rate (AOSR) of newly developed hybrids is needed as they respond to seeding rates differently [...] Read more.
Agronomic practices, such as planting date, seeding rate, and genotype, commonly influence hard red spring wheat (HRSW, Triticum aestivum L. emend. Thell.) production. Determining the agronomic optimum seeding rate (AOSR) of newly developed hybrids is needed as they respond to seeding rates differently from inbred cultivars. The objectives of this research were to determine the AOSR of new HRSW hybrids, how seeding rate alters their various yield components, and whether hybrids offer increased end-use quality, compared to conventional cultivars. The performance of two cultivars (inbreds) and five hybrids was evaluated in nine North Dakota environments at five seeding rates in 2019−2020. Responses to seeding rate for yield and protein yield differed among the genotypes. The AOSR ranged from 3.60 to 5.19 million seeds ha−1 and 2.22 to 3.89 million seeds ha−1 for yield and protein yield, respectively. The average AOSR for yield for the hybrids was similar to that of conventional cultivars. However, the maximum protein yield of the hybrids was achieved at 0.50 million seeds ha−1 less than that of the cultivars tested. The yield component that explained the greatest proportion of differences in yield as seeding rates varied was kernels spike−1 (r = 0.17 to 0.43). The end-use quality of the hybrids tested was not superior to that of the conventional cultivars, indicating that yield will likely be the determinant of the economic feasibility of any future released hybrids. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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Review
Tools for Nano-Enabled Agriculture: Fertilizers Based on Calcium Phosphate, Silicon, and Chitosan Nanostructures
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1239; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061239 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 476
Abstract
The Green New Deal requires a profound transformation of the agricultural sector, which will have to become more sustainable and ensure universal access to healthy food. Thus, it will be essential to introduce radical technological innovations. Nanotechnologies have the potential to produce a [...] Read more.
The Green New Deal requires a profound transformation of the agricultural sector, which will have to become more sustainable and ensure universal access to healthy food. Thus, it will be essential to introduce radical technological innovations. Nanotechnologies have the potential to produce a significant boost to the improvement of the food system. Within this context, in the next years, a strong challenge will need to be faced regarding developing new and more efficient uses of nutrients in agriculture, being the nutrient use efficiency (NUE) paramount in sustaining high crop productivity without depleting biodiversity, and altering both the natural and agricultural systems. Nutrients leaching causes environmental pollution and water eutrophication, while nutrient excess favors pest and weed widespread. Therefore, it will be mandatory to improve plant nutrition efficiency without affecting agricultural productivity and economic sustainability. A promising alternative consists of the introduction of the so-called nanomaterial enhanced fertilizers and plant growth stimulators. Such innovation includes nanotechnological solutions that can improve nutrient delivery for a more finely tuned, accurate, and saving-resources distribution of nutrients. This review provides a critical view of the latest advances in nanofertilizer research, mainly referring to nano-hydroxyapatite, silica nanoparticles, and chitosan-derived nanostructures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Nanotechnology in Sustainable Agriculture)
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Article
Agromorphological Characterization and Nutritional Value of Traditional Almond Cultivars Grown in the Central-Western Iberian Peninsula
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1238; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061238 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 284
Abstract
In this study, 24 traditional almond cultivars grown in the central-western Iberian Peninsula, all of them clearly in decline or close to extinction, were characterized from the agromorphological and chemical points of view. A total of 40 agromorphological and chemical descriptors, mainly defined [...] Read more.
In this study, 24 traditional almond cultivars grown in the central-western Iberian Peninsula, all of them clearly in decline or close to extinction, were characterized from the agromorphological and chemical points of view. A total of 40 agromorphological and chemical descriptors, mainly defined by the IPGRI and the UPOV, were used to describe the flowers, leaves, fruits and the trees themselves over three consecutive years (2015–2017). Some of the cultivars showed distinctive and interesting agronomical characteristics from a commercial point of view, such as high yields and high quality fruit. This was the case of the almond cultivars called “Gorda José” and “Marcelina”. Their fruits were quite heavy (nuts: >9.1 g; kernels: >1.9 g), with very low percentages of double kernels (<3%) and high nutritional value (>50% lipids; >21% proteins). The results of the PCA and cluster analysis showed that agromorphological and chemical analysis can provide reliable information on the variability in almond genotypes. This work constitutes an important step in the conservation of genetic almond resources in the central-western Iberian Peninsula. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Old Germplasm for New Needs: Managing Crop Genetic Resources)
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Article
Performance of Hydroponically Cultivated Geranium and Common Verbena under Salinity and High Electrical Conductivity Levels
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1237; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061237 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 333
Abstract
Abiotic factors in nutrient solutions (NSs), such as salinity and high electrical conductivity (EC), may adversely alter plant growth and crop performance. However, there are medicinal/aromatic plants which can not only withstand these adverse conditions, but which can also increase their productivity or [...] Read more.
Abiotic factors in nutrient solutions (NSs), such as salinity and high electrical conductivity (EC), may adversely alter plant growth and crop performance. However, there are medicinal/aromatic plants which can not only withstand these adverse conditions, but which can also increase their productivity or even enhance their quality in such conditions. As fresh water sources suitable for irrigation are becoming more and more limited, the use of low-quality water sources and hydroponic growing systems have been suggested as the main alternatives. Towards that direction, this study aims to evaluate the effect of high EC levels in NSs on geranium (Pelargonium graveolens L’Hér.) and common verbena (Verbena officinallis L.) plants cultivated in a soilless (perlite) hydroponics system. Plants were irrigated with a full nutrient solution of EC 2.1 dS m−1 and pH 5.8 until they reached a uniform size. Then, three treatments were applied, namely: (a) a control treatment with an EC of 2.1 dS m−1 in the NS, (b) a high-salinity NS created by adding 75 mM of NaCl (EC under 8.5 dS m−1) and (c) a concentrated NS with an EC of 8.5 dS m−1. In pelargonium, high salinity decreased the total phenolic and total flavonoid contents; antioxidant capacity; N, K, Mg and P content; as well as chlorophyll fluorescence, compared to the control treatment. On the other hand, increased salinity levels increased the Na and Ca content and stomatal resistance. In common verbena, salinity decreased total phenolic content and chlorophyll fluorescence but increased total flavonoid content; antioxidants; leaf K, P, Na, Cu and Zn content; and stomatal resistance, compared to the control. In both species, high EC did not affect polyphenols, flavonoids or antioxidants, whereas it increased stomatal resistance and nutrient accumulation in the leaves, and decreased chlorophyll fluorescence compared to the control treatment. Damage indices, indicated by lipid peroxidation, hydrogen peroxide production and the elevation of enzymes’ antioxidant activities, were evidenced in both saline- and high-EC-treated plants. In conclusion, despite having the same EC levels in the nutrient solution, it seems that ionic stress caused by high mineral concentrations in the nutrient solution had less severe effects on the tested plants than the relevant osmotic stress caused by high salinity due to the addition of NaCl in the nutrient solution. Full article
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Review
The Role of Peat-Free Organic Substrates in the Sustainable Management of Soilless Cultivations
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1236; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061236 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 362
Abstract
Vegetable and ornamental crops require high input demand to adequately support their standard commercial quality and yield. For these crops, a very high level of agronomic use efficiency of many productive factors can be achieved in soilless culture. For example, the benefits derived [...] Read more.
Vegetable and ornamental crops require high input demand to adequately support their standard commercial quality and yield. For these crops, a very high level of agronomic use efficiency of many productive factors can be achieved in soilless culture. For example, the benefits derived from the adoption of soilless closed loops for the recirculation of the nutrient solution are well known as a benchmark of excellence for nutrient and water use efficiency. The challenges that we now face are as follows: (i) making soilless systems more inclusive of sustainable and eco-friendly growing substrates, possibly available at a local level; (ii) replacing chemicals with more sustainable products (e.g., organic active compounds) as much as possible for plant nutrition and protection. These goals can be addressed by following different approaches, but the adoption of peat-free organic substrates may play a central role. This work investigates four organic materials, i.e., biochar, coir, green compost, and wood fibers, to assess their role in plant nutrition and protection when used as components for the preparation of growing media in the soilless cultivation of containerized crops. In further detail, the work highlights how these materials may support normal agronomic practices. Full article
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Article
Analysis of the Forecast Price as a Factor of Sustainable Development of Agriculture
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1235; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061235 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 375
Abstract
Analysis of the rise in prices for consumer goods is a state’s priority task. The state assumes the obligation to regulate pricing in all spheres of consumption. First of all, the prices for essential commodities to which agricultural products belong are analyzed. The [...] Read more.
Analysis of the rise in prices for consumer goods is a state’s priority task. The state assumes the obligation to regulate pricing in all spheres of consumption. First of all, the prices for essential commodities to which agricultural products belong are analyzed. The article shows the changes in prices for consumer goods of agricultural products (sugar) during a pandemic. The analysis of forecasting prices for sugar and its impact on the development of its production is carried out. The construction of the forecast model was based on extrapolation. The structure of a forecast model for price changes was based on the analysis of the time series of the Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) class. This model consists of an autoregressive model and a moving average model. A forecast of the volume of domestic sugar transportation by rail has been completed. The algorithms implemented this model for searching for initial approximations and optimal parameters for the predictive model. The Hirotsugu Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was used to select the best model. The algorithms were implemented in the Python programming language. The quality check of the description was performed with a predictive model of actual data. An economic interpretation of the rise in sugar prices and proof of the forecast’s truth obtained from a financial point of view were carried out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farming Sustainability)
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Article
The Importance of Environmental Factors for the Development of Water Erosion of Soil in Agricultural Land: The Southern Part of Hronská Pahorkatina Hill Land, Slovakia
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1234; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061234 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 321
Abstract
The water erosion research was carried out in the lowland type of hilly landscape. The aim was to monitor and evaluate the importance of environmental factors (steepness of slope, relief shapes, aspect, slope length, combination slope length (L) and slope (S)—LS factor, types [...] Read more.
The water erosion research was carried out in the lowland type of hilly landscape. The aim was to monitor and evaluate the importance of environmental factors (steepness of slope, relief shapes, aspect, slope length, combination slope length (L) and slope (S)—LS factor, types of land use changes) for the development of water erosion. We focused on the identification of areas threatened by erosion by interpreting aerial photographs from several time periods. This was followed by verification of erosion using soil probes. We identified 408.44 ha of areas affected by erosion, and measured the depth of soil and “A” horizons thickness. The environmental factors were modeled in geographical information systems by tools for spatially oriented data. Subsequently, the influence and significance of individual environmental factors were compared, and the probability of erosion was statistically estimated. The decisive factors in the formation of erosive surfaces are the LS factor and the slope. We also consider the factor of the relief shape to be important. The shape did not appear to be very significant as a separately evaluated factor, but all convex parts correlate with the identified erosion surfaces. The susceptibility of erosion related to the aspect of the slopes to the cardinal directions has not been confirmed. Types of land use changes with the most significant relation of erosion were confirmed in areas of strong intensification. We confirmed the importance of factors and land use for the development of erosion processes. Full article
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Article
On the Importance of Soybean Seed P for Shoot P Uptake before Anthesis
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1233; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061233 - 17 Jun 2021
Viewed by 332
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) is an important macronutrient required for crop growth but a finite resource in agriculture. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of soybean seed size and seed P content on growth and P accumulation up to anthesis (30–40 [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) is an important macronutrient required for crop growth but a finite resource in agriculture. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of soybean seed size and seed P content on growth and P accumulation up to anthesis (30–40 DAP). Pot experiments were carried out in a greenhouse with 15 soybean genotypes of different seed size (TKW 146–304 g) and with two substrates differing in plant available P, i.e., low P (LP) at 6.17 mg kg−1 vs. high P (HP) at 68.12 mg kg−1 CAL-P. The observations included measurements of seed and shoot dry matter and P concentrations as well as root characteristics. In the case of LP, shoot P accumulation relied, to a large degree, on seed P reserves during the vegetative growth period. In the case of HP, however, the role of seed P is negligible with regard to absolute P uptake. Yet, a very close linear relationship between seed P and shoot P uptake was also confirmed at HP. Some genotypes reacted more positively than others on HP in biomass production and P uptake, but none of the selected genotypes showed an outstanding biomass production or P uptake under LP. Total root length or root surface area of soybean did not explain differences in P uptake between genotypes at either P supply level. Overall, no substantial genotypic differences were observed in P use efficiency under P deficiency apart from the effect of seed P reserves. We conclude that seed size can be considered an important trait when screening genotypes for fast early P accumulation and growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency from Lab to Field)
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