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Agriculture, Volume 10, Issue 1 (January 2020) – 27 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This article describes current project progress to increase blueberry packout to acceptable levels [...] Read more.
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Agriculture in 2019
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010027 - 20 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Farmers’ Awareness of the Low Yield of Conventional Rice Production in Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar: A Case Study of Myaungmya District
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010026 - 20 Jan 2020
Viewed by 331
Abstract
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation introduced the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) of rice in 2008. The adoption rate of GAPs is still low. As the first step of the adoption process, this study investigates farmers’ awareness of the low yield of conventional [...] Read more.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation introduced the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) of rice in 2008. The adoption rate of GAPs is still low. As the first step of the adoption process, this study investigates farmers’ awareness of the low yield of conventional rice production. Based on the data of 315 farmers collected from a field survey conducted from July to August 2018 in Myaungmya District, Myanmar, and by applying the cluster analysis and binary logit model, the study found that farmers’ awareness was low for the aspects of farmer management and Ministry management. The finding of most interest is that farmers with more experience, higher income level, larger farmland size, and receiving agricultural information were associated with low awareness. Farmers with more farming experience were satisfied with the return of rice from conventional production. Some farmers received a higher total income from crop production because of a larger farmland size, and they are less aware of the low yield of conventional rice production. Even though farmers received agricultural information, they could not apply the information to rice production. Farmers’ awareness of the low yield can be increased through developing extension services programs to distribute useful information on rice production effectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Neural Visual Detection of Grain Weevil (Sitophilus granarius L.)
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010025 - 20 Jan 2020
Viewed by 304
Abstract
A significant part of cereal production is intended for agri-food processing, which implies a necessity to search for and implement modern storage systems for this product. Stored grain is exposed to many unfavorable factors, particularly caryopsis macro-damage caused mainly by grain weevil ( [...] Read more.
A significant part of cereal production is intended for agri-food processing, which implies a necessity to search for and implement modern storage systems for this product. Stored grain is exposed to many unfavorable factors, particularly caryopsis macro-damage caused mainly by grain weevil (Sitophilus granarius L.). This triggers a substantial decrease in the value of the stored material, thus resulting in serious economic losses. Due to this fact, it is necessary to take steps to effectively detect this pest’s presence when grain is delivered to storage facilities. The purpose of this work was to identify the representative physical characteristics of wheat caryopsis affected by grain weevil. An automated visual system was developed to ease the detection of damaged kernels and adult weevils. In order to obtain the empirical data, a decision was made to take advance of SKCS 4100 (the Perten Single Kernel Characterization System). The measurements obtained were used to build the training sets necessary in the process of ANN (artificial neural network) learning with digital neural classifiers. Next, a set of identifying neural models was created and verified, and then the optimal topology was selected. The utilitarian goal of the research was to support the decision-making process taking place during grain storage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Neural Networks in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Topics of Soil Pollution and Agricultural Economics: Highlighting Good Practices
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010024 - 19 Jan 2020
Viewed by 335
Abstract
The evolution of the agricultural sector around the world has generated positive and negative externalities at social, economic and environmental levels. These impacts from the modernization of agriculture would not be, themselves, problematic if the global balance were positive, in sustainable development. However, [...] Read more.
The evolution of the agricultural sector around the world has generated positive and negative externalities at social, economic and environmental levels. These impacts from the modernization of agriculture would not be, themselves, problematic if the global balance were positive, in sustainable development. However, in some cases, the negative externalities overlap the positive outcomes, namely in soil pollution from the application of fertilizers and crop protection products. From this perspective, the main objective of this study is to explore the relationships between the two following topics: soil pollution and agricultural economics. For this a literature survey was performed from the Web of Science platform based on these two topics put together. From the Web of Science, 45 studies were found and were clustered and explored first through the software VOSviewer. The literature explored with this software was clustered into three groups and shows that the studies related with these topics highlight, namely, three aspects: the problem in question, the benefits and the losses. After this network analysis, the several documents were studied deeper through literature review. Agricultural policies, farmers perceptions, stakeholders’ involvement, farms’ multifunctionality, sustainability and adjusted agricultural practices are all questions to be taken into account in the feedback between soil pollution and agricultural economics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Remedial Application of Urea Eliminates Yield Losses in Wheat Waterlogged during Stem Elongation
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010023 - 19 Jan 2020
Viewed by 226
Abstract
Waterlogging remains a critical constraint to wheat production in areas with high rainfall. Exogenous application of nitrogen (N) can effectively diminish the adverse effects of waterlogging, but varies with specific events. To provide highly efficient remedial strategies, this pot study investigated the effects [...] Read more.
Waterlogging remains a critical constraint to wheat production in areas with high rainfall. Exogenous application of nitrogen (N) can effectively diminish the adverse effects of waterlogging, but varies with specific events. To provide highly efficient remedial strategies, this pot study investigated the effects of urea application following 10 days of waterlogging initialing at the stem elongation stage (Zadoks growth stage, GS33). The remedial measures included foliar spray of urea solution at a single dose (0.108 g urea per pot) at the 0th day after finishing waterlogging (FU1) and twice at the 0th and 7th day (FU2), and soil surface spray of urea solution at single and double doses when soil water content was approximately 80% of field capacity (SU1 and SU2, respectively). Waterlogging significantly reduced grain yield, total N uptake, and N partial factor productivity (by 11%, 18%, and 11%, respectively), but subsequent remedial measures improved these to variable degrees. Reduction in grain yield owing to waterlogging could be effectively alleviated and even eliminated using these remediations. Grain yield and N partial factor productivity were higher under FU2 and SU2 than FU1 and SU1. Among all treatments, plants under SU2 exhibited the highest total N uptake and top-dressing N recovery. Diminished yield losses were attributed to (1) increased kernel number per spike resulting from increased spikelet fertility and kernel number per spikelet and (2) increased photosynthetic production by delaying senescence (improved chlorophyll content and maintained green leaf area) of the top leaves. This study suggests that urea application for a brief period of time following waterlogging during the stem elongation stage has remarkable remedial effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Agronomic Practices for Maximizing Crop Growth and Yield)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Weather Conditions and Farming Systems on Size Distribution of Starch Granules and Flour Yield of Winter Wheat
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010022 - 18 Jan 2020
Viewed by 276
Abstract
The size distribution of wheat-grain starch granules has an impact on the yield of fine flour. The aim of the study was to compare the impact of conventional (mineral fertilizers, pesticides) and organic farming treatments (cover crops, composted cattle manure) on (i) the [...] Read more.
The size distribution of wheat-grain starch granules has an impact on the yield of fine flour. The aim of the study was to compare the impact of conventional (mineral fertilizers, pesticides) and organic farming treatments (cover crops, composted cattle manure) on (i) the size distribution of starch granules, (ii) the level of the first break whole and fine flour yield. The grain samples of winter wheat cv Fredis were taken from a long-term field crop rotation experiment established in 2008 at the Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu County (58°22′ N, 26°40′ E) on Stagnic Luvisol soil. The weather conditions during the grain filling period of winter wheat had a strong impact (p < 0.001) on the grain starch granule size distribution. The proportion of starch granules with a smaller diameter (C-type granules) was higher in years with a longer grain filling period. The size distribution of starch granules was not influenced by farming system. The increased proportion of C-type granules increased the fine flour yield significantly. Fertilisation with organic manure and twice with mineral nitrogen increased significantly the mean diameter value of different starch granules. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Forecasts of the Amount Purchase Pork Meat by Using Structured and Unstructured Big Data
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010021 - 18 Jan 2020
Viewed by 260
Abstract
It is believed that the huge amount of information delivered to the consumers through mass media, including television and social networks, may affect consumers’ behavior. The purpose of this study was to forecast the amount required to purchase pork belly meat by using [...] Read more.
It is believed that the huge amount of information delivered to the consumers through mass media, including television and social networks, may affect consumers’ behavior. The purpose of this study was to forecast the amount required to purchase pork belly meat by using unstructured data such as broadcast news, TV programs/shows and social network as well as structured data such as consumer panel data, retail and wholesale prices and production outputs in order to prove that mass media data release can occur ahead of actual economic activities and consumer behavior can be predicted by using these data. By using structured and unstructured data from 2010 to 2016 and five forecasting algorithms (autoregressive exogenous model and vector error correction model for time series, gradient boosting and random forest for machine learning, and long short-term memory for recurrent neural network), the amounts required to purchase pork belly meat in 2017 were forecasted and compared with the actual amounts to validate model accuracy. Our findings suggest that when unstructured data were combined with structured data, the forecast pattern is improved. To date, our study is the first report that forecasts the demand of pork meat by using structured and unstructured data. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Evaluation of Wheat Cultivar Resistance and Yield Loss Thresholds in Response to Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus-PAV Infection
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010020 - 16 Jan 2020
Viewed by 334
Abstract
The PAV strain of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is one of the causal agents of yellow dwarf disease in cereals. The use of germplasm resistant to BYDV is generally regarded as the most effective means of controlling damage caused by this pathogen. [...] Read more.
The PAV strain of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is one of the causal agents of yellow dwarf disease in cereals. The use of germplasm resistant to BYDV is generally regarded as the most effective means of controlling damage caused by this pathogen. In field trials, response to infection with a barley yellow dwarf virus of selected wheat cultivars registered in the Czech Republic was compared with that of control cultivars. Although a good level of resistance to BYDV-PAV was found in cultivar Athlon and yield loss was low, symptoms were more severe than on the moderately resistant control cultivar Sparta. Several other cultivars, such as Nordika, Julie, and Replik, also had slightly less than a 30% reduction in grain weight per spike, even though symptoms were more severe on Sparta or Athlon. Our results showed that, in the case of approximately 60% of wheat plants with BYDV-PAV symptoms, the yield reductions under optimal agronomic conditions reached approximately 17% for moderately resistant cultivars and 30% for moderately susceptible cultivars. The application of N fertilizer significantly reduced yield losses in BYDV-PAV-infected wheat cultivars, particularly in the moderately resistant cultivars. Even when infected with BYDV-PAV, the yield of moderately resistant cultivars, including those of spring wheat, was still acceptable. However, the re-cultivation costs of spring wheat in replacing damaged winter wheat lead to a total economic loss per hectare that is much greater than that for BYDV-infected wheat cultivars (moderately resistant and/or moderately susceptible ones). Furthermore, the economic loss is much lower when a moderately resistant cultivar is used. Hence, even with a high level of disease symptoms in winter wheat, the re-cultivation of spring wheat is not economically feasible. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
BLOB-Based AOMs: A Method for the Extraction of Crop Data from Aerial Images of Cotton
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010019 - 15 Jan 2020
Viewed by 297
Abstract
The use of aerial imagery in agriculture is increasing. Improvements in unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and the hardware and software used to analyze imagery are presenting new options for agricultural studies. One of the challenges associated with improving crop performance under water deficit [...] Read more.
The use of aerial imagery in agriculture is increasing. Improvements in unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and the hardware and software used to analyze imagery are presenting new options for agricultural studies. One of the challenges associated with improving crop performance under water deficit conditions is the increased variability in the growth and development inherent in low water settings. The nature of plant growth and development under water deficits makes it difficult to monitor the response to environmental changes. Small field and plot-level experiments are often variable enough that averages of seasonal crop characteristics may be of limited value to the researcher. This variability leads to a desire to resolve fields on finer temporal and spatial scales. While UAS imagery provides an ability to monitor the crop on a useful temporal scale, the spatial scale is still difficult to resolve. In this study, an automated computer software framework was developed to facilitate resolving field and plot-level crop imagery to finer spatial resolutions. The method uses a Binary Large Object (BLOB)-based algorithm to automate the generation of areas of measurement (AOMs) as a tool for crop analysis. The use of the BLOB-based system is demonstrated in the analysis of plots of cotton grown in Lubbock, Texas, during the summer of 2018. The method allowed the creation and analysis of 1133 AOMs from the plots and the extraction of agronomic data that described plant growth and development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Pre- and Post-Harvest Practices of Urban Leafy Green Vegetable Farmers in Accra, Ghana and Their Association with Microbial Quality of Vegetables Produced
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010018 - 15 Jan 2020
Viewed by 295
Abstract
Vegetable farming is the most practiced urban agriculture in Ghana. A previous study of our laboratory revealed poor microbial quality of, and presence of Salmonella on, leafy green vegetables grown or sold in Accra, Ghana. The aims of this study were to determine [...] Read more.
Vegetable farming is the most practiced urban agriculture in Ghana. A previous study of our laboratory revealed poor microbial quality of, and presence of Salmonella on, leafy green vegetables grown or sold in Accra, Ghana. The aims of this study were to determine agricultural practices of urban vegetable farmers and the association between agricultural practices and microbial safety of vegetables produced. A survey was conducted among 102 farmers from 12 farming areas who produced exotic and indigenous leafy greens in Accra, Ghana to identify their farming practices. It was observed that water from waste drains pumped into shallow wells was used for irrigation by 70% of the farmers. Incompletely composted manure was commonly used (99%) in farming. Vegetables were usually harvested using bare hands (96%) and knives (73%) and transported mainly in sacks (94%) to market centers under non-refrigerated conditions. Over 60% of the farmers disagreed that the use of polluted irrigation water can contaminate vegetables or make consumers sick. According to the seemingly unrelated regression model, farmers with no formal education and less food safety knowledge and had been planting on their current farmlands for several years were likely to produced vegetables with higher fecal coliform and Enterococcus sp. counts compared to other farmers. Vegetables cultivated by farmers who disagreed that the use of contaminated water can make consumers sick were associated with the production of vegetables with high fecal coliform and Enterococcus sp. counts. Education and improved agricultural and post-harvest handling practices should be encouraged among vegetable producers in the area to improve food safety. Full article
Open AccessArticle
What Makes an Organic Dairy Farm Profitable in the United States? Evidence from 10 Years of Farm Level Data in Vermont
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010017 - 14 Jan 2020
Viewed by 428
Abstract
Many U.S. dairy farms, especially small farms, are struggling to stay in business due to difficult economic conditions. While switching to organic milk production has been identified as one way to improve farm profitability, there are very limited economic data available on organic [...] Read more.
Many U.S. dairy farms, especially small farms, are struggling to stay in business due to difficult economic conditions. While switching to organic milk production has been identified as one way to improve farm profitability, there are very limited economic data available on organic dairy profitability and the key factors contributing to its variation among organic dairy farms. This study analyzes a 10-year longitudinal dataset of Vermont organic dairy farms (2006–2016), collected by the University of Vermont Extension, to identify key factors influencing farm profitability and quantify their impact on farm return on assets (ROA) through a multivariate fixed-effects regression model. Results suggest that significant factors for organic farm profitability measured by ROA include feeding management, farm management, farm size, milk price and input costs. Such findings may help many organic dairy farms identify potential areas for improving their profitability and conventional farms evaluate the potential financial benefits of switching to organic operation. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Methods for Management of Soilborne Diseases in Crop Production
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010016 - 11 Jan 2020
Viewed by 557
Abstract
The significant problems caused by soilborne pathogens in crop production worldwide include reduced crop performance, decreased yield, and higher production costs. In many parts of the world, methyl bromide was extensively used to control these pathogens before the implementation of the Montreal Protocol—a [...] Read more.
The significant problems caused by soilborne pathogens in crop production worldwide include reduced crop performance, decreased yield, and higher production costs. In many parts of the world, methyl bromide was extensively used to control these pathogens before the implementation of the Montreal Protocol—a global agreement to protect the ozone layer. The threats of soilborne disease epidemics in crop production, high cost of chemical fungicides and development of fungicide resistance, climate change, new disease outbreaks and increasing concerns regarding environmental as well as soil health are becoming increasingly evident. These necessitate the use of integrated soilborne disease management strategies for crop production. This article summarizes methods for management of soilborne diseases in crop production which includes the use of sanitation, legal methods, resistant cultivars/varieties and grafting, cropping system, soil solarization, biofumigants, soil amendments, anaerobic soil disinfestation, soil steam sterilization, soil fertility and plant nutrients, soilless culture, chemical control and biological control in a system-based approach. Different methods with their strengths and weaknesses, mode of action and interactions are discussed, concluding with a brief outline of future directions which might lead to the integration of described methods in a system-based approach for more effective management of soilborne diseases. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Physiology and Yield of Confection Sunflower under Different Application Schemes of Mepiquat Chloride
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010015 - 10 Jan 2020
Viewed by 363
Abstract
The use of plant growth regulator mepiquat chloride (MPC) has been a widespread practice for the control of vegetative growth in cotton production for several decades. As a growth retardant, MPC could potentially provide a means of controlling plant height in field sunflower [...] Read more.
The use of plant growth regulator mepiquat chloride (MPC) has been a widespread practice for the control of vegetative growth in cotton production for several decades. As a growth retardant, MPC could potentially provide a means of controlling plant height in field sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), but this possibility has not been studied. Field experiments over two years were conducted in northern Greece to study the influence of MPC at rates of 37.5 plus 37.5 g ha−1 (named double application) and 37.5 plus 37.5 plus 37.5 g ha−1 (named triple application) on sunflower growth and yield. MPC provided a height reduction of 9.5% (25 cm) with the double application and a height reduction of 14.4% (49.2 cm) with the triple application at maturity. The number of nodes was also reduced, indicating shorter plants, whereas stem width did not show a consistent response. Moreover, MPC resulted in increased crop growth rate with the triple application scheme. MPC reduced nitrogen utilization efficiency in both growing seasons. However, a reduction in achene yield per plant by 19.9% was observed with the triple application scheme. The achene yield reduction resulted by the reduction in the 100-achene weight (22.3%), given that the number of filled achenes was similar to control. None of the application schemes reduced seed nitrogen and oil content. The results from testing application schemes could be a basis for further research on the use of MPC in this crop, e.g., different timing of applications could be tested for benefits to height reduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Agronomic Practices for Maximizing Crop Growth and Yield)
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Open AccessArticle
Farmers’ Attitudes toward On-Farm Adoption of Soil Organic Matter in Piedmont Region, Italy
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010014 - 09 Jan 2020
Viewed by 328
Abstract
This study aimed at exploring the frequency of use and perceived benefits of application of organic matter to the soil in a group of Italian farmers, investigating also the preferred sources of information, to identify potential interventions to promote the improvement of the [...] Read more.
This study aimed at exploring the frequency of use and perceived benefits of application of organic matter to the soil in a group of Italian farmers, investigating also the preferred sources of information, to identify potential interventions to promote the improvement of the soil organic matter. The study has been carried out administering a 21-item paper-and-pencil questionnaire to 44 farmers. The results of the study highlighted that the main perceived benefit linked to soil organic matter application is related to its capacity of increasing productivity, while the aspects related to work pace, production costs, and implications with the climate change appeared to be less relevant. According to the results of the study, web targeted information campaigns for the smaller farms operators and training activities for the bigger farms operators are the most effective solutions to make farmers aware of the importance of increasing soil organic matter content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
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Open AccessArticle
Yield Component Responses of the Brachiaria brizantha Forage Grass to Soil Water Availability in the Brazilian Cerrado
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010013 - 05 Jan 2020
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of beef cattle and dairy products, which requires high forage yield to attend grass-fed animals’ demand. Among the grass species adopted in the forage production system in Brazil, the Brachiaria genus stands out. This genus [...] Read more.
Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of beef cattle and dairy products, which requires high forage yield to attend grass-fed animals’ demand. Among the grass species adopted in the forage production system in Brazil, the Brachiaria genus stands out. This genus comprises nearly 85% of all planted forage area. In general, forage production systems in Brazil are essentially rainfed, and thus susceptible to seasonal soil water stresses. Selecting the suitable Brachiaria cultivar for lands susceptible to periodic waterlogging and dry spells is crucial to enhance forage yield, and consequently, to reduce the environmental footprint of the livestock sector. In this research, we investigated the performance of three recent commercial Brachiaria brizantha cultivars (Piatã, BRS Paiaguás, and MG13 Braúna) extensively adopted in Brazil’s grazing systems subjected to different ranges of soil water potential. For three cutting periods, yield related-variables (e.g., plant height, leaf area, dry biomass, and water use efficiency) were measured. Our results point to the existence of a low drought-resistant trait among cultivars, indicating the need for releasing better-adapted cultivars to cope with reduced soil water availability. All cultivars achieved higher performance at soil water pressure head between −15 kPa and −25 kPa; and in general, the cultivar. Piatã showed slightly superior results to most of the treatments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrogen Sulfide Affects the Root Development of Strawberry During Plug Transplant Production
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010012 - 05 Jan 2020
Viewed by 365
Abstract
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is endogenously produced in plant cells and plays an essential role in root development. Given its potential for future agricultural applications, the optimal concentration of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS, an H2S donor) and the potential mechanisms for [...] Read more.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is endogenously produced in plant cells and plays an essential role in root development. Given its potential for future agricultural applications, the optimal concentration of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS, an H2S donor) and the potential mechanisms for root development in the strawberry ‘Seolhyang’ were investigated in this study. The results showed that NaHS with a concentration of 1.250 mM had a positive effect on root development in strawberry. Further experiments showed that exogenous NaHS elevated the H2S content in the root. The dry root weight was increased by the 1.250 mM NaHS treatment, but was reduced by the hypotaurine (an H2S scavenger) treatment. Similar changes were found between H2S and soluble sugar contents, indicating that H2S enhanced the accumulation of soluble sugar. Therefore, it is suggested that the accumulation of soluble sugar induced by H2S is either directly or indirectly involved in root development in strawberry during plug production. Moreover, superoxide dismutase was shown to have contributed to the elevated H2O2 contents. These results contribute to our understanding of the role that H2S plays and some of the relevant mechanisms in which H2S regulates root development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Agronomic Practices for Maximizing Crop Growth and Yield)
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Open AccessReview
Sustainable Management of Olive Orchard Nutrition: A Review
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010011 - 03 Jan 2020
Viewed by 463
Abstract
Intensification of olive orchard management entails increased use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In this review, plant responses to nutritional aspects, as well as environmental considerations, are discussed. Nutrient deficiency impairs production, whereas over-fertilization may reduce yields and oil quality, and [...] Read more.
Intensification of olive orchard management entails increased use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In this review, plant responses to nutritional aspects, as well as environmental considerations, are discussed. Nutrient deficiency impairs production, whereas over-fertilization may reduce yields and oil quality, and increase environmental hazards and production costs. The effect of irrigation on nutrient availability and uptake is very significant. Application of organic matter (e.g., manure, compost) and cover crops can serve as substitutes for mineral fertilization with additional benefits to soil properties. Recycling of the pruned orchard material, olive pomace and olive mill wastewater, as well as the use of recycled wastewater for irrigation, are all potentially beneficial to olive orchard sustainability, but present the risk of environmental pollution. Some considerations regarding optimization of olive orchard nutrition are discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of 3-Phenyllactic Acid and 3-Phenyllactic Acid-Producing Lactic Acid Bacteria on the Characteristics of Alfalfa Silage
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010010 - 31 Dec 2019
Viewed by 314
Abstract
In this study, an experiment was performed to evaluate the effect of lactic acid bacteria and 3-phenyllactic acid (PLA) on the fermentation quality and chemical composition of alfalfa silage. Several PLA-tolerant strains were screened from silages and identified. The selected strains (1 × [...] Read more.
In this study, an experiment was performed to evaluate the effect of lactic acid bacteria and 3-phenyllactic acid (PLA) on the fermentation quality and chemical composition of alfalfa silage. Several PLA-tolerant strains were screened from silages and identified. The selected strains (1 × 106 colony forming units/g fresh alfalfa) and PLA (1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 g/kg) were applied to alfalfa before ensiling. After 45 days of storage, the silages were unsealed and subjected to component analysis. Biochemical methods and 16S rDNA gene sequencing were used for the identification of the two strains as Lactobacillus plantarum. The characteristics of chemical and fermentation compounds indicated that PLA and the two strains efficiently improved the quality of the alfalfa silage. It can be concluded that the use of the strains and PLA can significantly improve the quality of silage. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Respiration Dynamics in Bromus erectus-Dominated Grasslands under Different Management Intensities
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010009 - 30 Dec 2019
Viewed by 335
Abstract
Reduction of soil greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to control increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Permanent grasslands are of considerable importance in climate change mitigation strategies as they cover about 13% of the global agricultural area. However, uncertainties remain for the effects [...] Read more.
Reduction of soil greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to control increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Permanent grasslands are of considerable importance in climate change mitigation strategies as they cover about 13% of the global agricultural area. However, uncertainties remain for the effects of management practices on soil respiration, especially over the short term. This study investigated the influence of different mowing intensities on soil respiration over the short term for Bromus erectus-dominated grasslands in the central Apennines. From 2016 to 2018, soil respiration, temperature, and moisture were measured under three different management systems: customary management, intensive use, and abandonment. Both soil water content and temperature changed over time, however mowing did not affect soil water content while occasionally altered soil temperature. The intensive use promoted higher seasonal mean soil respiration compared to the abandonment only during the 2016 growing season. Soil temperature was the main driver of soil respiration above a soil water content threshold that varied little among treatments (18.23–22.71%). Below the thresholds, soil moisture was the main driver of soil respiration. These data suggest that different mowing regimes have little influence on soil respiration over the short term in Bromus erectus-dominated grasslands. Thus, more intensive use would not have significative impacts on soil respiration, at least over the short term. Future studies need to clarify the role of root mycorrhizal and microbial respiration in the light of climate change, considering the seasonal redistribution of the rainfall. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Water Footprint Assessment in a Rainfed Olive Tree Grove in the Umbria Region, Italy
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010008 - 28 Dec 2019
Viewed by 452
Abstract
Life Cycle Assessment (the systematic analysis of the environmental impact of products during their entire life cycle), Carbon Footprint and Water Footprint assessments play an important role in decision-making processes. These assessments can help guide land management decisions and will likely play a [...] Read more.
Life Cycle Assessment (the systematic analysis of the environmental impact of products during their entire life cycle), Carbon Footprint and Water Footprint assessments play an important role in decision-making processes. These assessments can help guide land management decisions and will likely play a larger role in the future, especially in natural areas with high biodiversity. Agriculture is a substantial consumer of fresh water, so it is important to identify causes and possible solutions to optimize agricultural water use. Water footprint assessments consider water consumption from several points of view and aid in reaching Sustainable Development Goals. Olive trees are a widespread agricultural crop growing in the Mediterranean Basin and are particularly important in the Umbria region in Italy. This paper estimates the water footprint impact related to the production of 1 kg of olives in a rainfed olive orchard managed using low environmental impact techniques. Eleven years of data collection (meteorological data, olives yield data, processes data) are analyzed for typical rural conditions. The results show that local management techniques have lower water requirements than standard international usages. These results can be used to improve and to further explore agricultural water use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Automatic Determination of the Parameters of Electrical Signals and Functional Responses of Plants Using the Wavelet Transformation Method
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010007 - 28 Dec 2019
Viewed by 360
Abstract
Smart agriculture management systems with real-time control of plant health and vegetation are recognized as one of the crucial technologies determining agriculture development, playing a fundamental role in reducing yield losses and improving product quality. The earliest plant responses to various adverse factors [...] Read more.
Smart agriculture management systems with real-time control of plant health and vegetation are recognized as one of the crucial technologies determining agriculture development, playing a fundamental role in reducing yield losses and improving product quality. The earliest plant responses to various adverse factors are propagating stress signals, including electrical ones, and the changes in physiological processes induced by them. Among the latter, photosynthesis is of particular interest due to its key role in the production process. Of practical importance, photosynthesis activity can be registered not only in contact mode but by remote sensing using optical methods. The aim of the present work was to develop the approach to automatic determination of the main parameters of electrical signals and changes in photosynthesis activity and transpiration using continuous wavelet transform (CWT). Applying CWT based on derivatives of the Gaussian function allows accurate determination of the parameters of electrical signals as well as induced physiological responses. Moreover, CWT was applied for spatio-temporal mapping of the photosynthesis response to stress factors in pea leaf. The offered approach allowed automatic identification of the response start time in every pixel and visualization of the change propagation front. The results indicate high potential of CWT for automatic assessment of plants stress, including monitoring of plant health in large-scale agricultural lands and automated fields. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Carbon Sequestration and Contribution of CO2, CH4 and N2O Fluxes to Global Warming Potential from Paddy-Fallow Fields on Mineral Soil Beneath Peat in Central Hokkaido, Japan
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010006 - 27 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Since each greenhouse gas (GHG) has its own radiative capacity, all three gasses (CO2, CH4 and N2O) must be accounted for by calculating the net global warming potential (GWP) in a crop production system. To compare the impact [...] Read more.
Since each greenhouse gas (GHG) has its own radiative capacity, all three gasses (CO2, CH4 and N2O) must be accounted for by calculating the net global warming potential (GWP) in a crop production system. To compare the impact of GHG fluxes from the rice growing and the fallow season on the annual gas fluxes, and their contribution to the GWP and carbon sequestration (CS) were evaluated. From May to April in Bibai (43°18′ N, 141°44′ E), in central Hokkaido, Japan, three rice paddy fields under actual management conditions were investigated to determine CS and the contribution of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes to GWP. Methane and N2O fluxes were measured by placing the chamber over the rice plants covering four hills and CO2 fluxes from rice plants root free space in paddy fields were taken as an indicator of soil microbial respiration (Rm) using the closed chamber method. Soil CS was calculated as the difference between net primary production (NPP) and loss of carbon (C) through Rm, emission of CH4 and harvest of crop C. Annual cumulative Rm ranged from 422 to 519 g C m−2 yr−1; which accounted for 54.7 to 55.5% of the rice growing season in particular. Annual cumulative CH4 emissions ranged from 75.5 to 116 g C m−2 yr−1 and this contribution occurred entirely during the rice growing period. Total cumulative N2O emissions ranged from 0.091 to 0.154 g N m−2 yr−1 and from 73.5 to 81.3% of the total N2O emissions recorded during the winter-fallow season. The CS ranged from −305 to −365 g C m−2 yr−1, suggesting that C input by NPP may not be compensate for the loss of soil C. The loss of C in the winter-fallow season was much higher (62 to 66%) than in the growing season. The annual net GWP from the investigated paddy fields ranged from 3823 to 5016 g CO2 equivalent m−2 yr−1. Annual GWPCH4 accounted for 71.9 to 86.1% of the annual net GWP predominantly from the rice growing period. These results indicate that CH4 dominated the net GWP of the rice paddy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Open AccessReview
Allometries in Plants as Drivers of Forage Nutritive Value: A Review
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010005 - 24 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The nutritive value of forage for herbivores has been for a long time determined by the concentration in protein and, hence in nitrogen (N), the concentration in different minerals (P, K, Ca, Mg, and oligo-elements), and the in vivo dry matter (DM) digestibility. [...] Read more.
The nutritive value of forage for herbivores has been for a long time determined by the concentration in protein and, hence in nitrogen (N), the concentration in different minerals (P, K, Ca, Mg, and oligo-elements), and the in vivo dry matter (DM) digestibility. Forage DM digestibility, the proportion of ingested DM being metabolized by ruminant animals has been related to different components of plant tissue composition such as Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) and Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF); the NDF concentration represents an estimate of cell wall content while the ADF concentration is an estimate of the more lignified cell wall content. Forage nutritive value is generally analyzed by relating the attributes of nutritive value to plant phenology, in order to predict the decline of these attributes with plant age. A more functional approach, initially developed for the analysis of N concentration dynamic analysis (Lemaire et al. 2008 and Lemaire et al. 2019), and extended for digestibility for this review, is based on the assumption that above-ground plant mass (W) is composed of two compartments: (i) the metabolic compartment (Wm), associated with plant growth process scaling with leaf area, having a high N concentration (%N), and a high Digestibility (%D); (ii) the structural compartment (Ws) associated with architectural plant development, scaling with plant height and thickness and having low %N and %D. With the postulate that Wm is allometrically related to W (Wm = c × Wα with α < 1), the ontogenetic decline of both %N and %D as the plant gets bigger and forage mass increases can be explained, and the purely empirical statistical approach of forage quality based on plant phenology can be replaced by a more mechanistic and comprehensive analysis linking forage production and forage quality dynamics within the same functional approach for a better understanding of genotype-environment-management interactions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Harvest of Southern Highbush Blueberry with a Modified, Over-The-Row Mechanical Harvester: Use of Handheld Shakers and Soft Catch Surfaces
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010004 - 21 Dec 2019
Viewed by 422
Abstract
Fresh market southern highbush blueberries are typically hand-harvested which requires an extensive labor force over a relative short period of time. With rising production costs and labor availability issues, interest in mechanical harvesting options is increasing. In 2017, an over-the-row (OTR) harvester was [...] Read more.
Fresh market southern highbush blueberries are typically hand-harvested which requires an extensive labor force over a relative short period of time. With rising production costs and labor availability issues, interest in mechanical harvesting options is increasing. In 2017, an over-the-row (OTR) harvester was modified to reduce purchase cost while making hand labor more efficient. The picking heads were removed and dual worker stations were added on each side of the unit. Handheld olive shakers were suspended at each station. Experimental catch plates were installed on one side of the OTR harvester and soft, inclined surfaces over the rigid conveyors on both sides. ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘Farthing’ blueberries were harvested with this system and compared to those manually harvested by a commercial harvest crew. Samples from each harvest method were then commercially cooled and mechanically harvested fruit were commercially packed to determine packout data. Fruit firmness, bruise severity and composition were determined after one day at room temperature (22 °C) and after seven and fourteen days of storage at 1 °C. Average packout was very high for mechanically harvested fruit, 87% for ‘Meadowlark’ and 91% for ‘Farthing’. Initial firmness of both cultivars was lower for mechanically harvested fruit (208 g/mm) than hand-harvested fruit (243 g/mm). Fruit from the three treatments softened during storage, and although ‘Meadowlark’ remained firmer than ‘Farthing’ during storage, there were no differences due to catch surfaces. Hand-harvested fruit had no severe bruising (>20% of cut surface area) at harvest, increasing to 2% after seven days, while mechanically harvested fruit from both fruit collection surfaces had 3% initial severe bruising that increased to 22% during storage. ‘Farthing’ had slightly higher soluble solids content and significantly higher total titratable acidity compared to ‘Meadowlark’. Additional modifications must be made to the next-generation OTR harvester to further reduce blueberry harvest and handling impacts. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Time–Cost–Quality Trade-Off in a Broiler Production Project Using Meta-Heuristic Algorithms: A Case Study
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010003 - 20 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The global production of broiler meat was forecasted to be 97.8 MT in 2019. The cost fluctuations create risks in production. In order to have an effective management system, process uncertainty must be taken into account. This approach considers the process as an [...] Read more.
The global production of broiler meat was forecasted to be 97.8 MT in 2019. The cost fluctuations create risks in production. In order to have an effective management system, process uncertainty must be taken into account. This approach considers the process as an interval with fuzzy numbers and, for managing the risks, it uses the variable α, a parameter determined by the manager in an interval between 0 and 1. Then two algorithms, namely the multi-objective imperialist competitive algorithm (MOICA) and multi-objective particle swarm optimization (MOPSO), were compared and applied. Since the process of production has many activities and each activity has possible options, the process does not have a unique solution. Therefore, the objective function and its assigned weights in terms of time, cost, and quality can be applied to select the best solution from those obtained. A vast amount of uncertainty can be observed, and effective management necessitates dealing with these uncertainty issues. The MOPSO algorithm showed better performance than the MOICA algorithm in this problem. Based on fuzzy logic and influenced by the uncertainty condition (α = 0), time, cost, and quality in the MOPSO and the MOICA algorithms were 1793.8 h, $260,571.7, and 46.66%, and 1792.5 h, $260,585.7, and 51.19%, respectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Carbohydrate and Amino Acid Profiles of Cotton Plant Biomass Products
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010002 - 18 Dec 2019
Viewed by 414
Abstract
To achieve the optimal and diverse utilization of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) plant residues in various agricultural, industrial, and environmental applications, the chemical composition of cotton biomass tissues across different plant parts (e.g., seed, boll, bur, leaves, stalk, stem, and root) is [...] Read more.
To achieve the optimal and diverse utilization of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) plant residues in various agricultural, industrial, and environmental applications, the chemical composition of cotton biomass tissues across different plant parts (e.g., seed, boll, bur, leaves, stalk, stem, and root) is of essential information. Thus, in this work, we collected field-grown whole mature cotton plants and separated them into distinct biomass fractions including main stems, leaf blades, branches, petioles, roots, and reproductive parts (mid-season growth stage) or bur, peduncles/bract, and seed cotton (pre-defoliation stage). The contents of selected carbohydrates and amino acids in these cotton biomass materials were determined. Both essential and nonessential amino acids were enriched in cotton leaf blades and reproductive parts. The distribution pattern of the selected carbohydrates differed from that of amino acids—higher contents of carbohydrate were found in roots, main stems, and branches. Although glucose was the most abundant non-structural carbohydrate in cotton plant parts at mid-season, xylose was the most abundant in most plant parts at the pre-defoliation stage. Nutritional carbohydrates and amino acids were further accumulated in seeds at pre-defoliation. The information reported in this work would be helpful in exploring and optimizing management practices and processing strategies for utilizing cotton crop biomass materials as valuable and renewable natural resources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Yield Gap Management under Seawater Intrusion Areas of Indonesia to Improve Rice Productivity and Resilience to Climate Change
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Viewed by 382
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to evaluate (a) the performance of two modern rice varieties (non-tolerant and tolerant for saline soils) under different fertilizer management options, and (b) assess the yield gap and income increase through proper crop and nutrient management at [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate (a) the performance of two modern rice varieties (non-tolerant and tolerant for saline soils) under different fertilizer management options, and (b) assess the yield gap and income increase through proper crop and nutrient management at different levels of soil salinity. Experiments were carried out in moderate and high levels of soil salinity in West Java, Indonesia. A split plot design with three replications was used. The main plots included two rice varieties, Inpari-30 Ciherang sub1 and Inpari-34 (tolerant variety for saline soils), and subplots included eight fertilizer management treatments. Farmer participatory field trials were also established across three levels of soil salinity with four different rice varieties, Sidenuk, Inpari 30, Inpari 34, and Inpari 35, and a fertilizer package consisting of organic and inorganic fertilizers. Under low and moderate soil salinities, Sidenuk and Inpari 30 with recommended practice had higher productivity and economic benefit compared to the saline tolerant rice varieties, Inpari 34 and Inpari 35. However, under high soil salinity, the yields of Inpari 34 and Inpari 35 with recommended practice were 93% higher than farmers’ practice, representing an exploitable yield gap of 1.3 t ha−1 and benefit above fertilizer cost of USD 301 ha−1. The combination of tolerant varieties and improved nutrient management use for rice production can therefore be used as a strategy for improving farmers’ income and livelihoods in coastal areas of Indonesia. Full article
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