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Agriculture, Volume 10, Issue 6 (June 2020) – 58 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) In recent years, the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) for plant production purposes has [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Systemic Uptake of Fluorescent Tracers by Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) Seed and Seedlings
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060248 - 26 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Systemic seed treatment uptake was investigated in seeds and seedlings using fluorescent tracers to mimic systemic agrochemicals. Soybean was used as the model as soybean has the permeable seed coat characteristic to both charged and noncharged molecules. The purpose of the paper is [...] Read more.
Systemic seed treatment uptake was investigated in seeds and seedlings using fluorescent tracers to mimic systemic agrochemicals. Soybean was used as the model as soybean has the permeable seed coat characteristic to both charged and noncharged molecules. The purpose of the paper is to (1) screen 32 fluorescent tracers and then use optimal tracers for seed and seedling uptake, (2) investigate varietal differences in seed uptake, (3) examine the distribution of tracer uptake into 14-day-old seedlings, and (4) study the relationship between seed treatment lipophilicity, measured as log P on seed and root uptake. The major chemical families that displayed both seed and seedling uptake were coumarins and xanthenes. Seed uptake of coumarin 120 ranged from 1.1% to 4.8% of the applied seed treatment tracer from 15 yellow-seeded varieties. Rhodamine B, a xanthene compound uptake in seedlings, showed translocation from the applied seed treatment to all seedling tissues. Most of the tracer was measured in the hypocotyl and root, with lesser amounts in the epicotyl and true leaves. Log P is well documented in the literature to model systemic uptake by roots, but log P of the tracers were not related to seed uptake. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Seed Technology)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Efficiency of Nutrient Uptake of Different Sources of Zn, Mn, Cu and B in Zea mays
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060247 - 26 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Advances in plant nutrition can be achieved by improving the delivery of micronutrients to the plants. The objective of this research was to compare the efficiency of uptake of different sources of zinc, copper and manganese (sulfates, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and oxides) and [...] Read more.
Advances in plant nutrition can be achieved by improving the delivery of micronutrients to the plants. The objective of this research was to compare the efficiency of uptake of different sources of zinc, copper and manganese (sulfates, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and oxides) and boron (boric anhydride and colemanite). We conducted all experiments in maize, repeated the experiment twice, using five replicates per treatment, and used two different media. Results showed that for cations, the soluble sources of micronutrients (sulfate and EDTA) in both media were more efficiently taken up. One-way ANOVA with post hoc Tukey for multiple comparisons of means (95% confidence level) was used for all statistical analyses. Sulfate sources were significantly different when compared to the negative control and to the oxide sources. EDTA sources were significantly different when compared to the negative control and to the oxide sources. Oxide sources were not significantly different from the negative control. For boron, we found a similar trend, with boric anhydride being significantly different when compared to the negative control and to colemanite. Colemanite was significantly different when compared to the negative control. This study generated important information about uptake of soluble and insoluble sources of four micronutrients that can be used for the development of new formulations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Validation of an Automated Body Condition Scoring System Using 3D Imaging
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060246 - 26 Jun 2020
Viewed by 249
Abstract
Body condition scores (BCS) measure a cow’s fat reserves and is important for management and research. Manual BCS assessment is subjective, time-consuming, and requires trained personnel. The BodyMat F (BMF, Ingenera SA, Cureglia, Switzerland) is an automated body condition scoring system using a [...] Read more.
Body condition scores (BCS) measure a cow’s fat reserves and is important for management and research. Manual BCS assessment is subjective, time-consuming, and requires trained personnel. The BodyMat F (BMF, Ingenera SA, Cureglia, Switzerland) is an automated body condition scoring system using a 3D sensor to estimate BCS. This study assesses the BMF. One hundred and three Holstein Friesian cows were assessed by the BMF and two assessors throughout a lactation. The BMF output is in the 0–5 scale commonly used in France. We develop and report the first equation to convert these scores to the 1–5 scale used by the assessors in Ireland in this study ((0–5 scale × 0.38) + 1.67 → 1–5 scale). Inter-assessor agreement as measured by Lin’s concordance of correlation was 0.67. BMF agreement with the mean of the two assessors was the same as between assessors (0.67). However, agreement was lower for extreme values, particularly in over-conditioned cows where the BMF underestimated BCS relative to the mean of the two human observers. The BMF outperformed human assessors in terms of reproducibility and thus is likely to be especially useful in research contexts. This is the second independent validation of a commercially marketed body condition scoring system as far as the authors are aware. Comparing the results here with the published evaluation of the other system, we conclude that the BMF performed as well or better. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Using an Alternative Bedding Composition on the Levels of Indicator Microorganisms and Mammary Health in Dairy Farm Conditions
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060245 - 25 Jun 2020
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to compare an improved bedding composition with conventional straw bedding under farm conditions, regarding its effects on the influence of indicator microorganisms on the hygiene levels of cubicle floors and the occurrence of mastitis in dairy cows. [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to compare an improved bedding composition with conventional straw bedding under farm conditions, regarding its effects on the influence of indicator microorganisms on the hygiene levels of cubicle floors and the occurrence of mastitis in dairy cows. Dairy cows were housed in newly built stalls divided into two parts, each with four subsections, and bedded cubicles arranged in three rows. Five stall subsections from each 9-bedded cubicle were selected for study, and 30 dairy cows were monitored according to the time intervals of bedding treatment for cubicles. In the first subsection (control), the cows were housed in bedded cubicles layered with straw up to a height of 20 cm. Sections 2–5 had alternative bedding (AB) as follows: fresh AB, AB 1 month old, AB 2 months old, and AB 3 months old, which were bedded one day before (fresh) and 1–3 months before the actual observation period, respectively. The alternative bedding per one cubicle consisted of ground limestone (100 kg), water (80 L), recycled manure solids (RMS; 15 kg), and straw (25 kg). After laying, the bedding was treated with a concrete selector to provide strength and sufficient resistance. A total of 180 bedding and 600 quarter milk samples were taken simultaneously from all five monitored subsections for microbiological determination. Comparing classical straw bedding with the alternate bedding showed a stabilizing effect by keeping the bedding thickness up to the floor barrier level, which had a beneficial effect by reducing the level of fecal contamination in the rear of the cubicle. Fecal coliforms and fecal streptococci were found to be reduced in one-day-old bedding as well as after the first, second, and third months. By evaluating the health status of the mammary glands, a positive effect was noted in reducing the occurrence of subclinical mastitis, which was reflected in a reduced number of infected quarters in the group of cows housed in cubicles for three months after use of improved bedding. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Chemical Composition of Biogas Digestates Determines Their Effect on Soil Microbial Activity
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060244 - 24 Jun 2020
Viewed by 309
Abstract
Digestates are commonly used as organic inputs in agriculture. This study aimed to answer four questions: (1) What are the immediate and longer-term impacts of digestates on soil microbial activity?; (2) How much of the digestates’ carbon is mineralized within the first months? [...] Read more.
Digestates are commonly used as organic inputs in agriculture. This study aimed to answer four questions: (1) What are the immediate and longer-term impacts of digestates on soil microbial activity?; (2) How much of the digestates’ carbon is mineralized within the first months? (3) How do the nitrogen, lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose contents of digestates influence microbial activity and carbon mineralization? (4) How does the soil type influence mineralization? To investigate this, dehydrogenase activity (DHA) was measured in a field trial and in laboratory experiments with five digestates (DGs), cattle slurry, and cattle manure. DHA measurements were supplemented with soil respiration experiments using two different soils. DHA was significantly increased by all organic inputs, but decreased back to the control level within seven months under field conditions. Twenty percent to 44% of the organic carbon (Corg) in the digestates was converted to CO2 after 178 days. Soil respiration was significantly negatively correlated to lignin content (r = −0.82, p < 0.01) and not correlated to nitrogen, cellulose, or hemicellulose content. On the basis of equal carbon application, slurry promoted soil respiration and DHA more strongly than digestates in the short term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessArticle
Living Mulch Management Spatially Localizes Nutrient Cycling in Organic Corn Production
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060243 - 23 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) is a perennial living mulch species that can be used in conjunction with zone tillage to reduce nitrogen pollution, maintain ground cover, and provide nitrogen to crops. In such systems, kura clover is maintained between crop rows [...] Read more.
Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) is a perennial living mulch species that can be used in conjunction with zone tillage to reduce nitrogen pollution, maintain ground cover, and provide nitrogen to crops. In such systems, kura clover is maintained between crop rows by limiting tillage only to within-row areas. However, the effect of zone-tilled living mulches on soil quality and nutrient cycling in these distinct regions is relatively unexplored. We examined three pools of labile soil organic matter (SOM): microbial biomass, particulate organic matter (POM), and permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC). Soil samples were collected from both within-row and between-row locations of a zone-tilled kura clover living mulch at three time points per year: before spring zone tillage, approximately ten days after spring zone tillage and corn (Zea mays) planting, and at corn harvest in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, POM and POXC decreased within rows relative to between-row regions after tillage, suggesting that zone till management stimulated decomposition of readily available SOM to effectively localize nutrient cycling in this region and slow mineralization between rows where living kura clover remained. This work shows that zone-tilled living mulches may be a promising avenue for enhancing the synchrony of nutrient mineralization specifically within crop rows, while maintaining year-round ground cover between rows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Agronomic Practices for Maximizing Crop Growth and Yield)
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Open AccessReview
South Africa: An Important Soybean Producer in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Quest for Managing Nematode Pests of the Crop
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060242 - 22 Jun 2020
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Abstract
With an increase in the global population, a protein-rich crop like soybean can help manage food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The expansion of soybean production in recent years lead to increased land requirements for growing the crop and the increased risk of [...] Read more.
With an increase in the global population, a protein-rich crop like soybean can help manage food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The expansion of soybean production in recent years lead to increased land requirements for growing the crop and the increased risk of exposing this valuable crop to various pests and diseases. Of these pests, plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN), especially Meloidogyne and Pratylenchus spp., are of great concern. The increase in the population densities of these nematodes can cause significant damage to soybean. Furthermore, the use of crop rotation and cultivars (cvs.) with genetic resistance traits might not be effective for Meloidogyne and Pratylenchus control. This review builds on a previous study and focuses on the current nematode threat facing local soybean production, while probing into possible biological control options that still need to be studied in more detail. As soybean is produced on a global scale, the information generated by local and international researchers is needed. This will address the problem of the current global food demand, which is a matter of pressing importance for developing countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pest and Weeds)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Zilpaterol Hydrochloride on Performance and Meat Quality in Finishing Lambs
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060241 - 22 Jun 2020
Viewed by 338
Abstract
Twenty-four Dorper x Pelibuey lambs were housed in individual pens during a 31-d feeding period and assigned to four treatments (n = 6) under a randomized complete block design with different daily doses of zilpaterol hydrochloride (ZH): 0 (control), 0.1, 0.2, and [...] Read more.
Twenty-four Dorper x Pelibuey lambs were housed in individual pens during a 31-d feeding period and assigned to four treatments (n = 6) under a randomized complete block design with different daily doses of zilpaterol hydrochloride (ZH): 0 (control), 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 mg/kg BW to determine the effects of ZH supplementation on productive performance, meat quality, and wholesale cut yields. Final BW (p = 0.02) and average daily gain (ADG, p = 0.04) were greater in lambs supplemented with 0.2 mg/kg BW. Supplemental ZH tended to improve dry matter intake (DMI, p = 0.008) and ADG:DMI ratio (p = 0.078). Wholesale cut yields were not affected by ZH supplementation. Percentage of head was greater (p = 0.04) in lambs treated with ZH. The ZH supplementation did not affect carcass characteristics. However, longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) presented a linear trend (p = 0.08) of increasing with ZH supplementation. Percentage of blood presented a trend (p = 0.051) of decreasing with ZH supplementation. Also, liver decreased in size (p < 0.05) for treatments where ZH was included. Values of luminosity decreased (p < 0.02) when ZH dosage increased. The value of protein Lowry was greater, with 0.3 mg kg−1 (p = 0.04). Cathepsin B + L was greater in the lambs from the control treatment (p = 0.05). In conclusion, using a daily ZH dosage of 0.2 mg per kg of BW produced the best productive performance, carcass characteristics, and some changes in the meat of hair-breed lambs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Nutrition Approaches in a Changing Environment)
Open AccessArticle
Soil Fertilization with Urea Has Little Effect on Seed Quality but Reduces Soil N2O Emissions from a Hemp Cultivation
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060240 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 374
Abstract
Multipurpose production of hemp has led to renewed interest for this crop cultivation, especially for human nutrition. To date, no information about the influence of nitrogen source on hemp seed quality is available. Hemp is also used for food and beverages due to [...] Read more.
Multipurpose production of hemp has led to renewed interest for this crop cultivation, especially for human nutrition. To date, no information about the influence of nitrogen source on hemp seed quality is available. Hemp is also used for food and beverages due to its nutritional characteristics. This further use of hemp has led to an increase in hemp-grown areas. Therefore, it is important to get more information on the role of nitrogen on the quality production as well as to evaluate the environmental impact of the cultivation technique. In this work, we evaluate the influence of nitrogen source (i.e., NH4NO3 and urea) on the seed fatty acid composition of an edible hemp as well as on the environment in terms of soil N2O emission. Nitrogen source modified seed quality very little. Even if characterized by a lower acidic profile, seed from plants grown under urea and NH4NO3 had a ω-3/ω-6 ratio (0.3) within the optimal range from the nutritional standpoint, being considered as the optimal proportion for human metabolism and health. Urea fertilization reduced soil N2O emission. Our findings suggest that nitrogen source seems not to influence seed quality and that urea fertilizer might be more climate-friendly than NH4NO3 in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, in an extensive cultivation of hemp for industrial use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Pathogenic and Non-Pathogenic Fungal Communities in Wheat Grain as Influenced by Recycled Phosphorus Fertilizers: A Case Study
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060239 - 19 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Waste-based fertilizers provide an alternative to fertilizers made from non-renewable phosphate rock. Fungal communities colonizing the grain of spring wheat fertilized with preparation from sewage sludge ash and dried animal blood (Rec) and the same fertilizer activated by Bacillus megaterium (Bio) were evaluated [...] Read more.
Waste-based fertilizers provide an alternative to fertilizers made from non-renewable phosphate rock. Fungal communities colonizing the grain of spring wheat fertilized with preparation from sewage sludge ash and dried animal blood (Rec) and the same fertilizer activated by Bacillus megaterium (Bio) were evaluated against those resulting from superphosphate (SP) and no phosphorus (control, C0) treatments. The Illumina MiSeq sequencing system helped to group fungal communities into three clades. Clade 1 (communities from C0, Bio 60 and 80, Rec 80 and SP 40 kg P2O5 ha−1 treatments) was characterized by a high prevalence of Alternaria infectoria, Monographella nivalis and Gibberella tricincta pathogens. Clade 2 (Bio 40 kg, Rec 40 and 60 kg, and SP 60 kg P2O5 ha−1) was characterized by the lowest amount of the identified pathogens. Commercial SP applied at 80 kg P2O5 ha−1 (clade 3) induced the most pronounced changes in the fungal taxa colonizing wheat grain relative to non-fertilized plants. The above was attributed mainly to the lower amount of A. infectoria and higher counts of species of the family Nectriaceae, mostly epiphytic pathogens Fusarium culmorum and Fusarium poae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occurrence and Functions of Endophytic Fungi in Crop Species)
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Salt Concentration on the Mineral Nutrition of Tetragonia tetragonioides
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060238 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 264
Abstract
The purpose of the experiment was to study the effect of salinity (NaCl) on growth, biomass production (total yield), mineral composition (macro- and micronutrient contents in leaves and the soil in which the plant is grown) of Tetragonia tetragonioides during the vegetation period. [...] Read more.
The purpose of the experiment was to study the effect of salinity (NaCl) on growth, biomass production (total yield), mineral composition (macro- and micronutrient contents in leaves and the soil in which the plant is grown) of Tetragonia tetragonioides during the vegetation period. The experimental work was conducted in the greenhouse at the University of Lille 1, France, from 2 November 2015 to 25 January 2016. Three salinity treatments (T1 (50 mM NaCl), T2 (100 mM NaCl), T3 (200 mM NaCl)) and a control treatment (T0 (0 mM NaCl)) were applied. Analysis of the results showed that the total yield of the crop had low variation between the salinity treatments and the control treatment. The salt concentrations had an effect on the macro- and micronutrient contents in leaves and soil. In conclusion, T. tetragonioides exhibited good potential for use as a species to remove salt. This is the main important finding of this research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Laying Hens Biochar Diet Supplementation—Effect on Performance, Excreta N Content, NH3 and VOCs Emissions, Egg Traits and Egg Consumers Acceptance
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 237; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060237 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 420
Abstract
Sustainable solutions for intensive poultry production can help farmers, rural communities, consumers, and regulatory agencies. This study assessed supplementation of laying hens diet with beechwood biochar (BC, 1~2%) and BC–aluminosilicates–glycerin mixture (BCM, 1.5~3%) to lower the environmental impact while maintaining egg quality. The [...] Read more.
Sustainable solutions for intensive poultry production can help farmers, rural communities, consumers, and regulatory agencies. This study assessed supplementation of laying hens diet with beechwood biochar (BC, 1~2%) and BC–aluminosilicates–glycerin mixture (BCM, 1.5~3%) to lower the environmental impact while maintaining egg quality. The effect on feed intake, laying performance, egg quality, the sensory quality of hardboiled eggs, ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from excreta, and the excreta composition, were evaluated. A total of 90 hens were distributed into 30 cages and divided into five groups (n=6 replications). BC addition increased daily feed intake, while 1.5% BCM addition reduced it. The influence on egg parameters was positive, with a 6% increase in laying performance, up to 10% and 6% increase in shell resistance to crushing and shell thickness, respectively. The sensory analysis demonstrated no significant differences between all treatments. Excreta total N content was numerically lower due to the treatments (by 4~20%); its pH increased (not significantly), while no effect on ammoniacal N and dry matter content was observed. Most of the investigated treatments had a numerically positive (not statistically significant) effect on NH3 reduction. The reduction of VOC emissions was ambiguous and not statistically significant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Nutrition Approaches in a Changing Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Glyphosate and Saflufenacil: Elucidating Their Combined Action on the Control of Glyphosate-Resistant Conyza bonariensis
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060236 - 18 Jun 2020
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Abstract
Synergic effects of glyphosate and saflufenacil have been reported to control Conyza spp. However, the mechanism of this synergic combination is unknown. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of the combination of glyphosate and saflufenacil on the control and [...] Read more.
Synergic effects of glyphosate and saflufenacil have been reported to control Conyza spp. However, the mechanism of this synergic combination is unknown. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of the combination of glyphosate and saflufenacil on the control and resistance status of glyphosate-resistant (GR) C. bonariensis, as well as on oxidative stress and lipidic peroxidation. Glyphosate-resistant and glyphosate-sensitive (GS) biotypes were treated with different rates of saflufenacil, glyphosate, and glyphosate combined with saflufenacil. The combination of glyphosate (1480 g ae ha−1) and saflufenacil (≥15 g ha−1) presented the best control of GR plants compared with their individual effects. It also reduced the resistance factor from 19.6 to 4.6 (4.3-fold) and represents a good alternative for resistance management. The combination of glyphosate and saflufenacil resulted in higher oxidative stress and lipidic peroxidation compared with the effects of either herbicide alone. The oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation promoted by the combination of the herbicides occurred earlier after treatment and remained at higher levels over a longer period (12–192 h) compared with their individual results. The combined oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation at high levels over a long time is likely to be one reason that the combination of glyphosate and saflufenacil effectively controls GR C. bonariensis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pest and Weeds)
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Open AccessArticle
Arthropod Diversity Influenced by Two Musa-Based Agroecosystems in Ecuador
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060235 - 18 Jun 2020
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Banana and plantain (Musa spp.) are very important crops in Ecuador. Agricultural production systems based on a single cultivar and high use of external inputs to increase yields may cause changes in the landscape structure and a loss in biodiversity. This loss [...] Read more.
Banana and plantain (Musa spp.) are very important crops in Ecuador. Agricultural production systems based on a single cultivar and high use of external inputs to increase yields may cause changes in the landscape structure and a loss in biodiversity. This loss may be responsible for a decrease in the complexity of arthropod food webs and, at the same time, related to a higher frequency and range of pest outbreaks. Very little is known either about the ecological mechanisms causing destabilization of these systems or the importance of the diversity of natural enemies to keep pests under control. Few studies have focused on this issue in tropical ecosystems. Here, we address this problem, comparing two Musa-based agroecosystems (monocultivar and mixed-species plantations) at two sites in Ecuador (La Maná and El Carmen) with different precipitation regimes. The diversity of soil macro fauna, represented by arthropods, was established, as indicators of the abovementioned disturbances. Our ultimate goal is the optimization of pest management by exploring more sustainable cropping systems with improved soil quality. Arthropod abundance was higher in the mixed system at both localities, which was clearly associated with the quality of the soils. In addition, we found Hymenoptera species with predatory or parasitic characteristics over the pests present in the agroecosystems under study. These highly beneficial species were more abundant at the locality of La Maná. The mixed type of production system provides plant diversity, which favors beneficial arthropod abundance and permits lower agrochemical application without yield penalties in comparison to the monoculture. These findings will help in the design of Musa-based agroecosystems to enhance pest control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Diversification)
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling the Dynamic Response of Plant Growth to Root Zone Temperature in Hydroponic Chili Pepper Plant Using Neural Networks
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060234 - 17 Jun 2020
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Abstract
One of the essential factors in the root zone environment that affects plant growth is temperature. Determining the optimal root zone temperature condition in a hydroponic system during cultivation could lead to an improvement in plant growth. An optimal control strategy can be [...] Read more.
One of the essential factors in the root zone environment that affects plant growth is temperature. Determining the optimal root zone temperature condition in a hydroponic system during cultivation could lead to an improvement in plant growth. An optimal control strategy can be determined by identifying the eco-physiological process using a dynamic model. However, it is difficult to develop a dynamic model of the responses of plant growth to root zone temperature because the eco-physiological processes of plants are quite complicated. We propose an intelligent approach that can deal with this complex system. Non-linear autoregressive with exogenous input (NARX) neural networks were used to develop a dynamic model of the responses of plant growth to root zone temperature. The responses of chili pepper plant growth as affected by root zone temperature were measured during 60 days of cultivation inside a growth chamber using a non-destructive and continuous system based on a load cell. Five datasets of dynamic responses of plant growth were obtained for system identification. The results suggest that the application of a neural network is useful for modeling the dynamic response of plant growth to root zone temperature in hydroponic cultivation, with promising performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Neural Networks in Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview
Will Yellow Mealworm Become a Source of Safe Proteins for Europe?
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060233 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 286
Abstract
Continued population growth could lead to protein deficiency in the human diet. To counteract this risk, attempts are being made to identify new edible sources of protein. The aim of this paper was to review the existing literature and to analyse the current [...] Read more.
Continued population growth could lead to protein deficiency in the human diet. To counteract this risk, attempts are being made to identify new edible sources of protein. The aim of this paper was to review the existing literature and to analyse the current state of yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) rearing for food and feed, especially in Europe. The yellow mealworm is the most widely bred and traded insect species in Europe that has high feed conversion ratio; 3.4 to 6.1 kg of feed ingested per kg of harvested larvae. Mealworms could compete with livestock due to their high protein and fat content and low environmental impact. Mealworms have been extensively researched as a source of feed for animals, including poultry, fish, pets and birds. Its nutrient content depends on the processing method, where thermal processing is least desirable. Mealworms are characterised by a high and variable microbial load which has to be reduced before consumption. The antibiotics, pesticides and other substances should also be analysed to ensure that mealworms are a safe protein source for human consumption. The nutritional benefits of mealworms have to be communicated to European consumers who are generally averse to eating insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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Open AccessReview
Microflora in the Reproductive Tract of Cattle: A Review (Running Title: The Microflora and Bovine Reproductive Tract)
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060232 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 332
Abstract
There are microbial communities in and on the bodies of all multicellular organisms, and this microbiota can have a significant impact on the biology of the host. Most studies have focused on the microbiome of the skin, mouth, and gut, whereas relatively little [...] Read more.
There are microbial communities in and on the bodies of all multicellular organisms, and this microbiota can have a significant impact on the biology of the host. Most studies have focused on the microbiome of the skin, mouth, and gut, whereas relatively little is known about the reproductive microbiome. From the perspective of the bovine reproductive tract, uterine diseases such as metritis and endometritis are traditionally viewed to result only from interactions occurring between the host animal and pathogens originating from either the environment or ascension from the vagina. This outdated opinion has been refuted by recent advanced studies that propose that, in addition to bacteria colonization through the extrinsic and ascending pathways to the vagina, bacteria can also move from the gut to the uterus, which is also associated with reproductive tract disorders. This has led to the concept of the “endogenous route hypothesis”, which has vital inferences for comprehending the etiology of metritis and endometritis. Furthermore, it has opened up the possibility of developing new prophylactic and therapeutic agents as alternatives to antimicrobial agents. In addition, the unveiling of next-generation sequencing technology makes it more convenient to perform detailed sequencing and analysis of data on the cervical, vaginal, and uterine flora and to further study uncultured bacteria in these niches—most importantly, the cervical niche, which previously was thought to have lower bacterial complexity. Research conducted to date has proven that the composition of microflora in a community varies widely between environmental sites, host niches, and health status. Furthermore, it has also been suggested that the occurrence of endometritis in the dairy and beef cattle reproductive tract is neither casual nor indirect but multifactorial. Whether disturbance in the variety of the microflora in the reproductive tract (dysbiosis) has a role in determining the sensitivity to metritis and endometritis is not yet known. This article outlines the current progress in understanding the microflora with regards to the bovine reproductive tract. The compositions of microflora in various niches of the reproductive tract are briefly elucidated. In addition, the functional role of these microflora communities in the reproductive tract is discussed, with particular emphasis on the association of bacterial flora with reproductive disorders and failures. Finally, prophylaxis and therapeutic approaches based on the new comprehension of the effects of antimicrobials, probiotics, and bacteriophages on the composition of the reproductive tract microflora are also considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Productive, Competitive, and Economic Aspects of Spring Cereal Mixtures in Integrated and Organic Crop Rotations
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060231 - 15 Jun 2020
Viewed by 380
Abstract
Cultivation of spring cereal mixtures (SCMs) is one of the ways to increase the yield of crops in mountainous areas of Poland. There are only a few current long-term studies on this topic. Our study aimed at analyzing yield and competitiveness as well [...] Read more.
Cultivation of spring cereal mixtures (SCMs) is one of the ways to increase the yield of crops in mountainous areas of Poland. There are only a few current long-term studies on this topic. Our study aimed at analyzing yield and competitiveness as well as the economic indicators of spring cereals in pure or mixed sowings in integrated or organic crop rotations over nine years. A field experiment including pure sowings of oats, spring barley, or spring triticale and their two-component SCMs, each in two systems, organic and integrated crop rotation, was carried out in the Mountainous Experimental Station in Czyrna, Poland, in the years 2011–2019. On average, cereals in the pure sowings and mixtures yielded 18% lower in the organic rotations compared with the integrated ones. However, SCMs yielded higher than the pure sowings, and displayed a higher leaf area index and land equivalent ratio. The average gross margin without subsidies was almost two times higher in the organic crop rotations than in the integrated ones, which was influenced mainly by the cultivation of barley in pure sowing. Summing up, the cultivation of SCMs in the mountainous areas of southern Poland is advised because of both productive and economic factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Productive and Ecological Aspects of Mixed Cropping System)
Open AccessArticle
Effects of Different Farrowing and Rearing Systems on Post-Weaning Stress in Piglets
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060230 - 15 Jun 2020
Viewed by 283
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate how farrowing and rearing systems affect skin lesions, serum cortisol, and aggressive behavior as indicators for weaning stress of piglets. Between May 2016 and March 2018, in total 3144 weaning piglets from three different farrowing systems were examined: [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate how farrowing and rearing systems affect skin lesions, serum cortisol, and aggressive behavior as indicators for weaning stress of piglets. Between May 2016 and March 2018, in total 3144 weaning piglets from three different farrowing systems were examined: farrowing crates (FC), single-housing free-farrowing pens (FF), and group-housing of lactating sows and litters (GH). After weaning and regrouping, piglets were relocated to conventional rearing pens (conv; 5.7 m2) or to wean-to-finish pens (w-f; 12.4 m2). Skin lesions were scored 24 h after weaning. Blood samples were taken one week before and 24 h after weaning to analyze the individual difference in serum cortisol. Behavior was observed for 24 h after relocation. Animals raised in FC and FF had significantly more skin lesions than that of GH animals. Piglets born in GH showed lower cortisol differences and fought less and for shorter periods compared to FC and FF piglets. Piglets weaned to w-f pens showed greater cortisol changes and fought significantly longer than piglets in conv pens. Group housing during the suckling period reduced weaning stress for piglets in terms of skin lesions, serum cortisol, and aggressive behavior. Greater space allowance (w-f vs. conv) was not beneficial with regard to the investigated parameters. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Weed Infestation, Grain Health, and Productivity Parameters of Two Spelt Wheat Cultivars Depending on Crop Protection Intensification and Seeding Densities
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060229 - 15 Jun 2020
Viewed by 358
Abstract
Spelt wheat is one of the oldest wheat with very high nutritional value. It does not have particular climatic requirements and tolerates adverse environmental conditions well. The versatile advantages of spelt wheat make it attractive to farmers, plant breeders, food technologists, and consumers. [...] Read more.
Spelt wheat is one of the oldest wheat with very high nutritional value. It does not have particular climatic requirements and tolerates adverse environmental conditions well. The versatile advantages of spelt wheat make it attractive to farmers, plant breeders, food technologists, and consumers. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of different crop protection systems and seeding densities on yield, weed infestation, and grain health of the spelt wheat cultivars “Rokosz” and “Schwabenspelz”. The research showed that the spelt wheat cultivars studied responded differently to production intensification. The use of crop protection chemicals in the crop of the cultivar “Rokosz” resulted in lower weed infestation and in obtaining higher yields. In the case of the cultivar “Schwabenspelz”, production intensification did not have a significant effect on its productivity and quantitative weed infestation parameters. Therefore, this cultivar can be recommended for cultivation in farms with extensive farming methods, for example, in organic farms. In both cultivars studied, an increase in seeding density and chemical plant protection with fungicide caused lower grain contamination with mycotoxins, and the content of individual mycotoxins did not exceed the maximum levels set for grain intended for food and animal feed purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and New Approaches for Management)
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Open AccessArticle
The Evaluation of Negative Factors of Direct Payments under Common Agricultural Policy from a Viewpoint of Sustainability of Rural Regions of the New EU Member States: Evidence from Lithuania
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060228 - 12 Jun 2020
Viewed by 301
Abstract
The present study aims to determine and evaluate the negative consequences of the implementation of the direct payments financial support mechanism under the Common Agricultural Policy on the rural sustainability of Lithuania. Interviews of experts and a combination of the analytic hierarchy process [...] Read more.
The present study aims to determine and evaluate the negative consequences of the implementation of the direct payments financial support mechanism under the Common Agricultural Policy on the rural sustainability of Lithuania. Interviews of experts and a combination of the analytic hierarchy process with three different measurement scales and the analytic hierarchy process with triangular fuzzy numbers were employed in order to evaluate and rank the negative effects of the direct payments mechanism of the Common Agricultural Policy. It was revealed that high land prices, decreasing diversification of cultivated crops, land degradation, and financial indebtedness of farmers can be attributed to direct payments and these consequences have a significant negative impact on the rural sustainability of Lithuania. The necessity of using a combination of different evaluation scales and techniques was confirmed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Productivity, Efficiency, and Sustainability in Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle
Economic Contributions of Mega-Dam Infrastructure as Perceived by Local and Displaced Communities: A Case Study of Merowe Dam, Sudan
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060227 - 12 Jun 2020
Viewed by 285
Abstract
Investigations on the socioeconomic impacts of mega-dam projects have tended to focus on conventional cost–benefit analysis, while studies exploring perceptions of local communities, who are some of the prime beneficiaries of these development initiatives, are limited. This paper aims to address this research [...] Read more.
Investigations on the socioeconomic impacts of mega-dam projects have tended to focus on conventional cost–benefit analysis, while studies exploring perceptions of local communities, who are some of the prime beneficiaries of these development initiatives, are limited. This paper aims to address this research gap through a case study of community perceptions on the socioeconomic impacts of the Merowe Dam in Sudan from the residents of upstream, downstream, and relocated locations. Data were collected primarily through surveys and interviews with residents, government officials, dam implementation authority, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other key informants and a series of indicators were developed for the analysis from the responses. Three inter-related areas of impact were scrutinized: (a) electricity generation; (b) development of modern agriculture; and (c) institutional infrastructure in the region. The results reveal that local communities are fully aware of both the positive and adverse socioeconomic impacts of the Merowe Dam, although these are focused more on the visible impacts closely related to their livelihood and income, such as increased food production, water shortages, electricity supply and its costs. Policy implications include investments in the new settlement areas with respect to the agricultural economy, such as irrigation improvement through electrification, promoting crop diversity, research, development, and diffusion of modern agricultural technologies. Efforts are also needed to strike a balance between provision of utilities and services, (i.e., water, electricity and other infrastructural facilities) provided by the Merowe Dam, amongst communities in relocated, upstream, and downstream locations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Thickness of Solid Media, Ventilation Rate, and Chamber Volume on Ammonia Emission from Liquid Fertilizers Using Dynamic Chamber-Capture System (DCS)
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060226 - 12 Jun 2020
Viewed by 286
Abstract
This study was conducted with the aim of improving the dynamic camber-capture system, which estimates ammonia emissions during the application of liquid fertilizer from livestock manure. We focused on the volume of the chamber and headspace, the height of the solid media, the [...] Read more.
This study was conducted with the aim of improving the dynamic camber-capture system, which estimates ammonia emissions during the application of liquid fertilizer from livestock manure. We focused on the volume of the chamber and headspace, the height of the solid media, the flow rate of the pump, and the ventilation rate. Total ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3 + NH4+) is an important factor affecting ammonia volatilization. Even though the characteristics of liquid fertilizer were changed, the effect of total ammoniacal nitrogen on ammonia volatilization remained the largest. Increasing the thickness of solid media inside the chamber has the effect of reducing ammonia emission by reducing the contact area between liquid fertilizer and air. Although it is very difficult to measure and control the wind velocity in a chamber using a general vacuum pump, it can be indirectly evaluated through the ventilation rate in the macroscopic aspect. The higher the ventilation rate, the faster the flow of air in the chamber, which is linear with the increase in ammonia emission flux. We find that it may be necessary to improve the steady wind velocity within the chamber and of the linkages to upscale the wind tunnel system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Cover Crop, Tillage, and Crop Rotation Management on Soil Nutrients
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060225 - 11 Jun 2020
Viewed by 288
Abstract
Cover cropping, tillage and crop rotation management can influence soil nutrient availability and crop yield through changes in soil physical, chemical and biological processes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of three years of cover crop, tillage, and crop [...] Read more.
Cover cropping, tillage and crop rotation management can influence soil nutrient availability and crop yield through changes in soil physical, chemical and biological processes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of three years of cover crop, tillage, and crop rotation on selected soil nutrients. Twenty-four plots each of corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) were established on a 4.05 ha field and arranged in a three-factor factorial design. The three factors (treatments) were two methods of tillage (no-tillage (NT) vs. moldboard plow [conventional] tillage (CT)), two types of cover crop (no cover crop (NC) vs. cover crop (CC)) and four typess of rotation (continuous corn, continuous soybean, corn/soybean and soybean/corn). Soil samples were taken each year at four different depths in each plot; 0–10 cm, 10–20 cm, 20–40 cm and 40–60 cm, and analyzed for soil nutrients: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), nitrogen (NO3 and NH4), potassium (K), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), sodium (Na), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu). The results in the first year showed that CT increased NO3-N availability by 40% compared with NT. In the second year, NH4-N was 8% lower under CC compared with NC management. In the third year, P was 12% greater under CC management compared with NC management. Thus, CC can enhance crop production systems by increasing P availability and scavenging excess NH4-N from the soil, but longer-term studies are needed to evaluate long-term effects. Full article
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Open AccessShort Note
Influence of Topography on Sustainable Land Management: An Analysis of Socioeconomic and Ecodemographic Conditions of Nepal
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060224 - 11 Jun 2020
Viewed by 305
Abstract
Around 6 to 8 million young Nepali, working abroad as migrant laborers, are contributing remittances of about 28% of the annual gross domestic product of Nepal. However, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal is not only going to lose a significant portion [...] Read more.
Around 6 to 8 million young Nepali, working abroad as migrant laborers, are contributing remittances of about 28% of the annual gross domestic product of Nepal. However, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal is not only going to lose a significant portion of remittances but will also face the Herculean task of creating employment for the workforce who may return to Nepal. This paper discusses sustainable options for the Nepali government to help create employment for its citizens in Nepal through the revitalization of fallow lands and other potential agricultural areas, which are below a 15° slope. The land-use and land-cover data for the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s are derived from the classification of satellite images. These classified and resampled 30 m × 30 m images along with the 30 × 30 m elevation data are brought to the Kibana Platform within the Amazon Web Service (AWS) to analyze the status of land-use and -cover conditions for the 1980 to 2010 period within nine different slope classes at an interval of 5° slope. Our findings suggest there have been massive conversions of forested areas for agricultural land at lower slope areas between 1980 and 2000, but the trend began to reverse from 2000 to 2010 as trees started coming back to the fallow agricultural lands. This happened mainly because, during the countrywide Maoist insurgency period (1996–2006), many youth first took shelter in various urban centers away from their natal homes and then emigrated to foreign countries for remittance purposes. As a result, many farmlands became fallow and barren, and agricultural productivity decreased. Consequently, Nepal, an exporter of rice and pulses until the late 1980s, started importing food grain each year. The major goals of this research are to explore: (a) if Nepal can self-sustain in agricultural products by utilizing potential agricultural lands below a 15° slope in various geographic regions; (b) the means for productively engaging the youth returning to the country; and (c) methods of reinvigorating the ecosystem services of Nepal to support sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Productivity, Efficiency, and Sustainability in Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview
Animal Welfare and Production Challenges Associated with Pasture Pig Systems: A Review
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060223 - 11 Jun 2020
Viewed by 454
Abstract
A review of published literature was conducted to identify pasture pig production system features that pose risks to animal welfare, and to develop recommendations aimed at improving the wellbeing of the animals managed in those systems. Pasture pig production systems present specific challenges [...] Read more.
A review of published literature was conducted to identify pasture pig production system features that pose risks to animal welfare, and to develop recommendations aimed at improving the wellbeing of the animals managed in those systems. Pasture pig production systems present specific challenges to animal welfare that are inherent to the nature of these systems where producers have little room to make improvements. However, these systems present other challenges that could be reduced with a carefully designed system, by adopting appropriate management strategies and by avoiding management practices that are likely to negatively affect animal wellbeing. In pasture pig production systems, exposure to extreme temperatures, potential contact with wildlife and pathogens (especially parasites), vulnerability to predators, risk of malnutrition, pre-weaning piglet mortality, complexity of processes for monitoring and treating sick animals, and for cleaning and disinfection of facilities and equipment are among the main threats to animal welfare. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Resource-Efficient Classification and Early Predictions of Carcass Composition in Fattening Pigs by Means of Ultrasound Examinations
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060222 - 10 Jun 2020
Viewed by 286
Abstract
The development of the backfat thickness of fattening pigs in relation to their weight allows first conclusions to be drawn concerning the efficiency of individual growth and classification of the carcass. The hypothesis was that, firstly, via measurement of backfat thickness and muscle [...] Read more.
The development of the backfat thickness of fattening pigs in relation to their weight allows first conclusions to be drawn concerning the efficiency of individual growth and classification of the carcass. The hypothesis was that, firstly, via measurement of backfat thickness and muscle diameter, their ratio and the quality of the carcass can be predicted and that, secondly, using resource-efficient and sustainable feeding has no negative effects on the carcass. Over a 70-day period, ultrasound examinations of backfat and musculus longissimus dorsi were performed in a pen with sorting gates and automatic body mass recordings every two weeks on 121 animals of the same age, starting at approximately 50 kg. Data were subdivided into four groups for each measurement time. There was weak (Examination 1: r = −0.28164; p = 0.0018) but steadily increasing correlation (Examination 5: r = −0.60657; p ≤ 0.0001) between the backfat/muscle ratio and the carcass quality. In all four groups, significant differences in the diameter of the M. longissimus dorsi (“light fat (LF) = 3.29 cm; “light lean (LL)” = 3.62 cm; “heavy fat (HF)” = 3.69 cm; “heavy lean (HL)” = 3.93 cm) and in backfat thickness (LF = 0.44 cm; LL = 0.38 cm; HF= 0.47 cm; HL= 0.39 cm) could be shown during the first examination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Productivity, Efficiency, and Sustainability in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
New Interspecific Brassica Hybrids with High Levels of Heterosis for Fatty Acids Composition
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060221 - 10 Jun 2020
Viewed by 294
Abstract
Winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) is the most important oil crop in Europe. Optimizing the profile and quantity of fatty acids in rapeseed is critical for maximizing the value of edible oil. Although the utilization of crop heterosis for hybrid breeding [...] Read more.
Winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) is the most important oil crop in Europe. Optimizing the profile and quantity of fatty acids in rapeseed is critical for maximizing the value of edible oil. Although the utilization of crop heterosis for hybrid breeding in rapeseed is limited by the relatively narrow genetic basis of adapted germplasm, an up-to-date significant effort has been made to broaden the rapeseed gene pool using different strategies. The present study was aimed to estimate heterosis for oil quality of the newly developed Brassica interspecific hybrids, using selected parental lines. For this purpose, five parental genotypes and twenty-two interspecific cross-derived Brassica lines were evaluated in a randomized complete block design with three replications in the Greater Poland region during 2009, 2010 and 2011. Generally, the variation among genotypes was evident for most of the tested fatty acids mean values, but the differences between genotypes were not always statistically significant when based on individual fatty acids (FAs). However, the highest number of significant heterosis effects was observed for behenic and lignoceric acids and for Brassica hybrid line H1. Based on obtained results it was possible to select one genotype—the hybrid line H5, which is recommended for further inclusion in the breeding programs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Azospirillum brasilense Can Impressively Improve Growth and Development of Urochloa brizantha under Irrigation
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060220 - 10 Jun 2020
Viewed by 247
Abstract
Development of strategies to ensure grazing systems are sustainably produced in harsh environments, while not fertilizing them conventionally, is challenging. Figuring out the extent to which dose of inoculation and period of watering can positively influence the establishment of an effective symbiosis between [...] Read more.
Development of strategies to ensure grazing systems are sustainably produced in harsh environments, while not fertilizing them conventionally, is challenging. Figuring out the extent to which dose of inoculation and period of watering can positively influence the establishment of an effective symbiosis between U. brizantha cv. Marandu and Azospirillum brasilense is the point of this research. The treatment consisted of mixing 1 kg seeds with the inoculant of the strains Ab-V5 and Ab-V6 at 5, 10, 20, and 40 mL kg−1, 2 × 108 CFU mL−1. The plants grew in pots watered 2, 4, 8, and 16 days after sowing over thirty-days, twice. The bioagent at 5–10 mL kg−1 enabled the plants watered up to 4 days after sowing to peak the production of dry mass of shoots (28.50 g) and roots (12.55 g). The efficiency of the symbiosis goes down quickly with increasing dose and delay of watering. Hence, if the dose of inoculant is higher than 10 mL kg−1, it cannot successfully act in plants watered at least 8 days after sowing anymore. In conclusion, A. brasilense can assist in U. brizantha cv. Marandu growth and healthy development unless a lack of water in the substrate and an overdose collectively deter its potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Agronomic Practices for Maximizing Crop Growth and Yield)
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Open AccessArticle
Piloting a Meta-Database of Agroecological Transitions: An Example from Sustainable Cereal Food Systems
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060219 - 10 Jun 2020
Viewed by 343
Abstract
Despite the fact that policy makers and governments are promoting the development of diverse agro-bio food systems to push and promote sustainability, they are challenging to implement because of a series of obstacles that hinder a successful transition from a conventional to an [...] Read more.
Despite the fact that policy makers and governments are promoting the development of diverse agro-bio food systems to push and promote sustainability, they are challenging to implement because of a series of obstacles that hinder a successful transition from a conventional to an agro-ecological model of agriculture. Produce is extremely heterogeneous and agricultural technology is often not standard, rather alternative, and knowledge is contextual, tacit and place-specific. However, information about the characteristics of these systems is still sparse and difficult to analyse because of the complexity and multidimensionality. As a result, the aim of this paper is to review the existing literature in order to identify a coding system that allows for the creation of a meta-database of case studies on agroecological transitions. This coding system will be piloted in six case studies dealing with agrobiodiversity along cereal food systems producing grains, bread and pasta in France, Italy and the UK. In this analysis, we found that both the transition towards sustainable agriculture and the reduction of transaction costs require social innovation, which benefits from strong social capital. In the conclusions, we discuss the efficacy of the proposed coding scheme and its ability to capture in-depth information contained in similar case studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture)
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