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Agriculture, Volume 10, Issue 9 (September 2020) – 58 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The necessity to improve farming practices has initiated the development of new technological tools that are useful in agriculture. The goal of this study is the utilization of new technologies to define the geometry of olive tree crowns and the development of a forecasting model of annual production in a hilly non-linear olive grove. High-resolution multispectral imagery was acquired from a UAV platform. The trees’ crowns were isolated using object-based image analysis. Aerial and ground data analyses were conducted in a GIS environment. Thematic maps were made for each calculated variable and a yield forecasting model was developed. The spatial distribution of the variables gave noteworthy results due to the similar pattern they followed. Future crop yield optimization, even at a tree level, can be based on the results of the present study. View this paper
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9 pages, 2323 KiB  
Article
Chemical and Spectroscopic Parameters Are Equally Sensitive in Describing Soil Organic Matter Changes After Decades of Different Fertilization
by Tomáš Šimon and Mikuláš Madaras
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090422 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2770
Abstract
The composition and dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM) are decisive factors in soil quality. In this work, total organic C (Ctot), hot water extractable C (Chwl), and aliphatic and aromatic SOM components detected by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) [...] Read more.
The composition and dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM) are decisive factors in soil quality. In this work, total organic C (Ctot), hot water extractable C (Chwl), and aliphatic and aromatic SOM components detected by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy were determined to evaluate SOM quantity and quality in soil samples taken between 2004 and 2017 from 13 field experiments established in different soil and climatic conditions of the Czech Republic. In addition, the C pool index (CPI), lability index (LI), C management index (CMI), and SOM decomposition index (DI) were assessed. Treatments were selected as follows: Unfertilized control (Nil), mineral fertilized treatment (NPK), farmyard manured treatment (FYM), and organic and mineral fertilized treatment (FYM+NPK). Both organic and combined fertilization significantly increased soil Ctot, Chwl, CPI, LI, CMI, and labile aliphatic SOM components (FTIRaliph) in most of the experiments compared to unfertilized treatments (p ≤ 0.05). In contrast, the highest content of recalcitrant aromatic SOM components (FTIRarom) and increased DI were determined in majority of unfertilized soils. Our results show that: (1) fertilization regimes increased both labile and total C pools; the highest increase was nearly uniformly observed for NPK+FYM treatment; (2) SOM chemical and FTIR spectral detection had equal sensitivity to the changes; and (3) none of the parameters or indices tested can be used as a stand-alone SOM quality descriptor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Quality and Crop Nutrition)
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12 pages, 4339 KiB  
Article
Crop Productivity and Climatic Conditions: Evidence from Hungary
by Zoltán Bakucs, Imre Fertő and Enikő Vígh
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090421 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 4065
Abstract
Hungarian agriculture is expected to experience greater risks due to more variability in crop productivity due to increasing yearly average temperatures and extreme precipitation patterns. This study investigates the effect of changing climatic conditions on productivity, using a Hungarian sample of crop producers [...] Read more.
Hungarian agriculture is expected to experience greater risks due to more variability in crop productivity due to increasing yearly average temperatures and extreme precipitation patterns. This study investigates the effect of changing climatic conditions on productivity, using a Hungarian sample of crop producers for a 12-year time period. Our empirical analysis employs True Fixed Effects frontier models of Farm Accountancy Data Network data that are merged with specific meteorological data representatively maintained for seeding, vegetative, and generative periods for cereals, oil seed and protein crops, along with soil quality and usage-related data. Estimations indicate that climate variables have significant impacts on technical efficiency. In addition, calculation suggest that an increase in temperature during seeding and vegetative periods, combined with higher precipitation levels in May and June, will reduce crop farmers’ production frontier. Estimations explain the variance, while the technical efficiency (TE) scores emphasize the impact of the difference in soil quality and its water absorption capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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21 pages, 2792 KiB  
Article
Monitoring and Modelling Analysis of Maize (Zea mays L.) Yield Gap in Smallholder Farming in Ghana
by Eric Owusu Danquah, Yacob Beletse, Richard Stirzaker, Christopher Smith, Stephen Yeboah, Patricia Oteng-Darko, Felix Frimpong and Stella Ama Ennin
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090420 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 5003
Abstract
Modelling and multiple linear regression were used to explore the reason for low maize yield in the Atebubu-Amantin and West Mamprusi Districts of Ghana, West Africa. The study evaluated maize yields on twenty farms against measures of soil fertility, agronomic attributes and soil [...] Read more.
Modelling and multiple linear regression were used to explore the reason for low maize yield in the Atebubu-Amantin and West Mamprusi Districts of Ghana, West Africa. The study evaluated maize yields on twenty farms against measures of soil fertility, agronomic attributes and soil water availability. Correlations between yield, soil fertility, rain, crop density, and weed biomass, were low, and no single factor could explain the low yields. A 50-year virtual experiment was then set up using the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) to explore the interactions between climate, crop management (sowing date and nitrogen fertilization) and rooting depth on grain yield and nitrate (NO3-N) dynamics. The analysis showed that a lack of optimal sowing dates that synchronize radiation, rainfall events and nitrogen (N) management with critical growth stages explained the low farm yields. Full article
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17 pages, 4774 KiB  
Article
Site-Specific Forage Management of Sericea Lespedeza: Geospatial Technology-Based Forage Quality and Yield Enhancement Model Development
by Sudhanshu S. Panda, Thomas H. Terrill, Ajit K. Mahapatra, Brian Kelly, Eric R. Morgan and Jan A. van Wyk
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090419 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3710
Abstract
Site-specific forage management (SSFM), comprising growth observation, impact assessment, and timely strategic response to small variations in sericea lespedeza (SL; Lespedeza cuneata (Dum-Cours.) G. Don) production, has been envisioned as a life-changing approach for resource-poor (R-P) farmers in developing countries, assisting in the [...] Read more.
Site-specific forage management (SSFM), comprising growth observation, impact assessment, and timely strategic response to small variations in sericea lespedeza (SL; Lespedeza cuneata (Dum-Cours.) G. Don) production, has been envisioned as a life-changing approach for resource-poor (R-P) farmers in developing countries, assisting in the effective rearing of their small ruminants. The application of geospatial technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, global navigation satellite system, and information technology, can support SSFM but has not been widely used for site-specific forage management. From our previous studies, it appears that the entire range of condensed tannins of lespedeza, namely extractable condensed tannin (ECT), fiber-bound condensed tannin (FBCT), and protein-bound condensed tannin (PBCT), as well as crude protein (CP), are excellent for promoting small ruminant digestion and overall health. The goal of this study was to develop an SSFM strategy for SL to enhance animal production in areas of drought-prone, low pH, marginally infertile soils. To achieve this goal, study objectives were to: (i) develop statistical and artificial neural networks-based (ANN) models to identify if a sound correlation exists among forage growth environmental features and SL-ECT content; (ii) determine suitability criteria, including climate, soil, and land use/land cover (LULC), for mass scale production of SL and collect supporting environmental geospatial data; and (iii) develop an automated geospatial model for SL growth suitability analysis in relation to optimal areas for its production in a case-study location. Telemetric data and individual climatologic parameters (including minimum, maximum, and average temperature, humidity, dewpoint, soil temperatures at three depths, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, total solar radiation, and precipitation) were found to correlate well (>75%) with the forage production parameters, including values of SL-ECT from the Fort Valley State University (FVSU) research station in Georgia in the southern United States. A backpropagation neural network (BPNN) model was developed using similar climatic input parameters, along with elevation (topography) and a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to estimate the forage’s ECT with a testing root mean square error (RMSE) of 1.18%. With good correlation obtained between the climatic, soil, slope, and land cover input parameters, and SL-ECT as the output parameter, an SSFM model was developed with potential application to R-P farmers in areas suitable for SL establishment and growth. Eswatini (previously Swaziland), a landlocked country in southern Africa, in which numerous R-P small ruminant (sheep and goat) farmers reside, was used as the case study location to develop the SL production suitability model. Geospatial data were used for automated model development in an ArcGIS Pro ModelBuilder platform to provide information on where to grow SL efficiently to economically feed small ruminants. Land use/land cover, soil, topography, and climate based geospatial data of the region helped in the development of the automated SSFM geospatial model for spatial growth suitability location determination to assist farmers of Eswatini with their SL production decision making. This automated model can easily be replicated for farmers in other countries in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world having similar climatic conditions. Full article
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17 pages, 575 KiB  
Article
Localized Institutional Actors and Smallholder Irrigation Scheme Performance in Limpopo Province of South Africa
by Liboster Mwadzingeni, Raymond Mugandani and Paramu Mafongoya
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090418 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3800
Abstract
Poor performance bedeviling SISs in South Africa is attributed to poor institutional integration, consequently impacting service delivery. Despite this, local institutional actors (LIAs)’ role has not been documented as a potential entry point to address poor performance and hence increase SISs’ sustainability. This [...] Read more.
Poor performance bedeviling SISs in South Africa is attributed to poor institutional integration, consequently impacting service delivery. Despite this, local institutional actors (LIAs)’ role has not been documented as a potential entry point to address poor performance and hence increase SISs’ sustainability. This study sought to assess the role of LIAs on the performance of the Tshiombo irrigation scheme (TIS). Structured questionnaires, key informant interviews (KIIs), and focus group discussions (FDGs) were used for data collection. Yield data for sweet potato, the main crop grown in the scheme, was measured as a proxy indicator for performance. Ordinary least square regression model was used to assess the relationship between LIAs and scheme performance after reducing the data using principal component analysis. The study revealed that institutional factors such as community credit support, academic extension support, academic institution market and input support, community maintenance support, and community input support positively and significantly (at 5% level) improved the yield by a margin of 0.49, 0.12, 0.1, 0.36, and 0.10. Assessing institutional actors’ interaction within each scheme will help develop linkages that will enable sustainability of irrigation schemes. Out scaling of research on LIAs on irrigation scheme performance enhances scheme performance. Full article
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10 pages, 10399 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis Infection of Wheat Heads
by Pao Theen See, Nikki Schultz and Caroline S. Moffat
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090417 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4277
Abstract
The incidence of wheat head infection by Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Ptr), the etiological agent of tan spot disease, was evaluated during grain development in a glasshouse experiment. Heads artificially inoculated with a Ptr spore suspension developed widespread brown spots across the spikelets, and mycelia [...] Read more.
The incidence of wheat head infection by Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Ptr), the etiological agent of tan spot disease, was evaluated during grain development in a glasshouse experiment. Heads artificially inoculated with a Ptr spore suspension developed widespread brown spots across the spikelets, and mycelia and conidophores were observed on glumes and awns. Seeds of heavily infected heads were darkened and shrivelled, but no red smudge symptoms were apparent. The recovery rate of Ptr isolates from the inoculated wheat heads was low, and colonies that were re-isolated displayed an irregular morphology with reddish mycelia when grown on agar plates. The presence of Ptr on inoculated wheat heads was assessed directly via PCR detection, and a limitation of Ptr hyphae to proliferate beyond the point of contact of spore inoculum on floret tissues was observed. The systemic transmission of Ptr from infected seeds was minimal; however, saprophytic growth of the pathogen occurred on the senescing leaves of wheat plants grown from inoculated seeds. Thus, even though Ptr seed infection is not as common as foliar infection, infected seeds are still a source of disease inoculum and screening for pathogen contamination is advisable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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14 pages, 3473 KiB  
Article
Imaging Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Agriculture Land Use Classification
by Pei-Chun Chen, Yen-Cheng Chiang and Pei-Yi Weng
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090416 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 4830
Abstract
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was used to capture high-resolution aerial images of crop fields. Software-based image analysis was performed to classify land uses. The purpose was to help relevant agencies use aerial imaging in managing agricultural production. This study involves five townships [...] Read more.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was used to capture high-resolution aerial images of crop fields. Software-based image analysis was performed to classify land uses. The purpose was to help relevant agencies use aerial imaging in managing agricultural production. This study involves five townships in the Chianan Plain of Chiayi County, Taiwan. About 100 ha of farmland in each township was selected as a sample area, and a quadcopter and a handheld fixed-wing drone were used to capture visible-light images and multispectral images. The survey was carried out from August to October 2018 and aerial photographs were captured in clear and dry weather. This study used high-resolution images captured from a UAV to classify the uses of agricultural land, and then employed information from multispectral images and elevation data from a digital surface model. The results revealed that visible-light images led to low interpretation accuracy. However, multispectral images and elevation data increased the accuracy rate to nearly 90%. Accordingly, such images and data can effectively enhance the accuracy of land use classification. The technology can reduce costs that are associated with labor and time and can facilitate the establishment of a real-time mapping database. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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13 pages, 1206 KiB  
Article
Wild Relatives of Wheat Respond Well to Water Deficit Stress: A Comparative Study of Antioxidant Enzyme Activities and Their Encoding Gene Expression
by Alireza Pour-Aboughadareh, Mansoor Omidi, Mohammad Reza Naghavi, Alireza Etminan, Ali Ashraf Mehrabi and Peter Poczai
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090415 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 3278
Abstract
Previous studies have revealed that some wild wheat accessions respond well to water deficit treatments and have a good potential in terms of photosynthetic parameters, root system architecture, and several physiological properties. However, the biochemical responses and molecular mechanisms of antioxidant-encoding genes remain [...] Read more.
Previous studies have revealed that some wild wheat accessions respond well to water deficit treatments and have a good potential in terms of photosynthetic parameters, root system architecture, and several physiological properties. However, the biochemical responses and molecular mechanisms of antioxidant-encoding genes remain to be elucidated. Herein, we investigated the most tolerant accessions from A. crassa, Ae. tauschii, and Ae. cylindrica previously identified from a core collection in previous studies, along with a control variety of bread wheat (T. aestivum cv. Sirvan) through measuring the shoot fresh and dry biomasses; the activities of antioxidant enzymes (including ascorbate peroxidase (APX), catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), and peroxidase (POD)); and the relative expression of CAT, superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), and GPX and APX genes under control and water deficit conditions. Water deficit stress caused a significant decrease in the shoot biomasses but resulted in an increase in the activity of all antioxidant enzymes and relative expression of antioxidant enzyme-encoding genes. Principal component analysis showed a strong association between the shoot dry biomass and the activity of CAT, POD, and APX, as well as MnSOD gene expression. Thus, these traits can be used as biomarkers to screen the tolerant plant material in the early growth stage. Taken together, our findings exposed the fact that Ae. tauschii and Ae. crassa respond better to water deficit stress than Ae. cylindrica and a control variety. Furthermore, these accessions can be subjected to further molecular investigation. Full article
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12 pages, 663 KiB  
Article
Short-Term Impact of Conservation Agriculture on Soil Strength and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity in the South African Semiarid Areas
by Godwin Iloabuchi Nebo, Alen Manyevere, Tesfay Araya and Johan van Tol
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090414 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3298
Abstract
The severe limitation of agricultural land productivity induced by physical soil degradation has become a major concern in semiarid climates, especially in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. A randomized complete block design in a split-split-plot arrangement was used to evaluate the short-term [...] Read more.
The severe limitation of agricultural land productivity induced by physical soil degradation has become a major concern in semiarid climates, especially in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. A randomized complete block design in a split-split-plot arrangement was used to evaluate the short-term (2012–2015) effects of tillage (no-till (NT) and conventional tillage (CT)), rotation (maize-fallow-maize (MFM); maize-fallow-soybean (MFS); maize-wheat-maize (MWM) and maize-wheat-soybean (MWS)) and residue management (residue removal (R−) and residue retention (R+)) on bulk density (BD), penetration resistance (PR), soil hydraulic conductivity (Ks) and macroporosity hydraulic conductivity. The interaction of tillage × crop rotation × residue management was not significant (p > 0.05) with respect to BD, PR, Ks and macroporosity. The MFM rotation had the highest BD (1.40 g cm−3), followed by MWM rotation (1.36 g cm−3), and the least BD was observed in the MFS rotation (1.29 g cm−3). Penetration resistance was significantly higher in CT (2.43 MPa) compared to NT (1.46 MPa). The study concludes that inclusion of MFS and MWS rotations can potentially reduce BD in the short term. Similarly, conversion from CT to NT reduces soil resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture)
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16 pages, 4904 KiB  
Article
Organic but Also Low-Input Conventional Farming Systems Support High Biodiversity of Weed Species in Winter Cereals
by Adam Kleofas Berbeć, Mariola Staniak, Beata Feledyn-Szewczyk, Anna Kocira and Jarosław Stalenga
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090413 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3449
Abstract
In recent years, the European Union has been paying particular attention to the problem of biodiversity loss. The possibilities of its assessment and conservation are included in the latest European Union (EU) policies and reflected in the European Biodiversity Strategy. The biodiversity of [...] Read more.
In recent years, the European Union has been paying particular attention to the problem of biodiversity loss. The possibilities of its assessment and conservation are included in the latest European Union (EU) policies and reflected in the European Biodiversity Strategy. The biodiversity of weeds in winter cereals in organic and conventional low-input farms in Eastern Poland was investigated during a 3-year period. Significantly more species and larger abundance were found in organic than in conventional farming systems. The biodiversity of these communities was described by Shannon’s diversity and Simpson’s dominance indices, which showed diversity to be well maintained in both farming systems; however, significantly higher Shannon’s index and significantly lower Simpson’s index values were observed in organic farms. Both farming systems were the mainstay of endangered and rare species, as well as some invasive weed species. Weed communities of organic farms were dominated mostly by Setaria pumila and Elymus repens, while conventional farms were dominated by Juncus bufonius and Setaria pumila. The study showed the importance of organic farming systems for biodiversity conservation. It was also shown that low-input (traditional) conventional farms are also beneficial for biodiversity conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and New Approaches for Management)
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17 pages, 3395 KiB  
Article
Effects of Site, Genotype and Subsequent Harvest Rotation on Willow Productivity
by Mariusz Jerzy Stolarski, Michał Krzyżaniak, Dariusz Załuski, Józef Tworkowski and Stefan Szczukowski
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090412 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2893
Abstract
Perennial crops harvested in short rotations provide substantial amounts of biomass. This study determined the survival rate, biometric features and yield of fresh and dry biomass of 15 willow genotypes (including seven varieties and eight clones), cultivated at two different sites in two [...] Read more.
Perennial crops harvested in short rotations provide substantial amounts of biomass. This study determined the survival rate, biometric features and yield of fresh and dry biomass of 15 willow genotypes (including seven varieties and eight clones), cultivated at two different sites in two consecutive three-year harvest rotations. The study revealed the very high impact of the genotype (81% of the total variance) on the willow yield. The harvest rotation, along with the genotype, had a significant impact on the plant survival rate and the number of shoots per stool. Willow biomass was mainly affected by the plant height, its survival rate and shoot diameter. The significantly highest fresh (106 Mg ha−1) and dry biomass yield (54.0 Mg ha−1) was obtained from the Żubr variety of S. viminalis, which distinguished this variety from the other genotypes. The mean yield for the best three and five genotypes was 13% and 17% lower, respectively, and the mean yield for the whole experiment was 37% lower compared to the mean yield of the best variety (Żubr). Therefore, the choice of a willow genotype is of key importance for successful willow production. Full article
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15 pages, 2485 KiB  
Article
Change in Maize Final Leaf Numbers and Its Effects on Biomass and Grain Yield across China
by Wanmao Liu, Bo Ming, Ruizhi Xie, Guangzhou Liu, Keru Wang, Yunshan Yang, Xiaoxia Guo, Peng Hou and Shaokun Li
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090411 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4479
Abstract
The final leaf number is an important morphological characteristic of maize (Zea mays L.) and is therefore an important input parameter in some maize crop models. In this study, field experiments were conducted from 2013 to 2016 at 23 sites across China, [...] Read more.
The final leaf number is an important morphological characteristic of maize (Zea mays L.) and is therefore an important input parameter in some maize crop models. In this study, field experiments were conducted from 2013 to 2016 at 23 sites across China, which were located between latitudes of 26°30′ and 46°45′ N, focusing on five modern maize cultivars, in order to determine the amplitude of variation in mean leaf numbers between each cultivar, identify differences between the mean leaf numbers of cultivars under different climatic conditions, and clarify the effects of the differences in final leaf numbers on aboveground dry matter (DM) and grain yield. The results showed that the mean final leaf numbers increased in the order of XY335 < NH101 < ZD909 < ZD958 < DH11 among the five cultivars, with the wide distribution ranges of final leaf numbers being 17.0–23.3 (DH11), 16.7–22.3 (ZD958), 16.7–22.0 (ZD909), 16.7–22.3 (NH101), and 17.0–22.0 (XY335) across all locations. In addition, leaf numbers above and below the primary ear showed the same trends with the mean final leaf numbers for the same cultivars. Many climatic factors were found to significantly affect the final leaf numbers across four maize-growing regions in China, and the result of stepwise regression indicated that the influences of photoperiod and temperature, in particular, were greater than other climatic factors for these cultivars. Finally, there were found to be significant and positive relationships between the final leaf number and (1) the maximum leaf area index (LAImax), (2) DM at both silking and physiological maturity, and (3) grain yield for the same cultivars across all locations. The results of this study are of great importance for guiding future trans-regional maize cultivation and further model calibration. Full article
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16 pages, 413 KiB  
Article
Factors Determining the Adoption of Strategies Used by Smallholder Farmers to Cope with Climate Variability in the Eastern Free State, South Africa
by Lindumusa Myeni and Mokhele Edmond Moeletsi
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090410 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4857
Abstract
This study was undertaken to understand the smallholder farmer’s perception of the effects of climate variability, their adaptation strategies to cope with climate variability and factors determining the adoption of their adaptation strategies in the eastern Free State Province of South Africa. Adaptation [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken to understand the smallholder farmer’s perception of the effects of climate variability, their adaptation strategies to cope with climate variability and factors determining the adoption of their adaptation strategies in the eastern Free State Province of South Africa. Adaptation strategies were grouped into two categories, i.e., traditional adaptation strategies and scientific adaptation strategies. Traditional adaptation strategies consisted of practices that require minimal technical expertise and less external inputs such as changing from crops to livestock, crop diversification, increasing land under production, changing crop type and water harvesting. Scientific adaptation strategies consisted of practices that require additional external inputs, labour, and some level of technical expertise such as changing crop variety, improving soil fertility and soil conservation. Data were collected from 391 smallholder farmers using a structured household questionnaire and were verified through focus group discussion meetings with key informants. Data were analysed using the descriptive statistics, frequency analysis and a binary logistic model. Results indicated that the majority of smallholder farmers perceived that climate change had triggered food-related impacts in the study area and had adopted at least one adaptation strategy. This study showed that awareness and knowledge were the key factors that determined the adoption of traditional adaptation strategies in the study area. The adoption of scientific adaptation strategies was additionally determined by the availability of external financial investments. It is recommended that the promotion of traditional practices should focus on raising awareness of climate change and adaptation strategies while the promotion of scientific practices additionally requires the provision and accessibility of financial institutional support and incentives. Full article
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16 pages, 1326 KiB  
Article
A Comparative Cost-Benefit Analysis of Conventional and Organic Hazelnuts Production Systems in Center Italy
by Giuseppe Coppola, Michele Costantini, Luigi Orsi, Davide Facchinetti, Francesco Santoro, Domenico Pessina and Jacopo Bacenetti
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090409 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 6178
Abstract
In this study, the economic profitability of hazelnut production in central Italy using conventional and organic farming systems was evaluated using the cost–benefit analysis methodology. Viterbo’s province is the leading province in Italy in terms of quantity produced. Three indicators were calculated for [...] Read more.
In this study, the economic profitability of hazelnut production in central Italy using conventional and organic farming systems was evaluated using the cost–benefit analysis methodology. Viterbo’s province is the leading province in Italy in terms of quantity produced. Three indicators were calculated for both farming systems: net present value, payback time, internal rate of return. The analysis was conducted utilizing primary data collected by means of interviews and surveys with local farmers and organizations of producers. The collected production data refer to the decade 2008–2018; a global area of 100.34 ha and 76.14 ha were considered for conventional and organic cultivation, respectively. Sensitivity analysis was carried out considering different discount rates, price variability, and inflation rates. The net present value is equal to 92,800 €/ha and to 3778 €/ha, the payback time is 10.47 years and 42.94 years, while the internal rate of return is 12.2% and 1.1% for the conventional and organic production systems, respectively. The conventional production system performs significantly more remuneratively, considering that the price premium paid by the market for the organic product and the subsidies granted to organic farmers are not sufficient to balance the lower yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture)
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10 pages, 219 KiB  
Article
Peanut (Arachis hypogea) Response to Low Rates of Dicamba at Reproductive Growth Stages
by John W. Seale, Taghi Bararpour, Jason A. Bond, Jeffrey Gore and Bobby R. Golden
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090408 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2345
Abstract
Tank contamination and off-target movement of dicamba is a probable issue facing peanut producers in Mississippi. In 2017 and 2018, a field study was conducted at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, to evaluate the response of peanut [...] Read more.
Tank contamination and off-target movement of dicamba is a probable issue facing peanut producers in Mississippi. In 2017 and 2018, a field study was conducted at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, to evaluate the response of peanut to low rates of dicamba at three growth stages. Dicamba at 35 and 17.5 g ae ha−1 with and without non-ionic surfactant (NIS) was applied to peanut at R1 (beginning bloom), R2 (beginning peg), and R3 (beginning pod). In each site year, peanut injury was visible following exposure to dicamba. Peanut lateral growth was also reduced regardless of treatment or growth stage following exposure to dicamba. Peanut injury was most prominent 14 days following exposure to dicamba, regardless of timing in both site years. Peanut yield was not different following dicamba treatments in 2018 due to late-season environmental conditions. In 2017, dicamba at 1/32 X plus NIS, 1/16 X and 1/16 X plus NIS reduced peanut yield 16%, 16%, and 30% when averaged over growth stage, respectively. Based on this study, visible peanut injury, lateral growth reduction, and yield decreases were observed following exposure to dicamba. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Auxin Mediated Regulation of Growth and Development in Plants)
15 pages, 1495 KiB  
Article
Physiological and Biochemical Responses of Two Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) Cultivars Differing in Thermotolerance to High Night Temperatures during Anthesis
by Dimitra A. Loka and Derrick M. Oosterhuis
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 407; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090407 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2759
Abstract
Heat stress constitutes a major threat to crop production, and according to climatic projections, night temperatures are expected to increase faster and to a greater extent compared to day temperatures. While extensive research has been dedicated to the effects of higher than optimum [...] Read more.
Heat stress constitutes a major threat to crop production, and according to climatic projections, night temperatures are expected to increase faster and to a greater extent compared to day temperatures. While extensive research has been dedicated to the effects of higher than optimum day temperatures on cotton physiology, metabolism, and yield, and while heat-tolerant cotton cultivars have been introduced, the responses of such heat-tolerant cultivars to high night temperatures have not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to assess the efficiency of heat-tolerant cultivars to high night temperatures stress by monitoring the physiological and biochemical responses of two cotton cultivars, differing in thermotolerance, subjected to higher than optimum night temperatures, during anthesis. To that end, growth chamber experiments were conducted using two cotton cultivars differing in thermotolerance, namely ST5288B2RF (thermosensitive) and VH260 (thermotolerant). Treatments consisted of normal day/night temperatures (32/24 °C) and high night temperatures (32/30 °C) for 2 weeks at flowering (approximately 8 eight weeks after planting). The results indicated that VH260 was more thermotolerant than ST5288 even under conditions of high night temperature stress, as it managed to maintain its net photosynthetic rates, cell membrane integrity, as well as pistil carbohydrate contents and ultimately achieved higher total reproductive weight. It was concluded that heat tolerance of thermotolerant cultivars selected under conditions of high day temperatures is also conserved under high night temperatures, while net photosynthetic rates and cell membrane integrity can be utilized as selection traits for heat tolerance under either high day or night temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Environmental Stress Physiology and Metabolism)
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14 pages, 5243 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Metabolomic Changes in Lettuce Leaves under Low Nitrogen and Phosphorus Deficiencies Stresses
by Hongyan Gao, Hanping Mao and Ikram Ullah
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090406 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3610
Abstract
Nitrogen and phosphorus limitation affect the growth, development, and productivity of lettuce, which exert a marked influence on metabolites. To compare the influence of low-nitrogen and low-phosphorus stresses on various metabolites of lettuce leaves, experiments were performed under three conditions of treatment—low-nitrogen stress, [...] Read more.
Nitrogen and phosphorus limitation affect the growth, development, and productivity of lettuce, which exert a marked influence on metabolites. To compare the influence of low-nitrogen and low-phosphorus stresses on various metabolites of lettuce leaves, experiments were performed under three conditions of treatment—low-nitrogen stress, low-phosphorus stress, and normal samples. Metabolomic analyses were conducted based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Principle components analysis yielded distinctive clustering information among the holistic samples; fold change analysis, t-test and orthogonal partial least square discriminant analysis were used for the selection of metabolic biomarkers. Ten pathways were selected which were significantly enriched by metabolic biomarkers. Metabolic biomarkers were screened by fold change (FC) value, p-value and variable importance in the projection (VIP) value, low-nitrogen and low-phosphorus stresses caused an increase in 16 metabolites (FC > 2, p-value < 0.05, VIP > 1) and a decrease in 26 metabolites (FC < 0.5, p-value < 0.05, VIP > 1). Outside of these, our results showed that inositol, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, stachyose, dinoseb, and 7, 8-dihydroxycoumarin increase in low-nitrogen stress samples. Low-phosphorus stress caused accumulation of citrate, isocitrate, l-5-oxoproline, succinate, and histamine, which may be considered potential metabolic biomarkers. The metabolites could be used to monitor the nitrogen and phosphorus status of lettuce and to guide appropriate fertilization regimens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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12 pages, 10363 KiB  
Article
Effect of Tillage Systems on the Yield and Quality of Winter Wheat Grain and Soil Properties
by Andrzej Woźniak and Leszek Rachoń
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090405 - 13 Sep 2020
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 4981
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the yield and quality of winter wheat grain and soil properties in three tillage systems (TS): (1) Conventional (CT), (2) reduced (RT), and (3) no-tillage (NT). In the CT system, shallow ploughing (at a depth of 10–12 cm [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the yield and quality of winter wheat grain and soil properties in three tillage systems (TS): (1) Conventional (CT), (2) reduced (RT), and (3) no-tillage (NT). In the CT system, shallow ploughing (at a depth of 10–12 cm from soil surface) and pre-sow ploughing (at a depth of 18–22 cm from soil surface) were performed after the harvest of the previous crop (peas). In the RT system, the shallow ploughing was replaced by field cultivation, whereas pre-sow ploughing was by a tillage unit. In the NT system, a herbicide treatment with glyphosate (4 L ha−1) replaced the ploughing measures, whereas a tillage unit including a cultivator, a string roller, and a harrow was used before wheat sowing. Higher wheat yields were recorded in CT than in NT (by 4.3%) and in 2016 compared to 2015 (by 23.4%). The tillage system differentiated spike number m−2, whereas study years affected spike number m−2, grain weight per spike, and 1000 grain weight. Study years also influenced all quality traits of the grain, whereas tillage systems—only grain uniformity and ash content of the grain. A less uniform grain with a higher ash content was produced in NT than in CT and RT systems. Organic C content in the soil was higher in NT than in CT and RT systems. In turn, total nitrogen and phosphorus contents were higher in the soil from NT and RT than CT, whereas potassium and magnesium contents—in RT and NT compared to the CT system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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14 pages, 1530 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Effect of the Mineral Fertilization System on the Nutritional Status of Maize Plants and Grain Yield Prediction
by Renata Gaj, Piotr Szulc, Idzi Siatkowski and Hubert Waligóra
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090404 - 12 Sep 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3625
Abstract
A strict field experiment with maize was carried out in the years 2009–2011 at the Experimental Station of the Poznań University of Life Sciences. The impact of mineral fertilization levels on the nutritional status of plants at an early development stage 5–6 leaves [...] Read more.
A strict field experiment with maize was carried out in the years 2009–2011 at the Experimental Station of the Poznań University of Life Sciences. The impact of mineral fertilization levels on the nutritional status of plants at an early development stage 5–6 leaves (BBCH 15/16) was assessed, as well as the possibility of using biomass and the current state of nutrient supply to predict grain yield. The adopted assumptions were verified on the basis of field experiments with nine variants of mineral fertilization and two maize varieties (EURALIS Semences, Lescar, France) (ES Palazzo and ES Paroli SG—“stay-green” (SG)). Regardless of the variety tested, the plants were under-nutritioned with calcium and magnesium. Plant nutritional status and the accumulation of minerals at the BBCH 15/16 stage were the main factors determining the variability of maize grain yields. In addition, it was shown that maize biomass in the BBCH 15/16 stage, calcium content and the N:K ratio significantly determined grain yield of traditional variety. The yield of the “stay-green” hybrid was largely shaped by plant biomass in the BBCH 15/16 stage, potassium, calcium, magnesium contents and N:Mg ratio. Regression analysis showed that grain yield of the tested maize varieties was determined by plant biomass and its content from 59% to 69%. Full article
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9 pages, 526 KiB  
Article
The Ovulation Rate, Plasma Leptin Concentration, and Litter Size of a Local Ewe Breed Kept in a Barn Versus Those Kept under an Overhead Shelter
by Ewa Kuźnicka, Małgorzata Kunowska-Slósarz and Mirosław Gabryszuk
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090403 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2317
Abstract
The effect of housing system on ovulation rate, leptin concentration, body weight, condition score and litter size of Żelażnieńska ewes was investigated. The observations were carried out during three successive years on 36 ewes between 2 and 4 years of age. The animals [...] Read more.
The effect of housing system on ovulation rate, leptin concentration, body weight, condition score and litter size of Żelażnieńska ewes was investigated. The observations were carried out during three successive years on 36 ewes between 2 and 4 years of age. The animals were divided into groups: the experimental group kept in a cold environment under an overhead shelter, and the control group kept in a warm barn. In both groups were ewes with similar age and reproductive performance nearing that of the flock. The average litter size was 1.53 and 1.59, respectively. This difference was not significant. The observation was carried out on the same ewes each year; thus, ewe age varied from 2 to 6 years. The ovulation rate was tasted by laparoscopy (L) on 16 September and 5 October. Blood was taken from each ewe after feeding one day before laparoscopy. The lower number of corpus lutea (p ≤ 0.01) and leptin concentration (p ≤ 0.01) at first L compared with second L was confirmed. The highest litter size (1.8) was shown by ewes at the age of 4 years (p ≤ 0.01). The Pearson correlation of ewe age and plasma leptin concentration was noted (p ≤ 0.05). The Spearman correlation of the condition score with ewe body weight (p ≤ 0.01) and with ewe age (p ≤ 0.05) was confirmed. Żelaźnieńska sheep may be housed in semiopen sheds with no negative impact on their reproduction. This may encourage breeders to develop this branch of livestock production avoiding the high expenses of construction of massive, warm barns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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14 pages, 11212 KiB  
Article
Impact of Climate Change on Land Use, Yield and Production of Cassava in Thailand
by Siwabhorn Pipitpukdee, Witsanu Attavanich and Somskaow Bejranonda
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 402; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090402 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 6970
Abstract
This article examined the effect of climate change on land use, yield, and production of cassava in Thailand, employing the panel data analysis between 1989 and 2016. The spatial regression and the instrumental variable method with the generalized method of moment were employed [...] Read more.
This article examined the effect of climate change on land use, yield, and production of cassava in Thailand, employing the panel data analysis between 1989 and 2016. The spatial regression and the instrumental variable method with the generalized method of moment were employed to address the endogeneity problems with the unique climate dataset. The current article investigated that total rainfall and the La Niña event determined harvested area of cassava. In addition, the harvested area was decreased as the population density increased due to high demand for non-agricultural use. On the other hand, increased access to irrigation systems enhanced the harvested area of cassava. Considering the yield of cassava, we found an inverted U-shape relationship between yield and temperature. Moreover, this study revealed that climate variability, extreme events and technological progress statistically influenced cassava yields. By using the climate projections during 2046–2055, we found that harvested area and yield of cassava were projected to reduce 12.49–16.05% and 2.57–6.22% from the baseline. As a result, cassava production in Thailand was predicted to decline 14.74–21.26% from the baseline. The well-being of a half-million farmers in Thailand plus actors in the global supply chain of cassava will be vulnerable to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture)
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21 pages, 980 KiB  
Article
Residue and Potassium Management Strategies to Improve Crop Productivity, Potassium Mobilization, and Assimilation under Zero-Till Maize–Wheat Cropping System
by Raghavendra Madar, Yudh Vir Singh, Mahesh Chand Meena, Tapas Kumar Das, Venkatesh Paramesh, Fahed A. Al-Mana, Mohamed A. Mattar and Hosam O. Elansary
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090401 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3585
Abstract
Understanding of the potassium (K) nutrient cycle and its microbial transformation of unavailable forms of soil K to plant-available K is crucial in any agroecosystem for strategic nutrient management through inorganic fertilizer, crop residue (CR), and microbial applications. Therefore, the present investigation was [...] Read more.
Understanding of the potassium (K) nutrient cycle and its microbial transformation of unavailable forms of soil K to plant-available K is crucial in any agroecosystem for strategic nutrient management through inorganic fertilizer, crop residue (CR), and microbial applications. Therefore, the present investigation was undertaken to study the effect of crop residue and K management practices on crop productivity, K mobilization from native soil K-pool, and crop assimilation of K under a zero-till maize–wheat cropping system. The experiment consisted of four residue levels (0, 2, 4, and 6 Mg ha−1) and five K levels (0, 50%, 100%, 150% RDK [recommended dose of K] and 50% RDK + potassium solubilizing bacteria, KSB). Results showed that CR retention at 6.0 Mg ha−1 significantly improved grain yield (of maize by 10.17%; wheat by 9.87%), dry matter accumulation, K uptake and redistribution in native soil K pools (water soluble K (WSK), exchangeable K (EK) and non-exchangeable K (NEK)) at 30 and 60 days after sowing and at harvest as compared to no CR. Among the K management, 50% RDK+KSB reported significantly higher grain yield (of maize by 26.22%; wheat by 24.70%), dry matter accumulation, K uptake, and native K pools (WSK, EK, and NEK) at different growth stages compared to no K. Total K did not differ significantly due to residue and K management. The highest actual change of K reported with 6.0 Mg ha−1 CR (51 kg ha−1) and 50% RDK+KSB (59 kg ha−1) over control. Significant (p ≤ 0.01) positive correlation was found among grain yield, dry matter accumulation, K uptake, the actual change in K and different native K pools. It can be concluded that retention of 6 Mg ha−1 CR and supply of 50% K through inorganic fertilizer along with seed inoculation of KSB biofertilizers, improved crop growth, productivity by enhancing K assimilation as a consequence of the release of non-exchangeable K and through the application of CR and K treatments under a zero tillage maize–wheat system. Full article
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27 pages, 6175 KiB  
Article
A Hybrid CFS Filter and RF-RFE Wrapper-Based Feature Extraction for Enhanced Agricultural Crop Yield Prediction Modeling
by Dhivya Elavarasan, Durai Raj Vincent P M, Kathiravan Srinivasan and Chuan-Yu Chang
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090400 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 4813
Abstract
The innovation in science and technical knowledge has prompted an enormous amount of information for the agrarian sector. Machine learning has risen with massive processing techniques to perceive new contingencies in agricultural development. Machine learning is a novel onset for the investigation and [...] Read more.
The innovation in science and technical knowledge has prompted an enormous amount of information for the agrarian sector. Machine learning has risen with massive processing techniques to perceive new contingencies in agricultural development. Machine learning is a novel onset for the investigation and determination of unpredictable agrarian issues. Machine learning models actualize the need for scaling the learning model’s performance. Feature selection can impact a machine learning model’s performance by defining a significant feature subset for increasing the performance and identifying the variability. This paper explains a novel hybrid feature extraction procedure, which is an aggregation of the correlation-based filter (CFS) and random forest recursive feature elimination (RFRFE) wrapper framework. The proposed feature extraction approach aims to identify an optimal subclass of features from a collection of climate, soil, and groundwater characteristics for constructing a crop-yield forecasting machine learning model with better performance and accuracy. The model’s precision and effectiveness are estimated (i) with all the features in the dataset, (ii) with essential features obtained using the learning algorithm’s inbuilt ‘feature_importances’ method, and (iii) with the significant features obtained through the proposed hybrid feature extraction technique. The validation of the hybrid CFS and RFRFE feature extraction approach in terms of evaluation metrics, predictive accuracies, and diagnostic plot performance analysis in comparison with random forest, decision tree, and gradient boosting machine learning algorithms are found to be profoundly satisfying. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Neural Networks in Agriculture)
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15 pages, 1713 KiB  
Article
Beef Production in the Rangelands: A Comparative Assessment between Pastoralism and Large-Scale Ranching in Laikipia County, Kenya
by Veronica Mwangi, Samuel Owuor, Boniface Kiteme and Markus Giger
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090399 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 8791
Abstract
Beef production in Kenya is the forte of pastoralists and large-scale ranches in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas. Cross sectional data was collected from 67 pastoralists and seven large-scale ranches, selected through multistage stratified sampling. Comparative descriptive statistics, gross margin analysis and analysis [...] Read more.
Beef production in Kenya is the forte of pastoralists and large-scale ranches in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas. Cross sectional data was collected from 67 pastoralists and seven large-scale ranches, selected through multistage stratified sampling. Comparative descriptive statistics, gross margin analysis and analysis of production constraints were done with the objective of assessing the pastoralists and large-scale ranches direct economic gains, constraints to production and potential for upgrading. Gross margin analysis showed that beef production is profitable for both pastoralists and large-scale ranches. However, large-scale ranches had much higher gross margins of up to six times more. There were significant differences in the live weight of cattle, prices and livestock selling channels and cost of production. Drought, livestock diseases, invasive plant species, lack of water and human-wildlife conflict were among factors limiting productivity of pastoralists. The difference in gross margins indicates existing potential for pastoralists to improve their earnings through a combination of product, process, and functional upgrading. Addressing key constraints to production can contribute to better gains and strengthen coexistence between pastoralists and large-scale ranches. Strategies and programmes to enhance cattle fattening, provision of livestock extension services, affordable feed inputs and collaboration between the two production systems should be considered in upgrading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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12 pages, 855 KiB  
Article
Content of Trace Elements in Soil Fertilized with Potassium and Nitrogen
by Mirosław Wyszkowski and Marzena S. Brodowska
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090398 - 8 Sep 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 4675
Abstract
The aim of the study was to determine the effect of increasing potassium fertilization (0, 140, 190, and 240 mg K2O/kg of soil) in the interaction with nitrogen fertilization (130 and 170 mg N/kg of soil) on the trace elements content [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to determine the effect of increasing potassium fertilization (0, 140, 190, and 240 mg K2O/kg of soil) in the interaction with nitrogen fertilization (130 and 170 mg N/kg of soil) on the trace elements content in the typical, non-contaminated agricultural soil. The trace elements content in the soil depended on nitrogen and potassium fertilization. Potassium fertilization had a more significant effect on trace elements content in the soil fertilized at the same time with a lower nitrogen dose (130 mg N/kg soil). Increasing potassium fertilization increased the content of cadmium by 83% and lead by 32% and reduced the amounts of chromium by 10% and iron by 3% in the soil, particularly in the series with a lower nitrogen dose (130 mg N/kg soil). The effect of potassium fertilization on the content of other trace elements was less unambiguous since, for most of trace elements, lower doses of this fertilizer contributed to growth of trace element, while higher doses lead to a decrease in their accumulation in the soil. Nitrogen fertilization increased the contents of zinc and iron—3%, copper—9%, manganese—12%, chromium—15%, and cobalt—59%, while reducing the contents of cadmium and nickel—24% and lead—45%. Permissible standards for trace elements content in the soil have not been exceeded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Quality and Crop Nutrition)
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19 pages, 1083 KiB  
Article
Agritourism in the Era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Rapid Assessment from Poland
by Monika Małgorzata Wojcieszak-Zbierska, Anna Jęczmyk, Jan Zawadka and Jarosław Uglis
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090397 - 8 Sep 2020
Cited by 49 | Viewed by 9704
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has had strong impact on the tourism market. As a result of the lockdown and the closing of borders, tourist traffic came to an abrupt halt. Agritourism is an important way of diversifying agriculture and rural areas. In addition, it [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had strong impact on the tourism market. As a result of the lockdown and the closing of borders, tourist traffic came to an abrupt halt. Agritourism is an important way of diversifying agriculture and rural areas. In addition, it is a part of the idea of sustainable and multifunctional agriculture. It makes it possible to use production resources in the countryside and constitutes an additional source of income for both farmers and the local community. The aim of the paper was to present the results of survey research concerning the tourist plans of the Polish people in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular plans to spend holidays on agritourism farms. The study confirmed that according to Polish respondents, holidays in the country, spent on agritourism farms, were a good choice in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. The respondents expect agritourism providers to take specific actions, i.e., disinfect communal rooms, make hand sanitizers available, as well as limit the maximum number of people allowed on the farm and in open-access rooms, in order to ensure safety during their stay. The article constitutes a contribution to the evolving literature on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of the tourism sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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20 pages, 557 KiB  
Review
The Critical Role of Zinc in Plants Facing the Drought Stress
by Muhammad Umair Hassan, Muhammad Aamer, Muhammad Umer Chattha, Tang Haiying, Babar Shahzad, Lorenzo Barbanti, Muhammad Nawaz, Adnan Rasheed, Aniqa Afzal, Ying Liu and Huang Guoqin
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090396 - 7 Sep 2020
Cited by 218 | Viewed by 19274
Abstract
Drought stress affects plant growth and development by altering physiological and biochemical processes resulting in reduced crop productivity. Zinc (Zn) is an essential micronutrient that plays fundamental roles in crop resistance against the drought stress by regulating various physiological and molecular mechanisms. Under [...] Read more.
Drought stress affects plant growth and development by altering physiological and biochemical processes resulting in reduced crop productivity. Zinc (Zn) is an essential micronutrient that plays fundamental roles in crop resistance against the drought stress by regulating various physiological and molecular mechanisms. Under drought stress, Zn application improves seed germination, plant water relations, cell membrane stability, osmolyte accumulation, stomatal regulation, water use efficiency and photosynthesis, thus resulting in significantly better plant performance. Moreover, Zn interacts with plant hormones, increases the expression of stress proteins and stimulates the antioxidant enzymes for counteracting drought effects. To better appraise the potential benefits arising from optimum Zn nutrition, in the present review we discuss the role of Zn in plants under drought stress. Our aim is to provide a complete, updated picture in order to orientate future research directions on this topic. Full article
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16 pages, 1170 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Exotic Tamarix Species on Riparian Plant Biodiversity
by Kgalalelo Tshimologo Annie Setshedi and Solomon Wakshom Newete
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090395 - 7 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3276
Abstract
This study investigated the impact of exotic Tamarix species on vascular plant biodiversity in riparian ecosystems in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Vegetation was sampled, using 5 m wide belt transects, along the Leeu, Swart, and Olifants riparian areas, which had varying [...] Read more.
This study investigated the impact of exotic Tamarix species on vascular plant biodiversity in riparian ecosystems in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Vegetation was sampled, using 5 m wide belt transects, along the Leeu, Swart, and Olifants riparian areas, which had varying invasion intensities. Each transect was split into three zones (Zone 1: 0–15 m; Zone 2: 15–35, and Zone 3: >35 m), which were identified at each site based on species composition across each riparian zone. Woody plant species were identified, counted, and their heights measured within the transects that were laid out from the waterpoint (Zone 1) outwards (Zone 2 and 3). Herbaceous aerial cover (HAC) was determined subjectively and objectified using the Walker aerial cover scale. Leeu River had the highest species richness (Dmg = 2.79), diversity (H′ = 2.17; −lnλ = 1.91; N1 = 8.76 and α = 4.13), and evenness (J′= 0.80). The Swart River had the lowest species richness, which declined from Dmg = 1.96 (Zone 1) to Dmg = 1.82 (Zone 3). Exotic Tamarix species ranked in the top three most abundant woody vascular plant species along the Swart and Olifants rivers, where they ranked first and third, respectively. The Jaccard’s and Sorenson’s coefficients of similarity indicated that species differed greatly between the different sites, x¯ < 27% for both indices. The indices also indicated that the Swart River had the lowest level of species distinctness between zones (x¯ > 80%) while the Leeu River had the highest level of species distinctness (x¯ < 50%) between the different zones. These findings suggest a possible displacement of herbaceous and woody tree species by exotic Tamarix invasion, inter alia, a decrease in ecosystem functions and services associated with the loss in biodiversity, as well as significant bearings on the agricultural ecosystem by reducing the faunal diversity such as crop pollinators, inter alia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and New Approaches for Management)
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41 pages, 383 KiB  
Review
Legume Cover Crops as One of the Elements of Strategic Weed Management and Soil Quality Improvement. A Review
by Anna Kocira, Mariola Staniak, Marzena Tomaszewska, Rafał Kornas, Jacek Cymerman, Katarzyna Panasiewicz and Halina Lipińska
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090394 - 5 Sep 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 8595
Abstract
The benefits of conservation practices increased the interest of farmers in the cultivation of cover crops (CCs). This review aims to present and analyze the state of the art on the cultivation of legume CCs, including their importance in protecting crops against weeds, [...] Read more.
The benefits of conservation practices increased the interest of farmers in the cultivation of cover crops (CCs). This review aims to present and analyze the state of the art on the cultivation of legume CCs, including their importance in protecting crops against weeds, as well as their effects on organic matter and nitrogen content in the soil, physical and biological properties of the soil, and its erosion. The multi-purpose character of legume CCs is visible in their positive effect on reducing weed infestation, but also on the soil: reducing its compaction and erosion, improving its structural and hydraulic properties, increasing the content of organic matter and activity of soil microorganisms, or increasing its nitrogen content due to symbiotic N2 fixing. This review demonstrates that a wider use of legume CCs in organic farming is needed. The benefits of legume CCs for successive crops in these cultivation conditions, both in terms of inhibiting weed populations and improving fertility and soil properties, also need to be identified. Further research is also needed to determine the potential impact of legume CCs on the improvement of the quality of degraded soils, or those with less favorable physicochemical properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and New Approaches for Management)
9 pages, 560 KiB  
Article
Polyphenols and Resveratrol from Discarded Leaf Biomass of Grapevine (Vitis sp.): Effect of Cultivar and Viticultural Practices in Estonia
by Reelika Rätsep, Kadri Karp, Mariana Maante-Kuljus, Alar Aluvee and Rajeev Bhat
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090393 - 4 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2971
Abstract
Grapevine leaves are a major by-product of viticulture practices derived from the leaf-removal from the fruit cluster zone in all vine growing regions. These leaves can be a valuable source of antioxidants to be used in pharmaceuticals or other health-related products. In this [...] Read more.
Grapevine leaves are a major by-product of viticulture practices derived from the leaf-removal from the fruit cluster zone in all vine growing regions. These leaves can be a valuable source of antioxidants to be used in pharmaceuticals or other health-related products. In this study, the leaves of grapevine cultivars were analysed by ultra-high performance liquid chromatograph-diode array detector () for the total polyphenols (TPC) and resveratrol affected by cultivar, leaf-removal time and viticultural practice. The effect of cultivar varied yearly, European grapevine cv. ‘Regent’ had increased TPC and resveratrol in comparison to ‘Boskoop’s Glory’, ‘Rondo’ and ‘Solaris’ in 2017, but ‘Solaris’ in 2018. TPC (1213–1841 mg 100 g−1) and resveratrol (1.061 mg 100 g−1) were higher in leaves of interspecific hybrid cvs. ‘Zilga’ and ‘Hasansky Sladky’ during full fruit ripeness. Cv. ‘Rondo’ grown under the polytunnel had decreased TPC in leaves. In conclusion, cultivar selection, viticultural practice and leaf-removal time contribute significantly to the accumulation of total polyphenols and resveratrol. Results of this study will contribute to better utilization of biomass produced in the vineyards, help to decrease the negative environmental impacts, and provide an overview on various factors affecting the biochemical constituents, especially in leaves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Viticulture)
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