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Agriculture, Volume 11, Issue 2 (February 2021) – 103 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Heavy use area protection (HUAP) pads in poultry farms can reduce manure spillage to the ground and potential runoff to surface water and groundwater. Poultry manures are rich in nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Improper handling of poultry manure without the use of HUAP pads poses a risk to expose it to rainfall and leaching out of these nutrients to nearby water bodies, causing eutrophication. Our study on the efficacy of HUAP pads in a poultry farm showed minimal carryover of nutrients from soil into water systems when HUAP pads are in place in poultry farms. Heavy use area protection pads act as a barrier between manure and soil, thus limiting spill-off to soil and potential runoff of nutrients to water bodies upon rainfall. The use of HUAP pads in areas such as Delmarva Peninsula with high agricultural activities could minimize nutrient runoff and pollution to the [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Low Protein Diets with Amino Acids Supplementation on Growth Performance, Carcass Traits, Blood Parameters and Muscle Amino Acids Profile in Broiler Chickens under High Ambient Temperature
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020185 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 691
Abstract
This study evaluates low protein diets with amino acid supplement on growth, biochemical markers and muscle amino acids profile in broilers under high ambient temperature. A total of 480 one-day-old chicks were allocated into three treatments with four replicates (n = 40). [...] Read more.
This study evaluates low protein diets with amino acid supplement on growth, biochemical markers and muscle amino acids profile in broilers under high ambient temperature. A total of 480 one-day-old chicks were allocated into three treatments with four replicates (n = 40). Control fed optimal protein and optimal amino acids which contains 23% and 21% crude protein (CP) with 65% methionine + cysteine/ lysine (Met + Cys/Lys) and 55% threonine/lysine (Thr/Lys), LPOA (low protein and optimal amino acids) which contains 21% and 19% CP with 65% Met + Cys/Lys and 55% Thr/Lys and 3. LPHA (low protein and high amino acids) which contains 21 and 19% CP with 74% Met + Cys/Lys and 67% Thr/Lys, respectively during the summer months (The temperatures 32 ± 3 °C, and the relative humidity 72.5% ± 4). Birds fed LPOA diets significantly highest body weight, while those fed LPHA recorded significantly the lowest body weight (BW). Dressing percentages not revealed significantly affected by reducing dietary protein levels, while the blood plasma total protein, albumin, and globulin were not significant differences due to dietary low protein. Chicks fed LPHA diets recorded the highest liver content of malonaldehyde. It could be concluded that feeding the Cobb 500 broilers on low protein diets with the same amino acid levels had no adverse effect on growth, carcass markers, and liver function, however increased amino acids levels to low protein diets may led negative impacts for the broiler performance under high ambient temperature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Different Storage Conditions on the Browning Degree, PPO Activity, and Content of Chemical Components in Fresh Lilium Bulbs (Liliumbrownii F.E.Brown var. viridulum Baker.)
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020184 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 521
Abstract
Although Lilium brownii (L. brownii) bulbs are popular fresh vegetables, a series of quality problems still remain after harvest. In this study, fresh L. brownii bulbs were placed in the dark at 25, 4, and −20 °C and under light at [...] Read more.
Although Lilium brownii (L. brownii) bulbs are popular fresh vegetables, a series of quality problems still remain after harvest. In this study, fresh L. brownii bulbs were placed in the dark at 25, 4, and −20 °C and under light at 25 °C from 0 to 30 days; the chemical compositions were analyzed by ultraviolet spectrophotometry (UV) and high-performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC-Q-TOF-MS). During the 30-day storage period, the browning degree increased over the storage time and with increasing temperature, but the contents of proteins and free amino acids decreased and were aggravated by light. The total polyphenol content increased until the 6th day at 25 °C (dark or light), but it did not significantly accumulate at −20 or 4 °C. The reducing sugar content showed a dynamic balance, but the total polysaccharide content decreased constantly in the four storage conditions. The polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activity increased with storage time and increasing temperature, while it was inhibited by light. The increase rates of malondialdehyde (MDA) content at −20 °C and light (25 °C) were higher than those at 4 and 25 °C. In addition, 12 secondary metabolites were identified, most of which accumulated during the storage period, for example, 1-O-feruloyl-3-O-β-D-glucopyranosylglycerol; 1,3-O-di-p-coumaroylglycerol; 1-O-feruloyl-3-O-p-coumaroylglycerol; and 1,2-O-diferuloylglycerol. The variations in nutrient levels had a low correlation with browning, but the variations in MDA, PPO, and secondary metabolite (phenolic acids) levels had a high correlation with browning. In conclusion, fresh L. brownii bulbs should be stored at a low temperature (4 °C) and in dark condition, and browning bulbs are excellent materials for secondary metabolite utilization. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Oil Palm Tree Detection and Health Classification on High-Resolution Imagery Using Deep Learning
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020183 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 740
Abstract
Combining modern technology and agriculture is an important consideration for the effective management of oil palm trees. In this study, an alternative method for oil palm tree management is proposed by applying high-resolution imagery, combined with Faster-RCNN, for automatic detection and health classification [...] Read more.
Combining modern technology and agriculture is an important consideration for the effective management of oil palm trees. In this study, an alternative method for oil palm tree management is proposed by applying high-resolution imagery, combined with Faster-RCNN, for automatic detection and health classification of oil palm trees. This study used a total of 4172 bounding boxes of healthy and unhealthy palm trees, constructed from 2000 pixel × 2000 pixel images. Of the total dataset, 90% was used for training and 10% was prepared for testing using Resnet-50 and VGG-16. Three techniques were used to assess the models’ performance: model training evaluation, evaluation using visual interpretation, and ground sampling inspections. The study identified three characteristics needed for detection and health classification: crown size, color, and density. The optimal altitude to capture images for detection and classification was determined to be 100 m, although the model showed satisfactory performance up to 140 m. For oil palm tree detection, healthy tree identification, and unhealthy tree identification, Resnet-50 obtained F1-scores of 95.09%, 92.07%, and 86.96%, respectively, with respect to visual interpretation ground truth and 97.67%, 95.30%, and 57.14%, respectively, with respect to ground sampling inspection ground truth. Resnet-50 yielded better F1-scores than VGG-16 in both evaluations. Therefore, the proposed method is well suited for the effective management of crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Neural Networks in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Priority Areas for Apiculture Development with the Use of Geographical Information Systems
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020182 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 858
Abstract
Supporting local and central authorities in decision-making processes pertaining to environmental planning requires the adoption of scientific methods and the submission of proposals that could be implemented in practice. Taking into consideration the dual role that honeybees play as honey producers and crop [...] Read more.
Supporting local and central authorities in decision-making processes pertaining to environmental planning requires the adoption of scientific methods and the submission of proposals that could be implemented in practice. Taking into consideration the dual role that honeybees play as honey producers and crop pollinators, the aim of the present study is to identify and utilize a number of indicators and subsequently develop priority thematic maps. Previous research has focused on the determination of, and, on certain occasions, on mapping, priority areas for apiculture development, based mainly on the needs of honeybees, without taking into consideration the pollination needs of crops that are cultivated in these areas. In addition, research so far has been carried out in specific spatial entities, in contrast to the current study, in which the areas to be comparatively assessed are pre-chosen based on their geographical boundaries. The information derived from this process is expected to help decision-makers in local and regional authorities to adopt measures for optimal land use and sound pollination practices in order to enhance apiculture development at a local scale. To achieve this target, the study incorporates literature about the attractiveness of crops and plants to pollinating honeybees as well as the pollination services provided by honeybees, in combination with detailed vegetative land cover data. The local communities of each municipality were comparatively evaluated, by introducing three indicators through numerical and spatial data analysis: Relative Attractiveness Index (RAI), Relative Dependence Index (RDI), and Relative Priority Index (RPI). Based on these indicators, attractiveness, dependence, and priority maps were created and explained in detail. We suggest that a number of improvement measures that will boost pollination or honey production or both should be taken by decision-makers, based on the correlations between the aforementioned indicators and the exanimated areas. In addition, dependence maps can constitute a powerful tool for raising awareness among both the public and the farmers about the value of honeybees in pollination, thus reinforcing bee protection efforts undertaken globally. Attractiveness maps that provide a thorough picture of the areas that are sources of pollen and nectar can serve as a general guide for the establishment of hives in areas with high potential for beekeeping. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Problems of Modern Beekeeping)
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Open AccessArticle
Fertilization Management Improves the Yield and Capsaicinoid Content of Chili Peppers
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020181 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 523
Abstract
Chili, one of the most cultivated plants in the world, from the genus Capsicum sp., has great importance both in human nutrition and in the pharmaceutical industry. This study provides detailed information on the impact of chili crop fertilization on the production and [...] Read more.
Chili, one of the most cultivated plants in the world, from the genus Capsicum sp., has great importance both in human nutrition and in the pharmaceutical industry. This study provides detailed information on the impact of chili crop fertilization on the production and accumulation of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. During the vegetation period, 235 kg∙ha−1 NPK (chemical—Ch), 270 kg∙ha−1 NPK (organic—O) and 250 kg∙ha−1 NPK (mixed—Ch + O) fertilizers were applied on six varieties of chili pepper (De Cayenne, Traian 2, Turkish, Sigaretta di Bergamo, Jovial and Chorbadjiiski); all versions were compared with the control (Ct). The determination of capsaicinoid compounds from chili pepper samples was done using high-performance liquid chromatography, HPLC-UV/VIS. The chili pepper plants reacted differently according to the fertilizers used, both in terms of the production and accumulation of capsaicinoids. The highest production was obtained for the case of mixed treatments in all cultivars, with the highest production being found for Sigaretta di Bergamo (40.61 t∙ha−1). The capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin content was influenced by both the type of fertilizer used and the variety of chili pepper. The accumulation of capsaicinoids in the chili fruits was found to be dependent on cultivar and fertilization management; higher amounts of capsaicinoids were found to accumulate in the fruits of the Chorbadjiiski variety treated with chemicals (0.83 mg∙g−1 capsaicin and 0.53 mg∙g−1 dihydrocapsaicin) compared with the amounts found for untreated De Cayenne (0.52 mg∙g−1 capsaicin and 0.33 mg∙g−1 dihydrocapsaicin). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Myco-Biocontrol Based Formulates on Yield, Physiology and Secondary Products of Organically Grown Basil
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020180 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 594
Abstract
The development of organic farming as a result of increasing consumer preference for organic food has led to the development and registration of new pest-control products for certified organic production. In this study, the effects of three biocontrol products containing spores and mycelium [...] Read more.
The development of organic farming as a result of increasing consumer preference for organic food has led to the development and registration of new pest-control products for certified organic production. In this study, the effects of three biocontrol products containing spores and mycelium of Arthrobotrys oligospora—Artis®, Beauveria bassiana—Bora®, and Coniothyrium minitans—Öko-ni® were tested on four basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) cultivars: ‘Aromat de Buzau’, ‘Serafim’, ‘Macedon’ and ‘Cuisoare’. The application of Öko-ni® increased basil yields by 8% relative to Control. The application of Bora® increased chlorophyll content of basil leaves by 2% and the activity of photosynthesis by 66% relative to the Control. Basil essential oil (EO) content was increased by 18% with the application of Artis® and by 34% with the application of Bora® and Öko-ni®, respectively. The content of phenolic compounds analyzed by HPLC varied; caffeic acid concentration was higher in the plants treated with Öko-ni®, hyperoside, isoquercitrin and rutin concentrations were higher in those treated with Artis®, while the quercitrin content was higher in Bora®-treated plants. The two main EO constituents that were identified were linalool and methyl chavicol in ‘Aromat de Buzau’, linalool and eugenol in ‘Serafim’, neral and geranial in ‘Macedon’, also linalool and eugenol in ‘Cuisoare’. The investigated myco-biocontrol products had positive effects on basil fresh biomass and EO content and also influenced the content of phenolic compounds. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Phenotypic Responses to Selection for Ultrafine Wool in Uruguayan Yearling Lambs
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020179 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 565
Abstract
This study evaluated the phenotypic trends for wool and growth traits of the fine Merino genetic nucleus in Uruguay. Data were collected from one-year-old lambs over a twenty-year period (1999–2018). The overall aim of the selection flock was to reduce fiber diameter with [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the phenotypic trends for wool and growth traits of the fine Merino genetic nucleus in Uruguay. Data were collected from one-year-old lambs over a twenty-year period (1999–2018). The overall aim of the selection flock was to reduce fiber diameter with concomitant increases in fleece and live weights. Traits analyzed included fiber diameter (FD), greasy fleece weight (GFW), coefficient of variation of FD (CVfd), staple length (SL), scoured yield (SY), live weight post-shearing (LW), eye muscle area (EMA) and fat thickness (FAT). Data from approximately 5300 one-year-old male and female lambs were analyzed. During the study period, FD decreased by approximately 3 µm, whereas GFW and LW increased by at least 0.5 and 3.0 kg, respectively. There were interactions between the sex of the individual and the year for all wool traits. Except for FAT, all other traits were affected by the dam age. This study indicates that the selection program applied in the fine Merino genetic nucleus over a twenty-year period resulted in reductions in FD and increases in GFW and LW. Therefore, the results indicate it is possible to produce ultrafine wool in semi-extensive grazing systems without compromising other economically relevant traits in one-year-old lambs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Effects of Spray Technology and Volume Rate on the Control of Grape Berry Moth in Mountain Viticulture
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020178 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 466
Abstract
The current work evaluated spray coverage and pest control effectiveness against the grape berry moth (Lobesia botrana) by two different spray technologies and volume rates: A spray gun (high-volume sprayer—HVS) calibrated at 1000 L ha−1 and a conventional orchard sprayer [...] Read more.
The current work evaluated spray coverage and pest control effectiveness against the grape berry moth (Lobesia botrana) by two different spray technologies and volume rates: A spray gun (high-volume sprayer—HVS) calibrated at 1000 L ha−1 and a conventional orchard sprayer calibrated at 500 L ha−1 (OS500) or 250 L ha−1 (OS250). Experiments were carried out in three different grape varieties over two years in mountain vineyards on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The median coverage for HVS remained above 80% for all three varieties, while that for OS500 ranged from 26% to 56%, and that for OS250 from 18% to 37%. Infestation by the grape berry moth varied from about 2.5% for Palomino, to 8% for Carignan and 3.2% for Xynisteri. Infestation in sprayed plots remained below 1.8% for all treatments, varieties and study years. Although infestation levels in OS250 were not different than the control in two varieties, the infestation levels among sprayer treatments did not differ by more than one percentage point. The current work suggests that lowering application volume and pesticide amount to 50% or more, in some cases, provides adequate control and represents an effective option for reducing pesticide use in vineyards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pest and Weeds)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Food Strategy in the Making: Context, Conventions and Contestations
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020177 - 21 Feb 2021
Viewed by 700
Abstract
Contemporary food systems face several paradoxes regarding equity and sustainability. Considering food production—an issue that simultaneously affects both the supply (production) and demand (consumption) sides—several cities have begun to implement new strategies, called Urban Food Policies. These approaches aim to address the various [...] Read more.
Contemporary food systems face several paradoxes regarding equity and sustainability. Considering food production—an issue that simultaneously affects both the supply (production) and demand (consumption) sides—several cities have begun to implement new strategies, called Urban Food Policies. These approaches aim to address the various challenges presented by food system failures, while also involving the existing network of grassroot initiatives. For this reason, these have established Food Policy Councils, arenas where institutions can engage with supply chain actors and food activists, deciding through the processes of participatory democracy their Urban Food Strategies. This article investigates the evolution of a new Urban Food Strategy in a middle-sized Italian town, Trento. Despite a growing number of case studies discussing the promises and problematic aspects of UFS, empirical research and analysis tend to overlook the role of the context in which these processes are embedded and how the system of political, economic, cultural, and environmental opportunities weigh upon the success of these policies. The paper draws upon a multi-method qualitative approach combining in-depth interviews, document analysis, and direct observations of the construction process of an Urban Food Strategy for the city of Trento. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food Systems in Italy: Policies, Movements and Markets)
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Open AccessArticle
Remote-Controlled Monitoring of Flying Pests with an Electrostatic Insect Capturing Apparatus Carried by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020176 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 469
Abstract
The purpose of the study was to construct an electrostatic insect-capturing apparatus that could be applied to a drone (quadcopter). For this purpose, a double-charged dipolar electric field screen (DD-screen) was constructed using oppositely charged insulator tubes that was then attached to a [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study was to construct an electrostatic insect-capturing apparatus that could be applied to a drone (quadcopter). For this purpose, a double-charged dipolar electric field screen (DD-screen) was constructed using oppositely charged insulator tubes that was then attached to a drone. For charging, the inner surface of the tubes was coated with a conductive paste and then linked to a negative or positive voltage generator. The opposite charges of the tubes formed an electric field between them and created an attractive force to capture insects that entered the field. The DD-screen constructed here was sufficiently light to enable its attachment to a drone. The screen was hung from the drone perpendicular to the direction of drone movement, so as to receive the longitudinal airflow produced by the movement of the drone. It was positioned 1.8 m below the drone body to avoid the influence of the downward slipstream generated by the rotating propellers. Eventually, the drone was able to conduct a stable flight, with sufficient endurance, and captured airborne insects carried by an airflow of 8 m/s during the flight. This study, therefore, provides an experimental basis for establishing a new method for conducting trap-based monitoring of airborne insects during remote-controlled flight through operation of a DD-screen attached to a drone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pest and Weeds)
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Open AccessArticle
Methane Emission and Milk Production from Jersey Cows Grazing Perennial Ryegrass–White Clover and Multispecies Forage Mixtures
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020175 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1030
Abstract
Methane is a major constituent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ruminants, and mitigation strategies are needed to alleviate this negative environmental impact while maintaining the environmental and other benefits of grazing systems. Forages containing plant-specialized metabolites (PSM), particularly condensed tannins, may help [...] Read more.
Methane is a major constituent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ruminants, and mitigation strategies are needed to alleviate this negative environmental impact while maintaining the environmental and other benefits of grazing systems. Forages containing plant-specialized metabolites (PSM), particularly condensed tannins, may help reduce enteric methane (CH4) emissions. However, information on in vivo CH4 emissions from cows grazing mixtures that contain bioactive herbs is scarce. Accordingly, this study compared a binary mixture of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and white clover (Trifolium repens) against a diverse mixture of six additional species, including tannin-rich species like birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor), in a full-grazing dairy system. Enteric CH4 emissions were measured using the SF6 tracer technique. Cows grazing diverse mixtures increased their energy-corrected milk (ECM) yield by 4% (p < 0.001) compared with binary mixtures. However, CH4 emissions per kg ECM were also 11% greater for the diverse mixtures (p < 0.05). The very high feed quality and milk yield from both mixtures explained the low CH4 emissions recorded relative to the milk output. The addition of forbs did not provide additional benefits at these intensities, as they were maintained in low yield shares throughout. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Livestock: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation)
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Mixing Alfalfa with Whole-Plant Corn in Different Proportions on Fermentation Characteristics and Bacterial Community of Silage
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020174 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 484
Abstract
The influence of mixing alfalfa with whole-plant corn in different proportions on the fermentation characteristics and bacterial community of silage was investigated. Alfalfa and whole-plant corn, harvested at dry matter content of 276.47 and 328.43 g/kg fresh weight, accordingly, were chopped to approximately [...] Read more.
The influence of mixing alfalfa with whole-plant corn in different proportions on the fermentation characteristics and bacterial community of silage was investigated. Alfalfa and whole-plant corn, harvested at dry matter content of 276.47 and 328.43 g/kg fresh weight, accordingly, were chopped to approximately 2 cm and mixed at ratios of 100:0 (C0, control), 80:20 (C20), 60:40 (C40), 40:60 (C60), 20:80 (C80) and 0:100 (C100) on a fresh weight basis, respectively. Silos of each treatment were produced in triplicate and anaerobically fermented in darkness for 100 days at room temperature (20–21 °C). At silo opening, silage fermentation characteristics and bacterial composition and diversity were analyzed. The C0 silage was weakly preserved, evidenced by a low lactic acid concentration and a high value of pH, acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid and ammonia nitrogen. With corn proportion in the mixture increasing from 0% to 40%, silage pH, acetic acid, butyric acid and ammonia nitrogen level decreased, whereas the value of lactic acid and lactic acid to acetic acid ratio increased. The C40, C60, C80 and C100 silages’ Flieg score, used to evaluate the overall fermentation quality, was above 80 and higher than C0 (25) and C20 (61) silages. The C0 silage contained a complex bacterial community at the genus level, consisting mainly of Enterococcus (38.86%), Enterobacteria (20.61%), Rhizobium (8.45%), Lactobacillus (8.15%), Methylobacterium (5.54%) and Weissella (5.24%). As corn percentage increased from 0% to 40%, the relative abundance of desirable Lactobacillus increased and undesirable Rhizobium and Methylobacterium population reduced. With corn proportion in the mixture increasing from 0% to 40%, inclusion of corn to alfalfa at ensiling significantly improved silage fermentation quality and shifted the bacterial community for better silage preservation. Overall, high quality silage was produced when alfalfa was combined with at least 40% whole-plant corn on a fresh weight basis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) Phenology under Different Agronomic Conditions in the Subtropics
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020173 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 412
Abstract
European consumers have perceived that papaya fruits produced in subtropical areas (the Canary Islands and Mediterranean regions) do not have the desired quality at certain periods of the year. Thus, the development of technical and management strategies to optimize the yield and the [...] Read more.
European consumers have perceived that papaya fruits produced in subtropical areas (the Canary Islands and Mediterranean regions) do not have the desired quality at certain periods of the year. Thus, the development of technical and management strategies to optimize the yield and the quality of the fruit requires crop phenology studies. Meteorological variables (air temperature, relative humidity, and photosynthetically active radiation) and morphological characteristics (plant height, leaf emission rate, and leaf area) were recorded throughout the crop cycle. All the leaves and fruits were labeled in their anthesis week to calculate the source–sink ratio and to study the development and quality of the fruits. Data were collected in three commercial orchards representing two different types of systems, greenhouse and screenhouse, and two different regions: two plastic cover greenhouses located in the south (SP) and in the north (NP) of Tenerife, and one 40-mesh net screenhouse in the north of the island (NN). The selection of these cultivation systems and locations was made deliberately, so that the ambient variables within these crop protection structures were different throughout the cultivation cycle in order to better fit the model construction. The results suggested that in order to maintain good fruit quality, better environmental control is necessary inside the greenhouses and the screenhouse. Monitoring variables such as the growing degree days, the photosynthetically active radiation, and the number of fruits per plant leaf area ratio provided useful information for papaya production management in the Canary Islands and other subtropical areas, allowing farmers to predict harvest and fruit quality. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Feeding Behavior of Lactating Dairy Cattle Fed Sorghum-Based Diets and Increasing Levels of Tannic Acid
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020172 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 465
Abstract
Tannins have been used to trigger positive effects on ruminal metabolism and increase ruminant production efficiency, since they increase the supply of dietary protein in the small intestine. Increasing levels of tannic acid in a sorghum-based diet on the feeding behavior of five [...] Read more.
Tannins have been used to trigger positive effects on ruminal metabolism and increase ruminant production efficiency, since they increase the supply of dietary protein in the small intestine. Increasing levels of tannic acid in a sorghum-based diet on the feeding behavior of five Holstein/Zebu crossbred lactating dairy cows was evaluated. They were subjected to a 5 × 5 Latin square experimental design, with fivelevels of tannin as dry matter (DM) in the diet (0.46, 1.30, 2.60, 3.90, and 5.20%). The levels of the tannic acid added were established based on the quantity of condensed tannin in high-tannin sorghum. Thus, diets 2, 3, 4 and 5 were supplemented with 1.5 g (13% DM), 79.5 g (2.6% DM), 157.5 g (3.9% DM), and 235.5 g (5.2% DM) of tannic acid, totaling 0.078, 0.156, 0.234, and 0.321 kg of tannin/day, respectively. Feeding behavior variables included the following states and events: feeding, drinking, rumination, and inactivity; the frequency of visiting the feed and water troughs; and the occurrence of urination and defecation. Water was provided ad libitum, and its intake was measured during periods of behavioral data collection. The use of two tannin sources (hydrolysable and condensed) corresponding to the total level of 5.20% (on a DM basis) in the diet of lactating dairy cattle does not affect the animals’ health. Tannic acid can be included in the diet of lactating dairy cattle at a level of 3.93% (on a DM basis) without inducing variation in the total time spent daily on feed intake. Dairy cows dilute the effects of dietary tannin (5.20%) through greater fragmentation of food consumption in the hours following its supply (180 min). The astringent effects caused by tannin intake in lactating dairy cows are mitigated by increasing the daily water intake as the amount of tannin in the diet increases, starting at a level of 3.90% tannin (on a DM basis). Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Land Uses, Altitude and Texture Effects on Soil Parameters. A Comparative Study in Two Districts of Nagaland, Northeast India
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020171 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 388
Abstract
Northeast (NE) India is a typical tropical ecosystem with a luxuriant forest vegetation cover, but nowadays forests are under stress due to exploitation and land use changes, which are known to affect soil health and productivity. However, due to a scarcity of data, [...] Read more.
Northeast (NE) India is a typical tropical ecosystem with a luxuriant forest vegetation cover, but nowadays forests are under stress due to exploitation and land use changes, which are known to affect soil health and productivity. However, due to a scarcity of data, the influence of land uses and altitude on soil properties of this peculiar ecosystem is poorly quantified. This study presents the changes in soil properties in two districts of Nagaland (Mon and Zunheboto) in relation to land uses (forest, plantation, jhum and fallow jhum), altitude (<500 m, 500–1000 m, >1000 m) and soil texture (coarse, medium, fine). For this, a random soil sampling was performed in both the districts. Results indicated that soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and available potassium (K) were significantly influenced by land uses in the Mon district, while in Zunheboto a significant difference was observed in available phosphorus (P) content. SOC stocks showed an increasing trend with elevation in both districts. The influence of altitude on P was significant and the maximum concentration was at lower elevations (<500 m). In Mon, soil texture significantly affected SOC stocks and the available N and P content. The variability in soil properties due to land uses, altitudinal gradients and textural classes can be better managed with the help of management options, which are still needed for this ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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Open AccessArticle
Chemical and Sensory Characterization of Nine Spanish Monovarietal Olive Oils: An Emphasis on Wax Esters
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020170 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 405
Abstract
Olive oil is an essential part of the so-called “Mediterranean diet”, purportedly one of the healthiest gastronomic traditions in the world. The wax content in olive oil is regulated under European Union directives, and it is used as a purity parameter for extra-virgin [...] Read more.
Olive oil is an essential part of the so-called “Mediterranean diet”, purportedly one of the healthiest gastronomic traditions in the world. The wax content in olive oil is regulated under European Union directives, and it is used as a purity parameter for extra-virgin and virgin olive oils. The wax profile may also help the characterization of monovarietal olive oils. In this study, monovarietal oils were extracted from the fruits of nine native Spanish olive varieties (‘Arbequina’, ‘Argudell’, ‘Empeltre’, ‘Farga’, ‘Manzanilla’, ‘Marfil’, ‘Morrut’, ‘Picual’ and ‘Sevillenca’), and their chemical and sensory attributes were determined. Total wax content in oil was cultivar-dependent and ranged widely between 26 (‘Manzanilla’) and 144 mg kg−1 (‘Arbequina’), while it was negligible in ‘Picual’ oil. The wax ester fraction was comprised largely of phytol-containing diterpene esters, with phytyl vaccinate and phytyl arachidate being the most common components of this non-polar fraction in all nine olive oils assessed. A direct relationship between phytyl esters and the sensory perception of “ripe fruit” notes was also observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Knotweed in Diet on Physiological Changes in Pig
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020169 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 404
Abstract
Knotweeds (Reynoutria spp.) are plants producing useful secondary metabolites, including stilbenes (resveratrol and piceid have been studied more thoroughly) and emodin. Many studies have shown the positive effects of resveratrol on the health status of humans and animals. Resveratrol has been added [...] Read more.
Knotweeds (Reynoutria spp.) are plants producing useful secondary metabolites, including stilbenes (resveratrol and piceid have been studied more thoroughly) and emodin. Many studies have shown the positive effects of resveratrol on the health status of humans and animals. Resveratrol has been added into pigs’ diet as a pure extract, but it has never been supplemented into the fodder with knotweed biomass which contains other secondary metabolites, thus we would expect it would provide a more complex effect. The study objective is to discover whether the 2 weight percent addition of knotweed into pigs’ diet will have positive effects on their health. We compared two groups of Prestice Black-Pied pigs, the experimental group was fed by fodder with the knotweed rhizomes additive, the control group without knotweed additive. Investigated parameters were feed consumption, the composition of excrements, weight increment, muscle-to-fat ratio, fatty acid composition and blood haematology and biochemistry. The addition of knotweed stimulated a whole range of physiological changes. It positively stimulated weight growth and increased the back fat and proportion of muscle, but statistically significant only in gilts. On the other hand, the changes in fatty acid composition seemed to be unsatisfactory. It is the first study of the effects of knotweed on pigs’ development, and more detailed research is desirable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Swine Diseases: Prevention, Control and Food Safety)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Variation in Particulate Emission Resulting from Animal Farming in Poland
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020168 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 466
Abstract
The article presents a spatial variation in particulate emission from animal farming in Poland. In addition, this paper estimates the PM2.5 and PM10 particulate emissions. The data on respective emissions sources have been acquired from the Central Statistics Authority (GUS) of 2019 (Local [...] Read more.
The article presents a spatial variation in particulate emission from animal farming in Poland. In addition, this paper estimates the PM2.5 and PM10 particulate emissions. The data on respective emissions sources have been acquired from the Central Statistics Authority (GUS) of 2019 (Local Data Bank). The emissions of PM2.5 and PM10 particulates were estimated from the structure of the emissions sources covered in the “EEA/EMEP Emission Inventory Guidebook” following the Tier 1 method. The research shows that, in Poland, the biggest share in particulate emission is found for poultry and cattle farming, which are the emissions of 5.5 and 3 m kg of particulates annually all across Poland, respectively. The highest pollution with PM2.5 resulting from animal farming was recorded for the Podlaskie (0.19 kg/ha), Wielkopolskie (0.16 kg/ha), and Mazowieckie (0.14 kg/ha) provinces, whereas the highest pollution with PM10 was recorded for the Wielkopolskie province (0.83 kg/ha). The key sources of particulate emission indicated in the study facilitate adapting the adequate method to reduce the particulate emissions in respective provinces. It is essential, especially due to the negative effect of particulates on human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Systems and Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Metagenomic Insight into the Community Structure and Functional Genes in the Sunflower Rhizosphere Microbiome
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020167 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 697
Abstract
The rhizosphere’s microbial communities consist of a diverse set of microorganisms that can be beneficial to plants. These beneficial microorganisms are key determinants of plant productivity and health. In this study, we used shotgun metagenomics to explore and characterize the microbiome of the [...] Read more.
The rhizosphere’s microbial communities consist of a diverse set of microorganisms that can be beneficial to plants. These beneficial microorganisms are key determinants of plant productivity and health. In this study, we used shotgun metagenomics to explore and characterize the microbiome of the sunflower rhizosphere and bulk soil. The rhizosphere shared features with the bulk soil with dominant phyla such as Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes, and Verrucomicrobia. There was no significant difference in the alpha diversity of the sunflower rhizosphere and bulk soils, though diversity was lower in the rhizosphere, suggesting a selection of microorganisms by sunflower rhizosphere to the bulk soil community. The genes present in the rhizosphere with their corresponding proteins as observed in our study conferred potential plant-beneficial properties such as siderophore production, nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilizing, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase. Furthermore, other genes such as exopolysaccharides-producing, high-temperature stress response, and heat and cold shock response genes, which help withstand environmental stresses were also identified more in the rhizosphere. Of note from our study is the gene phenazine biosynthesis protein, which confers biocontrol. With the current indiscriminate use of pesticides that are considered harmful to the ecosystem, these potential functional genes can be further exploited and used as a biotechnological application for sustainable agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Genotype Evaluation and Breeding)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Effect of Climate Factors on SNPs within FHA Domain Genes in Eurasian Arabidopsis Ecotypes
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020166 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 469
Abstract
The rapid developments in high-throughput sequencing technologies have allowed researchers to analyze the full genomic sequence of organisms faster and cheaper than ever before. An important application of such advancements is to identify the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the phenotypes [...] Read more.
The rapid developments in high-throughput sequencing technologies have allowed researchers to analyze the full genomic sequence of organisms faster and cheaper than ever before. An important application of such advancements is to identify the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the phenotypes and genotypes of the same species by discovering the factors that affect the occurrence of SNPs. The focus of this study is to determine whether climate factors such as the main climate, the precipitation, and the temperature affecting a certain geographical area might be associated with specific variations in certain ecotypes of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. To test our hypothesis we analyzed 18 genes that encode Forkhead-Associated domain-containing proteins. They were extracted from 80 genomic sequences gathered from within 8 Eurasian regions. We used k-means clustering to separate the plants into distinct groups and evaluated the clusters using an innovative scoring system based upon the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system. The methods we used allow the selection of candidate clusters most likely to contain samples with similar polymorphisms. These clusters show that there is a correlation between genomic variations and the geographic distribution of those ecotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
The World Vegetable Center Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) Core Collection as a Source for Flooding Stress Tolerance Traits for Breeding
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020165 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 550
Abstract
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a heat tolerant vegetable crop with high economic and nutritional importance in parts of Asia, Africa, and America. The okra biodiversity held in gene bank collections could be mined for traits for breeding more stress tolerant and [...] Read more.
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a heat tolerant vegetable crop with high economic and nutritional importance in parts of Asia, Africa, and America. The okra biodiversity held in gene bank collections could be mined for traits for breeding more stress tolerant and nutritional cultivars. An okra core collection of 166 accessions comprising A. esculentus, A. moschatus, A. caillei, and A. manihot has been assembled from the World Vegetable Center germplasm collection (840 accessions) based on diversity analysis with 20 microsatellite markers. A selection of A. esculentus accessions of the core collection (75 accessions) and 20 breeder-selected genotypes have been screened for variation of their response to flooding stress under field conditions using a high throughput phenotyping system. Growth increment per day and changes of physiological indices were measured before, during, and after application of 9 days of flooding stress. Several accessions showed only a small reduction in daily growth increment during flooding. Across the germplasm panel, maintained growth was correlated with maintained normalized differential vegetation index and was negatively correlated with plant senescence index. Accessions with maintained growth and health under flooding were selected for future further analysis and use in breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation and Characterization of Vegetable Crop Biodiversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of the Cooling Rate of Six Olive Cultivars Using Thermal Imaging
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020164 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 478
Abstract
Bringing the olive harvest period forward leads to storing fruit in field temperatures that risk jeopardizing its quality. Knowledge about the bio-thermal characteristics of olives is crucial when considering their cooling, although published research on the subject is limited. In this work, the [...] Read more.
Bringing the olive harvest period forward leads to storing fruit in field temperatures that risk jeopardizing its quality. Knowledge about the bio-thermal characteristics of olives is crucial when considering their cooling, although published research on the subject is limited. In this work, the cooling rate of the fruit of six olive cultivars has been empirically determined by measuring the evolution of their low temperature under controlled conditions by thermal imaging. Based on these data, the cooling time needed to cool the fruit to 22 °C was estimated, considering the biometric characteristics of the individual fruit, a field temperature from 26 to 42 °C, and a room cooling temperature from −8 to −20 °C. The results showed differences among the cultivars and the need to further investigate the specific heat requirements for small varieties and the impact of the conduction factor on the heavier ones. The simulation suggests that between 2 min (for the light Arbequina and Koroneiki cultivars) and 5 min (for the heavier Verdial and Gordal cultivars) suffice to cool the fruit to the desired temperature with a room temperature of −16 °C. These results show the feasibility of developing technological solutions for cooling olives before their industrial processing with industrial applications such as cooling tunnels on individual fruit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Agricultural Sustainability: Microbial Biofertilizers in Rhizosphere Management
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020163 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
The world’s human population continues to increase, posing a significant challenge in ensuring food security, as soil nutrients and fertility are limited and decreasing with time. Thus, there is a need to increase agricultural productivity to meet the food demands of the growing [...] Read more.
The world’s human population continues to increase, posing a significant challenge in ensuring food security, as soil nutrients and fertility are limited and decreasing with time. Thus, there is a need to increase agricultural productivity to meet the food demands of the growing population. A high level of dependence on chemical fertilizers as a means of increasing food production has damaged the ecological balance and human health and is becoming too expensive for many farmers to afford. The exploitation of beneficial soil microorganisms as a substitute for chemical fertilizers in the production of food is one potential solution to this conundrum. Microorganisms, such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and mycorrhizal fungi, have demonstrated their ability in the formulation of biofertilizers in the agricultural sector, providing plants with nutrients required to enhance their growth, increase yield, manage abiotic and biotic stress, and prevent phytopathogens attack. Recently, beneficial soil microbes have been reported to produce some volatile organic compounds, which are beneficial to plants, and the amendment of these microbes with locally available organic materials and nanoparticles is currently used to formulate biofertilizers to increase plant productivity. This review focuses on the important role performed by beneficial soil microorganisms as a cost-effective, nontoxic, and eco-friendly approach in the management of the rhizosphere to promote plant growth and yield. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Application of Machine Learning Algorithms to Predict Body Condition Score from Liveweight Records of Mature Romney Ewes
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020162 - 17 Feb 2021
Viewed by 427
Abstract
Body condition score (BCS) in sheep (Ovis aries) is a widely used subjective measure of the degree of soft tissue coverage. Body condition score and liveweight are statistically related in ewes; therefore, it was hypothesized that BCS could be accurately predicted [...] Read more.
Body condition score (BCS) in sheep (Ovis aries) is a widely used subjective measure of the degree of soft tissue coverage. Body condition score and liveweight are statistically related in ewes; therefore, it was hypothesized that BCS could be accurately predicted from liveweight using machine learning models. Individual ewe liveweight and body condition score data at each stage of the annual cycle (pre-breeding, pregnancy diagnosis, pre-lambing and weaning) at 43 to 54 months of age were used. Nine machine learning (ML) algorithms (ordinal logistic regression, multinomial regression, linear discriminant analysis, classification and regression tree, random forest, k-nearest neighbors, support vector machine, neural networks and gradient boosting decision trees) were applied to predict BCS from a ewe’s current and previous liveweight record. A three class BCS (1.0–2.0, 2.5–3.5, >3.5) scale was used due to high-class imbalance in the five-scale BCS data. The results showed that using ML to predict ewe BCS at 43 to 54 months of age from current and previous liveweight could be achieved with high accuracy (>85%) across all stages of the annual cycle. The gradient boosting decision tree algorithm (XGB) was the most efficient for BCS prediction regardless of season. All models had balanced specificity and sensitivity. The findings suggest that there is potential for predicting ewe BCS from liveweight using classification machine learning algorithms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effective Seed Yield and Flowering Synchrony of Parents of CIMMYT Three-Way-Cross Tropical Maize Hybrids
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020161 - 17 Feb 2021
Viewed by 588
Abstract
Genotype, environmental temperature, and agronomic management of parents influence seed yield in three-way cross hybrid maize seed production. The objective of this research was to generate information on the seed production of six three-way cross hybrids and their progenitors, adapted to tropical lowlands. [...] Read more.
Genotype, environmental temperature, and agronomic management of parents influence seed yield in three-way cross hybrid maize seed production. The objective of this research was to generate information on the seed production of six three-way cross hybrids and their progenitors, adapted to tropical lowlands. Data on days to—and duration of—flowering, distance to spike and stigmas, and seed yield of five female single crosses and five male inbred lines were recorded for different combinations of four planting densities and four sowing dates in Mexico. The effect of planting density was not significant. The male inbred line T10 was the earliest and highest seed yield and T31 the latest, occupying second place in yield. The single crosses T32/T10 and T13/T14 were the earliest and had the highest effective seed yield. At the earliest sowing date, the females were later in their flowering, accumulated fewer growing degree days (GDD), and obtained higher yields since the grain-filling period coincided with hot days and cool nights. To achieve greater floral synchronization and therefore greater production of hybrid seed, differential planting dates for parents are recommended based on information from the accumulated GDD of each parent. The three-way cross hybrids were classified according to the expected seed yield of the females and the complexity in the synchronization of flowering of their parents. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Affecting Utilisation of Indigenous Knowledge to Control Gastrointestinal Nematodes in Goats
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020160 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 530
Abstract
Adoption and utilisation of indigenous knowledge (IK) is declining. The objective of the current study was to determine differences in the extent of use of IK to control gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in goats between wet and dry environments. A structured questionnaire was used [...] Read more.
Adoption and utilisation of indigenous knowledge (IK) is declining. The objective of the current study was to determine differences in the extent of use of IK to control gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in goats between wet and dry environments. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Almost all households used IK in controlling parasites. There was a close association among environment, gender, and religion (p < 0.05) on IK use. Farmers who were less poor were 2.38 times more likely to use IK (p > 0.05) than farmers that were poor. Adults were 1.20 more likely to use IK (p < 0.05) than younger people. Unemployed farmers were 4.26 more likely to use IK compared to their employed counter parts (p < 0.01). Having a herbalist in the community was 3.6 times more likely to influence the use of IK (p < 0.05) compared to the environment in which there was no herbalist. Farmers that received informal education in the dry environment were 5.88 times more likely to use IK (p < 0.05) than those in the wet environment. Farmers who practised traditional Zulu culture were 2.05 times more likely to use IK compared to those following the Christian faith (p < 0.05). The considerable variation in the adoption of IK suggests that intervention strategies that advance IK use should consider the socio-demographic information of the community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Body Weight and Growth in Early Life on the Reproductive Performances of Holstein Heifers
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020159 - 16 Feb 2021
Viewed by 480
Abstract
In Italy most dairy cows produce milk for cheese manufacture and are farmed in intensive systems, with free stall barns, milking parlor or robotic milking, total mixed ration and no (or limited) access to pasture. The main objective for farmers is to maximize [...] Read more.
In Italy most dairy cows produce milk for cheese manufacture and are farmed in intensive systems, with free stall barns, milking parlor or robotic milking, total mixed ration and no (or limited) access to pasture. The main objective for farmers is to maximize farm income and minimize farm costs by adopting strategies and ‘best practices’ in the early life of heifers. Monitoring body weight (BW) and fertility of young stock is fundamental to ensure good performances in future dairy cows and to enhance farm profit. In this study BW (kg) and average daily gain (ADG, kg/d) recorded at different stages in early life of 382 Holstein calves were used to estimate associations with fertility traits. Data consisted of BW at birth (BW0), three BWs (BW1, BW2, and BW3) recorded in three phases of calf’s early life, ADG in the three phases (ADGI, ADGII, and ADGIII), ADG of the entire period (ADGI-III), number of services per pregnancy (NS), and age at first calving (AFC). As expected, the four BWs were positively correlated to each. In general, heavier calves were characterized by better fertility compared to lighter calves. Monitoring BW and ADG in replacement heifers starting from the early age is recommended to improve NS and AFC at farm level and could be useful to set up genetic improvement programs. Future studies will benefit from the addition of milk-related traits and the increase of sample size (number of farms). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproduction of Ruminant Livestock)
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Open AccessArticle
Trends in Soil Microbial Inoculants Research: A Science Mapping Approach to Unravel Strengths and Weaknesses of Their Application
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020158 - 16 Feb 2021
Viewed by 553
Abstract
Microbial inoculants are widely accepted as potential alternatives or complements to chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. However, there remains a lack of knowledge regarding their application and effects under field conditions. Thus, a quantitative description of the scientific literature related to soil [...] Read more.
Microbial inoculants are widely accepted as potential alternatives or complements to chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. However, there remains a lack of knowledge regarding their application and effects under field conditions. Thus, a quantitative description of the scientific literature related to soil microbial inoculants was conducted, adopting a science mapping approach to observe trends, strengths, and weaknesses of their application during the period of 2000–2020 and providing useful insights for future research. Overall, the study retrieved 682 publications with an increasing number during the 2015–2020 period, confirming China, India, and the U.S. as leading countries in microbial inoculants research. Over the last decade, the research field emphasized the use of microbial consortia rather than single strains, with increasing attention paid to sustainability and environmental purposes by means of multidisciplinary approaches. Among the emerging topics, terms such as “persistence” indicate the actual need for detecting and monitoring the persistence and fate of soil microbial inoculants. On the other hand, the low occurrence of terms related to failed studies as well as formulation processes may have limited the overall comprehension of the real potential of microbial inoculants to date. In conclusion, successful application of soil microbial inoculants in agriculture requires filling the fundamental knowledge gaps related to the processes that govern dynamics and interactions of the inoculants with soil and its native microbiota. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Richness of Rhizosphere Organisms Affects Plant P Nutrition According to P Source and Mobility
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020157 - 16 Feb 2021
Viewed by 403
Abstract
Plants evolve complex interactions with diverse soil mutualist organisms to enhance P mobilization from the soil. These strategies are particularly important when P is poorly available. It is still unclear how the soil P source (e.g., mineral P versus recalcitrant organic P) and [...] Read more.
Plants evolve complex interactions with diverse soil mutualist organisms to enhance P mobilization from the soil. These strategies are particularly important when P is poorly available. It is still unclear how the soil P source (e.g., mineral P versus recalcitrant organic P) and its mobility in the soil (high or low) affect soil mutualist biological (ectomycorrhizal fungi, bacteria and bacterial-feeding nematodes) richness—plant P acquisition relationships. Using a set of six microcosm experiments conducted in growth chamber across contrasting P situations, we tested the hypothesis that the relationship between the increasing addition of soil mutualist organisms in the rhizosphere of the plant and plant P acquisition depends on P source and mobility. The highest correlation (R2 = 0.70) between plant P acquisition with soil rhizosphere biological richness was found in a high P-sorbing soil amended with an organic P source. In the five other situations, the relationships became significant either in soil conditions, with or without mineral P addition, or when the P source was supplied as organic P in the absence of soil, although with a low correlation coefficient (0.09 < R2 < 0.15). We thus encourage the systematic and careful consideration of the form and mobility of P in the experimental trials that aim to assess the role of biological complexity on plant P nutrition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thematic of Soil Ecological Functions in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Food System Resilience during COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Roman Solidarity Purchasing Groups
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11020156 - 14 Feb 2021
Viewed by 715
Abstract
The restriction measures linked to the COVID-19 shock suddenly highlighted the vulnerability of most socioeconomic systems, including the food sector. In a context in which the limitation to the movement of people and goods has put the longer and more structured supply chains [...] Read more.
The restriction measures linked to the COVID-19 shock suddenly highlighted the vulnerability of most socioeconomic systems, including the food sector. In a context in which the limitation to the movement of people and goods has put the longer and more structured supply chains in serious difficulty, many experiences and initiatives have emerged as viable alternatives. The aim of the research was to understand if and how the Solidarity Purchasing Groups (SPG) of Rome have contributed to the resilience of the food system of the metropolitan city during the lockdown. The research was based on the results of a questionnaire administered to the SPGs of Rome during the first period of the pandemic (April–July 2020), enriched by some in-depth interviews carried out by the authors. What emerged was that, despite the limited extent in terms of products conveyed within the whole food system, the SPGs represented an important food supply channel during the lockdown period, for two main reasons: a greater flexibility and agility in moving and in handling goods and the possibility of remunerating local farms, contributing to the resilience of the local agri-food fabric. The analysis of the results confirms the strong vitality of such Food Movements in Rome and, at the same time, allows for the identification of a series of interventions that the institutions could adopt to favor the spread of a food environment more compatible with more sustainable and fairer forms of food production and distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food Systems in Italy: Policies, Movements and Markets)
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