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Agriculture, Volume 14, Issue 6 (June 2024) – 178 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Yellow peas (Pisum sativum L. ‘Eso’) are becoming an important novel source of proteins and amino acids, yet there are few articles where the whole phytochemical profile was examined. Most of all, how can we decide on the best agronomical parameters? When do we harvest them? Is this parameter important at all? In this study, yellow peas were characterized by NMR-based metabolomics, and the phytochemical profile was assessed as a function of harvest time. It was possible to valorize different uses of the same crop considering the amino acid profile and the presence of bioactive compounds, as well as prebiotics. View this paper
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17 pages, 2269 KiB  
Article
Design and Experiment for Flexible Clamping and Conveying Device for Green Leafy Vegetable Orderly Harvester
by Yue Jin, Jinwu Wang, Jia Chen, Zhiyu Song, Renlong Zhang and Ran Zhou
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 967; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060967 - 20 Jun 2024
Viewed by 267
Abstract
Due to the advantages of improving vegetable quality and reducing labor, technology for the orderly harvesting of green leafy vegetables has always been the focus of research. The core of the technology is the clamping and conveying device. At present, technology for the [...] Read more.
Due to the advantages of improving vegetable quality and reducing labor, technology for the orderly harvesting of green leafy vegetables has always been the focus of research. The core of the technology is the clamping and conveying device. At present, technology for the orderly harvesting of green leafy vegetables has several difficult problems, such as the plugging of the clamping and conveying device, great damage caused by mechanical clamping and high transportation loss. A green leafy vegetable is essentially a viscoelastic body and plastic deformation is an important index to measure its mechanical damage. Therefore, based on vegetable linear viscoelastic characteristics, we determined the deformation and plastic damage mechanism caused by orderly clamping and conveying. A rheological constitutive model and mathematical equations of the damage deformation value were constructed for the green leafy vegetable mechanical clamping process. Viscoelastic parameters of green leafy vegetable samples were obtained by creep experiments. The elastic clamping force and clamping spacing were analyzed systematically when the flexible clamping and conveying device was clamping, conveying and collecting. Under different spring stiffness and clamping time combinations, green leafy vegetable plastic damage deformation values were calculated and the vegetable damage regularity analyzed. After comprehensive consideration, we concluded that, when the harvester forward speed was 0.6 km/h, the optimal parameter combination of the flexible clamping and conveying device was a conveying roller rotation speed of 80 r/min, and a spring stiffness combination of 2.0 N/mm and 0.6 N/mm. Finally, a bench test verified that the mechanized harvest effect was best under a combination of parameters. Thus, we proved that the method is appropriate for studying the effects of clamping and conveying devices on green leafy vegetable damage based on viscoelastic rheological characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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13 pages, 1523 KiB  
Article
Safety and Quality of Grapes: Elemental, Isotopic and Chemometric Analysis from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo PDO Chain
by Mattia Rapa, Marco Ferrante, Ilia Rodushkin and Marcelo Enrique Conti
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060966 - 20 Jun 2024
Viewed by 279
Abstract
This study explored the elemental, isotopic, and chemometric profiles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes to ensure the safety and quality of wines produced under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label. Essential nutrients, such as K, P, Ca, Mg, and Fe, were quantified alongside [...] Read more.
This study explored the elemental, isotopic, and chemometric profiles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes to ensure the safety and quality of wines produced under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label. Essential nutrients, such as K, P, Ca, Mg, and Fe, were quantified alongside toxic elements, like Hg, Pb, Cd, and As, to evaluate the potential health impacts and compliance with food safety standards. Isotopic analysis provided a powerful tool for geographical authentication, essential for verifying the grapes’ PDO status and preventing market fraud. Chemometric techniques, including Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Multivariate Classification Methods, were employed to interpret complex datasets, enabling the identification of unique patterns and clusters that signify quality attributes and possible contamination. The study’s findings not only enhance the traceability and authentication processes essential for PDO labels but also offer valuable insights into the safety and quality management of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, addressing the implications for growers, regulators, and consumers, thereby supporting sustainable viticulture and robust quality control in global wine production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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22 pages, 1474 KiB  
Article
Can Digital Finance Promote Rice Production? Evidence from Sichuan Province, China
by Wenjing Li, Gege Lin, Qingqing Dou, Abbas Ali Chandio, Shahbaz Ali Larik and Yan Liu
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 965; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060965 - 20 Jun 2024
Viewed by 268
Abstract
The rapid development of digital finance has effectively reduced financial challenges in rural regions and created new prospects for agricultural production. This article examines the impact of digital financial development on rice production in Sichuan Province using the 2011–2021 Peking University Digital Financial [...] Read more.
The rapid development of digital finance has effectively reduced financial challenges in rural regions and created new prospects for agricultural production. This article examines the impact of digital financial development on rice production in Sichuan Province using the 2011–2021 Peking University Digital Financial Inclusion Index and data from 20 prefecture-level cities, as well as a fixed effects model. The mechanism of action is also discussed. The findings reveal that the advancement of digital finance plays an important role in boosting the expansion of rice production, and that digital finance influences rice output by increasing farmers’ willingness to participate in insurance and increasing the availability of credit. A heterogeneity analysis reveals that digital finance has a substantial effect on mountainous and economically poor areas. As a result, this article suggests that the breadth and depth of usage of rural digital finance, as well as the development of rural digital financial services in underdeveloped areas, should be expanded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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13 pages, 1958 KiB  
Article
Design of and Experimentation with a Suction-Based Pest-Capture Machine for the Tea Pest Empoasca vitis
by Yu Han, Zhiyu Song, Wenyu Yi and Caixue Zhan
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 964; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060964 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 218
Abstract
To investigate an effective physical pest control method for tea trees, we designed and manufactured a suction-based pest-capture machine (hereafter labeled the “pest vacuum”) and conducted a test and field experiment to evaluate its effectiveness in the control of Empoasca vitis Göthe ( [...] Read more.
To investigate an effective physical pest control method for tea trees, we designed and manufactured a suction-based pest-capture machine (hereafter labeled the “pest vacuum”) and conducted a test and field experiment to evaluate its effectiveness in the control of Empoasca vitis Göthe (E. vitis). Based on the proposed model, the minimum practical air velocity of the pest vacuum was 5.85 m s−1. The field experiment included two treatments and a blank control. In treatment 1, we used the pest vacuum along tea trees only once, while in treatment 2, the pest vacuum was used along trees twice, separately, in 2 consecutive periods, and with an interval of more than 30 min. The results show that a highly significant difference arose among the dropping rates of the two treatments and the blank control instantly after suction, a significant difference among the dropping rates 7 days later, and no significant difference 14 days later. The dropping rate and the effective rate of prevention of treatment 2 reached 81.87% and 80.60% instantly after suction. Moreover, the effective rate of prevention of nymphs was slightly higher than that of adults. Overall, the pest vacuum had a prominent, albeit short-term, effect on the control of E. vitis. Seven days after the suction, it is better to repeat the suction five days after the first suction. The pest vacuum provides a valid physical method for pest control, so more attention should be paid in future investigations to reducing the weight and working noise of the pest vacuum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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20 pages, 656 KiB  
Article
Globalization versus Regionalization in Agri-Food Exports from Spain and Portugal
by Encarnación Moral-Pajares, María Zozaya-Montes and Leticia Gallego-Valero
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 963; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060963 (registering DOI) - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 226
Abstract
Spain and Portugal, two countries located in southern Europe, share a significant export specialization in agricultural and agri-food products compared to the EU-27 as a whole. Based on arguments drawn from the literature and information provided by Eurostat, this paper first identifies the [...] Read more.
Spain and Portugal, two countries located in southern Europe, share a significant export specialization in agricultural and agri-food products compared to the EU-27 as a whole. Based on arguments drawn from the literature and information provided by Eurostat, this paper first identifies the characteristics of the dynamics of sales of agri-food products in the international market for the two Iberian Peninsula economies between 2008 and 2022, a period marked by the introduction of restrictions on foreign trade flows worldwide. Secondly, using panel data methodology, it examines how imports by EU-27 partners influence this trajectory. The results confirm the strengthening of export specialization in these two countries, which sell a wide variety of agri-food products in international markets. Additionally, in the case of Spain, the estimated concentration indices show a spatial diversification process towards new destinations. In both economies, however, the EU-27 market, characterized by strong competition and low development expectations, continues to influence export trends in the short and medium terms. Consequently, institutions and companies in the sector must adopt a more dynamic approach and implement actions aimed at facilitating access to new export destinations and consolidating business there. Thus, an increasing share of their exports should be reoriented towards markets with higher demand growth, helping to reinforce the global competitiveness of the national agri-food sector. This research contributes to the scientific literature on the medium- and long-term effects of economic integration processes on the exports of agri-food products of member countries. Full article
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21 pages, 1381 KiB  
Article
Design and Test of a Crawler-Type On-Film Precision Cotton Seeding Device on DEM-CFD
by Hui Zhang, Feng Pan, Dalong Han, Jinbao Liu and Chao Ji
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 962; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060962 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 207
Abstract
To solve the limitation of speed in the operation of air-suction cotton precision seeding devices, a new crawler-type precision on-film seeding device was designed using an extended duckbill hole-forming device to produce hole-forming belts and lateral seed collection. Coupling simulation of seeding, and [...] Read more.
To solve the limitation of speed in the operation of air-suction cotton precision seeding devices, a new crawler-type precision on-film seeding device was designed using an extended duckbill hole-forming device to produce hole-forming belts and lateral seed collection. Coupling simulation of seeding, and analysis of drag force and movement speed of cotton seeds were conducted on EDEM-CFD. A mechanical model of the operation was established, and the effects of the suction hole diameter, pressure relief block length, and wind pressure on seeding performance were analyzed. Regression models between influencing factors and seeding performance indices were established using response surface methodology. The test data were analyzed using Design Expert 10.0.3. The influence rules for each factor on seeding performance were established. The factors affecting the seeding qualified index exhibited the following order: air pressure > pressure relief block length > suction hole diameter. The optimization goals included defining the maximum value of a qualified single-seed index and the minimum value of the missing index, and the best parameter combination was obtained based on a suction hole diameter of 3.624 mm, pressure relief block length of 63.369 mm, and wind pressure of 3.797 kPa. According to the actual test conditions, the parameters were revised to include a suction hole diameter of 3.6 mm, a relief block length of 63.4 mm, and wind (air) pressure of 3.8 kPa for verification tests. The actual qualified single-seed index is 94.87% ± 0.98 %, the missing index is 1.45% ± 0.32%, and the multiple index is 3.68% ± 0.62%. The difference from the predicted value is within 5%, indicating that this study can provide a reference for the structural design and optimization of crawler-type on-film precision cotton seeding devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
23 pages, 21902 KiB  
Article
WH-DETR: An Efficient Network Architecture for Wheat Spike Detection in Complex Backgrounds
by Zhenlin Yang, Wanhong Yang, Jizheng Yi and Rong Liu
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 961; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060961 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 251
Abstract
Wheat spike detection is crucial for estimating wheat yields and has a significant impact on the modernization of wheat cultivation and the advancement of precision agriculture. This study explores the application of the DETR (Detection Transformer) architecture in wheat spike detection, introducing a [...] Read more.
Wheat spike detection is crucial for estimating wheat yields and has a significant impact on the modernization of wheat cultivation and the advancement of precision agriculture. This study explores the application of the DETR (Detection Transformer) architecture in wheat spike detection, introducing a new perspective to this task. We propose a high-precision end-to-end network named WH-DETR, which is based on an enhanced RT-DETR architecture. Initially, we employ data augmentation techniques such as image rotation, scaling, and random occlusion on the GWHD2021 dataset to improve the model’s generalization across various scenarios. A lightweight feature pyramid, GS-BiFPN, is implemented in the network’s neck section to effectively extract the multi-scale features of wheat spikes in complex environments, such as those with occlusions, overlaps, and extreme lighting conditions. Additionally, the introduction of GSConv enhances the network precision while reducing the computational costs, thereby controlling the detection speed. Furthermore, the EIoU metric is integrated into the loss function, refined to better focus on partially occluded or overlapping spikes. The testing results on the dataset demonstrate that this method achieves an Average Precision (AP) of 95.7%, surpassing current state-of-the-art object detection methods in both precision and speed. These findings confirm that our approach more closely meets the practical requirements for wheat spike detection compared to existing methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture)
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15 pages, 5418 KiB  
Article
Deposition of Water and Emulsion Hollow Droplets on Hydrophilic and Hydrophobic Surfaces
by Chen Gong, Feng Jia and Can Kang
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 960; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060960 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 206
Abstract
The deposition of spray droplets is a hot topic in the field of plant protection. The air-induction nozzle, which is commonly used in agricultural spray, can produce droplets containing bubbles. However, few studies have addressed the deposition of hollow droplets. In the present [...] Read more.
The deposition of spray droplets is a hot topic in the field of plant protection. The air-induction nozzle, which is commonly used in agricultural spray, can produce droplets containing bubbles. However, few studies have addressed the deposition of hollow droplets. In the present study, we used experimental and numerical methods to investigate the deposition of hollow droplets. Three kinds of liquid—water, oil-based emulsion and organosilicon—were used to produce hollow droplets, and the diameter of droplets varied from 3 to 4.5 mm. Both hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces were selected as deposition targets. The results show that the deposition of hollow droplets can generate a central jet, which is similar to the Wortington jet. High deposition velocity and the large bubble volume were responsible for the large attainable height of the central jet. On the hydrophilic surface, for water hollow droplets with Weber number (We) ranging from 350 to 391, the central jet began to break up as the bubble fraction of the hollow droplet reached 0.15. Based on the numerical results, it was found that the internal pressure difference between the bottom liquid and the air cavity leads to the formation of the central jet. The bubble volume and impact velocity were both positively correlated with the internal pressure difference. The oil-based emulsion promoted the adherence of the hollow droplet by lubricating the hydrophobic surface. The oil-based emulsion hollow droplets shifted from rebounding to adhering on the hydrophobic surface as the emulsion concentration reached 0.4%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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17 pages, 2757 KiB  
Article
Impact of Selected Plant Extracts on Winter Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Seedlings: Growth, Plant Health Status and Soil Activity
by Weronika Kursa, Agnieszka Jamiołkowska, Barbara Skwaryło-Bednarz, Grażyna Kowalska and Anna Gałązka
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 959; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060959 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 234
Abstract
The aim of the study was to assess the impact of plant extracts from hemp inflorescences (H10—10% and H20—20%), as well as a mixture of extracts from hemp inflorescences, sage, and tansy leaves (M10—10% and M20—20%) on phytotoxicity and selected physiological and biometric [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to assess the impact of plant extracts from hemp inflorescences (H10—10% and H20—20%), as well as a mixture of extracts from hemp inflorescences, sage, and tansy leaves (M10—10% and M20—20%) on phytotoxicity and selected physiological and biometric parameters of wheat seedlings, as well as the biological activity of soil in a growth chamber experiment. In all experimental combinations, a low phytotoxicity of the extracts was observed in the form of leaf tip yellowing, classified as first-degree damage or its complete absence. The plant extracts and their mixtures, except for the H20 extract, had an inhibitory effect on the development of fungal pathogens, especially Fusarium spp. The H20 extract increased the fresh and dry weight of root seedlings. The tested extracts also had a positive effect on the chlorophyll content in seedlings. The highest chlorophyll concentrations were recorded for the seedlings sprayed with the M20 extract mixture. The applied plant extracts influenced the activity of soil enzymes. The highest activity of catalase and dehydrogenases was observed after spraying seedlings with M20, while the lowest was recorded after applying H10. Of all the tested groups of soil environment compounds included in the Biolog EcoPlates test, carbohydrates and carboxylic acids were most actively utilized. Conversely, amines and amides constituted the group of compounds utilized the least frequently. The present study demonstrated the high effectiveness of plant extracts on wheat seedlings due to their biocidal action against phytopathogenic fungi and increased biological activity of the soil. This research serves as an initial phase of work, which will aim to verify the results obtained under field conditions, as well as assess the biological stability of the extracts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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24 pages, 5597 KiB  
Article
Integrated Transcriptome and GWAS Analysis to Identify Candidate Genes for Ustilago maydis Resistance in Maize
by Bingyu Yin, Linjie Xu, Jianping Li, Yunxiao Zheng, Weibin Song, Peng Hou, Liying Zhu, Xiaoyan Jia, Yongfeng Zhao, Wei Song and Jinjie Guo
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 958; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060958 - 19 Jun 2024
Viewed by 310
Abstract
Maize Ustilago maydis is a disease that severely affects maize yield and quality. In this paper, we employed transcriptome sequencing and GWAS analysis to identify candidate genes and reveal disease-resistant germplasm resources, thereby laying the foundation for further analysis of the molecular mechanism [...] Read more.
Maize Ustilago maydis is a disease that severely affects maize yield and quality. In this paper, we employed transcriptome sequencing and GWAS analysis to identify candidate genes and reveal disease-resistant germplasm resources, thereby laying the foundation for further analysis of the molecular mechanism of maize Ustilago maydis resistance and genetic improvement. The results of transcriptome sequencing revealed that a considerable number of receptor kinase genes, signal-transduction-related protein genes, redox-response-related genes, WRKYs, and P450s genes were significantly upregulated. There was a wide range of mutations of Ustilago maydis in maize inbred lines. Thirty-two high-resistance maize inbred lines were selected, and 16 SNPs were significantly associated with the disease index. By integrating the results of GWAS and RNA-seq, five genes related to disease resistance were identified, encoding the chitinase 1 protein, fatty acid elongase (FAE), IAA9, GATA TF8, and EREB94, respectively. It provides a certain reference for the cloning of maize anti-tumor smut genes and the breeding of new varieties. Full article
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18 pages, 459 KiB  
Article
Impact of Feeding Systems on Performance, Blood Parameters, Carcass Traits, Meat Quality, and Gene Expressions of Lambs
by Isabela J. dos Santos, Paulo C. G. Dias Junior, Tharcilla I. R. C. Alvarenga, Idalmo G. Pereira, Sarita B. Gallo, Flavio A. P. Alvarenga and Iraides F. Furusho-Garcia
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 957; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060957 (registering DOI) - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 275
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of feeding systems on the growth performance of Santa Inês x Dorper lambs, meat quality, fatty acid profile, and gene expression. Thirty lambs at an initial body weight of 22.6 ± 2.59 kg [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of feeding systems on the growth performance of Santa Inês x Dorper lambs, meat quality, fatty acid profile, and gene expression. Thirty lambs at an initial body weight of 22.6 ± 2.59 kg were randomly assigned to one of three feed systems: a grazing system with 1.2% body weight concentrate supplementation (GS); a feedlot system with 28% forage and 72% concentrate (FFC); or feedlot with 85% whole corn grain and 15% pellets (FHG). The lambs were slaughtered after 60 days of experiment. Average daily gain, glucose, and insulin concentration were higher for lambs on FHC than lambs on a GS feeding system. The fatty acid profile in the meat of the lambs fed GS showed a higher proportion of c9t11-C18:2, C20:5, C22:5, and C22:6 compared with FFC and FHC (p < 0.05). Meat tenderness was lower for lambs under FFC treatment compared with GS and FHG. FHG treatment provides better performance and higher deposition of lipid content in meat compared with GS and FHG. The expression of the genes SCD-1, SREBP1-c, and EVOL6 was greater in lambs undergoing GS and FHC treatments compared with FFC. Results of this research showed a reduced performance of grazing lambs compared with the feedlot system; however, it enhanced the fatty acid profile with increased levels of polyunsaturated acids and reduced n6/n3 ratio. Full article
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16 pages, 1210 KiB  
Article
Effect of Split Basal Fertilisation and Top-Dressing on Relative Chlorophyll Content and Yield of Maize Hybrids
by Péter Zagyi, Éva Horváth, Gyula Vasvári, Károly Simon and Adrienn Széles
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 956; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060956 (registering DOI) - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 207
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the nitrogen requirement of maize, the optimal timing and amount of nutrient application, based on long time series data. An additional objective was to examine the response of the relative chlorophyll content of maize to [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the nitrogen requirement of maize, the optimal timing and amount of nutrient application, based on long time series data. An additional objective was to examine the response of the relative chlorophyll content of maize to nitrogen fertilisation. The examinations were carried out in a long-term field experiment at the University of Debrecen between 2016 and 2022, using two maize hybrids with different genotypes. Spatial and temporal changes in the N status of maize leaves were monitored using the Soil and Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) instrument. In addition to the non-fertilised (A0) treatment, six fertiliser treatments were applied (spring basal fertilisation: 60 and 120 kg N ha−1, A60; A120). Basal fertilisation was followed by two occasions of top-dressing at phenological stages V6 and V12, at rates of +30–30 kg N ha−1 (V690 and V6150, and V12120 and V12180). The CMR (Chlorophyll Meter Reading), averaged over the examined years, genotypes and fertiliser treatments, were lowest in the V6 phenological phase (40.23 ± 5.57, p < 0.05) and highest in R1 (49.91 ± 8.41, p < 0.05). A120 fertiliser treatment increased the relative chlorophyll content by 5.11 compared to the non-fertilised treatment, 1.67 more than A60 treatment. The basal fertilisation treatment substantially increased the yield (A60: +30.75%; A120: +66.68%) compared to the A0 treatment averaged over years and genotypes. Based on the obtained research results, a basal treatment of 120 kg N ha−1 is recommended and it can be concluded that, under appropriate water supply conditions (rainfall, irrigation), nitrogen top-dressing applied in V6 phenophase results in a significant yield increase compared to basal fertilisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latest Research on Multiple Stress Tolerance in Maize)
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16 pages, 2139 KiB  
Article
Effects of Deep Vertical Rotary Tillage on Soil Water Use and Yield Formation of Forage Maize on Semiarid Land
by Yanjie Fang, Weijun Tan, Huizhi Hou, Hongli Wang, Jiade Yin, Guoping Zhang, Kangning Lei, Bo Dong and Anzhen Qin
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 955; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060955 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 233
Abstract
Forage maize is one of the most important feed crops for livestock production, and is mainly grown in northwest China. However, their growth is often stressed by limited soil water availability due to the arid climate. To provide more soil moisture, a high-efficiency [...] Read more.
Forage maize is one of the most important feed crops for livestock production, and is mainly grown in northwest China. However, their growth is often stressed by limited soil water availability due to the arid climate. To provide more soil moisture, a high-efficiency tillage technique was required to make crops effectively use soil moisture in deep soil layers. Deep vertical rotary tillage is a promising choice for this purpose. In this study, a long-term (2020–2022) field experiment consisting of three treatments, i.e., traditional tillage (TT), deep rotary tillage (DT), and deep vertical rotary tillage (VRT), was carried out in semiarid areas of Loess Plateau, northwest China, to investigate the effects of VRT on soil water storage (SWS), phase crop evapotranspiration (ETc) during the pre- and post-flowering periods, dry matter accumulation, grain yields and the water use efficiency (WUE) of forage maize. The results showed that VRT significantly improved the absorption of soil moisture from deep layers, especially in dry years. During the pre-flowering period of a dry year (2020), VRT decreased SWS by 7.6%–10.0% in the 60–180 cm layer, and by 17.6%–18.5% in the 180–300 cm layer, respectively, compared to DT and TT. As a result, VRT increased ETc during the pre-flowering period by 6.1% and 9.2%, respectively. In wet years (2021 and 2022), VRT increased total ETc by 2.0%–7.9% in 2021, and by 10.1%–14.9% in 2022, respectively. On average, VRT increased the dry matter weight per plant by 1.0%–7.8%, grain yields by 2.4%–38.6%, biomass yields by 3.4%–16.2%, and WUE by 10.1%–30.0%, respectively. Particularly, the benefit of VRT for increasing yields and WUE was more noticeable in dry years. It can be concluded that VRT is a drought-tolerant and yield-boosting tillage technique that is suitable for rain-fed forage maize in semiarid areas of Loess Plateau, northwest China. Full article
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19 pages, 441 KiB  
Article
Risk of Returning to Multidimensional Poverty and Its Influencing Factors among Relocated Households for Poverty Alleviation in China
by Mingyue Liu, Lulu Yuan and Yifu Zhao
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 954; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060954 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 323
Abstract
Poverty alleviation through relocation (PAR) is a milestone project in winning the battle against extreme poverty. Its aim is to relocate poor people from inhospitable areas and lift them out of poverty. Assessing the vulnerability to multidimensional poverty (VMP) of relocated households is [...] Read more.
Poverty alleviation through relocation (PAR) is a milestone project in winning the battle against extreme poverty. Its aim is to relocate poor people from inhospitable areas and lift them out of poverty. Assessing the vulnerability to multidimensional poverty (VMP) of relocated households is of great significance for consolidating the achievements of targeted poverty alleviation and preventing a large-scale return to poverty. This study constructed a multidimensional poverty index (MPI) of relocated households and analyzed relocated households’ VMP and its influencing factors using panel data of 1009 households in 16 counties across eight provinces in China. The results reveal that the mean VMP of the relocated households gradually decreased from 2016 to 2020. Moreover, the VMP of the relocated households that have moved into centralized resettlement communities is relatively low compared to those that have moved into decentralized resettlement communities. In addition, the impact of household endowment on VMP is the highest, followed by supporting policies, such as PAR, industrial development, and employment policy. Therefore, the assistance mechanism must be improved to prevent a return to poverty, enhance the sustainable development capacity of relocated households, and optimize follow-up policies for PAR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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18 pages, 13935 KiB  
Article
Analysis and Testing of Pre-Cut Sugarcane Seed Stalk Sawing Performance Parameters
by Bin Yan, Haitao Liu, Fengguang He, Ganran Deng, Shuang Zheng, Zhende Cui, Sili Zhou, Ye Dai, Xilin Wang, Shuangmei Qin, Guojie Li, Ling Li and Bin Li
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 953; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060953 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 317
Abstract
Sugarcane is an important economic crop in tropical and subtropical regions. Presawing planting is an important method for achieving automated and precise planting with sugarcane planting machines. The sawing process is a key stage in planting management, affecting not only the germination and [...] Read more.
Sugarcane is an important economic crop in tropical and subtropical regions. Presawing planting is an important method for achieving automated and precise planting with sugarcane planting machines. The sawing process is a key stage in planting management, affecting not only the germination and survival rates of sugarcane, but also reflecting the mechanical performance of sawing. To reduce the peak sawing force and enhance the sawing surface quality of sugarcane seedlings, this study utilized a central composite experimental design method. Single-factor and multi-factor experiments were conducted with a specially designed sugarcane stalk sawing experimental rig to investigate the impact of factors such as the stalk diameter feeding speed, and sawing speed on the peak sawing force and sawing surface quality. Upon being developed and validated, multivariate mathematical regression models elucidated the relationships among these factors. The experimental results showed that the order of influence of each factor on the peak sawing force was the stalk diameter, feed speed, and sawing speed, while for the sawing surface quality, the sequence was the sawing speed, stalk diameter, and feed speed. Correspondingly, the determination coefficients for the peak sawing force and sawing surface quality prediction models were 0.9708 and 0.9675. With a maximum error of 7.6% for the peak sawing force and an average relative error of 7.1%, and a maximum error of 3.5% for the sawing surface quality and an average relative error of 2.83%, the calculated results from the regression models were in good agreement with the experimental findings. This indicates that the models are capable of quickly and accurately predicting the peak sawing force and sawing surface quality of sugarcane stalks under different conditions. The research findings provide valuable insights for the development and optimization of sugarcane stalk presawing equipment and related experimental studies. Full article
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14 pages, 7387 KiB  
Article
Driving Factors and Numerical Simulation of Evapotranspiration of a Typical Cabbage Agroecosystem in the Shiyang River Basin, Northwest China
by Tianyi Yang, Haichao Yu, Sien Li, Xiangning Yuan, Xiang Ao, Haochong Chen, Yuexin Wang and Jie Ding
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 952; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060952 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 296
Abstract
Two years of field experiments were conducted at the National Field Observation Experiment Station for Efficient Agricultural Water Use in the Wuwei Oasis, Gansu Province. Based on the eddy correlation system, the evapotranspiration (ET) of the cabbage agroecosystem during the growth [...] Read more.
Two years of field experiments were conducted at the National Field Observation Experiment Station for Efficient Agricultural Water Use in the Wuwei Oasis, Gansu Province. Based on the eddy correlation system, the evapotranspiration (ET) of the cabbage agroecosystem during the growth period was obtained and the main driving factors of ET changes were determined. The Root Zone Water Quality Model 2.0 version (RZWQM2 model) was used to simulate ET during the growth period. The results showed the following: (1) The ET of cabbage during the growth period was 260. 1 ± 24.2 mm, which was basically lower than other crops planted in this area. (2) Through partial correlation analysis and principal component analysis, it can be found that environmental and physiological factors jointly drive changes in ET. The main driving factors include gross primary productivity, net radiation, and water use efficiency. (3) The RZWQM2 model can simulate the ET of the cabbage agroecosystem well, especially in simulating the total ET value and its trend. The growth period ETs were 7.3% lower than the ETm. Cabbage is an important cash crop in Northwest China, and ET is an important component of the water cycle in the agroecosystem. Determining the main driving factors of ET is of great significance for the sustainable utilization of agricultural water resources in Northwest China. Our results can provide a scientific basis for the cultivation of cabbage as a cash crop and the development of water saving agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Water Management)
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15 pages, 4630 KiB  
Article
Determination of Minimum Data Set for Soil Health Assessment of Farmlands under Wheat–Maize Crop System in Yanting County, Sichuan, China
by Zakir Hussain, Limei Deng, Xuan Wang, Rongyang Cui, Xueqin Li, Gangcai Liu, Ishtiaq Hussain, Farman Wali and Muhammad Ayub
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060951 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 309
Abstract
The assessment of soil health through a robust index system having a sufficient number of indicators is an important step toward sustainable crop production. The present study aimed at establishing a minimum data set (MDS) from soil functional and nutritional attributes using a [...] Read more.
The assessment of soil health through a robust index system having a sufficient number of indicators is an important step toward sustainable crop production. The present study aimed at establishing a minimum data set (MDS) from soil functional and nutritional attributes using a dual index system to evaluate the soil health of farmlands under wheat (Triticum aestivum)–maize (Zea mays) crop rotation in Yanting County, Sichuan, China. Farms from 10 villages in the study area were selected, out of which three sites were considered healthy/ideal sites and used as a reference for the remaining seven targeted sites, and soil samples were collected at depth of 20 cm from these farms. The MDS indicators were selected by using principal component analysis (PCA) followed by Pearson’s correlation on 25 attributes. Based on significant values, eight attributes were retained in the final MDS, including the sucrase level, pH, wilting coefficient, water holding capacity, organic matter, NK ratio, total potassium, and available phosphorus. Based on the results, most of the farmland soils in Yanting County were in a healthy condition, accounting for 61.71% of the surveyed samples, followed by sub-healthy, degraded, and weak soils, accounting for 19.64%, 9.71%, and 8.93%, respectively. The values of most of the indicators at the targeted sites were significantly lower than those at ideal sites. Thus, specific steps should be taken by adding soil organic matter, combined with other fertilizers, to enhance the microbial biomass, enzymatic activities, and other biological activities in the soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Soil Health, Erosion and Remediation)
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17 pages, 5536 KiB  
Article
Comparison and Experimental Study of Cotton Stalk Extraction via Nip Roller Based on Nip Motion Trajectory Equation
by Yichao Wang, Jiaxi Zhang, Yanjun Huo, Zhenwei Wang, Jinming Li and Zhenkun Li
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 950; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060950 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 264
Abstract
In the field of straw recycling, a cotton straw-harvesting mechanism is an important piece of agricultural equipment. The mechanistic analysis method of the harvesting mechanism is a major focus of research and development in this field. Currently, in the mechanistic analysis of the [...] Read more.
In the field of straw recycling, a cotton straw-harvesting mechanism is an important piece of agricultural equipment. The mechanistic analysis method of the harvesting mechanism is a major focus of research and development in this field. Currently, in the mechanistic analysis of the cotton straw recycling mechanism, the kinematic and mechanical analysis of the recycling mechanism is generally the main focus. There is not a lot of research based on the quantitative analysis between different recycling mechanisms. In this study, a clamped cotton straw pulling mechanism is optimized and designed, and two different pulling structures are designed. In addition, a two-dimensional modeling and analysis method is used to establish the two-dimensional equations of motion of the two pulling mechanisms, analyze the leakage and breakage rates of the two clamping structures, predict the final pulling effect, and verify the results of the field tests. According to the analysis, the belt-clamping side has more uniform clamping stress and a larger clamping contact area than the chain-clamping side, and the tangential stress on cotton straw is smaller. Based on the field-test verification, the band-clamping side had a higher pulling net rate by an average of 19.32% and a lower missed pulling rate by an average of 6.01% than the chain-clamping side. Therefore, it was determined that the main reason for the lower pulling net rate of the chain-gripped side than that of the belt-gripped side was the higher pulling breakage rate, and the secondary reason was the high leakage pulling rate. Thus, the feasibility and accuracy of the analytical method of this study are verified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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17 pages, 2966 KiB  
Article
Loop Closure Detection with CNN in RGB-D SLAM for Intelligent Agricultural Equipment
by Haixia Qi, Chaohai Wang, Jianwen Li and Linlin Shi
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 949; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060949 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 257
Abstract
Loop closure detection plays an important role in the construction of reliable maps for intelligent agricultural machinery equipment. With the combination of convolutional neural networks (CNN), its accuracy and real-time performance are better than those based on traditional manual features. However, due to [...] Read more.
Loop closure detection plays an important role in the construction of reliable maps for intelligent agricultural machinery equipment. With the combination of convolutional neural networks (CNN), its accuracy and real-time performance are better than those based on traditional manual features. However, due to the use of small embedded devices in agricultural machinery and the need to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, achieving optimal response speeds becomes challenging, especially when operating on large networks. This emphasizes the need to study in depth the kind of lightweight CNN loop closure detection algorithm more suitable for intelligent agricultural machinery. This paper compares a variety of loop closure detection based on lightweight CNN features. Specifically, we prove that GhostNet with feature reuse can extract image features with both high-dimensional semantic information and low-dimensional geometric information, which can significantly improve the loop closure detection accuracy and real-time performance. To further enhance the speed of detection, we implement Multi-Probe Random Hyperplane Local Sensitive Hashing (LSH) algorithms. We evaluate our approach using both a public dataset and a proprietary greenhouse dataset, employing an incremental data processing method. The results demonstrate that GhostNet and the Linear Scanning Multi-Probe LSH algorithm synergize to meet the precision and real-time requirements of agricultural closed-loop detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Image Processing in Agricultural Applications)
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18 pages, 4010 KiB  
Article
The Impacts of the C/N Ratio on Hydrogen Sulfide Emission and Microbial Community Characteristics during Chicken Manure Composting with Wheat Straw
by Shangying Cai, Yi Ma, Zhenkang Bao, Ziying Yang, Xiangyu Niu, Qingzhen Meng, Dongsheng Qin, Yan Wang, Junfeng Wan and Xiaoying Guo
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060948 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 438
Abstract
Wheat straw (WS) has long been subjected to rough treatment by traditional incineration, which not only results in the waste of biomass resources but also poses a risk of atmospheric pollution and is not conducive to the sustainable utilization of natural resources. With [...] Read more.
Wheat straw (WS) has long been subjected to rough treatment by traditional incineration, which not only results in the waste of biomass resources but also poses a risk of atmospheric pollution and is not conducive to the sustainable utilization of natural resources. With great humification potential, WS can be utilized as a valuable composting material. The study optimized the C/N ratio by mixing WS and chicken manure (CM) as composting raw materials, and found that this method could significantly improve the compost quality. In comparison to the conventional poplar woodchip (PW) conditioning, the incorporation of WS resulted in an elevated composting temperature, an extended high-temperature period, a more expeditious lignocellulose degradation, a notable enhancement in the organic matter content, a suppression of hydrogen sulfide production under low C/N ratio, and a promotion of elemental sulfur conversion, collectively contributing to an enhanced overall quality and environmental friendliness of the compost. Correlation analysis of microbial communities and environmental factors demonstrated that the mixed compost facilitated the growth of actinomycetes and sulfur-transforming bacteria. Additionally, structural equation model indicated that parameters such as temperature and pH value played a key role in the composting process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practical Application of Crop Straw Reuse in Agriculture)
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25 pages, 8502 KiB  
Article
Experimental Structural Safety Analysis of Front-End Loader of Agricultural Tractor
by Jeong-Hun Kim, Dong-Hyeon Gim and Ju-Seok Nam
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 947; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060947 - 18 Jun 2024
Viewed by 291
Abstract
The agricultural front-end loader is an implement attached to the front of tractors to transport various agricultural materials, including soil. Since they are subjected to various loads due to the working environment, their safety analysis in consideration of actual working conditions is required. [...] Read more.
The agricultural front-end loader is an implement attached to the front of tractors to transport various agricultural materials, including soil. Since they are subjected to various loads due to the working environment, their safety analysis in consideration of actual working conditions is required. However, there are no official standardized test codes to consider various actual working environments currently. In this study, the structural safety of a front-end loader for static and fatigue failures was evaluated using new test code reflecting actual working environments. Thirty-four measurement locations were determined as the stress concentration spots of each component of the front-end loader derived through multibody dynamic simulation. The total testing time was set to 1 h, and the test time for each task was determined considering the duty percentage of the actual loader work. The measurement results showed that the maximum stress that exceeds the material’s yield strength occurred at two locations of the mount, which is the connection to the tractor body, resulting in static yielding. For tasks, the pulling and dumping exhibited the highest stress. The task that had the largest impact on fatigue damage was the dumping. The static safety factor was found to be over 1.93 and the fatigue life met the required lifespan at all measurement locations except for those exhibiting static yielding. Therefore, the most vulnerable part of the front-end loader is the mount, and it is necessary to secure the overall structural integrity by robust design for the mount. Full article
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17 pages, 1366 KiB  
Article
Rapid and High-Performance Analysis of Total Nitrogen in Coco-Peat Substrate by Coupling Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy with Multi-Chemometrics
by Bing Lu, Xufeng Wang, Can Hu and Xiangyou Li
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 946; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060946 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 334
Abstract
Nitrogen is an important nutrient element for crop growth. Rapid and accurate acquisition of nitrogen content in cultivation substrate is the key to precise fertilization. In this study, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) was used to detect the total nitrogen (TN) of coco-peat substrate. [...] Read more.
Nitrogen is an important nutrient element for crop growth. Rapid and accurate acquisition of nitrogen content in cultivation substrate is the key to precise fertilization. In this study, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) was used to detect the total nitrogen (TN) of coco-peat substrate. A LIBS spectrum acquisition system was established to collect the spectral line signal of samples with wavelengths ranging from 200 nm to 860 nm. Synergy interval partial least squares (Si-PLS) algorithm and elimination of uninformative variables (UVE) algorithm were used to select the spectral data of TN characteristic lines in coco-peat substrate. Univariate calibration curve and partial least squares regression (PLSR) were used to build mathematical models for the relationship between the spectral data of univariate characteristic spectral lines, full variables and screened multi-variable characteristic spectral lines of samples and reference measurement values of TN. By comparing the detection performance of calibration curves and multivariate spectral prediction models, it was concluded that UVE was used to simplify the number of spectral input variables for the model and PLSR was applied to construct the simplest multivariate model for the measurement of TN in the substrate samples. The model provided the best measurement performance, with the calibration set determination coefficient () and calibration set root mean square error (RMSEC) values of 0.9944 and 0.0382%, respectively; the prediction set determination coefficient () and prediction set root mean square error (RMSEP) had values of 0.9902 and 0.0513%, respectively. These results indicated that the combination of UVE and PLSR could make full use of the variable information related to TN detection in the LIBS spectrum and realize the rapid and high-performance measurement of TN in coco-peat substrate. It would provide a reference for the rapid and quantitative assessment of nutrient elements in other substrate and soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
13 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Emergence and Phenological Development of Herbicide-Sensitive and Herbicide-Resistant Biotypes of Apera Spica-Venti and Winter Wheat under Competition
by Beata Jop, Tomasz Wójtowicz, Katarzyna Marczewska-Kolasa, Mariusz Kucharski and Agnieszka Synowiec
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 945; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060945 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 351
Abstract
As a result of intensive herbicide protection of crops against silky bentgrass (Apera spica-venti (L.) P. Beauv), numerous herbicide-resistant biotypes have been selected, mainly from the group of acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors. We analyzed the development of herbicide-sensitive and herbicide-resistant biotypes of [...] Read more.
As a result of intensive herbicide protection of crops against silky bentgrass (Apera spica-venti (L.) P. Beauv), numerous herbicide-resistant biotypes have been selected, mainly from the group of acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors. We analyzed the development of herbicide-sensitive and herbicide-resistant biotypes of bentgrass and winter wheat under competition, taking into account selected physical and chemical properties of the soil, including nitrogen fertilization. The pot experiment (additive model) was conducted in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. The experimental factors included: (1) bentgrass with different sensitivity levels to herbicides from the groups HRAC/WSSA 1 and HRAC/WSSA 2, specifically two sensitive and three resistant biotypes; (2) two types of soil, sandy and clay; and (3) nitrogen fertilization, both with and without fertilization. Winter wheat and bentgrass development was assessed during each growing season, every 5 or 3 days from September until May, using the BBCH scale. The emergence date of the tested species/biotypes was recorded. The development of competing species was compared based on a new, proposed index: the duration of the developmental phases. As a result, the soil type and fertilization level differentiated wheat and bentgrass emergence dates and development. The autumn development of the competing species was slower and more uniform than the spring one. At the same time, the dynamics of the bentgrass and wheat development in the spring were greater. Bentgrass and winter wheat emerged earlier and grew more intensively on clay and fertilized soil. To sum up, no clear relationship was found between the resistance/sensitivity of bentgrass to herbicides and changes in the phenological development of plants in competition with winter wheat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
9 pages, 223 KiB  
Article
Effects of Inclusion of Mango Peel Waste in Diets of Layer Chickens on Performance and Egg Quality in Kenya
by Everlyne Nawiri, Joyce G. Maina, Judith A. Atela, Jane L. Ambuko and Benjamin Kyalo
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 944; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060944 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 291
Abstract
Alternative ingredients for the manufacture of poultry feeds need to be identified to meet the growing demand. A 42-day feeding trial was conducted to investigate the effects of the inclusion of mango peel waste in layer chicken diets on performance and egg quality. [...] Read more.
Alternative ingredients for the manufacture of poultry feeds need to be identified to meet the growing demand. A 42-day feeding trial was conducted to investigate the effects of the inclusion of mango peel waste in layer chicken diets on performance and egg quality. This study involved one hundred and fifty Isa Brown layer chickens aged 60 weeks. These chickens were assigned to five treatments with graded levels of mango peels: 0% (Treatment 1), 3.5% (Treatment 2), 7% (Treatment 3), 14% (Treatment 4) and 28% (Treatment 5), using a completely randomized design (CRD). Daily egg production was recorded, and weekly measurements included feed intake, specific gravity, egg weight, shell weight and shell thickness. Notably, Treatment 5 exhibited the highest feed conversion ratio (3.09) and Roche yolk color (RYC) fan score (14.3), which was significantly (p < 0.05) different from Treatment 1, with values of 2.36 and 12.4, respectively. Layer chicken fed on T1 had the highest egg weight and egg thickness (6.6 g and 0.44 mm, respectively), differing significantly (p < 0.05) from Treatment T5 eggs (6.3 g and 0.41 mm). It was concluded that mango peels could substitute maize in layer chicken diets up to 7% without affecting production and egg quality. Mango peels are recommended for partial substitution of maize in layer chicken diets and as natural egg yolk pigment to impart the yellow yolk desired by consumers. Full article
15 pages, 1974 KiB  
Article
Effect of an Enriched Elevated Platform Rearing System on the Welfare and Bone Quality of Fattening Pigs
by Yue Yang, Sitong Zhou, Xin Li, Qin Fu, Xiaohong Zhang, Wenbo Ji and Honggui Liu
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060943 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 354
Abstract
An intensive breeding environment usually sacrifices the biological needs of pigs and will have a negative impact on the welfare and production efficiency of pigs. In this study, a bedding elevated platform rearing system was established and its effect on the welfare of [...] Read more.
An intensive breeding environment usually sacrifices the biological needs of pigs and will have a negative impact on the welfare and production efficiency of pigs. In this study, a bedding elevated platform rearing system was established and its effect on the welfare of fattening pigs was evaluated. A total of 456 fattening pigs were divided into the elevated platform rearing system group (EP) and control group (CON). The welfare of pigs during the rearing period (57–97 days of age) and the fattening periods (98–168 days of age) was assessed through behavioral observation, physiological indicators, growth performance, and bone quality. Pigs in the EP group showed less manipulating behavior and more playing behavior than pigs in the CON group during the first 48 h of the test. Moreover, EP pigs expressed more standing, play, and exploratory behaviors and less sitting, lying down, manipulating, and fighting behaviors than the CON pigs during the rearing period. More standing and playing behavior and less sitting, manipulating behavior, and fighting behavior were expressed in the EP group than the CON group during the fattening period. In both of the rearing and fattening periods, serum cortisol concentrations were lower in the EP group than the CON group; C-reactive protein concentrations were significantly higher in the EP group than CON group; TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IgA, IgG, and IgM levels were significantly higher in the EP group than the CON group, but IL-10 levels were significantly lower in the EP group than the CON group. The EP group had less skin lesions and a higher final body weight. Our study confirms that the enriched elevated platform rearing system promotes the expression of positive behaviors and reduced skin and limb lesions, which also improve the growth performance of pigs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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18 pages, 4718 KiB  
Article
Design and Experiment of Dual-Row Seedling Pick-Up Device for High-Speed Automatic Transplanting Machine
by Rencai Yue, Mengjiao Yao, Tengfei Zhang, Jiawei Shi, Jinhao Zhou and Jianping Hu
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 942; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060942 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 459
Abstract
To address the inefficiency and instability of automatic transplanting machines, a dual-row seedling pick-up device and its corresponding control system were developed. Existing seedling end-effectors are primarily mechanically controlled, and the seedling needles can easily cause damage to the interior of the bowl. [...] Read more.
To address the inefficiency and instability of automatic transplanting machines, a dual-row seedling pick-up device and its corresponding control system were developed. Existing seedling end-effectors are primarily mechanically controlled, and the seedling needles can easily cause damage to the interior of the bowl. In order to reduce the damage inflicted by the end-effectors to the bowl, this paper conducted a mechanical analysis of the end-effector. At the same time, a buffer optimization analysis was conducted on the operation of the end-effector, and a flexible pneumatic end-effector for seedling picking was designed. The control system combined the detection of multiple sensors to monitor the process of seedling picking and throwing. By coordinating the lifting cylinder and clamping cylinder, the system effectively reduced seedling pot damage while improving seedling picking efficiency. By setting the operating parameters of the servo motor, the goal of low-speed and high-efficiency seedling picking was achieved. To evaluate the performance of the control system, the linear displacement sensors and acceleration testing systems were used to analyze the performance of the seedling throwing. The results showed that the seedling picking efficiency could reach 180 plants min−1, with no significant difference between the actual measured moving distance and the theoretical setting distance. The positioning error remained stable between 0.5 and 0.9 mm, which met the requirements for seedling picking accuracy. The buffer optimization design reduced the peak acceleration of the end-effector from −22.1 m/s2 to −13.4 m/s2, and the peak value was reduced by 39.4%, which proved the significant effectiveness of the buffer design. A performance test was conducted using 128-hole seed trays and 33-day-old cabbage seedlings for seedling picking and throwing. When the planting frequency reached 90 plants/row·min−1, the average success rate of picking and throwing seedlings was 97.3%. This indicates that the various components of the designed seedling pick-up device work in good coordination during operation, and the control system operates stably. Technical requirements for the automatic mechanical transplanting of tray seedlings were achieved, which can provide reference for research on automatic transplanting machines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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16 pages, 749 KiB  
Article
Novel Technical Parameters-Based Classification of Harvesters Using Principal Component Analysis and Q-Type Cluster Model
by Kibiya Abubakar Yusuf, Edwin O. Amisi, Qishuo Ding, Xinxin Chen, Gaoming Xu, Abdulaziz Nuhu Jibril, Moussita G. Gedeon and Zakariya M. Abdulhamid
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 941; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060941 - 16 Jun 2024
Viewed by 420
Abstract
The advancement of agricultural mechanization necessitates precise and standardized classification based on technical characteristics to enhance green, efficient, and high-quality development. The current lack of scientific and standardized definitions and classifications for various types of agricultural machinery has become a bottleneck, complicating the [...] Read more.
The advancement of agricultural mechanization necessitates precise and standardized classification based on technical characteristics to enhance green, efficient, and high-quality development. The current lack of scientific and standardized definitions and classifications for various types of agricultural machinery has become a bottleneck, complicating the machine selection and affecting the compatibility of the machinery with optimized field operations. To address this complexity, we propose a comprehensive classification method that integrates principal component analysis (PCA), cluster analysis, and the qualitative analysis of the functional components for defining and scientifically classifying harvesters. The key functional and technical properties of harvesters were analyzed, and eight primary parameters (machine weight, cutting width, feed rate, rated power, overall machine length, width, height, and working efficiency) were selected, supplemented by nine key functional components (walking mechanism, cutting device, threshing device, separating device, cleaning device, grain collecting device, grain unloading device, cabin, and track size). In the first step, principal component analysis was performed to reduce the dimensionality of the parameters, yielding three principal components with contribution rates of 41.610%, 28.579%, and 15.134%, respectively. One primary parameter from each component was selected for further analysis. In the second stage, Q-type cluster analysis classified the harvesters based on the squared Euclidean distance between the operational parameters, resulting in three classes of harvesters. Finally, functional component analysis provided detailed insights, further refining the classification into four major categories: mini, small, medium, and large harvesters. The results of this work provide a scientific basis for the definition and classification of the harvester products available on the market. This method offers a robust framework for the rational selection and planning of agricultural machinery, promoting sustainable mechanization with a focus on technical parameters and functional attributes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
18 pages, 3180 KiB  
Article
GC-MS Analysis and Evaluation of Essential Oils as Volatile Biopesticides: Assessing Their Acaricidal Potential against Varroa destructor
by Muhammad Fahad Raza, Moazam Hyder, Chonghui Zhao and Wenfeng Li
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 940; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060940 - 16 Jun 2024
Viewed by 495
Abstract
Honey bees are crucial for ecosystem pollination and honey production, yet the Varroa destructor mite hinders their productivity and health. Efforts to manage Varroa mites with synthetic pesticides have had limited success, highlighting the need for naturally derived acaricides as a primary option. [...] Read more.
Honey bees are crucial for ecosystem pollination and honey production, yet the Varroa destructor mite hinders their productivity and health. Efforts to manage Varroa mites with synthetic pesticides have had limited success, highlighting the need for naturally derived acaricides as a primary option. However, the acaricidal efficacy of essential oils from Salvia officinalis L. (sage), Cannabis sativa (hemp), and Laurus nobilis (laurel) remains to be fully understood. This study aims to investigate the acaricidal efficacy of these three essential oils at varying concentrations and their impact on honey production, focusing on the efficient reduction in Varroa mites. The sugar roll method was employed to assess Varroa mite infestation levels, while GC-MS analysis was utilized to verify the composition of the essential oils. Honey production measurements were also performed. The efficacy rates (%) at concentrations of 15%, 10%, and 5% for hemp oil were 95.4% ± 0.30%, 85.71% ± 0.85%, and 64.48% ± 0.26%, respectively; for sage oil, they were 81.08% ± 0.57%, 69.42% ± 1.72%, and 50.35% ± 0.70%; and for laurel oil, they were 68.96% ± 0.34%, 54.66% ± 0.37%, and 33.58% ± 0.30%, respectively. Key compounds identified include trans-caryophyllene, α-pinene, and viridiflorol in hemp oil; myrcene, limonene, and β-caryophyllene in sage oil; and phytol, β-myrcene, and n-heneicosane in laurel oil. The overall findings indicate that hemp oil is highly effective in controlling Varroa mites. However, further research is needed to evaluate its potential side effects on bees to ensure its sustainability and safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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27 pages, 4524 KiB  
Article
The Significance of Agricultural Modernization Development for Agricultural Carbon Emission Efficiency in China
by Suhan Zhang, Xue Li, Zhen Nie, Yan Wang, Danni Li, Xingpeng Chen, Yiping Liu and Jiaxing Pang
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 939; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060939 - 16 Jun 2024
Viewed by 529
Abstract
Agricultural production contributes to the increase in global carbon emissions. It is crucial to improve output and reduce carbon emissions in the context of agricultural modernization, for which improved carbon emission efficiency is key. However, the role of agricultural modernization in promoting agricultural [...] Read more.
Agricultural production contributes to the increase in global carbon emissions. It is crucial to improve output and reduce carbon emissions in the context of agricultural modernization, for which improved carbon emission efficiency is key. However, the role of agricultural modernization in promoting agricultural carbon emission efficiency is not clear. Hence, the aim of this article is to analyze the spatiotemporal evolution of agricultural modernization and agricultural carbon emission efficiency in China from 2000 to 2019 and to reveal the relationship between agricultural modernization and agricultural carbon emission efficiency. The results showed that (1) in China, the overall level of agricultural modernization has been steadily increasing, and the regional differences are widening, showing a spatial pattern characterized by a gradual decline from the eastern and central regions to the western region. (2) China’s agricultural carbon emission efficiency continues to grow but has not achieved a data envelopment analysis (DEA) effect, with the eastern and western regions having higher agricultural carbon efficiency than the central region. The regional differences first narrow and then expand. (3) Agricultural modernization significantly promotes agricultural carbon emission efficiency in both the province and the neighboring provinces, and the interprovincial spillover effect exceeds the direct effect within the province. A nonlinear correlation exists between agricultural modernization and agricultural carbon emission efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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18 pages, 27241 KiB  
Article
Lightweight U-Net-Based Method for Estimating the Severity of Wheat Fusarium Head Blight
by Lei Shi, Zhihao Liu, Chengkai Yang, Jingkai Lei, Qiang Wang, Fei Yin and Jian Wang
Agriculture 2024, 14(6), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14060938 - 15 Jun 2024
Viewed by 261
Abstract
Wheat Fusarium head blight is one of the major diseases affecting the yield and quality of wheat. Accurate and rapid estimation of disease severity is crucial for implementing disease-resistant breeding and scientific management strategies. Traditional methods for estimating disease severity are complex and [...] Read more.
Wheat Fusarium head blight is one of the major diseases affecting the yield and quality of wheat. Accurate and rapid estimation of disease severity is crucial for implementing disease-resistant breeding and scientific management strategies. Traditional methods for estimating disease severity are complex and inefficient, often failing to provide accurate assessments under field conditions. Therefore, this paper proposes a method using a lightweight U-Net model for segmenting wheat spike disease spots to estimate disease severity. Firstly, the model employs MobileNetv3 as its backbone for feature extraction, significantly reducing the number of parameters and computational demand, thus enhancing segmentation efficiency. Secondly, the backbone network has been augmented with a lightweight Coordinate Attention (CA) module, which integrates lesion position information through channel attention and aggregates features across two spatial dimensions. This allows the model to capture long-range feature correlations and maintain positional information, effectively enhancing the segmentation of wheat spike disease spots while ensuring the model’s lightweight and efficient characteristics. Lastly, depthwise separable convolutions have been introduced in the decoder in place of standard convolutions, further reducing the model’s parameter count while maintaining performance. Experimental results show that the model’s segmentation Mean Intersection over Union (MIoU) reached 88.87%, surpassing the U-Net model by 3.49 percentage points, with a total parameter count of only 4.52 M, one-sixth of the original model. The improved model demonstrates its capability to segment individual wheat spike disease spots under field conditions and estimate the severity of infestation, providing technical support for disease identification research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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