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Agriculture, Volume 5, Issue 3 (September 2015), Pages 367-900

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Open AccessArticle Economic Analysis of Climate Change Best Management Practices in Vermont Agriculture
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 879-900; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030879
Received: 30 April 2015 / Revised: 2 September 2015 / Accepted: 15 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1893 | PDF Full-text (236 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change impacts local agricultural systems in detectable and distinguishable ways from large-scale shifts in water, land, and weather patterns to regionally specific distributions of weeds, pests, and diseases. Best management practices for adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change include
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Climate change impacts local agricultural systems in detectable and distinguishable ways from large-scale shifts in water, land, and weather patterns to regionally specific distributions of weeds, pests, and diseases. Best management practices for adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change include modifications to farm production through adjusted intensity and product types and changing land use through crop siting and tillage practices. Farmer perceptions of risk and profitability of best management practices are key determinants of adoption, which traditional incentive programs like the Environmental Quality Incentive Program attempt to address by providing financial and technical support. To ensure that payments offered through these programs that maximize adoption, regional incentive payments must be based upon locally established costs. This paper focuses on the cost of implementing and maintaining climate change specific best management practices (CCBMPs) for twelve diverse farms in Vermont. Specifically, three CCBMPs for Vermont are examined: cover cropping, management intensive rotational grazing (MIRG), and riparian buffer strips. Results show the average cost for cover cropping is $129.24/acre, MIRG is $79.82/acre, and a tree based riparian buffer strip cost $807.33/acre. We conclude that existing incentive payments for cover cropping and MIRG are below costs, likely resulting in under-adoption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle Effects of Olive Mill Wastewater on Soil Microarthropods and Soil Chemistry in Two Different Cultivation Scenarios in Israel and Palestinian Territories
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 857-878; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030857
Received: 30 May 2015 / Revised: 12 August 2015 / Accepted: 31 August 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2230 | PDF Full-text (565 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although olive mill wastewater (OMW) is often applied onto soil and is known to be phytotoxic, its impact on soil fauna is still unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate how OMW spreading in olive orchards affects Oribatida and Collembola communities,
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Although olive mill wastewater (OMW) is often applied onto soil and is known to be phytotoxic, its impact on soil fauna is still unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate how OMW spreading in olive orchards affects Oribatida and Collembola communities, physicochemical soil properties and their interdependency. For this, we treated plots in two study sites (Gilat, Bait Reema) with OMW. Among others, the sites differed in irrigation practice, soil type and climate. We observed that soil acidity and water repellency developed to a lower extent in Gilat than in Bait Reema. This may be explained by irrigation-induced dilution and leaching of OMW compounds in Gilat. In Bait Reema, OMW application suppressed emergence of Oribatida and induced a community shift, but the abundance of Collembola increased in OMW and water-treated plots. In Gilat, Oribatida abundance increased after OMW application. The effects of OMW application on soil biota result from an interaction between stimulation of biological activity and suppression of sensitive species by toxic compounds. Environmental and management conditions are relevant for the degree and persistence of the effects. Moreover, this study underlines the need for detailed research on the ecotoxicological effects of OMW at different application rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Organic Cultivation of Tomato in India with Recycled Slaughterhouse Wastes: Evaluation of Fertilizer and Fruit Safety
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 826-856; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030826
Received: 29 June 2015 / Revised: 28 August 2015 / Accepted: 6 September 2015 / Published: 16 September 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2238 | PDF Full-text (20363 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental and health safety of recycled slaughterhouse wastes-derived fertilizer and the produce obtained through its application is not well understood. Waste bovine blood and rumen digesta were mixed, cooked and sun-dried to obtain bovine-blood-and-rumen-digesta-mixture (BBRDM, NPK 30.36:1:5.75). 1.26 ± 0.18 log CFU mL
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Environmental and health safety of recycled slaughterhouse wastes-derived fertilizer and the produce obtained through its application is not well understood. Waste bovine blood and rumen digesta were mixed, cooked and sun-dried to obtain bovine-blood-and-rumen-digesta-mixture (BBRDM, NPK 30.36:1:5.75). 1.26 ± 0.18 log CFU mL−1 fecal coliforms were recovered in BBRDM. E. coli O157:H7, Mycobacteria, Clostridium sp., Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp. and Brucella sp. were absent. No re-growth of pathogens was observed after 60 days storage in sealed bags and in the open. However, prions and viruses were not evaluated. Heavy metals (Pb, Cr, Cd, Cu, Zn, As, Ni, Mn) concentrations in BBRDM were within internationally permissible limits. BBRDM was applied for field cultivation of tomato during 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. Lycopene and nitrate contents of BBRDM-grown tomatoes were higher than Diammonium phosphate (DAP) + potash-grown tomatoes because BBRDM supplied 2.5 times more the amount of nitrogen than DAP (NPK 18:46:0) + potash (NPK 0:0:44). Heavy metals and nitrate/nitrite concentrations in tomatoes were within internationally acceptable limits. BBRDM-grown tomatoes showed no mutagenic activity in the Ames test. Sub-acute toxicity tests on Wistar rats fed with BBRDM-grown tomatoes did not show adverse clinical picture. Thus, no immediate environmental or health risks associated with BBRDM and the tomatoes produced were identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Efficacy of Chicken Litter and Wood Biochars and Their Activated Counterparts in Heavy Metal Clean up from Wastewater
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 806-825; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030806
Received: 30 June 2015 / Revised: 8 September 2015 / Accepted: 10 September 2015 / Published: 16 September 2015
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1925 | PDF Full-text (1668 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is known that properties of activated biochars are tightly associated with those of the original feedstock as well as pyrolysis and activation conditions. This study examined two feedstock types, pine wood shavings and chicken litter, to produce biochars at two different pyrolysis
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It is known that properties of activated biochars are tightly associated with those of the original feedstock as well as pyrolysis and activation conditions. This study examined two feedstock types, pine wood shavings and chicken litter, to produce biochars at two different pyrolysis temperatures and subsequently activated by steam, acid or base. In order to measure activation efficiency, all materials were characterized for their properties and ability to remediate two well-known heavy metals of concern: copper and arsenic. Base activated biochars were superior in arsenic adsorption, to acid or steam activated samples, but increase in adsorption was not significant to warrant use. For wood biochars, significant increases of surface functionality as related to oxygen bearing groups and surface charge were observed upon acid activation which led to increased copper ion adsorption. However, oxygen bearing functionalities were not sufficient to explain why chicken litter biochars and steam activated biochars appeared to be significantly superior to wood shavings in positively charged metal ion adsorption. For chicken litter, functionality of respective biochars could be related to phosphate containing groups inherited from feedstock composition, favorably positioning this feedstock in metal ion remediation applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar on Soil Fertility and Crop Production)
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Open AccessArticle Growth Strategy of Rhizomatous and Non-Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Populations in Response to Defoliation
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 791-805; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030791
Received: 6 July 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 7 September 2015 / Published: 11 September 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1688 | PDF Full-text (256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the morphology of rhizome production, in two contrasting rhizomatous (R) and non-rhizomatous (NR) tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort) populations, and to assess whether rhizome production is associated with changed biomass allocation or plant
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The aim of this study was to determine the morphology of rhizome production, in two contrasting rhizomatous (R) and non-rhizomatous (NR) tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort) populations, and to assess whether rhizome production is associated with changed biomass allocation or plant growth pattern. Growth of R and NR populations was compared, under hard defoliation (H, 50 mm stubble), lax defoliation (L, 100 mm stubble), or without defoliation (U, uncut). Populations were cloned and grown in a glasshouse and defoliated every three weeks, with destructive harvests performed at 6, 12 and 18 weeks. R plants allocated more biomass to root and less to pseudostem than NR plants. Plant tiller numbers were greatly reduced by defoliation, and R and NR populations differed in leaf formation strategy. R plants had narrower leaves than NR, but their leaves were longer, because of greater leaf elongation duration. R plants were more plastic than NR plants in response to defoliation. Ultimately, biomass allocation to rhizomes did not differ between populations but R plants exhibited a subtle shift in distribution of internode length with a few longer internode segments typically located on secondary and tertiary tillers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview The Role iNDF in the Regulation of Feed Intake and the Importance of Its Assessment in Subtropical Ruminant Systems (the Role of iNDF in the Regulation of Forage Intake)
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 778-790; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030778
Received: 23 July 2015 / Revised: 17 August 2015 / Accepted: 24 August 2015 / Published: 10 September 2015
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1748 | PDF Full-text (215 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The intake and digestibility of forages is largely influenced by the fibre content and specifically the neutral detergent fibre (NDF). Currently, the focus in commercial diet formulation and the modelling of animal performance is on the total NDF so as to achieve higher
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The intake and digestibility of forages is largely influenced by the fibre content and specifically the neutral detergent fibre (NDF). Currently, the focus in commercial diet formulation and the modelling of animal performance is on the total NDF so as to achieve higher ruminant feed intakes, higher production performance and rumen health. Rations are often formulated for a specific level of NDF in the diet assuming that the digestibility of NDF operates over a narrow range. Forage NDF, particularly in C4 forages, varies greatly in potential digestibility within the rumen. This potential digestibility is defined as the NDF fraction which disappears after a long incubation period and the remaining indigestible component of NDF (iNDF) is unavailable for microbial digestion. It is hypothesized that this dietary iNDF has an important role in contributing to rumen digesta load and voluntary intake. Formulating a diet to a specific level of NDF without reference to the iNDF could markedly affect the resulting intake, digestibility and metabolisable energy (ME) content of the diet. It is concluded that nutritional models need to be modified to accept directly determined iNDF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutritional Toxicology and Animal Nutrition)
Open AccessReview Aflatoxicosis: Lessons from Toxicity and Responses to Aflatoxin B1 in Poultry
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 742-777; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030742
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 31 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 8 September 2015
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2990 | PDF Full-text (596 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This review is a comprehensive introduction to the effects of poultry exposure to the toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxin aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). The relationship between AFB1 sensitivity and metabolism, major direct and indirect effects of AFB1, recent studies
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This review is a comprehensive introduction to the effects of poultry exposure to the toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxin aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). The relationship between AFB1 sensitivity and metabolism, major direct and indirect effects of AFB1, recent studies of gene expression and transcriptome responses to exposure, and mitigation strategies to reduce toxicity are discussed. Exposure to AFB1 primarily occurs by consumption of contaminated corn, grain or other feed components. Low levels of residual AFB1 in poultry feeds can cause reduction in growth, feed conversion, egg production, and compromised immune functions, resulting in significant economic costs to producers. Thus, AFB1 acts as a “force multiplier” synergizing the adverse effects of microbial pathogens and other agents, and factors detrimental to poultry health. Domestic turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are one of the most sensitive animals known to AFB1 due, in large part, to a combination of efficient hepatic bioactivation by cytochromes P450 1A5 and 3A37, and deficient hepatic glutathione-S-transferase (GST)-mediated detoxification. Because of their sensitivity, turkeys are a good model to investigate chemopreventive treatments and feed additives for their ability to reduce AFB1 toxicity. Transcriptome analysis (RNA-seq) of turkey poults (liver and spleen) has identified AFB1-induced gene expression changes in pathways of apoptosis, carcinogenesis, lipid regulation, antimicrobial activity, cytotoxicity and antigen presentation. Current research focuses on further identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying AFB1 toxicity with the goal of reducing aflatoxicosis and improving poultry health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutritional Toxicology and Animal Nutrition)
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Open AccessTechnical Note Fourfold Increase in Pumpkin Yield in Response to Low-Dosage Root Zone Application of Urine-Enhanced Biochar to a Fertile Tropical Soil
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 723-741; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030723
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 28 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 7 September 2015
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 3789 | PDF Full-text (517 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A widely abundant and invasive forest shrub, Eupatorium adenophorum, was pyrolyzed in a cost-efficient flame curtain kiln to produce biochar. The resulting biochar fulfilled all the requirements for premium quality, according to the European Biochar Certificate. The biochar was either applied alone
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A widely abundant and invasive forest shrub, Eupatorium adenophorum, was pyrolyzed in a cost-efficient flame curtain kiln to produce biochar. The resulting biochar fulfilled all the requirements for premium quality, according to the European Biochar Certificate. The biochar was either applied alone or mixed with fresh cow urine (1:1 volume) to test its capacity to serve as slow release fertilizer in a pumpkin field trial in Nepal. Treatments included cow-manure compost combined with (i) urine-only; (ii) biochar-only or (iii) urine-loaded biochar. All materials were applied directly to the root zone at a biochar dry matter content of 750 kg·ha−1 before seeding. The urine-biochar treatment led to a pumpkin yield of 82.6 t·ha−1, an increase of more than 300% compared with the treatment where only urine was applied, and an 85% increase compared with the biochar-only treatment. This study showed for the first time that a low-dosage root zone application of urine-enhanced biochar led to substantial yield increases in a fertile silt loam soil. This was tentatively explained by the formation of organic coating of inner pore biochar surfaces by the urine impregnation, which improved the capacity of the biochar to capture and exchange plant nutrients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar on Soil Fertility and Crop Production)
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Open AccessReview An Overview on the Use of Infrared Sensors for in Field, Proximal and at Harvest Monitoring of Cereal Crops
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 713-722; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030713
Received: 6 May 2015 / Revised: 19 August 2015 / Accepted: 24 August 2015 / Published: 27 August 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1714 | PDF Full-text (175 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Farmers are increasingly demanding rapid, cost-effective, easy-to-use and non-destructive methods for monitoring changes in the physical and chemical characteristics of crops and plants from the early stages of crop development until harvest. Remote and proximal sensor tools have been used recently to monitor
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Farmers are increasingly demanding rapid, cost-effective, easy-to-use and non-destructive methods for monitoring changes in the physical and chemical characteristics of crops and plants from the early stages of crop development until harvest. Remote and proximal sensor tools have been used recently to monitor different aspects of cereal production (e.g., fertilization, crop diseases). Most of these tools are characterized as non-destructive, non-invasive and easy-to-use, and most of them are based in near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. This article reviews recent and potential applications for the use of proximal sensors based on NIR spectroscopy to monitor dry matter (DM), yield, nitrogen and diseases in different cereal crops. Full article
Open AccessArticle Aerobic and Anaerobic Transformations in Estrogens and Nutrients in Swine Manure: Environmental Consequences
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 697-712; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030697
Received: 4 August 2015 / Revised: 14 August 2015 / Accepted: 19 August 2015 / Published: 26 August 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2077 | PDF Full-text (1187 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Pig manure is an excellent fertilizer and rich source of organic carbon and nitrogen compounds such organic nitrogen (O-N) (95% of total nitrogen) that is plant-unavailable-nitrogen (PUN) and mineralized nitrogen (about 1% of total nitrogen) such as ammonium (NH4+) and
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Pig manure is an excellent fertilizer and rich source of organic carbon and nitrogen compounds such organic nitrogen (O-N) (95% of total nitrogen) that is plant-unavailable-nitrogen (PUN) and mineralized nitrogen (about 1% of total nitrogen) such as ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3) that are plant-available-nitrogen (PAN). In addition, manure also contains two forms of estrogens: (i) poorly estrogenic thus essentially nontoxic conjugated estrogens (cEs) such as estrone (cE1), estradiol (cE2) and estriol (cE3); and (ii) highly estrogenic and toxic free estrogens (fEs) such as fE2, fE1 and fE3. This study showed that aerobic processing reduced concentrations of total carbon (TC), O-N, PAN and NH4+/NH3 ratio, transiently hydrolyzed cEs (cE2 > cE1 > cE3) into corresponding fEs, transiently increased estrogenic activity and potential toxicity, and rapidly degraded fEs (fE2, fE1 > fE3), thus reducing the estrogenic activity in manure. Unlike aerobic processing, anaerobic processing stabilized and increased PAN and NH4+/NH3 ratio, thus increasing the manure’s fertilizer value. However, anaerobic processing, relative to aerobic processing, poorly hydrolyzed cEs (reducing transient toxicity and increasing reserve toxicity potential) and poorly degraded fEs (increasing toxicity) in manure. Thus, aerobic and anaerobic environments have distinct effects on manures’ PAN and estrogenic activity, presenting an interesting dilemma: anaerobic incubation that increases manures’ PAN does not effectively degrade estrogens, while aerobic incubation that effectively degrades estrogens (after transiently increasing their estrogenic activity) also decreases PAN, thus making manure less profitable. New techniques are need to fully use manure as organic fertilizer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Waste Management)
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Open AccessReview Leaf Length Variation in Perennial Forage Grasses
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 682-696; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030682
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 12 August 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2201 | PDF Full-text (852 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Leaf length is a key factor in the economic value of different grass species and cultivars in forage production. It is also important for the survival of individual plants within a sward. The objective of this paper is to discuss the basis of
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Leaf length is a key factor in the economic value of different grass species and cultivars in forage production. It is also important for the survival of individual plants within a sward. The objective of this paper is to discuss the basis of within-species variation in leaf length. Selection for leaf length has been highly efficient, with moderate to high narrow sense heritability. Nevertheless, the genetic regulation of leaf length is complex because it involves many genes with small individual effects. This could explain the low stability of QTL found in different studies. Leaf length has a strong response to environmental conditions. However, when significant genotype × environment interactions have been identified, their effects have been smaller than the main effects. Recent modelling-based research suggests that many of the reported environmental effects on leaf length and genotype × environment interactions could be biased. Indeed, it has been shown that leaf length is an emergent property strongly affected by the architectural state of the plant during significant periods prior to leaf emergence. This approach could lead to improved understanding of the factors affecting leaf length, as well as better estimates of the main genetic effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Biochars Derived from Gasified Feedstocks Increase the Growth and Improve Nutrient Acquisition of Triticum aestivum (L.) Grown in Agricultural Alfisols
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 668-681; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030668
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 28 July 2015 / Accepted: 12 August 2015 / Published: 19 August 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2007 | PDF Full-text (665 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Biochars are produced by low-oxygen gasification or pyrolysis of organic waste products, and can be co-produced with energy, achieving waste diversion and delivering a soil amendment that can improve agricultural yields. Although many studies have reported the agronomic benefits of biochars produced from
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Biochars are produced by low-oxygen gasification or pyrolysis of organic waste products, and can be co-produced with energy, achieving waste diversion and delivering a soil amendment that can improve agricultural yields. Although many studies have reported the agronomic benefits of biochars produced from pyrolysis, few have interrogated the ability of gasified biochars to improve crop productivity. An earlier study described the ability of a biochar that was derived from gasified Kentucky bluegrass (KB) seed screenings to impact the chemistry of acidic agricultural soils. However, that study did not measure the effects of the biochar amendment on plant growth or on nutrient acquisition. To quantify these effects we conducted a greenhouse study that evaluated wheat grown in agricultural soils amended with either the KB-based biochar or a biochar derived from a blend of woody mixed-waste. Our studies indicated that biochar amended soils promoted the growth of wheat in these agricultural alfisols. Our elemental analysis indicated that an attenuation of metal toxicity was likely responsible for the increased plant growth. The results of our study are placed in the context of our previous studies that characterized KB-sourced biochar and its effects on soil chemistry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar on Soil Fertility and Crop Production)
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Open AccessArticle Temperature Impact on the Forage Quality of Two Wheat Cultivars with Contrasting Capacity to Accumulate Sugars
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 649-667; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030649
Received: 26 May 2015 / Revised: 26 May 2015 / Accepted: 10 August 2015 / Published: 17 August 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1864 | PDF Full-text (328 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Wheat is increasingly used as a dual-purpose crop (for forage and grain production) worldwide. Plants encounter low temperatures in winter, which commonly results in sugar accumulation. High sugar levels might have a positive impact on forage digestibility, but may also lead to an
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Wheat is increasingly used as a dual-purpose crop (for forage and grain production) worldwide. Plants encounter low temperatures in winter, which commonly results in sugar accumulation. High sugar levels might have a positive impact on forage digestibility, but may also lead to an increased risk of bloat. We hypothesized that cultivars with a lower capacity to accumulate sugars when grown under cold conditions may have a lower bloat risk than higher sugar-accumulating genotypes, without showing significantly lower forage digestibility. This possibility was studied using two wheat cultivars with contrasting sugar accumulation at low temperature. A series of experiments with contrasting temperatures were performed in controlled-temperature field enclosures (three experiments) and growth chambers (two experiments). Plants were grown at either cool (8.1 °C–9.3 °C) or warm (15.7 °C–16.5 °C) conditions in field enclosures, and at either 5 °C or 25 °C in growth chambers. An additional treatment consisted of transferring plants from cool to warm conditions in the field enclosures and from 5 °C to 25 °C in the growth chambers. The plants in the field enclosure experiments were exposed to higher irradiances (i.e., 30%–100%) than those in the growth chambers. Our results show that (i) low temperatures led to an increased hemicellulose content, in parallel with sugar accumulation; (ii) low temperatures produced negligible changes in in vitro dry matter digestibility while leading to a higher in vitro rumen gas production, especially in the higher sugar-accumulating cultivar; (iii) transferring plants from cool to warm conditions led to a sharp decrease in in vitro rumen gas production in both cultivars; and (iv) light intensity (in contrast to temperature) appeared to have a lower impact on forage quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Estimated Fresh Produce Shrink and Food Loss in U.S. Supermarkets
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 626-648; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030626
Received: 15 April 2015 / Revised: 16 April 2015 / Accepted: 28 July 2015 / Published: 4 August 2015
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5113 | PDF Full-text (647 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Data on fresh fruit and vegetable shrink in supermarkets is important to help understand where and how much shrink could potentially be reduced by supermarkets to increase their profitability. This study provides: (1) shrink estimates for 24 fresh fruits and 31 fresh vegetables
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Data on fresh fruit and vegetable shrink in supermarkets is important to help understand where and how much shrink could potentially be reduced by supermarkets to increase their profitability. This study provides: (1) shrink estimates for 24 fresh fruits and 31 fresh vegetables in U.S. supermarkets in 2011 and 2012; and (2) retail-level food loss. For each covered commodity, supplier shipment data was aggregated from a sample of 2900 stores from one national and four regional supermarket retailers in the United States, and this sum was then compared with aggregated point-of-sale data from the same stores to estimate the amount of shrink by weight and shrink rates. The 2011–2012 average annual shrink rates for individual fresh vegetables varied from 2.2 percent for sweet corn to 62.9 percent for turnip greens and for individual fresh fruit ranged from 4.1 percent for bananas to 43.1 percent for papayas. When these shrink estimates were used in the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series, annual food loss for these commodities totaled 5.9 billion pounds of fresh fruit and 6.1 billion pounds of fresh vegetables. This study extends the literature by providing important information on where and how much shrink could potentially be reduced. Precise comparisons across studies are difficult. This information, combined with information on available and cost-effective technologies and practices, may help supermarkets target food loss reduction efforts though food loss will never be zero. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fresh Produce Wastage)
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Open AccessReview Ecophysiology of C4 Forage Grasses—Understanding Plant Growth for Optimising Their Use and Management
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 598-625; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030598
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 20 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 29 July 2015
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Abstract
Grazing management has been the focus of the research with forage plants in Brazil for many years. Only in the last two decades, however, significant changes and advances have occurred regarding the understanding of the key factors and processes that determine adequate use
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Grazing management has been the focus of the research with forage plants in Brazil for many years. Only in the last two decades, however, significant changes and advances have occurred regarding the understanding of the key factors and processes that determine adequate use of tropical forage plants in pastures. The objective of this review is to provide an historical overview of the research with forage plants and grasslands in Brazil, highlighting advances, trends, and results, as well as to describe the current state of the art and identify future perspectives and challenges. The information is presented in a systematic manner, favoring an integrated view of the different trends and research philosophies. A critical appraisal is given of the need for revision and change of paradigms as a means of improving and consolidating the knowledge on animal production from pastures. Such analysis idealizes efficient, sound and sustainable grazing management practices necessary to realize the existing potential for animal production in the tropics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Nutrient Composition, Forage Parameters, and Antioxidant Capacity of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, L.) in Response to Saline Irrigation Water
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 577-597; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030577
Received: 17 April 2015 / Revised: 16 July 2015 / Accepted: 20 July 2015 / Published: 28 July 2015
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Abstract
Although alfalfa is moderately tolerant of salinity, the effects of salinity on nutrient composition and forage parameters are poorly understood. In addition, there are no data on the effect of salinity on the antioxidant capacity of alfalfa. We evaluated four non-dormant, salinity-tolerant commercial
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Although alfalfa is moderately tolerant of salinity, the effects of salinity on nutrient composition and forage parameters are poorly understood. In addition, there are no data on the effect of salinity on the antioxidant capacity of alfalfa. We evaluated four non-dormant, salinity-tolerant commercial cultivars, irrigated with saline water with electrical conductivities of 3.1, 7.2, 12.7, 18.4, 24.0, and 30.0 dS·m−1, designed to simulate drainage waters from the California Central Valley. Alfalfa shoots were evaluated for nutrient composition, forage parameters, and antioxidant capacity. Salinity significantly increased shoot N, P, Mg, and S, but decreased Ca and K. Alfalfa micronutrients were also affected by salinity, but to a lesser extent. Na and Cl increased significantly with increasing salinity. Salinity slightly improved forage parameters by significantly increasing crude protein, the net energy of lactation, and the relative feed value. All cultivars maintained their antioxidant capacity regardless of salinity level. The results indicate that alfalfa can tolerate moderate to high salinity while maintaining nutrient composition, antioxidant capacity, and slightly improved forage parameters, thus meeting the standards required for dairy cattle feed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Additives and Fuel Blending on Emissions and Ash-Related Problems from Small-Scale Combustion of Reed Canary Grass
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 561-576; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030561
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 14 July 2015 / Accepted: 20 July 2015 / Published: 24 July 2015
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Abstract
Agricultural producers are interested in using biomass available on farms to substitute fossil fuels for heat production. However, energy crops like reed canary grass contain high nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), potassium (K) and other ash-forming elements which lead to increased emissions of gases
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Agricultural producers are interested in using biomass available on farms to substitute fossil fuels for heat production. However, energy crops like reed canary grass contain high nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), potassium (K) and other ash-forming elements which lead to increased emissions of gases and particulate matter (PM) and ash-related operational problems (e.g., melting) during combustion. To address these problematic behaviors, reed canary grass was blended with wood (50 wt%) and fuel additives (3 wt%) such as aluminum silicates (sewage sludge), calcium (limestone) and sulfur (lignosulfonate) based additives. When burned in a top-feed pellet boiler (29 kW), the four blends resulted in a 17%–29% decrease of PM concentrations compared to pure reed canary grass probably because of a reduction of K release to flue gas. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions varied according to fuel N and S contents. This explains the lower NOx and SO2 levels obtained with wood based products and the higher SO2 generation with the grass/lignosulfonate blend. The proportion of clinkers found in combustion ash was greatly lessened (27%–98%) with the use of additives, except for lignosulfonate. The positive effects of some additives may allow agricultural fuels to become viable alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Transferability of Models for Estimating Paddy Rice Biomass from Spatial Plant Height Data
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 538-560; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030538
Received: 6 May 2015 / Revised: 6 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 July 2015 / Published: 23 July 2015
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Abstract
It is known that plant height is a suitable parameter for estimating crop biomass. The aim of this study was to confirm the validity of spatial plant height data, which is derived from terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), as a non-destructive estimator for biomass
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It is known that plant height is a suitable parameter for estimating crop biomass. The aim of this study was to confirm the validity of spatial plant height data, which is derived from terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), as a non-destructive estimator for biomass of paddy rice on the field scale. Beyond that, the spatial and temporal transferability of established biomass regression models were investigated to prove the robustness of the method and evaluate the suitability of linear and exponential functions. In each growing season of two years, three campaigns were carried out on a field experiment and on a farmer’s conventionally managed field. Crop surface models (CSMs) were generated from the TLS-derived point clouds for calculating plant height with a very high spatial resolution of 1 cm. High coefficients of determination between CSM-derived and manually measured plant heights (R2: 0.72 to 0.91) confirm the applicability of the approach. Yearly averaged differences between the measurements were ~7% and ~9%. Biomass regression models were established from the field experiment data sets, based on strong coefficients of determination between plant height and dry biomass (R2: 0.66 to 0.86 and 0.65 to 0.84 for linear and exponential models, respectively). The spatial and temporal transferability of the models to the farmer’s conventionally managed fields is supported by strong coefficients of determination between estimated and measured values (R2: 0.60 to 0.90 and 0.56 to 0.85 for linear and exponential models, respectively). Hence, the suitability of TLS-derived spatial plant height as a non-destructive estimator for biomass of paddy rice on the field scale was verified and the transferability demonstrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote sensing for crop production and management)
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Open AccessReview Mycotoxins: Producing Fungi and Mechanisms of Phytotoxicity
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 492-537; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030492
Received: 19 May 2015 / Revised: 13 July 2015 / Accepted: 16 July 2015 / Published: 23 July 2015
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 2823 | PDF Full-text (639 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites, toxic to humans, animals and plants. Among the hundreds of known mycotoxins, aflatoxins, citrinin, patulin, penicillic acid, tenuazonic acid, ochratoxin A, cytochalasins, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins, fusarin C, fusaric acid, and zearalenone are considered the types that most contaminate cereal
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Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites, toxic to humans, animals and plants. Among the hundreds of known mycotoxins, aflatoxins, citrinin, patulin, penicillic acid, tenuazonic acid, ochratoxin A, cytochalasins, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins, fusarin C, fusaric acid, and zearalenone are considered the types that most contaminate cereal grain. The majority of the mycotoxins in these groups are produced by three fungal genera: Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium. These metabolites primarily affect the seed quality, germination, viability, seedling vigour, growth of root and cleoptile. Additionally, since the fungi responsible for the production of these mycotoxins are often endophytes that infect and colonize living plant tissues, accumulation of mycotoxins in the plant tissues may at times be associated with development of plant disease symptoms. The presence of mycotoxins, even in the absence of disease symptoms, may still have subtle biological effects on the physiology of plants. Several studies highlight the toxic effects of mycotoxins on animals and cell lines but little is known about the mode of action of most of these metabolites on plant cells. The most important mycotoxins with phytotoxic effects and their producers in addition to their discovery are briefly outlined below and will be addressed in this article. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phytotoxic Fungal Metabolites)
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Open AccessReview Beneficial Effects of Temperate Forage Legumes that Contain Condensed Tannins
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 475-491; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030475
Received: 21 May 2015 / Revised: 10 July 2015 / Accepted: 13 July 2015 / Published: 20 July 2015
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Abstract
The two temperate forage legumes containing condensed tannins (CT) that promote ruminant production are birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.; BFT) and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.; SF). Both are well-adapted to the cool-temperate climate and alkaline soils of the Mountain West USA.
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The two temperate forage legumes containing condensed tannins (CT) that promote ruminant production are birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.; BFT) and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.; SF). Both are well-adapted to the cool-temperate climate and alkaline soils of the Mountain West USA. Condensed tannins comprise a diverse family of bioactive chemicals with multiple beneficial functions for ruminants, including suppression of internal parasites and enteric methane. Birdsfoot trefoil contains 10 to 40 g·CT·kg−1 dry matter (DM), while SF contains 30 to 80 g·CT·kg−1 DM. Our studies have focused on these two plant species and have demonstrated consistently elevated rates of gain for beef calves grazing both BFT and SF. Novel results from our BFT research include carcass dressing percentages and consumer sensory evaluations equivalent to feedlot-finished steers and significantly greater than grass-finished steers, but with omega-3 fatty acid concentrations equal to grass-finished beef. We have further demonstrated that ruminants fed BFT or SF will consume more endophyte-infected tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.) forage or seed than ruminants fed a non-CT forage legume. There is great potential value for sustainable livestock production in the use of highly digestible, nitrogen-fixing legumes containing tannins demonstrated to improve ruminant productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview Adverse Effects of Larkspur (Delphinium spp.) on Cattle
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 456-474; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030456
Received: 14 May 2015 / Revised: 8 July 2015 / Accepted: 10 July 2015 / Published: 16 July 2015
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Abstract
There are numerous species of larkspur (Delphinium spp.) in North America. Larkspurs are a major cause of cattle losses on western ranges in the USA, especially on foothill and mountain rangelands. The toxicity of larkspur species is due to various norditerpenoid alkaloids.
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There are numerous species of larkspur (Delphinium spp.) in North America. Larkspurs are a major cause of cattle losses on western ranges in the USA, especially on foothill and mountain rangelands. The toxicity of larkspur species is due to various norditerpenoid alkaloids. In this article, we review the current knowledge regarding larkspur ecology and distribution, analytical technologies to study and quantify the toxins in larkspur, the toxicology of the larkspur plants and their individual toxins, known genetic variations in larkspur susceptibility, and current management recommendations to mitigate losses from larkspur poisoning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutritional Toxicology and Animal Nutrition)
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Open AccessCommunication Extension of Small-Scale Postharvest Horticulture Technologies—A Model Training and Services Center
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 441-455; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030441
Received: 14 April 2015 / Revised: 23 June 2015 / Accepted: 9 July 2015 / Published: 15 July 2015
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Abstract
A pilot Postharvest Training and Services Center (PTSC) was launched in October 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania as part of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project. The five key components of the PTSC are (1) training of postharvest trainers, (2)
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A pilot Postharvest Training and Services Center (PTSC) was launched in October 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania as part of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project. The five key components of the PTSC are (1) training of postharvest trainers, (2) postharvest training and demonstrations for local small-scale clientele, (3) adaptive research, (4) postharvest services, and (5) retail sales of postharvest tools and supplies. During the years of 2011–2012, a one year e-learning program was provided to 36 young horticultural professionals from seven Sub-Saharan African countries. These postharvest specialists went on to train more than 13,000 local farmers, extension workers, food processors, and marketers in their home countries in the year following completion of their course. Evaluators found that these specialists had trained an additional 9300 people by November 2014. When asked about adoption by their local trainees, 79% reported examples of their trainees using improved postharvest practices. From 2012–2013, the project supported 30 multi-day training programs, and the evaluation found that many of the improved practices being promoted were adopted by the trainees and led to increased earnings. Three PTSC components still require attention. Research activities initiated during the project are incomplete, and successful sales of postharvest goods and services will require commitment and improved partnering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fresh Produce Wastage)
Open AccessReview The Occurrence and Toxicity of Indospicine to Grazing Animals
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 427-440; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030427
Received: 17 May 2015 / Revised: 3 July 2015 / Accepted: 6 July 2015 / Published: 13 July 2015
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Abstract
Indospicine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid which occurs in Indigofera species with widespread prevalence in grazing pastures across tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. It accumulates in the tissues of grazing livestock after ingestion of Indigofera. It is a competitive inhibitor
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Indospicine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid which occurs in Indigofera species with widespread prevalence in grazing pastures across tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. It accumulates in the tissues of grazing livestock after ingestion of Indigofera. It is a competitive inhibitor of arginase and causes both liver degeneration and abortion. Indospicine hepatoxicity occurs universally across animal species but the degree varies considerably between species, with dogs being particularly sensitive. The magnitude of canine sensitivity is such that ingestion of naturally indospicine-contaminated horse and camel meat has caused secondary poisoning of dogs, raising significant industry concern. Indospicine impacts on the health and production of grazing animals per se has been less widely documented. Livestock grazing Indigofera have a chronic and cumulative exposure to this toxin, with such exposure experimentally shown to induce both hepatotoxicity and embryo-lethal effects in cattle and sheep. In extensive pasture systems, where animals are not closely monitored, the resultant toxicosis may well occur after prolonged exposure but either be undetected, or even if detected not be attributable to a particular cause. Indospicine should be considered as a possible cause of animal poor performance, particularly reduced weight gain or reproductive losses, in pastures where Indigofera are prevalent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutritional Toxicology and Animal Nutrition)
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Open AccessArticle A Modified Thermal Time Model Quantifying Germination Response to Temperature for C3 and C4 Species in Temperate Grassland
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 412-426; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030412
Received: 15 May 2015 / Revised: 26 June 2015 / Accepted: 30 June 2015 / Published: 6 July 2015
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1975 | PDF Full-text (309 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Thermal-based germination models are widely used to predict germination rate and germination timing of plants. However, comparison of model parameters between large numbers of species is rare. In this study, seeds of 27 species including 12 C4 and 15 C3 species
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Thermal-based germination models are widely used to predict germination rate and germination timing of plants. However, comparison of model parameters between large numbers of species is rare. In this study, seeds of 27 species including 12 C4 and 15 C3 species were germinated at a range of constant temperatures from 5 °C to 40 °C. We used a modified thermal time model to calculate germination parameters at suboptimal temperatures. Generally, the optimal germination temperature was higher for C4 species than for C3 species. The thermal time constant for the 50% germination percentile was significantly higher for C3 than C4 species. The thermal time constant of perennials was significantly higher than that of annuals. However, differences in base temperatures were not significant between C3 and C4, or annuals and perennial species. The relationship between germination rate and seed mass depended on plant functional type and temperature, while the base temperature and thermal time constant of C3 and C4 species exhibited no significant relationship with seed mass. The results illustrate differences in germination characteristics between C3 and C4 species. Seed mass does not affect germination parameters, plant life cycle matters, however. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage Plant Ecophysiology) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Testing of Eight Medicinal Plant Extracts in Combination with Kresoxim-Methyl for Integrated Control of Botrytis cinerea in Apples
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 400-411; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030400
Received: 7 April 2015 / Revised: 12 June 2015 / Accepted: 19 June 2015 / Published: 3 July 2015
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Abstract
Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that causes gray mold on many fruit crops. Despite the availability of a large number of botryticides, the chemical control of gray mold has been hindered by the emergence of resistant strains. In this paper, tests were done
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Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that causes gray mold on many fruit crops. Despite the availability of a large number of botryticides, the chemical control of gray mold has been hindered by the emergence of resistant strains. In this paper, tests were done to determine the botryticidal efficacy of selected plant extracts alone or combined with kresoxim-methyl. In total, eight South African medicinal plants viz Artemisia afra, Elyptropappus rhinocerotis, Galenia africana, Hypoxis hemerocallidea, Siphonochilus aetheopicus, Sutherlandia frutescens, Tulbaghia violacea and Tulbaghia alliacea were screened. Allium sativum, a plant species known to have antifungal activity, was included in the in vivo studies. For the in vitro studies, synergistic interactions between the plant extracts and the kresoxim-methyl fungicide were tested with radial growth assays. Data indicated synergistic inhibitory effects between the fungicide and the plant extracts. Next, different doses of plant extracts combined with kresoxim-methyl were used for decay inhibition studies on Granny Smith apples. Synergistic and additive effects were observed for many of the combinations. Even though this study was done using only one strain of B. cinerea, results showed that the tested indigenous South African plant species possess natural compounds that potentiate the activity of kresoxim-methyl. Full article
Open AccessDiscussion Challenges of Reducing Fresh Produce Waste in Europe—From Farm to Fork
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 389-399; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030389
Received: 15 April 2015 / Revised: 22 May 2015 / Accepted: 23 June 2015 / Published: 30 June 2015
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2889 | PDF Full-text (429 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This concept paper summarizes key “hotspots” for waste generation along the food supply chain and identifies a range of existing solutions/measures that can help producers, retailers and consumers reduce the amount of food that is wasted. The majority of food waste of 71–92
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This concept paper summarizes key “hotspots” for waste generation along the food supply chain and identifies a range of existing solutions/measures that can help producers, retailers and consumers reduce the amount of food that is wasted. The majority of food waste of 71–92 kg/head/year in Western Europe was found to originate from private households (61%), followed by restaurants and canteens (17%) and then supermarkets (5%); 59%–65% (of this food waste (71–92 kg) can be avoided and 54% thereof are fruit and vegetables. Since ethylene accelerates fruit ripening and its accumulation can lead to fruit decay and waste and new portable instruments now enable continuous in-situ determination of ethylene along the food chain, there is a possible key to reducing food waste of perishable, fresh produce. Hence, suggested countermeasures at the field level are use of ethylene inhibitors (AVG as “Retain” or MCP as “Harvista”), the former prevents pre-mature fruit drop in pome fruit, incentives for processing fruit of industrial grade and whole crop purchase (“WCP”). Along the supply chain, applications of ethylene inhibitors (e.g., 1-MCP as “SmartFresh”) absorber strips (e.g., “It’s Fresh”, Sensitech), bags (e.g., “Peakfresh”) as well as simply cooling and venting, and shading to avoid sun exposure. Countermeasures also include superstores no longer promoting multi-packs, e.g., “two strawberry punnets for the price of one”, abandon the “Display until” or “Sell by” date, conservative consumer shopping behavior, and sale of class II produce (“Wunderlinge” in Billa or “Kleine Äpfel” in REWE, “Ünique” in Coop), collection (rather than wasting) of perishable food by volunteers (“Die Tafel”), or “Food Sharing” of private household left-over perishable on social media, or any combination of the above to aid reducing fresh produce waste. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fresh Produce Wastage)
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Open AccessReview Development of Bioelectrochemical Systems to Promote Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 367-388; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030367
Received: 6 May 2015 / Revised: 11 June 2015 / Accepted: 16 June 2015 / Published: 24 June 2015
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Abstract
Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are a newly emerged technology for energy-efficient water and wastewater treatment. Much effort as well as significant progress has been made in advancing this technology towards practical applications treating various types of waste. However, BES application for agriculture has not
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Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are a newly emerged technology for energy-efficient water and wastewater treatment. Much effort as well as significant progress has been made in advancing this technology towards practical applications treating various types of waste. However, BES application for agriculture has not been well explored. Herein, studies of BES related to agriculture are reviewed and the potential applications of BES for promoting sustainable agriculture are discussed. BES may be applied to treat the waste/wastewater from agricultural production, minimizing contaminants, producing bioenergy, and recovering useful nutrients. BES can also be used to supply irrigation water via desalinating brackish water or producing reclaimed water from wastewater. The energy generated in BES can be used as a power source for wireless sensors monitoring the key parameters for agricultural activities. The importance of BES to sustainable agriculture should be recognized, and future development of this technology should identify proper application niches with technological advancement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
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