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Agriculture, Volume 7, Issue 4 (April 2017) – 6 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Organic farming has known benefits, but managing weeds and cover crops in semi-arid environments [...] Read more.
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Open AccessReview
Organic No-Till Systems in Eastern Canada: A Review
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040036 - 23 Apr 2017
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4303
Abstract
For more than a decade, studies have aimed to adapt the agronomy of organic no-till systems for the environmental conditions of Eastern Canada. Most research on organic no-till practices in Eastern Canada has been conducted in the province of Québec, where 4% of [...] Read more.
For more than a decade, studies have aimed to adapt the agronomy of organic no-till systems for the environmental conditions of Eastern Canada. Most research on organic no-till practices in Eastern Canada has been conducted in the province of Québec, where 4% of farms are certified organic, and results from these trials have been published in technical reports available in French. The objective of this review was to revisit previous research work on organic farming in Eastern Canada—the majority of which has been published as technical reports in the French language—in order to highlight important findings and to identify information gaps. Cover crop-based rotational no-till systems for organic grain and horticultural cropping systems will be the main focus of this review. Overall, a few trials have demonstrated that organic rotational no-till can be successful and profitable in warmer and more productive regions of Eastern Canada, but its success can vary over years. The variability in the success of organic rotational no-till systems is the reason for the slow adoption of the system by organic farmers. On-going research focuses on breeding early-maturing fall rye, and terminating cover crops and weeds with the use of bioherbicides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
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Open AccessReview
Reduced Tillage and No-Till in Organic Farming Systems, Germany—Status Quo, Potentials and Challenges
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040035 - 20 Apr 2017
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2934
Abstract
Only 34% of all German farms apply reduced tillage (RT), while approximately 1% of the arable land is under no-tillage (NT). Statistics for organic farming are not available, but the percentages are probably even lower. The development of German organic RT and NT [...] Read more.
Only 34% of all German farms apply reduced tillage (RT), while approximately 1% of the arable land is under no-tillage (NT). Statistics for organic farming are not available, but the percentages are probably even lower. The development of German organic RT and NT has been strongly driven by pioneer farmers for 40 years, and supported by field trials since the 1990s. The main motive for conversion to RT is increased soil quality, followed by reduced labor costs. NT combined with high-residue cover crops plays only a very small role. Rather, German organic farmers resort to shallow ploughing, a reduced number of ploughing operations in the rotation and/or substitution of the ploughing with non-inversion tillage. In field trials, winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yields were reduced up to 67% by using RT methods compared to inversion tillage treatments due to reduced mineralization and increased weed pressure, both of which are major obstacles that impede the wider adoption of RT and NT by German organic farmers. Improvement of NT and RT (rotations, implements, timing) in organic farming is a task of both agricultural practice and science. A number of conventional farmers who have recently converted to organic farming are already familiar with RT. These farmers will act as a thriving factor to implement their experience after conversion and contribute to further innovations of RT in organic farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
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Open AccessArticle
Cover Crop-Based, Organic Rotational No-Till Corn and Soybean Production Systems in the Mid-Atlantic United States
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040034 - 06 Apr 2017
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3133
Abstract
Cover crop-based, organic rotational no-till (CCORNT) corn and soybean production is becoming a viable strategy for reducing tillage in organic annual grain systems in the mid-Atlantic, United States. This strategy relies on mechanical termination of cover crops with a roller-crimper and no-till planting [...] Read more.
Cover crop-based, organic rotational no-till (CCORNT) corn and soybean production is becoming a viable strategy for reducing tillage in organic annual grain systems in the mid-Atlantic, United States. This strategy relies on mechanical termination of cover crops with a roller-crimper and no-till planting corn and soybean into cover crop mulches. Here, we report on recent research that focuses on integrated approaches for crop, nutrient and pest management in CCORNT systems that consider system and regional constraints for adoption in the mid-Atlantic. Our research suggests that no-till planting soybean into roller-crimped cereal rye can produce consistent yields. However, constraints to fertility management have produced less consistent no-till corn yields. Our research shows that grass-legume mixtures can improve N-release synchrony with corn demand and also improve weed suppression. Integration of high-residue inter-row cultivation improves weed control consistency and may reduce reliance on optimizing cover crop biomass accumulation for weed suppression. System-specific strategies are needed to address volunteer cover crops in later rotational phases, which result from incomplete cover crop termination with the roller crimper. The paucity of adequate machinery for optimizing establishment of cash crops into thick residue mulch remains a major constraint on CCORNT adoption. Similarly, breeding efforts are needed to improve cover crop germplasm and develop regionally-adapted varieties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
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Open AccessReview
Organic Agriculture and the Quest for the Holy Grail in Water-Limited Ecosystems: Managing Weeds and Reducing Tillage Intensity
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040033 - 31 Mar 2017
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3177
Abstract
Organic agricultural production has become a major economic and cultural force. However, in water-limited environments the tools used for weed control and nutrient supply, namely tillage and cover crops, may not be environmentally or economically sustainable as tillage damages soil and cover crops [...] Read more.
Organic agricultural production has become a major economic and cultural force. However, in water-limited environments the tools used for weed control and nutrient supply, namely tillage and cover crops, may not be environmentally or economically sustainable as tillage damages soil and cover crops use valuable water. Thus, a major challenge has been finding appropriate ways to minimize tillage and terminate cover crops while still controlling weeds and obtaining cover crop ecosystem services. One approach to achieve this is through the economically viable integration of crop and livestock enterprises to manage weeds and terminate cover crops. In this article we (1) review research needs and knowledge gaps in organic agriculture with special focus on water-limited environments; (2) summarize research aimed at developing no-till and reduced tillage in organic settings; (3) assess approaches to integrate crop and livestock production in organic systems; and (4) present initial results from a project assessing the agronomic and weed management challenges of integrated crop-livestock organic systems aimed at reducing tillage intensity in a water-limited environment. The goal of eliminating tillage in water-limited environments remains elusive, and more research is needed to successfully integrate tactics, such as cover crops and livestock grazing to increase organic farm sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
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Open AccessReview
Global Biofuels at the Crossroads: An Overview of Technical, Policy, and Investment Complexities in the Sustainability of Biofuel Development
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040032 - 29 Mar 2017
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 4413
Abstract
Biofuels have the potential to alter the transport and agricultural sectors of decarbonizing societies. Yet, the sustainability of these fuels has been questioned in recent years in connection with food versus fuel trade-offs, carbon accounting, and land use. Recognizing the complicated playing field [...] Read more.
Biofuels have the potential to alter the transport and agricultural sectors of decarbonizing societies. Yet, the sustainability of these fuels has been questioned in recent years in connection with food versus fuel trade-offs, carbon accounting, and land use. Recognizing the complicated playing field for current decision-makers, we examine the technical attributes, policy, and global investment activity for biofuels (primarily liquids). Differences in feedstock and fuel types are considered, in addition to policy approaches of major producer countries. Issues with recent, policy-driven trade developments are highlighted to emphasize how systemic complexities associated with sustainability must also be managed. We conclude with near-term areas to watch. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economic Sustainability of Bioenergy Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Organic, Inorganic Fertilizers and Plant Spacing on the Growth and Yield of Cabbage
Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7040031 - 29 Mar 2017
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3273
Abstract
The impact of chemical farming and the negative consequences on the environment and human health in Bangladesh are on the rise. Organic farming is gaining attention and increasing globally because it is eco-friendly, safe and has benefits for human health. A field study [...] Read more.
The impact of chemical farming and the negative consequences on the environment and human health in Bangladesh are on the rise. Organic farming is gaining attention and increasing globally because it is eco-friendly, safe and has benefits for human health. A field study was conducted at the horticulture farm of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh, to evaluate the growth and yield performance of cabbage cv. Atlas—70 using organic and inorganic fertilizers in various plant spacing arrangements. Two factor experiments were conducted on plant spacings of 60 cm × 40 cm (S1), 60 cm × 50 cm (S2) and 60 cm × 60 cm (S3) and fertilizers vermicompost (T1), biogen (T2), integrated plant nutrient system (IPNS) Organic (⅔) + inorganic (⅓) (T3) and inorganic (T4). IPNS (T3) application increased the marketable yield (54.77 t·ha−1) of cabbage. The highest marketable yield (48.75 t·ha−1) was obtained with a plant spacing of 60 cm × 40 cm (S1). No significant variation was found in plant spacings S1 and S2. The treatment combination of S2T3 recorded the highest plant height (37.81 cm), plant spread (47.75 cm), cabbage head (21.80 cm), stem length (12.31 cm), thickness of the cabbage head (12.53 cm) and marketable yield (65.0 t·ha−1). The results suggest that IPNS (T3) combining organic and inorganic fertilizer applications with a 60 cm × 50 cm spacing (S2T3) increases the yield performance of cabbage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enhancing Fertilizer-Use Efficiency in Organic Cropping Systems)
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