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Agriculture, Volume 8, Issue 10 (October 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Biochar can significantly improve soil quality and crop growth. However not all biochars are [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Environmental Impacts of the Beef Production Chain in the Northeast of Portugal Using Life Cycle Assessment
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100165 - 19 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
The beef supply chain has multiple negative impacts on the environment. A method widely used to measure impacts from both the use of resources and the emissions generated by this sector is the life cycle assessment (LCA) (ISO 14040). This study aimed to [...] Read more.
The beef supply chain has multiple negative impacts on the environment. A method widely used to measure impacts from both the use of resources and the emissions generated by this sector is the life cycle assessment (LCA) (ISO 14040). This study aimed to evaluate a semi-intensive system (SIS) and an extensive organic system (EOS), combined with two different slaughterhouses located in the northeast of Portugal. The studied slaughterhouses are similar in size but differ in number of slaughters and in sources of thermal energy: natural gas (Mng) vs. biomass pellets (Mp). Four categories of environmental impact were evaluated: global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), eutrophication potential (EP), and photochemical ozone creation potential (POCP). As expected, higher impacts were found for SIS for all studied impact categories. Slaughterhouse activities, fertilizer production, and solid waste treatment stages showed little contribution when compared to animal production. Concerning the slaughterhouses activities, the main sources of environmental impact were the use of energy (electric and thermal) and by-products transportation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Saline Irrigation on Accumulation of Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ Ions in Rice Plants
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100164 - 19 Oct 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 755
Abstract
Salinity is an abiotic stress that curtails rice production in many parts of the world. Although Koshihikari and Nikomaru are high-yielding japonica rice cultivars, their salinity-tolerance levels are not well known. This experiment was conducted in Ehime, Japan to assess the effect of [...] Read more.
Salinity is an abiotic stress that curtails rice production in many parts of the world. Although Koshihikari and Nikomaru are high-yielding japonica rice cultivars, their salinity-tolerance levels are not well known. This experiment was conducted in Ehime, Japan to assess the effect of salinity on ion accumulation and dry mass production of Koshihikari and Nikomaru compared with a salinity-tolerant indica rice cultivar (Pokkali). Control (0.16 dS/m), 6 dS/m and 12 dS/m irrigation treatments were conducted during the tillering stage (1st phase of experiment), and later only control and 6 dS/m irrigations were applied during the reproductive stage (2nd phase of experiment). Excessive Na+ accumulation in plants hampers the uptake of the macronutrients K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+, which consequently retards growth and yield. Because salinity-tolerant plants can avoid this stress, minimal Na+ was found in Pokkali during the tillering stage (under 6 dS/m salinity). Additionally, Nikomaru showed better growth and dry mass than Koshihikari. Moreover, the Koshihikari leaves contained more Na+ than Nikomaru and Pokkali. The japonica cultivars had higher Na+/K+ in their leaves than Pokkali. In the reproductive stage, the two japonica cultivars accumulated almost the same amount of Na+ under 6 dS/m salinity. However, under 6 dS/m salinity, the grain yield of Nikomaru was higher than control, whereas that of Koshihikari decreased because of salinity. Meanwhile, Pokkali had the lowest Na+/K+ in the whole plant, and most parts of Nikomaru showed lower Na+/K+ than Koshihikari. Koshihikari was relatively less tolerant than Nikomaru under 6 dS/m salinity during both stages, while both failed to withstand 12 dS/m. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Response and Tolerance of Agricultural Crops to Salinity Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Spinach (Spinacea oleracea L.) Response to Salinity: Nutritional Value, Physiological Parameters, Antioxidant Capacity, and Gene Expression
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100163 - 17 Oct 2018
Viewed by 1033
Abstract
Scarcity of good-quality irrigation water is a major impediment to meet food demand for a growing world population. Recycled waters may be available locally more affordably, but their higher salinity is a concern. Salinity effects on spinach mineral composition, antioxidant capacity, photosynthesis, and [...] Read more.
Scarcity of good-quality irrigation water is a major impediment to meet food demand for a growing world population. Recycled waters may be available locally more affordably, but their higher salinity is a concern. Salinity effects on spinach mineral composition, antioxidant capacity, photosynthesis, and gene expression have not been established. Spinach cv. Raccoon was greenhouse-grown and irrigated with four levels of water salinity of electrical conductivities (ECiw) of 1.4 (control) or ranging from 3.6 to 9.4 dS m−1, combined with three levels of K (3, 5, and 7 meq L−1). Irrigation waters had 2, 20, 40, and 80 meq L−1 of NaCl. After 23 treatment days, plants significantly accumulated Na and Cl in shoots and roots with increasing salinity, regardless of the K concentration in the irrigation water. Plants exhibited no visual symptoms of salt toxicity and there were no differences in shoot growth. Plants maintained their overall concentrations of mineral nutrients, physiological parameters, and oxalic acid across salinity treatments. Leaves retained all their antioxidant capacity at 20 meq L−1 NaCl, and 74% to 66% at 40 and 80 meq L−1 NaCl, respectively. Expression analyses of ten genes, that play important role in salt tolerance, indicated that although some genes were upregulated in plants under salinity, compared to the control, there was no association between Na or K tissue concentrations and gene expression. Results clearly show that spinach maintains its growth, mineral composition, and antioxidant capacity up to ECiw = 9.4 dS m−1. As this salinity is equivalent to a soil salinity of 4.5 dS m−1, spinach can tolerate over two-fold its previously-considered salinity threshold. Thus, growers can cultivate spinach using recycled, saline, waters without detriment to shoot biomass accumulation, and nutritional value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Response and Tolerance of Agricultural Crops to Salinity Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Application of Benchmarking and Principal Component Analysis in Measuring Performance of Public Irrigation Schemes in Kenya
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100162 - 12 Oct 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 755
Abstract
The inefficient water use, and variable and low productivity in Kenyan public irrigation schemes is a major concern. It is, therefore, necessary to periodically monitor and evaluate the performance of public irrigation schemes. This prompted evaluation of performance of three rice growing irrigation [...] Read more.
The inefficient water use, and variable and low productivity in Kenyan public irrigation schemes is a major concern. It is, therefore, necessary to periodically monitor and evaluate the performance of public irrigation schemes. This prompted evaluation of performance of three rice growing irrigation schemes in western Kenya using benchmarking and principal component analysis. The aim of the study was to quantify and rank the performance of selected irrigation schemes. The performance of the irrigation schemes was evaluated for the period from 2012 to 2016 using eleven performance indicators under agricultural productivity, water supply and financial performance categories. The performance indicators were weighted using principal component analysis and combined to form a single performance score using linear aggregation method. The average performance in the Ahero, West Kano and Bunyala irrigation schemes was 48%, 49% and 56%, respectively. Based on performance score, the Bunyala irrigation scheme is the highest performing rice irrigation scheme in western Kenya. The three irrigation schemes have an average performance. Operation and management measures to improve the current performance of the irrigation schemes are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Open AccessArticle
Cultural Economy for the Environmental Preservation of the Landscape as a Key Resource in Historic Territories
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100161 - 12 Oct 2018
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Sustainable production besides economic, energetic, and environmental aspects should consider social and cultural features of the territory in which it relies. This occurs above all for agriculture that is intrinsically related to the territory. Today, the territory as a landscape represents a complex [...] Read more.
Sustainable production besides economic, energetic, and environmental aspects should consider social and cultural features of the territory in which it relies. This occurs above all for agriculture that is intrinsically related to the territory. Today, the territory as a landscape represents a complex eco-system (subjects, communities, traditions, cultures, and specific agricultural systems) and a valuable vehicle for art and history and it is also a strategic asset to defend and promote with environmental policies. The topic of urban preservation and regeneration has been increasing by opening up to other factors such as the engagement of local communities and the contribution they can give toward the development of the identity and the symbolic universe of every community especially for historic territories. The main research question of this study is: Can historic territories be described as the landscape of a complex eco-system able to support a new cultural policy? In addition, which type of connections between physical resources and the virtual-cultural ones of that landscape are strategic assets for promoting historic territories? This theoretical manuscript is oriented toward improving territorial policies. In more details, it tries to develop a new model to reach a “global community of creativity” as a bridge between the networks of historic territories, which is meant as roots of variety to transfer to future generations, and between local and global quality in an emergent landscape. In order to reach this new model, the local community and ecosystem capabilities require a multi-level connection among both art, science, and culture as well as nature, technology, and civic capability. The result is that the new model is able to share common goods, which are both internal and external. Following this path, it is urgent to develop policies in an emergent perspective that are able to combine artistic, ecological, environmental, and cultural assets. In particular, the goals are to: (i) explore the complex value of territorial contexts that develop/evolve from both a medium-term and long-term point of view that is not described by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) standard indicators, (ii) reach the suggestion of a continuous re-articulation of sectors of knowledge proposed by cultural resources, and (iii) highlight that cultural marketing is involved in the interpretation and transmission within a large network of participants, users, institutions, markets, virtual, and territorial places. The starting point is identified as the landscape of historic territory, but an important achievement will be to transfer the main results to other territories by studying specific case histories of urban and non-urban landscapes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) Basic Leucine Zipper (bZIP) Transcription Factor Family: Response to Salinity Stress in Fertilized and Symbiotic N2-Fixing Plants
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100160 - 11 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 833
Abstract
The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor family regulates plant developmental processes and response to stresses. The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), an important crop legume, possesses a whole set of 78 bZIP (PvbZIP) genes, the majority of these (59%) [...] Read more.
The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor family regulates plant developmental processes and response to stresses. The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), an important crop legume, possesses a whole set of 78 bZIP (PvbZIP) genes, the majority of these (59%) are most highly expressed in roots and nodules, root-derived new organs formed in the rhizobia N2-fixing symbiosis. Crop production is highly affected by salinity in Cuba and other countries. In this work we characterized the adverse effect of salinity to common bean plants of the Cuban CC-25-9-N cultivar grown in fertilized (full N-content) or symbiotic N-fixation (rhizobia inoculated) conditions. We assessed if PvbZIP TF participate in CC-25-9-N common bean response to salinity. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase-PCR (qRT-PCR) expression analysis showed that 26 out of 46 root/nodule-enhanced PvbZIP, that responded to salt stress in roots and/or nodules from fertilized and N2-fixing CC-25-9-N plants. From public common bean transcriptomic data, we identified 554 genes with an expression pattern similar to that of salt-responsive PvbZIP genes, and propose that the co-expressed genes are likely to be involved in the stress response. Our data provide a foundation for evaluating the individual roles of salt-responsive genes and to explore the PvbZIP-mediated improvement of salt tolerance in common bean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Legume-rhizobia Symbiosis: Current Knowledge and Future Prospects)
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Open AccessArticle
Fallow Land, Recession and Socio-Demographic Local Contexts: Recent Dynamics in a Mediterranean Urban Fringe
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100159 - 11 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 636
Abstract
Urban settlements have globally expanded into rural land. Being influenced by complex socio-environmental dynamics and sometimes acting as a reserve of economic value, fallow land has characterized rural areas in a distinctive way over the last decades. The present work debates on the [...] Read more.
Urban settlements have globally expanded into rural land. Being influenced by complex socio-environmental dynamics and sometimes acting as a reserve of economic value, fallow land has characterized rural areas in a distinctive way over the last decades. The present work debates on the role of fallow land as a component of Mediterranean peri-urban landscapes, considering together different aspects from environmental/agronomic and regional science perspectives. An empirical analysis of the latent relationship between spatial distribution of fallow land, agricultural landscape (land-use, territorial, and topographic characteristics), and urban sprawl was carried out in a representative Mediterranean case study (Athens, Greece) evidencing the possible linkage between urban growth/containment, conservation of rural biodiversity/local traditions, and fallow land (intended as a candidate source of buildable land) in fringe districts. Urban growth at the local scale was contrasted with the spatial distribution of fallow land under sequential expansions and recessions of the regional economic system. Conservation of marginal rural land in fringe districts—including fallow land—is a necessary target of any sustainable land management strategy in metropolitan contexts experiencing rapid socioeconomic transformations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sorption to Biochar Impacts β-Glucosidase and Phosphatase Enzyme Activities
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100158 - 10 Oct 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 996
Abstract
Extracellular enzymes catalyze biogeochemical reactions in soil, cycling carbon and nutrients in agricultural systems. Enzymes respond quickly to soil management, including organic amendment inputs, such as biochar, a charcoal-like solid byproduct of bioenergy production. In a previous agricultural field trial, a pine biochar [...] Read more.
Extracellular enzymes catalyze biogeochemical reactions in soil, cycling carbon and nutrients in agricultural systems. Enzymes respond quickly to soil management, including organic amendment inputs, such as biochar, a charcoal-like solid byproduct of bioenergy production. In a previous agricultural field trial, a pine biochar amendment caused an approximately 40% decrease in the enzyme activities of β-glucosidase (BG) and phosphatase (PHOS). The large surface area of the pine biochar has the potential to sorb nutrients and other organic molecules. To test if sorption caused decreased enzyme activity, we used a laboratory assay to quantify the activity of two sorbed enzymes: BG and acid PHOS, involved in the cycling of carbon and phosphorous. The enzymes were incubated with three solid phases: (1) the high surface area pine biochar, (2) the agricultural soil, and (3) a low surface area grass biochar, for an additional comparison. We quantified the sorbed enzymes at pH 6, 7, and 8, using a Bradford protein assay, and measured the immobilized enzyme activities via high-throughput fluorometric analysis. After sorption onto pine biochar, detectable BG and PHOS activity levels dropped by over 95% relative to the soil, supporting direct sorption as one mechanism that reduces enzyme activity in biochar amended soil. This laboratory assay demonstrated that sorption could account for the lack of priming of native soil organic matter and changes in soil phosphorous cycling after pine biochar addition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biochar and Soil: What Is behind Its Impacts?)
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Leaf and Fruit Morphometric Analysis to Identify and Classify White Mulberry (Morus alba L.) Genotypes
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100157 - 07 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 684
Abstract
Digital image analysis and multivariate data analysis were used in this study to identify a set of leaf and fruit morphometric traits to discriminate white mulberry (Morus alba L.) cultivars. The trial was conducted using three- to five-year-old potted cuttings of several [...] Read more.
Digital image analysis and multivariate data analysis were used in this study to identify a set of leaf and fruit morphometric traits to discriminate white mulberry (Morus alba L.) cultivars. The trial was conducted using three- to five-year-old potted cuttings of several white mulberry cultivars. 32 leaf morphometric descriptors were recorded in 2011 and 2012 from 11 mulberry cultivars using image analysis of scanned leaves, whereas six fruit descriptors were recorded in 2011 from nine mulberry cultivars. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was used to identify a subset of measured variables that could discriminate the cultivars in trial. Biplot analysis, followed by cluster analysis, was performed on the discriminant variables to investigate any possible cultivar grouping based on similar morphometric traits. LDA was able to discriminate the 11 cultivars with a canonical function, which included 13 leaf descriptors. Using those 13 descriptors, the Biplot showed that over 84% of the variability could be explained by the first three factors. Clustering of standardized biplot coordinates recognized three groups: the first including ‘Korinne’ and ‘Miura’ with similar leaf angles and apical tooth size; the second including ‘Cattaneo’, ‘Florio’, ‘Kokusò-21’, ‘Kokusò-27’, and ‘Kokusò Rosso’ with similar leaf size and shape; and the third including ‘Ichinose’, ‘Kayrio’, ‘Morettiana’, and ‘Restelli’, with similar leaf margin. Fruit descriptors were fewer and measured on fewer cultivars, yielding smaller discriminatory power than leaf descriptors. Use of leaf morphometric descriptors, along with image and multivariate analysis, proved to be effective for discriminating mulberry cultivars and showed promise for the implementation of a simple and inexpensive characterization and classification tool. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Camelina as a Rotation Crop for Weed Control in Organic Farming in a Semiarid Mediterranean Climate
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100156 - 06 Oct 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 752 | Correction
Abstract
Crop rotation in winter cereals in semiarid Mediterranean climates is highly desirable to prevent weed infestations, but the climatic conditions make it difficult to implement alternative crops to winter cereals. Camelina (Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz) is an interesting option, as it is [...] Read more.
Crop rotation in winter cereals in semiarid Mediterranean climates is highly desirable to prevent weed infestations, but the climatic conditions make it difficult to implement alternative crops to winter cereals. Camelina (Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz) is an interesting option, as it is able to produce profitable yields thanks to its tolerance to cold and drought. In this work, three autumn–winter sowing dates (SD1, October; SD2, December; SD3, January) and two sowing rates (R1, 8 kg ha−1; R2, 11 kg ha−1) were chosen to evaluate the effectiveness of these cultural methods to control weeds over three seasons, and to determine effects on camelina seed yield. Results showed that a significant reduction of weed coverage was obtained by delaying the sowing date. Sowing rates did not show differences in weed coverage. In contrast, no apparent yield penalty was observed among sowing dates and rates. These results show that the introduction of camelina as a rotational crop in semiarid Mediterranean climates is a feasible option for helping to suppress winter weeds, as well as to provide productive seed yield in these climatic conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Survey on Food Preferences of University Students: from Tradition to New Food Customs?
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100155 - 04 Oct 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1071
Abstract
Humankind currently consumes more resources than our planet is able to generate. In our web survey, we investigated insects and earthworms, as a possible future food source. We targeted the survey to university students, as the possible future consumers and trendsetters of new [...] Read more.
Humankind currently consumes more resources than our planet is able to generate. In our web survey, we investigated insects and earthworms, as a possible future food source. We targeted the survey to university students, as the possible future consumers and trendsetters of new food. A total of 3556 university students (18–29 years old) completed it. The aims of this study were to evaluate participants’ food preferences and their willingness to taste foods containing terrestrial invertebrates. Data were processed using Cronbach’s alfa to assess the reliability of each constructs. The food preferences showed pizza-focaccia and pasta at the highest rankings, followed by fruit and vegetables. Males have a higher preference for any kind of animal protein source. Gender influenced food preference and willingness to eat food with insect or earthworm ingredients. The results indicated that students were prone to consider novel food into the Italian diet and to familiarize with them in the future. Insects/earthworms were more accepted in salty snacks. Highlighting the essential amino-acids daily requirements of a snack with earthworm meal did not improve the willingness to taste it. Information and awareness of future global food demand can play a fundamental role in accepting new food. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Growth, Yield Performance and Quality Parameters of Three Early Flowering Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) Genotypes Cultivated in Southwestern Germany
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100154 - 02 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1038
Abstract
The combination of consumer’s ongoing demand for chia (Salvia hispanica L.) alongside the increased demand for regionally produced food products provided the impetus for this study. Its aim was to test if a regional cultivation of new chia genotypes, which were adapted [...] Read more.
The combination of consumer’s ongoing demand for chia (Salvia hispanica L.) alongside the increased demand for regionally produced food products provided the impetus for this study. Its aim was to test if a regional cultivation of new chia genotypes, which were adapted to day lengths greater than 12 h, is feasible under Central European conditions. Therefore, three early flowering chia genotypes (Sahi Alba 914, W13.1, G8) were cultivated in a randomized block design at two experimental stations in Southwestern Germany (Ihinger Hof, Eckartsweier) over the course of two years (2015, 2016). Mean yields ranged from 100 to 1290 kg ha−1. Mucilage content ranged from 9.5% to 12.2%, while the crude protein content ranged from 17.2% to 25.0%. Crude oil content fell in the range of 30.9–33.7% and the PUFA:SAT ratio ranged from 4.0 to 9.4, whereas the omega6:omega3 ratio varied from 0.27 to 0.5. As chia seed yields surpassed yield levels obtained by their countries of origin and as quality parameters obtained, were in line with the genotypes cultivated in their countries of origin, it can be assumed that a regional chia production in Southwestern Germany offers great potential, being ecologically and economically profitable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Options for Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle
Bamboo Biochar Pyrolyzed at Low Temperature Improves Tomato Plant Growth and Fruit Quality
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100153 - 02 Oct 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1252
Abstract
As a soil amendment, biochar can significantly improve soil quality and crop growth. Few studies, however, have explored biochar effects on crop quality. This study investigated the amendment effects of bamboo biochar pyrolyzed at different temperatures on plant growth and fruit quality of [...] Read more.
As a soil amendment, biochar can significantly improve soil quality and crop growth. Few studies, however, have explored biochar effects on crop quality. This study investigated the amendment effects of bamboo biochar pyrolyzed at different temperatures on plant growth and fruit quality of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Tomato ‘Micro-Tom’ plants were grown in a sand medium amended with 0, 1, and 3% of biochars produced at 300 °C, 450 °C, and 600 °C, respectively. Plant growth was monitored, and fruit harvested at the red stage was analyzed for color, texture, soluble solids content, sugars, ascorbic acid, and acidity. Results showed that biochars produced at 300 °C and amended at 3% or pyrolyzed at 450 °C and amended at 1% increased plant growth index. Contents of glucose, fructose, soluble solids, ascorbic acid, and sugar-to-acid ratios of fruits produced from the two treatments were significantly higher than the other treatments. The improved plant growth and fruit quality were related to the higher concentrations of NO3, P, Ca, and Mg in the growing media. Our results suggest that optimizing biochar use can be achieved by targeting biochar production conditions and application rate, which resulted in desirable amendment and fruit quality effects. Full article
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Comparison between Different Rotary Mowing Systems: Testing a New Method to Calculate Turfgrass Mowing Quality
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100152 - 02 Oct 2018
Viewed by 678
Abstract
Poor quality in turfgrass mowing is highlighted by the shredded leaf tips with necrotic tissues that give an unsightly brownish colour to the turf and may also lead to turf disease. Mowing quality is also typically assessed by visual rating, thus the score [...] Read more.
Poor quality in turfgrass mowing is highlighted by the shredded leaf tips with necrotic tissues that give an unsightly brownish colour to the turf and may also lead to turf disease. Mowing quality is also typically assessed by visual rating, thus the score depends on the person doing the assessment. To make the evaluation of mowing quality not subjective, an innovative method was developed. The aim of the trial was to examine the effects of different mowing systems and two different nitrogen rates (100 and 200 kg ha−1) on two turfgrass species in order to test the new mowing quality calculation. Three different mowing systems were used: a battery-powered rotary mower set at 3000 rpm and 5000 rpm respectively and a gasoline-powered rotary mower set at full throttle. The battery-powered mower at low blade rpm produced a poorer mowing quality and turf quality than the gasoline-powered mower and battery-powered mower at high rpm, which produced a similar mowing quality and turf quality. Leaf tip damage level values showed a significant correlation with the results of the visual mowing quality assessment. Lower leaf tip damage level values (slightly above 1) corresponded to higher visual mowing quality scores (around 8). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Mechanization)
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Open AccessArticle
A Mathematical Model of the Plane-Parallel Movement of an Asymmetric Machine-and-Tractor Aggregate
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100151 - 01 Oct 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 767
Abstract
Technological peculiarities of cultivation and harvesting of some agricultural crops make it necessary to use asymmetric machine-and-tractor aggregates. However, for the time being there is no sufficiently complete, analytical study of the steady movement of such machine-and-tractor aggregates. This necessitates the development of [...] Read more.
Technological peculiarities of cultivation and harvesting of some agricultural crops make it necessary to use asymmetric machine-and-tractor aggregates. However, for the time being there is no sufficiently complete, analytical study of the steady movement of such machine-and-tractor aggregates. This necessitates the development of a theory of stable movement of the aggregates which would allow choosing their optimal kinematic and design parameters. On the basis of the results of mathematical simulation, a system of linear differential equations of the second order is obtained describing transverse displacement of the center of masses of the aggregating wheeled tractor and turning of its longitudinal axis of symmetry by some angle around the indicated center of mass, as well as the deviation angle of the rear-trailed harvester from the longitudinal axis of the tractor at any arbitrary moment of time. This system of differential equations can be applied for numerical calculations on the PC, which will make it possible to evaluate the stability of the movement of the asymmetric machine-and-tractor aggregate when it performs the technological process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Mechanization)
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Open AccessReview
The Potential of Some Moringa Species for Seed Oil Production
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100150 - 30 Sep 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1018
Abstract
There is an increasingly demand for alternative vegetable oils sources. Over the last decade there has been fast growing interest in Moringa oleifera Lam., particularly due to its high seed oil yield (30–40%), while other Moringa species with similar potentialities are reducing their [...] Read more.
There is an increasingly demand for alternative vegetable oils sources. Over the last decade there has been fast growing interest in Moringa oleifera Lam., particularly due to its high seed oil yield (30–40%), while other Moringa species with similar potentialities are reducing their representativeness worldwide. This review reinforces the interesting composition of Moringa oil, rich in oleic acid and highly resistant to oxidation, for industrial purposes, and shows that other Moringa species could also be exploited for similar purposes. In particular, Moringa peregrina (Forssk.) Fiori has an interesting oil yield and higher resistance to pest and diseases, and Moringa stenopetala (Bak. f.) Cuf. is highlighted for its increased resistance to adverse climate conditions, of potential interest in a climate change scenario. Exploring adapted varieties or producing interspecies hybrids can create added value to these less explored species, while renewing attention to endangered species. Moringa seed oil can be extracted by conventional methods or using physical methods (pressing), creating diverse products from a compositional perspective, able to serve both the biodiesel and food industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oil Production)
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Dietary Supra-Nutritional Levels of Vitamins A and E on Fertility Traits of Broiler Breeder Hens in Late Production Phase
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100149 - 27 Sep 2018
Viewed by 773
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of dietary supplementation with supra-nutritional levels of vitamins A and E on fertility and productivity traits of Ross-308 broiler breeder hens during the late production phase. The trial was conducted for nine weeks, from 61 to [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of dietary supplementation with supra-nutritional levels of vitamins A and E on fertility and productivity traits of Ross-308 broiler breeder hens during the late production phase. The trial was conducted for nine weeks, from 61 to 69 weeks of age, and designed to test four levels of vitamin A (100, 125, 150 and 200% above the Ross catalogue recommendations) and four levels of vitamin E (100, 200, 300 and 400% above Ross catalogue instructions), maintaining constant the other rearing conditions. Vitamins were combined in 16 treatments, with four replicates per treatment each including seven females, and one rooster broiler was used in every two replicates. A total of 448 hens and 32 roosters were used in the experiment. Fertility parameters were weekly evaluated. According to the results, egg-related parameters (number and weight of eggs, non-conform eggs and hatchability) were not affected by treatment, but dietary treatments increased and extended the hens’ productivity for an additional six weeks in most experimental groups. The chick-related parameters (number and weight of produced chicks) and chick yield differed significantly among groups (p < 0.05). The best economic index was found in birds fed basal-diet plus 100% of vitamin A and 200% of vitamin E. In conclusion, the present study showed that a combination of dietary supra-nutritional levels of vitamins A and E allowed to extend the laying period and to reduce the decline of fertility in older breeder hens at the end of the laying stage; in particular, among the 16 tested treatments, feeding of supra-nutritional level of 100% vitamin A and 200% vitamin E lead to the best results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Quality of Animal Products)
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Harvest Timing and Soil Moisture Content on Compaction, Growth and Harvest Yield in a Miscanthus Cropping System
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100148 - 22 Sep 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1075
Abstract
Harvesting Miscanthus × giganteus (J.M. Greef & Deuter ex Hodkinson & Renvoize) after shoot emergence is known to reduce yields in subsequent seasons. This research was conducted in Miscanthus to assess the effects on crop response and soil compaction of annually repeated traffic, [...] Read more.
Harvesting Miscanthus × giganteus (J.M. Greef & Deuter ex Hodkinson & Renvoize) after shoot emergence is known to reduce yields in subsequent seasons. This research was conducted in Miscanthus to assess the effects on crop response and soil compaction of annually repeated traffic, applied both before new growth in the rhizomes (early harvest) and after shoot emergence (late harvest), at two different soil moisture contents. While an annual early harvest, yields more than a late harvest, because damage to new shoots is avoided, soil compaction may be increased following repeated harvests. Five treatments were tested: (a) An untrafficked control, (b) early-traffic on soil with typical soil moisture content (SMC) (early-normal), (c) early-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (early-elevated), (d) late-traffic on soil with typical SMC (late-normal) and (e) late-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (late-wet). The experiment was conducted on a Gleysol in Co. Dublin, Ireland during 2010 and 2011. Crop response effects were assessed by measuring stem numbers, stem height, trafficked zone biomass yield (November) and overall stem yield (January). Compaction effects were assessed by measuring penetration resistance, bulk density and water infiltration rate. Trafficked zone biomass yield in the early-dry and early-wet treatments was, respectively, 18% and 23% lower than in the control, but was, respectively, 39% and 31% higher than in the late-dry treatment. Overall, stem yield was significantly lower in the late-normal and late-wet treatments (10.4 and 10.1 tdm ha−1 respectively) when compared with the control (12.4 tdm ha−1), but no significant difference was recorded in overall stem yield between both early-traffic treatments and the control. Penetration resistance values were significantly higher in all trafficked treatments when compared with the control at depths of 0.15 m (≥54–61%) and 0.30 m (≥27–57%) and were significantly higher in 2011 when compared with 2010 at depths of 0.15 and 0.30 m. Baler system traffic in Miscanthus significantly reduced yields and significantly increased compaction annually. Miscanthus harvested early, on a dry soil, yielded 1.1 tdm ha−1 more than when harvested late on a dry soil. The yield advantage increased to 1.3 tdm ha−1 when early harvesting on a soil with 40–43% moisture content was compared with late harvesting on a wetter soil (51–52% moisture content). In this study, the magnitude of yield losses from compaction or other causes in early harvests was substantially lower than the yield losses, which resulted from shoot damage in late harvests. It is likely in similar climates that the results of this study would also apply to other perennial crops growing in similar soil types. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Automatic Identification of Center Pivot Irrigation Systems from Landsat Images Using Convolutional Neural Networks
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100147 - 20 Sep 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Being hailed as the greatest mechanical innovation in agriculture since the replacement of draft animals by the tractor, center pivot irrigation systems irrigate crops with a significant reduction in both labor and water needs compared to traditional irrigation methods, such as flood irrigation. [...] Read more.
Being hailed as the greatest mechanical innovation in agriculture since the replacement of draft animals by the tractor, center pivot irrigation systems irrigate crops with a significant reduction in both labor and water needs compared to traditional irrigation methods, such as flood irrigation. In the last few decades, the deployment of center pivot irrigation systems has increased dramatically throughout the United States. Monitoring the installment and operation of the center pivot systems can help: (i) Water resource management agencies to objectively assess water consumption and properly allocate water resources, (ii) Agro-businesses to locate potential customers, and (iii) Researchers to investigate land use change. However, few studies have been carried out on the automatic identification and location of center pivot irrigation systems from satellite images. Growing rapidly in recent years, machine learning techniques have been widely applied on image recognition, and they provide a possible solution for identification of center pivot systems. In this study, a Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) approach was proposed for identification of center pivot irrigation systems. CNNs with different structures were constructed and compared for the task. A sampling approach was presented for training data augmentation. The CNN with the best performance and less training time was used in the testing area. A variance-based approach was proposed to further locate the center of each center pivot system. The experiment was applied to a 30-m resolution Landsat image, covering an area of 20,000 km2 in North Colorado. A precision of 95.85% and a recall of 93.33% of the identification results indicated that the proposed approach performed well in the center pivot irrigation systems identification task. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Agricultural System)
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Open AccessReview
The Unexplored Potential of Edible Flowers Lipids
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100146 - 20 Sep 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1528
Abstract
Edible flowers have been historically linked to traditional world cuisine and culture. They are often used as ingredients in food and beverages for medicinal or pharmaceutical purposes. However, little attention has been paid to the quality of their lipids, and therefore to their [...] Read more.
Edible flowers have been historically linked to traditional world cuisine and culture. They are often used as ingredients in food and beverages for medicinal or pharmaceutical purposes. However, little attention has been paid to the quality of their lipids, and therefore to their potential for oil extraction and use in the food and food supplements industries. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the lipid composition of several edible flowers, including fat content, fatty acids, vitamin E, and carotenoids profiles. Edible flower lipids were found to be rich in linoleic (C18:2) and α-linolenic (C18:3) acids, which are essential fatty acids. Furthermore, most flowers are a good source of α-tocopherol and xanthophylls, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. This review provides valuable information on the lipid profile of some edible flowers in order to better characterize them and to increase their popularization among the food industry and consumers, boosting agriculture demand for these products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oil Production)
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