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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 10 (October 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) A new, biomass-fueled (wood pellet), flaming prototype (CS Thermos, San Vendemiano, TV) was tested [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Protected Designation of Origin and Sustainability Characterization: The Case of PDO Cocoa Arriba
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100229 (registering DOI) - 22 Oct 2019
Abstract
The employment of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) in agri-food products through recognized chains has a fundamental economic role in Ecuador. A substantial amount of research has focused on examining the crop performance of PDO products. However, there is a shift in the [...] Read more.
The employment of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) in agri-food products through recognized chains has a fundamental economic role in Ecuador. A substantial amount of research has focused on examining the crop performance of PDO products. However, there is a shift in the agri-food chain perspective towards more sustainable models. In this respect, social, economic, and institutional aspects are consequential and contribute to the agri-food sector development. The current rise in market opportunities at the local and international level drives support for them. This study aims to analyze socio-economic and governance components, in order to understand the PDO Cocoa Arriba (Theobroma cacao) chain sustainability performance and propose potential future strategies. Principal Components Analysis was used to contribute relevant insight. This framework applies accounts with a revision of primary and supporting activities. The investigation clustered pre-production, production, and post-production tiers. It also executed food chain mapping and identified chain actors. Results suggested several viable long-term strategies. Examples of these strategies include the enhancement of national regulation to assist chain actors, and the stimulus of young producers and empowerment of associations. The main contribution to the research was the application of governance mechanisms to comprehensively assess chain performance. Based on the results, we recommend incorporating new indicators to analyze the environmental and institutional components in detail. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Ecotone Dynamics and Stability from Soil Perspective: Forest-Agriculture Land Transition
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100228 - 21 Oct 2019
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Abstract
Topographic and edaphic gradients usually arrange ecotonal boundaries. Although the interrelationships between vegetation and edaphic factors are relevant in most types of ecotones, they are not adequately documented. The clearly defined forest-agriculture land ecotone at the Proklest experimental site of the Training Forest [...] Read more.
Topographic and edaphic gradients usually arrange ecotonal boundaries. Although the interrelationships between vegetation and edaphic factors are relevant in most types of ecotones, they are not adequately documented. The clearly defined forest-agriculture land ecotone at the Proklest experimental site of the Training Forest Enterprise (T.F.E), Masaryk Forest Křtiny, Czech Republic presents an opportunity to investigate these inter-relationships. Our aim was to determine ecotone effects reflected by changes in soil reaction and other soil physical properties across this clearly defined forest-agriculture land ecotone. We selected eleven sampling spots: four in the forest zone, four in the agriculture land, and three in the ecotone zone between the forest and agriculture land. Every month from April to November, soil samples were collected at a depth of 5 cm. All the soil samples collected were examined for minimal air capacity, actual and potential soil reaction, and maximum capillary water capacity. The forest soil was slightly more acidic when compared to the agriculture soil, with the ecotone zone recording the lowest pH value. The maximum capillary water capacity was higher in the forest region than in the agriculture land with a sharp decline in the ecotone zone where the lowest value was recorded. The minimum air capacity was much higher in the forest region than in the agriculture land. There was a marked decline in the ecotone region where the lowest value was observed. Our results highlight the importance of soil as a factor affecting the distribution of plant communities along ecotones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of N and P Fertilizers on Yield and Yield Components of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) in Low-Fertile Soil of North-Western Ethiopia
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100227 - 19 Oct 2019
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Abstract
The impact of fertilizer of N and P on the yield of sesame in north-western Ethiopia was investigated. Field experiments were conducted in 2010 and 2011. Six levels of urea and six levels of di-ammonium phosphate were applied using a factorial completely randomized [...] Read more.
The impact of fertilizer of N and P on the yield of sesame in north-western Ethiopia was investigated. Field experiments were conducted in 2010 and 2011. Six levels of urea and six levels of di-ammonium phosphate were applied using a factorial completely randomized block design. Application of N and P increased the plant height, the number of capsules plant−1, and the yield ha−1. The number of days to flower decreased with increasing rates of nitrogen. The number of days to maturity was largest (91 days) at a rate of 23 kg N ha−1. Applying 92 kg N ha−1 resulted in a yield of 917.8 kg ha−1 and a plant height of 104 cm. An application of 92 kg P ha−1 with 36 Kg N ha−1 gave a yield of 908 kg ha−1 and a plant height of 103.4 cm. The interaction between N and P significantly affected the number of days to flower, plant height, the number of capsules plant−1, and yield ha−1. Applying 128 kg N ha−1 and 92 kg P ha−1 gave the biggest yield (1043 kg ha−1). However, application of 41 kg N ha−1 and 46 kg P ha−1 gave the largest marginal rate of return. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Postharvest Treatment of Tribolium confusum Jacquelin du Val Adults with Commercial Biopesticides
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100226 - 19 Oct 2019
Viewed by 148
Abstract
Within the context of the harmful side-effects of chemical pest control applications, the present study investigated the insecticidal effect of three commercial biopesticides, the fungal Metab (Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae) and Lecan (Lecanicillium lecanii), as well as raw [...] Read more.
Within the context of the harmful side-effects of chemical pest control applications, the present study investigated the insecticidal effect of three commercial biopesticides, the fungal Metab (Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae) and Lecan (Lecanicillium lecanii), as well as raw zeolite, against Tribolium confusum Jacquelin du Val (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), also known as the confused flour beetle. To this end, we sprayed Tribolium confusum adults with suspensions of the said biopesticides, at three different dosages (250 ppm, 500 ppm, and 1000 ppm) on Avena sativa L. and Linum usitatissimum L. hull and no hull seeds. The data were analyzed in terms of three- and four-way ANOVA model, and the overall survival was determined while using the Kaplan–Meier method. The mortality of Tribolium confusum adults was recorded and analyzed in correlation with the following parameters: dose, product (seed), days, and treatment as factors. At the end of the experiment, all of the biopesticides were effectively pathogenic, but there was variation in their effectiveness in terms of the T. confusum mortality that they caused, depending on the product (seed). The type of seed can play a role in the pathogenicity or effectiveness of the biopesticides. Additionally, our results showed that the mortality percentage was dependent on the dose and treatment of the commercial biopesticides. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Identification and Expression Analysis of Two allene oxide cyclase (AOC) Genes in Watermelon
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100225 - 17 Oct 2019
Viewed by 128
Abstract
Allene oxide cyclase (AOC, EC 5.3.99.6) catalyzes the most important step in the jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthetic pathway and mediates plant defense response to a wide range of biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, two AOC genes were identified from watermelon. Sequence [...] Read more.
Allene oxide cyclase (AOC, EC 5.3.99.6) catalyzes the most important step in the jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthetic pathway and mediates plant defense response to a wide range of biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, two AOC genes were identified from watermelon. Sequence analysis revealed that each of ClAOC1 and ClAOC2 contained an allene oxide cyclase domain and comprised eight highly conserved β-strands, which are the typical characteristics of AOC proteins. Phylogenetic analysis showed that ClAOC1 and ClAOC2 were clustered together with AOCs from dicotyledon, with the closest relationships with JcAOC from Jatropha curcas and Ljaoc1 from Lotus japonicus. Different intron numbers were observed in ClAOC1 and ClAOC2, which may result in their functional divergence. qRT-PCR analysis revealed that ClAOC1 and ClAOC2 have specific and complex expression patterns in multiple organs and under hormone treatments. Both ClAOC1 and ClAOC2 displayed the highest transcriptional levels in stem apex and fruit and exhibited relatively lower expression in stem. JA, salicylic acid (SA), and ethylene (ET) could enhance the expression of ClAOC1 and ClAOC2, particularly that of ClAOC2. Red light could induce the expression of ClAOC2 in root-knot nematode infected leaf and root of watermelon, indicating that ClAOC2 might play a primary role in red light-induced resistance against root-knot nematodes through JA signal pathway. These findings provide important information for further research on AOC genes in watermelon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vegetable Crops Breeding)
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Open AccessArticle
Theoretical Investigations of the Headland Turning Agility of a Trailed Asymmetric Implement-and-Tractor Aggregate
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100224 - 16 Oct 2019
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Abstract
Turning time occupies a significant part of the operations carried out by implement-and-tractor aggregates, especially in fields with short runs. Incorrectly executed turns increase the width of the turning strips, significantly increasing the idle path of the implement-and-tractor aggregate, with negative effect on [...] Read more.
Turning time occupies a significant part of the operations carried out by implement-and-tractor aggregates, especially in fields with short runs. Incorrectly executed turns increase the width of the turning strips, significantly increasing the idle path of the implement-and-tractor aggregate, with negative effect on its efficiency. The objective of this paper was to theoretically analyse the turning agility of an asymmetric implement-and-tractor aggregate, taking into account its forward speed and design parameters. Considering a trailed asymmetric swath reaper and tractor aggregate, the obtained equations allowed a numerical simulation in order to evaluate the headland turning agility of this implement-and-tractor aggregate. The minimal radii of the trailed asymmetric swath reaper and tractor aggregate are, respectively, 8.33 m for right-side turn and 4.90 m for left-side turn. Furthermore, the optimal angle between the longitudinal axis of the aggregating tractor and the hitch bar of the trailed asymmetric implement exists only in the case of left-side U-turns and its value is 1.12 rad (64°). It is not possible to cover right-side U-turns or both right- and left-side pear-shaped loop-turn in the optimal mode. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Differential Response of Sugar Beet to Long-Term Mild to Severe Salinity in a Soil–Pot Culture
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100223 - 13 Oct 2019
Viewed by 441
Abstract
Attempts to cultivate sugar beet (Beta vulgaris spp. vulgaris) in the sub-tropical saline soils are ongoing because of its excellent tolerance to salinity. However, the intrinsic adaptive physiology has not been discovered yet in the sub-tropical climatic conditions. In this study, [...] Read more.
Attempts to cultivate sugar beet (Beta vulgaris spp. vulgaris) in the sub-tropical saline soils are ongoing because of its excellent tolerance to salinity. However, the intrinsic adaptive physiology has not been discovered yet in the sub-tropical climatic conditions. In this study, we investigated morpho-physiological attributes, biochemical responses, and yield of sugar beet under a gradient of salinity in the soil–pot culture system to evaluate its adaptive mechanisms. Results exhibited that low and high salinity displayed a differential impact on growth, photosynthesis, and yield. Low to moderate salt stress (75 and 100 mM NaCl) showed no inhibition on growth and photosynthetic attributes. Accordingly, low salinity displayed simulative effect on chlorophyll and antioxidant enzymes activity which contributed to maintaining a balanced H2O2 accumulation and lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, relative water and proline content showed no alteration in low salinity. These factors contributed to improving the yield (tuber weight). On the contrary, 250 mM salinity showed a mostly inhibitory role on growth, photosynthesis, and yield. Collectively, our findings provide insights into the mild–moderate salt adaptation strategy in the soil culture test attributed to increased water content, elevation of photosynthetic pigment, better photosynthesis, and better management of oxidative stress. Therefore, cultivation of sugar beet in moderately saline-affected soils will ensure efficient utilization of lands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Insecticidal Action of Several Isolates of Entomopathogenic Fungi against The Granary Weevil Sitophilus granarius
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100222 - 13 Oct 2019
Viewed by 156
Abstract
The insecticidal virulence of various entomopathogenic fungal isolates retrieved from soil samples was tested on adults of the granary weevil Sitophilus granarius (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Bioassays were carried out in the laboratory where experimental adults were sprayed with 1 mL of conidial suspension [...] Read more.
The insecticidal virulence of various entomopathogenic fungal isolates retrieved from soil samples was tested on adults of the granary weevil Sitophilus granarius (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Bioassays were carried out in the laboratory where experimental adults were sprayed with 1 mL of conidial suspension (108 conidia/mL) from each isolate. Mortality was recorded at 7, 14, and 21 days after exposure. Mean mortality, mean lethal time, survival, and hazard effect were estimated for each isolate. Two isolates of Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin (Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceae), one isolate of Aspergillus insuetus (Bainier) Thom & Church (Eurotiales: Trichocomaceae) and Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschinkoff) Sorokin (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) resulted in the highest mortality (97–100%). The isolates with both the highest hazard effect and the lowest survival rate were Aspergillus sp. and M. anisopliae. Our results indicate that entomopathogenic fungi have the potential to become a very useful tool in reducing chemical applications in storage facilities. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
Evaluation of Struvite Recovered from Swine Wastewater as an Alternative Phosphorus Source in Broiler Feed
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100221 - 11 Oct 2019
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Abstract
The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of reutilizing phosphorus (P) recovered as struvite from swine wastewater as an alternative to commercial P sources in broiler feed. The recovered struvite was pre-treated as microwave irradiated struvite (MS) and incinerated struvite [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of reutilizing phosphorus (P) recovered as struvite from swine wastewater as an alternative to commercial P sources in broiler feed. The recovered struvite was pre-treated as microwave irradiated struvite (MS) and incinerated struvite (IS) to reduce the NH4-N concentration in recovered struvite before application. A preliminary study on the growth performance and blood metabolites of broiler chickens was then performed to assess the effect of MS and IS by comparing with commercial monobasic dicalcium phosphate (MDCP, control). A total of 204 male Ross 308 broiler chickens (mean body weight (BW) of 80 ± 5 g) were randomly allotted to each of 12 pens. The growth performance and blood metabolites analysis of broiler chickens showed no significant difference among the test materials (p > 0.05). However, the apparent total tract digestibility of crude fat was significantly higher in MS and IS treated groups compared to the control (p < 0.05). The digestibility of crude ash in control was significantly lower than that in MS (p < 0.05). The results suggested that P recovered from swine wastewater as struvite can be reutilized as an alternative P source in broiler feed without adverse effects on growth performance and blood metabolites through proper pre-treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the potential of using struvite in animal feed. This study provides primary evidence for the safety and efficacy of using pre-treated struvite as an alternative source of P in animal feed and will encourage further studies with more rigorous design. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
A Review of Kudzu’s Use and Characteristics as Potential Feedstock
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100220 - 11 Oct 2019
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Abstract
This review assesses the potential use of kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) as a feedstock for livestock. Kudzu in the United States is a recognized invasive plant species that has continued to cause problems for the environment and land owners. In [...] Read more.
This review assesses the potential use of kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) as a feedstock for livestock. Kudzu in the United States is a recognized invasive plant species that has continued to cause problems for the environment and land owners. In kudzu’s native countries, it has continued to have beneficial uses beyond being an adequate form of soil erosion control. Never the less, kudzu is a rampant weed that causes harm to many environments. In the United States, local farm owners have used ruminant species as a form of biological control to prevent the spread of kudzu and provide their animals with a high nutrition feed supplement. However, there are few reports that assess ruminal degradability in ruminants and kudzu quality. There is great potential for kudzu as a feed supplement for livestock species. Furthermore, using kudzu as a feed supplement for livestock species serves a dual-purpose of biologically controlling the spread of kudzu while providing those animals with a high-quality feedstuff. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Micro-Spatial Analysis of Maize Yield Gap Variability and Production Factors on Smallholder Farms
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100219 - 11 Oct 2019
Viewed by 215
Abstract
Site-specific land management practice taking into account variability in maize yield gaps (the difference between yields in the 90th percentiles and other yields on smallholder farmers’ fields) could improve resource use efficiency and enhance yields. However, the applicability of the practice is constrained [...] Read more.
Site-specific land management practice taking into account variability in maize yield gaps (the difference between yields in the 90th percentiles and other yields on smallholder farmers’ fields) could improve resource use efficiency and enhance yields. However, the applicability of the practice is constrained by inability to identify patterns of resource utilization to target application of resources to more responsive fields. The study focus was to map yield gaps on smallholder fields based on identified spatial arrangements differentiated by distance from the smallholder homestead and understand field-specific utilization of production factors. This was aimed at understanding field variability based on yield gap mapping patterns in order to enhance resource use efficiency on smallholder farms. The study was done in two villages, Mukuyu and Shikomoli, with high and low agroecology regarding soil fertility in Western Kenya. Identification of spatial arrangements at 40 m, 80 m, 150 m and 300 m distance from the homestead on smallholder farms for 70 households was done. The spatial arrangements were then classified into near house, mid farm and far farm basing on distance from the homestead. For each spatial arrangement, Landsat sensors acquired via satellite imagery were processed to generate yield gap maps. The focal statistics analysis method using the neighborhoods function was then applied to generate yield gap maps at the different spatial arrangements identified above. Socio-economic, management and biophysical factors were determined, and maize yields estimated at each spatial arrangement. Heterogeneous patterns of high, average and low yield gaps were found in spatial arrangements at the 40 m and 80 m distances. Nearly homogenous patterns tending towards median yield gap values were found in spatial arrangements that were located at the 150 m and 300 m. These patterns correspondingly depicted field-specific utilization of management and socio-economic factors. Field level management practices and socio-economic factors such as application of inorganic fertilizer, high frequency of weed control, early land preparation, high proportion of hired and family labor use and allocation of large land sizes were utilized in spatial arrangements at 150 and 300 m distances. High proportions of organic fertilizer and family labor use were utilized in spatial arrangements at 40 and 80 m distances. The findings thus show that smallholder farmers preferentially manage the application of socio-economic and management factors in spatial arrangements further from the homestead compared to fields closer to the homestead which could be exacerbating maize yield gaps. Delineating management zones based on yield gap patterns at the different spatial arrangements on smallholder farms could contribute to site-specific land management and enhance yields. Investigating the value smallholder farmers attach to each spatial arrangement is further needed to enhance the spatial understanding of yield gap variation on smallholder farms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conflicts of Interests When Connecting Agricultural Advisory Services with Agri-Input Businesses
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100218 - 09 Oct 2019
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Abstract
Conflicts of interests have been hypothesized when agricultural advisory services are connected to agri-input businesses. However, these have not been examined using large sets of advisory service and grower data. We provide quantitative insights into dependencies between service, crop production, sustainability and the [...] Read more.
Conflicts of interests have been hypothesized when agricultural advisory services are connected to agri-input businesses. However, these have not been examined using large sets of advisory service and grower data. We provide quantitative insights into dependencies between service, crop production, sustainability and the level of agri-input business-linkage of extension workers. We analyzed 34,000+ prescription forms (recommendations) issued to growers in China, as well as grower interview data. Results revealed some conflicts of interest, but to a small extent and not always as expected. Both forms of advisory service (with and without business-linkages) heavily emphasize chemical pest management. However, grower interviews revealed that business-linked advisors recommend pesticides even 18% more often than non-business-linked advisors do (96% vs. 78% of advice). This advice was also often implemented (94% and 90% uptake). There is a slightly higher chance that dangerous pesticides are being recommended by business-linked advisors (0.4% vs. 0.14%), but these advisors recommended antibiotics less frequently (1.6% vs. 2.5%). No effects of the source of advice on yields or grower profits were found. Thus, there is no apparent economic disadvantage of growers taking advice from business-linked advisors. However, if pesticide use is a concern for human health and the environment, then the increased use of such products may further exacerbate existing problems. Depending on national priorities, countries may re-consider moving away from governmental extension services, and more closely analyze the advantages of promoting agri-business-linked advisory services (no public funds, better outreach) versus the disadvantages (slightly higher pesticide risks). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Glyphosate Bioremediation through the Sarcosine Oxidase Pathway Mediated by Lysinibacillus sphaericus in Soils Cultivated with Potatoes
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100217 - 08 Oct 2019
Viewed by 226
Abstract
Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) use has increased drastically over the last decade. This is true especially for potato crops due to their fast harvest cycle and high market demand. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate and its breakdown product amidomethylphosphonic acid [...] Read more.
Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) use has increased drastically over the last decade. This is true especially for potato crops due to their fast harvest cycle and high market demand. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate and its breakdown product amidomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) as probably carcinogenic to humans, and it has been reported that these compounds disrupt the ecological and nutritional equilibrium of soils. However, microorganisms with the sarcosine oxidase gene, such as Lysinibacillus sphaericus, can degrade glyphosate through the Carbon-Phosphorus (C-P) pathway without leading to AMPA production. The aim of this study was to evaluate the addition of the plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) L. sphaericus as a bioremediation agent in a potato crop sprayed with a GBH, in conjunction with the nitrogen fixation activity mediated by the bacteria. To that end, a GBH solution was used to treat a potato field, and different treatments (glyphosate (G), bacteria (B), bacteria+glyphosate (BG), and negative control (C)) were evaluated by measuring the glyphosate, AMPA, nitrates, and ammonium concentrations. BG treatment showed a 79% reduction of glyphosate concentration in soil, leading to minimal AMPA production, compared to the 23% reduction observed after G treatment. Furthermore, the ammonium concentrations were significantly higher in samples treated with BG and in C samples (p < 0.005). Therefore, we propose the addition of L. sphaericus as a good bioremediation strategy for soils sprayed with GBH. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Short-Term Response of Soil Microbial Community to Field Conversion from Dryland to Paddy under the Land Consolidation Process in North China
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100216 - 04 Oct 2019
Viewed by 227
Abstract
Land consolidation of dryland-to-paddy conversion for improving tillage conditions and grain production capacity is widely implemented throughout the world. The conversion affects soil ecological stability, especially the most active soil microorganisms. However, the impacts of the dryland-to-paddy conversion has paid little attention in [...] Read more.
Land consolidation of dryland-to-paddy conversion for improving tillage conditions and grain production capacity is widely implemented throughout the world. The conversion affects soil ecological stability, especially the most active soil microorganisms. However, the impacts of the dryland-to-paddy conversion has paid little attention in recent decades. In this study, a pot experiment was used to explore the responses of the microbial community and their interactions with soil properties after rice in the first season (five months). The results indicated that a significant decrease in the topsoil pH, organic matter content, nitrate nitrogen, and ammonical nitrogen, and an increase in soil electrical conductivity (EC) was observed (p < 0.05) after the dryland-to-paddy conversion. The richness and diversity of bacteria and fungi decreased in the short term. The composition of the soil microbial community and the soil microbial dominant bacteria had considerably changed after the conversion. Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Olpidiomycota were found to be highly sensitive to the dryland-to-paddy conversion. The soil microbial community structure had extremely significant positive correlations with soil pH, EC, organic matter, nitrate nitrogen, and ammonical nitrogen (p < 0.05). Microorganisms are the most important component of soil nutrient cycling. Converting a large area of dryland to paddy may lead to an imbalance in the soil carbonitride cycle and should be further examined in North China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Market Awareness and Participation for Cattle Farmers in the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) Scheme in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100215 - 01 Oct 2019
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Abstract
The objective of the study was to outline the determinants of market awareness and participation in the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) scheme in South Africa. The study utilised a cross-sectional survey of a randomly selected sample of 116 KyD farmers in KwaZulu-Natal Province. [...] Read more.
The objective of the study was to outline the determinants of market awareness and participation in the Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) scheme in South Africa. The study utilised a cross-sectional survey of a randomly selected sample of 116 KyD farmers in KwaZulu-Natal Province. A Logit model was used to analyse the data. The results show that more farmers are aware of farmgate market channels, but however, they tended to utilise auction market channels. Furthermore, gender, marital status, educational level, employment status, farm income, source of income, herd size, labour and training were significant variables in the awareness and use of butcheries, auctions and farm gate markets. The study concludes that the scheme is particularly effective in influencing commercialisation through utilisation of more lucrative market channels such as auctions. Furthermore, socio-economic factors had a bearing on the awareness and use of marketing channels for smallholder farmers in the KyD scheme. Labour was particularly significant across butchery, auction and farm gate market channels. The study recommends that the scheme needs to improve awareness and use of market channels through utilisation of information platforms such as radio, television and direct communication though mobile phones. Furthermore, extension should assist farmers not only in awareness of markets, but also in the utilisation of those markets. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Physiological Responses of Onion Varieties to varying Photoperiod and Temperature Regimes
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100214 - 01 Oct 2019
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Abstract
We measured the gas exchange parameters of six onion varieties in two photoperiodic regimes. The photoperiods simulated early (long-day) and late (short-day) onion growing seasons of the high desert regions near Lancaster, California. We used six locally grown onion varieties: RedBull (RB), RedWing [...] Read more.
We measured the gas exchange parameters of six onion varieties in two photoperiodic regimes. The photoperiods simulated early (long-day) and late (short-day) onion growing seasons of the high desert regions near Lancaster, California. We used six locally grown onion varieties: RedBull (RB), RedWing (RW), Hybrid Cometa (HC), Granero (YG), Hybrid Valero (HV) and Hybrid SR (HS). For both photoperiod regimes, daylength and temperature were changed weekly to represent the natural progression of field growing conditions. The results show that the onion plants grown under short-daylength (SD) and higher temperature regimes exhibited higher leaf photosynthetic rates and stomatal conductance than onion seedlings grown under the long-day (LD) regime. Onion plants also had different functional leaf traits depending on crop growth environment during the onset of bulbing. The higher photosynthetic rate of the short-day plants coincided with bulb initiation. Onion photosynthesis and stomatal conductance increased at bulb initiation, apparently to provide carbohydrates for growth and storage in the bulb. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil N2O Emissions under Different N Rates in an Oil Palm Plantation on Tropical Peatland
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100213 - 01 Oct 2019
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Abstract
(1) Background: Nitrogen (N) fertilization on drained tropical peatland will likely stimulate peat decomposition and mineralization, enhancing N2O emission from the peat soil. (2) Methods: A field experiment was conducted to quantify the N2O emissions from soil in an [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Nitrogen (N) fertilization on drained tropical peatland will likely stimulate peat decomposition and mineralization, enhancing N2O emission from the peat soil. (2) Methods: A field experiment was conducted to quantify the N2O emissions from soil in an oil palm plantation (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) located in a tropical peatland in Sarawak, Malaysia, under different rates of N fertilizers. The study was conducted from January 2010 to December 2013 and resumed from January 2016 to December 2017. Nitrous oxide (N2O) flux was measured every month using a closed chamber method for four different N rates; control—without N (T1), 31.1 kg N ha−1 yr−1 (T2), 62.2 kg N ha−1 yr−1 (T3), and 124.3 kg N ha−1 yr−1 (T4); (3) Results: Application of the N fertilizer significantly increased annual cumulative N2O emissions for T4 only in the years 2010 (p = 0.017), 2011 (p = 0.012), 2012 (p = 0.007), and 2016 (p = 0.048). The highest average annual cumulative N2O emissions were recorded for T4 (41.5 ± 28.7 kg N ha−1 yr−1), followed by T3 (35.1 ± 25.7 kg N ha−1 yr−1), T1 (25.2 ± 17.8 kg N ha−1 yr−1), and T2 (25.1 ± 15.4 kg N ha−1 yr−1), indicating that the N rates of 62.2 kg N ha−1 yr−1 and 124.3 kg N ha−1 yr−1 increased the average annual cumulative N2O emissions by 39% and 65%, respectively, as compared to the control. The N fertilization had no significant effect on annual oil palm yield (p = 0.994). Alternating between low (deeper than −60 cm) and high groundwater level (GWL) (shallower than −60 cm) enhanced nitrification during low GWL, further supplying NO3 for denitrification in the high GWL, and contributing to higher N2O emissions in high GWL. The emissions of N2O ranged from 17 µg N m−2 hr−1 to 2447 µg N m−2 hr−1 and decreased when the water-filled pore space (WFPS) was between 70% and 96%, suggesting the occurrence of complete denitrification. A positive correlation between N2O emissions and NO3 at 70–96% WFPS indicated that denitrification increased with increased NO3 availability. Based on their standardized regression coefficients, the effect of GWL on N2O emissions increased with increased N rate (p < 0.001). Furthermore, it was found that annual oil palm yields negatively correlated with annual N2O emission and NO3 for all treatments. Both nitrification and denitrification increased with increased N availability, making both processes important sources of N2O in oil palm cultivation on tropical peatland.; and (4) Conclusions: To improve understanding of N2O mitigation strategies, further studies should consider plant N uptake on N2O emissions, at least until the completion of the planting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Open AccessArticle
Efficacy of N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) Mutation on Enhancing the Yield and Quality of Rice
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100212 - 27 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Mutation technology has been applied more in recent decades to achieve novel products that are not commonly found in nature. An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of an N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) mutation on the growth, yield, and physicochemical properties [...] Read more.
Mutation technology has been applied more in recent decades to achieve novel products that are not commonly found in nature. An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of an N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) mutation on the growth, yield, and physicochemical properties of rice. Seeds of two rice cultivars (K1: DT84, and K3: Q5), along with their mutant lines (K2: mutated DT84, and K4: mutated Q5), were sown, and the established seedlings were transplanted to an open field. Ten hills per plot were randomly selected to evaluate growth parameters, yield, and components. Physicochemical attributes, including protein, amylose, and lipid contents, as well as taste score were measured by a quality tester device. The results showed that plant length, tiller number, and panicle length were higher in mutant lines than those of their cultivars. Furthermore, mutant lines took longer to reach heading and maturity stage. The highest panicle number, spikelet number, repined ratio, 1000 grain weight, 1000 brown rice weight, and grain yield were obtained in mutant lines, as compared to cultivars. The greatest grain yield was obtained in the K4 mutant line (11.6 t/ha), while the lowest was recorded in the K1 cultivar (7.7 t/ha). Lower amylose, protein, and lipid contents were observed in mutant lines compared to those in cultivars. The taste score, which increased from 67.7 to 73.7, was found to be correlated with lower amylose, protein, and lipid contents. The mutation approach increased the grain length but decreased the grain width of tested varieties. This study highlights and suggests the importance of MNU mutation in terms of rice yield improvement with preferable quality. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Does Mexico Have Enough Land to Fulfill Future Needs for the Consumption of Animal Products?
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100211 - 25 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Land demand arising from the consumption of animal products is one of the greatest challenges for future sustainability. Developing countries are changing rapidly in both the consumption of animal products and the livestock production systems. Mexico is used as an example of a [...] Read more.
Land demand arising from the consumption of animal products is one of the greatest challenges for future sustainability. Developing countries are changing rapidly in both the consumption of animal products and the livestock production systems. Mexico is used as an example of a developing country. An approach is developed to identify the production variables that drive the Land Requirement for Animal Products (LRAP) for beef, milk, pork, chicken meat, and eggs. An average medium-scale farm of Mexico is described using farm-scale production data from the National Agricultural Survey of Mexico. The results show that the use of grassland outweighs the use of cropland for feed production, and the use of barn area is least. The production of beef protein requires more land than any other animal product because of its large demand for pasture land. The use of grassland represents 70% of the total demand for land for food by the Mexican population, and this is mainly for beef and milk consumption. Population growth and changes to a more affluent diet will result in a demand for more land for food; however, there will not be enough land if food is produced with present livestock production systems. It is necessary to implement strategies to reduce the use of land for food by focusing on both production and consumption. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Field Testing of a Biomass-Fueled Flamer for In-Row Weed Control in the Vineyard
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100210 - 24 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Concern about the adverse effects of chemicals on the environment and on human health, and increasing restrictions of herbicide use, have led to a renewed interest in non-chemical weed control, particularly under the row of vineyards. A new, biomass-fueled (wood pellet), flaming prototype [...] Read more.
Concern about the adverse effects of chemicals on the environment and on human health, and increasing restrictions of herbicide use, have led to a renewed interest in non-chemical weed control, particularly under the row of vineyards. A new, biomass-fueled (wood pellet), flaming prototype (CS Thermos, San Vendemiano, TV) was tested in the vineyard during Spring–Summer 2018, and compared with tillage (disc cultivator, weeder blade, and finger blade) and mowing (in-row, vine-skipping mower). Efficacy (in % of weed biomass removed or killed) and re-growth between two applications (in g dry biomass/m2) were assessed for each treatment at two sampling locations (between the vines, and around the vines). Flaming resulted in greater efficacy of weed removal in comparison to tillage (blade weeder) and mowing, both between the vines (64%–75% versus 44%–68%, and 40%–68%, respectively) and around the vines (56%–78%, 39%–46%, and 37%–48%, respectively). However, five applications of tillage significantly reduced total weed growth until 27 July (by 26%) between vines in comparison to three applications of flaming, while no significant differences were found around vines. Such findings suggest that more frequent applications of flaming may be needed to give average weed control comparable to that of tillage, while improving it close to the vine trunks. Advantages and disadvantages of the prototype versus tillage and mowing, and versus conventional, LPG-fueled flamers are discussed in the paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Viticulture)
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Open AccessArticle
Abiotic and Biotic Limitations to Nodulation by Leguminous Cover Crops in South Texas
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100209 - 23 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Many farms use leguminous cover crops as a nutrient management strategy to reduce their need for nitrogen fertilizer. When they are effective, leguminous cover crops are a valuable tool for sustainable nutrient management. However, the symbiotic partnership between legumes and nitrogen fixing rhizobia [...] Read more.
Many farms use leguminous cover crops as a nutrient management strategy to reduce their need for nitrogen fertilizer. When they are effective, leguminous cover crops are a valuable tool for sustainable nutrient management. However, the symbiotic partnership between legumes and nitrogen fixing rhizobia is vulnerable to several abiotic and biotic stressors that reduce nitrogen fixation efficiency in real world contexts. Sometimes, despite inoculation with rhizobial strains, this symbiosis fails to form. Such failure was observed in a 14-acre winter cover crop trial in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of Texas when three legume species produced no signs of nodulation or nitrogen fixation. This study examined the role of nitrogen, phosphorus, moisture, micronutrients, and native microbial communities in the nodulation of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) and assessed arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as an intervention to improve nodulation. Results from two controlled studies confirm moisture and native microbial communities as major factors in nodulation success. Micronutrients showed mixed impacts on nodulation depending on plant stress conditions. Nitrogen and phosphorus deficiencies, however, were not likely causes, nor was mycorrhizal inoculation an effective intervention to improve nodulation. Inoculation method also had a major impact on nodulation rates. Continued research on improved inoculation practices and other ways to maximize nitrogen fixation efficiency will be required to increase successful on-farm implementation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on the Yield and Quality of Jalapeño Pepper Fruit (Capsicum annuum L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100208 - 21 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Organic fertilizers were evaluated on jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and on their effect on the soil content of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), electrical conductivity (EC), pH and organic matter (OM), at the Experimental Station of the Agriculture and Zootechnics Faculty (FAZ-UJED), [...] Read more.
Organic fertilizers were evaluated on jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and on their effect on the soil content of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), electrical conductivity (EC), pH and organic matter (OM), at the Experimental Station of the Agriculture and Zootechnics Faculty (FAZ-UJED), Ejido Venecia, Durango, México. The assayed experimental fertilizers were vermicompost (VC) with 0 and 3 Mg ha−1, in factorial combination with solarized manure (SM), with 0, 40, 80, and 120 Mg ha−1, and an inorganic fertilization nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) at 150–100–00 Mg ha−1. Microbiological analyses were performed to evaluate the presence of Salmonella spp. The highest yield was 56.2 Mg ha−1 with 120 Mg ha−1 SM, which was statistically similar to 40 and 80 Mg ha−1; the highest P content (70.7 mg kg−1) and OM (3.7%) occurred with 120 Mg ha−1 SM. The inorganic fertilizer reflected the lowest OM (1.1%). Nutrients provided by SM were sufficient to satisfy the crop needs. Values of pH, EC and N were not affected by SM. The fruit quality was not affected by the organic fertilizers. Most fruits were classified as Second-Class Quality (60%), followed by First-Class Quality (25%). Microbiological analyses were negative for Salmonella spp., suggesting that the SM is effective in its elimination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Development of Legumes After Reseeding in Permanent Grassland, as Affected by Nitrogen Fertilizer Applications
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100207 - 20 Sep 2019
Viewed by 252
Abstract
Legumes in grassland can increase locally grown protein in fodder while reducing the nitrogen (N)-fertilizer requirements. Although the benefits of forage legumes are known, there was a decline in their use in the past due to inexpensive N-fertilizer, soya products from abroad, and [...] Read more.
Legumes in grassland can increase locally grown protein in fodder while reducing the nitrogen (N)-fertilizer requirements. Although the benefits of forage legumes are known, there was a decline in their use in the past due to inexpensive N-fertilizer, soya products from abroad, and variable legume persistence. In recent years, mounting environmental concern has sparked new interest in legumes. To quantify the effect of legume reseeding and N-application on permanent grassland on crude protein (CP) and dry matter yield (DM), a multifactorial trial was set up. Factors considered were clover species (red clover, white clover), N-application rate (0–170 kg N ha−1), N-fertilizer type (mineral-N, organic-N), and cutting management (3, 5-cut). Legume percentages were scored, and DM- and CP-yield was measured for three years. Crude-protein gains after legume reseeding were considerable and between 2.5–3.4 after red clover and 0.4–1.7 t CP ha−1 3 years−1 after white clover-reseeding even when compared to the control-high-N treatment. Legume percentages were negatively correlated to N-rates down to rates as low as 42 or 85 kg N ha−1 for a three- or five-cut management, respectively. Nitrogen-applications increased the yield (DM, CP) of control plots, whereas for legume-reseeded plots yield remained unchanged or was reduced. Differences due to N-fertilizer type were small or non-existent. Reseeding of clover was shown to be a viable method to increase crude protein in permanent grassland for about three years (red clover) and possibly beyond (white clover). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Water Infiltration Model for Sprinkler Irrigation Control Strategy: A Case for Tea Plantation in Yangtze River Region
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100206 - 20 Sep 2019
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Abstract
The sprinkler irrigation method is widely applied in tea farms in the Yangtze River region, China, which is the most famous tea production area. Knowledge of the optimal irrigation time for the sprinkler irrigation system is vital for making the soil moisture range [...] Read more.
The sprinkler irrigation method is widely applied in tea farms in the Yangtze River region, China, which is the most famous tea production area. Knowledge of the optimal irrigation time for the sprinkler irrigation system is vital for making the soil moisture range consistent with the root boundary to attain higher yield and water use efficiency. In this study, we investigated the characteristics of soil water infiltration and redistribution under the irrigation water applications rates of 4 mm/h, 6 mm/h, and 8 mm/h, and the slope gradients of 0°, 5°, and 15°. A new soil water infiltration model was established based on water application rate and slope gradient. Infiltration experimental results showed that soil water infiltration rate increased with the application rate when the slope gradient remained constant. Meanwhile, it decreased with the increase in slope gradient at a constant water application rate. In the process of water redistribution, the increment of volumetric water content (VWC) increased at a depth of 10 cm as the water application rate increased, which affected the ultimate infiltration depth. When the slope gradient was constant, a lower water application rate extended the irrigation time, but increased the ultimate infiltration depth. At a constant water application rate, the infiltration depth increased with the increase in slope gradient. As the results showed in the infiltration model validation experiments, the infiltration depths measured were 38.8 cm and 41.1 cm. The relative errors between measured infiltration depth and expected value were 3.1% and 2.7%, respectively, which met the requirement of the soil moisture range consistent with the root boundary. Therefore, this model could be used to determine the optimal irrigation time for developing a sprinkler irrigation control strategy for tea fields in the Yangtze River region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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