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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 2 (February 2019) – 19 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Irrigated agriculture in many areas around the world relies heavily on groundwater resources. Depending on the depth of this resource and the irrigation demand, significant amounts of energy may be required for pumping the water. Identifying the efficiency of irrigation pumping and its impact on energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions can assist with moving towards sustainable agriculture. A study was conducted in the central and Panhandle regions of Oklahoma, where irrigation is supplied from two different aquifers. The results showed that the majority of pumping plants were operating at efficiencies below achievable recommended levels. The emissions were similar between natural gas and electricity powered plants when normalized based on irrigated area and total dynamic head. Improving efficiencies could result in 19-34% reductions in energy use and 20-52% reductions in emissions. [...] Read more.
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Article
Studying Crop Yield Response to Supplemental Irrigation and the Spatial Heterogeneity of Soil Physical Attributes in a Humid Region
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020043 - 23 Feb 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2031
Abstract
West Tennessee’s supplemental irrigation management at a field level is profoundly affected by the spatial heterogeneity of soil moisture and the temporal variability of weather. The introduction of precision farming techniques has enabled farmers to collect site-specific data that provide valuable quantitative information [...] Read more.
West Tennessee’s supplemental irrigation management at a field level is profoundly affected by the spatial heterogeneity of soil moisture and the temporal variability of weather. The introduction of precision farming techniques has enabled farmers to collect site-specific data that provide valuable quantitative information for effective irrigation management. Consequently, a two-year on-farm irrigation experiment in a 73 ha cotton field in west Tennessee was conducted and a variety of farming data were collected to understand the relationship between crop yields, the spatial heterogeneity of soil water content, and supplemental irrigation management. The soil water content showed higher correlations with soil textural information including sand (r = −0.9), silt (r = 0.85), and clay (r = 0.83) than with soil bulk density (r = −0.27). Spatial statistical analysis of the collected soil samples (i.e., 400 samples: 100 locations at four depths from 0–1 m) showed that soil texture and soil water content had clustered patterns within different depths, but BD mostly had random patterns. ECa maps tended to follow the same general spatial patterns as those for soil texture and water content. Overall, supplemental irrigation improved the cotton lint yield in comparison to rainfed throughout the two-year irrigation study, while the yield response to supplemental irrigation differed across the soil types. The yield increase due to irrigation was more pronounced for coarse-textured soils, while a yield reduction was observed when higher irrigation water was applied to fine-textured soils. In addition, in-season rainfall patterns had a profound impact on yield and crop response to supplemental irrigation regimes. The spatial analysis of the multiyear yield data revealed a substantial similarity between yield and plant-available water patterns. Consequently, variable rate irrigation guided with farming data seems to be the ideal management strategy to address field level spatial variability in plant-available water, as well as temporal variability in in-season rainfall patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Article
Recreational Services Provision and Farm Diversification: A Technical Efficiency Analysis on Italian Agritourism
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020042 - 23 Feb 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1627
Abstract
Recreational functions are among the most important practices to improve farmers’ income and to promote sustainability in the rural territories. Two crucial issues are the ability to rationally allocate farm resources and the ability to efficiently produce different sorts of food and non-food [...] Read more.
Recreational functions are among the most important practices to improve farmers’ income and to promote sustainability in the rural territories. Two crucial issues are the ability to rationally allocate farm resources and the ability to efficiently produce different sorts of food and non-food goods. Possible cost savings due to the co-presence of different activities can generate positive effects in the creation of value by agritourist farmers. This paper aims to investigate technical efficiency related to agritourism and recreational functions in Sardinia. Based on a sample of 37 farms and using a data envelopment analysis (DEA) approach, we aim to estimate the technical efficiency of double attitude processes, such as those that characterise agritourism practices. Our findings suggest that efficiency can improve if technical inputs are adequately used; however, the scale appears to be close enough to optimal. Furthermore, we estimated that the margins for improving the efficiency are larger for recreational services and that technical factors contribute to efficiency with a different magnitude. Furthermore, we estimated whether agricultural and non-agricultural resources are efficiently allocated. To our knowledge, this is one of the first attempts in Europe at using an efficiency analysis in agritourism. Full article
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Article
Smallholder-Based Oil Palm and Rubber Production in the Forest Region of Guinea: An Exploratory Analysis of Household Food Security Outcomes
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020041 - 22 Feb 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1685
Abstract
The Guinean government has promoted the large-scale production of industrial crops such as oil palm and rubber through the Guinean Oil Palm and Rubber Company (SOGUIPAH). Smallholder-based production of these crops has also been promoted to boost rural development but the food security [...] Read more.
The Guinean government has promoted the large-scale production of industrial crops such as oil palm and rubber through the Guinean Oil Palm and Rubber Company (SOGUIPAH). Smallholder-based production of these crops has also been promoted to boost rural development but the food security outcomes are unclear. This exploratory study assesses the food security outcomes of smallholder-based oil palm and rubber production at the household level using six standardized metrics of food security. We compare households involved in industrial crop production and households that only grow food crops under subsistence conditions through statistical tools such as Propensity Score Matching (PSM) and Endogenous Treatment Effect Regression (ETER). Overall, results suggest that oil palm and rubber smallholders perform better than subsistence farmers on metrics that capture perceptions of hunger and coping behaviors but perform worse for food diversity metrics. We hypothesize that this discrepancy can possibly be explained by the strong sense of security that steady income provides across time, which outweighs the shortcomings of diet diversity. The results of this exploratory study can inform the development of more detailed assessments of the food security outcomes of interventions implemented by SOGUIPAH in the area (and the mechanism through which these impacts emerge). Full article
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Article
Multi-Stakeholder Focus Groups on Potential for Meat Inspection Data to Inform Management of Pig Health and Welfare on Farm
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020040 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
Meat inspection (MI) findings can act as a valuable source of information on pig health and welfare. The PIG WELFare INDicators (PIGWELFIND) project (Research Stimulus Fund 11/S/107) was developed to progress the development of ante and post mortem MI as a pig health [...] Read more.
Meat inspection (MI) findings can act as a valuable source of information on pig health and welfare. The PIG WELFare INDicators (PIGWELFIND) project (Research Stimulus Fund 11/S/107) was developed to progress the development of ante and post mortem MI as a pig health and welfare diagnostic tool in Ireland. Three multi-stakeholder focus groups were organized to explore areas of conflict and agreement between stakeholders’ vision for including pig health and welfare indicators in MI and on how to achieve this vision. Each focus group consisted of eight stakeholders: pig producers, Teagasc pig advisors, pig processors, veterinarians involved in MI, private veterinary practitioners, and personnel with backgrounds in general animal health and welfare and food safety policy. In general, stakeholders expressed positive attitudes towards the use of MI data to inform pig health and welfare when standardization of recording and feedback is improved, and the MI system provides real-time benchmarking possibilities. Most emphasis was placed on health indicators as a first priority, while it was felt that welfare-related indicators could be included after practical barriers had been addressed (i.e., line speed/feasibility, standardization and training of meat inspectors, data ownership). Recommendations are made to further progress the development of MI as a pig health and welfare diagnostic tool and address some of these barriers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
Article
Impacts of Irrigation Termination Date on Cotton Yield and Irrigation Requirement
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020039 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2139
Abstract
Optimization of cotton irrigation termination (IT) can lead to more efficient utilization and conservation of limited water resources in many cotton production areas across the U.S. This study evaluated the effects of three IT timings on yield, fiber quality, and irrigation requirements of [...] Read more.
Optimization of cotton irrigation termination (IT) can lead to more efficient utilization and conservation of limited water resources in many cotton production areas across the U.S. This study evaluated the effects of three IT timings on yield, fiber quality, and irrigation requirements of irrigated cotton in southwest Oklahoma during three growing seasons. The results showed cotton yield increased with later IT dates, but this response was highly dependent on the amount and timing of late-season precipitation events. Only a few fiber quality parameters were significantly different among treatments, suggesting a more limited impact of IT on fiber quality. When averaged over the three study years, the lint yield was significantly different amongst all treatments, with an average increase of 347 kg ha−1 from the earliest to the latest IT. Additionally, the seed yield and the micronaire were similar for the two earlier IT treatments and significantly smaller than the values under the latest IT treatment. The differences in fiber uniformity and strength were also significant amongst IT treatments. Strong positive relationships were found between yield components and average late-season water content in the root zone. Lint and seed yields plateaued at an average late-season soil matric potential of about −30 kPa and had a quadratic decline as soil moisture depleted. When benchmarked against the latest IT treatment, the earlier IT treatments achieved average reductions of 16–28% in irrigation requirement. However, this water conservation was accompanied with considerable declines in yield components and micronaire and smaller declines in fiber length, uniformity, and strength. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cotton Production and Quality Research)
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Article
Determination of Cultivated Area, Field Boundary and Overlapping for A Plowing Operation Using ISO 11783 Communication and D-GNSS Position Data
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020038 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1898
Abstract
Easily available and detailed area-related information is very valuable for the optimization of crop production processes in terms of, e.g., documentation and invoicing or detection of inefficiencies. The present study dealt with the development of algorithms to gain sophisticated information about different area-related [...] Read more.
Easily available and detailed area-related information is very valuable for the optimization of crop production processes in terms of, e.g., documentation and invoicing or detection of inefficiencies. The present study dealt with the development of algorithms to gain sophisticated information about different area-related parameters in a preferably automated way. Rear hitch position and wheel-based machine speed were recorded from ISO 11783 communication data during plowing with a mounted reversible moldboard plow. The data were georeferenced using the position information from a low-cost differential global navigation satellite system (D-GNSS) receiver. After the exclusion of non-work sequences from continuous data logs, single cultivated tracks were reconstructed, which represented as a whole the cultivated area of a field. Based on that, the boundary of the field and the included area were automatically detected with a slight overestimation of 1.4%. Different field parts were distinguished and single overlaps between the cultivated tracks were detected, which allowed a distinct assessment of the lateral and headland overlapping (2.05% and 3.96%, respectively). Incomplete information about the work state of the implement was identified as the main challenge to get precise results. With a few adaptions, the used methodology could be transferred to a wide range of mounted implements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Article
Temporal Sensitivity Analysis of the MONICA Model: Application of Two Global Approaches to Analyze the Dynamics of Parameter Sensitivity
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020037 - 16 Feb 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1373
Abstract
Sensitivity analysis (SA) is often applied to evaluate the behavior of ecological models in which the integrated soil and crop processes often vary over time. In this study, the time dependence of the parameter sensitivity of a process-based agro-ecosystem model was analyzed for [...] Read more.
Sensitivity analysis (SA) is often applied to evaluate the behavior of ecological models in which the integrated soil and crop processes often vary over time. In this study, the time dependence of the parameter sensitivity of a process-based agro-ecosystem model was analyzed for various sites and model outputs. We applied the Morris screening and extended FAST methods by calculating daily sensitivity measures. By analyzing the daily elementary effects using the Morris method, we were able to identify more sensitive parameters compared with the original approach. The temporal extension of the extended FAST method revealed changes in parameter sensitivity during the simulation time. In addition to the dynamic parameter sensitivity, we noticed different relationships between parameter sensitivity and simulation time. The temporal SA performed in this study improves our understanding of the investigated model’s behavior and demonstrates the importance of analyzing the sensitivity of ecological models over the entire simulation time. Full article
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Article
The Effects of Agricultural Price Instability on Vertical Price Transmission: A Study of the Wheat Chain in Italy
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020036 - 15 Feb 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1893
Abstract
In this paper we analyse vertical price transmission in two typical Italian wheat chains, the pasta and bread chains, that were particularly affected by strong market fluctuations during the last years. After having split the chains into two sides, upstream (farm–wholesale) and downstream [...] Read more.
In this paper we analyse vertical price transmission in two typical Italian wheat chains, the pasta and bread chains, that were particularly affected by strong market fluctuations during the last years. After having split the chains into two sides, upstream (farm–wholesale) and downstream (wholesale–retail), we apply a cointegration methodology allowing for the presence of potentially unknown structural breaks. Then, for the different subperiods detected by the break dates, we investigate the evolving price transmission elasticities finding evidence of asymmetric price transmission. In the pasta chain, farmers seem to be price-takers, while in the bread chain price transmission is related to market structure and to the coexistence of small and large retailers. Full article
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Article
The Influence of Seed Viability on the Germination and In Vitro Multiple Shoot Regeneration of Soybean (Glycine max L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020035 - 11 Feb 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2040
Abstract
The moisture status of seeds is usually high during the period of harvest and deterioration (loss of viability) starts to occur when seeds are stored for longer periods. In the present study, soybean seeds were evaluated using a standard germination test, in vitro [...] Read more.
The moisture status of seeds is usually high during the period of harvest and deterioration (loss of viability) starts to occur when seeds are stored for longer periods. In the present study, soybean seeds were evaluated using a standard germination test, in vitro germination, and for efficient multiple shoot induction, following storage under ambient conditions for 0, 3, 6 and 9 months. Results showed that seeds stored for more than 3 months had reduced moisture content and decreased germination percentages in LS677, LS678, Dundee, Peking, TGx1740-2F and TGx1835-10E of the tested genotypes. In particular, seeds stored for 9 months showed significantly poor seed viability and less than 50% overall seed germination (Dundee—42%, LS678—49%, TGx 1740-2F—44%, TGx 1835-10E—48%), except for LS677 and Peking, with 52 and 55%, respectively. The efficiency of multiple shoot induction also decreased with prolonged seed storage, with all genotypes recording an overall decline from about 96% to 40% regeneration efficiency within 9 months. The results obtained clearly indicated that high germination rates and efficient in vitro shoot induction depended largely on seed viability and storage duration, and significantly differed according to genotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Breeding of Soybean)
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Article
Drivers of Personal Safety in Agriculture: A Case Study with Pesticide Operators
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020034 - 07 Feb 2019
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2204
Abstract
Agriculture is a hazardous occupational industry for farmers and farm workers; therefore, decisions to improve safety in the working place require understanding behavior of farmers and farm workers and factors affecting it. This study examined factors influencing perceived importance of personal safety and [...] Read more.
Agriculture is a hazardous occupational industry for farmers and farm workers; therefore, decisions to improve safety in the working place require understanding behavior of farmers and farm workers and factors affecting it. This study examined factors influencing perceived importance of personal safety and safe behavior of farmers in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE) use in pesticide spraying. Data were collected from a previous survey of farmers in rural areas of northern Greece. Over half of the farmers (55.4%) perceived low importance of personal safety in pesticide spraying. Perceived importance of personal safety increased in young farmers, with high education level, and large land area as well as with high perception of risk, knowledge of pesticide toxicity, seminar in pesticide use, access to internet, and perceived usefulness of PPE. Most farmers showed unsafe behavior in PPE use in terms of using long-sleeved shirt, long pants, chemical resistant gloves, socks, and shoes (58.9%). Farmers perceived low risk of pesticides (65.2%), despite the fact that two out of three farmers (66.1%) perceived high usefulness of PPE. Safe behavior in pesticide use increased in young farmers, with high education level, and small land area as well as with high perception of risk, knowledge of pesticide toxicity, seminar in pesticide use, access to internet, and perceived usefulness of PPE. Binary logistic regression analysis showed that knowledge of pesticide toxicity, education, age, and farm size were significant predictors of perceived importance of personal safety. In addition, self-confidence in spraying, following colleagues’ behaviors, risk perception, knowledge of pesticide toxicity, and farm size were significant predictors of safe behavior in terms of PPE use during pesticide spraying. Findings highlight differences in how farmers perceive personal safety and how they finally respond in daily action with respect to personal safety measures. Perception of risk, knowledge of pesticide toxicity, and farm size were common significant predictors for both variables. Lifelong education targeting promotion of knowledge about pesticide risks among farmers should be always a priority. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pesticides in Agriculture System)
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Article
Screening Corn Hybrids for Soil Waterlogging Tolerance at an Early Growth Stage
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020033 - 05 Feb 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1867
Abstract
Identification of corn hybrids that can withstand wet soil conditions is one approach to prevent crop production losses from abiotic stress caused by excessive soil moisture during early spring season in the midwestern United States. A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted in 2013 [...] Read more.
Identification of corn hybrids that can withstand wet soil conditions is one approach to prevent crop production losses from abiotic stress caused by excessive soil moisture during early spring season in the midwestern United States. A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted in 2013 to screen and identify corn hybrids tolerant or susceptible to soil waterlogging at the V2 growth stage. The main plots included waterlogging durations: no waterlogging; 14-day waterlogging and then allowing recovery from waterlogging stress for 7 days; and 21-day waterlogging. Subplots included eight commercial corn hybrids. The shoot and root biomass, plant height, stomatal conductance, and chlorophyll meter readings were decreased due to waterlogging for 14 days and 21 days. Hybrid #2 appeared to be more tolerant to waterlogging as evidenced by greater growth and higher stomatal conductance and chlorophyll meter readings on newer leaves under waterlogged conditions. Hybrid #5 and Hybrid #8 were more susceptible to waterlogging than other hybrids. Large variability occurred among corn hybrids in response to soil waterlogging durations. Beneficial effects of improved soil conditions after excess water removal from 14-day waterlogged pots were not seen in this experiment, probably due to the short recovery time period between the excess water removal and experiment termination. Full article
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Article
Experimental Nets for a Protection System against the Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al.
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020032 - 05 Feb 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1740
Abstract
The effectiveness of experimental nets in preventing the access of adult meadow spittlebug Philaenus spumarius L., the main vector of Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. subspecies pauca, sequence type (ST) 53, in olive tree nurseries and orchards was evaluated. To optimize the [...] Read more.
The effectiveness of experimental nets in preventing the access of adult meadow spittlebug Philaenus spumarius L., the main vector of Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. subspecies pauca, sequence type (ST) 53, in olive tree nurseries and orchards was evaluated. To optimize the net design, mesh size, kind of fabric, thread typology, and radiometric properties, six nets with different mesh sizes and kinds of fabric were evaluated in laboratory and in field experiments. Laboratory bioassays evaluating the capability of adult spittlebugs to pass through nets with different mesh sizes (1.2, 1.8, 2.4 mm) showed that all nets with a mesh size equal to or lower than 2.4 mm prevented insect crossing. These results were confirmed in field conditions using an experimental net box apparatus. Further laboratory tests showed a positive correlation between porosity and radiometric properties of the nets. Three prototypes of thermally stabilized flat woven nets made of circular cross-sectional yarns, knitted net with strips, and knitted nets made of yarns were tested after the evaluation of their potential usability in terms of porosity stability. The knitted net features were found to be the most suitable. The net transmissivity of the total and direct component of solar radiation in the photosynthetically active radiation and the infrared ranges increased with the net porosity. A prism-shaped wooden frame with a triangular base covered with the knitted net with a 2.4 mm mesh confirmed the insect’s capability of reaching considerable heights, up to 2.85 m. Hence, based on our results, the monowire knitted net with a 2.4 mm mesh can be used in open field nursery and olive orchards to prevent the access of P. spumarius adults and to shield the openings of greenhouse nurseries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Pest Management in Agricultural Systems)
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Article
Calibration and Global Sensitivity Analysis for a Salinity Model Used in Evaluating Fields Irrigated with Treated Wastewater in the Salinas Valley
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020031 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1227
Abstract
Treated wastewater irrigation began two decades ago in the Salinas Valley of California and provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the long-term effects of this strategy on soil salinization. We used data from a long-term field experiment that included application of a range [...] Read more.
Treated wastewater irrigation began two decades ago in the Salinas Valley of California and provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the long-term effects of this strategy on soil salinization. We used data from a long-term field experiment that included application of a range of blended water salinity on vegetables, strawberries and artichoke crops using surface and pressurized irrigation systems to calibrate and validate a root zone salinity model. We first applied the method of Morris to screen model parameters that have negligible influence on the output (soil-water electrical conductivity (ECsw)), and then the variance-based method of Sobol to select parameter values and complete model calibration and validation. While model simulations successfully captured long-term trends in soil salinity, model predictions underestimated ECsw for high ECsw samples. The model prediction error for the validation case ranged from 2.6% to 39%. The degree of soil salinization due to continuous application of water with electrical conductivity (ECw) of 0.57 dS/m to 1.76 dS/m depends on multiple factors; ECw and actual crop evapotranspiration had a positive effect on ECsw, while rainfall amounts and fallow had a negative effect. A 50-year simulation indicated that soil water equilibrium (ECsw ≤ 2dS/m, the initial ECsw) was reached after 8 to 14 years for vegetable crops irrigated with ECw of 0.95 to 1.76. Annual salt output loads for the 50-year simulation with runoff was a magnitude greater (from 305 to 1028 kg/ha/year) than that in deep percolation (up to 64 kg/ha/year). However, for all sites throughout the 50-year simulation, seasonal root zone salinity (saturated paste extract) did not exceed thresholds for salt tolerance for the selected crop rotations for the range of blended applied water salinities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Review
Cereal Production Trends under Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Southern Africa
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020030 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3275
Abstract
The increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, coupled with increasing temperatures and declining rainfall totals, are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in southern Africa. Agriculture is the most affected sector as 95% of cultivated area is rainfed. This review addressed trends in moisture [...] Read more.
The increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, coupled with increasing temperatures and declining rainfall totals, are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in southern Africa. Agriculture is the most affected sector as 95% of cultivated area is rainfed. This review addressed trends in moisture stress and the impacts on crop production, highlighting adaptation possible strategies to ensure food security in southern Africa. Notable changes in rainfall patterns and deficiencies in soil moisture are estimated and discussed, as well as the impact of rainfall variability on crop production and proposed adaptation strategies in agriculture. Climate moisture index (CMI) was used to assess aridity levels. Southern Africa is described as a climate hotspot due to increasing aridity, low adaptive capacity, underdevelopment and marginalisation. Although crop yields have been increasing due to increases in irrigated area and use of improved seed varieties, they have not been able to meet the food requirements of a growing population, compromising regional food security targets. Most countries in the region depend on international aid to supplement yield deficits. The recurrence of droughts caused by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) continue devastating the region, affecting livelihoods, economies and the environment. An example is the 2015/2016 ENSO drought that caused the region to call for international aid to feed about 40 million people. In spite of the water scarcity challenges, cereal production continues to increase steadily due to increased investment in irrigated agriculture and improved crop varieties. Given the current and future vulnerability of the agriculture sector in southern Africa, proactive adaptation interventions are important to help farming communities develop resilient systems to adapt to the changes and variability in climate and other stressors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Options for Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change)
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Article
Effects of Green Manure Application and Prolonging Mid-Season Drainage on Greenhouse Gas Emission from Paddy Fields in Ehime, Southwestern Japan
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020029 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2092
Abstract
Green manure application helps maintain soil fertility, reduce chemical fertilizer use, and carbon sequestration in the soil. Nevertheless, the application of organic matter in paddy fields induces CH4 and N2O emissions. Prolonging mid-season drainage reduces CH4 emissions in paddy [...] Read more.
Green manure application helps maintain soil fertility, reduce chemical fertilizer use, and carbon sequestration in the soil. Nevertheless, the application of organic matter in paddy fields induces CH4 and N2O emissions. Prolonging mid-season drainage reduces CH4 emissions in paddy fields. Therefore, the combined effects of green manure application and mid-season drainage prolongation on net greenhouse gas emission (NGHGE) were investigated. Four experimental treatments were set up over a 2-year period: conventional mid-season drainage with (CMG) and without (CM) green manure and prolonged (4 or 7 days) mid-season drainage with (PMG) and without (PM) green manure. Astragalus sinicus L. seeds were sown in autumn and incorporated before rice cultivation. No significant difference in annual CH4 and N2O emissions, heterotrophic respiration, and NGHGE between treatments were observed, indicating that green manure application and mid-season drainage prolongation did not influence NGHGE. CH4 flux decreased drastically in PM and PMG during mid-season drainage under the hot and dry weather conditions. However, increasing applied carbon increases NGHGE because of increased CH4 and Rh. Consequently, combination practice of mid-season drainage prolongation and green manure utilization can be acceptable without changing NGHGE while maintaining grain yield in rice paddy fields under organically managed rice paddy fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Article
Assessing the Environmental Efficiency of Greek Dairy Sheep Farms: GHG Emissions and Mitigation Potential
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020028 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1503
Abstract
One of the main ecological challenges that agricultural and especially livestock production systems face is the adoption of management practices that encourage the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while maintaining their production level. According to the relevant literature, the potential for GHG [...] Read more.
One of the main ecological challenges that agricultural and especially livestock production systems face is the adoption of management practices that encourage the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while maintaining their production level. According to the relevant literature, the potential for GHG reduction lies mainly in greater efficiency in meat and dairy production, which suggests that the ecological modernization of livestock farms follows the efficiency/substitution pathway. This study aims to investigate the above assumption and explore the link between the technical efficiency (TE) and environmental efficiency (EE) of livestock farms using data envelopment analysis (DEA). The analysis focuses on dairy sheep farming, since the activity is important for the Greek rural economy while at the same time responsible for half of the country’s agricultural methane emissions. Results indicate that the correlation between technical and environmental efficiency of sheep farms is significant. Environmental efficiency is affected by farm size, specialization and production orientation. Feeding practices, like the ratio of concentrates to forage, also appear to have a positive effect on environmental efficiency. On the other hand, experienced farmers tend to have lower environmental efficiency, which may indicate their reluctance to adopt modern farming practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Article
The Efficiencies, Environmental Impacts and Economics of Energy Consumption for Groundwater-Based Irrigation in Oklahoma
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020027 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2070
Abstract
Irrigation pumping is a major expense of agricultural operations, especially in arid/semi-arid areas that extract large amounts of water from deep groundwater resources. Studying and improving pumping efficiencies can have direct impacts on farm net profits and on the amount of greenhouse gases [...] Read more.
Irrigation pumping is a major expense of agricultural operations, especially in arid/semi-arid areas that extract large amounts of water from deep groundwater resources. Studying and improving pumping efficiencies can have direct impacts on farm net profits and on the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from pumping plants. In this study, the overall pumping efficiency (OPE), the GHG emissions, and the costs of irrigation pumping were investigated for electric pumps extracting from the Rush Springs (RS) aquifer in central Oklahoma and the natural gas-powered pumps tapping the Ogallala (OG) aquifer in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The results showed that all electric plants and the majority of natural gas plants operated at OPE levels below achievable standard levels. The total emission from the plants in the OG region was 49% larger than that from plants in the RS region. However, the emission per unit irrigated area and unit total dynamic head of pumping was 4% smaller for the natural gas plants in the OG area. A long-term analysis conducted over the 2001–2017 period revealed that 34% and 19% reductions in energy requirements and 52% and 20% decreases in GHG emissions can be achieved if the OPE were improved to achievable standards for plants in the RS and OG regions, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Article
High-Resolution Multisensor Remote Sensing to Support Date Palm Farm Management
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020026 - 31 Jan 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2625
Abstract
Date palms are a valuable crop in areas with limited water availability such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, due to their hardiness in tough conditions. Increasing soil salinity and the spread of pests including the red palm weevil (RPW) are two [...] Read more.
Date palms are a valuable crop in areas with limited water availability such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, due to their hardiness in tough conditions. Increasing soil salinity and the spread of pests including the red palm weevil (RPW) are two examples of growing threats to date palm plantations. Separate studies have shown that thermal, multispectral, and hyperspectral remote sensing imagery can provide insight into the health of date palm plantations, but the added value of combining these datasets has not been investigated. The current study used available thermal, hyperspectral, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and visual Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images to investigate the possibilities of assessing date palm health at two “levels”; block level and individual tree level. Test blocks were defined into assumed healthy and unhealthy classes, and thermal and height data were extracted and compared. Due to distortions in the hyperspectral imagery, this data was only used for individual tree analysis; methods for identifying individual tree points using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps proved accurate. A total of 100 random test trees in one block were selected, and comparisons between hyperspectral, thermal and height data were made. For the vegetation index red-edge position (REP), the R-squared value in correlation with temperature was 0.313 and with height was 0.253. The vegetation index—the Vogelmann Red Edge Index (VOGI)—also has a relatively strong correlation value with both temperature (R2 = 0.227) and height (R2 = 0.213). Despite limited field data, the results of this study suggest that remote sensing data has added value in analyzing date palm plantations and could provide insight for precision agriculture techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Article
Mineral and Citrate Concentrations in Milk Are Affected by Seasons, Stage of Lactation and Management Practices
Agriculture 2019, 9(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9020025 - 29 Jan 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1285
Abstract
This study was conducted to examine associations between nutrition, time of year and season of calving on milk mineral concentrations in 24 pasture-based dairy farms. There was substantial variation in the concentrations (mean with range in parentheses) of Ca 1072 (864–1310) mg/kg; citrate [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to examine associations between nutrition, time of year and season of calving on milk mineral concentrations in 24 pasture-based dairy farms. There was substantial variation in the concentrations (mean with range in parentheses) of Ca 1072 (864–1310) mg/kg; citrate 1579 (880–2080) mg/kg; P 885 (640–1040) mg/kg; Mg 98 (73–122) mg/kg; Na 347 (248–554) mg/kg; K 1534 (1250–2010) mg/kg; and S 295 (155–372) mg/kg with most of the variation associated with stage of lactation, although the influence of days in milk was different for different minerals. Feeding practices were also important in determining the concentrations of some components. Milk Ca, citrate, P, and K concentrations were greater (p < 0.05) in cows receiving mineral supplements, while Ca, P and Mg were positively correlated (p < 0.05) with the amount of concentrates fed. Milk citrate and K concentrations were positively correlated (p < 0.05) with herbage allowance. Milk Se (15 (<3–37) µg/kg) and Zn (3.4 (2.2–4.9) mg/kg) also varied with time of year, with Se concentrations also greater (13.7 vs 11.6 µg/kg) in spring compared with autumn calving herds and positively correlated (p < 0.05) with the amount of concentrates fed and mineral supplementation. These data indicate that calving pattern and feeding practices could be used to reduce variation in the measured milk mineral concentrations. Full article
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