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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 4 (April 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The high altitude and short growing season of the U.S. Southern High Plains (SHP) can reduce cotton [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Risk Factors for Dystocia and Perinatal Mortality in Extensively Kept Angus Suckler Cows in Germany
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040085
Received: 5 March 2019 / Revised: 22 April 2019 / Accepted: 24 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
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Abstract
Dystocia and perinatal mortality are major animal health, welfare and economic issues in beef suckler cow production. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors for dystocia and perinatal mortality and to analyze the relationships of both traits to external pelvic [...] Read more.
Dystocia and perinatal mortality are major animal health, welfare and economic issues in beef suckler cow production. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors for dystocia and perinatal mortality and to analyze the relationships of both traits to external pelvic parameters in extensively kept beef suckler cows. Calving ease and calf survival were recorded for 785 births on five Angus cattle farms in Germany. The prevalence of dystocia and perinatal mortality was 3.4% and 4.3%, respectively. A hierarchical model was used to predict dystocia and perinatal mortality. First-parity dams had a higher probability of dystocia (p < 0.0001) than later-parity ones. Increasing birth weight was associated with an increasing risk for dystocia (p < 0.05). The probability of perinatal mortality (p < 0.0001) was higher in assisted births than in unassisted births. Calves from first-parity dams had a higher risk (p < 0.01) of being stillborn than calves from dams in later parities. An increase in the length of the pelvis was associated with an increase in odds for perinatal mortality (p < 0.001). In conclusion, the study indicates that dystocia and perinatal mortality are mainly problems in first-parity suckler cows. Concerning the predictive value of external pelvic parameters, further research is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
Chitosan Coating to Preserve the Qualitative Traits and Improve Antioxidant System in Fresh Figs (Ficus carica L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040084
Received: 28 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
Chitosan-based coatings are used as a postharvest treatment to extend the shelf-life of several fruits. In this study, the effectiveness of chitosan-based coating to preserve the physico-chemical (weight loss, soluble solid content, and titratable acidity) and nutraceutical traits (total polyphenol, anthocyanin, flavonoid, ascorbic [...] Read more.
Chitosan-based coatings are used as a postharvest treatment to extend the shelf-life of several fruits. In this study, the effectiveness of chitosan-based coating to preserve the physico-chemical (weight loss, soluble solid content, and titratable acidity) and nutraceutical traits (total polyphenol, anthocyanin, flavonoid, ascorbic acid content, antioxidant capacity) in fresh fig “Troiano” has been evaluated. Furthermore, antioxidant enzyme activities, such as catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX), were evaluated as well as the enzymes activities involved in fruit browning (polyphenol oxidase (PPO), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX)). Fruits were treated with 1% chitosan and 1% ascorbic acid coating, stored at 4 °C for nine days, and sampled every three days. Chitosan-based coating significantly reduced the weight loss and the qualitative changes, improving the total polyphenol, anthocyanin, and flavonoid contents and the antioxidant activity in stored figs. The higher activity of antioxidant enzymes allowed to reduce oxidative stress and prevent the browning reactions in chitosan-coated figs. The principal component analysis allowed to distinguish different behaviors among uncoated and chitosan-coated figs, indicating that the combined effects of chitosan-based treatment and storage time influenced the physico-chemical, nutraceutical and antioxidant system of figs during storage. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Economic Impacts of Cover Crops for a Missouri Wheat–Corn–Soybean Rotation
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040083
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 20 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
In the United States, agricultural production using row-crop farming has reduced crop diversity. Repeated growing of the same crop in a field reduces soil productivity and increases pests, disease infestations, and weed growth. These negative effects can be mitigated by rotating cash crops [...] Read more.
In the United States, agricultural production using row-crop farming has reduced crop diversity. Repeated growing of the same crop in a field reduces soil productivity and increases pests, disease infestations, and weed growth. These negative effects can be mitigated by rotating cash crops with cover crops. Cover crops can improve soil’s physical, chemical, and biological properties, provide ground cover, and sequester soil carbon. This study examines the economic profitability for a four-year wheat–corn–soybean study with cover crops by conducting a field experiment involving a control (without cover crops) at the Soil Health Farm in Chariton County, MO, USA. Our findings suggested that economic profitability of the cash crop is negatively affected by the cover crop during the first two years but were positive in the fourth year. The rotation with cover crops obtained the same profit as in the control group if revenue from the cash crop increased by 35% or the cost of the cover crop decreased by 26% in the first year, depending on the cost of seeding the cover crop and terminating it. This study provides insights for policymakers on ways to improve the economic efficiency of cost-share conservation programs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Planting Date Effects on Cotton Lint Yield and Fiber Quality in the U.S. Southern High Plains
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040082
Received: 8 March 2019 / Revised: 10 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 22 April 2019
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Abstract
Cotton planting date effects in the U.S. Southern High Plains (SHP) were evaluated based on 11 years of May-planted and June-planted irrigated variety trials. Multiple cultivars planted in each year’s trial allowed for the calculation of 153 yield effects and 162 effects in [...] Read more.
Cotton planting date effects in the U.S. Southern High Plains (SHP) were evaluated based on 11 years of May-planted and June-planted irrigated variety trials. Multiple cultivars planted in each year’s trial allowed for the calculation of 153 yield effects and 162 effects in 5 fiber quality parameters. Yield and quality effects were considered in the context of related changes in total growing season degree days (GDDS) and total cool hours (CHRS) during a boll formation period 80 to 110 days after planting. May planting increased GDDS and significantly increased yields in 8 of 10 years that comparisons could be made. Micronaire and fiber elongation were the most sensitive quality parameters to planting date. June planting resulted in increased CHRS every year and a significantly higher incidence of low micronaire in 7 of 11 years. In 7 of 11 years May planting significantly reduced fiber elongation relative to June planting. Analysis of SHP temperature data show that late-April to early-May planting dates may increase yield and micronaire by maximizing GDDS and minimizing CHRS. Although this practice may be optimal to the SHP environment it may also require high-vigor seed and pre-planting irrigation. Adapting genetics to an early planting strategy might include selecting for improved seed vigor and cold germination with acceptable yield and fiber quality traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cotton Production and Quality Research)
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Open AccessReview
Color for Life: Biosynthesis and Distribution of Phenolic Compounds in Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040081
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 14 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
Fruits and vegetables are an important supplier of biological active substances, such as vitamins and secondary metabolites (SM) for human nutrition, but also for further industrial applications. Pepper (Capsicum annuum) is grown and consumed all over the world as a fresh [...] Read more.
Fruits and vegetables are an important supplier of biological active substances, such as vitamins and secondary metabolites (SM) for human nutrition, but also for further industrial applications. Pepper (Capsicum annuum) is grown and consumed all over the world as a fresh vegetable or dried as a spice. It is also used as a coloring agent, as well for medical purposes. Pepper fruits are considered as an attractive source of health-related compounds, but other organs like the leaves and stem also contain considerable amounts of antioxidants, e.g., phenolic compounds. This indicates potential for valorization of residual biomass from horticultural production by using innovative bioeconomic concepts. Herein, we present an overview about the biosynthesis of phenolic compounds, with a special focus on flavonoids and their regulation in pepper, the current knowledge of amounts and distribution of these valuable substances, as well as possible strategies for: (1) increasing flavonoid contents in pepper, (2) improving the nutritional value of fruits, and (3) new concepts for utilization of residual biomass from horticultural production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food for Future)
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Open AccessArticle
An Integrated Approach to Assessing the Soil Quality and Nutritional Status of Large and Long-Term Cultivated Rice Agro-Ecosystems
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040080
Received: 26 March 2019 / Revised: 12 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
The aim of this study is to develop an integrated approach to soil quality and fertility assessment in high-yielding rice agro-ecosystems threatened due to overexploitation of soil resources by intensive agriculture. The proposed approach is implemented considering representative pilot fields allocated throughout a [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to develop an integrated approach to soil quality and fertility assessment in high-yielding rice agro-ecosystems threatened due to overexploitation of soil resources by intensive agriculture. The proposed approach is implemented considering representative pilot fields allocated throughout a study area based on the assumption that soils of similar general properties present a similar nutritional status due to common long-term management practices. The analysis includes (a) object-based image analysis for land zonation, (b) hot-spot analysis for sampling scheme evaluation, (c) setting of critical thresholds in soil parameters for detecting nutrient deficiencies and soil quality problems, and (d) Redundancy Analysis, TITAN analysis, and multiple regression for identifying individual or combined effects of general soil properties (e.g., organic matter, soil texture, pH, salinity) or non-soil parameters (e.g., topographic parameters) on soil nutrients. The approach was applied using as a case study the large rice agro-ecosystem of Thessaloniki plain in Greece considering some site specificities (e.g., high rice yields, calcareous soils) when setting the critical thresholds in soil parameters. The results showed that (a) 62.5% of the pilot fields’ coverage has a simultaneous deficiency in Zn, Mn, and B, (b) organic matter (OM) was the most significant descriptor of nutrients’ variance, and its cold spots (clustered regions of low OM values) showed important overlapping with the cold spots of K, Mg, Zn, Mn, Cu, and B, (c) a higher rate of availability increase in P, K, Mg, Mn, Zn, Fe, Cu, and B was observed when the OM ranged between 2 and 3%, and (d) the multiple regression models that assess K and P concentrations based on general soil properties showed an adequate performance, allowing their use for general assessment of their soil concentrations in the fields of the whole agro-ecosystem. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Deficit Drip Irrigation in Processing Tomato Production in the Mediterranean Basin. A Data Analysis for Italy
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040079
Received: 8 April 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
In this study, the effects of deficit irrigation (DI) on crop yields and irrigation water utilization efficiency (IWUE) of processing tomato are contrasting. This study aimed at analyzing a set of field experiments with drip irrigation available for Mediterranean Italy in terms of [...] Read more.
In this study, the effects of deficit irrigation (DI) on crop yields and irrigation water utilization efficiency (IWUE) of processing tomato are contrasting. This study aimed at analyzing a set of field experiments with drip irrigation available for Mediterranean Italy in terms of marketable yields and IWUE under DI. Both yields and IWUE were compared with the control treatment under full irrigation, receiving the maximum water restoration (MWR) in each experiment. The study also aimed at testing the effect of climate (aridity index) and soil parameters (texture). Main results indicated that yields would marginally decrease at 70–80% of MWR and variable irrigation regimes during the crop cycle resulted in higher crop yields. However, results were quite variable and site-dependent. In fact, DI proved more effective in fine textured soils and semiarid climates. We recommend that further research should address variable irrigation regimes and soil and climate conditions that proved more unfavorable in terms of crop response to DI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Optimum Harvesting Maturity of Makhwaen Fruit for the Perfumery Industry
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040078
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 11 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
Harvesting makhwaen (Zanthoxylum myriacanthum Wall. ex Hook. f) fruits at the appropriate maturity is the key to ensure that the essential oil quality meets the need of consumers. In common practice, the fruits are usually harvested when their pericarps start to open [...] Read more.
Harvesting makhwaen (Zanthoxylum myriacanthum Wall. ex Hook. f) fruits at the appropriate maturity is the key to ensure that the essential oil quality meets the need of consumers. In common practice, the fruits are usually harvested when their pericarps start to open and fruits are greenish-red in colour depending on the judgment of the farmers. This leads to inconsistencies in the essential oil quality. This research aims at characterising the aromatic profiles of makhwaen essential oil thereby for consumers to choose the quality that best fits their need and eventually identify the optimum harvesting index of the fruits. The effects of maturity states viz. 15, 36, 45 and 60 (MK15-60) days after fruiting on chemical and sensorial quality of the essential oil was evaluated. Fruit sizes ranged from ~3.3–3.7 mm and fruits appeared to dry initially when they reached 45 days. Essential oils were extracted from these fruits after they had been oven dried (60 °C) to the same moisture content, about 10%. The chemical profiles of the essential oil were different. L-limonene and sabinene were evaluated as key components for good quality essential oil and they were found to be higher in MK45 and MK60 (max = 139.04 µg·mL−1 and max = 146.27 respectively). NIR spectral patterns of pure extracted oil for every different harvesting time (of every different harvesting time of MK60 and MK36) were similar. Sensorial descriptive analysis by semi-trained panellists defined six terms for characteristics (woody, citrus, herb, sweet, pine and spice). The panels provided the highest rating score (15 numeric scale) of citrus and pine scents at MK45, while sweet and woody aromas were the highest at MK15. The spice scent was maximum when the fruits were harvested at 36 days after fruiting. From this study we suggest that the optimum harvesting index for the distinctive aroma of essential oil ought to be at late harvesting (45–60 days after fruiting). The findings contribute to our understanding of the harvesting maturity, which can also provide significant benefit for the perfumery industry, i.e., the optimum harvesting stage that imparts the essential oil with highest quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Fruits and Vegetables)
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Open AccessArticle
Eating Hamburgers Slowly and Sustainably: The Fast Food Market in North-West Italy
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040077
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
The Italian food movement shows some peculiarities of meeting consumer demand in the foodservice subsector where innovation is considered strategic to meet targets and reach goals. A particular kind of innovation is the return to tradition by enhancement of the territory, e.g., reinstating [...] Read more.
The Italian food movement shows some peculiarities of meeting consumer demand in the foodservice subsector where innovation is considered strategic to meet targets and reach goals. A particular kind of innovation is the return to tradition by enhancement of the territory, e.g., reinstating local recipes and local gastronomy or high-quality local raw materials. Some entrepreneurs are redefining the fast-food service, providing foodstuffs through a short supply chain. The aim of this paper is to identify the different hamburger foodservices operating in North-West Italy and address their diverse peculiarities. A sample of 11 hamburger restaurants was identified, a mystery shopping analysis was implemented to collect information on the foodservice phenomenon, and a Business Model Canvas was carried out to compare different foodservices. The results consider two different hamburger foodservices, i.e., International Hamburger Foodservice (IHF) and Local Hamburger Foodservice (LHF), the former concentrating mainly on customer service, human resource management, and operations management, and the latter focussing on high product quality in terms of materials and psychology, plus selection of local raw materials and ingredients, supporting the local economy and businesses. Moreover, the findings provide some information on the interaction between selected Hamburger Foodservices and related supply chains, highlighting the consumer transition toward meals of high quality standards in terms of raw materials and ingredients. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Actual Evapotranspiration and Tree Performance of Mature Micro-Irrigated Pistachio Orchards Grown on Saline-Sodic Soils in the San Joaquin Valley of California
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040076
Received: 9 February 2019 / Revised: 21 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 12 April 2019
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Abstract
In California, a significant percentage of the pistachio acreage is in the San Joaquin Valley on saline and saline-sodic soils. However, irrigation management practices in commercial pistachio production are based on water-use information developed nearly two decades ago from experiments conducted in non-saline [...] Read more.
In California, a significant percentage of the pistachio acreage is in the San Joaquin Valley on saline and saline-sodic soils. However, irrigation management practices in commercial pistachio production are based on water-use information developed nearly two decades ago from experiments conducted in non-saline orchards sprinkler-irrigated with good quality water. No information is currently available that quantify the effect of salinity or combined salinity and sodicity on water use of micro-irrigated pistachio orchards, even though such information would help growers schedule irrigations and control soil salinity through leaching. To fill this gap, a field research study was conducted in 2016 and 2017 to measure the actual evapotranspiration (ETa) from commercial pistachio orchards grown on non-saline and saline-sodic soils in the southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley of California. The study aimed at investigating the functional relations between soil salinity/sodicity and tree performance, and understanding the mechanisms regulating water-use reduction under saline and saline-sodic conditions. Pistachio ETa was measured with the residual of energy balance method using a combination of surface renewal and eddy covariance equipment. Saline and saline-sodic conditions in the soil adversely affected tree performance with different intensity. The analysis of field data showed that ETa, light interception by the tree canopy, and nut yield were highly and linearly related (r2 > 0.9). Moving from non-saline to saline and saline-sodic conditions, the canopy light interception decreased from 75% (non-saline) to around 50% (saline) and 30% (saline-sodic), and ETa decreased by 32% to 46% relative to the non-saline orchard. In saline-sodic soils, the nut yield resulted around 50% lower than that of non-saline orchard. A statistical analysis performed on the correlations between soil physical-chemical parameters and selected tree performance indicators (ETa, light interception, and nut yield) revealed that the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) adversely affected tree performance more than the soil electrical conductivity (ECe). Results suggest that secondary effects of sodicity (i.e., degradation of soil structure, possibly leading to poor soil aeration and root hypoxia) might have had a stronger impact on pistachio performance than did salinity in the long term. The information presented in this paper can help pistachio growers and farm managers better tailor irrigation water allocation and management to site-specific orchard conditions (e.g., canopy features and soil-water salinity/sodicity), and potentially lead to water and energy savings through improved irrigation management practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Response and Tolerance of Agricultural Crops to Salinity Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Heavy Rainfall Events on the Dry Matter Yield Trend of Whole Crop Maize (Zea mays L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040075
Received: 18 March 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 11 April 2019
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Abstract
The objective of this study was to detect the historical dry matter yield (DMY) trend and to evaluate the effects of heavy rainfall events on the observed DMY trend of whole crop maize (WCM, Zea mays L.) using time-series analysis in Suwon, Republic [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to detect the historical dry matter yield (DMY) trend and to evaluate the effects of heavy rainfall events on the observed DMY trend of whole crop maize (WCM, Zea mays L.) using time-series analysis in Suwon, Republic of Korea. The climatic variables corresponding to the seeding to harvesting period, including the growing degree days, mean temperature, etc., of WCM along with the DMY data (n = 543) during 1982–2011, were used in the analysis. The DMY trend was detected using Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average with the explanatory variables (ARIMAX) form of time-series trend analysis. The optimal DMY model was found to be ARIMAX (1, 1, 1), indicating that the DMY trend follows the mean DMY of the preceding one year and the residual of the preceding one year with an integration level of 1. Furthermore, the SHGDD and SHHR were determined to be the main variables responsible for the observed trend in the DMY of WCM. During heavy rainfall events, the DMY was found to be decreasing by 4745.27 kg/ha (p < 0.01). Our analysis also revealed that both the intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall events have been increasing since 2005. The forecasted DMY indicates the potential decrease, which is expected to be 11,607 kg/ha by 2045. This study provided us evidence for the correlation between the DMY and heavy rainfall events that opens the way to provide solutions for challenges that summer forage crops face in the Republic of Korea. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Multi-Level Perspective in Research on Sustainability Transitions in Agriculture and Food Systems: A Systematic Review
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040074
Received: 7 March 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 April 2019 / Published: 10 April 2019
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Abstract
The multi-level perspective (MLP) is a prominent transition framework. The MLP posits that transitions come about through interaction processes within and among three analytical levels: niches, socio-technical regimes and a socio-technical landscape. This systematic review provides an overview on the use of the [...] Read more.
The multi-level perspective (MLP) is a prominent transition framework. The MLP posits that transitions come about through interaction processes within and among three analytical levels: niches, socio-technical regimes and a socio-technical landscape. This systematic review provides an overview on the use of the MLP in research on agro-food sustainability transitions. In particular, it analyses the understanding, conceptualisation and operationalisation of niches, regimes and landscapes. Niches considered in the selected papers include agro-ecology, organic agriculture, permaculture, conservation agriculture, integrated farming, and alternative food networks. Regime refers to industrial, conventional agriculture. The researched regime is often not clearly described and its operationalisation is a matter of deliberation. Landscape level is generally overlooked; when it is considered it refers to international trends and developments. Many scholars highlight the inadequacy of transition pathways in the MLP for the agro-food sector. Moreover, transition impacts are rarely addressed and the research field generally overlooks the analysis of the sustainability of niches and, consequently, of transitions. Research on transitions in the agro-food sector borrows from the MLP its generalizability and poor empirical operationalisation of niche, regime and landscape concepts. Therefore, integrative conceptualisation and operationalisation of the MLP elements is required to accommodate the complexity of sustainability transition processes and the peculiarities of the agro-food system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Multi-Parameter Approach for Apricot Texture Analysis
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040073
Received: 4 March 2019 / Revised: 28 March 2019 / Accepted: 3 April 2019 / Published: 9 April 2019
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Abstract
Apricots have a short storage life principally caused by a rapid softening, which increases the sensitivity of the fruit to mechanical damage, and to the development of fungal diseases. The current methods to assess fruit firmness give limited information on the evolution and [...] Read more.
Apricots have a short storage life principally caused by a rapid softening, which increases the sensitivity of the fruit to mechanical damage, and to the development of fungal diseases. The current methods to assess fruit firmness give limited information on the evolution and the mechanisms of softening. With the aim of developing novel strategies to better monitor fruit softening, a multi-parameter approach measuring textural properties was evaluated and compared to a reference method whose results are obtained from a unique parameter. ‘Goldrich’ and ‘Orangered®’ apricots were used in this study as representative cultivars with substantially different post-harvest behavior. The results showed that this multi-parametric approach allows detailed evaluation of the influence of storage conditions on apricots’ textural properties. The correlations found between firmness values measured by the standard method and the multiple textural parameters obtained by the compression and the puncture tests on the fruit flesh had r-values ranging from 0.6 to 0.78. Parameters related to the skin were, however, poorly correlated with the standard method, with r-values all below 0.4. Taken together, these results demonstrate that a multi-parameter approach allows a better understanding of how storage conditions influence the softening of apricots in a cultivar-specific manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Fruits and Vegetables)
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Open AccessArticle
Lightning Protection Systems Suitable for Stables: A Case Study
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040072
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 31 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
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Abstract
The evolution of climate and of electrical devices are raising users’ awareness about the protection of structures and plants against common overvoltage phenomena and those ones of atmospheric origin. Therefore, a continuous evolution of thunderstorm phenomena, increasingly concentrated and intense, is occurring. Conversely, [...] Read more.
The evolution of climate and of electrical devices are raising users’ awareness about the protection of structures and plants against common overvoltage phenomena and those ones of atmospheric origin. Therefore, a continuous evolution of thunderstorm phenomena, increasingly concentrated and intense, is occurring. Conversely, electric devices are increasingly being equipped with electronics indispensable for their right functioning and are very sensitive to electromagnetic phenomena of an induced and conducted nature. In Italy, the law concerning work health and safety compels employers to assess the risk raised by lightning and to ensure that buildings, systems, structures, and equipment are protected from the effects of lightning in agreement with national and international technical standards. In the agricultural livestock sector, the new guidelines of agricultural policy in Italy requires farms to re-examine their structures, in particular the compatibility with animal protection requirements. In the event of a fault, the electric circuit must be interrupted in times not higher than expected and, in particular in the agricultural and zootechnical structures, it is necessary to maintain the contact voltages to negligible values by carrying out additional equipotential connections among the masses and with foreign masses that can be touched. Furthermore, particular attention is required in limiting the step voltage to which animals are particularly sensitive to, by connecting the electro-welded metal grids, which are commonly located under the concrete floor of animal shelters, to the earth collector. Taking in mind the aforesaid, the aim of this work was to analyze the technical standard concerning the protection from lightning with reference to the agricultural livestock sector and the study of the salient components to set up a suitable lightning protection system for a medium-sized stable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
CO2 Flux and C Balance due to the Replacement of Bare Soil with Agro-Ecological Service Crops in Mediterranean Environment
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040071
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
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Abstract
Intensive agriculture practices often results in decomposition of organic matter, thus causing soil CO2 emissions. Agro-ecological service crop could be profitably cultivated to improve soil characteristics and reduce CO2 emissions under Mediterranean environment. Two-year field trials were conducted in central Italy. [...] Read more.
Intensive agriculture practices often results in decomposition of organic matter, thus causing soil CO2 emissions. Agro-ecological service crop could be profitably cultivated to improve soil characteristics and reduce CO2 emissions under Mediterranean environment. Two-year field trials were conducted in central Italy. The treatments were three agro-ecological service crops (hairy vetch, oat, and oilseed rape) and a no-service cover. Plant development, soil characteristics, and CO2 emissions were measured. Oat and oilseed rape showed a rapid growth, while hairy vetch started to grow rapidly only after the cold period. Soil CO2 emissions trend was similar among the agro-ecological service crops and tended to decrease during the cold period, then gradually increased until April when warm temperatures were observed. The high soil CO2 emissions and respiration index observed in hairy vetch probably stimulated mineral nutrients, especially nitrogen, to become more available in the soil compared to oat and oilseed rape throughout the decomposition of soil organic matter. These results confirmed that the cultivation of agro-ecological service crops, especially hairy vetch, could represent a suitable strategy for enhancing carbon sequestration and lead to a mitigation of CO2 emissions during the fallow period and could thus contribute to the climate change mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Sensitivity and Recovery of Grain Sorghum to Simulated Drift Rates of Glyphosate, Glufosinate, and Paraquat
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040070
Received: 20 February 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 1 April 2019
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Abstract
A field experiment was conducted in 2017 and 2018 to evaluate the sensitivity and recovery of grain sorghum to the simulated drift of glufosinate, glyphosate, and paraquat at two application timings (V6 and flag leaf growth stage). Paraquat drift caused maximum injury to [...] Read more.
A field experiment was conducted in 2017 and 2018 to evaluate the sensitivity and recovery of grain sorghum to the simulated drift of glufosinate, glyphosate, and paraquat at two application timings (V6 and flag leaf growth stage). Paraquat drift caused maximum injury to sorghum plants in both years, whereas the lowest injury was caused by glyphosate in 2017. Averaged over all herbicide treatments, injury to grain sorghum from the simulated herbicide drift was 5% greater when herbicides were applied at flag leaf stage, as compared to herbicide applications at the six-leaf stage in 2017. In 2018, injury from glyphosate drift was higher when applied at the six-leaf stage than at the flag leaf stage. Paraquat and glufosinate drift caused more injury when applied at flag leaf stage than at six-leaf stage at 14 days after application in 2018. About 21% to 29% of injury from the simulated drift of paraquat led to a 31% reduction in grain sorghum yield, as compared to a nontreated check in 2017. The simulated drift of glyphosate and glufosinate did not result in any significant yield reduction compared to the nontreated check in 2017, possibly due to the recovery of sorghum plants after herbicides’ drift application. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reproductive Biology of Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton)
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040069
Received: 7 March 2019 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 30 March 2019
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Abstract
Wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, is a native forest understory plant that is managed as a fruit crop. Over the past 51 years, experiments have been conducted to investigate its reproduction. A model was developed that predicts bloom to begin at 100° days [...] Read more.
Wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, is a native forest understory plant that is managed as a fruit crop. Over the past 51 years, experiments have been conducted to investigate its reproduction. A model was developed that predicts bloom to begin at 100° days (base 4.4 °C) after 1 April and to end at 500° days for a period of three to four weeks. Flower stigmas are only receptive to pollen deposition for eight to 10 days, and the rate of fruit set declines rapidly after four days. Placement of pollen upon receptive stigmas suggests that fruit set occurs with as little as a single pollen tetrad. Twelve tetrads result in 50% fruit set. Several years of exploratory fruit set field experiments show viable seeds per berry, which result from pollination with compatible genotype pollen, is associated with larger berry mass (g). Decomposition of the total variance in fruit set shows that stem variation explains 65% to 79% of total variance in the fruit set. To a lesser extent, the field, year, and clone also explain the percent fruit set variation. Variation between stems may be due to variation in the number of flowers. Fruit set tends to decrease as the flower density increases, possibly due to the limitation of pollinators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue North American Native Food Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
The Transformation of Agro-Climatic Resources of the Altai Region under Changing Climate Conditions
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040068
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
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Abstract
This research examines the transformation of the agro-climatic conditions of the Altai region as a result of climate change. The climate of the Altai region in Russia is sharply continental and characterized by dry air and significant weather variability, both in individual seasons [...] Read more.
This research examines the transformation of the agro-climatic conditions of the Altai region as a result of climate change. The climate of the Altai region in Russia is sharply continental and characterized by dry air and significant weather variability, both in individual seasons and years. The current study is determined by the lack of detailed area-related analytical generalizations for the territory of the Altai region over the past 30 years. Most of the published data dealing with an integrated analysis of the agro-climatic conditions in the Altai region date back to the late 1960s and early 1970s; in most cases, this data is from climate reference-books based on the generalized data from the first half of the 20th century. To make accurate forecasts and to efficiently manage agricultural production in the Altai region, area-related data on the state and dynamics of agro-climatic changes have been analysed. The results reveal that in the period between 1964 and 2017, significant climatic changes occurred in the territory of the Altai region. These climatic changes affected the growing season length, which increased due to a shift in the dates of the air temperature transition above 10 °C, to earlier dates in spring and to later dates in autumn. Furthermore, the current study also revealed that the foothills of the Altai Mountains are the most moistened parts of the region and the Kulunda lowland is the most arid part. In the Altai region, the accumulated temperatures and amounts of precipitation during the growing season increased significantly, and the values of integrated coefficients and indices that reflect the moisture supply conditions for the territory also changed significantly. Based upon the results, a schematic map of the current precipitation distribution on the Altai region’s territory has been generated. These results and this map may be used to conduct more detailed studies in the field of agro-climatology and to update the current borders of agro-climatic areas and revision of the agro-climatic zonation scheme. Full article
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