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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 6 (June 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Incorporation of dry-season crops in the lowland production systems of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Soil Amendments on the Hydraulic Conductivity of Boreal Agricultural Podzols
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060133
Received: 25 May 2019 / Revised: 17 June 2019 / Accepted: 21 June 2019 / Published: 25 June 2019
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Abstract
Hydraulic properties of soil are the basis for understanding the flow and transport through the vadose zone. It has been demonstrated that different soil amendments can alter the soil properties affecting soil hydrology. The aim of this study was to determine the effect [...] Read more.
Hydraulic properties of soil are the basis for understanding the flow and transport through the vadose zone. It has been demonstrated that different soil amendments can alter the soil properties affecting soil hydrology. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of soil amendments on hydraulic conductivity (K) of a loamy sand podzolic soil under both unsaturated (Kunsat) and near-saturated (near Ksat) conditions in an agricultural setting. A field experiment was conducted with two common soil amendments: Dairy manure (DM) in 2016 and 2017 and biochar (BC) once only in 2016. DM and BC were incorporated up to a depth of 0.15–0.20 m at a rate of 30,000 L ha−1 and 20 Mg ha−1, respectively. A randomized complete block experimental design was used and the plots planted with silage corn (Zea mays L.) without irrigation. The treatments were: Control without amendment (0N), inorganic N fertilizer (IN), two types of DM (IN+DM1 and IN+DM2), and two treatments with BC (IN+BC and IN+DM1+BC). Infiltration data were collected using a mini disk infiltrometer under three tension levels in which −0.04 and −0.02 m was ascribed as unsaturated (at the wet end) and −0.001 m as near-saturated condition. Based on the measured infiltration rates, Kunsat and near Ksat hydraulic conductivities were calculated. There were no significant effects of DM and BC on bulk density and near Ksat. Treatments IN+DM1, IN+DM2, and IN+DM1+BC significantly reduced the Kunsat compared to the control. Since these soil amendments can influence soil hydrology such as reduced infiltration and increased surface runoff, carefully monitored application of soil amendments is recommended. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Addressing Animal Welfare through Collaborative Stakeholder Networks
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060132
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 19 June 2019 / Accepted: 19 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Abstract
In this review, we discuss animal welfare as a complex and contested issue facing society and outline why collaborative, multi-stakeholder approaches are critical for effective policy development. Using the lens of “wicked problems” and drawing upon governance literature on policy networks, we identify [...] Read more.
In this review, we discuss animal welfare as a complex and contested issue facing society and outline why collaborative, multi-stakeholder approaches are critical for effective policy development. Using the lens of “wicked problems” and drawing upon governance literature on policy networks, we identify important factors for working with the inherent complexity of animal welfare through the inclusion of various stakeholder perspectives. We present two case studies that illustrate policy network approaches to animal welfare and highlight the value of fostering collaboration among various stakeholder groups from the industry, community, research, and government sectors. We suggest that the influence of stakeholder networks will likely increase in coming years as newer forms of participatory governance become common. By understanding how collaborative stakeholder networks establish participatory governance, productive communication, and collective priorities, leaders in the field of animal welfare can more productively engage with stakeholders and achieve long-lasting improvements in animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
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Open AccessReview
Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia Michx., syn. Muscandinia rotundifolia (Michx.) Small): The Resilient, Native Grape of the Southeastern U.S
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060131
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 13 June 2019 / Accepted: 15 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Abstract
Angiosperms are well adapted to tolerate biotic and abiotic stresses in their native environment. However, the growth habit of native plants may not be suited for cultivation and their fruits may not be desirable for consumption. Adapting a plant for cultivation and commercial [...] Read more.
Angiosperms are well adapted to tolerate biotic and abiotic stresses in their native environment. However, the growth habit of native plants may not be suited for cultivation and their fruits may not be desirable for consumption. Adapting a plant for cultivation and commercial appeal through breeding and selection may accentuate weaknesses in pest tolerance. The transition of muscadine from a wild, native plant to a cultivated crop has taken place over the last 150 years. Early production primarily involved cloning elite wild selections; few pest management inputs were needed since the material was genetically similar to the native plant. Over time, emphasis was placed on the refinement of pruning, trellising, and other cultural inputs to increase productivity and commercial implementation. In turn, breeders developed newer cultivars with greater productivity and commercial appeal. Many modern muscadine cultivars remain tolerant to biotic pests and are adapted to a hot and humid climate. The primary focus of this review is to provide a descriptive context of muscadine as a native American, perennial fruit crop that requires minimal pest management in hot, humid climates relative to recently introduced European bunch grapes. Inherent muscadine traits resulting in fewer pesticide inputs make them worthy of being planted across considerable acreages; yet, muscadines remain a niche crop. We conclude that muscadines suffer from their short history of cultivation in a confined region and would benefit from breeding and marketing efforts to increase consumption, commercial acceptance, and awareness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue North American Native Food Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Methane Emissions from Ruminant Livestock in Ethiopia: Promising Forage Species to Reduce CH4 Emissions
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060130
Received: 17 May 2019 / Revised: 10 June 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 20 June 2019
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Abstract
This paper assesses the ability of fodder plants to reduce methane (CH4) emissions while simultaneously improving animal productivity in Ethiopia. Enteric CH4 emissions from ruminants in Ethiopia increased by 12% or ≈ 6197 Gg CO2-eq. in 2017 compared [...] Read more.
This paper assesses the ability of fodder plants to reduce methane (CH4) emissions while simultaneously improving animal productivity in Ethiopia. Enteric CH4 emissions from ruminants in Ethiopia increased by 12% or ≈ 6197 Gg CO2-eq. in 2017 compared to the year 2011. In this study, six tropical multipurpose forages (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit, Moringa stenopetala (Bak.f.) Cuf., Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr., Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp., Crotalaria juncea L., and Lablab purpureus L.(Sweet)) and maize stover were characterized in terms of chemical composition, in vitro CH4 production, and CH4 concentration (%). The objective was to identify forages with low CH4 production potential but with adequate forage quality. The forages differed significantly in chemical composition and in enteric CH4 emission. The dry matter (DM), ash, crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF), and acid detergent lignin (ADL) ranged between 89.4–95.4%, 6.08–12.5%, 3.3–30.7%, 20.4–76.0%, 10.8–44.8, and 2.9–14.1%, respectively. All forage plants, except maize stover, contained high CP content above a threshold value (i.e., 7%). Cajanus c. generates the lowest amount of CH4 (32.83 mL/0.2 g DM incubated). CH4 concentration (%) was used as a potential indicator to determine the capacity of a plant to lower CH4 production. Among the studied species, L. purpureus showed the highest CH4 reduction potential (16%) followed by C. juncea (23.45%), M. stenopetala (24.2%), and L. leucocephala (25.5%). M. stenopetala was the most frequently preferred by the farmers followed by C. juncea and L. leucocephala. We concluded that M. stenopetala, C. juncea, and L. leucocephala can be promoted as valuable feed resources for ruminants while simultaneously reducing CH4 emissions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Thiamethoxam in Papaya Cultivation (Carica papaya Linnaeus) in Rotation with Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) Crops
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060129
Received: 1 April 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 23 May 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
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Abstract
Thiamethoxam is a neonicotinoid with systemic and contact action, used in Mexico for the care of different traditional fruit crops, mainly in the cultivation of papaya. Soils of agroecosystems with papaya in the Gulf of Mexico area, the main producers of this fruit, [...] Read more.
Thiamethoxam is a neonicotinoid with systemic and contact action, used in Mexico for the care of different traditional fruit crops, mainly in the cultivation of papaya. Soils of agroecosystems with papaya in the Gulf of Mexico area, the main producers of this fruit, are currently characterized as 45% of the producers organize papaya cultivation in rotation with watermelon at different sowing dates. The objective of this study was to determine the presence and concentration of thiamethoxam in soil and water during the rotation of papaya crop with watermelon culture in the central zone of Veracruz, Mexico. An analysis was carried out to know the management of thiamethoxam in different types of soil and in the region; and in an experimental plot. Soil and water samples were taken at different stages during the rotation of both crops. Those samples were taken systemically, starting with the watermelon culture cycle and then, during the phenological stages in the papaya crop cycle. Soil and water samples were analyzed using HPLC-UV equipment for its determination. The design was random blocks with six repetitions and the software used for data analysis was the Statistica 2007 program. Thiamethoxam was concentrated in amounts of ≥0.40 mg/L in 79% of the samples in water and ≥0.55 mg/kg in 75% of the samples in soil. The highest values of thiamethoxam in soil were in the stage of watermelon culture with 0.4 mg/kg and in the soil preparation of the papaya crop with concentrations of 0.8 mg/kg. Whereas irrigation water from the watermelon cultivation and the soil preparation for the papaya showed concentrations of 0.5 and 0.7 mg/L, respectively. The presence of thiamethoxam was identified in 100% of the samples analyzed in the stage of preparation of soil and water of the cultivation area, concluding a possible risk of residuality of thiamethoxam in fruits that exceed the maximum limits of tolerance established by the EPA, EFSA and FAO. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Frequency of Irrigation on Dry-Season Furrow-Irrigated Maize and Peanut Production in the Rice-Growing Lowlands of the Lower Mekong Basin
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060128
Received: 17 May 2019 / Revised: 7 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
Incorporation of dry-season crops in the lowland production systems of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) may provide local smallholder farmers the opportunity to increase household cash income through diversification. However, water availability and lowland rice-growing soil characteristics often limit the yield potential of [...] Read more.
Incorporation of dry-season crops in the lowland production systems of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) may provide local smallholder farmers the opportunity to increase household cash income through diversification. However, water availability and lowland rice-growing soil characteristics often limit the yield potential of dry-season crops in rotation with wet-season rice. This work studied the effects of three frequencies of irrigation on the crop performance of dry-season furrow-irrigated maize (Zea mays Linnaeus) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea Linnaeus) grown on lowland rice-growing soils in terms of biomass, yield and water productivity (WP). In addition, the response of maize to two fertiliser rates was evaluated. The study was carried out in sites with typical lowland rice-growing soils located in Cambodia and Laos. Soil matric potential (Ψm) was monitored during the season at the centre of the beds and percentage of canopy cover, aboveground biomass (AGB), yield and WP were determined. The results showed that within the first weeks of furrow irrigation (~two weeks after emergence), Ψm dropped considerably (<−200 kPa) after all treatments at both sites, suggesting that water movement from the furrows to the centre of the beds was limited. Shorter frequency of irrigation led to significantly (p < 0.05) higher AGB and yield in maize but not in peanut. Fertiliser rates did not have a significant effect on maize. WP ranged from 0.84 kg m−3 to 1.42 kg m−3 for maize and from 0.27 kg m−3 to 0.49 kg m−3 for peanut with no significant differences among treatments. This work provides evidence of a lateral water movement limitation that is not well documented for the establishment of furrow-irrigated dry-season crop production in the lowlands of the LMB. Further research on methodologies that could help to overcome this limitation in these soils, such as the application of soil amendments or implementation of alternative irrigation systems, would be of great value. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Temperature Has a Greater Effect on Fruit Growth than Defoliation or Fruit Thinning in Strawberries in the Subtropics
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060127
Received: 16 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
Fruit size declines in strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) as the season progresses in many subtropical areas, possibly due to inadequate leaf area, over-cropping, or high temperatures. An experiment was conducted to investigate the importance of these factors on fruit growth in [...] Read more.
Fruit size declines in strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) as the season progresses in many subtropical areas, possibly due to inadequate leaf area, over-cropping, or high temperatures. An experiment was conducted to investigate the importance of these factors on fruit growth in ‘Festival’ in Queensland, Australia. Groups of plants were defoliated to remove half of the mature leaves on each plant, thinned to remove all the inflorescences on each plant, or defoliated and thinned. Control plants were left intact. Defoliation, thinning, or defoliation + thinning decreased yield (total and/or marketable) by 15% to 24% compared with the control. Defoliation, or defoliation + thinning decreased average fruit weight (total and/or marketable fruit) by 1 to 2 g compared with the control, whereas thinning had the opposite effect. The incidence of small fruit increased towards the end of the season. There were strong relationships between fruit weight and average daily mean temperature in the seven weeks before harvest (R2s greater than 0.80). Fruit weight decreased from 24 g to 8 g as the temperature increased from 16 °C to 20 °C. This response was not affected by defoliation or thinning. The strong effect of temperature on fruit size indicates a problem for production in the future in the absence of heat-tolerant cultivars. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Intercropping Simulation Using the SWAP Model: Development of a 2×1D Algorithm
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060126
Received: 21 May 2019 / Revised: 8 June 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 16 June 2019
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Abstract
Intercropping is a common cultivation system in sustainable agriculture, allowing crop diversity and better soil surface exploitation. Simulation of intercropped plants with integrated soil–plant–atmosphere models is a challenging procedure due to the requirement of a second spatial dimension for calculating the soil water [...] Read more.
Intercropping is a common cultivation system in sustainable agriculture, allowing crop diversity and better soil surface exploitation. Simulation of intercropped plants with integrated soil–plant–atmosphere models is a challenging procedure due to the requirement of a second spatial dimension for calculating the soil water lateral flux. Evaluations of more straightforward approaches for intercrop modeling are, therefore, mandatory. An adaptation of the 1D model Soil, Water, Atmosphere and Plant coupled to the World Food Studies (SWAP/WOFOST) to simulate intercropping (SWAP 2×1D) based on solar radiation and water partitioning between plant strips was developed and the outcomes are presented. An application of SWAP 2×1D to maize–soybean (MS) strip intercropping was evaluated against the monocropping maize (M) and soybean (S) simulated with the 1D model SWAP/WOFOST, and a sensitivity analysis of SWAP 2×1D was carried out for the intercropping MS. SWAP 2×1D was able to simulate the radiation interception by both crops in the intercropping MS and also to determine the effect of the radiation attenuation by maize on soybean plants. Intercropped plants presented higher transpiration and resulted in lower soil evaporation when compared to their equivalent monocropping cultivation. A numerical issue involving model instability caused by the simulated lateral water flux in the soil from one strip to the other was solved. The most sensitive plant parameters were those related to the taller plant strips in the intercropping, and soil retention curve parameters were overall all significantly sensitive for the water balance simulation. This implementation of the SWAP model presents an opportunity to simulate strip intercropping with a limited number of parameters, including the partitioning of radiation by a well-validated radiation sharing model and of soil water by simulating the lateral soil water fluxes between strips in the 2×1D environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cover Crop Influence on Soil Enzymes and Selected Chemical Parameters for a Claypan Corn–Soybean Rotation
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060125
Received: 15 May 2019 / Revised: 6 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 15 June 2019
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Abstract
Cover crops (CC) improve soil quality, including soil microbial enzymatic activities and soil chemical parameters. Scientific studies conducted in research centers have shown positive effects of CC on soil enzymatic activities; however, studies conducted in farmer fields are lacking in the literature. The [...] Read more.
Cover crops (CC) improve soil quality, including soil microbial enzymatic activities and soil chemical parameters. Scientific studies conducted in research centers have shown positive effects of CC on soil enzymatic activities; however, studies conducted in farmer fields are lacking in the literature. The objective of this study was to quantify CC effects on soil microbial enzymatic activities (β-glucosidase, β-glucosaminidase, fluorescein diacetate hydrolase, and dehydrogenase) under a corn (Zea mays L.)–soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) rotation. The study was conducted in 2016 and 2018 in Chariton County, Missouri, where CC were first established in 2012. All tested soil enzyme levels were significantly different between 2016 and 2018, irrespective of CC and no cover crop (NCC) treatments. In CC treatment, β-glucosaminidase activity was significantly greater at 0–10 cm depth in 2016 and at 10–20 and 20–30 cm in 2018. In contrast, dehydrogenase activity was significantly greater in NCC in 2018. Soil pH and organic matter (OM) content were found to be significantly greater in CC. Overall, CC have mixed effects on soil enzyme activities and positive effects on soil OM compared to NCC. This study highlights the short-term influence of CC and illustrates the high spatial and temporal variability of soil enzymes under farmer-managed fields. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Cover Crop Management Strategies in Nebraska, US
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060124
Received: 24 April 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 7 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
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Abstract
Adoption of cover crops has the potential to increase agricultural sustainability in the US and beyond. In 2017, a survey was conducted with Nebraska stakeholders in an attempt to evaluate current cover crop management strategies adopted in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), [...] Read more.
Adoption of cover crops has the potential to increase agricultural sustainability in the US and beyond. In 2017, a survey was conducted with Nebraska stakeholders in an attempt to evaluate current cover crop management strategies adopted in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), field corn (Zea mays L.), and seed corn production. Eighty-two Nebraska stakeholders answered the survey, of which 80% identified themselves as growers. Eighty-seven percent of respondents manage cover crops, and the average cover crop ha planted on a per farm basis is 32%. The primary method of establishing cover crops following soybeans and field corn is drilling. In seed corn, interseeding is the main seeding strategy for cover crop establishment. Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) appeared as the most adopted cover crop species (either alone or in mixtures with radish [Raphanus sativus L.] or hairy vetch [Vicia villosa Roth]). Over 95% of respondents utilize herbicides for cover crop termination in the spring before crop planting. Glyphosate is used by 100% of survey respondents that use herbicides for cover crop termination. The major observed impacts of incorporating cover crops into a production system according to survey respondents are reduced soil erosion and weed suppression. According to 93% of respondents, cover crops improve weed control by suppressing winter and/or summer annual weed species. The biggest challenge reported by cover crop adopters is planting and establishing a decent stand before winter. According to the results of this survey, there are different management strategies, positive outcomes, and challenges that accompany cover crop adoption in Nebraska. These results will help growers, agronomists, and researchers better guide cover crop adoption, management, and future research and education needs in Nebraska and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Labelling as a Tool for Improving Animal Welfare—The Pig Case
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060123
Received: 14 May 2019 / Revised: 8 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
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Abstract
Market-based promotion of animal welfare has become increasingly important in the EU. Retailers in several countries have implemented graded animal welfare labels for a variety of animal-based products. In this paper, we use labels for pork as a case study and investigate which [...] Read more.
Market-based promotion of animal welfare has become increasingly important in the EU. Retailers in several countries have implemented graded animal welfare labels for a variety of animal-based products. In this paper, we use labels for pork as a case study and investigate which aspects of animal welfare are promoted by pig welfare labels; we further discuss to what extent labels address the major welfare problems observed in European pig production. Consumers generally focus on aspects of animal welfare related to naturalness, such as outdoor access, straw, and duration of suckling period. Animal welfare labels often address these aspects in addition to other welfare aspects that are of interest to the consumer, such as space, mutilations, confinement, and access to roughage. Major welfare problems such as piglet mortality and weaner diarrhoea are not directly addressed by pig welfare labels. As pig welfare labels often require intact tails, it will also be relevant to address the risk of tail biting and tail lesions. Pig welfare labels, in general, do not use animal-based measures; rather, they are resource-based measures, while animal-based measures are more directly related to animal welfare. Animal-based measures are more difficult and expensive to use in a certification system than resource-based ones. In addition, animal-based measures may be more difficult to communicate to consumers. However, inclusion of animal-based measures would improve reproducibility of labels across production systems and provide documentation on actual levels of major animal welfare problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Chemical, Organic and Biological Fertilizers on Agrobiological and Antioxidant Properties of Syrian Cephalaria (Cephalaria Syriaca L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060122
Received: 24 March 2019 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 June 2019 / Published: 10 June 2019
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Abstract
Since chemical fertilizers pollute soil, water and crops, conscientious agricultural producers seek alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Biological fertilizers are considered a reliable alternative for improving soil productivity and plant growth in sustainable agriculture. The response of some agrobiological and antioxidant properties of Syrian [...] Read more.
Since chemical fertilizers pollute soil, water and crops, conscientious agricultural producers seek alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Biological fertilizers are considered a reliable alternative for improving soil productivity and plant growth in sustainable agriculture. The response of some agrobiological and antioxidant properties of Syrian cephalaria (Cephalaria syriaca L.) to different fertilizer sources was explored in an experiment which included: (i) mycorrhiza + manure; (ii) mycorrhiza + vermicompost; (iii) mycorrhiza + Azotobacter; (iv) mycorrhiza + chemical fertilizer; (v) mycorrhiza; and (vi) control. The results showed that the highest seed yield, biological yield, oil percentage yield, were observed in plants treated with mycorrhiza + vermicompost, whereas the highest 1000-seed weight was obtained from the application of mycorrhiza + manure. With respect to photosynthesizing pigments, the application of mycorrhiza + vermicompost increased chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, total chlorophyll, carotenoid content as well as total phenols, total flavonoids and DPPH antioxidant activity as compared to control (unfertilized) plants. The mixed application of different fertilizer sources influenced the uptake of trace elements (Fe, Zn and Cu) optimally. In the light of the obtained results for the agrobiological and antioxidant properties of Syrian cephalaria, in most of the measured traits, there is no significant difference between manure, vermicompost and chemical fertilizers in combination with mycorrhiza. Hence the use of organic and biological inputs instead of chemical fertilizer for improving crop efficiency and quality with the aim of alleviating pollution and accomplishing sustainable agriculture is highly encouraging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food for Future)
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Trait Diverse Germplasm Sources from Mini Core Collection for Sorghum Improvement
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060121
Received: 2 April 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 10 June 2019
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Abstract
Sorghum is a multipurpose crop cultivated in over 100 countries, but its productivity is constrained by several biotic and abiotic stresses. Therefore, sorghum improvement programs largely focus on developing high-yielding cultivars with multiple traits including stress resistance, bioenergy and nutritional quality. This study [...] Read more.
Sorghum is a multipurpose crop cultivated in over 100 countries, but its productivity is constrained by several biotic and abiotic stresses. Therefore, sorghum improvement programs largely focus on developing high-yielding cultivars with multiple traits including stress resistance, bioenergy and nutritional quality. This study was undertaken to meet breeders’ needs to develop such cultivars and identify diverse germplasm sources with multiple traits. The 242 sorghum mini core accessions were evaluated for agronomic traits (yield, maturity, 100-seed weight) in two post-rainy seasons under optimally irrigated and drought conditions and identified 21 accessions as a sources for agronomic traits. The evaluation of mini core revealed 70 accessions resistant to biotic stress, 12 to abiotic stress, 13 for bioenergy traits and 27 for nutritional traits. The 13,390 single nucleotide polymorphism markers on mini core were used to identify genetically diverse accessions with desirable agronomic traits: IS 23684 (nutrition traits, diseases, insect pests), IS 1212 (earliness, nutrition traits, drought, seedling vigor, diseases), IS 5094 (yield, drought, diseases, insect pests), IS 473 (earliness, diseases), IS 4698 (yield, Brix %, insect pests) and IS 23891 (greater seed weight, yield, Brix %, drought, diseases). These are useful genetic resources that meet breeders needs to develop agronomically superior sorghum cultivars with desirable combinations of multiple traits and a broad genetic base. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Critical Review on Soil Chemical Processes that Control How Soil pH Affects Phosphorus Availability to Plants
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060120
Received: 26 April 2019 / Revised: 25 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 June 2019 / Published: 8 June 2019
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Abstract
Occasionally, the classic understanding of the effect of pH on P uptake from soils is questioned through the claim that maximum P uptake occurs at a pH much lower than 6.5–7. The purpose of this paper was to thoroughly examine that claim and [...] Read more.
Occasionally, the classic understanding of the effect of pH on P uptake from soils is questioned through the claim that maximum P uptake occurs at a pH much lower than 6.5–7. The purpose of this paper was to thoroughly examine that claim and provide a critical review on soil processes that control how soil pH affects P solubility and availability. We discuss how individual P retention mechanisms are affected by pH in isolation and when combined in soils, and how both real and apparent exceptions to the classic view can occasionally occur due to dynamics between mechanisms, experimental techniques (equilibration time, method of soluble P extraction, and pH adjustment), and plant species that thrive under acidic conditions. While real exceptions to the rule of thumb of maximum P availability at near neutral pH can occur, we conclude that the classic textbook recommendation is generally sound. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Rht-B1b and Ddw1 Dwarfing Genes in Two Connecting Populations of Spring Triticale under Greenhouse Experiment Conditions
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060119
Received: 5 May 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
Dwarfing genes not only reduce the height of triticale plants, but also have pleiotropic effects on important agronomic traits. An important task for breeding is to evaluate the effects of gibberellin responsive (GAR) and gibberellin-insensitive (GAI) dwarfing genes in one genotype. In the [...] Read more.
Dwarfing genes not only reduce the height of triticale plants, but also have pleiotropic effects on important agronomic traits. An important task for breeding is to evaluate the effects of gibberellin responsive (GAR) and gibberellin-insensitive (GAI) dwarfing genes in one genotype. In the greenhouse experiment, we evaluated the effects of the GAI gene Rht-B1b of wheat and the GAR gene Ddw1 of rye on height and the main agronomic traits in two connecting populations derived from crossing Ddw1 donors (cv. ‘Mudrets’ and cv. ‘Valentin 90’) with a Rht-B1b donor (cv. ‘Dublet’). The results show a strong decrease in height under the influence of Ddw1 in both populations by more than 30%. In this case, Rht-B1b in the presence of Ddw1 does not lead to a significant decrease in the height of the spring triticale; thus, this is not likely to be included in breeding programs in order to further reduce the height in the presence of Ddw1 in the spring triticale germplasm. However, Ddw1 reduces the 1000 grain weight, while Rht-B1b increases the grain number per spike and grain number per spikelet. Thus, our studies have demonstrated the negative effect of Ddw1 on spring triticale productivity of the main spike in the greenhouse experiment, which can be partially compensated by Rht-B1b. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Herbage Conservation Method on Protein Value and Nitrogen Utilization in Dairy Cows
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060118
Received: 3 May 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 2 June 2019 / Published: 6 June 2019
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Abstract
Ruminant production systems frequently rely on grassland utilization and conservation of herbage as hay or silage. Conservation affects the crude protein (CP) composition and protein value, which is particularly recognized during ensiling. The aim of the current study was to describe the effect [...] Read more.
Ruminant production systems frequently rely on grassland utilization and conservation of herbage as hay or silage. Conservation affects the crude protein (CP) composition and protein value, which is particularly recognized during ensiling. The aim of the current study was to describe the effect of the conservation method on forage protein value and N utilization in dairy cows. Herbage from the same sward was cut and conserved as silage (SI), barn-dried hay (BH), or field-dried hay (FH). Laboratory evaluation indicated differences in CP fractions and ruminal degradability of CP. Conserved forages were fed to six lactating Holstein cows in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design, and N balance was assessed. Partitioning of N into milk, feces, and urine was affected only moderately. Lower concentrations of serum, milk, and also urinary urea indicated lower N turnover for FH compared to SI and BH, likely due to lower N intake for FH. However, the use efficiency of feed N for milk N did not differ between the types of forage. Further, high CP concentrations and the unbalanced concentrations of CP and energy in the forages led to excess excretion of N in all treatments and presumably superimposed effects of the conservation method on N utilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality and Production of Forage)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Influencing the Frequency of Consumers’ Purchases of Locally-Produced Rice in Indonesia: A Poisson Regression Analysis
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060117
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 30 May 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
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Abstract
This study assessed the factors influencing the frequency of purchases of locally-produced rice using data collected from a sample of 400 consumers in Jakarta Province in Indonesia. The empirical results of a Poisson regression model revealed that socio-economic characteristics of the consumers (i.e., [...] Read more.
This study assessed the factors influencing the frequency of purchases of locally-produced rice using data collected from a sample of 400 consumers in Jakarta Province in Indonesia. The empirical results of a Poisson regression model revealed that socio-economic characteristics of the consumers (i.e., gender, age, occupation, education, and income), characteristics of the product (i.e., label and color), and the product’s price and promotion significantly influenced consumers’ frequency of purchasing locally-produced rice. The implication is that increasing the quality of locally-produced rice, applying an appropriate marketing strategy such as offering a relatively lower-priced product compared to the price of imported rice, and product promotion are necessary for increasing the frequency of consumers’ purchases of locally-produced rice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Novel Approaches to Optimise Early Growth in Willow Crops
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060116
Received: 23 April 2019 / Revised: 27 May 2019 / Accepted: 28 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
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Abstract
Willow is a fast growing, high yielding biomass crop that can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. However, long establishment times to get to profitability and sustainable yield may deter interest in planting the crop. A number of different approaches were investigated to [...] Read more.
Willow is a fast growing, high yielding biomass crop that can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. However, long establishment times to get to profitability and sustainable yield may deter interest in planting the crop. A number of different approaches were investigated to optimise and accelerate early growth. These approaches were water immersion, plastic application, altering stem orientation at planting, altering coppicing timings and applying growth hormone. Glasshouse and field trials were used to test the different approaches. In this work, planting material was soaked for a varying number of days and plastic was applied or not applied in field trials. In the planting orientation approach, stems were planted diagonally or vertically with half of the planting material above the ground level or horizontally below ground level. Additionally, willow crops were coppiced at different times throughout their first growing season and a growth hormone trial was also incorporated in this work. Water soaking, plastic application, coppicing during the growing season or hormone application did not improve early growth or yield. However, early growth and yield were increased by manipulating the planting orientation of willow stems. Planting orientation treatments in which part of the stem was left above the ground increased early growth and yield significantly compared to the control without requiring extra inputs at planting. The beneficial effects of coppicing can be achieved by manipulating the planting procedure so that the first year’s growth is not disregarded. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Autonomous Mower Management Systems Efficiency Improvement: Analysis of Greenspace Features and Planning Suggestions
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060115
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 24 May 2019 / Accepted: 28 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
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Abstract
Autonomous mowers are battery-powered machines designed to mow turfgrass autonomously and continuously improving turfgrass quality and helping the person who takes care of the turf to save time and energy. However, autonomous mowers work in a way that sometimes does not match with [...] Read more.
Autonomous mowers are battery-powered machines designed to mow turfgrass autonomously and continuously improving turfgrass quality and helping the person who takes care of the turf to save time and energy. However, autonomous mowers work in a way that sometimes does not match with the greenspace’s design. The aim of this study was to analyze greenspace features that can be a hindrance for autonomous mowers in order to provide greenspaces design suggestions and management solutions when using an autonomous mowing system. Seven greenspaces managed by autonomous mowers ranging from 200–9000 m2 were selected and studied. Interviews with the owners and on-site inspections were carried out to understand if manual interventions were required and to identify local plant communities. The results of the interviews showed that manual finishing work such as mowing grass along curbs and walls was needed in all the cases. Some cases needed manual interventions since autonomous mowers got stuck on because of shallow tree roots. Among the seven areas studied, the largest was chosen to be thoroughly analyzed in order to suggest two alternative design and management solutions and to carry out an economical comparison with the current state. When the inspection of this area was carried out, three autonomous mowers were used. Analyzing different management solutions showed that using only two autonomous mowers with specific technological devices was more advantageous. The costs of the current management solution using three autonomous mowers exceeded the costs of the suggested scenarios respectively of 2118.79 € and of 1451.15 €. Moreover, redesigning greenspaces with curbs slightly lower than grass and choosing trees with tap-root systems will help to avoid manual interventions. In this way, the efficiency of autonomous mowers will be enhanced, helping to obtain all the benefits derived from using autonomous mowers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Highly Porous and Nutrients-Rich Biochar Derived from Dairy Cattle Manure and Its Potential for Removal of Cationic Compound from Water
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060114
Received: 23 April 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 24 May 2019 / Published: 2 June 2019
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Abstract
The use of biochar in the horticulture and crop fields is a recent method to improve soil fertility due to its porous features and rich nutrients. In the present study, dairy manure (DM) was used as a biomass precursor in the preparation of [...] Read more.
The use of biochar in the horticulture and crop fields is a recent method to improve soil fertility due to its porous features and rich nutrients. In the present study, dairy manure (DM) was used as a biomass precursor in the preparation of highly porous biochar (DM-BC) produced at specific conditions. Based on N2 adsorption-desorption isotherms and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations, the resulting biochar featured its microporous/mesoporous textures with a BET surface area of about 300 m2/g and total pore volume of 0.185 cm3/g, which could be a low-cost biosorbent for the effective removal of methylene blue (MB) from the aqueous solution. As observed by the energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), the primary inorganic nutrients on the surface of DM-BC included calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), phosphorus (P), silicon (Si), sulfur (S), sodium (Na) and aluminum (Al). Furthermore, the resulting biochar was investigated in duplicate for its biosorption performance of cationic compound (i.e., methylene blue, MB) from the aqueous solution with various initial MB concentrations and DM-BC dosages at 25 °C. The findings showed that the biosorption kinetic parameters fitted by the pseudo-second order rate model with high correlations were consistent with its porous features. These experimental results suggested that the porous DM-based biochar could be reused as a biosorbent, biofertilizer, or soil amendments due to the high porosity and the abundance in nutrient minerals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity of Lowbush Blueberry throughout the United States in Managed and Non-Managed Populations
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060113
Received: 2 May 2019 / Revised: 24 May 2019 / Accepted: 25 May 2019 / Published: 30 May 2019
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Abstract
Expressed sequenced tagged-polymerase chain reaction (EST-PCR) molecular markers were used to evaluate the genetic diversity of lowbush blueberry across its geographic range and to compare diversity among four paired managed/non-managed populations. Seventeen populations were sampled in a north–south transect throughout the eastern United [...] Read more.
Expressed sequenced tagged-polymerase chain reaction (EST-PCR) molecular markers were used to evaluate the genetic diversity of lowbush blueberry across its geographic range and to compare diversity among four paired managed/non-managed populations. Seventeen populations were sampled in a north–south transect throughout the eastern United States with 27 km to 1600 km separating populations. The majority of genetic variation was found within populations (75%) with each population genetically unique (p ≤ 0.0001) with the exception of the Jonesboro, ME, and Lubec, ME, populations. The effects of management for commercial fruit harvesting on genetic diversity were investigated in four locations in Maine with paired managed and non-managed populations. Significant differences were found between the populations indicating that commercial management for fruit production influences the diversity of lowbush blueberries in the landscape, even though planting does not occur. Forests are harvested and the existing understory blueberry plants become established. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue North American Native Food Crops)
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