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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 8 (August 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This review describes the multiple utilization of perennial grasses as resilient crops for a [...] Read more.
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Assessing Topsoil Movement in Rotary Harrowing Process by RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) Technique
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080184 - 19 Aug 2019
Viewed by 438
Abstract
Harrowing is a process that reduces the size of soil clods and prepares the field for seeding. Rotary harrows are a common piece of equipment in North Italy that consists of teeth rotating around a vertical axis with a processing depth of 5–15 [...] Read more.
Harrowing is a process that reduces the size of soil clods and prepares the field for seeding. Rotary harrows are a common piece of equipment in North Italy that consists of teeth rotating around a vertical axis with a processing depth of 5–15 cm. In this study, the topsoil movement in terms of distance and direction were estimated at different rotary harrow working conditions. A total of eight tests was performed using two forward speeds of 1 and 3 km/h, two working depths of 6 and 10 cm and two levelling bar positions of 0 and 10 cm from the ground. In order to simulate and follow topsoil movement, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags were inserted into cork stoppers and distributed in a regular pattern over the soil. Tags were distributed in six lines along the working width and repeated in three rows for each test: a total number of 144 tags was tracked. Results showed that there were no significant differences between the performed tests, on the other hand the reported tests highlight the effectiveness of the RFID monitoring approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Temporal Effects of Biochar and Dairy Manure on Physicochemical Properties of Podzol: Case from a Silage-Corn Production Trial in Boreal Climate
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080183 - 16 Aug 2019
Viewed by 461
Abstract
A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of biochar and dairy manure (DM) on physicochemical properties of podzolic soils, as well as to establish the relationships between selected physicochemical properties and soil electrical conductivity (EC) in a silage-corn production system. Nutrient [...] Read more.
A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of biochar and dairy manure (DM) on physicochemical properties of podzolic soils, as well as to establish the relationships between selected physicochemical properties and soil electrical conductivity (EC) in a silage-corn production system. Nutrient requirements of the crop were met through different nutrient sources considering soil nutrient status, nutrient availability from DM (DM, DM + biochar) and regional crop nutrient recommendations. Experimental treatments included control, inorganic nitrogen (IN), IN + biochar, IN + DM, and IN + DM + biochar. DM was applied at 30,000 L ha−1, whereas biochar was applied at 20 Mg ha−1 and mixed within the top 20 cm of the soil. Disturbed soil samples as well as time domain reflectometry (TDR) measurements were collected from treatment plots on four field days. Results showed no significant (p > 0.05) treatment effects on soil pH and cation exchange capacity (CEC) within each field day. However, significant temporal effects were recorded for pH, EC, apparent electrical conductivity (ECa) and electrical conductivity of the soil solution (ECw). Soil depth (0–10 cm and 10–20 cm) had no significant effect on treatments. Significant positive correlations were recorded for EC with soil organic carbon and CEC (ECa, ECw 0–10 cm, & 10–20 cm, p = 0.000). Correlation results show that ECa measurements as a proxy to investigate the variability of key soil properties over large areas, but further investigation between ECa data and soil properties should be carried out to address uncertainties associated in predicting these properties. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Weed Management Programs in Grain Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080182 - 16 Aug 2019
Viewed by 409
Abstract
A field study was conducted in Arkansas over three years to evaluate various herbicide treatments, including sequential and tank-mix applications for weed control in grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). The herbicide treatments used were quinclorac, atrazine + dimethenamid-p, S-metolachlor followed by (fb) [...] Read more.
A field study was conducted in Arkansas over three years to evaluate various herbicide treatments, including sequential and tank-mix applications for weed control in grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). The herbicide treatments used were quinclorac, atrazine + dimethenamid-p, S-metolachlor followed by (fb) atrazine + dicamba, dimethenamid-p fb atrazine, S-metolachlor + atrazine fb atrazine, S-metolachlor + mesotrione, and S-metolachlor fb prosulfuron. All herbicide treatments provided excellent (90% to 100%) control of Ipomoea lacunosa, Ipomoea hederacea var. integriuscula, and Sida spinosa by 12 weeks after emergence. Quinclorac and S-metolachlor fb prosulfuron provided the lowest control of Ipomoea lacunosa, Urochloa platyphylla, Amaranthus palmeri, and Ipomoea hederacea var. integriuscula. Weed interference in the non-treated control reduced grain sorghum yield by 50% as compared to the weed-free control. S-metolachlor + mesotrione and S-metolachlor fb prosulfuron reduced sorghum yields by 1009 to 1121 kg ha−1 compared to other herbicide treatments. The five best herbicide treatments in terms of weed control and grain sorghum yield were quinclorac, atrazine + dimethenamid-p, S-metolachlor fb atrazine + dicamba, dimethenamid-p fb atrazine, and the standard treatment of S-metolachlor + atrazine fb atrazine. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development and Field Evaluation of a Spray Drift Risk Assessment Tool for Vineyard Spraying Application
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080181 - 14 Aug 2019
Viewed by 465
Abstract
Spray drift is one of the most important causes of pollution from plant protection products and it puts the health of the environment, animals, and humans at risk. There is; thus, an urgent need to develop measures for its reduction. Among the factors [...] Read more.
Spray drift is one of the most important causes of pollution from plant protection products and it puts the health of the environment, animals, and humans at risk. There is; thus, an urgent need to develop measures for its reduction. Among the factors that affect spray drift are the weather conditions during application of spraying. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a spray drift evaluation tool based on an existing model by TOPPS-Prowadis to improve the process of plant protection products’ application and to mitigate spray drift for specific meteorological conditions in Greece that are determined, based on weather forecast, by reassessing the limits for wind speed and direction, temperature, and air relative humidity set in the tool. The new limits were tested by conducting experimental work in the vineyard of the Agricultural University of Athens with a trailed air-assisted sprayer for bush and tree crops, using the ISO 22866:2005 methodology. The results showed that the limits set are consistent with the values of the spray drift measured and follows the tool’s estimates of low, medium, and high risk of spray drift. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview
Emerging Challenges for Weed Management in Herbicide-Resistant Crops
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080180 - 14 Aug 2019
Viewed by 501
Abstract
Since weed management is such a critical component of agronomic crop production systems, herbicides are widely used to provide weed control to ensure that yields are maximized. In the last few years, herbicide-resistant (HR) crops, particularly those that are glyphosate-resistant, and more recently, [...] Read more.
Since weed management is such a critical component of agronomic crop production systems, herbicides are widely used to provide weed control to ensure that yields are maximized. In the last few years, herbicide-resistant (HR) crops, particularly those that are glyphosate-resistant, and more recently, those with dicamba (3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid) and 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) resistance are changing the way many growers manage weeds. However, past reliance on glyphosate and mistakes made in stewardship of the glyphosate-resistant cropping system have directly led to the current weed resistance problems that now occur in many agronomic cropping systems, and new technologies must be well-stewarded. New herbicide-resistant trait technologies in soybean, such as dicamba-, 2,4-D-, and isoxaflutole- ((5-cyclopropyl-4-isoxazolyl)[2-(methylsulfonyl)-4-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]methanone) resistance, are being combined with glyphosate- and glufosinate-resistance traits to manage herbicide-resistant weed populations. In cropping systems with glyphosate-resistant weed species, these new trait options may provide effective weed management tools, although there may be increased risk of off-target movement and susceptible plant damage with the use of some of these technologies. The use of diverse weed management practices to reduce the selection pressure for herbicide-resistant weed evolution is essential to preserve the utility of new traits. The use of herbicides with differing sites of action (SOAs), ideally in combination as mixtures, but also in rotation as part of a weed management program may slow the evolution of resistance in some cases. Increased selection pressure from the effects of some herbicide mixtures may lead to more cases of metabolic herbicide resistance. The most effective long-term approach for weed resistance management is the use of Integrated Weed Management (IWM) which may build the ecological complexity of the cropping system. Given the challenges in management of herbicide-resistant weeds, IWM will likely play a critical role in enhancing future food security for a growing global population. Full article
Open AccessReview
Shifting the Paradigm: An Ecological Systems Approach to Weed Management
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080179 - 13 Aug 2019
Viewed by 488
Abstract
Weeds have been historically, and are still today, the primary and most economically important pest in agriculture. Several selection pressures associated with weed management, such as an overreliance on herbicides, have promoted the rapid evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) is [...] Read more.
Weeds have been historically, and are still today, the primary and most economically important pest in agriculture. Several selection pressures associated with weed management, such as an overreliance on herbicides, have promoted the rapid evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) is promoted as an ecological systems approach, through the combination of biological, chemical, cultural, ecological, and mechanical control methods. The concept of a systems approach is defined as managing weeds by combining practice and knowledge with the goals of increasing yield and minimizing economic loss, minimizing risks to human health and the environment, and reducing energy requirements and off-target impacts. The reliance on herbicides in modern cropping systems has shifted the management focus from requiring intimate knowledge of biology, ecology, and ecological systems to herbicide chemistry, mixes, and rotations, application technology, and herbicide-tolerant crop traits. Here, an ecological systems approach is considered, examining new trends and technologies in relation to IWM and weed ecology. Prevention of spread, seedbank management, crop rotations, tillage, cover crops, competitive cultivars, biological weed control, and future solutions in concept-only are presented, and knowledge gaps are identified where research advancements may be possible. An ecological systems approach will provide improved stewardship of new herbicide technologies and reduce herbicide resistance evolution through diversification of selection pressures. Agroecological interactions should be studied in light of new, developing weed control technologies. The science of weed management needs to refocus on the foundations of weed biology and ecology to enable an ecological systems approach and promote agricultural sustainability. Full article
Open AccessTechnical Note
Energetic Aspects of Turfgrass Mowing: Comparison of Different Rotary Mowing Systems
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080178 - 11 Aug 2019
Viewed by 555
Abstract
Turfgrass mowing is one of the most important operations concerning turfgrass maintenance. Over time, different mowing machines have been developed, such as reel mowers, rotary mowers, and flail mowers. Rotary mowers have become the most widespread mowers for their great versatility and easy [...] Read more.
Turfgrass mowing is one of the most important operations concerning turfgrass maintenance. Over time, different mowing machines have been developed, such as reel mowers, rotary mowers, and flail mowers. Rotary mowers have become the most widespread mowers for their great versatility and easy maintenance. Modern rotary mowers can be equipped with battery-powered electric motors and precise settings, such as blade rpm. The aim of this trial was to evaluate the differences in power consumption of a gasoline-powered rotary mower and a battery-powered rotary mower. Each mower worked on two different turfgrass species (bermudagrass and tall fescue) fertilized with two different nitrogen rates (100 and 200 kg ha−1). The battery-powered mower was set at its lowest and highest blade rpm value, while the gasoline-powered mower was set at full throttle. From the data acquired, it was possible to see that the gasoline-powered mower had a much higher primary energy requirement, independent of the turf species. Moreover, comparing the electricity consumption of the battery-powered mower over time, it was possible to see that the power consumption varied according to the growth rate of both turf species. These results show that there is a partial waste of energy when using a gasoline-powered mower compared to a battery-powered mower. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Efficiency in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Research Advances in Adopting Drip Irrigation for California Organic Spinach: Preliminary Findings
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080177 - 09 Aug 2019
Viewed by 507
Abstract
The main objective of this study was to explore the viability of drip irrigation for organic spinach production and the management of spinach downy mildew disease in California. The experiment was conducted over two crop seasons at the University of California Desert Research [...] Read more.
The main objective of this study was to explore the viability of drip irrigation for organic spinach production and the management of spinach downy mildew disease in California. The experiment was conducted over two crop seasons at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center located in the low desert of California. Various combinations of dripline spacings and installation depths were assessed and compared with sprinkler irrigation as control treatment. Comprehensive data collection was carried out to fully understand the differences between the irrigation treatments. Statistical analysis indicated very strong evidence for an overall effect of the irrigation system on spinach fresh yields, while the number of driplines in bed had a significant impact on the shoot biomass yield. The developed canopy crop curves revealed that the leaf density of drip irrigation treatments was slightly behind (1–4 days, depending on the irrigation treatment and crop season) that of the sprinkler irrigation treatment in time. The results also demonstrated an overall effect of irrigation treatment on downy mildew, in which downy mildew incidence was lower in plots irrigated by drips following emergence when compared to the sprinkler. The study concluded that drip irrigation has the potential to be used to produce organic spinach, conserve water, enhance the efficiency of water use, and manage downy mildew, but further work is required to optimize system design, irrigation, and nitrogen management practices, as well as strategies to maintain productivity and economic viability of utilizing drip irrigation for spinach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Leaf-to-Fruit Ratios in Vitis vinifera L. cv. “Sauvignon Blanc”, “Carmenère”, “Cabernet Sauvignon”, and “Syrah” Growing in Maule Valley (Chile): Influence on Yield and Fruit Composition
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080176 - 09 Aug 2019
Viewed by 464
Abstract
A trial was conducted during the 2005–2006 season in order to determine the effects of different leaf-to-fruit ratios on yield components and fruit composition in four Vitis vinifera L. cultivars. The treatments consisted of selecting shoots of four lengths (>1.3 m, 1.3–0.8 m, [...] Read more.
A trial was conducted during the 2005–2006 season in order to determine the effects of different leaf-to-fruit ratios on yield components and fruit composition in four Vitis vinifera L. cultivars. The treatments consisted of selecting shoots of four lengths (>1.3 m, 1.3–0.8 m, 0.8–0.4 m, and <0.4 m) with two crop levels (1–2 clusters/shoot), which allowed defining eight ratios. Berry composition and yield components were measured. The treatments affected the accumulation of soluble solids in “Sauvignon blanc”, “Cabernet Sauvignon”, and “Syrah”, delaying it as the ratio decreased. All yield components were affected in “Sauvignon blanc”, while bunch weight and the number of berries per bunch were altered without a clear trend. None of the yield components were affected in “Cabernet Sauvignon”, while the lowest ratio presented the lowest number of berries per bunch in “Syrah”. Total polyphenol index (TPI) was affected in “Carmenère” without a clear trend. A highly significant correlation was found between shoot length and leaf area in all studied cultivars. As the ratio increased, the shoot lignification increased in “Sauvignon blanc”. However, studies must be conducted during more seasons to establish better conclusions about the effects of leaf-to-fruit ratios on yield and fruit composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Viticulture)
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Open AccessArticle
Intense Breeding within Lentil Landraces for High-Yielding Pure Lines Sustained the Seed Quality Characteristics
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080175 - 08 Aug 2019
Viewed by 473
Abstract
Landraces are a valuable source of genetic variability for breeders to develop high-yielding lentil varieties. Apart from productivity, simultaneous breeding for lentil seed nutritional quality is of paramount importance for wider lentil consumption. This work examined the indirect effect of single plant selection [...] Read more.
Landraces are a valuable source of genetic variability for breeders to develop high-yielding lentil varieties. Apart from productivity, simultaneous breeding for lentil seed nutritional quality is of paramount importance for wider lentil consumption. This work examined the indirect effect of single plant selection for high yield on important seed quality traits within three Greek lentil landraces (“Elassona” (EL), “Lefkada” (L), and “Evros” (EV)). The breeding methodology applied was proved to help either maintain or improve such characteristics in the high-yielding second-cycle lines (SLs) selected. Compared to the parental landrace “Elassona”, the high-yielding lines showed increased crude fiber by 30–110%; the line 2-SL-EL-6 had higher starch content by 3.9% and reduced cooking time by 6.67 min, while the 2-SL-EL-10 line had higher crude fiber by 73%. In the case of “Lefkada”, the high-yielding lines selected maintained the protein content present in the parental landrace, apart from the 2-SL-L-1 where a decrease by 5% was recorded; however, most of them showed increased crude fiber (5.59–7.52%) in comparison with the parental landrace (4.65%). Finally, in relation to the “Evros” parental landrace, the 2-SL-EV-3 and 2-SL-EV-4 showed higher crude fiber and reduced cooking time. This study provides evidence that proper management of genetic variability could improve productivity without compromising or sometimes improving some seed quality traits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quality Determinants and Effect of Therapeutic Properties in Honey Consumption. An Exploratory Study on Italian Consumers
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080174 - 07 Aug 2019
Viewed by 454
Abstract
Nowadays, more and more consumers show a growing interest in healthy food products that may help to maintain or improve human health, such as honey. Honey has always represented a fundamental component of traditional medicine in many world cultures. However, only thanks to [...] Read more.
Nowadays, more and more consumers show a growing interest in healthy food products that may help to maintain or improve human health, such as honey. Honey has always represented a fundamental component of traditional medicine in many world cultures. However, only thanks to several studies carried out in the last years, its use is considered as an alternative and complementary medicine, namely apitherapy. In this way, honey is recognized increasingly by consumers not only as a natural alternative to refined sugar but as healthy food, as shown by determining an increase of its consumption worldwide. This study aims to explore the consumers’ determinants of honey consumption, trying to understand whether, and how much, therapeutic properties of honey affect the Italian consumers’ choices. The findings of this study, although exploratory, provide information on which quality characteristics influence honey consumption in Italy, revealing that, among quality attributes, the therapeutic properties of honey play an important role in affecting consumers’ behavior, followed by income, variety and taste. This could have some implications for producers and marketers as this information could contribute to defining effective marketing strategies for communicating to consumers the quality attributes of honey and its therapeutic benefits. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Colletotrichum acutatum Pathogen on Olive Phenylpropanoid Metabolism
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080173 - 06 Aug 2019
Viewed by 411
Abstract
Olive anthracnose caused by the hemibiotrophic fungal pathogen Colletotrichum acutatum is a serious threat to the olive sector. Olive oil and fruit production is severely constrained by Colletotrichum spp. infection, being C. acutatum the most distributed pathogen in Portuguese olive orchards. To understand [...] Read more.
Olive anthracnose caused by the hemibiotrophic fungal pathogen Colletotrichum acutatum is a serious threat to the olive sector. Olive oil and fruit production is severely constrained by Colletotrichum spp. infection, being C. acutatum the most distributed pathogen in Portuguese olive orchards. To understand the impact of C. acutatum on phenylpropanoids biosynthesis, the enzyme activity, phenolic compounds, ortho-diphenols, and flavonoids content were determined and correlated with the expression of gene encoding key enzymes within phenylpropanoids metabolism in susceptible and tolerant olive fruits, during maturation and when infected with C. acutatum. Differences between cultivars was observed, the tolerant olive cv. Picual presented a higher basal value and a stable phenolic content throughout the infection process, supporting its high C. acutatum tolerance, whereas in the susceptible olive cv. Galega these secondary metabolites were significantly increased only after the elicitation with C. acutatum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant-Microbe Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Cover Crops on the Yield of Spring Barley in Estonia
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080172 - 03 Aug 2019
Viewed by 510
Abstract
Using cover crops in fallow periods of crop production is an important management tool for reducing nitrate leaching and therefore improving nitrogen availability for subsequent crops. We estimated the short-term effect of five cover crop species on the yield of successive spring barley [...] Read more.
Using cover crops in fallow periods of crop production is an important management tool for reducing nitrate leaching and therefore improving nitrogen availability for subsequent crops. We estimated the short-term effect of five cover crop species on the yield of successive spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) for two years in Estonia. The cover crop species used in the study were winter rye (Secale cereale L.), winter turnip rape (Brassica rapa spp. oleifera L.), forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. longipinnatus), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), and berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.). The results indicated that out of the five tested cover crops, forage radish and hairy vetch increased the yield of subsequent spring barley, whereas the other cover crops had no effect on barley yield. All cover crop species had low C:N ratios (11–17), suggesting that nitrogen (N) was available for barley early in the spring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Contribution to Trees Health Assessment Using Infrared Thermography
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080171 - 02 Aug 2019
Viewed by 438
Abstract
Trees are essential natural resources for ecosystem balance, regional development, and urban greening. Preserving trees has become a crucial challenge for society. It is common for the use of invasive or even destructive techniques for health diagnosis of these living structures, and interventions [...] Read more.
Trees are essential natural resources for ecosystem balance, regional development, and urban greening. Preserving trees has become a crucial challenge for society. It is common for the use of invasive or even destructive techniques for health diagnosis of these living structures, and interventions after visual inspection. Therefore, the dissemination and implementation of increasingly less aggressive techniques for inspection, analysis and monitoring techniques are essential. The latest high-definition thermal cameras record thermal images of high resolution and sensitivity. Infrared thermography (IRT) is a promising technique for the inspection of trees because the tissue of the sap is practically on the surface of the living structure. The thermograms allow the identification of deteriorated tissues and to differentiate them from healthy tissues, and make an observation of the tree as a functional whole body. The aim of this study is to present, based on differences in the temperatures field given by the thermal images, a qualitative analysis of the status of two different arboreal species, Quercus pyrenaica Willd and Olea europaea L. The results show the IRT as an expeditious, non-invasive and promising technique for tree inspection, providing results that are not possible to reach by other methods and much less by a visual inspection. The work represents a contribution to make IRT a tree decision-making tool on the health status of trees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Affecting Sugarcane Production by Small-Scale Growers in Ndwedwe Local Unicipality, South Africa
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080170 - 02 Aug 2019
Viewed by 498
Abstract
Sugarcane is an important crop worldwide due to its many nutritional and economic uses. Small-scale sugarcane growers (SSGs) are a significant sector of sugarcane production in South Africa. However, the number of SSGs is noted to have declined from as early as the [...] Read more.
Sugarcane is an important crop worldwide due to its many nutritional and economic uses. Small-scale sugarcane growers (SSGs) are a significant sector of sugarcane production in South Africa. However, the number of SSGs is noted to have declined from as early as the 2000s to the present time. As a result of the declining sugarcane production, there are now generally fewer SSGs. However, it is not clear cut as to what caused the decrease in sugarcane production by SSGs. The primary objective of this paper is to determine the factors affecting the sugarcane production by SSGs in Mona and Sonkombo in Ndwedwe Local Municipality. Data collection was through a well-structured questionnaire administered to 100 SSGs (that is, 50 respondents each from the study sites, namely Mona and Sonkombo) that were randomly selected. The paper employs descriptive statistics to describe farm characteristics, and a production function (Cobb–Douglass production function (CDPF)) analysis using the ordinary least squares (OLS) criterion to estimate the parameters affecting sugarcane production. Results show that late harvesting (by up to three (3) weeks), late fertiliser application (by up to six (6) months, and chemicals (Gramoxone) application (by up to five (5) months) were primary challenges facing SSGs, likely to result in declining sugarcane yield. The CDPF regression analysis reveals that significant predictors of the production function are: labour and the amount of chemicals (Gramoxone) applied. Labour (man-days/ha), amount of chemicals (Gramoxone) applied are found to be statistically significant and positively correlated with sugarcane production. The government, through the relevant Department of Agriculture, including the private sector, should intensify out-grower technical services for SSGs to realise higher production per hectare. Such services would ensure optimal allocation and application of inputs, labour and chemicals (herbicides and pesticides), respectively, at the right time to ensure efficacy. There is also a need to introduce buying consortiums for SSGs to reduce the costs of inputs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Perennial Energy Grasses: Resilient Crops in a Changing European Agriculture
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080169 - 01 Aug 2019
Viewed by 573
Abstract
This review describes the multiple utilization of perennial grasses as resilient crops for a multifunctional agriculture. Beyond its role of producing food, feed and fiber, the concept of multifunctional agriculture includes many other functions, such as ecosystem services, renewable energy production and a [...] Read more.
This review describes the multiple utilization of perennial grasses as resilient crops for a multifunctional agriculture. Beyond its role of producing food, feed and fiber, the concept of multifunctional agriculture includes many other functions, such as ecosystem services, renewable energy production and a contribution to the socio-economic viability of rural areas. Traditionally used for feed, some perennial grasses—known as perennial energy grasses (e.g., miscanthus—Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter, giant reed—Arundo donax L., switchgrass—Panicun virgatum L., reed canary grass—Phalaris arundinacea L.)—have been recommended as a biomass source for both energy and non-energy applications, and ecosystem services. Perennial grasses are lignocellulosic, low-cost feedstock, able to grow in variable environments including marginal lands. Due to their high yield, resilient traits, biomass composition, energy and environmental sustainability, perennial grasses are a candidate feedstock to foster the bio-based economy and adapt to a changing agriculture. However, perennial grasses for biomass production are largely undomesticated crops, or are at early stages of development. Hence, a great potential for improvements is expected, provided that research on breeding, agronomy, post-harvest logistic and bioconversion is undertaken in order to deliver resilient genotypes growing and performing well across a broad range of environmental conditions, climatic uncertainty, marginal land type and end-use destinations. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Food System Digitalization as a Means to Promote Food and Nutrition Security in the Barents Region
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080168 - 01 Aug 2019
Viewed by 487
Abstract
The consumption of food and its safety are important for human security. In this paper, we reviewed the literature on future possibilities for transforming the food system through digital solutions in the Barents region. Such digital solutions will make food business operators more [...] Read more.
The consumption of food and its safety are important for human security. In this paper, we reviewed the literature on future possibilities for transforming the food system through digital solutions in the Barents region. Such digital solutions will make food business operators more efficient, sustainable, and transparent. Developing cross-border infrastructures for digitalization in the region will break the isolation of the local food system, thus simplifying the availability of processed, novel and safe traditional food products. It is necessary for food growers and processors to respond to the trends driven by consumers’ demand while ensuring their safety. Our review highlights the opportunities provided by digital technology to ensure safety and help food business operators predict consumer trends in the future. In addition, digitalization can create conditions that are necessary for the diversification of organizational schemes and the effective monitoring of food processing operations that will help to promote food and nutrition security in the Barents region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Morphological Observation and Correlation of Growth and Yield Characteristics with Grain Quality and Antioxidant Activities in Exotic Rice Varieties of Afghanistan
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080167 - 01 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 761
Abstract
Rice is an important staple food for Afghans. Its production has been increased, and attention is needed to improve grain quality. Experiments were conducted to evaluate the growth, yield, physicochemical properties, antioxidant activity, and morphological structures of four exotic rice varieties widely grown [...] Read more.
Rice is an important staple food for Afghans. Its production has been increased, and attention is needed to improve grain quality. Experiments were conducted to evaluate the growth, yield, physicochemical properties, antioxidant activity, and morphological structures of four exotic rice varieties widely grown in Afghanistan (Attai-1, Jalalabad-14, Shishambagh-14, and Zodrass). Antioxidant activities, including 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2′-azino-bis (3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS), of rice grain were determined. A scanning electron microscopic observation was conducted on the cross-cut section of dehulled rice grains. The results showed a wide variation among four rice varieties for growth, grain yield, physicochemical properties, antioxidant activities, and morphology. Tiller and panicle number per hill, 1000-grain weight, grain yield, and antioxidant activities were found to be highest in Jalalabad-14. Attai-1 showed lower amylose, protein, and lipid contents with a high number of perfect grains, consequently enhanced taste point (score of quality). Grain yield, protein, and amylose contents showed a negative correlation with antioxidant activities. Accumulated structures in Attai-1, Shishambagh-14, and Zodrass were normal; however, Jalalabad-14 increased protein bodies and its traces in the amyloplasts. Information on yield potential, grain quality, and nutritional value of these exotic rice varieties may useful for sustainable food provision and nutritional improvement of rice in Afghanistan. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) in Arabidopsis thaliana by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Trichoderma harzianum Used as Seed Treatments
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080166 - 01 Aug 2019
Viewed by 540
Abstract
The Trichoderma fungal species and the bacteria Bacillus species were described as inducers of plant systemic resistance in relation to their antagonistic activity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of selected strains of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (I3) and Trichoderma harzianum [...] Read more.
The Trichoderma fungal species and the bacteria Bacillus species were described as inducers of plant systemic resistance in relation to their antagonistic activity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of selected strains of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (I3) and Trichoderma harzianum (A) on inducing systemic resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana as a model for plant molecular genetics. The microorganisms were identified and were confirmed for their antagonistic potential in vitro and in vivo in previous studies. In order to explore this mechanism, two mutants of A. thaliana carrying a PR1 promoter (a conventional marker of salicylic acid (SA) pathway) and LOX2 promoter (a marker triggering jasmonic acid (JA) pathway activation) were analyzed after inoculating antagonists. Transgenic reporter line analysis demonstrated that B. amyloliquefaciens I3 and T. harzianum A induce A. thaliana defense pathways by activating SA and JA at a high level compared to lines treated with chemical elicitors of references (acibenzolar-S-methyl (Bion 50 WG (water-dispersible granule)), SA, and methyl jasmonate). The efficacy of B. amyloliquefaciens I3 and T. harzianum A in inducing the defense mechanism in A. thaliana was demonstrated in this study. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Seasonal Soil Respiration Dynamics and Carbon-Stock Variations in Mountain Permanent Grasslands Compared to Arable Lands
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080165 - 27 Jul 2019
Viewed by 577
Abstract
Permanent grasslands provide a wide array of ecosystem services. Despite this, few studies have investigated grassland carbon (C) dynamics, and especially those related to the effects of land-use changes. This study aimed to determine whether the land-use change from permanent grassland to arable [...] Read more.
Permanent grasslands provide a wide array of ecosystem services. Despite this, few studies have investigated grassland carbon (C) dynamics, and especially those related to the effects of land-use changes. This study aimed to determine whether the land-use change from permanent grassland to arable lands resulted in variations in the soil C stock, and whether such variations were due to increased soil respiration or to management practices. To address this, seasonal variations of soil respiration, sensitivity of soil respiration to soil temperature (Q10), and soil C stock variations generated by land-use changes were analyzed in a temperate mountain area of central Italy. The comparisons were performed for a permanent grassland and two adjacent fields, one cultivated with lentil and the other with emmer, during the 2015 crop year. Soil respiration and its heterotrophic component showed different spatial and temporal dynamics. Annual cumulative soil respiration rates were 6.05, 5.05 and 3.99 t C ha−1 year−1 for grassland, lentil and emmer, respectively. Both soil respiration and heterotrophic soil respiration were positively correlated with soil temperature at 10 cm depth. Derived Q10 values were from 2.23 to 6.05 for soil respiration, and from 1.82 to 4.06 for heterotrophic respiration. Soil C stock at over 0.2 m in depth was 93.56, 48.74 and 46.80 t C ha−1 for grassland, lentil and emmer, respectively. The land-use changes from permanent grassland to arable land lead to depletion in terms of the soil C stock due to water soil erosion. A more general evaluation appears necessary to determine the multiple effects of this land-use change at the landscape scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystems)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Biostimulant and Organic Amendment on Soil Properties and Nutrient Status of Lactuca Sativa in a Calcareous Saline-Sodic Soil
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080164 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 573
Abstract
Many studies have reported the advantages of alternative agricultural practices using more environmentally-friendly products to ameliorate the negative impacts of salinity and sodicity, but few have examined the effects of these products in saline-sodic soils with high soil organic matter (SOM) content. The [...] Read more.
Many studies have reported the advantages of alternative agricultural practices using more environmentally-friendly products to ameliorate the negative impacts of salinity and sodicity, but few have examined the effects of these products in saline-sodic soils with high soil organic matter (SOM) content. The objective of this research was to examine the effect of biostimulant (Actiwave) and organic amendment (Corresal Plus) product on soil properties and on the nutrient content of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). A pot study with a calcareous saline-sodic soil was conducted using a completely randomized design with six treatments: Two rates of the biostimulant (ActA: 10 l ha−1 and ActB: 15 l ha−1), three rates of the amendment (CorA: 10 l ha−1, CorB: 15 l ha−1 and CorC: 50 l ha−1) and a control treatment. The application of Actiwave reduced soil electrical conductivity (E.C.), soil exchangeable Na and soluble Cl. It also increased leaf N and Zn content. On the other hand, the higher dose of Corresal Plus reduced soil pH and soil exchangeable Na and increased soil NO3-N. Additionally, CorC treatment decreased leaf Cl and increased leaf N content enhancing lettuce growth.. However, in most cases, the two products did not provoke significant changes indicating that their positive effects were probably masked by the high SOM content and the calcareous nature of the studied soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
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Open AccessCommunication
Assessment of Natural Ageing Related Physio-Biochemical Changes in Onion Seed
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080163 - 25 Jul 2019
Viewed by 519
Abstract
This research was performed for a period of three years to determine the effect of natural seed ageing on different physiological and biochemical changes in three extensively cultivated onion cultivars in Northern India. Seed storage studies showed that germination percent, seed viability and [...] Read more.
This research was performed for a period of three years to determine the effect of natural seed ageing on different physiological and biochemical changes in three extensively cultivated onion cultivars in Northern India. Seed storage studies showed that germination percent, seed viability and other seed quality parameters decreased significantly with increasing storage time. The onion seed can be stored for a maximum period of one year under ambient conditions to maintain required germination percentage (>70%). Overall, Hisar Onion-4 stored better when compared to Hisar Onion-3 and Hisar-2. As the ageing progressed the seed antioxidants, namely superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), dehydrogenase (DHA) and peroxidase (POD) decreased significantly (p < 0.05) in all cultivars whereas, the electrical conductivity (EC) of seed leachates increased significantly. Under the field conditions, seedling establishment percent (SE) onion seed was positively correlated (R2 = 0.98; p < 0.05) with germination percent (GP). Overall, more than one year period of seed storage was associated with poor germination and seedling establishment potential in onion. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phenotypic Variation and Selection for Cold-Tolerant Rice (Oryza sativa L.) at Germination and Seedling Stages
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080162 - 25 Jul 2019
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Owing to its origin in tropical and subtropical areas, rice is susceptible to cold stress. Low temperatures at the germination and seedling stages can result in seed loss, a delayed transplanting period, and lower final yield. In this study, 181 rice varieties from [...] Read more.
Owing to its origin in tropical and subtropical areas, rice is susceptible to cold stress. Low temperatures at the germination and seedling stages can result in seed loss, a delayed transplanting period, and lower final yield. In this study, 181 rice varieties from around the world were investigated for cold tolerance at the germination and seedling stages. At the germination stage, the responses of different rice varieties were examined based on the germination index, coleoptile length, and radicle length at low (13 °C) and control temperatures (25 °C). Significant variations in the germination index, coleoptile length, and radicle length were observed among varieties. Low temperature significantly decreased germination ability, and coleoptile and radicle growth in the studied varieties. At the seedling stage, cold tolerance of the rice varieties was evaluated based on the leaf color score under natural low temperature. Similar to the germination stage, at the seedling stage, significant variation in root and shoot growth was observed in the response of rice varieties to low temperature conditions. Based on the results from both the germination and seedling stages, two varieties (Hei-Chiao-Chui-Li-Hsiang and Ta-Mao-Tao) were selected as the best cold-tolerant varieties. Our results also indicate the benefits of warming treatments to protect rice seedlings from low temperature conditions. Full article
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