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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 9 (September 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Experiments were conducted to determine if cultivars of strawberry grown in Queensland, Australia [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Interspecific Variations in the Growth, Water Relations and Photosynthetic Responses of Switchgrass Genotypes to Salinity Targets Salt Exclusion for Maximising Bioenergy Production
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090205 - 18 Sep 2019
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Abstract
The expansion in the cultivation of bioenergy crops to saline lands is of importance for ensuring food security as long as high productivity is maintained. The potential of switchgrass to grow under saline conditions was examined in three genotypes from a early seedling [...] Read more.
The expansion in the cultivation of bioenergy crops to saline lands is of importance for ensuring food security as long as high productivity is maintained. The potential of switchgrass to grow under saline conditions was examined in three genotypes from a early seedling growth to full maturity at 50, 100, 200 and 300 mM of sodium chloride (NaCl). The carbon assimilation rates were generally lower and correlated to stomatal closure in plants exposed to salinity in all the tested genotypes. Based on the results of ion concentrations in different parts of the plant, switchgrass genotypes differed in their responses to NaCl. The Alamo genotype excluded salt from the roots, whereas Trailblazer and Kanlow accumulated it in the root, stem and leaf tissues. The increased leaf salt concentration was accompanied by a higher proline concentration in the 200 and 300 mM NaCl treatments toward the end of the experiment. Overall, Alamo showed the highest yields at all salinity levels, indicating that excluding salt from the roots may result in a better performance in terms of biomass production. The accumulation of salt observed in Kanlow and Trailblazer resulted in lower yields, even when other mechanisms, such as the production of salt glands, were observed, especially in Kanlow. These results suggest that the Alamo genotype has the ability to maintain high yields under saline conditions and that this characteristic could be further exploited for maximizing bioenergy production under saline conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Economic Impact of German Pig Carcass Pricing Systems and Risk Scenarios for Boar Taint on the Profitability of Pork Production with Immunocastrates and Boars
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090204 - 18 Sep 2019
Viewed by 449
Abstract
From 2021 onwards, surgical castration of male piglets without pain relief will be banned in Germany. In Europe, stakeholders have committed themselves to end piglet castration from 2018 onwards. Alternatives to surgical castration are pork production with boars or immunocastrates. The competitiveness of [...] Read more.
From 2021 onwards, surgical castration of male piglets without pain relief will be banned in Germany. In Europe, stakeholders have committed themselves to end piglet castration from 2018 onwards. Alternatives to surgical castration are pork production with boars or immunocastrates. The competitiveness of these production systems is required to increase their market acceptance. The aim of this study was to test the profitability of pork production with boars and immunocastrates under different carcass pricing systems and penalty systems linked to boar taint. The calculations were based on the performance parameters of 36 animals (n = 12 immunocastrates, n = 12 boars, n = 12 barrows) from an experimental study. In order to analyze the economic effects of both alternatives under different regional German production systems, the performance data were set in relation to the data of agri benchmark. Both boars and immunocastrates performed economically worse than barrows in all the scenarios tested. If immunocastrates are sold according to the boar pricing system, the profitability of this technique is even lower, but still more profitable than boar fattening. Pork production with boars is the most unprofitable alternative in this study and will be further devalued if a penalty system linked to boar taint will be introduced. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Heat Management Practices in High Tunnels to Improve the Production of Romaine Lettuce
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090203 - 14 Sep 2019
Viewed by 303
Abstract
A three-year experiment evaluated the beneficial effects of independent and combined practices on thermal conditions inside high tunnels (HTs), and further investigated the temperature impacts on lettuce production. Specific practices included mulching (polyethylene and biodegradable plastic films, and vegetative), row covers, cover crops, [...] Read more.
A three-year experiment evaluated the beneficial effects of independent and combined practices on thermal conditions inside high tunnels (HTs), and further investigated the temperature impacts on lettuce production. Specific practices included mulching (polyethylene and biodegradable plastic films, and vegetative), row covers, cover crops, and irrigation with collected rainwater or city water. The study conducted in eastern Tennessee was a randomized complete block split-split plot design (RCBD) with three HTs used as replicates to determine fall lettuce weight (g/plant) and lettuce survival (#/plot), and the changes in soil and air temperature. The black and clear plastic mulches worked best for increasing plant weight, but when compared to the bare ground, the higher soil temperature from the plastics may have caused a significant reduction in lettuce plants per plot. Moreover, the biodegradable mulch did not generate as much soil warming as black polyethylene, yet total lettuce marketable yield was statistically similar to that for the latter mulch treatment; while the white spunbond reduced plant weight when compared with black plastic. Also, row covers provided an increased nighttime air temperature that increased soil temperature, hence significantly increased lettuce production. Cover crops reduced lettuce yield, but increased soil temperatures. Additionally, irrigation using city water warmed the soil and provided more nutrients for increased lettuce production over rainwater irrigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Irrigation)
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor for Soil Moisture Estimation over Large Areas
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090202 - 14 Sep 2019
Viewed by 317
Abstract
A correct soil moisture estimation is a fundamental prerequisite for many applications: agriculture, meteorological forecast, flood and drought prediction, and, in general, water accounting and management. Traditional methods typically provide point-like measurements, but suffer from soil heterogeneity, which can produce significant misinterpretation of [...] Read more.
A correct soil moisture estimation is a fundamental prerequisite for many applications: agriculture, meteorological forecast, flood and drought prediction, and, in general, water accounting and management. Traditional methods typically provide point-like measurements, but suffer from soil heterogeneity, which can produce significant misinterpretation of the hydrological scenarios. In the last decade, cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) has emerged as a promising approach for the detection of soil moisture content. CRNS can average soil moisture over a large volume (up to tens of hectares) of terrain with only one probe, thus overcoming limitations arising from the heterogeneity of the soil. The present paper introduces the development of a new CRNS instrument designed for agricultural applications and based on an innovative neutron detector. The new instrument was applied and tested in two experimental fields located in Potsdam (DE, Germany) and Lagosanto (IT, Italy). The results highlight how the new detector could be a valid alternative and robust solution for the application of the CRNS technique for soil moisture measurements in agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydro-Priming Effects on Seed Germination and Field Performance of Faba Bean in Spring Sowing
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090201 - 13 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Seed priming has been used to advance germination and stand in several crops, but relevant research on faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is scarce. Laboratory and field trials were carried out for two years to study the effect of hydro-priming on faba [...] Read more.
Seed priming has been used to advance germination and stand in several crops, but relevant research on faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is scarce. Laboratory and field trials were carried out for two years to study the effect of hydro-priming on faba bean germination and field performance in spring sowing. In laboratory trials, the effects of hydro-priming for 0, 8, 16, 24, 36, and 48 h on final germination percentage, germination speed, Timson’s germination index, mean germination time, mean daily germination, synchronization index, and seedling vigor index were studied. All hydro-priming treatments improved germination parameters of faba bean seeds, except for final germination percentage and mean daily germination compared with non-primed seeds. Averaged over priming duration treatments, hydro-priming improved germination speed by 16.2%, germination synchrony by 20.7%, and seedling vigor index by 13.4%. All hydro-priming durations improved germination synchrony, while hydro-priming for 8, 16, and 24 h provided the highest values of germination speed (2.56, 2.58, and 2.37 seeds day−1, respectively). Hydro-priming for 8 and 16 h provided the lowest values of mean germination time (5.81 and 5.96 days, respectively). In field trials, hydro-priming periods of 0, 8, 16, and 24 h were compared. On average, seed hydro-priming did not affect significantly seedling emergence 14 days after sowing in the first year, but significantly improved seedling emergence by 34.4% in the second year. No significant effect of seed hydro-priming was noted in the number of plants at 28 and 35 days after sowing. Seed priming for 8 h resulted in higher fresh weight at anthesis by 22.3% and 8.6% in the first and the second year, respectively, than the non-primed control. Similarly, seed priming for 8 h provided higher seed yield by 12.0% in the first year and by 5.9% in the second year compared with non-primed control. Overall, seed hydro-priming accelerated faba bean germination and seedling emergence, but the magnitude of the response was associated with the environment and was more evident under limited soil moisture after sowing, whereas the beneficial effect of priming was masked when rainfall followed sowing. Similarly, the beneficial effect of priming on seed yield was more pronounced with limited soil moisture after anthesis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Critical Control Points of Post-Harvest Diseases in the Material Flow of Nam Dok Mai Mango Exported to Japan
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090200 - 11 Sep 2019
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Abstract
‘Nam Dok Mai’ mango is a luxury commercial fruit in Thailand, but post-harvest diseases infecting the ripe fruit is a major problem affecting marketability. The objective of the present study was to map the supply chain of ‘Nam Dok Mai’ mangoes exported to [...] Read more.
‘Nam Dok Mai’ mango is a luxury commercial fruit in Thailand, but post-harvest diseases infecting the ripe fruit is a major problem affecting marketability. The objective of the present study was to map the supply chain of ‘Nam Dok Mai’ mangoes exported to Japan and analyze the critical points of post-harvest disease infection caused mainly by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. Risk points of the post-harvest diseases were found by examining the material and information flows from processes ranging from field production to post-harvest handling, and these were obtained from mango growers and an exporter. The findings of interviews with mango growers and observations of the mangoes in field production were that the first point of risk was cultivar selection, while branch pruning and fruit bagging were further important processes causing post-harvest fruit decay. On the other hand, it was found that post-harvest handling was significant in decreasing anthracnose disease infection; this was seen at the step of dipping the fruit in 50 °C hot water for 3 min at the processing line. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Performance of Mesotrophic Arrhenatheretum Grassland under Different Cutting Frequency Regimes for Biomass Production in Southwest Germany
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090199 - 11 Sep 2019
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Biogas production is a key renewable energy pathway for a more sustainable future bioeconomy. However, there is a crucial trade-off between biomass productivity and social-ecological sustainability of available biogas cropping systems. Permanent grassland has been frequently promoted as a promising perennial cropping system [...] Read more.
Biogas production is a key renewable energy pathway for a more sustainable future bioeconomy. However, there is a crucial trade-off between biomass productivity and social-ecological sustainability of available biogas cropping systems. Permanent grassland has been frequently promoted as a promising perennial cropping system for biomass production. Three- and four-cut regimes are usually the highest-yielding and thus preferable for biogas production. A three-year field trial in southwest Germany investigated biomass yield and biochemical composition of mesotrophic Arrhenatheretum grassland under three cutting regimes (two-, three- and four-cut). For the three-cut regime, a preliminary biogas batch test was conducted. The three-cut regime had the highest annual accumulated dry matter yield (11.8–14.8 Mg ha−1), an average specific methane yield of 0.289 m3N kg−1 volatile solids−1 and an accumulated annual methane yield of 3167–3893 m³N ha−1. The four-cut regime performed least favorably due to a lower dry matter yield than the three-cut regime, the highest ash content and the highest nitrogen content. Thus, the three-cut regime promises the best yield performance, whereas the two-cut regime can potentially provide more ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation and wild-game protection. Consequently, the two-cut regime could help improve the social-ecological sustainability of biogas crop cultivation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Harvest Time Determines Quality and Usability of Biomass from Lowland Hay Meadows
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090198 - 10 Sep 2019
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Abstract
Species-rich hay meadows are usually managed extensively to maintain their biodiversity, with the harvested biomass traditionally being fed to ruminants for milk or meat production. The quality of the biomass is, however, variable, difficult to predict and often does not fulfil today’s requirements. [...] Read more.
Species-rich hay meadows are usually managed extensively to maintain their biodiversity, with the harvested biomass traditionally being fed to ruminants for milk or meat production. The quality of the biomass is, however, variable, difficult to predict and often does not fulfil today’s requirements. This study established a field trial at two species-rich hay meadows to investigate the combined effect of fertilisation (none, phosphorus and potassium (PK), nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK)) and date of first cut (at different phenological stages) on biomass quality and quantity. In addition, the most suitable uses of the biomass were explored, including the alternatives biogas and combustion. After four years of the field trial, the stage of maturity at the time of first cut had a greater influence than extensive fertilisation on biomass quality. Dry matter yield (DMY) of the first cut was about 40%–60% of annual DMY (53.99 ± 12.51 dt ha−1 a−1) depending on site, fertilisation and harvest time. Fertilisation had a stronger effect than harvest time on DMY and annual methane yield. In most cases, there was no significant difference in chemical composition between biomass harvested at the end of the grass-flowering stage and at the seed-ripening stage. Thus, a late cut for hay proved to be the most flexible option. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
No Evidence of Excessive Leaf Production by Strawberries Grown in the Subtropics
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090197 - 09 Sep 2019
Viewed by 251
Abstract
Fruit growth in most plants is strongly dependent on photosynthates produced in the leaves. However, if there are too many leaves, the lower part of the canopy becomes heavily shaded and yields are reduced. Experiments were conducted to determine if cultivars of strawberry [...] Read more.
Fruit growth in most plants is strongly dependent on photosynthates produced in the leaves. However, if there are too many leaves, the lower part of the canopy becomes heavily shaded and yields are reduced. Experiments were conducted to determine if cultivars of strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) grown in Queensland, Australia have excessive leaf production for adequate cropping. Seven cultivars and breeding lines were planted from March to May from 2004 to 2016 and the number of fully-expanded leaves, dry weight of the flowers and fruit, and yield/plant recorded (n = 23). Information was collected on daily maximum and minimum temperatures and solar radiation. Increases in the number of leaves/plant over the season followed a linear pattern (range in R2 from 0.81–0.99), with the relationship generally similar or better than a dose-logistic (sigmoid) function (range in R2 from 0.79–0.99). There were strong linear relationships between the number of leaves/plant and growing degree-days (GDDs), using a base temperature of 7 °C (range in R2 from 0.81–0.99). In contrast, there was no relationship between the number of leaves/plant produced each day and average season daily mean temperature (15.7 °C to 17.8 °C) or radiation (13.0 to 15.9 MJ/m2/day) (R2 < 0.10). Potential yield as indicated by the dry weight of the flowers and immature fruit/plant increased up to 40 to 45 leaves/plant (R2 = 0.49 or 0.50) suggesting that the cultivars do not have excessive leaf production. There was no relationship between yield and the number of leaves/plant (R2 < 0.10) because rain before harvest damaged the fruit in some years. These results suggest that the development of new cultivars with more leaves/plant might increase cropping of strawberries growing in the subtropics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Different Combinations of Red and Blue LED Light on Growth Characteristics and Pigment Content of In Vitro Tomato Plantlets
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090196 - 09 Sep 2019
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate the growth characteristics and pigment content of tomato plantlets grown under various ratios of red (R) (661 nm) and blue (B) (449 nm) LED light. In this study, three different ratios of R and B [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the growth characteristics and pigment content of tomato plantlets grown under various ratios of red (R) (661 nm) and blue (B) (449 nm) LED light. In this study, three different ratios of R and B (RB) light such as 5:01, 10:01, and 19:01 along with R (100%) were used. The photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), and photoperiod of the growth chamber was 120 ± 5 μmol m−2s−1 and 16/8 h (day/night), respectively. Tomato plantlets were cultured for six weeks in the growth chamber. It was shown that tomato plantlets had higher photosynthesis rate, higher pigments content, higher growth characteristics (e.g., number of leaves, leaf area, shoot number, root number, root length, dry, and fresh mass), and greater surviving rate under the R:B = 10:01 ratio among the treatments. The plantlets showed at least a threefold decrease in photosynthesis rate, as well as a significant abnormal stem elongation when grown under 100% R light. It is concluded that the RB ratio of 10:01 showed excellent performance in all growth parameters. This result has shown that the optimum lighting environment improves tomato plantlet cultures in vitro. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Muscle Energy Metabolism, Growth, and Meat Quality in Beef Cattle
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090195 - 07 Sep 2019
Viewed by 350
Abstract
World meat production must increase substantially to support current projections in population growth over the next 30 years. However, maximizing product quality remains a focus for many in the meat industry, as incremental increases in product quality often signal potential increases in segment [...] Read more.
World meat production must increase substantially to support current projections in population growth over the next 30 years. However, maximizing product quality remains a focus for many in the meat industry, as incremental increases in product quality often signal potential increases in segment profitability. Moreover, increases in meat quality also address concerns raised by an ever-growing affluent society demanding greater eating satisfaction. Production strategies and valued endpoints differ worldwide, though this makes the global marketing of meat challenging. Moreover, this variation in production schemes makes it difficult for the scientific community to understand precisely those mechanisms controlling beef quality. For example, some cattle are produced in low input, extensive, forage-based systems. In contrast, some producers raise cattle in more intensive operations where feeding programs are strategically designed to maximal growth rates and achieve significant fat deposition. Yet, others produce cattle that perform between these two extremes. Fresh meat quality, somewhat like the variation observed in production strategies, is perceived differently across the globe. Even so, meat quality is largely predicated on those characteristics visible at the retail counter, namely color and perceived texture and firmness. Once purchased, however, the eating experience is a function of flavor and tenderness. In this review, we attempt to identify a few areas where animal growth may impact postmortem energy metabolism and thereby alter meat quality. Understanding how animals grow and how this affects meat quality development is incumbent to all vested in the meat industry. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Improving the Ecological Performance of Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter) through Intercropping with Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) and Yellow Melilot (Melilotus officinalis L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090194 - 06 Sep 2019
Viewed by 275
Abstract
Miscanthus is a promising high-yielding and low-input perennial biomass crop. However, as miscanthus does not produce nectar, it provides less support for pollinators than other perennial biomass crops, such as cup plant, Virginia mallow, or wild plant mixtures. This study discusses whether miscanthus [...] Read more.
Miscanthus is a promising high-yielding and low-input perennial biomass crop. However, as miscanthus does not produce nectar, it provides less support for pollinators than other perennial biomass crops, such as cup plant, Virginia mallow, or wild plant mixtures. This study discusses whether miscanthus could be intercropped with flower-rich biennial wild plants to further enhance its ecological functioning. In 2017, a demonstration plot was established in southwest Germany with two miscanthus intercropping regimes: woad (WAM) and yellow melilot (YAM). Both woad and melilot reached full bloom in 2018, the second year of cultivation. The flowering period of woad started and ended earlier than that of melilot. Woad remained harvestable until spring 2019, whereas the aboveground melilot was destroyed by brown hare in autumn 2018. However, the shed seeds of melilot reemerged homogeneously in 2019. The miscanthus developed better in YAM than WAM. This was most likely due to (i) stronger competition for water, nutrients, and light in WAM and (ii) nitrogen fixation advantage in melilot. These results indicate that the ecological performance of miscanthus could be improved by intercropping with melilot. Thus, we propose to further investigate the effects of intercropping on both the productivity and quality of miscanthus biomass. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Protein Elicitor PeaT1 Efficiently Controlled Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus in Wheat
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090193 - 06 Sep 2019
Viewed by 190
Abstract
Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), transmitted by the wheat aphid, generates serious wheat yellow dwarf disease and causes great losses in agriculture. Induced resistance has attracted great attention over recent years as a biological method to control plant pathogens and herbivores. Protein elicitor [...] Read more.
Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), transmitted by the wheat aphid, generates serious wheat yellow dwarf disease and causes great losses in agriculture. Induced resistance has attracted great attention over recent years as a biological method to control plant pathogens and herbivores. Protein elicitor PeaT1 induces defense response in plants against fungi, viruses, and aphids. In this study, wheat seeds and seedlings were soaked and sprayed with 30 μg/mL PeaT1, respectively. Then seedlings were inoculated with BYDV by viruliferous Schizaphis graminum to detect the control efficiency of PeaT1-induced resistance against BYDV. The control efficiency was over 30% on the 14th and 21st days after the inoculation access period. Quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (Q-RT-PCR) tests showed that there was less mRNA from the BYDV coat protein in PeaT1-treated wheat seedlings than in the control group. Electrical penetration graph (EPG) tests showed that virus transmission vector S.graminum took a longer time to find probe and feeding sites on PeaT1-treated wheat seedlings. Additionally, PeaT1-treated wheat seedlings gained higher plant height and more chlorophyll a&b. These results showed that PeaT1 efficiently controlled BYDV by inhibiting BYDV proliferation, reducing the virus transmission ability of S. graminum and alleviating the symptoms of dwarfism and yellow colouring caused by BYDV. This study provided a new integrated way to control BYDV biologically. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of a Cultivation System upon the Weed Seedbank Size and Composition in a Mediterranean Environment
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090192 - 05 Sep 2019
Viewed by 247
Abstract
The knowledge of the soil seedbank is crucial to predict the dynamics of weed communities and potential future problems in agroecosystem weed management. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the qualitative and quantitative variation of the potential and real weed [...] Read more.
The knowledge of the soil seedbank is crucial to predict the dynamics of weed communities and potential future problems in agroecosystem weed management. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the qualitative and quantitative variation of the potential and real weed flora as a function of different cultivation systems (namely organic, conventional and uncultivated) in a Mediterranean environment (Sicily, south Italy). The results proved that soil seedbank density was significantly different in superficial (0–10 cm) and deeper soil layers (10–15 cm) in both organic and conventional cultivation systems. Portulacaceae and Amaranthaceae were the dominant botanical families, although they achieved a higher total number of seeds m−2 under a conventional cultivation system than under organic and uncultivated ones. The whole weed flora was represented by 45 taxa, but the presence of the crop reduced the qualitative and quantitative composition of real weed flora. In conclusion, the knowledge of the seedbank size and composition, as well as the variation in time and space of real flora, may contribute to predict the dynamics of weed emergence and their possible interference with crops. In particular, information on the weed dynamics is essential to develop sustainable control protocols, especially under organic farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture)
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Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Royo-Esnal, A. and Valencia-Gredilla, F. Camelina as a Rotation Crop for Weed Control in Organic Farming in a Semiarid Mediterranean Climate. Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 156
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090191 - 04 Sep 2019
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Abstract
The authors wish to make the following correction to this paper [...] Full article
Open AccessReview
Evaluation of the Risks of Contaminating Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed with High Erucic Rapeseed and Identification of Mitigation Strategies
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090190 - 04 Sep 2019
Viewed by 298
Abstract
High erucic acid rapeseed (HEAR) oil is under increasing demand for various industrial applications. However, many growers are concerned that if they grow the crop, they will not be able to revert to other rapeseed varieties in the future due to the risk [...] Read more.
High erucic acid rapeseed (HEAR) oil is under increasing demand for various industrial applications. However, many growers are concerned that if they grow the crop, they will not be able to revert to other rapeseed varieties in the future due to the risk of erucic acid (EA) contamination of the harvested seed and inability to maintain acceptable erucic acid thresholds. This review considered published literature and, using the same criteria as that used to contain transgenic crops, aimed to identify the key risks of erucic acid contamination, broadly prioritise them and identify pragmatic mitigation options. Oilseed rape has a number of traits that increase the risk of low erucic acid rapeseed (LEAR) crops being contaminated with EA from HEAR varieties. The quantity of seed produced and the potential for seed dormancy coupled with partial autogamy (self-fertilisation) facilitate the establishment and persistence of volunteer and feral populations. The large quantities of pollen produced when the crop is in flower mean there is also a high potential for cross-pollination. Self-sown volunteer plants represent the highest potential contamination risk, followed by the presence of arable weeds (e.g., wild mustard) whose seeds are also high in EA. Other risks arise from the cross-pollination of compatible wild relatives and the mixing of seed prior to sowing. It is important that both HEAR and LEAR varieties are appropriately managed since risks and their potential for mitigation arise throughout the entire LEAR crop production process. The length of rotation, type of tillage, cultivar choice, buffer zones, effective weed management and basic machinery hygiene are all factors that can reduce the risk of erucic acid contamination of LEAR crops and maintain the required thresholds. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Late-Maturing Peach and Nectarine Fruit Quality by Chemical, Physical, and Sensory Determinations
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090189 - 03 Sep 2019
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Abstract
In this work, both analytical and sensory determinations were carried out to evaluate the quality of yellow (‘Summerset‘, ‘Tardiva 2000‘, ‘Fairtime’, ‘Guglielmina’) and white flesh (‘Daniela’) late-ripening peach and nectarine (‘California’ and ‘Fairlane’) cultivars. Analytical measurements included weight, diameter, soluble solid content, titratable [...] Read more.
In this work, both analytical and sensory determinations were carried out to evaluate the quality of yellow (‘Summerset‘, ‘Tardiva 2000‘, ‘Fairtime’, ‘Guglielmina’) and white flesh (‘Daniela’) late-ripening peach and nectarine (‘California’ and ‘Fairlane’) cultivars. Analytical measurements included weight, diameter, soluble solid content, titratable acidity, pH, and peel color. To describe and quantify the peach and nectarine sensory profile, a panel of 10 judges generated 15 descriptors. According to univariate analysis of fruit quality attributes, ‘Fairtime’, ‘Summerset, ‘Daniela’, and ‘California’ produced large and attractive fruits with an extensive red peel color. On the other hand, ‘Guglielmina’, ‘Daniela’, ‘Tardiva 2000’, and ‘Fairlane’ produced superior quality fruit in terms of soluble solids, titratable acidity, sweetness, and flavor. The white flesh peach ‘Daniela’ produced fruits with the best balance between external and internal quality. Cluster analysis on standardized component coordinates from biplot analysis allowed for the identification of two main groups. One group included ‘Daniela’, ‘Guglielmin’, ‘Tardiva 2000’, and ‘Fairlane’, along with attributes that are more indicative of ripe fruit such as soluble solids, sweetness, sugar/acid, juiciness, ground color index, peel color uniformity, flesh color intensity, mealiness, peach odor and flavor, and flower odor and flavor. The other group included ‘Summerset’, ‘Fairtime’, and ‘California’ along with weight, diameter, consistency, flesh firmness, percentage of cover color, bitterness, titratable acidity, sour odor and flavor, and grassy odor and flavor. The dual approach adopted in this study indicates that cultivars with large and attractive fruits are often lacking real eating quality. This poses serious doubts on the real value of exterior appearance for recognizing high-quality peaches and nectarines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Fruits and Vegetables)
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Open AccessArticle
The Factors Affecting Farmers’ Soybean Planting Behavior in Heilongjiang Province, China
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090188 - 01 Sep 2019
Viewed by 340
Abstract
Under the threat of food insecurity, the Chinese government has created plans and policies to stimulate soybean production. Despite government efforts to stimulate production, based on predictions, planned targets for soybean production are unlikely. Consequently, the predictions raise questions about farmers’ intentions to [...] Read more.
Under the threat of food insecurity, the Chinese government has created plans and policies to stimulate soybean production. Despite government efforts to stimulate production, based on predictions, planned targets for soybean production are unlikely. Consequently, the predictions raise questions about farmers’ intentions to increase soybean cultivating area. In other words, farmers may not be willing to increase soybean. However, few researchers have studied soybean farmers’ intention and behavior. With these concerns in mind, this study analyzed the intention and factors that influence farmers’ choice of increasing soybean production as well as evaluating the differences in the decision making between commercial and subsistence farmers. This study collected data from 155 randomly selected families in 23 villages in the major soybean area in Heilongjiang Province. Results showed that 42.6% of the farmers expressed that they would expand soybean planting area, while the rest would insist on previous planting habits. The capacity to increase soybean production confronted many constraints. Farmers’ age, farm income, land topography, and ease of selling all positively influence farmers’ behavior. A significant difference in decision making between subsistence and commercial farmers was found. Subsistence farmers were more affected by land topography, agricultural insurance status, and satisfaction of soybean subsidies, whereas commercial farmers were more affected by farming experience and farm income. As a result, soybean policies should focus on increasing farmers’ income, promoting large-scale planting, training young farmers, innovation of agricultural insurance, and strengthening construction of agricultural infrastructure. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Environmental and Economic Sustainability Assessment for Two Different Sprinkler and A Drip Irrigation Systems: A Case Study on Maize Cropping
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090187 - 29 Aug 2019
Viewed by 392
Abstract
Water scarcity is worsened by climate change. Water savings can be reached by improving irrigation efficiency both on farm and on water supply. To do that, the choice of the best irrigation technology is not always straightforward, because farmers need to renew and [...] Read more.
Water scarcity is worsened by climate change. Water savings can be reached by improving irrigation efficiency both on farm and on water supply. To do that, the choice of the best irrigation technology is not always straightforward, because farmers need to renew and implement farm infrastructures for irrigation. This study compares three irrigation systems, one drip irrigation and two sprinkler (center pivot and hose-reel) systems, on environmental, economic, and energetic performance under irrigated and non-irrigated maize cropping. The study combines impact and efficiency indicators, addressing a sustainability analysis for the irrigation practice under the three different irrigation systems. The sustainability for the irrigation systems was assessed using water-related indicators (water use efficiency, irrigation water use efficiency, and water footprint), biomass (crop growth rate, relative growth rate, harvest index, and yield response factor), and energy indicators (energy footprint, performance, and energy cost footprint) for the environmental aspect; and the economic-based indicators (water productivity and economic water footprint) for the economic aspect. Main results address the center pivot system as the best solution for irrigation practice since it demonstrated higher economic and environmental performance. Moreover, maize under the pivot system allowed a higher biomass production, economic benefits, and water use efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Driving Rice Land Change 1989–2018 in the Deli Serdang Regency, Indonesia
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090186 - 27 Aug 2019
Viewed by 412
Abstract
The Deli Serdang Regency produces amongst the highest amounts of rice in the province of North Sumatera in Indonesia. Due to land use change and stagnant productivity, the total rice land area and its production have gradually decreased over the years. Hence, understanding [...] Read more.
The Deli Serdang Regency produces amongst the highest amounts of rice in the province of North Sumatera in Indonesia. Due to land use change and stagnant productivity, the total rice land area and its production have gradually decreased over the years. Hence, understanding this issue is crucial, especially to ensure the sustainability of rice production in the future. The objectives of this study were to identify the trends in land use change (especially regarding rice land) and to investigate the factors affecting rice land change. We classified the satellite images acquired for the years 1989, 1994, 2003, 2009, and 2018 to determine the total area of various land uses. The factors driving rice land change were analyzed using biophysical and socio-economic factors identified from the collected primary and secondary data. The primary data were derived from field surveys, soil analysis, and household surveys, and the secondary data were derived from the Statistical Institution of the Deli Serdang Regency. Correlation analysis, principle component analysis, binary logistic regression, normalization, and weighted index were used to investigate the factors driving rice land change. The results show that forest and rice land have continuously decreased, while plantations and urban areas have continuously increased over this period. We found that the majority of rice land has been converted to plantation expansion and urban development, especially from 2009 to 2018. The factors most affecting rice land change were the distance of rice land to the district capital, the distance of rice land to the provincial capital, population density, slope, and the distance of farmers’ rice land to a road. A suitability map for rice land was generated. All the outputs could help with making appropriate strategic decisions to achieve sustainable land use management, especially for rice land. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Value Chains and Diet Quality: A Review of Impact Pathways and Intervention Strategies
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090185 - 26 Aug 2019
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Low and middle-income countries increasingly face a triple burden of malnutrition encompassing undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and excessive energy consumption contributing to overweight and obesity. Food systems are also becoming more complex, supported by investments in food processing and retailing. Traditional approaches addressing hunger, [...] Read more.
Low and middle-income countries increasingly face a triple burden of malnutrition encompassing undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and excessive energy consumption contributing to overweight and obesity. Food systems are also becoming more complex, supported by investments in food processing and retailing. Traditional approaches addressing hunger, typically based on agricultural development, are deemed insufficient alone to address the problem and attention is now being directed to food value chains, although experience is currently limited. To assess the state of science and identify knowledge gaps, an integrative review of the broad topic of value chains and diet quality was undertaken, with particular focus on interventions and their related impact pathways. Interventions were classified according to their primary orientation: to increase the availability, accessibility, or desirability of nutritious food. We identified 24 separate interventions associated with 10 different impact pathways, demonstrating the numerous entry points and large potential for value chain interventions to influence diet quality. However, case study evidence regarding effectiveness remains scant. Most studies addressed individual nutrient-rich commodities that could address a nutritional deficiency in the community of interest. Rarely was overall diet quality assessed, and future studies could benefit from taking a wider perspective of dietary patterns and food substitutions. The value chain analytical approach was deemed valuable due to its consumer orientation that seeks to understand how food products are used and what motivates their choice. The systems perspective is also important as it considers the roles of actors involved in food production, distribution, marketing, and regulation. However, few studies directly engaged with the subject of the local food environment as the bridge connecting food production and food choice. The challenge is to combat the increasing prevalence of processed foods of low nutritional value through interventions that lead to nutritious food becoming more conveniently available, affordable, and desirable. Full article
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