Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to readers, or important in the respective research area. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
Parents’ Selection Affects Embryo Rescue, Seed Regeneration and the Heredity of Seedless Trait in Table Grape Breeding Programs
Agriculture 2022, 12(8), 1096; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12081096 - 26 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 664
Abstract
The development of new seedless cultivar represents one of the most important goals in table grape breeding programmes worldwide. The most common technique to obtain new seedless cultivars is embryo rescue, an approach that allows the isolation of immature embryos and their cultivation [...] Read more.
The development of new seedless cultivar represents one of the most important goals in table grape breeding programmes worldwide. The most common technique to obtain new seedless cultivars is embryo rescue, an approach that allows the isolation of immature embryos and their cultivation in vitro. In this study, a total of 23 crosses (developed employing one seeded and one seedless parent) were performed during two seasons (2017 and 2018) for a total of 1140 seedlings. For each cross, the principal parameters related to the efficiency of the pollination were measured (harvested bunches, collected berries, recovered embryos/seeds and plants obtained). Based on these traits, statistical analyses were performed to calculate the female and male parental efficiency and to compare the two techniques of propagation employed: embryo rescue (7.8% of plants obtained) and gamic propagation (8.4%). Finally, the segregation of the SSR marker p3_VvAGL11 was evaluated on the progeny of four crosses in which the same cultivar was used alternately as female or male parent (SugxIta/ItaxSug and CrixIta/ItaxCri). The parameters measured showed a positive correlation between berries, seeds and plants obtained, exclusively in combination with a seeded female parent. The crossing combinations investigated indicate that some genotypes outperformed others when used as female parent in terms of embryos/seeds produced. Therefore, the efficiency in terms of seedlings obtained for the seedless female parents is actually balanced with those obtained for the seeded ones. The proposed research aims to provide useful information to guide the choice of genotypes used in the genetic improvement programs of seedless grapes, to increase their efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fruit Breeding, Germplasms Identification and Evaluation)
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Article
Structural Polymorphisms of Chromosome 3Am Containing Lr63 Leaf Rust Resistance Loci Reflect the Geographical Distribution of Triticum monococcum L. and Related Diploid Wheats
Agriculture 2022, 12(7), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12070966 - 05 Jul 2022
Viewed by 634
Abstract
Wheat is one of the world’s crucial staple food crops. In turn, einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum L.) is considered a wild relative of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and can be used as a source of agronomically important genes for breeding purposes. [...] Read more.
Wheat is one of the world’s crucial staple food crops. In turn, einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum L.) is considered a wild relative of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and can be used as a source of agronomically important genes for breeding purposes. Cultivated T. monococcum subsp. monococcum originated from T. monococcum subsp. aegilopoides (syn. T. boeticum). For the better utilization of valuable genes from these species, it is crucial to discern the genetic diversity at their cytological and molecular levels. Here, we used a fluorescence in situ hybridization toolbox and molecular markers linked to the leaf rust resistance gene Lr63 (located on the short arm of the 3Am chromosome—3AmS) to track the polymorphisms between T. monococcum subsp. monococcum, T. boeticum and T. urartu (A-genome donor for hexaploid wheat) accessions, which were collected in different regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. We distinguished three groups of accessions based on polymorphisms of cytomolecular and leaf rust resistance gene Lr63 markers. We observed that the cultivated forms of T. monococcum revealed additional marker signals, which are characteristic for genomic alternations induced by the domestication process. Based on the structural analysis of the 3AmS chromosome arm, we concluded that the polymorphisms were induced by geographical dispersion and could be related to adaptation to local environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Resources Exploration and Genetic Breeding of Crops)
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Article
Irrigation Increases Crop Species Diversity in Low-Diversity Farm Regions of Mexico
Agriculture 2022, 12(7), 911; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12070911 - 23 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 534
Abstract
Although agricultural intensification generally has homogenizing effects on landscapes that reduce crop diversity, the specific effects of different input strategies on crop diversity are unclear. This study examines the effects of irrigation inputs on crop species diversity in Mexico. We assess the richness [...] Read more.
Although agricultural intensification generally has homogenizing effects on landscapes that reduce crop diversity, the specific effects of different input strategies on crop diversity are unclear. This study examines the effects of irrigation inputs on crop species diversity in Mexico. We assess the richness and evenness diversity of 297 crop species across 2455 municipalities while controlling for environmental and socioeconomic factors and farm structural and functional characteristics. Using a quantile regression approach, we assess relationships across conditional quantiles of low-, medium-, and high-diversity farm regions. Results show irrigation level (% cropland irrigated) is a strong positive predictor of crop species richness and evenness diversity across all quantile regions. Moreover, the quantile effects of irrigation on evenness diversity are five times greater in low-diversity rather than high-diversity regions. With implications for agricultural water policy in Mexico, this study illustrates the potential benefits of sustainable irrigation expansion in water-rich but irrigation-poor farming regions. Specifically, by enhancing crop species diversity, carefully targeted irrigation expansion can support the transition to sustainable intensification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Water Management)
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Article
Environmental Assessment of Underdrain Designs for Granular Media Filters in Drip Irrigation Systems
Agriculture 2022, 12(6), 810; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12060810 - 03 Jun 2022
Viewed by 721
Abstract
Irrigation is very important for global food production and, therefore, it is key to moving towards increasingly sustainable irrigation systems. However, the adoption of more efficient water-use techniques, such as drip irrigation, increases energy consumption. A large part of the efficiency of drip [...] Read more.
Irrigation is very important for global food production and, therefore, it is key to moving towards increasingly sustainable irrigation systems. However, the adoption of more efficient water-use techniques, such as drip irrigation, increases energy consumption. A large part of the efficiency of drip irrigation systems depends on the equipment used, such as filters. The environmental impact of three media filters (a prototype with a porous media underdrain and two commercial filters, with inserted domes and collector arms underdrains, respectively) with different bed heights, filtration rates, and medium materials was studied using the life cycle analysis (LCA). Under the operating conditions that minimize the impact, the inserted domes design has the lowest overall impact, achieving reductions of up to 432% and 18% in some impacts regarding the porous media and the collector arm, respectively. A porous media filter has a better energy performance, but its prototype status hinders it in the raw material, building, and end-of-life phases. Conversely, the arm collector has the worst environmental performance. This work shows that filter designs should prioritize solutions that allow for minimizing the energy consumption during their operation to increase its sustainability. Full article
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Article
Research on the Time-Dependent Split Delivery Green Vehicle Routing Problem for Fresh Agricultural Products with Multiple Time Windows
Agriculture 2022, 12(6), 793; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12060793 - 30 May 2022
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 1390
Abstract
Due to the diversity and the different distribution conditions of agricultural products, split delivery plays an important role in the last mile distribution of agricultural products distribution. The time-dependent split delivery green vehicle routing problem with multiple time windows (TDSDGVRPMTW) is studied by [...] Read more.
Due to the diversity and the different distribution conditions of agricultural products, split delivery plays an important role in the last mile distribution of agricultural products distribution. The time-dependent split delivery green vehicle routing problem with multiple time windows (TDSDGVRPMTW) is studied by considering both economic cost and customer satisfaction. A calculation method for road travel time across time periods was designed. A satisfaction measure function based on a time window and a measure function of the economic cost was employed by considering time-varying vehicle speeds, fuel consumption, carbon emissions and customers’ time windows. The object of the TDSDGVRPMTW model is to minimize the sum of the economic cost and maximize average customer satisfaction. According to the characteristics of the model, a variable neighborhood search combined with a non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm II (VNS-NSGA-II) was designed. Finally, the experimental data show that the proposed approaches effectively reduce total distribution costs and promote energy conservation and customer satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Internet and Computers for Agriculture)
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Article
The Application of a Bio-Stabilized Municipal Solid Waste-Based Fertilizer for Buckwheat Production
Agriculture 2022, 12(6), 776; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12060776 - 28 May 2022
Viewed by 865
Abstract
In a circular economy framework, waste valorization in crop production promotes sustainability in the agricultural sector. Buckwheat (BW; Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) has promising nutritional and economic value. Its sustainable production can be promoted by applying organic fertilizers. Aimed at determining the effect of [...] Read more.
In a circular economy framework, waste valorization in crop production promotes sustainability in the agricultural sector. Buckwheat (BW; Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) has promising nutritional and economic value. Its sustainable production can be promoted by applying organic fertilizers. Aimed at determining the effect of a bio-stabilized municipal solid waste (MSW) amendment on BW, a greenhouse experiment was performed combining two different soils (clay and sandy) with three previous fertilization treatments (no fertilizer, mineral fertilizer, or MSW fertilizer) from the precedent faba bean crop and three present fertilization treatments (no fertilizer, mineral fertilizer, or MSW fertilizer) from the precedent wheat crop. The present fertilizer treatments followed the same procedure and fertilization rates (7.9 g/kg clay soil and 6.7 g/kg sandy soil of MSW amendment and 0.14 g/kg clay soil and 0.12 g/sandy soil of mineral fertilizer) as the previously fertilized treatments to study the effects on BW crop and soil. Results indicated a positive response of biomass production (on average 34.4 g/plant) and seed yield (on average 10.6 g/plant) to direct organic fertilization, obtaining comparable results with respect to the mineral fertilization treatments. Additionally, organic fertilization significantly enhanced seed quality and nutrient content compared to mineral fertilization, which resulted in a higher chlorophyll content. The findings revealed that the residual effect from the previous bio-stabilized MSW amendment was not sufficient to provide the total nutrients necessary for BW potential growth and biomass production, although slight tendencies toward increase were observed. Soil properties, such as organic matter and nitrogen content, as well as soil nutrient concentrations, were positively affected by organic fertilization, presenting adequate levels of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni, Cr, and Cd). The insights of this study are valuable to determine the effects of reusing waste by-products for BW crop fertilization to reduce or substitute for chemical fertilizers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Fertilizer and Irrigation on Crop Production—Series II)
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Article
Physiological and Biochemical Parameters of Leaves for Evaluation of the Potato Yield
Agriculture 2022, 12(6), 757; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12060757 - 26 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 751
Abstract
The aim of the study was to investigate the morphological, physiological, and biochemical parameters of leaves to evaluate the yield of Solanum tuberosum L. We conducted 3-year experiments with 24 varieties of potatoes, differing in ripeness groups (early ripening, mid-early ripening and mid [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to investigate the morphological, physiological, and biochemical parameters of leaves to evaluate the yield of Solanum tuberosum L. We conducted 3-year experiments with 24 varieties of potatoes, differing in ripeness groups (early ripening, mid-early ripening and mid ripening). Plant height, linear dimensions, number of stomata per unit leaf area as well as content of pigments, proline, membrane lipids and proteins, and the level of lipid per oxidation in the leaves of each variety were investigated. A 3D modeling method showed the yield of early varieties negatively correlated with an increase in temperatures (R = –0.97). The soil moisture content positively correlated with the yield of medium-early varieties (R = 0.97). The soil moisture content and the tuber numbers in mid-season varieties had a negative correlation (R = –0.96). The regulation mechanisms of processes in cells depend on the ripening time of a variety. In order to increase productivity and to improve the potato quality, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of the regional climatic conditions and use the varieties of a certain ripening group. Our data refine the understanding of the relationship between the potato above-ground mass and the yield of tubers. Full article
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Article
Probing Differential Metabolome Responses among Wheat Genotypes to Heat Stress Using Fourier Transform Infrared-Based Chemical Fingerprinting
Agriculture 2022, 12(6), 753; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12060753 - 25 May 2022
Viewed by 822
Abstract
Heat stress is one of the major environmental constraints for wheat production; thus, a comprehensive understanding of the metabolomic responses of wheat is required for breeding heat-tolerant varieties. In this study, the metabolome responses of heat-tolerant genotypes Imam and Norin 61, and susceptible [...] Read more.
Heat stress is one of the major environmental constraints for wheat production; thus, a comprehensive understanding of the metabolomic responses of wheat is required for breeding heat-tolerant varieties. In this study, the metabolome responses of heat-tolerant genotypes Imam and Norin 61, and susceptible genotype Chinese Spring were comparatively analyzed using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy in combination with chemometric data mining techniques. Principal component analysis of the FTIR data suggested a spectral feature partially overlapping between the three genotypes. FTIR spectral biomarker assay showed similar heat responses between the genotypes for markers Fm482 and Fm1502, whereas genotype-dependent variations were observed for other markers. The markers Fm1251 and Fm1729 showed contrasting behaviors between heat-tolerant and susceptible genotypes, suggesting that these markers may potentially serve as a tool for distinguishing heat-tolerant genotypes. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) of the spectra demonstrated a clear separation between the three genotypes in terms of the heat stress effect. Analysis of LDA coefficients identified several spectral regions that were potentially responsible for the discrimination of FTIR spectra between different genotypes and environments. These results suggest that a combination of FTIR and chemometrics can be a useful technique for characterizing the metabolic behavior of diverse wheat genotypes under heat stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Genotype Evaluation and Breeding)
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Article
Multi-Chain Collaboration-Based Information Management and Control for the Rice Supply Chain
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050689 - 12 May 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1338
Abstract
The issue of food quality and safety is a major concern. Rice is considered one of the three staple foods. Rice quality and safety problems have occurred frequently, which seriously affect human health. The rice supply chain is characterized by complex links, discrete [...] Read more.
The issue of food quality and safety is a major concern. Rice is considered one of the three staple foods. Rice quality and safety problems have occurred frequently, which seriously affect human health. The rice supply chain is characterized by complex links, discrete data, and numerous types of hazardous substances. Strengthening the information management and control capabilities of the rice supply chain is an important means to ensure the quality and safety of rice. Based on multi-chain collaboration, we have conducted research on information management and control of the rice supply chain. First, a multi-chain collaborative model of “blockchain + sub-chain” is designed. Based on this model, the following four mechanisms are designed: a trusted chain mechanism, a multi-level sub-chain encryption mechanism, a trusted supervision mechanism, and a hierarchical consensus mechanism. These mechanisms jointly serve the multi-chain collaborative management and control of the rice supply chain information. Secondly, smart contracts and operating procedures are designed, and a comparative analysis of them is executed. Finally, the design and implementation of the prototype system is carried out, and an example is verified and analyzed in a grain enterprise. Results show that this model serves the information supervision of the rice supply chain by studying the multi-chain collaboration. The study solves the real-time data interaction problem between each link of the rice supply chain. The credible management of information and control of the rice supply chain is accomplished. This study applies new information technology to the coordination and resource sharing of the food supply chain and provides ideas for the digital transformation of the food industry. Full article
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Article
Calibration Spiking of MIR-DRIFTS Soil Spectra for Carbon Predictions Using PLSR Extensions and Log-Ratio Transformations
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 682; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050682 - 11 May 2022
Viewed by 968
Abstract
There is a need to minimize the usage of traditional laboratory reference methods in favor of spectroscopy for routine soil carbon monitoring, with potential cost savings existing especially for labile pools. Mid-infrared spectroscopy has been associated with accurate soil carbon predictions, but the [...] Read more.
There is a need to minimize the usage of traditional laboratory reference methods in favor of spectroscopy for routine soil carbon monitoring, with potential cost savings existing especially for labile pools. Mid-infrared spectroscopy has been associated with accurate soil carbon predictions, but the method has not been researched extensively in connection to C lability. More studies are also needed on reducing the numbers of samples and on how to account for the compositional nature of C pools. This study compares performance of two classes of partial least squares regression models to predict soil carbon in a global (models trained to data from a spectral library), local (models trained to data from a target area), and calibration-spiking (spectral library augmented with target-area spectra) scheme. Topsoil samples were+ scanned with a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer, total and hot-water extractable carbon determined, and isometric log-ratio coordinates derived from the latter measurements. The best RMSEP was estimated as 0.38 and 0.23 percentage points TC for the district and field scale, respectively—values sufficiently low to make only qualitative predictions according to the RPD and RPIQ criteria. Models estimating soil carbon lability performed unsatisfactorily, presumably due to low labile pool concentration. Traditional weighing of spiking samples by including multiple copies thereof in training data yielded better results than canonical partial least squares regression modeling with embedded weighing. Although local modeling was associated with the most accurate predictions, calibration spiking addressed better the trade-off between data acquisition costs and model quality. Calibration spiking with compositional data analysis is, therefore, recommended for routine monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen and Carbon Cycle in Agriculture)
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Article
Complex Mixture of Arvensic Acids Isolated from Convolvulus arvensis Roots Identified as Inhibitors of Radicle Growth of Broomrape Weeds
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050585 - 22 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 790
Abstract
Broomrape weeds (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are noxious parasites that infect crops using haustoria formed at the tip of their radicles. Dichloromethane extract obtained from the roots of Convolvulus arvensis strongly inhibits the radicle growth of broomrape weeds. A complex mixture of [...] Read more.
Broomrape weeds (Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are noxious parasites that infect crops using haustoria formed at the tip of their radicles. Dichloromethane extract obtained from the roots of Convolvulus arvensis strongly inhibits the radicle growth of broomrape weeds. A complex mixture of arvensic acids was isolated as the metabolites responsible of the inhibitory activity of C. arvensis extract against broomrape radicle growth via activity-guided fractionation and 1H NMR and ESI MS data. We showed that the exposure of broomrape seedlings to this arvensic acids mixture results in a strong phytotoxic effect on their radicles in four broomrape species infecting a wide range of crops worldwide. This discovery paves the way for the synthesis of new bioherbicides and could contribute to the development of efficient and sustainable management strategies for broomrape weeds, for which control in many crops is limited or non-existing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Parasitic Plants and Weeds Control in Cropping Systems)
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Article
Regression-Based Correction and I-PSO-Based Optimization of HMCVT’s Speed Regulating Characteristics for Agricultural Machinery
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050580 - 21 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 606
Abstract
To improve the speed regulating characteristics of continuously variable transmission for agricultural machinery, in order to meet the engineering and technical requirements of precision agriculture and intelligent agriculture, the paper researches and proposes a method combining the analysis of speed regulating characteristics, regression-based [...] Read more.
To improve the speed regulating characteristics of continuously variable transmission for agricultural machinery, in order to meet the engineering and technical requirements of precision agriculture and intelligent agriculture, the paper researches and proposes a method combining the analysis of speed regulating characteristics, regression-based correction, and the improved particle swarm optimization (I-PSO) algorithm. First, the paper analyzes the degree of deviation between the linearization degree and the theoretical value of the speed regulating characteristics of the variable-pump constant-motor system of agricultural machinery according to the measurement results of the bench test. Next, the paper corrects the speed regulating characteristics and compares the regression results based on four models. Finally, the paper proposes a design method for the expected speed regulating characteristics of agricultural machinery and it completes the optimization of speed regulating characteristics and the matching of transmission parameters with the I-PSO algorithm. Results indicate that the speed regulating characteristics of the variable-pump constant-motor system show high linearization (with a coefficient of determination of 0.9775). The theoretical and measured values of the speed regulating characteristics have a certain deviation (with a coefficient of determination of 0.8934). Therefore, correcting the speed regulating characteristics of the variable-pimp constant-motor system is highly necessary. In addition, the second reciprocal function model proposed has the highest correction precision (with a coefficient of determination of 0.9978). The I-PSO algorithm is applicable to the design and application of hydro-mechanical continuously variable transmission (HMCVT) for agricultural machinery. The new method proposed can improve the HMCVT’s speed regulating characteristics efficiently and quickly. It also ensures that the speed regulating characteristics are highly consistent with the expected design characteristics (with a mean error of 1.73%). Thus, the research offers a theoretical direction and design basis for the research and development of continuously variable transmission units in agricultural machinery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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Article
Intercropping Practices in Mediterranean Mandarin Orchards from an Environmental and Economic Perspective
Agriculture 2022, 12(5), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12050574 - 19 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2216
Abstract
Crop diversification is becoming increasingly important for preserving soil and ecosystems’ health and, subsequently, crop productivity and sustainability. Intercropping practices adopted in monocultural woody crops, with herbaceous crops covering the otherwise bare alleyways, foster ecological interactions and can provide both environmental and economic [...] Read more.
Crop diversification is becoming increasingly important for preserving soil and ecosystems’ health and, subsequently, crop productivity and sustainability. Intercropping practices adopted in monocultural woody crops, with herbaceous crops covering the otherwise bare alleyways, foster ecological interactions and can provide both environmental and economic advantages. In this study, intercropping practices were implemented in a traditional mandarin orchard in south-eastern Spain, which was monitored for three years to assess their impact on the environmental footprint and profitability. The footprint was quantified with a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA), while the costs and revenues assessment was based on materials, labor, and machinery used in the trial. The calculated LCA indicators evidenced that, although the cultivated surface area increases with the integration of the intercrops (fava bean, purslane, cowpea, and barley/vetch mix), this does not imply any additional detrimental effects (resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming). The economic analysis showed that while intercrops may involve additional production costs, the correct choice of intercrops, purslane, and fava bean, in this case, can reduce the market risks for farmers. Overall, this study shows that positive environmental and economic impacts are to be expected of co-integrated herbaceous crops within the same field as mandarin trees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Systems and Management)
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Article
Trends Analysis of Simultaneously Extracted Metal Copper Sediment Concentrations from a California Agricultural Waterbody including Historical Comparisons with Other Agricultural Waterbodies
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 540; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040540 - 10 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 974
Abstract
The objectives of this study were to: (1) assess annual, seasonal and spatial trends in simultaneously extracted metal copper (SEM copper) sediment concentrations in an agricultural California waterbody (Cache Slough) sampled over three years and two seasons (spring and fall); (2) determine the [...] Read more.
The objectives of this study were to: (1) assess annual, seasonal and spatial trends in simultaneously extracted metal copper (SEM copper) sediment concentrations in an agricultural California waterbody (Cache Slough) sampled over three years and two seasons (spring and fall); (2) determine the relationship between SEM copper sediment concentrations and precipitation; (3) compare the SEM copper sediment concentrations from Cache Slough with other agricultural streams and (4) compare trends in SEM copper with total copper sediment concentrations previously reported from this waterbody. Sediment samples for SEM copper analysis were collected by boat. Regression analysis, Analysis of Variance, T-test procedure and the Fisher LDS method were used for statistical analysis of data. The results from this study showed that mean seasonal SEM copper sediment concentrations from Cache Slough ranged from 18.6 to 30.1 µg/g dw. SEM copper sediment concentrations were not reported to increase over time in this agricultural waterbody where copper was used as a fungicide, although some spatial differences in SEM copper sediment concentrations were reported. Seasonal analysis showed no significant differences in SEM copper sediment concentrations for both spring and fall for two years, but spring concentrations were statistically higher than fall concentrations for the last year of the study. There were no statistically significant relationships between SEM copper sediment concentrations and precipitation for the three-year period, based on an analysis by year and season. A comparative analysis of total copper and SEM copper from Cache Slough showed that the range of mean seasonal concentrations of SEM copper was much lower, and more sites showed declining trends for SEM copper than for total copper. Increasing trends were not reported at any of the sites for either SEM copper or total copper. A comparison of SEM copper data from Cache Slough was reported to be similar to concentrations reported for other water bodies influenced by agricultural use. Additional multiple year studies in other geographic areas assessing trends in SEM copper sediment concentrations with a comprehensive spatial scale are recommended. Full article
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Article
Agricultural Drought Monitoring System in Poland—Farmers’ Assessments vs. Monitoring Results (2021)
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040536 - 09 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 857
Abstract
The aim of this study is to compare the farmers’ viewpoint on agricultural drought with the results generated by the national Agricultural Drought Monitoring System (ADMS) in 2021. The authors attempted also to indicate effective methods of validating these results, which could serve [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to compare the farmers’ viewpoint on agricultural drought with the results generated by the national Agricultural Drought Monitoring System (ADMS) in 2021. The authors attempted also to indicate effective methods of validating these results, which could serve as an objective tool of appeal made available to farmers as a part of an administrative procedure or directly included in the drought monitoring system, which, apart from soil and meteorological conditions, would take into account the actual condition of crops in the field. An analysis comparing farmers’ assessments with the ADMS results was presented for all (27,580 parcels) claims for compensation for losses in winter wheat crops submitted in the country. A detailed assessment of the impact of drought on yields was carried out for two pilot regions in the area most affected by agricultural drought in Poland (West Pomeranian Voivodeship, NUTS-2 PL42 region). The paper demonstrates a subjective assessment of incurred losses, performed by the farmers themselves. The difference between the “potential drought”—resulting from the meteorological and soil conditions—and the actual losses, which are also influenced by agro-technical factors, was indicated. The grounds for further development of the Agricultural Drought Monitoring System were the need to establish a method of estimating the impact of drought on crops, which will be based on unambiguous criteria and using high-resolution (temporal and spatial) remote sensing data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote-Sensing-Based Technologies for Crop Monitoring)
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Article
Soil Microbial Activity in Different Cropping Systems under Long-Term Crop Rotation
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040532 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 875
Abstract
Soil microbes play a key role in the nutrient cycling by decomposing the organic material into plant-available elements and also by maintaining the soil health. The study of soil microbial hydrolytic activity (SMA) was carried out in a long-term crop rotation (barley undersown [...] Read more.
Soil microbes play a key role in the nutrient cycling by decomposing the organic material into plant-available elements and also by maintaining the soil health. The study of soil microbial hydrolytic activity (SMA) was carried out in a long-term crop rotation (barley undersown (us) with red clover, red clover, winter wheat, pea and potato) experiment in five different farming systems during 2014–2018. There were two conventional systems, with chemical plant protection and mineral fertilizers, and three organic systems, which included winter cover crops and composted manure. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of the (i) cropping system and (ii) precrops in rotation on the soil SMA. The soil microbial hydrolytic activity was significantly affected by yearly weather conditions, farming system, and crops. In all farming systems, the SMA was the lowest after dry and cold conditions during early spring in 2018. In unfertilized conventional systems, the considerably lower SMA is explained by the side effects of pesticides and low organic residuals, and we can conclude that the conventional system with no added fertilizer or organic matter is not sustainable, considering soil health. In each year, the SMA of organic systems with cover crops and composted manure was 7.3–14.0% higher compared to all farming systems. On average, for both farming systems, the SMA of all the rotation crops was positively correlated with the SMA values of precrops. However, in conventional farming systems, the effect of undersowing on the SMA of the precrop was smaller compared to organic systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops - Series II)
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Article
Advanced Characterization of Monofloral Honeys from Romania
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040526 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 866
Abstract
Honey’s authenticity is a major concern for producers and consumers, and this prompts research into reliable methods to determine the source of honey (botanical and geographical). This study aimed to find the botanical origin of seven samples of monofloral honey (acacia, thyme, tilia, [...] Read more.
Honey’s authenticity is a major concern for producers and consumers, and this prompts research into reliable methods to determine the source of honey (botanical and geographical). This study aimed to find the botanical origin of seven samples of monofloral honey (acacia, thyme, tilia, rape, raspberry, mint and sunflower) based on pollen analysis and identification of the physicochemical characteristics of these types of honey. For these types of honey, the following parameters were determined: color, electrical conductivity, free acidity, moisture content, pH, hydroxymethylfurfural content and sugar content. Alongside pollen analysis, these methods succeeded in classifying the analyzed samples as monofloral honey. Non-destructive methods of analysis such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, the determination of the rheological behavior of honey in the negative domain and the determination of the thermal behavior were also employed to characterize the honey samples. The best differentiation between samples was achieved in the spectral region between 950 and 750 cm−1, which is of interest for carbohydrate analysis in IR spectroscopy. In the negative interval, the viscous and elastic modules intersected at different temperatures, these temperatures being influenced both by the moisture of the analyzed samples and the botanical origin. Full article
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Article
Measuring Food Loss and Waste Costs in the Italian Potato Chip Industry Using Material Flow Cost Accounting
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040523 - 07 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1307
Abstract
Material flow cost accounting (MFCA) represents an innovative tool to identify inefficiencies in the use of resources in agribusiness, measuring either mass flows or costs incurred along the entire supply chain. The purpose of the article is to estimate the meso-level ecological and [...] Read more.
Material flow cost accounting (MFCA) represents an innovative tool to identify inefficiencies in the use of resources in agribusiness, measuring either mass flows or costs incurred along the entire supply chain. The purpose of the article is to estimate the meso-level ecological and economic impacts of food loss and waste in the Italian salty snack sector before and during the COVID-19 lockdown by applying MFCA. Furthermore, in the light of the European Commission Delegated Decision 2019/1597, it aims to assess whether MFCA is a suitable tool to support food waste management along the entire food supply, discussing implications for researchers, academics and managers, as well as for public authorities. The research explores potato chip production from the agricultural stage (either considering plant cultivation and harvest) to the final consumption stage. The functional unit is 1 ton of unpackaged chips produced. The Italian lockdown spurred an intense upsurge in snacking activities (i.e., the consumption of salty snacks), justifying the need to investigate an agri-food segment often overlooked from an economic, resources and waste management perspective. It emerges that the “chips system” generates production valued at EUR 461 million (78%) and costs associated with food loss and waste that exceed EUR 131 million (22%), revealing an economically important potential for savings through a reduction in undesirable negative material flows, or through the valorization of previously hidden material losses according to circular economy paradigms. This suggests that the company-level adoption of appropriate material and financial accounting systems could enhance both internal savings and collective benefits towards sustainable resources and waste management. Full article
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Article
Simulation and Experiment of Spiral Soil Separation Mechanism of Compound Planter Based on Discrete Element Method (DEM)
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040511 - 04 Apr 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
In order to solve the problems of blocking the drainage ditch and reducing the soil flatness caused by soil accumulation when using compound planter with plowshare to ditch, a spiral soil separation mechanism (SSSM) is designed. The SSSM is analyzed. In order to [...] Read more.
In order to solve the problems of blocking the drainage ditch and reducing the soil flatness caused by soil accumulation when using compound planter with plowshare to ditch, a spiral soil separation mechanism (SSSM) is designed. The SSSM is analyzed. In order to obtain the optimal parameters of the SSSM, based on the discrete element method, the multifactor test is carried out with the embedded depth, pitch, and rotation speed of the spiral blade as the test factors and the soil separation distance and uniformity as the evaluation index. The optimal parameters are the embedded depth 49 mm, pitch 331 mm, and rotation speed of the spiral blade 318 r min−1. The field experiment is carried out with these parameters, with soil separation distance 900 mm and standard deviation of soil height 7.8 mm, which is consistent with the simulation results. No blockage of drainage ditch was found, which shows that this device can effectively solve the problem. This study can provide a reference for the design of soil separation equipment using spiral soil separation device. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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Article
Identifying the Policy Instrument Interactions to Enable the Public Procurement of Sustainable Food
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 506; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040506 - 02 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1614
Abstract
A public food procurement policy has been identified as having significant potential to drive food consumption and production towards greater sustainability, delivering social, economic, environmental, and health benefits to multiple beneficiaries. However, empirical research reveals that the potential of public procurement of sustainable [...] Read more.
A public food procurement policy has been identified as having significant potential to drive food consumption and production towards greater sustainability, delivering social, economic, environmental, and health benefits to multiple beneficiaries. However, empirical research reveals that the potential of public procurement of sustainable food (PPSF) is not currently being realised, with studies from a range of different countries identifying stubborn barriers. Situating PPSF within the complex multi-instrument setting of the broader policy system, and utilising the concept of policy interactions, can help to explain, articulate, and provide pathways to address barriers identified in empirical studies on PPSF. A desk survey of PPSF in different countries identified the range of instruments which interact with procurement policy. The findings detail PPSF instruments interacting with many other policy instruments, resulting in both positive reinforcing and negative undermining effects. Taken as a whole, these interactions suggest a ‘policy package’ of instruments which should be considered in PPSF policy design to maximise effectiveness and capitalise on its transformative potential. Full article
Article
The Quantitative Genetics of Flowering Traits in Wide Crosses of Chickpea
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040486 - 30 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1721
Abstract
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is one of the most ımportant food legume crops in the world. Chickpea is valued for its nutritive seed composition, which is high in protein content and used increasingly as a substitute for animal protein. Days to fırst [...] Read more.
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is one of the most ımportant food legume crops in the world. Chickpea is valued for its nutritive seed composition, which is high in protein content and used increasingly as a substitute for animal protein. Days to fırst flowerıng is an important component of the adaptation and productivity of chickpea in rainfed environments characterized by terminal drought and heat stress. This study aimed to identify the inheritance pattern and identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for days to first flowering and flowering color in F2:4 generation nested association mapping (NAM) populations of chickpea obtained using wide crosses between Gokce as the cultivated variety and wild accessions of C. reticulatum and C. echinospermum. A total of ten populations of 113 to 191 individuals each were grown under field conditions near Sanliurfa, Turkey. Two populations were genotyped for 46 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, enabling QTL analysis. Flowering time differed between families, with the frequency distributions indicating quantitative inheritance controlled by both genes of major and minor effects. Three significant QTLs for the flowering time were mapped in one mapping family. For flower color, chi-square tests showed that five populations accepted single-gene action, two populations accepted two-gene action, and three populations accepted neither model. Two significant QTLs at three genomic regions were identified across the two genotyped populations. Days to first flowering was positively correlated with flower color for two of the ten populations. The diversity of QTLs identified underscored the potential of crop wild relatives of chickpea as sources of novel alleles for chickpea breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Quantitative Genetics Applied to Plant Breeding)
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Article
Nature’s Contributions to People Shape Sense of Place in the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040457 - 24 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1439
Abstract
Understanding the roots of a sense of place in farmlands is crucial for stopping rural exodus to urban areas. Farmers’ experiences related to their way of life, peace and quiet, rootedness, pleasure, and inspiration are fundamental components of a sense of place in [...] Read more.
Understanding the roots of a sense of place in farmlands is crucial for stopping rural exodus to urban areas. Farmers’ experiences related to their way of life, peace and quiet, rootedness, pleasure, and inspiration are fundamental components of a sense of place in farmlands. Here, we used the city of Pereira located in the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC) to examine the role of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) in forming meanings and attachments that shape their sense of place to this region. This region has experienced intense agricultural lands abandonment due to rapid urbanization over the last decades. To do so, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods was used, including semi-structured interviews, observation, and dialogue, to capture farmers’ perceptions and emotions associated with farmlands, reasons for remaining, and the diversity of NCPs. Results indicated that farmers recognized farmlands as a quiet and safe space that support family cohesion. Results also showed that the characteristics of the farms (e.g., agricultural practices, distance to cities, and gender) play an important role in articulating a farmer’s attachment to farmlands. Finally, farmers identified nonmaterial NCP (e.g., physical and psychological experiences and supportive identities) to be the most important contributions for shaping their sense of place. We call for the need to include robust and transparent deliberative and negotiation mechanisms that are inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, to aim to address unequal power, and to recognize and strengthen communities’ mechanisms of action on the CCLC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconnecting People with Nature through Agriculture)
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Article
Effects of Humic Acid Added to Controlled-Release Fertilizer on Summer Maize Yield, Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emission
Agriculture 2022, 12(4), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040448 - 23 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1850
Abstract
Humic acid plays an important role in improving grain yield and reducing N losses. In order to explore the effects of humic acid added to controlled-release fertilizer on summer maize yield, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and the characteristics of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [...] Read more.
Humic acid plays an important role in improving grain yield and reducing N losses. In order to explore the effects of humic acid added to controlled-release fertilizer on summer maize yield, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and the characteristics of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in maize farmland soil, a two-year field experiment was set up. The treatments consisted of two fertilizers: 3% humic acid added to controlled-release fertilizer (HACRF), controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) and a control (without N fertilizer, N0). The results demonstrate that the yield and NUE of summer maize were significantly increased with the addition of humic acid in N fertilizer. Compared with N0 and CRF, the yield of maize was increased by 99.1% and 5.0%, respectively. Compared with CRF, the contents of soil ammonium–nitrogen (NH4+-N) and nitrate–nitrogen (NO3-N) in HACRF were higher during early maize growth stage but lower during the late grain-filling stage. The NUE and soil nitrogen interdependent rate of HACRF were significantly increased by 4.6–5.4% and 7.2–11.6%, respectively, across the years compared with those of CRF. Moreover, the annual cumulative N2O emissions in HACRF were decreased by 29.0% compared with the CRF. Thus, the global warming potential and greenhouse emission intensity of HACRF were significantly decreased by 29.1% and 32.59%, respectively, compared with CRF. In conclusion, adding humic acid to controlled-release fertilizer can result in higher yield and nitrogen uptake, improve nitrogen use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have better yield and environmental effects. Full article
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Article
Investigation on the Bending Behavior of Tea Stalks Based on Non-Prismatic Beam with Virtual Internodes
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030370 - 05 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1220
Abstract
The study aims to fully explicate the bending behavior of tea stalks under the condition of large deflection, which is crucial to improve the working performance of mechanized harvesting equipment. The mechanical model of the stalk was assumed to be a non-prismatic beam [...] Read more.
The study aims to fully explicate the bending behavior of tea stalks under the condition of large deflection, which is crucial to improve the working performance of mechanized harvesting equipment. The mechanical model of the stalk was assumed to be a non-prismatic beam with virtual internodes that could differ from actual internodes. With the model, the stalk can be freely divided into multiple virtual internodes, whose flexural rigidities can be determined by solving an optimization problem, and deflection curves can be predicted after determining the positions of virtual nodes under given loads. Moreover, a novel method was proposed to obtain the deflection curve of the stalk based on the techniques of binocular vision and non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) curve fitting. The results show that R-squared values of fitted 2nd-degree NURBS curves of bending shape of tea stalks range from 0.9576 to 0.9964, with an average of 0.9797. The results indicate that flexural rigidity decreases from the bottom to the top of the tea stalk, and the deflection curve could be predicted more precisely with the model of piecewise flexural rigidities than that of average flexural rigidity. The study could be applied to the optimization design of the cutter and adaptive adjustment techniques of operational parameters for tea picking machines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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Article
Effects of Peeling, Film Packaging, and Cold Storage on the Quality of Minimally Processed Prickly Pears (Opuntia ficus-indica L. Mill.)
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020281 - 16 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1367
Abstract
Opuntia species exhibit beneficial properties when used to treat chronic diseases, particularly obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer; however, the presence of spines and glochids in the species’ skin that easily stick into consumers’ fingers has limited their consumption. For this study, white [...] Read more.
Opuntia species exhibit beneficial properties when used to treat chronic diseases, particularly obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer; however, the presence of spines and glochids in the species’ skin that easily stick into consumers’ fingers has limited their consumption. For this study, white and orange Opuntia ficus-indica fruits from the Canary Islands (Spain) were minimally processed, packed in a passive atmosphere, and stored at 7 °C. The effects of peeling (by hand or with an electric peeler) and two micro-perforated films (90PPlus and 180PPlus) were evaluated. Changes in the quality parameters, gas composition, bioactive compounds, sensory features, and microbial safety of fresh-cut prickly pears were examined during 10 days of cold storage. Both varieties, hand-peeled and electrically peeled, were microbiologically safe (aerobic mesophiles < 7 log(CFU/g fresh weight)) and retained suitable nutritional quality after 8 days of storage. The yield was greater when fruits were electrically peeled than hand-peeled (70.7% vs. 44.0% and 66.5% vs. 40.8% for white and orange fruits, respectively). The concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide were above 15% and below 7.5%, respectively, in all the treatments over the shelf life. TSS decreased during storage independently of variety, peeling method, or film. Fructose was the most abundant sugar, followed by glucose and sucrose. The electric peeling machine improved not only the edible part of the fruit but also the contents of bioactive compounds, such as ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Products Processing and Postharvest Storage)
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Article
Comparison of Methods to Select Candidates for High-Density Genotyping; Practical Observations in a Cattle Breeding Program
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020276 - 15 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1214
Abstract
Imputation can be used to obtain a large number of high-density genotypes at the cost of procuring low-density panels. Accurate imputation requires a well-formed reference population of high-density genotypes to enable statistical inference. Five methods were compared using commercial Wagyu genotype data to [...] Read more.
Imputation can be used to obtain a large number of high-density genotypes at the cost of procuring low-density panels. Accurate imputation requires a well-formed reference population of high-density genotypes to enable statistical inference. Five methods were compared using commercial Wagyu genotype data to identify individuals to produce a “well-formed” reference population. Two methods utilised a relationship matrix (MCG and MCA), two of which utilised a haplotype block library (AHAP2 and IWS), and the last selected high influential sires with greater than 10 progeny (PROG). The efficacy of the methods was assessed based on the total proportion of genetic variance accounted for and the number of haplotypes captured, as well as practical considerations in implementing these methods. Concordance was high between the MCG and MCA and between AHAP2 and IWS but was low between these groupings. PROG-selected animals were most similar to MCA. MCG accounted for the greatest proportion of genetic variance in the population (35%, while the other methods accounted for approximately 30%) and the greatest number of unique haplotypes when a frequency threshold was applied. MCG was also relatively simple to implement, although modifications need to be made to account for DNA availability when running over a whole population. Of the methods compared, MCG is the recommended starting point for an ongoing sequencing project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Genetics and Genomics in Livestock Production)
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Article
Microclimate and Plant Transpiration of Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) in a Sunken Solar Greenhouse in North China
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020260 - 11 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1036
Abstract
The solar greenhouse is a common protected structure for crop production when ambient temperatures are low. In the North China Plain (NCP) winter temperatures are very low and an improved solar greenhouse with a lowered soil surface (0.5–1.5 m deep), referred to as [...] Read more.
The solar greenhouse is a common protected structure for crop production when ambient temperatures are low. In the North China Plain (NCP) winter temperatures are very low and an improved solar greenhouse with a lowered soil surface (0.5–1.5 m deep), referred to as a sunken solar greenhouse (SSG), is used. A four-season experiment was conducted in a commercial SSG with tomato crops to characterize internal microclimate, sap flow (SF) and crop coefficients. Results show that temperature inside the SSG could be more than 20 °C higher than outside in winter, which favors tomato growth and resulted in acceptable yields. Daily total SF was related to solar radiation, vapor pressure deficit (VPD) and temperature, in that order, both in winter and summer. The decoupling coefficient (which is the ratio of radiative to aerodynamic influences on evapotranspiration) in daytime was 0.76 in winter and 0.84 in summer, indicating strong decoupling (i.e., predominance of radiative influences) of the internal environment where wind speed was low. Basal crop coefficients at the mid stage of crop growth averaged 1.15–1.43 in winter and 0.91–0.92 in spring and summer. Thus, in the SSG, for similar climatic conditions sap flow in winter was higher than that in summer, which should be considered in irrigation scheduling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Saving Irrigation Technology and Strategies for Crop Production)
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Article
Impact of Market Participation on Household Food Security among Smallholder Irrigators in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020261 - 11 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1252
Abstract
Food insecurity is a global challenge. The reduction of hunger is a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target widely seen as a measure for evaluating the progress of the well-being of rural people. This study aimed to investigate the impact of collective action and [...] Read more.
Food insecurity is a global challenge. The reduction of hunger is a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target widely seen as a measure for evaluating the progress of the well-being of rural people. This study aimed to investigate the impact of collective action and market participation on household food security. Data were collected using a structured survey questionnaire from 243 randomly selected households in Msinga Local Municipality. The binary probit model findings revealed that farmers’ group membership, market participation, gender, the total number of cattle owned, farm income, and credit access increased the likelihood of a food-secure household. This paper’s findings have crucial implications for the government and other development agencies for improving household food-security status. The findings identified collective action and market participation to be contributing to food-insecurity alleviation. The government and private organisations need to encourage and empower existing farmers’ groups through community mobilisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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Article
Policy Support for Home Gardens in Vietnam Can Link to Sustainable Development Goals
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020253 - 10 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1103
Abstract
Despite research evidence on the diverse benefits of home gardens and their potential contributions to multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs), the role of policy towards supporting these contributions remains unclear in developing countries like Vietnam. In this study, we found that 25 out [...] Read more.
Despite research evidence on the diverse benefits of home gardens and their potential contributions to multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs), the role of policy towards supporting these contributions remains unclear in developing countries like Vietnam. In this study, we found that 25 out of Vietnam’s 86 key rural development and agricultural policies enacted over the last decade (2010–2021) set specific targets for home gardens. The targets, however, focus strongly on income generation with indicators stipulating e.g., 50–80% of total income from home gardens should be generated by the main product. The policies set no specific target for other potential roles of home gardens beyond the economy of rural households and can exacerbate the widespread transformation of home gardens in Vietnam into farming practices with low crop diversity. The latter potentially limits contributions of home gardens to two (SDG 1, 10) of at least 11 (SDG 1–3, 5, 6, 8, 10–13, 15) of Vietnam’s 17 SDGs. To narrow the gap between research and policy in home garden contributions to Vietnam’s SDGs, we need to better mainstream integrated home garden systems and their diverse benefits, enrich policy targets beyond the income generation, and strengthen coordination among state departments for policy implementation. Full article
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Article
Impact of Subsoiling on Cultivated Horizon Construction and Grain Yield of Winter Wheat in the North China Plain
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020236 - 07 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1024
Abstract
In order to explore the effects of subsoiling tillage measures on the construction of soil cultivated horizon and the yield and water use efficiency of winter wheat in the North China Plain, three tillage methods, including no tillage (PZ), rotary tillage (PR), and [...] Read more.
In order to explore the effects of subsoiling tillage measures on the construction of soil cultivated horizon and the yield and water use efficiency of winter wheat in the North China Plain, three tillage methods, including no tillage (PZ), rotary tillage (PR), and subsoiling (PS), combined with straw returning measures were implemented in the winter wheat season in Xinxiang, Henan Province from 2016 to 2018. The effects of tillage measures on the improvement of cultivated land quality and the water saving and yield increase of winter wheat were investigated. The results showed that compared with no-tillage treatment, subsoiling significantly reduced soil bulk density by 8.88% and increased soil porosity by 13.04% in 20–40 cm soil layer; significantly reduced soil compaction by 56.96% in 0–40 cm soil layer; subsoiling combined with straw returning significantly increased soil organic carbon content in plough layer of winter wheat, whereas rotary tillage decreased soil organic carbon content. Subsoiling is more conducive to soil moisture movement to the deep layer after irrigation or rainfall, and the water consumption of subsoiling is the largest in the whole growth period of winter wheat. Subsoiling could better coordinate the relationship between water consumption and yield, which increased yield by 34.48–38.10% and water use efficiency by 19.57–21.96% compared with no-tillage treatment, respectively. Therefore, subsoiling before sowing combined with straw returning was beneficial to the reasonable construction of soil cultivated horizon, and significantly improved the yield and water use efficiency of winter wheat under the climatic conditions in the North China Plain. Full article
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Article
The Role of Consumer-Citizens and Connectedness to Nature in the Sustainable Transition to Agroecological Food Systems: The Mediation of Innovative Business Models and a Multi-Level Perspective
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020203 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2589
Abstract
Conventional agricultural systems have contributed to social, economic and environmental problems and are the main threat to global sustainability. In response, theoretical frameworks to describe the transition to sustainable food systems have been proposed, emphasizing the necessity to shift from farm-level solutions to [...] Read more.
Conventional agricultural systems have contributed to social, economic and environmental problems and are the main threat to global sustainability. In response, theoretical frameworks to describe the transition to sustainable food systems have been proposed, emphasizing the necessity to shift from farm-level solutions to a focus on interactions within the entire value chain, from production to consumption. Despite the emphasis on the importance and potential of consumers to contribute to sustainable agri-food transitions, approaches to their role have remained within the traditional, linear supply chain framework. Marketing approaches view consumers as passive actors, limited to voting with their wallets, which has deepened the disconnection between consumers, producers and nature, resulting in a triple fracture. We analyze the role of the consumer in agri-food systems, contrasting marketing approaches with other consumers/citizens concepts and locate them within sustainability transition frameworks and a multi-level perspective. We discuss the re-establishment of the connection between farmers and consumers and human–nature connectedness and explore this connection mediated through innovative business models, which act as niche innovations with the capacity to influence regimes and landscapes within the multi-level perspective. The role of consumers/citizens in the co-creation of innovative business models is also addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconnecting People with Nature through Agriculture)
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Article
Influence of Various Composted Organic Amendments and Their Rates of Application on Nitrogen Mineralization and Soil Productivity Using Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa. L. var. Chinensis) as an Indicator Crop
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020201 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1927
Abstract
There is a diversity of locally available nitrogen (N)-rich organic materials in Samoa. However, none of them was evaluated for their N supplying capacity after composting in Samoan Inceptisols for vegetable cultivation. Thus, N-releasing capacity of five composted organic amendments (OAs) namely macuna, [...] Read more.
There is a diversity of locally available nitrogen (N)-rich organic materials in Samoa. However, none of them was evaluated for their N supplying capacity after composting in Samoan Inceptisols for vegetable cultivation. Thus, N-releasing capacity of five composted organic amendments (OAs) namely macuna, gliricidia, erythrina, lawn grass and giant taro, and their two application rates (10 and 20 t ha−1) were assessed through a laboratory incubation and a crop response study using Chinese cabbage as a test crop. Among the OAs, composted mucuna was characterized by a higher total N (2.91%), organic C (63.6%) and NO3N content (341 mg N kg−1). A significant difference in N mineralization was observed among the OAs as well as application rates. The highest N mineralization was recorded in composted mucuna followed by gliricidia, erythrina, lawn grass, and giant taro. A crop response study also showed a similar trend. Mucuna treatment had the highest biomass yield and N uptake followed by gliricidia, erythrina, lawn grass, and giant taro. Leguminous composted OAs @ 20 t ha−1 performed substantially better in all the plant growth and yield parameters, and N uptake compared to 10 t ha−1 that was not the case for non-leguminous OAs. Thus, non-leguminous OAs should be applied at 10 t ha−1. All the composted leguminous OAs showed promising results while mucuna was the best in both the application rates. Therefore, mucuna can be promoted to supply N for crop cultivation in Samoa, other Pacific Islands and tropical countries where N fertilizer is costly and not easily available. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Biochar and Compost Amendments on Soil Fertility)
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Article
A Feeding Quantity Monitoring System for a Combine Harvester: Design and Experiment
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020153 - 22 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1495
Abstract
Due to the commitment to the target of green mechanized production and precision agriculture, the operating parameters of the main functional components of a combine harvester need to be adjusted according to the feeding quantity. Therefore, feeding quantity monitoring is one of the [...] Read more.
Due to the commitment to the target of green mechanized production and precision agriculture, the operating parameters of the main functional components of a combine harvester need to be adjusted according to the feeding quantity. Therefore, feeding quantity monitoring is one of the key technologies of intelligent control for a combine harvester. In order to obtain the accurate information of feeding quantity in the harvesting operation process in real time, a monitoring system was set up to obtain the accurate information of feeding quantity in real time. The torque signal corresponding to different feeding quantity was obtained through bench calibration experiments. The signal was decomposed, noise reduced, and reconstructed through the analysis of the frequency range of the noise based on the wavelet transform. A fitting relationship between the torque and the feeding quantity was obtained. Field validation experiment results showed good consistency of the measured data and the actual quantity. This paper provides a theoretical basis and technical reference for subsequent research on intelligent control of combine harvesters. Full article
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Article
Economic Advantages of Individual Animal Identification in Fattening Pigs
Agriculture 2022, 12(2), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12020126 - 18 Jan 2022
Viewed by 920
Abstract
Pig farmers are exposed to strong international competition and confronted with low revenues, while production requirements are increasing. Individual electronic monitoring allows for closer observation of the fattening process, which can be useful for identifying weaknesses in the production process and carrying out [...] Read more.
Pig farmers are exposed to strong international competition and confronted with low revenues, while production requirements are increasing. Individual electronic monitoring allows for closer observation of the fattening process, which can be useful for identifying weaknesses in the production process and carrying out more targeted cost management. Consequently, this study aimed to demonstrate a reduction in unit production costs through individual animal identification (IAI) using ultra-high-frequency radio frequency identification (UHF RFID) transponder ear tags. For data collection, day-old suckling piglets were individually marked. During fattening, these piglets (n = 224) were kept in 16 groups (n = 14 in each). Individual body weights and the feed consumption for each pen were recorded until slaughtering. These data were used to perform three hypothetical selection scenarios at nine different times, retrospectively, by selecting individual animals that deviated downwards from the mean value of live weight by 10, 15, or 20%. For each group, two different calculations were performed to highlight potential savings. High potential savings of direct costs (up to EUR 4.56) for female animals and castrates (EUR 5.44) were shown. Nevertheless, costs of individual data collection were EUR 4.06 per pig, and we found that IAI offers advantages for conventional fatteners for future fattening periods to work in an economically sustainable manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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Article
Effectiveness of Common Preprocessing Methods of Time Series for Monitoring Crop Distribution in Kenya
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010079 - 07 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1073
Abstract
Accurate crop identification and spatial distribution mapping are important for crop production estimation and famine early warning, especially for food-deficit African agricultural countries. By evaluating existing preprocessing methods for classification using satellite image time series (SITS) in Kenya, this study aimed to provide [...] Read more.
Accurate crop identification and spatial distribution mapping are important for crop production estimation and famine early warning, especially for food-deficit African agricultural countries. By evaluating existing preprocessing methods for classification using satellite image time series (SITS) in Kenya, this study aimed to provide a low-cost method for cultivated land monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa that lacks financial support. SITS were composed of a set of MODIS Vegetation Indices (MOD13Q1) in 2018, and the classification method included the Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Random Forest (RF) classifier. Eight datasets obtained at three levels of preprocessing from MOD13Q1 were used in the classification: (1) raw SITS of vegetation indices (R-NDVI, R-EVI, and R-NDVI + R-EVI); (2) smoothed SITS of vegetation indices (S-NDVI); and (3) vegetation phenological data (P-NDVI, P-EVI, R-NDVI + P-NDVI, and P-NDVI-1). Both SVM and RF classification results showed that the “R-NDVI + R-EVI” dataset achieved the highest performance, while the three pure phenological datasets produced the lowest accuracy. Correlation analysis between variable importance and rainfall time series demonstrated that the vegetation index SITS during rainfall periods showed higher importance in RF classifiers, thus revealing the potential of saving computational costs. Considering the preprocessing cost of SITS and its negative impact on the classification accuracy, we recommend overlaying the original NDVI with the original EVI time series to map the crop distribution in Kenya. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote-Sensing-Based Technologies for Crop Monitoring)
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Intercropping of Rice and Water Mimosa (Neptunia oleracea Lour.): A Novel Model to Control Pests and Diseases and Improve Yield and Grain Quality while Reducing N Fertilizer Application
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010013 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1768
Abstract
Cereal/legume intercropping is an effective agricultural practice for pest and disease control and crop production. However, global research on rice and aquatic legume intercropping is relatively rare. A field experiment during two seasons (2018 late season and 2019 early season) was conducted to [...] Read more.
Cereal/legume intercropping is an effective agricultural practice for pest and disease control and crop production. However, global research on rice and aquatic legume intercropping is relatively rare. A field experiment during two seasons (2018 late season and 2019 early season) was conducted to explore the effects of rice and water mimosa intercropping on rice canopy microclimate, pest and disease, yield, grain quality, and economic income. Two cultivation patterns including rice/water mimosa intercropping and rice monocropping were employed, and three nitrogen (N) fertilizer application levels, including zero N (ZN, 0 kg ha−1 N), reduced N (RN, 140 kg ha−1 N), and conventional N (CN, 180 kg ha−1 N) levels, were applied for the above two cultivation patterns. The results showed that rice/water mimosa intercropping formed a canopy microclimate of rice with higher temperature and lower relative humidity and dew point temperature. In addition, there was a significant reduction in the occurrences of rice leaf blast by 15.05%~35.49%, leaf folders by 25.32%~43.40%, and sheath blight by 16.35%~41.91% in the intercropping treatments. Moreover, rice/water mimosa intercropping increased rice per unit yield by 43.00%~53.10% in the late season of 2018 and 21.40%~26.18% in the early season of 2019. Furthermore, rice grain quality was totally improved, among which brown and head rice rates increased but rice chalky rate and chalkiness degree decreased in the intercropping system. We suggest that combining rice/water mimosa intercropping and N fertilizer reduction can be used as an environmentally friendly eco-farming technique because it can decrease N fertilizer application by approximately 40 kg·ha−1. This combination would not only mitigate nonpoint source pollution but also obtain advantages for controlling rice pests and diseases that would alleviate pesticide usage and improve rice yield and grain quality, which can be extended for green rice production to increase income for producers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Conservation Cropping Systems and Practices)
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Article
The Optimal Cultivar × Sowing Date × Plant Density for Grain Yield and Resource Use Efficiency of Summer Maize in the Northern Huang–Huai–Hai Plain of China
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010007 - 22 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1598
Abstract
In order to explore the optimal cultivar × sowing date × plant density for summer maize (Zea mays L.) in the Northern Huang–Huai–Hai (HHH) Plain of China, field experiments were conducted over two consecutive years (2018–2019) on a loam soil in the [...] Read more.
In order to explore the optimal cultivar × sowing date × plant density for summer maize (Zea mays L.) in the Northern Huang–Huai–Hai (HHH) Plain of China, field experiments were conducted over two consecutive years (2018–2019) on a loam soil in the Northern HHH Plain. A split–split plot design was employed in this study, and the main plots included three cultivars (HM1: early-maturing cultivar; ZD958: medium-maturing cultivar; DH605: late-maturing cultivar); subplots consisted of three sowing dates (SD1: June 10; SD2: June 17; SD3: June 24); sub-sub plots include two plant densities (PD1: 6.75 × 104 plants ha−1; PD2: 8.25 × 104 plants ha−1). The results showed that the effects of cultivar and plant density on grain yield of summer maize were not significant, and the sowing date was the major factor affecting the grain yield. Delayed sowing significantly decreased the grain yield of summer maize, this was due mainly to the reduced kernel weight, which is associated with the lower post-anthesis dry matter accumulation. Moreover, radiation use efficiency (RUE), temperature use efficiency (TUE), and water use efficiency (WUE) were significantly affected by cultivar, sowing date, and plant density. Selecting early- and medium-maturing cultivars was beneficial to the improvements in RUE and TUE, and plants grown at earlier sowing with higher plant density increased the RUE and TUE. The interactive analysis of cultivar × sowing date × plant density showed that the optimum grain yields of all tested cultivars were observed at SD1-PD2, and the optimum RUE and TUE for HM1, ZD958, and DH605 were observed at SD1-PD2, SD2-PD2, and SD2-PD2, respectively. The differences in the optimum grain yield, RUE, and TUE among the tested cultivars were not significant. These results suggested that plants grown at earlier sowing with reasonable dense planting had benefits of grain yield and resource use efficiency. In order to adapt to mechanized grain harvesting, early-maturing cultivar with lower grain moisture at harvest would be the better choice. Therefore, adopting early-maturing cultivars grown with earlier sowing with reasonably higher plant density would be the optimal planting pattern for summer maize production in the Northern HHH Plain of China in future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimizing Grain Yield and Water Use Efficiency in Maize Production)
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Article
Production and Profitability of Hybrid Rice Is Influenced by Different Nutrient Management Practices
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010004 - 21 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2634
Abstract
The government of Nepal has recommended blanket fertilizer application for rice cultivation, which results in lower nutrient use efficiency (NUE) particularly under rainfed conditions. With the aim of finding an appropriate nutrient management practices concerning rice production and profitability, a field experiment was [...] Read more.
The government of Nepal has recommended blanket fertilizer application for rice cultivation, which results in lower nutrient use efficiency (NUE) particularly under rainfed conditions. With the aim of finding an appropriate nutrient management practices concerning rice production and profitability, a field experiment was conducted during rainy season of 2017 and 2018 at Kavrepalanchowk and Dang district of Nepal. Altogether, five treatments comprising various nutrient management practices viz. Nutrient Expert Model (NE), use of Leaf Color Chart (LCC), Government Recommended Fertilizer Dose (GON), Farm Yard Manure (FYM), and Farmers’ Field Practice (FFP), were laid out in RCBD with four replications in farmers’ fields. The analysis of variance showed significant difference between treatments for test weight and grain yield in Kavrepalanchowk whereas all traits except number of effective tillers were significant in Dang. The significantly higher grain yield and harvest index were obtained in NE, followed by LCC; and the overall straw yield was highest in LCC, followed by NE in both the locations. Also, yield gap analysis suggested the NE had 44.44% and 23.97% increase in yield as compared to FPP in Kavrepalanchowk and Dang, respectively. The combined analysis with Best Linear Unbiased Estimator revealed the interaction of nutrient management and location significantly effects the straw yield and harvest index across both the locations. The estimated mean straw yield and harvest index were 10.93 t/ha and 34.98%, respectively. Both correlation study and biplot of principal component analysis signaled grain yield had positive correlation with all other traits. Furthermore, the net revenue was maximum for NE, followed by LCC in both the locations. The benefit: cost ratio was highest for NE which was 1.55 in Kavrepalanchowk and 2.61 in Dang. On the basis of these findings, NE and LCC can be effectively used as nutrient management practice by the farmers to obtain maximum production and profitability in Rice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Crop Management in Sustainable Agriculture)
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Article
Isolation and Characterization of Plant Growth-Promoting Compost Bacteria That Improved Physiological Characteristics in Tomato and Lettuce Seedlings
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010003 - 21 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2192
Abstract
Currently, agricultural systems are inadequate to meet the demand of the population, coupled with the constant degradation of natural resources. Therefore, it is necessary to explore alternatives to increase the productivity and quality of crops with minimal environmental impact. The use of plant [...] Read more.
Currently, agricultural systems are inadequate to meet the demand of the population, coupled with the constant degradation of natural resources. Therefore, it is necessary to explore alternatives to increase the productivity and quality of crops with minimal environmental impact. The use of plant growth-promoting bacteria can provide solutions to some agri-environmental problems and replace or minimize conventional agricultural practices. In this study, a Bacillus pumilus strain with plant growth-promoting properties was isolated from mature compost. In vitro, the ability of Bacillus pumilus to solubilize phosphate, inhibit the growth of phytopathogenic fungi, and its effect on the germination of tomato and lettuce seeds was evaluated. In vivo, its effect on stem thickness, height, and the number of leaves of tomato and lettuce seedlings was studied. The results show that, in vitro, Bacillus pumilus solubilizes phosphate, inhibits the growth of the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, and increases the germination percentage of tomato seeds. The results, in vivo, demonstrate that the bacteria increases the stem thickness of tomato seedlings, while, in lettuce, it increases the stem thickness and the number of leaves. The outcome implies that Bacillus pumilus has properties as a plant growth promoter and can be used as a promising inoculant to enhance the growth of tomato and lettuce seedlings. Full article
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Article
AgriTech Innovators: A Study of Initial Adoption and Continued Use of a Mobile Digital Platform by Family-Operated Farming Enterprises
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1283; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121283 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1699
Abstract
While information technology is playing a significant transformative role in virtually every industry, within the agriculture sector, family-operated farming enterprises have been slow to adopt IT solutions to manage their operations. This study adopts a sequential mixed-methods research design to examine the pre- [...] Read more.
While information technology is playing a significant transformative role in virtually every industry, within the agriculture sector, family-operated farming enterprises have been slow to adopt IT solutions to manage their operations. This study adopts a sequential mixed-methods research design to examine the pre- and post-adoption phases of farmers’ use of a mobile digital platform for farm management. Our findings show that farmers’ initial acceptance of a mobile digital platform for farm management is shaped by social influence, which mediates the impact of performance and effort expectancy. Post-adoption continued use of the digital platform is influenced directly by performance and effort expectancy and indirectly by trust beliefs and social influence. Perceived work impediment indirectly influences post-adoption acceptance via effort expectancy. Our study untangles the direct and indirect influences of positive and negative perceptions on farmers’ acceptance of a new innovative AgriTech digital platform in these different phases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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Article
Potentially Toxic Elements in Oasis Agricultural Soils Caused by High-Intensity Exploitation in the Piedmont Zone of the Tianshan Mountains, China
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1234; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121234 - 07 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1414
Abstract
Considering the pollution of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in the soils of China, the present study analyzed the current state and influencing factors of PTEs in oasis soils using the model of absolute principal component score–multiple linear regression in the piedmont zone of [...] Read more.
Considering the pollution of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in the soils of China, the present study analyzed the current state and influencing factors of PTEs in oasis soils using the model of absolute principal component score–multiple linear regression in the piedmont zone of the Tianshan Mountains. The possible non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks of PTEs at current concentrations were also explored using a human-health risk-assessment model. The results suggested that the extent to which potentially toxic elements in the soils of different geographical units in the study area is affected by human activities varies considerably. The PTEs Cd and As in the soils of the Yili River Watershed were the most strongly influenced by human activities, reaching levels of 40% and 59%, respectively. However, in the Bortala River Watershed, Cu, Cd, and As were the most strongly influenced by human activities, reaching levels of 33%, 64%, and 76%, respectively. Geographical units with a high degree of economic development (e.g., the Yili River Watershed) had, in contrast, low levels of PTE pollution caused by human activities, which may be related to the regional economic development structure. The human health risk assessment showed that the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks of PTEs are currently below the threshold. However, increasing the arsenic content to 1.78 times the current level in the Bortala River Watershed would lead to carcinogenic risk. For the Yili River Watershed, a 3.33-fold increase in the arsenic content above its current level would lead to a carcinogenic risk. This risk should be addressed, and targeted environmental-protection measures should be formulated. The present research results will provide important decision support for regional environmental protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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Article
A Quadratic Regression Model to Quantify Plantation Soil Factors That Affect Tea Quality
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1225; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121225 - 05 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1597
Abstract
Tea components (tea polyphenols, catechins, free amino acids, and caffeine) are the key factors affecting the quality of green tea. This study aimed to relate key biochemical substances in tea to soil nutrient composition and the effectiveness of fertilization. Seventy tea samples and [...] Read more.
Tea components (tea polyphenols, catechins, free amino acids, and caffeine) are the key factors affecting the quality of green tea. This study aimed to relate key biochemical substances in tea to soil nutrient composition and the effectiveness of fertilization. Seventy tea samples and their corresponding plantation soil were randomly collected from Xinyang City, China. The catechins, free amino acids, and caffeine in tea were examined, as well as the soil pH, nitrate (NO3--N), ammonium (NH4+-N), available phosphorus (AP), available potassium (AK), and soil organic matter (SOM). The ordinary kriging was employed to visualize the spatial variation characteristic by ArcGIS. A quadratic regression model was used to analyze the effects of the soil environment on the tea. The results showed that the soil pH of the study area was suitable for cultivating tea plants. The relationship between soil pH and tea polyphenols and catechins presented the U-shape curve, whereas the soil pH and NH4+-N and the free amino acids, the soil pH, and caffeine presented the inverted U-shape curve. Soil management measures could be implemented to control the soil environment for improving the tea quality. The combination of the macro metrological model with individual experimentation could help to analyze the detailed influence mechanisms of environmental factors on plant physiological processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Management and Productivity of Tree Crops)
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Article
Modeling the Essential Oil and Trans-Anethole Yield of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill. var. vulgare) by Application Artificial Neural Network and Multiple Linear Regression Methods
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1191; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121191 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1175
Abstract
Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (commonly known as fennel) is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries. Fennel widely used as a digestive, carminative, galactagogue and diuretic and in treating gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders. Improving low heritability traits such as essential oil yield (EOY%) [...] Read more.
Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (commonly known as fennel) is used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries. Fennel widely used as a digestive, carminative, galactagogue and diuretic and in treating gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders. Improving low heritability traits such as essential oil yield (EOY%) and trans-anethole yield (TAY%) of fennel by direct selection does not result in rapid gains of EOY% and TAY%. Identification of high-heritable traits and using efficient modeling methods can be a beneficial approach to overcome this limitation and help breeders select the most advantageous traits in medicinal plant breeding programs. The present study aims to compare the performance of the artificial neural network (ANN) and multilinear regression (MLR) to predict the EOY% and TAY% of fennel populations. Stepwise regression (SWR) was used to assess the effect of various input variables. Based on SWR, nine traits—number of days to 50% flowering (NDF50%), number of days to maturity (NDM), final plant height (FPH), number of internodes (NI), number of umbels (NU), seed yield per square meter (SY/m2), number of seeds per plant (NS/P), number of seeds per umbel (NS/U) and 1000-seed weight (TSW)—were chosen as input variables. The network with Sigmoid Axon transfer function and two hidden layers was selected as the final ANN model for the prediction of EOY%, and the TanhAxon function with one hidden layer was used for the prediction of TAY%. The results revealed that the ANN method could predict the EOY% and TAY% with more accuracy and efficiency (R2 of EOY% = 0.929, R2 of TAY% = 0.777, RMSE of EOY% = 0.544, RMSE of TAY% = 0.264, MAE of EOY% = 0.385 and MAE of TAY% = 0.352) compared with the MLR model (R2 of EOY% = 0.553, R2 of TAY% = 0.467, RMSE of EOY% = 0.819, RMSE of TAY% = 0.448, MAE of EOY% = 0.624 and MAE of TAY% = 0.452). Based on the sensitivity analysis, SY/m2, NDF50% and NS/P were the most important traits to predict EOY% as well as SY/m2, NS/U and NDM to predict of TAY%. The results demonstrate the potential of ANNs as a promising tool to predict the EOY% and TAY% of fennel, and they can be used in future fennel breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Innovations in Agriculture)
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Article
Assessing Food Insecurity and Its Drivers among Smallholder Farming Households in Rural Oyo State, Nigeria: The HFIAS Approach
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1189; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121189 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3005
Abstract
Hunger and food insecurity take center stage in most debates in Africa, and in recent times with serious concerns about Nigeria. This study assessed food insecurity among farming households in rural Oyo State, Nigeria, using cross-sectional datasets from 211 farming households through a [...] Read more.
Hunger and food insecurity take center stage in most debates in Africa, and in recent times with serious concerns about Nigeria. This study assessed food insecurity among farming households in rural Oyo State, Nigeria, using cross-sectional datasets from 211 farming households through a multi-stage sampling procedure. The Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) module was employed in assessing food insecurity status of farming households, and the ordered logit model (OLM) was used to analyze factors influencing food insecurity among farming households. The results revealed that 12.8% of the farming households were food secure while 87.2% had varying levels of food insecurity. The OLM results indicated that age, household head’s years of schooling, gender, farm size, farm experience, non-farm income, food expenditure, and access to extension service significantly influenced food insecurity among farming households. Based on the findings, efforts should be geared towards promoting households’ education-related intervention programs in order to improve their nutrition-related knowledge that can enhance their food security status. Additionally, there should be provision of rural infrastructural facilities such as piped water, rural electrification, and healthcare service that promote healthy living and enhance households’ agricultural productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Food Security and Economic Analysis)
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Article
Genome-Wide Association Study for Detecting Salt-Tolerance Loci and Candidate Genes in Rice
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1174; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111174 - 21 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1236
Abstract
Salinity is one of the major constraints causing soil problems and is considered a limitation to increased rice production in rice-growing countries. This genome-wide association study (GWAS) experiment was conducted to understand the genetic basis of salt tolerance at the seedling stage in [...] Read more.
Salinity is one of the major constraints causing soil problems and is considered a limitation to increased rice production in rice-growing countries. This genome-wide association study (GWAS) experiment was conducted to understand the genetic basis of salt tolerance at the seedling stage in Korean rice. After 10 days of salt stress treatment, salt tolerance was evaluated with a standard evaluation system using a visual salt injury score. With 191 Korean landrace accessions and their genotypes, including 266,040 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), using a KNU Axiom Oryza 580K Genotyping Array, GWAS was conducted to detect three QTLs with significant SNPs with a −log10(P) threshold of ≥3.66. The QTL of qSIS2, showed −log10(P) = 3.80 and the lead SNP explained 7.87% of total phenotypic variation. The QTL of qSIS4, showed −log10(P) = 4.05 and the lead SNP explained 10.53% of total phenotypic variation. The QTL of qSIS8 showed −log10(P) = 3.78 and the lead SNP explained 7.83% of total phenotypic variation. Among the annotated genes located in these three QTL regions, five genes were selected as candidates (Os04g0481600, Os04g0485300, Os04g0493000, Os04g0493300, and Os08g0390200) for salt tolerance in rice seedlings based on the gene expression database and their previously known functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rice Breeding and Genetics)
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Article
Evapotranspiration Partition and Dual Crop Coefficients in Apple Orchard with Dwarf Stocks and Dense Planting in Arid Region, Aksu Oasis, Southern Xinjiang
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1167; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111167 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1213
Abstract
Crop coefficients are critical to developing irrigation scheduling and improving agricultural water management in farmland ecosystems. Interest in dwarf cultivation with high density (DCHD) for apple production increases in Aksu oasis, southern Xinjiang. The lack of micro-irrigation scheduling limits apple yield and water [...] Read more.
Crop coefficients are critical to developing irrigation scheduling and improving agricultural water management in farmland ecosystems. Interest in dwarf cultivation with high density (DCHD) for apple production increases in Aksu oasis, southern Xinjiang. The lack of micro-irrigation scheduling limits apple yield and water productivity of the DCHD-cultivated orchard. A two-year experiment with the DCHD-cultivated apple (Malus × domestica ‘Royal Gala’) orchard was conducted to determine crop coefficients and evapotranspiration (ETa) with the SIMDualKc model, and to investigate apple yield and water productivity (WP) in response to different irrigation scheduling. The five levels of irrigation rate were designed as W1 of 13.5 mm, W2 of 18.0 mm, W3 of 22.5 mm, W4 of 27.0 mm, and W5 of 31.5 mm. The mean value of basal crop coefficient (Kcb) at the initial-, mid-, and late-season was 1.00, 1.30, and 0.89, respectively. The Kc-local (ETa/ET0) range for apple orchard with DCHD was 1.11–1.20, 1.33–1.43, and 1.09–1.22 at the initial, middle, and late season, respectively. ETa of apple orchard in this study ranged between 415.55–989.71 mm, and soil evaporation accounted for 13.85–29.97% of ETa. Relationships between total irrigation amount and apple yield and WP were developed, and W3 was suggested as an optimum irrigation schedule with an average apple yield of 30,540.8 kg/ha and WP of 4.45 kg/m3 in 2019–2020. The results have implications in developing irrigation schedules and improving water management for apple production in arid regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Water Management in Dryland Agriculture)
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Article
Grain-Filling Characteristics in Extra-Large Panicle Type of Early-Maturing japonica/indica Hybrids
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111165 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1024
Abstract
Early-maturing japonica/indica hybrids (EJIH) have recently been released, performing a yield potential of 13.5 t ha−1 and greater yield increase over conventional japonica rice (CJ) and hybrid indica rice (HI) in production. More spikelets per panicle and improved grain-filling efficiency [...] Read more.
Early-maturing japonica/indica hybrids (EJIH) have recently been released, performing a yield potential of 13.5 t ha−1 and greater yield increase over conventional japonica rice (CJ) and hybrid indica rice (HI) in production. More spikelets per panicle and improved grain-filling efficiency underlined the basis for the superior yield performance of EJIH. However, few studies are available on the panicle traits and grain-filling characteristics of EJIH, as well as their differences to CJ and HI. In our study, two EJIH, two CJ, and two HI cultivars with similar growth patterns were grown in the same fields. EJIH had a 12.2–18.8% increased (p < 0.05) grain yield relative to CJ and HI, mainly attributed to their higher daily grain yield. Although it had a lower panicle per m2, EJIH exhibited 28.0–38.3% more (p < 0.05) spikelets per m2 from an increase of 58.0–87.8% (p < 0.05) in spikelets per panicle than CJ and HI. Compared with CJ and HI, EJIH had a higher single panicle weight and more grains in the six parts of the panicle, especially in the upper secondary branches (US) and middle secondary branches (MS). EJIH exhibited a higher leaf area index (LAI), leaf area duration (LAD), leaf photosynthetic rate, and SPAD values after heading, which helped increase shoot biomass weight at heading and maturity and post-heading biomass accumulation. For CJ and HI, the grain-filling dynamics of grains in the six parts were all well simulated by the Richards equation. For EJIH, the grain-filling dynamics of grains in the lower secondary branches (LS) were well fitted by the logistics equation, with the Richards equation simulating grain positioning on the other five parts. EJIH had a lower mean grain-filling rate (GRmean) and longer days and grain filling amounts (GFA) during early, middle, and late stages than CJ and HI. Our results suggest EJIH gave a yield advantage over CJ and HI through a higher daily grain yield. The panicle traits and grain-filling characteristics differed greatly among the three cultivar types. Compared with CJ and HI, EJIH had lower GRmean and higher days and more grains in the panicle during early, middle, and late stages, which contributed to an increased GFA after heading, improved filled-grain efficiency, and higher grain yield. Full article
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Article
Effects of Agricultural Use on Endangered Plant Taxa in Spain
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111097 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1228
Abstract
Agriculture is one of the most widespread human activities and has the greatest impact on terrestrial ecosystems, as it transforms natural ecosystems into artificial landscapes using, in many cases, large amounts of pesticides as well as overexploiting natural resources. Therefore, for effective biodiversity [...] Read more.
Agriculture is one of the most widespread human activities and has the greatest impact on terrestrial ecosystems, as it transforms natural ecosystems into artificial landscapes using, in many cases, large amounts of pesticides as well as overexploiting natural resources. Therefore, for effective biodiversity conservation, it is necessary to include agricultural systems in conservation programs. In this work, the 50 plant taxa described for Spain as threatened by agricultural use were selected. These were divided according to the type of threat into those affected by crop extension, intensification, or abandonment. In addition, information was obtained concerning their conservation status, level of protection and functional traits (life form, pollination, and dispersal). Finally, the evolution of land use, in the areas near the populations of the selected species, was identified. The selected taxa belong to 21 families and present different life forms and modes of dispersal or pollination. Forty-six percent are endangered (EN) and most are included in legal protection lists. Nearly three-quarters are threatened by crop expansion and land use dynamics, reflecting an expansion of cultivated areas, which adds further pressure to these species. In addition to agricultural expansion, taxa are also at risk, due to important rates of agricultural land abandonment, and mention agricultural intensification. Nevertheless, conservation measures do exist to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes that may help to reverse the negative effect of land use dynamics on selected species, but few are specific to threatened flora. Therefore, if threatened plants are to be conserved in agricultural areas, it is necessary to promote a profound transformation of our socioecological systems. One of these transformative changes could come from the human-nature reconnection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconnecting People with Nature through Agriculture)
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Article
Mechanical Control with a Deep Learning Method for Precise Weeding on a Farm
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111049 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2055
Abstract
This paper presents a mechanical control method for precise weeding based on deep learning. Deep convolutional neural network was used to identify and locate weeds. A special modular weeder was designed, which can be installed on the rear of a mobile platform. An [...] Read more.
This paper presents a mechanical control method for precise weeding based on deep learning. Deep convolutional neural network was used to identify and locate weeds. A special modular weeder was designed, which can be installed on the rear of a mobile platform. An inverted pyramid-shaped weeding tool equipped in the modular weeder can shovel out weeds without being contaminated by soil. The weed detection and control method was implemented on an embedded system with a high-speed graphics processing unit and integrated with the weeder. The experimental results showed that even if the speed of the mobile platform reaches 20 cm/s, the weeds can still be accurately detected and the position of the weeds can be located by the system. Moreover, the weeding mechanism can successfully shovel out the roots of the weeds. The proposed weeder has been tested in the field, and its performance and weed coverage have been verified to be precise for weeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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Article
Relative Importance of Plant Species Composition and Environmental Factors in Affecting Soil Carbon Stocks of Alpine Pastures (NW Italy)
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111047 - 26 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1172
Abstract
Alpine pastures are agricultural systems with a high provision of ecosystem services, which include carbon (C) stocking. Particularly, the soil organic C (SOC) stocks of Alpine pastures may play a pivotal role in counteracting global climate change. Even if the importance of pasture [...] Read more.
Alpine pastures are agricultural systems with a high provision of ecosystem services, which include carbon (C) stocking. Particularly, the soil organic C (SOC) stocks of Alpine pastures may play a pivotal role in counteracting global climate change. Even if the importance of pasture SOC has been stated by several research studies, especially by comparing different land uses, little is known about the role of plant species composition. We studied a wide sample of 324 pastures in the north-western Italian Alps by performing coupled vegetation and soil surveys. Climatic (i.e., mean annual precipitation), topographic (i.e., elevation, slope, southness), vegetation (i.e., the first three dimensions of a non-metric multid imensional scaling—NMDS), and soil (i.e., pH) parameters were considered as independent variables in a generalised linear model accounting for SOC stocks in the 0–30 cm depth. Pasture SOC was significantly affected by precipitation (positively) and by pH (negatively) but not by topography. However, the higher influence was exerted by vegetation through the first NMDS dimension, which depicted a change in plant species along a thermic-altitudinal gradient. Our research highlighted the remarkable importance of vegetation in regulating SOC stocks in Alpine pastures, confirming the pivotal role of these semi-natural agricultural systems in the global scenario of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Carbon and Nitrogen in Agricultural Systems)
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