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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19 pages, 991 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Durum Wheat Cultivars’ Adaptability to Mediterranean Environments Using G × E Interaction Analysis
by Elissavet Ninou, Nektaria Tsivelika, Iosif Sistanis, Nikolaos Katsenios, Evangelos Korpetis, Eirini Vazaneli, Fokion Papathanasiou, Spiros Didos, Anagnostis Argiriou and Ioannis Mylonas
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010102 - 30 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1392
Abstract
Aside from plant breeding and agricultural inputs, understanding and interpreting the Genotype × Environment (G × E) interaction has contributed significantly to the increase in wheat yield. In Central Macedonia, Greece, fifteen commercially important durum wheat cultivars and one landrace were tested in [...] Read more.
Aside from plant breeding and agricultural inputs, understanding and interpreting the Genotype × Environment (G × E) interaction has contributed significantly to the increase in wheat yield. In Central Macedonia, Greece, fifteen commercially important durum wheat cultivars and one landrace were tested in six cultivation environments classified into high- and low- productivity environments. This study aimed to identify the most productive and stable durum wheat genotypes across Mediterranean farming systems through a comparative examination of genotype plus genotype by environment (GGE) biplot alongside fifteen parametric and non-parametric stability models. In the organic (low productivity) environment, cultivar Zoi and the landrace Lemnos showed remarkable results, indicating a potential solution for biological agriculture. For the late-sowing (low productivity) environment, some widespread varieties such as Mexicali-81, Meridiano, and Maestrale had excellent performance, showing potential to overcome more adverse conditions during critical grain filling periods such as higher air temperature and deficient soil moisture, i.e., conditions that correlate with climate change. Evaluation of genotypes in all environments for a combination of high yield and stable production, showed that the best genotypes were G8 (Simeto), G2 (Canavaro), and G12 (Elpida). In the subgroup with the three high-productivity environments, G12 (Elpida), G8 (Simeto), and G6 (Mexicali-81) were the best genotypes, followed by G2 (Canavaro), while in the low-productivity subgroup, the G2 (Canavaro), G13 (Zoi) and G8 (Simeto) genotypes were the best. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genotype × Environment Interactions in Crop Production)
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23 pages, 4576 KiB  
Article
Soil Microbial and Enzymatic Properties in Luvisols as Affected by Different Types of Agricultural Land-Use Systems and Soil Depth
by Anna Piotrowska-Długosz, Jacek Długosz, Barbara Kalisz and Michał Gąsiorek
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010083 - 29 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 903
Abstract
Determination of the microbial and enzymatic properties in soil is primarily concentrated on the surface layers of the soil profiles; however, it is well known that the transformation of soil organic matter also occurs in the deeper horizons of the soil profile. The [...] Read more.
Determination of the microbial and enzymatic properties in soil is primarily concentrated on the surface layers of the soil profiles; however, it is well known that the transformation of soil organic matter also occurs in the deeper horizons of the soil profile. The aim of this study was to assess any changes in specific sets of enzyme activities and their associated physicochemical properties as affected by two different agricultural land-use systems and soil depth. Changes in the studied properties were determined across four Luvisol profiles in two agricultural land uses (arable land and vineyards). The enzyme activities associated with the transformation of C, N and P were analyzed. Additionally, the activity of some oxidoreductases and the fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis (FDAH) rate were also determined. Moreover, the content of the various forms of soil carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus (including microbial biomass C, N and P) and some other properties (pH, clay and silt content) were assessed. Agricultural land use significantly affected the microbial biomass content and as well as the studied enzyme activities. Most of the studied enzymes exhibited a higher activity in the grapevine (GV) profiles, which was followed by the winter wheat (WW) profiles; however, the largest variability occurred for the urease activity. There was no clear differentiation between the two studied land uses for the activity of nitrate reductase, dehydrogenases, acid phosphatase, or endo- and exo-cellulase. Irrespective of the plant being cultivated, the soil variables decreased significantly with increasing soil depth, wherein the greatest changes were observed between the surface and sub-surface soil horizons (I–II). The activity of some enzymes (e.g., the urease activity in WW profiles) decreased gradually across the soil profiles, while others were located almost solely within the surface layers (e.g., the nitrate reductase activity in the GV profiles as well as invertase in the WW profiles). The α-glucosidase activity did not exhibit any statistically significant changes along the analyzed profiles. The activity of phenol oxidase and peroxidase also revealed different trends along the studied profiles compared to the other enzymes and did not decrease gradually with depth. The microbial biomass of the C, N and P content was generally the highest in the upper horizons and gradually decreased with depth, wherein the largest decrease was observed between the surface and sub-surface horizon. The studied enzyme activities were more dependent on the soil carbon content compared to the other soil properties. And thus, in the C-rich horizons (C > 4 g kg) for the surface and subsurface layers the enzyme activities were highly correlated with TOC, DOC and MBC content as compared to the deeper, C-low horizons (C < 4 g kg). By examining how the microbial and enzymatic properties change across the soil profiles, it is possible to gain valuable insight into the long-term biogeochemical processes that are involved in soil fertility and in the health of agricultural ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Soil and Plant Nutrition)
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18 pages, 1266 KiB  
Review
State of the Art and New Technologies to Recycle the Fertigation Effluents in Closed Soilless Cropping Systems Aiming to Maximise Water and Nutrient Use Efficiency in Greenhouse Crops
by Dimitrios Savvas, Evangelos Giannothanasis, Theodora Ntanasi, Ioannis Karavidas and Georgia Ntatsi
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010061 - 26 Dec 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1008
Abstract
Inappropriate fertilisation results in the pollution of groundwater with nitrates and phosphates, eutrophication in surface water, emission of greenhouse gasses, and unwanted N deposition in natural environments, thereby harming the whole ecosystem. In greenhouses, the cultivation in closed-loop soilless culture systems (CLSs) allows [...] Read more.
Inappropriate fertilisation results in the pollution of groundwater with nitrates and phosphates, eutrophication in surface water, emission of greenhouse gasses, and unwanted N deposition in natural environments, thereby harming the whole ecosystem. In greenhouses, the cultivation in closed-loop soilless culture systems (CLSs) allows for the collection and recycling of the drainage solution, thus minimising contamination of water resources by nutrient emissions originating from the fertigation effluents. Recycling of the DS represents an ecologically sound technology as it can reduce water consumption by 20–35% and fertiliser use by 40–50% in greenhouse crops, while minimising or even eliminating losses of nutrients, thereby preventing environmental pollution by NO3 and P. The nutrient supply in CLSs is largely based on the anticipated ratio between the mass of a nutrient absorbed by the crop and the volume of water, expressed as mmol L−1, commonly referenced to as “uptake concentration” (UC). However, although the UCs exhibit stability over time under optimal climatic conditions, some deviations at different locations and different cropping stages can occur, leading to the accumulation or depletion of nutrients in the root zone. Although these may be small in the short term, they can reach harmful levels when summed up over longer periods, resulting in serious nutrient imbalances and crop damage. To prevent large nutrient imbalances in the root zone, the composition of the supplied nutrient solution must be frequently readjusted, taking into consideration the current nutrient status in the root zone of the crop. The standard practice to estimate the current nutrient status in the root zone is to regularly collect samples of drainage solution and determine the nutrient concentrations through chemical analyses. However, as results from a chemical laboratory are available several days after sample selection, there is currently intensive research activity aiming to develop ion-selective electrodes (ISEs) for online measurement of the DS composition in real-time. Furthermore, innovative decision support systems (DSSs) fed with the analytical results transmitted either offline or online can substantially contribute to timely and appropriate readjustments of the nutrient supply using as feedback information the current nutrient status in the root zone. The purpose of the present paper is to review the currently applied technologies for nutrient and water recycling in CLSs, as well as the new trends based on ISEs and novel DSSs. Furthermore, a specialised DSS named NUTRISENSE, which can contribute to more efficient management of nutrient supply and salt accumulation in closed-loop soilless cultivations, is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agronomical Practices for Saving Water Supply)
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18 pages, 4913 KiB  
Article
Plant Biostimulants as an Effective Tool for Increasing Physiological Activity and Productivity of Different Sugar Beet Varieties
by Vladimír Pačuta, Marek Rašovský, Nika Briediková, Dominika Lenická, Ladislav Ducsay and Alexandra Zapletalová
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010062 - 26 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
Drought and high temperatures are among most dangerous attributes of climate change, which negatively affects the quantity and quality of sugar beet production. One of the most effective tools for eliminating unwanted effects is the application of biostimulants during the growing season. In [...] Read more.
Drought and high temperatures are among most dangerous attributes of climate change, which negatively affects the quantity and quality of sugar beet production. One of the most effective tools for eliminating unwanted effects is the application of biostimulants during the growing season. In this study, a 4 × 3 factorial scheme was adopted: Two biostimulant treatments, namely (i) pure extract from brown seaweed Ascophylum nodosum (B1) and (ii) concentrate from the seaweed Ascophylum nodosum and humus substances (B2), were compared to a control treatment (B0) in an experiment with four sugar beet varieties (Fischer, Fabius, Nicolaus, Lucius). The two-year research proved the significant influence of biostimulants on all monitored physiological and production parameters of sugar beet, with the exception of potassium content. Biostimulants positively influenced the results of root yield, polarized and white sugar yield, and the values of LAI (leaf area index), NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index), and PRI (photochemical reflectance index), while the positive effect on sugar content was only in the case of B1 treatment. The production potential fluctuated significantly depending on the observed interaction, but it can be concluded that the most limiting factor of production is the course of weather conditions. However, after treatment with biostimulants, an increased root yield (B2) and sugar content (B1) were found. Moreover, in this experiment, a strong positive relationship between root yield and physiological parameters (NDVI and PRI) and LAI was proven, while the relationship of sugar content to these parameters was weak. Monitoring of the physiological response to biostimulant application shows a high potential from the sustainability perspective in the context of sugar beet production. In addition, the impact on the height and quality of production was evident. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Soil and Plant Nutrition)
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13 pages, 1107 KiB  
Article
Municipal Solid Waste Management in a Decentralized Composting Scenario: Assessment of the Process Reproducibility and Quality of the Obtained Composts
by Cristina Álvarez-Alonso, María Dolores Pérez-Murcia, Silvia Sánchez-Méndez, Encarnación Martínez-Sabater, Ignacio Irigoyen, Marga López, Isabel Nogués, Concepción Paredes, Luciano Orden, Ana García-Rández and María Ángeles Bustamante
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010054 - 24 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1406
Abstract
Over the last several years, the models for organic waste management have changed to implement circular economy in the productive cycle. In this context, new scenarios have emerged, where the management of different organic waste streams by composting is conducted with decentralized models [...] Read more.
Over the last several years, the models for organic waste management have changed to implement circular economy in the productive cycle. In this context, new scenarios have emerged, where the management of different organic waste streams by composting is conducted with decentralized models that manage organic wastes in a more local way. However, in these new models, the standardization of the process control and of the end-product characteristics is necessary to guarantee the quality and agronomic value of the compost obtained, avoiding potential risks for human health and the environment. Thus, the aim of this work was to study two different scenarios of community composting of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste separately collected in order to guarantee the effectiveness and reproducibility of the composting processes and the quality of the composts obtained. For this, the development of the process and the characteristics of the composts at agronomic, hygienic–sanitary and environmental levels were assessed in real conditions and during three cycles of the process. The results obtained show high similarity among the different composting cycles, indicating an important degree of reproducibility among the processes. In addition, the composts obtained showed a good sanitary quality, absence of phytotoxicity and low contents of potentially toxic elements, which guarantee their use in agriculture without posing any risk to human health and to the environment. Full article
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18 pages, 7259 KiB  
Article
Cloud-Based Framework for Precision Agriculture: Optimizing Scarce Water Resources in Arid Environments amid Uncertainties
by Fan Zhang, Peixi Tang, Tingting Zhou, Jiakai Liu, Feilong Li and Baoying Shan
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010045 - 22 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 789
Abstract
In arid agriculture, the effective allocation of scarce water resources and the assessment of irrigation shortage risks are critical water management practices. However, these practices are faced with inherent and unignorable uncertainties affecting multiple variables. This study aims to model the typical uncertainties [...] Read more.
In arid agriculture, the effective allocation of scarce water resources and the assessment of irrigation shortage risks are critical water management practices. However, these practices are faced with inherent and unignorable uncertainties affecting multiple variables. This study aims to model the typical uncertainties in these practices and understand how they impact the allocation of scarce water resources. We advocate for a nuanced consideration of variable characteristics and data availability, variation, and distribution when choosing uncertainty representation methods. We proposed a comprehensive framework that integrates the cloud model to delineate scenarios marked by subjective vagueness, such as “high” or “low” prices. Simultaneously, the stochastic method was used for modeling meteorological and hydrological variables, notably precipitation and crop evapotranspiration. Additionally, to navigate subjectivity and imprecise judgment in standards classification, this framework contains a cloud-model-based assessment method tailored for evaluating irrigation shortage risks. The proposed framework was applied to a real-world agricultural water management problem in Liangzhou County, northwest China. The results underscored the efficacy of the cloud model in representing subjective vagueness, both in the optimization process and the subsequent assessment. Notably, our findings revealed that price predominantly influences net benefits, and that precipitation and crop evapotranspiration emerge as decisive factors in determining optimal irrigation schemes. Moreover, the identification of high water storage risks for maize in the Yongchang and Jinyang districts serves as a reminder for local water managers of the need to prioritize these areas. By adeptly modeling multiple uncertainties, our framework equips water managers with tools to discern sensitive variables. We suggest that enhanced precipitation and evapotranspiration forecasts could be a promising way to narrow the uncertainties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture)
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16 pages, 6358 KiB  
Article
Early Detection of Potential Infestation by Capnodis tenebrionis (L.) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), in Stone and Pome Fruit Orchards, Using Multispectral Data from a UAV
by Evaggelia Arapostathi, Christina Panopoulou, Athanasios Antonopoulos, Anastasios Katsileros, Konstantinos Karellas, Christos Dimopoulos and Antonios Tsagkarakis
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010020 (registering DOI) - 21 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1051
Abstract
Wood-boring insect pests pose a significant threat to orchards, potentially leading to tree mortality. In the initial stages of infestation, no visible symptoms are apparent, but as infestations progress, rapid and widespread symptoms emerge, resulting in accelerated tree decline. Therefore, the timely detection [...] Read more.
Wood-boring insect pests pose a significant threat to orchards, potentially leading to tree mortality. In the initial stages of infestation, no visible symptoms are apparent, but as infestations progress, rapid and widespread symptoms emerge, resulting in accelerated tree decline. Therefore, the timely detection of early wood-boring insect symptoms is critical for effective pest control, necessitating advanced methods such as remote sensing. In this study, remote sensing is utilized to identify the early symptoms of peach flatheaded root borer (PFRB) infestation in trees. A multispectral sensor attached to a UAV captures aerial imagery data from stone fruit and pome fruit orchards. These data undergo processing in photogrammetric and GIS programs, where NDVI, NDRE, and the tree crown area are computed. On-site observations confirm PFRB infestations. Various machine-learning models, including logistic regression (LR), artificial neural network (NN), random forest (RF), and extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost), are compared using mean NDVI values, mean NDRE values, crown area, mean temperature, and mean relative humidity. Mean NDVI values emerge as the most crucial factor for predicting PFRB infestation across all machine-learning models. The XGBoost model proves the most effective, achieving an accuracy of 0.85, with marginal variations from the other tested models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision and Digital Agriculture)
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21 pages, 1803 KiB  
Article
Co-Composting of Hop Bines and Wood-Based Biochar: Effects on Composting and Plant Growth in Copper-Contaminated Soils
by Johannes Görl, Dieter Lohr, Elke Meinken and Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3065; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123065 - 15 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
Decades of intensive use of copper-based fungicides against downy mildew in hops has led to considerable accumulation of copper in topsoil, resulting in toxic effects on plants. Due to its high sorption capacity, the application of co-composted biochar compost might reduce copper toxicity, [...] Read more.
Decades of intensive use of copper-based fungicides against downy mildew in hops has led to considerable accumulation of copper in topsoil, resulting in toxic effects on plants. Due to its high sorption capacity, the application of co-composted biochar compost might reduce copper toxicity, whereby a synergistic effect of the composting process is supposed to occur. Furthermore, biochar addition might improve the composting process itself. Therefore, hop bines were co-composted without as well as with 5 and 20 vol% biochar, respectively. During composting, the temperature and concentration of O2, CO2, H2S, CH4 and NH3 in the compost heaps were regularly recorded. The biochar-free compost as well as the two composts with the biochar addition were characterized with regard to their plant-growing properties and were mixed into soils artificially spiked with different amounts of copper as well as into copper-polluted hop garden and apple orchard soils. The respective soil without the compost addition was used as the control, and further treatments with biochar alone and in combination with biochar-free compost were included in a plant response test with Chinese cabbage. The biochar addition increased the temperature within the compost heaps by about 30 °C and extended the duration of the thermophilic phase by almost 30 days, resulting in a higher degree of hygienization. Furthermore, the application of co-composted biochar composts significantly improved plant biomass by up to 148% and reduced the copper concentration, especially of roots, by up to 35%. However, no significant differences in the biochar-free compost were found in the artificially copper-spiked soils, and the effect of co-composted biochar compost did not differ from the effect of biochar alone and in combination with biochar-free compost. Nevertheless, the co-composting of hop bines with biochar is recommended to benefit from the positive side effect of improved sanitization in addition to reducing copper toxicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remediation of Heavy Metal/Organic Pollutant Contaminated Farmland)
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12 pages, 1965 KiB  
Article
Rice Straw Mulch Installation in a Vineyard Improves Weed Control and Modifies Soil Characteristics
by Diego Gómez de Barreda, Inmaculada Bautista, Vicente Castell and Antonio Lidón
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3068; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123068 - 15 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1173
Abstract
After harvesting rice paddy fields, rice straw is a significant problem due to uncontrolled CO2 emissions when the straw is burned. One solution to this problem is to use this rice by-product for mulching planting lines of fruit trees or vineyards with [...] Read more.
After harvesting rice paddy fields, rice straw is a significant problem due to uncontrolled CO2 emissions when the straw is burned. One solution to this problem is to use this rice by-product for mulching planting lines of fruit trees or vineyards with the purpose of controlling weeds and improving soil characteristics. A 3-year experiment was conducted at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) demonstration vineyard, where rice-straw mulch was installed at three rates in 2021, 24.0, 43.1, and 63.1 t ha−1, and in 2022, 25.0, 37.5, and 50.0 t ha−1. Weeds were mainly controlled with the highest treatment rate (50.0–63.1 t ha−1), as the time of the year for mulch installation is decisive for achieving different weed control rates. On average, mulch decreased soil bulk density (5.4%), and increased the soil organic carbon (24.3%) and water-soluble organic carbon (24.3%) compared to bare soil. Soil temperature changes were observed due to the mulch treatment, with soil temperature lower in bare soil than in mulched soil during the cold season, and higher during the warm season. This effect was highly dependent on the mulch application rate. Soil moisture content was also higher under the mulch treatment, showing a mulch-rate response during the four seasons of the year. The changes in the physical and biological soil properties induced a higher soil respiration rate when mulched soil was compared to bare soil. This study concludes that the use of rice straw as a mulch had positive effects on weed control and soil properties, although three factors concerning mulch management were paramount: rate, the timing of installation, and replacement rate. Full article
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24 pages, 1596 KiB  
Review
Synthesis of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles and Their Applications in Enhancing Plant Stress Resistance: A Review
by Zijun Wang, Sijin Wang, Tingting Ma, You Liang, Zhongyang Huo and Fengping Yang
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3060; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123060 - 14 Dec 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2765
Abstract
Biotic and abiotic stress factors are pivotal considerations in agriculture due to their potential to cause crop losses, food insecurity, and economic repercussions. Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO nanoparticles) have gained substantial attention from researchers worldwide for their capacity to alleviate the detrimental impacts [...] Read more.
Biotic and abiotic stress factors are pivotal considerations in agriculture due to their potential to cause crop losses, food insecurity, and economic repercussions. Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO nanoparticles) have gained substantial attention from researchers worldwide for their capacity to alleviate the detrimental impacts of both biotic and abiotic stress on plants, concurrently reducing dependence on environmentally harmful chemicals. This article provides an overview of methods for synthesizing ZnO nanoparticles, encompassing physical vapor deposition, ball milling, hydrothermal methods, solvothermal methods, precipitation methods, microwave methods, microbial synthesis, and plant-mediated synthesis. Additionally, it delves into the absorption, translocation, and biotransformation pathways of ZnO nanoparticles within plants. The emphasis lies in elucidating the potential of ZnO nanoparticles to safeguard plants against biotic and abiotic stress, enhance plant performance, and modulate various plant processes. The article also offers a preliminary exploration of the mechanisms underlying plant stress tolerance mediated by ZnO nanoparticles. In conclusion, ZnO nanoparticles present an environmentally friendly and cost-effective strategy for plant stress management, paving the way for the integration of nanotechnology in sustainable agriculture. This opens new possibilities for leveraging nanotechnology to bolster plant resilience against stress in the ever-changing climate conditions, ensuring global food security. Full article
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21 pages, 3394 KiB  
Article
Influence of Extraction Methods on the Phytochemical Profile of Sambucus nigra L.
by Doris Floares (Oarga), Ileana Cocan, Ersilia Alexa, Mariana-Atena Poiana, Adina Berbecea, Marius Valentin Boldea, Monica Negrea, Diana Obistioiu and Isidora Radulov
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3061; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123061 - 14 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1201
Abstract
The aim of this work is to evaluate the influence of drying methods, extraction solvent, and extraction methods on the phytochemical profile of Sambucus nigra L. flowers harvested from the western region of Romania. Two drying methods for plant conditioning (room temperature and [...] Read more.
The aim of this work is to evaluate the influence of drying methods, extraction solvent, and extraction methods on the phytochemical profile of Sambucus nigra L. flowers harvested from the western region of Romania. Two drying methods for plant conditioning (room temperature and lyophilization), two extraction solvents (70% ethyl alcohol and water), and three extraction methods (conventional extraction (C), ultrasound-assisted extraction, and microwave extraction) were used. For the evaluation of the phytochemical profile, the following spectrophotometric methods were investigated: total polyphenol content, total antioxidant activity using the DPPH and FRAP methods, and flavonoid content. In addition to the spectrophotometric methods, the individual polyphenols were evaluated using the LC/MS method. Using atomic absorption spectrometry, the macro and microelement content of Sambucus nigra L. flowers was assessed. The results showed that the drying method, the solvent used for extraction, and the extraction method influenced the phytocompound content. The analyses showed that in terms of polyphenols, flavonoid content, and antioxidant activity, high values were recorded for lyophilization-dried samples compared to samples dried at room temperature. Also, higher values were recorded for alcoholic extracts compared to aqueous extracts, but also for extracts obtained by the ultrasound-assisted method, followed by extracts obtained via microwave compared to extracts obtained by conventional extraction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extraction and Analysis of Bioactive Compounds in Crops—Series II)
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19 pages, 4103 KiB  
Article
Changes in Nutrient-Regulated Soil Microbial Communities in Soils Concomitant with Grassland Restoration in the Alpine Mining Region of the Qilian Mountains
by Xiaomei Yang, Qi Feng, Meng Zhu, Linshan Yang, Chengqi Zhang, Jutao Zhang, Zhiyang Wang and Yonglin Feng
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3052; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123052 - 13 Dec 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 790
Abstract
In response to the significant ecological damage caused by unsustainable mining practices in the Qilian Mountains, ecological restoration projects have been undertaken in recent years. Analyzing the changes in soil microbial communities during the restoration process of mine meadows helps to reveal the [...] Read more.
In response to the significant ecological damage caused by unsustainable mining practices in the Qilian Mountains, ecological restoration projects have been undertaken in recent years. Analyzing the changes in soil microbial communities during the restoration process of mine meadows helps to reveal the mechanism of the restoration process in alpine mining areas. To explore the characteristics of soil microbial community distribution and their relationships with soil environmental factors during the restoration of alpine grasslands in the Qilian Mountains, we conducted surveys and analyses in two restoration levels low restoration (LR) and high restoration (HR) in the eastern Qilian Mountains, along with an undisturbed natural grassland control (NG). We found that as the degree of high-altitude mining area recovery increases, there were significant increases in vegetation cover, vegetation height, above-ground biomass, vegetation Shannon–Wiener index, soil organic carbon (SOC), soil water content (SWC), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), total potassium (TK), available phosphorus (AP), and available nitrogen (AN). Conversely, soil pH and electrical conductivity (EC) significantly decreased, with soil pH decreasing from 6.93 to 4.13. Restoration of high-altitude mining area grasslands significantly alters the distribution and composition of soil bacteria and fungi, while the impact on soil microbial community changes was not significant. Notably, with increasing recovery level, the dominant bacterial phyla are Acidobacteria and Proteobacteria, while the dominant fungal phyla are Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. These results indicate that changes in vegetation and soil properties both affect the composition of soil microbial communities, with soil properties having a greater influence. Soil fertility and nutrient levels emerge as the primary drivers influencing soil microbial composition communities and the degree of high-altitude mining area grassland recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Soil and Plant Nutrition)
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27 pages, 1344 KiB  
Review
Using Remote Sensing Vegetation Indices for the Discrimination and Monitoring of Agricultural Crops: A Critical Review
by Roxana Vidican, Anamaria Mălinaș, Ovidiu Ranta, Cristina Moldovan, Ovidiu Marian, Alexandru Ghețe, Ciprian Radu Ghișe, Flavia Popovici and Giorgiana M. Cătunescu
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3040; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123040 - 12 Dec 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1894
Abstract
The agricultural sector is currently confronting multifaceted challenges such as an increased food demand, slow adoption of sustainable farming, a need for climate-resilient food systems, resource inequity, and the protection of small-scale farmers’ practices. These issues are integral to food security and environmental [...] Read more.
The agricultural sector is currently confronting multifaceted challenges such as an increased food demand, slow adoption of sustainable farming, a need for climate-resilient food systems, resource inequity, and the protection of small-scale farmers’ practices. These issues are integral to food security and environmental health. Remote sensing technologies can assist precision agriculture in effectively addressing these complex problems by providing farmers with high-resolution lenses. The use of vegetation indices (VIs) is an essential component of remote sensing, which combines the variability of spectral reflectance value (derived from remote sensing data) with the growth stage of crops. A wide array of VIs can be used to classify the crops and evaluate their state and health. However, precisely this high number leads to difficulty in selecting the best VI and their combination for specific objectives. Without thorough documentation and analysis of appropriate VIs, users might find it difficult to use remote sensing data or obtain results with very low accuracy. Thus, the objective of this review is to conduct a critical analysis of the existing state of the art on the effective use of VIs for the discrimination and monitoring of several important agricultural crops (wheat, corn, sunflower, soybean, rape, potatoes, and forage crops), grasslands and meadows. This data could be highly useful for all the stakeholders involved in agricultural activities. The current review has shown that VIs appear to be suitable for mapping and monitoring agricultural crops, forage crops, meadows and pastures. Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data were the most utilized sources, while some of the frequently used VIs were EVI, LAI, NDVI, GNDVI, PSRI, and SAVI. In most of the studies, an array of VIs needed to be employed to achieve a good discrimination of crops or prediction of yields. The main challenges in using VIs are related to the variation of the spectral characteristics during the vegetation period and to the similarities of the spectral signatures of various crops and semi-natural meadows. Thus, further studies are needed to establish appropriate models for the use of satellite data that would prove to have greater accuracy and provide more relevant information for the efficient monitoring of agricultural crops. Full article
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15 pages, 1604 KiB  
Article
Optimizing Soil Management for Sustainable Viticulture: Insights from a Rendzic Leptosol Vineyard in the Nitra Wine Region, Slovakia
by Vladimír Šimanský, Elżbieta Wójcik-Gront, Jerzy Jonczak and Ján Horák
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3042; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123042 - 12 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 816
Abstract
Properly chosen soil management practices can stabilize the nutrient regime in the soil, including the mobility and bioavailability of hazardous elements. This study aimed to identify the optimal soil management practices in a productive vineyard on Rendzic Leptosol in the Nitra wine region [...] Read more.
Properly chosen soil management practices can stabilize the nutrient regime in the soil, including the mobility and bioavailability of hazardous elements. This study aimed to identify the optimal soil management practices in a productive vineyard on Rendzic Leptosol in the Nitra wine region (Slovakia). Soil samples were collected each spring from two depths, 0–30 cm, and 30–60 cm, with the following treatments: T—soil tillage, P + FYM—plowed farmyard manure, G—grass strips, G + NPK1—first-level fertilization, and G + NPK2—second-level fertilization, from 2019 to 2023. The results indicated that more pronounced changes in soil properties occurred in the 0–30 cm layer. Higher NPK rates significantly affected soil sorption capacity and decreased soil pH when compared to other treatments. While G + NPK2 showed the highest storage of total N, S, P, K, and available P and K, it exhibited the lowest levels of total and available Ca. The T treatment displayed the lowest storage of C, N, S, P, and available K. In terms of hazardous metals (Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn) none exceeded the limiting values in any of the soil management practices. However, in the 0–30 cm layer, Cu concentrations exceeded the limits set by Slovak Republic regulations in the T, P + FYM, G, G + NPK1, and G + NPK2 treatments by 62.6, 73.7, 70.2, 82.1, and 102.9 mg kg−1, respectively. Additionally, as total C increased, Cr concentration was observed to decrease with correlation (r = −0.46). Positive correlations were found between total C and Zn, as well as CaCO3 and Zn in the 0–30 layer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Potential Benefits and Risks of Organic Amendments to Soil Health)
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18 pages, 4129 KiB  
Article
Genotypic Variability in Wheat Response to Sodicity: Evaluating Growth and Ion Accumulation in the Root and Shoot
by Monia Anzooman, Jack Christopher, Yash P. Dang, Neal W. Menzies and Peter M. Kopittke
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3035; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123035 - 11 Dec 2023
Viewed by 726
Abstract
Soil sodicity is a major constraint to seedling emergence and crop production, potentially reducing plant growth due to physical and chemical constraints. Studying responses to ion imbalances may help identify genotypes tolerant to chemical constraints in sodic soils, thereby improving productivity. We evaluated [...] Read more.
Soil sodicity is a major constraint to seedling emergence and crop production, potentially reducing plant growth due to physical and chemical constraints. Studying responses to ion imbalances may help identify genotypes tolerant to chemical constraints in sodic soils, thereby improving productivity. We evaluated the performance of four wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes in solutions with five sodium adsorption ratios (SARs) ranging from 0 to 60. For all four genotypes, seedling emergence and shoot dry matter (DM) decreased significantly with increasing SARs. A significant positive correlation was observed between Ca concentration in roots as well as both root and shoot DM for all genotypes. At SAR values > 20, the more tolerant genotype (EGA Gregory) displayed higher Ca concentrations in root tissues, whereas the more sensitive genotype (Baxter) exhibited Na-induced Ca deficiency. Thus, the selection of genotypes that are able to accumulate Ca in roots in sodic conditions may be a useful trait for selecting genotypes tolerant of soils with high ESP values. However, for soils that restrict plant growth at ESP (SAR) values of 6–10%, it is likely that growth is restricted by physical constraints rather than by a Na-induced Ca deficiency. Full article
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13 pages, 3800 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Sustainable Strategies for Mechanical Under-Row Weed Control in the Vineyard
by Lorenzo Gagliardi, Marco Fontanelli, Sofia Matilde Luglio, Christian Frasconi, Andrea Peruzzi and Michele Raffaelli
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3005; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123005 - 7 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
Mechanical under-row weed control in the vineyard emerges as a sustainable choice compared to chemical control, with tillage-based approaches proving especially efficient. A rollhacke, finger weeder, and blade weeder are valid alternatives to commonly used implements that cause excessive soil disruption and display [...] Read more.
Mechanical under-row weed control in the vineyard emerges as a sustainable choice compared to chemical control, with tillage-based approaches proving especially efficient. A rollhacke, finger weeder, and blade weeder are valid alternatives to commonly used implements that cause excessive soil disruption and display suboptimal efficiency. The trial aimed to compare different under-row weed control strategies in terms of weed control efficacy and operational performance. Among these, in ST1, a tool-holder equipped with both a rollhacke and finger weeder was used at the first and second intervention; in ST2, a rollhacke was used at the first intervention and blade weeder at the second one; in ST3, firstly the tool-holder equipped with a rollhacke and finger weeder was used, then the blade weeder; in ST4, a rollhacke was used first and then the tool-holder equipped with a rollhacke and finger weeder. Weed height, weed cover, and weed biomass were evaluated before the first and after the second intervention. Total field time, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions of each strategy were assessed. ST1 proved to be the best compromise in terms of weed control effectiveness and operational performance compared to the other strategies. Indeed, ST1 tendentially achieved a lower weed height (20.42 cm) and weed biomass around vine trunks (105.33 g d.m. m−2) compared to the other strategies. In terms of total field time, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, ST1 recorded intermediate values equal to 3.85 h ha−1, 15.29 kg ha−1, and 48.72 kg ha−1, respectively. Further studies are needed to evaluate these strategies in different vineyard conditions, considering their effect on weed flora composition. Furthermore, exploring automation technology for real-time implement adjustments based on weed infestation levels could further improve the intervention effectiveness and efficiency. Full article
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27 pages, 477 KiB  
Review
The Effects of Manure Application and Herbivore Excreta on Plant and Soil Properties of Temperate Grasslands—A Review
by Arne Brummerloh and Katrin Kuka
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3010; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123010 - 7 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1716
Abstract
This review provides an overview of grassland studies on the effects of manure application and herbivore excreta on plant and soil properties in temperate grasslands. Grass biomass from grazing or mowing is mainly used for animal products such as milk or meat, as [...] Read more.
This review provides an overview of grassland studies on the effects of manure application and herbivore excreta on plant and soil properties in temperate grasslands. Grass biomass from grazing or mowing is mainly used for animal products such as milk or meat, as well as for energy or raw materials for biorefineries. Manure application or grazing has a significant impact on several plant and soil properties. There are effects on soil chemical properties, such as increased carbon sequestration, improved nutrient availability, and increased pH. Additionally, several physical soil properties are improved by manure application or grazing. For example, bulk density is reduced, and porosity and hydraulic conductivity are greatly improved. Some biological parameters, particularly microbial biomass and microbial and enzyme activity, also increase. The use of manure and grazing can, therefore, contribute to improving soil fertility, replacing mineral fertilizers, and closing nutrient cycles. On the other hand, over-application of manure and overgrazing can result in a surplus of nutrients over plant needs and increase losses through emission or leaching. The lost nutrients are not only economically lost from the nutrient cycle of the farm but can also cause environmental damage. Full article
13 pages, 5303 KiB  
Article
Impact of Fusarium Crown Rot on Root System Area and Links to Genetic Variation within Commercial Wheat Varieties
by Mitchell Buster, Steven Simpfendorfer, Christopher Guppy, Mike Sissons, Steven Harden and Richard J. Flavel
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2955; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122955 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 868
Abstract
Fusarium crown rot (FCR), caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum (Fp), is a major constraint to cereal production worldwide. The pathogen restricts the movement of solutes within the plant due to mycelial colonisation of vascular tissue. Yield loss and quality [...] Read more.
Fusarium crown rot (FCR), caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum (Fp), is a major constraint to cereal production worldwide. The pathogen restricts the movement of solutes within the plant due to mycelial colonisation of vascular tissue. Yield loss and quality downgrades are exacerbated by this disease under water stress conditions. Plant root systems are adaptive and can alter their architecture to optimise production in response to changes in environment and plant health. This plasticity of root systems typically favours resource acquisition of primarily water and nutrients. This study examined the impact of FCR on the root system architecture of multiple commercial bread and durum wheat varieties. Root system growth was recorded in-crop in large transparent rhizoboxes allowing visualization of root architecture over time. Furthermore, electrical resistivity tomography was used to quantify spatial root activity vertically down the soil profile. Results demonstrated a significant reduction in the total root length and network area with the inoculation of FCR. Electrical resistivity measurements indicated that the spatial pattern of water use for each cultivar was influenced differently from infection with FCR over the growing season. Specifically temporal water use can be correlated with FCR tolerance of the varieties marking this investigation the first to link root architecture and water use as tolerance mechanisms to FCR infection. This research has implications for more targeted selection of FCR tolerance characteristics in breeding programs along with improved specific varietal management in-crop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Interaction between Plants and Fungi and Oomycetes)
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15 pages, 1455 KiB  
Article
Infection Risk-Based Application of Plant Resistance Inducers for the Control of Downy and Powdery Mildews in Vineyards
by Othmane Taibi, Giorgia Fedele, Irene Salotti and Vittorio Rossi
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2959; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122959 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
Plant resistance inducers (PRIs) are potential alternatives for controlling grapevine downy (DM) and powdery (PM) mildews in vineyards. In a 3-year field study, we evaluated the field efficacy of six commercial PRIs of chemical and natural origin against DM and PM diseases when [...] Read more.
Plant resistance inducers (PRIs) are potential alternatives for controlling grapevine downy (DM) and powdery (PM) mildews in vineyards. In a 3-year field study, we evaluated the field efficacy of six commercial PRIs of chemical and natural origin against DM and PM diseases when applied at designated vine growth stages in a mixture with low doses of copper and sulfur, and only when advised by weather-driven disease models. The disease severity and incidence were evaluated for each season at key growth stages (i.e., the end of flowering, berries pea-sized, veraison, and pre-harvest), and areas under the disease progress curves (AUDPC) were calculated and compared with those of nontreated vines. These risk-based applications resulted in a 41% and 61% reduction of interventions against DM and PM, respectively, compared to the official advice for integrated pest management in the growing area. These applications provided a disease control efficacy of 88% for DM and 93% for PM; the disease severity on bunches never exceeded 5%. Overall, when the disease severity was expressed as AUDPC, we observed higher efficacy of all the PRIs for PM, and of laminarin and cerevisane for DM. We also found that potassium phosphonate and fosetyl-Al (commonly used against DM) were effective against PM, and cos-oga (used against PM) was effective against DM. These results broaden the application and integration of PRIs in viticulture. Full article
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13 pages, 305 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Long-Term Farmyard Manure and Mineral Fertilizer Application on the Increase in Soil Organic Matter Quality of Cambisols
by Jiří Balík, Pavel Suran, Ondřej Sedlář, Jindřich Černý, Martin Kulhánek, Simona Procházková, Dinkayehu Alamnie Asrade and Michaela Smatanová
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2960; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122960 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 905
Abstract
Soil organic matter (SOM) quantity and quality are important factors that significantly influence soil fertility. SOM quality indicators change throughout time. In this study, long—term field experiments (22–50 years in duration) on a Cambisol at four sites in the Czech Republic were selected. [...] Read more.
Soil organic matter (SOM) quantity and quality are important factors that significantly influence soil fertility. SOM quality indicators change throughout time. In this study, long—term field experiments (22–50 years in duration) on a Cambisol at four sites in the Czech Republic were selected. Seven crops were successively rotated in the sequence: clover, winter wheat, early potato, winter wheat, spring barley, potato, and spring barley with interseeded clover. Five treatments were investigated, including an unfertilized treatment, farmyard manure, and various combinations of farmyard manure and mineral fertilization. A total of 40 t ha−1 of farmyard manure was applied to the early potato and potato crops. Combining organic and mineral fertilizers increased soil organic matter quality and quantity over unfertilized or organic only treatment. The highest intensity of mineral fertilizers in our trials elevated the mean of carbon sequestration efficiency to 45.6% in comparison to pure manure treatment which reached only 22.9% efficiency. A strong correlation was established between the total glomalin content and soil organic matter carbon, fulvic acid, humic acid, carbon hot water extraction, potential wettability index (PWI), and aromaticity index. The PWI was also strongly correlated with these indicators. The E4/E6 ratio indicator was shown to be a much less sensitive method for reflecting the change in soil organic matter quality. Full article
17 pages, 1385 KiB  
Article
Effect of Calcium Fertilization on Calcium Uptake and Its Partitioning in Citrus Trees
by Julia Morales, Belén Martínez-Alcántara, Almudena Bermejo, Jorge Millos, Francisco Legaz and Ana Quiñones
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2971; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122971 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1541
Abstract
Calcium (Ca) plays a vital role as a macronutrient in the growth and development of plants. In order of decreasing solubility, Ca can be found in vegetal tissues as soluble Ca (Fraction I), bound Ca (mainly pectates, Fraction II), inorganic insoluble Ca (mainly [...] Read more.
Calcium (Ca) plays a vital role as a macronutrient in the growth and development of plants. In order of decreasing solubility, Ca can be found in vegetal tissues as soluble Ca (Fraction I), bound Ca (mainly pectates, Fraction II), inorganic insoluble Ca (mainly phosphates and carbonates, Fraction III) and organic insoluble Ca or oxalate (Fraction IV). To explore the impact of Ca fertilizer application on plant growth and its allocation among different fractions, young citrus trees were fed over a complete vegetative cycle with a 44Ca labeled fertilizer (T1-Ca), while control plants (T2) received no Ca fertilizer. The results showed that plants receiving Ca exhibited significantly greater biomass. 44Ca derived from the fertilizer was localized mainly in sink organs (new flush leaves–twigs and fibrous roots). The primary fraction responsible for total Ca partitioning was Fraction II, followed by Fraction III or IV. Citrus plants, commonly found in calcareous soils, demonstrated improved growth with calcium treatments, indicating a positive link between calcium supplementation and enhanced development. The calcium supplied through the fertilizer (44Ca) was predominantly concentrated in sink organs (mainly in Ca-pectate fraction), including new flush leaves and twigs above ground, as well as fibrous roots below ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Uptake and Transport of Nutrients in Plants)
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12 pages, 1306 KiB  
Article
Effect of Preharvest Treatments with Sodium Bicarbonate and Potassium Silicate in Navel and Valencia Oranges to Control Fungal Decay and Maintain Quality Traits during Cold Storage
by Vicente Serna-Escolano, María Gutiérrez-Pozo, Alicia Dobón-Suárez, Pedro J. Zapata and María José Giménez
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2925; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122925 - 28 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1903
Abstract
The quality of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis L.) is determined by the presence of decay caused by phytopathogenic fungi. This can develop in the field and rapidly spread among oranges during postharvest storage. Currently, the conventional treatments applied to control this problem [...] Read more.
The quality of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis L.) is determined by the presence of decay caused by phytopathogenic fungi. This can develop in the field and rapidly spread among oranges during postharvest storage. Currently, the conventional treatments applied to control this problem are chemical fungicides. However, consumers demand eco-friendly and non-polluting alternatives with low chemical residues. Therefore, the aim of this work is the preharvest application of sodium bicarbonate (SB) and potassium silicate (PS) solutions at 0.1 and 1% to Navel and Valencia oranges to elucidate the effect on fruit quality and fungal decay at harvest and after 42 days of storage at 8 °C. Results showed that oranges treated with SB 0.1%, PS 0.1, and PS 1% maintained quality traits at similar levels to the control ones. However, SB 1% reduced firmness and increased weight loss, respiration rate, maturity index, and citrus color index. The total carotenoid content significantly increased in oranges treated with SB 1%, and no differences were observed in the other treatments compared to the control. Total antioxidant activity and total phenolic content decreased in oranges treated with SB at 0.1 and 1%, contrary to the results observed in oranges treated with PS, where both parameters increased. Regarding fungal decay, the best results were obtained in oranges treated with the highest doses of SB and PS. Therefore, the use of SB and PS in preharvest sprays could be an alternative to control fungal decay without affecting orange quality. Full article
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22 pages, 1818 KiB  
Article
Alternative Starter Fertilization Strategies in Maize (Zea mays L.) Cultivation: Agronomic Potential of Microgranular Fertilizer and Plant Growth-Promoting Microorganisms and Their Impact on the Soil Native Microbial Community
by Lena Geist, Renate Wolfer, Richard Thiem, Matthias Thielicke, Bettina Eichler-Löbermann, Frank Eulenstein and Marina E. H. Müller
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2900; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122900 - 25 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 884
Abstract
Phosphorous (P) starter fertilization can increase maize (Zea mays L.) yield. Widespread application in soils with sufficient P availability leads to environmental risks. Subsequently, alternative strategies to support the maize plant’s early development are needed to lower P surpluses. Here, we conducted [...] Read more.
Phosphorous (P) starter fertilization can increase maize (Zea mays L.) yield. Widespread application in soils with sufficient P availability leads to environmental risks. Subsequently, alternative strategies to support the maize plant’s early development are needed to lower P surpluses. Here, we conducted field experiments comparing standard starter fertilizer diammonium phosphate (DAP) (20.1 kg P ha−1) to microgranular fertilizer (MG) (2.4 kg P ha−1) and combined in-furrow inoculation with Bacillus atrophaeus and mycorrhizal fungi (Rhizoglomus irregulare, Funneliformis mosseae, and Funneliformis caledonium), alone and in combination. The soil microbial community inside and between the maize rows was monitored by quantitative PCR (qPCR)-based quantification of eight fungal and bacterial groups. The yield did not vary between fertilization with DAP or MG and no fertilizer control. The combined microorganism inoculum (MO), however, enhanced the yield by 4.2%. The soil microbial community composition was not affected by the MO application. However, on one field site and inside the rows, it leads to a significant increase in overall microbial gene copy numbers by 9.3% and a significant decrease in the relative abundance of the bacterial phylum of Bacillota (Firmicutes) by 18%. The in-furrow MO application is thus a promising option for starter fertilizer replacement. Full article
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14 pages, 2539 KiB  
Article
Effect of Elevated Air Temperature on the Growth and Yield of Paddy Rice
by Dohyeok Oh, Jae-Hyun Ryu, Hoejeong Jeong, Hyun-Dong Moon, Hyunki Kim, Euni Jo, Bo-Kyeong Kim, Subin Choi and Jaeil Cho
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2887; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122887 - 24 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1389
Abstract
Rice is one of the major food crops, particularly in Asia. However, it is vulnerable to high temperature and has high yield fluctuations. Monitoring crop growth and physiological responses to high temperatures can help us better understand the agricultural impacts of global warming. [...] Read more.
Rice is one of the major food crops, particularly in Asia. However, it is vulnerable to high temperature and has high yield fluctuations. Monitoring crop growth and physiological responses to high temperatures can help us better understand the agricultural impacts of global warming. The aim of this study is to monitor growth, development, and physiological responses to high temperature conditions on paddy rice and to assess their combined effects on yield. In this study, changes to growth, maturity, and senescence in paddy rice throughout the growing season were identified under elevated air temperature conditions created by a temperature gradient field chamber (TGFC). That facility provides a gradient from the ambient air temperature (AT) to 3 °C above AT (AT + 3 °C). To represent crop physiology and productivity, we measured the plant height, chlorophyll, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and maximum photosynthetic rate (Amax) to assess growth and physiological processes, and heat stress effects on four yield measurements were assessed using the heating degree day index. Rice height increased more rapidly in the AT + 3 °C treatment from the early growth stage to heading, while SPAD and NDVI decreased more rapidly at AT after heading. The Amax of AT and AT + 3 °C was not significantly different in the tillering stage. However, it was higher at AT in the booting stage but higher at AT + 3 °C in the grain filling stage. These results indicate that paddy rice was not affected by heat stress at the tillering stage, but a cumulative effect emerged by the booting stage. Further, photosynthetic capacity was maintained much later into the grain filling stage at AT + 3 °C. These results will be useful for understanding the growth and physiological responses of paddy rice to global warming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Agriculture—Sustainable Plant Production)
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23 pages, 2295 KiB  
Article
Enhancing Fuel Properties of Napier Grass via Carbonization: A Comparison of Vapothermal and Hydrothermal Carbonization Treatments
by Daniela Moloeznik Paniagua, Judy A. Libra, Vera Susanne Rotter, Kyoung S. Ro, Marcus Fischer and Julia Linden
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2881; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122881 - 23 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1322
Abstract
Napier grass is a herbaceous biomass that can be used as biofuel; however, its high ash, potassium, sulfur and chlorine content may cause problems when combusted. Napier grass was submitted to vapothermal carbonization (VTC) and hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) processes at 190 and 220 [...] Read more.
Napier grass is a herbaceous biomass that can be used as biofuel; however, its high ash, potassium, sulfur and chlorine content may cause problems when combusted. Napier grass was submitted to vapothermal carbonization (VTC) and hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) processes at 190 and 220 °C to compare their ability to enhance its fuel properties. The different water distribution between phases in the two processes was verified: up to 14.5% of the water vaporized to steam in the VTC ran at 220 °C, while over 99% of the water remained in the liquid state and in contact with the solids during all HTC runs. Both processes improved the calorific value of the Napier grass (up to 20.6% for VTC220 and up to 29.8% for HTC220) due to the higher C content in the chars. Both processes reduced the sulfur content, removing up to 15.3% of it with VTC190 and 28.5% of it with HTC190 compared to that of Napier grass. In contrast, the two processes had different effects on the ash and chlorine content. While HTC removed both ash and Cl from the Napier grass, VTC concentrated it in the chars (ash: 5.6%wt. Napier grass, 3.3%wt. HTC chars, 7.1%wt. VTC; chlorine: 1.08%wt. Napier grass, 0.19%wt. HTC chars, 1.24%wt. VTC). Only the HTC process leached high percentages of Cl (up to 80%), S (up to 70%), sodium (Na, up to 80%) and potassium (K, up to 90%) into the process water. This may prevent fouling and slagging problems when burning HTC char. The biofuel qualities of the raw Napier grass, VTC, and HTC chars were evaluated using two standards: the international standard for solid biofuels, EN ISO 17225, and the Korean regulation for biomass solid recovered fuels (Bio-SRF). Napier grass and VTC chars presented problems regarding Cl content thresholds for both EN ISO 17225 and Bio-SRF. Both VTC and HTC chars along with the Napier grass fulfilled the requirements for heavy metals (Pb, Ni, Cr, and Cd) except for copper. The choice of process in practical applications will depend on the goal; HTC improves fuel quality and VTC has higher high solid, carbon and energy yields. Full article
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17 pages, 4114 KiB  
Article
Agronomic Analysis of the Replacement of Conventional Agricultural Water Supply by Desalinated Seawater as an Adaptive Strategy to Water Scarcity in South-Eastern Spain
by Victoriano Martínez-Álvarez, Alberto Imbernón-Mulero, José Francisco Maestre-Valero, Saker Ben Abdallah and Belén Gallego-Elvira
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2878; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122878 - 23 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 826
Abstract
Climate change is affecting water resources in south-eastern Spain, and this mainly affects irrigated agriculture. In this context, seawater desalination is an adaptive strategy that has provided increasing water allotments to agriculture for the last decade, to replace decreasing conventional resources. Farmers are [...] Read more.
Climate change is affecting water resources in south-eastern Spain, and this mainly affects irrigated agriculture. In this context, seawater desalination is an adaptive strategy that has provided increasing water allotments to agriculture for the last decade, to replace decreasing conventional resources. Farmers are concerned about the agronomic effects of this substitution and its economic consequences. This study focuses on the potential agronomic impacts of the progressive replacement of the irrigation water from the Tagus–Segura transfer (TST) with desalinated seawater (DSW) on the main crops of south-eastern Spain. To that end, five main agronomic concerns were selected and analyzed under three water supply scenarios using increasing rates of DSW (0, 50, and 100%). The results indicated that, in addition to other economic or environmental considerations, sufficiently relevant agronomic aspects exist that need to be considered when replacing the TST supply with DSW. This study evidences the risks of phytotoxicity and soil alkalinization, due to the increase in boron concentration and the imbalance between monovalent and divalent cations in the DSW, respectively, and also a slight increase in the cost of fertilizers. In addition, the irrigation water salinity effect on production and total irrigation requirements was negligible, as both water sources present sufficiently low salinity. The detrimental effects were mitigated under a partial replacement scenario, so the blended use of DSW with conventional resources seems the most recommendable option for its agricultural management, rather than irrigating with DSW alone. Full article
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37 pages, 1123 KiB  
Review
Biomass from Allelopathic Agroforestry and Invasive Plant Species as Soil Amendments for Weed Control—A Review
by Antía Valiño, María Pardo-Muras, Carolina G. Puig, J. Eugenio López-Periago and Nuria Pedrol
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2880; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122880 - 23 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1364
Abstract
Effective weed management faces increasing legislative restrictions for the use of herbicides due to their toxicity and environmental persistence. In addition, the linear increase in resistant weeds threatens to render authorized herbicides useless. In a post-herbicide era, under the IWM strategy, allelopathy can [...] Read more.
Effective weed management faces increasing legislative restrictions for the use of herbicides due to their toxicity and environmental persistence. In addition, the linear increase in resistant weeds threatens to render authorized herbicides useless. In a post-herbicide era, under the IWM strategy, allelopathy can play a relevant role since many plants can produce a variety of allelochemicals with different structures and modes of action, capable of inhibiting the germination and growth of different weed species. Inspired by green manuring with cover crops, the use of allelopathic biomass from weeds, invasive species, residues of forestry plantations, and other abundant wild plants has some advantages over green manures grown in situ or other alternatives such as applying plant extracts or essential oils. Beyond the ecosystem services provided by green manures, the potential use of allelopathic biomass offers extra opportunities for the science and practice of holistically integrated weed management because (i) the investment of resources and time for producing cover crops would be alleviated, and (ii), new use of agroforestry residues and a sink for harmful weed biomass is provided. In this review, we compile the current knowledge of those allelopathic species whose biomass, used as soil amendment, effectively controlled weeds. In addition, the complex allelopathic processes underlying the effectiveness of cover crops and allelopathic biomass used as green manures for weed control are revisited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Allelopathy in Sustainable Agriculture)
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19 pages, 3897 KiB  
Article
Dynamics of Mineral Uptake and Plant Function during Development of Drug-Type Medical Cannabis Plants
by Avia Saloner and Nirit Bernstein
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2865; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122865 - 21 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1851
Abstract
Recent studies have demonstrated dose-responses of the cannabis plant to supply of macronutrients. However, further development of precision nutrition requires a high-resolution understanding of temporal trends of plant requirements for nutrients throughout the developmental progression, which is currently not available. As plant function [...] Read more.
Recent studies have demonstrated dose-responses of the cannabis plant to supply of macronutrients. However, further development of precision nutrition requires a high-resolution understanding of temporal trends of plant requirements for nutrients throughout the developmental progression, which is currently not available. As plant function changes during development, temporal information on nutrient uptake should be considered in relation to gradients in developmental-related physiological activity. Therefore, the present study investigated tempo-developmental trends of nutritional demands in cannabis plants, and in relation to physiological performance. Three cultivars differing in phenotype and chemotype were analyzed to evaluate genotypic variability. The results demonstrate that nutrient acquisition and deposition rates change dramatically during plant development. Uptake of individual minerals generally increased with the progression of both vegetative and reproductive development and the increase in plant biomass, while the deposition rates into the plant demonstrated nutrient specificity. The average concentrations of N, P, and K in the shoots of the different cultivars were 2.33, 4.90, and 3.32 times higher, respectively, at the termination of the reproductive growth phase, compared to the termination of the vegetative growth phase. Surprisingly, the uptake of Ca was very limited during the second part of the reproductive growth phase for two cultivars, revealing a decrease in Ca demand at this late developmental stage. Root-to-shoot translocation of most nutrients, including P, K, Mg, Mn, and Zn, as well as Na, is higher during the reproductive than the vegetative growth phase, and Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, and Na displayed very little root-to-shoot translocation. The physiological characteristics of the plants, including gas exchange parameters, membrane leakage, osmotic potential, and water use efficiency, changed over time between the vegetative and the reproductive phases and with plant maturation, demonstrating a plant-age effect. The revealed tempo-developmental changes in nutritional requirements of the cannabis plant are a powerful tool required for development of a nutritional protocol for an optimal ionome. Full article
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14 pages, 3980 KiB  
Article
Adaptability of Millets and Landscapes: Ancient Cultivation in North-Central Asia
by Alicia R. Ventresca-Miller, Shevan Wilkin, Rachel Smithers, Kara Larson, Robert Spengler, Ashleigh Haruda, Nikolay Kradin, Bilikto Bazarov, Denis Miyagashev, Tserendorj Odbaatar, Tsagaan Turbat, Elena Zhambaltarova, Prokopii Konovalov, Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, Anke Hein, Peter Hommel, Brendan Nash, Ayushi Nayak, Nils Vanwezer, Bryan Miller, Ricardo Fernandes, Nicole Boivin and Patrick Robertsadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2848; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112848 - 20 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2467
Abstract
Millet is a highly adaptable plant whose cultivation dramatically altered ancient economies in northern Asia. The adoption of millet is associated with increased subsistence reliability in semi-arid settings and perceived as a cultigen compatible with pastoralism. Here, we examine the pace of millet’s [...] Read more.
Millet is a highly adaptable plant whose cultivation dramatically altered ancient economies in northern Asia. The adoption of millet is associated with increased subsistence reliability in semi-arid settings and perceived as a cultigen compatible with pastoralism. Here, we examine the pace of millet’s transmission and locales of adoption by compiling stable carbon isotope data from humans and fauna, then comparing them to environmental variables. The Bayesian modelling of isotope data allows for the assessment of changes in dietary intake over time and space. Our results suggest variability in the pace of adoption and intensification of millet production across northern Asia. Full article
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11 pages, 2483 KiB  
Article
Establishment of Alfalfa Intercropped under Corn in Response to Varying Rates of Prohexadione with or without Fungicide Plus Insecticide
by John H. Grabber, José Luiz C. S. Dias and Mark J. Renz
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2823; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112823 - 15 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 838
Abstract
Establishment of interseeded alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) under corn (Zea mays L.) silage is enhanced with foliar applications of prohexadione (PHD) followed by fungicide plus insecticide (FI), but the lowest effective rates must be determined. We evaluated stand characteristics of alfalfa [...] Read more.
Establishment of interseeded alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) under corn (Zea mays L.) silage is enhanced with foliar applications of prohexadione (PHD) followed by fungicide plus insecticide (FI), but the lowest effective rates must be determined. We evaluated stand characteristics of alfalfa interseeded into corn at Arlington, Wisconsin, USA in response to PHD applied at 0 to 0.423 kg a.e. ha−1 followed two weeks later with FI (none vs. 0.147 kg a.i. ha−1 fluxapyroxad-pyraclostrobin plus 0.018 kg a.i. ha−1 lambda-cyhalothrin). Application of PHD reduced etiolation, while FI treatment increased plant health and vigor. Following corn harvest, non-treated alfalfa stands averaged 4.2 plants m−2 and 1.2% groundcover under wet growing conditions in 2019 compared with 71.3 plants m−2 and 15.9% groundcover under normal growing conditions in 2020. Stand density in 2019 reached 130 plants m−2 but failed to plateau with combined PHD-FI treatments, while in 2020, stand density averaged 177 plants m−2 with FI regardless of the PHD rate. Alfalfa groundcover plateaued at 63% in 2019 and 71% in 2020 when 0.16 to 0.30 kg a.e. PHD ha−1 was applied prior to FI. The results indicate that FI enables excellent alfalfa establishment under normal conditions, but both PHD and FI should be applied during wet growing conditions. Full article
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17 pages, 2161 KiB  
Article
Agronomic Responses of Grapevines to an Irrigation Scheduling Approach Based on Continuous Monitoring of Soil Water Content
by Simone Pietro Garofalo, Diego Sebastiano Intrigliolo, Salvatore Camposeo, Salem Alhajj Ali, Luigi Tedone, Giuseppe Lopriore, Giuseppe De Mastro and Gaetano Alessandro Vivaldi
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2821; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112821 - 15 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1089
Abstract
The efficient management of irrigation water can affect crop profitability quite significantly. The application of precision irrigation based on soil monitoring can help manage water resources. In viticulture, the irrigation technique is thought to strongly influence grape ripening and the final grape composition. [...] Read more.
The efficient management of irrigation water can affect crop profitability quite significantly. The application of precision irrigation based on soil monitoring can help manage water resources. In viticulture, the irrigation technique is thought to strongly influence grape ripening and the final grape composition. In this study, an irrigation decision support system was compared to a surface drip irrigation system in a commercial vineyard located in Andrea (Southern Italy) planted with Vitis vinifera cv. Montepulciano. We aimed to investigate the ability of the DSS to save water while maintaining an acceptable yield and quality of the grapes. To allow for the comparison, eco-physiological as well as yield parameters were measured during the irrigation periods in both irrigation systems over two years (2019 and 2020). The results indicate that the vines grown using the DSS treatment were less stressed compared to the plants grown using farm irrigation in both years. The yield attributes showed slight or no significant differences between the treatments. The quality results showed no significant differences between the treatments in both years. Our results indicate that with savings of 10% and 17% of the irrigation water in the first and second year, respectively, the DSS was able to maintain good yield and quality levels as compared to the farm irrigation system. These two-year results provide a promising implementation of its use in precision irrigation. Full article
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21 pages, 18000 KiB  
Article
A Performance Analysis of a Litchi Picking Robot System for Actively Removing Obstructions, Using an Artificial Intelligence Algorithm
by Chenglin Wang, Chunjiang Li, Qiyu Han, Fengyun Wu and Xiangjun Zou
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2795; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112795 - 11 Nov 2023
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1797
Abstract
Litchi is a highly favored fruit with high economic value. Mechanical automation of litchi picking is a key link for improving the quality and efficiency of litchi harvesting. Our research team has been conducting experiments to develop a visual-based litchi picking robot. However, [...] Read more.
Litchi is a highly favored fruit with high economic value. Mechanical automation of litchi picking is a key link for improving the quality and efficiency of litchi harvesting. Our research team has been conducting experiments to develop a visual-based litchi picking robot. However, in the early physical prototype experiments, we found that, although picking points were successfully located, litchi picking failed due to random obstructions of the picking points. In this study, the physical prototype of the litchi picking robot previously developed by our research team was upgraded by integrating a visual system for actively removing obstructions. A framework for an artificial intelligence algorithm was proposed for a robot vision system to locate picking points and to identify obstruction situations at picking points. An intelligent control algorithm was developed to control the obstruction removal device to implement obstruction removal operations by combining with the obstruction situation at the picking point. Based on the spatial redundancy of a picking point and the obstruction, the feeding posture of the robot was determined. The experiment showed that the precision of segmenting litchi fruits and branches was 88.1%, the recognition success rate of picking point recognition was 88%, the average error of picking point localization was 2.8511 mm, and an overall success rate of end-effector feeding was 81.3%. These results showed that the developed litchi picking robot could effectively implement obstruction removal. Full article
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16 pages, 4865 KiB  
Article
Combining Gaussian Process Regression with Poisson Blending for Seamless Cloud Removal from Optical Remote Sensing Imagery for Cropland Monitoring
by Soyeon Park and No-Wook Park
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2789; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112789 - 10 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 853
Abstract
Constructing optical image time series for cropland monitoring requires a cloud removal method that accurately restores cloud regions and eliminates discontinuity around cloud boundaries. This paper describes a two-stage hybrid machine learning-based cloud removal method that combines Gaussian process regression (GPR)-based predictions with [...] Read more.
Constructing optical image time series for cropland monitoring requires a cloud removal method that accurately restores cloud regions and eliminates discontinuity around cloud boundaries. This paper describes a two-stage hybrid machine learning-based cloud removal method that combines Gaussian process regression (GPR)-based predictions with image blending for seamless optical image reconstruction. GPR is employed in the first stage to generate initial prediction results by quantifying temporal relationships between multi-temporal images. GPR predictive uncertainty is particularly combined with prediction values to utilize uncertainty-weighted predictions as the input for the next stage. In the second stage, Poisson blending is applied to eliminate discontinuity in GPR-based predictions. The benefits of this method are illustrated through cloud removal experiments using Sentinel-2 images with synthetic cloud masks over two cropland sites. The proposed method was able to maintain the structural features and quality of the underlying reflectance in cloud regions and outperformed two existing hybrid cloud removal methods for all spectral bands. Furthermore, it demonstrated the best performance in predicting several vegetation indices in cloud regions. These experimental results indicate the benefits of the proposed cloud removal method for reconstructing cloud-contaminated optical imagery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Satellite Imagery in Agriculture—Volume II)
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23 pages, 3669 KiB  
Article
Effect of Legumes Intercropped with Maize on Biomass Yield and Subsequent Biogas Production
by Antonín Kintl, Igor Huňady, Tomáš Vítěz, Martin Brtnický, Julie Sobotková, Tereza Hammerschmiedt, Monika Vítězová, Jiří Holátko, Vladimír Smutný and Jakub Elbl
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2775; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112775 - 7 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
The presented study deals with the use of legumes intercropped with maize for the production of biogas from silage. The main goal was to find out whether silages made from mixed cultures can be used in biogas production and how the use of [...] Read more.
The presented study deals with the use of legumes intercropped with maize for the production of biogas from silage. The main goal was to find out whether silages made from mixed cultures can be used in biogas production and how the use of such silages affects qualitative and quantitative parameters of the fermentation process compared with the pure maize silage. Variants prepared were pure cultures of maize, bean, lupin, and white sweet clover. In addition, mixed cultures were prepared of maize and individual legumes. Measured values showed that in terms of dry matter (DM) yield, mixed culture silages are almost of the same or even better quality than silage made from the maize monosubstrate. Compared with the maize monoculture silage, the presence of white lupine, white sweet clover, and broad bean in silages statistically significantly increased the content of DM, ash, and acid detergent fiber (by more than 5%). Bean and lupine in mixed silages with maize significantly increased the content of lipids (on average by more than 1.2%). Legumes in silages were significantly decreasing contents of neutral detergent fiber, crude protein, and starch. Production of biogas from silages of maize monosubstrates and mixed substrates of maize with white lupin, maize with white sweet clover, and maize with broad bean was directly proportional to the content of CAR and starch in these substrates. A perspective variant was the mixed substrate of maize and sweet clover from which biogas production was only 6% lower than that from conventional maize silage. The highest yield was recorded in the maize monosubstrate (0.923 m3/kgVS). Variants of mixed substrates had a yield ranging from 0.804 to 0.840 m3/kgVS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Biomass for Bioenergy and Bioproducts)
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14 pages, 3001 KiB  
Article
Lignocellulosic Composition Not Associated with Stem Borer Resistance in Select Louisiana Sugarcane Cultivars
by Hannah J. Penn, Richard M. Johnson, Katie A. Richard, Randy T. Richard and William H. White
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2764; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112764 - 3 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 776
Abstract
The two most economically damaging insect pests of sugarcane in Louisiana are the sugarcane borer (SCB) and the newly invasive Mexican rice borer (MRB), both of which can be managed in part with cultivar resistance. High stalk fiber levels is a well-documented aspect [...] Read more.
The two most economically damaging insect pests of sugarcane in Louisiana are the sugarcane borer (SCB) and the newly invasive Mexican rice borer (MRB), both of which can be managed in part with cultivar resistance. High stalk fiber levels is a well-documented aspect of stem borer resistance but is inversely correlated with recoverable sugar levels. However, lignocellulosic components such as hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin are associated with resistance to other borer species in poaceous crops, potentially indicating mechanisms that may provide resistance without substantial trade-offs in yield. The goal of this study was to determine whether lignocellulosic composition varied among four cultivars—HoCP 85-845, HoCP 04-838, Ho 07-613, and HoCP 00-950—selected based on known variation in SCB and MRB resistance and total fiber content. We estimated lignocellulosic composition as well as Brix throughout the growing season and the total stalk fiber and recoverable sugar content at harvest for both plant cane and first ratoon crop years. We found that the Brix content throughout the growing season, as well as total fiber and sugar content at harvest, were significantly associated with the cultivar, aligning with previously documented trends in borer resistance (i.e., higher Brix and lower total fiber indicate a more susceptible cultivar). While lignocellulosic composition during the growing season was not associated with cultivar or resistance to either borer species, it was significantly impacted by sampling month and crop year. These data indicate the potential influence of alternative resistance mechanisms and interactions with abiotic conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pest and Disease Management)
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16 pages, 849 KiB  
Review
Compatibility between Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification
by Francesco Carnevale Zampaolo, Amir Kassam, Theodor Friedrich, Adam Parr and Norman Uphoff
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2758; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112758 - 1 Nov 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1727
Abstract
Conservation Agriculture (CA) and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) are both agroecologically-oriented production systems that support more productive, sustainable, and resource-conserving farming, with synergies arising from their respective assemblages of reinforcing agronomic methods. This review article examines the compatibility between CA and [...] Read more.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) are both agroecologically-oriented production systems that support more productive, sustainable, and resource-conserving farming, with synergies arising from their respective assemblages of reinforcing agronomic methods. This review article examines the compatibility between CA and SRI, considering examples of their being utilized in complementary ways. The application of CA principles enhances the growth, yield, and performance of the crops grown under the cropping system as well as the health and resilience of the whole ecosystem. SRI practices create more favorable conditions for the development of crop plants below- and above-ground, including conditions that can be enhanced by CA management. SRI practices such as reduced plant density m−2 can elicit a better phenotypic expression of the genetic potentials of crops grown with CA. For these two agronomic systems to converge at the field level, some of their respective practices for plant, soil, water, and nutrient management need to be modified or aligned. One such adaptation is to practice SRI in CA systems on permanent, no-till, mulch-covered raised beds, with rainfall or irrigation water in the furrows between the beds furnishing and controlling water and providing weed suppression and improved nutrient recycling. SRI rice cropping can benefit from the CA practices of no-tillage, mulch soil cover, and diversified cropping, both in paddies and on raised beds. Several examples have shown that this convergence of cropping systems is feasible for smallholding farmers as well as for larger-scale producers and also that SRI practices within a CA system are amenable to considerable mechanization. Further research and experimentation are needed to identify and assess appropriate practices for capitalizing upon their synergies. Full article
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19 pages, 1263 KiB  
Article
Protein Hydrolysates from Crambe abyssinica Seed Cake as Potential Biostimulants for Root Development
by Luisa Ugolini, Lorena Malaguti, Roberto Matteo, Eleonora Pagnotta, Romina Beleggia and Laura Righetti
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2755; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112755 - 31 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Crambe abyssinica Hochst defatted seed meals were used to produce protein hydrolysates through a mild enzymatic two-step hydrolysis process. The resulting hydrolysates were rich in free amino acids, low-molecular-weight peptides, and potential bioactive compounds such as phenols, glucosinolates, or their derivatives. These hydrolysates [...] Read more.
Crambe abyssinica Hochst defatted seed meals were used to produce protein hydrolysates through a mild enzymatic two-step hydrolysis process. The resulting hydrolysates were rich in free amino acids, low-molecular-weight peptides, and potential bioactive compounds such as phenols, glucosinolates, or their derivatives. These hydrolysates were tested in bioassays, performed under controlled conditions, on mung bean (Vigna radiata) cuttings, to investigate a possible auxin effect, and on maize (Zea mays L.) in an aeroponic/hydroponic system during the first two weeks of growth. In both assays, crambe hydrolysates revealed a stimulating effect on root development at a dose corresponding to nitrogen concentration of 4.8 mM, promoting lateral root formation and altering root architecture. Furthermore, they exhibited a positive impact on nitrogen content in both maize roots and shoots, along with an increase in the chlorophyll SPAD index. Notably, the observed effects were similar to those induced by a commercial biostimulant based on an animal-derived hydrolysate, tested under the same conditions on maize. The present work underscores the potential of crambe seed by-products for new sustainable and environmentally safe agro-inputs aimed at enhancing crop performance within the framework of a circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Resource Management for Crop Production and Quality)
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19 pages, 2643 KiB  
Review
The Agri-Food and Mountain Products Market: Insights beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Doru Necula, Mădălina Ungureanu-Iuga and Laurenț Ognean
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2739; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112739 - 30 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1421
Abstract
Food security is one of the main concerns in the context of a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction in people’s mobility determined changes in consumers’ behavior and underlined the need for the re-organization of the food supply chains. This [...] Read more.
Food security is one of the main concerns in the context of a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction in people’s mobility determined changes in consumers’ behavior and underlined the need for the re-organization of the food supply chains. This paper aims to summarize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global, Romanian and mountain food markets, as well as to discuss the mountain agriculture potential and the food democracy model. The trend in the post-pandemic era is heading toward the digitalization of agriculture and food distribution, with great attention on product sustainability. People are more and more aware of healthy food and the environmental impact of this sector. Many studies revealed the need for specific policies to counteract the effects of the pandemic on food quality and security and on the economic welfare of people. In the post-pandemic period in mountain areas, there is a need for the valorization of food products that originate from here since they have great health and financial potential. Supporting mountain agriculture could ensure the production of high-value products, which are generally preferred by consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the re-orientation of consumers towards local and organic foods. Future research regarding the efficiency of the programs and policies implemented in some mountain areas after the pandemic is necessary. Full article
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14 pages, 1950 KiB  
Article
Semantic Segmentation of Portuguese Agri-Forestry Using High-Resolution Orthophotos
by Tiago G. Morais, Tiago Domingos and Ricardo F. M. Teixeira
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2741; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112741 - 30 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1668
Abstract
The Montado ecosystem is an important agri-forestry system in Portugal, occupying about 8% of the total area of the country. However, this biodiverse ecosystem is threatened due to factors such as shrub encroachment. In this context, the development of tools for characterizing and [...] Read more.
The Montado ecosystem is an important agri-forestry system in Portugal, occupying about 8% of the total area of the country. However, this biodiverse ecosystem is threatened due to factors such as shrub encroachment. In this context, the development of tools for characterizing and monitoring Montado areas is crucial for their conservation. In this study, we developed a deep convolutional neural network algorithm based on the U-net architecture to identify regions with trees, shrubs, grass, bare soil, or other areas in Montado areas using high-resolution RGB and near-infrared orthophotos (with a spatial resolution of 25 cm) from seven experimental sites in the Alentejo region of Portugal (six used for training/validation and one for testing). To optimize the model’s performance, we performed hyperparameter tuning, which included adjusting the number of filters, dropout rate, and batch size. The best model achieved an overall classification performance of 0.88 and a mean intersection of the union of 0.81 on the test set, indicating high accuracy and reliability of the model in identifying and delineating land cover classes in the Montado ecosystem. The developed model is a powerful tool for identifying the status of the Montado ecosystem regarding shrub encroachment and facilitating better future management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computer Vision and Deep Learning Technology in Agriculture)
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14 pages, 2239 KiB  
Article
Efficiency of Vinasse Application on Root-Knot Nematodes in Soybean
by Maria Lúcia Tiburtino Leite, Fernandes Antonio de Almeida, Wéverson Lima Fonseca, Augusto Matias de Oliveira, Alan Mario Zuffo, Francisco Fernandes Pereira, Francisco de Alcântara Neto, Artur Franco Barreto, Abdulaziz A. Al-Askar, Rezanio Martins Carvalho, Samy A. Marey, Ancélio Ricardo de Oliveira Gondim, Amr H. Hashem, Marcos Renan Lima Leite and Hamada AbdElgawad
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2719; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112719 - 28 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1345
Abstract
Vinasse is not only effectively used in pest control but also creates a conducive environment for the growth of antagonistic microorganisms. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the potential of vinasse applied via soil for the management of root-knot nematodes in soybean culture. [...] Read more.
Vinasse is not only effectively used in pest control but also creates a conducive environment for the growth of antagonistic microorganisms. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the potential of vinasse applied via soil for the management of root-knot nematodes in soybean culture. The experimental design was entirely random, in a factorial scheme (2 × 6), consisting of two species of nematodes, Meloidogyne incognita and M. javanica, under vinasse application at five concentrations (20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%) and one control (water), with five repetitions. Soybean plants Intacta cv. M-Soy 8644 IPRO were inoculated with 4000 eggs/juveniles of each species separately. At 60 days after the first application of vinasse, evaluations of parasitism and agronomic characteristics in soybean were performed. Stillage resulted in the highest average values for root volume and root fresh mass in plants inoculated with M. incognita, showing respective increases of 24.33% and 14.92% compared to plants inoculated with M. javanica. However, concentrations exceeding 60% had a detrimental effect on all agronomic variables of soybean. For parasitism, an interaction among the factors was observed, with a significant effect (p < 0.01) for most of the evaluated variables, except for the number of eggs in the soil. The concentration equivalent to 60% vinasse promoted a sharp reduction in parasitism for the two nematode species, making reproduction on plant roots unfeasible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nematode Diseases and Their Management in Crop Plants)
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21 pages, 881 KiB  
Article
Exploitation of a Grafting Technique for Improving the Water Use Efficiency of Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) Grown in a Cold Greenhouse in Mediterranean Climatic Conditions
by Sergio Argento, Simone Treccarichi, Donata Arena, Giulio Flavio Rizzo and Ferdinando Branca
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2705; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112705 - 27 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1354
Abstract
Grafting techniques have been intricately associated with the optimization of water use efficiency (WUE). In this study, various eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) rootstock–scion combinations were compared under three irrigation regimes (IR): 50% deficit in water volume (IR50), a doubling of irrigation volume (IR200), [...] Read more.
Grafting techniques have been intricately associated with the optimization of water use efficiency (WUE). In this study, various eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) rootstock–scion combinations were compared under three irrigation regimes (IR): 50% deficit in water volume (IR50), a doubling of irrigation volume (IR200), and normal watering (IR100). The cultivar Black Bell (Bb) was employed as a scion, while the rootstock adopted included the F1 hybrids Energy (En) and Beaufort (Be) and one accession of S. torvum (To). The trial encompassed the evaluation of no- and self-grafted plants. Plants grown in a cold greenhouse in Sicily were assessed for their morphological parameters, as well as their fruit production and quality. The leaf analysis encompassed the evaluation of chromatic parameters and water potential. Significant variation was observed for plant height, exhibiting the lowest values in self-grafted combinations. The leaf water potential varied significantly in relation to the rootstock–scion combination employed and to the irrigation regime. Fruit quality traits displayed significant variations for chromatic parameters L* and a*, as well as for the fruit’s longitudinal and transversal diameters and the soluble solid content. The number of fruits and fruit production per plant varied significantly in relation to the rootstock–scion combination; the highest fruit production was recorded for Black Bell grafted onto S. torvum grown by IR50. The fruit weight displayed a significant interaction between the experimental factors under study. Notably, for the WUE calculated in relation to fruit production, a significant interaction between the experimental factors studied was ascertained. The highest WUE was registered for IR50, specifically for To/Bb. This research aims to develop a comprehensive water-efficient organic farming protocol for sustainable agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Irrigation)
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27 pages, 7250 KiB  
Review
Nano-Management Approaches for Salt Tolerance in Plants under Field and In Vitro Conditions
by Daniella Sári, Aya Ferroudj, Neama Abdalla, Hassan El-Ramady, Judit Dobránszki and József Prokisch
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2695; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112695 - 26 Oct 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1772
Abstract
Soil salinity is a serious global problem that threatens a high percentage of the global soils. Salinity stress can create ionic, oxidative, and osmotic stress, along with hormonal imbalances, in stressful plants. This kind of stress was investigated on agricultural productivity at different [...] Read more.
Soil salinity is a serious global problem that threatens a high percentage of the global soils. Salinity stress can create ionic, oxidative, and osmotic stress, along with hormonal imbalances, in stressful plants. This kind of stress was investigated on agricultural productivity at different levels, starting in vitro (plant tissue culture), through hydroponics, pots, and field conditions. Several approaches were studied for managing salinity stress, including using traditional materials (e.g., gypsum, sulfur), organic amendments (e.g., compost, biochar, chitosan), and applied manufactured or engineered nanomaterials (NMs). Application of nanomaterials for ameliorating salinity stress has gained great attention due to their high efficiency, eco-friendliness, and non-toxicity, especially biological nanomaterials. The application of NMs did not only support growing stressful plants under salinity stress but also increased the yield of crops, provided an economically feasible nutrient management approach, and was environmentally robust for sustainable crop productivity. Nano-management of salinity may involve applying traditional nano-amendments, biological nanomaterials, nano-enabled nutrients, nano-organic amendments, derived smart nanostructures, and nano-tolerant plant cultivars. Producing different plant cultivars that are tolerant to salinity can be achieved using conventional breeding and plantomics technologies. In addition to the large-scale use of nanomaterials, there is an urgent need to address and treat nanotoxicity. This study aims to contribute to this growing area of research by exploring different approaches for nano-management of current practices under salinity stress under field and in vitro conditions. This study also raises many questions regarding the expected interaction between the toxic effects of salinity and NMs under such conditions. This includes whether this interaction acts positively or negatively on the cultivated plants and soil biological activity, or what regulatory ecotoxicity tests and protocols should be used in research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Farming: Crucial Solutions for the Future)
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23 pages, 1943 KiB  
Article
Sequential Acid/Alkali Pretreatment for an Olive Tree Pruning Biorefinery
by Manuel J. Díaz, Pedro M. Ferrero and Manuel Moya
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2682; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112682 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 891
Abstract
Olive tree pruning is an abundant and renewable lignocellulosic residue, which is generally burned in the fields, causing economic costs and environmental problems. This lignocellulosic residue can be considered a suitable raw material for the production of a wide range of byproducts in [...] Read more.
Olive tree pruning is an abundant and renewable lignocellulosic residue, which is generally burned in the fields, causing economic costs and environmental problems. This lignocellulosic residue can be considered a suitable raw material for the production of a wide range of byproducts in a biorefinery context due to its high content of potentially fermentable carbohydrates. To take advantage of its sugar content, pretreatment is necessary to enhance the accessibility of the enzymes to the cellulosic fraction. The aim of this work is to obtain sugars contained in olive tree pruning as a substrate for the production of bioethanol by fermentation. Specifically, the production of fermentable sugars by sequential pretreatment with sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide is studied. A two-factor rotatable composite central design temperature and catalyst concentration (H2SO4 and NaOH) has been generated, and response surface methodology has been used to discuss and optimize the responses. This work shows that under optimal pretreatment conditions (130 °C, 1.90% w/v H2SO4 and 130 °C, 1.49% w/v NaOH) of 1 kg of olive tree pruning, a solution rich in sugars (102 g of glucose and 61 g of xylose) and a solid residue generating 99 g of glucose by enzymatic hydrolysis is obtained. Moreover, applying the combined severity to the acid pretreatment, it has been determined that 20% of the olive tree pruning is fast solubilization, and it was also found that the apparent activation energy of the acid hydrolysis reaction is 85.07 kJ/mol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pretreatment and Bioconversion of Crop Residues II)
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11 pages, 1073 KiB  
Article
The Use of Overripe Grapes and Their Skins for Naturally Sweet Wines Production in a Warm Climate Zone
by Pablo Andreu-García, Ana Jiménez-Cantizano, Pau Sancho-Galán, Víctor Palacios, Remedios Castro-Mejías and Antonio Amores-Arrocha
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2686; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112686 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Due to global warming and the effects associated with it, the wine industry is facing important challenges during the winemaking process and the production of high-quality wines. In this study, mistelas and naturally sweet wines were produced with the ‘Pedro Ximénez’ grapevine cultivar, [...] Read more.
Due to global warming and the effects associated with it, the wine industry is facing important challenges during the winemaking process and the production of high-quality wines. In this study, mistelas and naturally sweet wines were produced with the ‘Pedro Ximénez’ grapevine cultivar, overripened by sun drying and fermented with and without the presence of grape skins. Some oenological parameters related to alcoholic fermentation and low-molecular-weight polyphenols and furans were considered. Naturally sweet wines with skins presence showed a higher value of viable biomass than those with grape skins absence. However, in terms of density and ethanol production, sweet wines with grape skins absence presented lower and higher values, respectively, than the other elaborations. No significant differences in the organic acids and low-molecular-weight polyphenols and furans contents, with respect to the presence or absence of grape skins, were observed. In this sense, this research proves that the production of sweet wines from sun-dried grapes with the presence/absence of grape skins during alcoholic fermentation could be a possible choice in areas where agro-climatic conditions make it possible. Full article
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19 pages, 2522 KiB  
Article
Synergy between Zeolites and Leguminous Cover Crops Improved Olive Tree Performance and Soil Properties in a Rainfed Olive Orchard
by Sandra Martins, Cátia Brito, Ermelinda Silva, Alexandre Gonçalves, Margarida Arrobas, Ermelinda Pereira, Manuel Ângelo Rodrigues, Fernando M. Nunes and Carlos M. Correia
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2674; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112674 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1305
Abstract
Soil degradation and climate change are threatening the sustainability of Mediterranean olive orchards, typically grown under rainfed conditions and conventional soil tillage. Thus, implementing sustainable soil management practices is crucial to preserve soil health and mitigate the negative effects on plant performance. In [...] Read more.
Soil degradation and climate change are threatening the sustainability of Mediterranean olive orchards, typically grown under rainfed conditions and conventional soil tillage. Thus, implementing sustainable soil management practices is crucial to preserve soil health and mitigate the negative effects on plant performance. In this study, we assessed the effects of conventional tillage (T), an early maturing and self-reseeding annual legume cover crop (LC) and its combination with natural zeolites (ZL) on plant physiological performance, tree nutritional status, crop yield, and soil physicochemical and microbiological properties. Although both LC and ZL enhanced the photosynthetic activity, tree nutritional status, soil moisture and olive yield relative to T, ZL was clearly more efficient at improving some soil health indicators, namely at the 0–10 cm soil layer, once soil acidity decreased and Kjeldahl N, extractable P and B, cation exchange capacity and microbiological activity increased, as evidenced by the higher concentrations of easily extractable and total glomalin-related soil protein, microbial biomass carbon, microbial biomass quotient, and actinomycetes. Therefore, using natural zeolite with leguminous cover crops appears to be a promising strategy of sustainable soil management in rainfed olive orchards, as it is able to provide numerous ecosystem services. Full article
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23 pages, 48270 KiB  
Article
Improved YOLOv7-Tiny Complex Environment Citrus Detection Based on Lightweighting
by Bo Gu, Changji Wen, Xuanzhi Liu, Yingjian Hou, Yuanhui Hu and Hengqiang Su
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2667; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112667 - 24 Oct 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1963
Abstract
In complex citrus orchard environments, light changes, branch shading, and fruit overlapping impact citrus detection accuracy. This paper proposes the citrus detection model YOLO-DCA in complex environments based on the YOLOv7-tiny model. We used depth-separable convolution (DWConv) to replace the ordinary convolution in [...] Read more.
In complex citrus orchard environments, light changes, branch shading, and fruit overlapping impact citrus detection accuracy. This paper proposes the citrus detection model YOLO-DCA in complex environments based on the YOLOv7-tiny model. We used depth-separable convolution (DWConv) to replace the ordinary convolution in ELAN, which reduces the number of parameters of the model; we embedded coordinate attention (CA) into the convolution to make it a coordinate attention convolution (CAConv) to replace the ordinary convolution of the neck network convolution; and we used a dynamic detection head to replace the original detection head. We trained and evaluated the test model using a homemade citrus dataset. The model size is 4.5 MB, the number of parameters is 2.1 M, mAP is 96.98%, and the detection time of a single image is 5.9 ms, which is higher than in similar models. In the application test, it has a better detection effect on citrus in occlusion, light transformation, and motion change scenes. The model has the advantages of high detection accuracy, small model space occupation, easy application deployment, and strong robustness, which can help citrus-picking robots and improve their intelligence level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Applications of Deep Learning in Smart Agriculture)
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16 pages, 1889 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Diverse Pepper (Capsicum spp.) Germplasms Based on Agro-Morphological Traits and Phytochemical Contents
by Suyun Moon, Nayoung Ro, Junhong Kim, Ho-Cheol Ko, SuKyeung Lee, Hyeonseok Oh, Bichsaem Kim, Ho-Sun Lee and Gi-An Lee
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2665; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102665 - 23 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1351
Abstract
Pepper (Capsicum spp.) is one of the most important crops worldwide. The fruits of Capsicum species are known to contain high amounts of vitamins and carotenoids, and they have health-promoting properties. In this study, a total of 513 pepper accessions belonging to [...] Read more.
Pepper (Capsicum spp.) is one of the most important crops worldwide. The fruits of Capsicum species are known to contain high amounts of vitamins and carotenoids, and they have health-promoting properties. In this study, a total of 513 pepper accessions belonging to two Capsicum species, C. annuum and C. frutescens, were investigated for their morphological characteristics and contents of phytochemicals including carotenoids, β-carotene, vitamin C, capsaicinoids, and total soluble solids. The results revealed wide variations in morphological traits and phytochemical contents between the accessions and across species. In addition, the association of fruit color and orientation with phytochemical contents was evaluated; the results indicated that germplasm with yellow-colored and pendant-oriented fruits could be important due to their high vitamin C levels. Multivariate analysis of the agro-morphological and phytochemical parameters revealed that Capsicum germplasm were clearly distinguished according to species. Furthermore, cluster analysis showed that germplasms belonged to three groups, and six genotypes were determined as being good genetic resources with high health-promoting phytochemical contents. Especially, vitamin C content was positively correlated with fruit diameter, weight, and wall thickness. Our findings revealed morphological and phytochemical characteristics potentially useful for breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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14 pages, 3538 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Root Morphological Traits of Diverse-Origin Cultivated Soybean
by Waleed Khan, Stanley Ahamefula Amos, Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, Amit Ghimire, Liny Lay and Yoonha Kim
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2666; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102666 - 23 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1487
Abstract
Root morphological traits (RMTs) profoundly influence plant growth, resilience to abiotic stresses, and yield in soybean (Glycine max). In a comprehensive study spanning two consecutive years (2021–2022), the RMTs were assessed in 216 soybean accessions from 34 diverse origins. The investigation [...] Read more.
Root morphological traits (RMTs) profoundly influence plant growth, resilience to abiotic stresses, and yield in soybean (Glycine max). In a comprehensive study spanning two consecutive years (2021–2022), the RMTs were assessed in 216 soybean accessions from 34 diverse origins. The investigation involved randomized batches with plants cultivated in PVC pipes filled with horticultural soil and harvested at the V2 growth stage. All the germplasms exhibited significant differences (p < 0.001) in all measured traits, i.e., total root length (TRL), root volume (RV), average diameter (AD), number of tips (NT), number of forks (NF), and tertiary total length (TTL). Among the top 5% performers in TRL, which, interestingly, were exclusively of Korean origin, germplasm IT115491 displayed an impressive average TRL value of 1426.24 cm. Notably, germplasms from Serbia and Korea predominantly occupied the upper AD quantile, with IT156262 exhibiting the highest AD value of 0.57 mm. A correlation analysis showed strong positive associations of TRL with RV (r = 0.85), NT (r = 0.84), NF (r = 0.96), and TTL (r = 0.88), whereas it had a negative association with AD (r = −0.25). A principal component analysis (PCA) showed a cumulative 95% of the total variance in the data in the first three principal components (PCs). PC1 (eigenvalue = 4.64) accounted for a 77.00% variance, with TRL, RV, NF, NT, and TTL exhibiting the highest associated eigenvectors. K-means clustering was performed with three clusters. Cluster 2 contained accessions with higher AD values, whereas Cluster 3 comprised accessions with increased TRL, NT, NF, and TTL, which mostly originated from Korea. Our findings offer targeted insights for plant breeders to optimize specific root traits and enhance crop performance across diverse environmental conditions by strategically targeting these clusters. Additionally, the influence of cultivar origin on root traits warrants further investigation, with implications for future breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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17 pages, 4189 KiB  
Article
Using Soil Water Status Sensors to Optimize Water and Nutrient Use in Melon under Semi-Arid Conditions
by Susana Zapata-García, Abdelmalek Temnani, Pablo Berríos, Pedro J. Espinosa, Claudia Monllor and Alejandro Pérez-Pastor
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2652; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102652 - 22 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1073
Abstract
Nowadays, agriculture must satisfy the growing demand for food, and increasing its sustainability, from an environmental, economic, and social point of view, is the only way to achieve this. The objective of this study was to increase the water and nutrient use efficiency [...] Read more.
Nowadays, agriculture must satisfy the growing demand for food, and increasing its sustainability, from an environmental, economic, and social point of view, is the only way to achieve this. The objective of this study was to increase the water and nutrient use efficiency of a melon crop during two consecutive seasons under commercial conditions, growing under semi-arid area. For this purpose, two treatments were studied: (i) a farmer treatment (FRM), fertigated at ~100% of crop evapotranspiration (ETc) during the whole growing season; and (ii) a precision irrigation treatment (PI), irrigated by adjusting, between flowering and ripening, the weekly farmer irrigation to minimize the leaching below the root system. The threshold for allowable soil water depletion in the active root uptake zone was set at 20–30%. The cumulative water savings in each year relative to the FRM treatment ranged between 30 and 27% for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Yield was not negatively affected, with no differences in fruit load (fruit per m) or fruit weight (kg) between irrigation treatments, although higher yields were obtained in the second year due to seasonal changes. The crop water status indicators evaluated (stem water potential, net photosynthesis, and stomatal conductance) were not affected by the irrigation treatments. Water and nitrogen productivity, on average, increased by 45.5 and 54.4% during the experimental period, respectively; the average PI ascorbic acid content increased by 33.4%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Irrigation Management Practices for Agricultural Production)
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23 pages, 1848 KiB  
Article
Prediction of Grain Yield and Gluten Content in Winter Bread Wheat Based on Nutrient Content in Plant Parts during the Critical Cereal Window
by Witold Grzebisz, Witold Szczepaniak, Jarosław Potarzycki and Maria Biber
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2649; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102649 - 20 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 989
Abstract
Reliable prediction of winter bread wheat grain yield (GY) and its qualitative parameters (crude protein (CP) and wet gluten (GL) content, wet gluten yield (GLY)) requires evaluation of the plant nutritional status in the Critical Cereal Window (CCW). The reliability of the forecast [...] Read more.
Reliable prediction of winter bread wheat grain yield (GY) and its qualitative parameters (crude protein (CP) and wet gluten (GL) content, wet gluten yield (GLY)) requires evaluation of the plant nutritional status in the Critical Cereal Window (CCW). The reliability of the forecast depends on the dedicated plant characteristics and the correct selection of the diagnostic plant parts. This hypothesis was verified in a one-factor field experiment carried out in the 2013/2014, 2014/2015, and 2015/2016 growing seasons. The field experiment included applying 0, 40, 80, 120, 160, 200, and 240 kg N ha−1. The N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu content in wheat was determined in two growth stages: (i) beginning of booting (BBCH 40) and (ii) full flowering (BBCH 65). The evaluated plant components included the leaves and stem for BBCH 40 and the flag leaf, leaves, stem, and ear of BBCH 65. Grain yields were very high, significantly responding to the increased rates of fertilizer nitrogen (Nf), with a maximum yield of 11.3 t ha−1 achieved in 2014 (N rate of 209 kg N ha−1), 13.7 t ha−1 in 2015, and 8.6 t ha−1 in 2016 (N rate of 240 kg N ha−1). The CP and GL content also increased linearly in accordance with the Nf rates. At the beginning of the booting stage, the GY forecast based on the content of nutrients in the leaves or the stem was 94%. Meanwhile, a slightly higher yield prediction was obtained for leaves during the full flowering stage (95%). The key nutrients comprised K, Ca, and Mn, accounting for 93% of the GY variability. The accuracy of the GL prognosis at BBCH 40, regardless of the plant part, exceeded 99%. Three nutrients, namely, P, Mg, and Zn, explained 98% of the GL variability, and the GLY forecast was high (97%). Both wheat traits depended on Zn, which buffered the action of N and Mg. At the full flowering stage, the highest, yet slightly weaker, predictions of GL and GLY were obtained for leaves (95% and 92%, respectively). At this stage of winter wheat growth, the significant role of Zn and K and the buffering effect of Cu on the action of both nutrients was apparent. The obtained results unequivocally confirm that the game for winter wheat grain yield occurs within the Critical Cereal Window. In addition, the end result depends on the plant’s N supply during this period and the nutritional status of other nutrients. Application of 40–80 kg N ha−1 fertilizer critically impacted the GY and technological quality. Moreover, micronutrients, including Zn and Cu, influence the GY, GL, and GLY considerably. At the beginning of the booting phase (BBCH 40), winter wheat leaves serve as a highly reliable plant component indicator for evaluating nutrient content and quantitative (GY, GLY) and qualitative (GL) characteristics of grain. Moreover, analysis conducted during BBCH 40 allows the farmer to correct the nutritional status of the wheat, taking into account N and other nutrients as necessary. Full article
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