Smart Strategies and Technologies for Sustainability and Biodiversity in Herbaceous and Horticultural Crops—Volume II

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Horticultural and Floricultural Crops".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 3513

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto, 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: farm mechanization and farm machinery; precision agriculture; conservation agriculture; nonchemical weed control; machine for turfgrass and landscape management
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Following the success of the first Special Issue “Smart Strategies and Technologies for Sustainability and Biodiversity in Herbaceous and Horticultural Crops” in Agronomy, the Editorial Office is pleased to launch a second series of the Special Issue.

The current trend of modern farming systems leans toward technical solutions to improve the sustainability and biodiversity of agroecosystems. Innovative agronomical strategies and new technologies can help farmers to reduce or eliminate chemical inputs, preserve soil and water quality, decrease exhaust and greenhouse gas emissions, prevent pollution, and lower the energy demand. Sustainable management is also aimed at enhancing biodiversity in order to lengthen the “life” of agroecosystems. Herbaceous and horticultural crops are the major crops and can contribute to achieving this goal.

In this Special Issue, all contributions regarding innovative technologies, machines, and strategies for the sustainable management of herbaceous and horticultural crops are welcome, including applications in organic farming systems, conservation agriculture, integrated or non-chemical weed and pest control, cover crops and intercropping use, precision and digital farming technologies, and robotic technologies for sustainability.

Thus, we invite experts and researchers to contribute original research, reviews, and opinion pieces covering the topics of this Special Issue.

Dr. Christian Frasconi
Dr. Marco Fontanelli
Dr. Daniele Antichi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • conservation agriculture
  • organic agriculture
  • cover crops
  • intercropping
  • integrated/non-chemical weed and pest control
  • precision and digital agriculture for sustainability

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 3028 KiB  
Article
Effect of Salt-Induced Stress on the Calorific Value of Two Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Amur Silvergrass) Varieties
by Hailong Lu, Ling Li, Jingbo Chen, Jackson Nkoh Nkoh, Dongli Hao, Jianjian Li, Jingjing Wang, Dandan Li, Jianxiu Liu, Hailin Guo and Junqin Zong
Agronomy 2024, 14(6), 1259; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14061259 - 11 Jun 2024
Viewed by 204
Abstract
This study was designed to investigate the relationship between the caloric value and salt tolerance of two varieties of Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Amur silvergrass: M127 and M022). The salt tolerance capacity, photosynthetic characteristics, Na+ and K+ uptake by the roots and aboveground [...] Read more.
This study was designed to investigate the relationship between the caloric value and salt tolerance of two varieties of Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Amur silvergrass: M127 and M022). The salt tolerance capacity, photosynthetic characteristics, Na+ and K+ uptake by the roots and aboveground parts, and caloric value of different parts of the aboveground parts were obtained under hydroponic conditions. The results showed that M022 was more tolerant to salt stress than M127 and the former had a higher photosynthetic efficiency as well as a lower aboveground Na+ accumulation, K+ efflux, and larger K+/Na+ ratio. The calorific values of stems, spear leaves, aging leaves, and functional leaves of the two varieties showed a decreasing trend with increasing NaCl concentration. At 270 mM NaCl, the calorific values of the stems, aging leaves, functional leaves, and spear leaves was reduced by 18.10%, 46.73%, 26.11%, and 18.35% for M022 and 41.99%, 39.41%, 34.82%, and 45.09% for M127 compared to the controls, respectively. We observed that the aging leaves of M022 had a faster decline rate in calorific value than those of M127, indicating that the aging leaves of M022 preferentially isolated the harmful Na+ ion, reduced its accumulation in other parts, and increased the K+/Na+ ratio in the corresponding parts, thus inhibiting the decrease in calorific value. Following this result, it can be inferred that M022 inhibited the decline in calorific values during stress by efficiently compartmentalizing the distribution of Na+ and K+. Our results provide a theoretical basis and technical support for the efficient cultivation of salt-tolerant energy plants in saline–alkaline soil. Full article
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17 pages, 3159 KiB  
Article
Identification and Evaluation of Celery Germplasm Resources for Salt Tolerance
by Limei Wu, Jiageng Du, Yidan Zhang, Yuqin Xue, Chengyao Jiang, Wei Lu, Yangxia Zheng, Chengbo Zhou, Aisheng Xiong and Mengyao Li
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1048; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14051048 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 430
Abstract
This study evaluated the salt tolerance in 40 celery germplasm resources to clarify the different salt tolerances of celery germplasm. A gradient treatment with different concentrations of NaCl solutions (100, 200, and 300 mmol·L−1) was used to simulate salt stress. After [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the salt tolerance in 40 celery germplasm resources to clarify the different salt tolerances of celery germplasm. A gradient treatment with different concentrations of NaCl solutions (100, 200, and 300 mmol·L−1) was used to simulate salt stress. After 15 days of salt treatment, 14 indicators related to plant growth, physiology, and biochemistry were determined. The results showed that different celery varieties responded differently to salt stress. Notably, there were significant variations in below-ground dry weight, root–crown ratio, antioxidant enzyme activity, and soluble protein content among the accessions under salt stress. Principal component analysis was used to identify important indices for evaluating salt tolerance, including plant height, spread, content of soluble protein, and so on. A comprehensive evaluation was conducted utilizing the salt damage index, principal component analysis, affiliation function analysis, and cluster analysis. The 40 celery germplasms were classified into five highly salt-tolerant, seven salt-tolerant, fifteen moderately salt-tolerant, nine salt-sensitive, and four highly salt-sensitive germplasms. SHHXQ, MXKQ, XBQC, XQ, and TGCXBQ were highly salt-tolerant germplasms, and BFMSGQ, HNXQ, ZQ, and MGXQW were highly salt-sensitive germplasms. The results of this study provide a reference for the variety of celery cultivation in saline areas and lay a foundation for the selection and breeding of salt-tolerant varieties of celery. Full article
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16 pages, 6662 KiB  
Article
Estimation of Garden Chrysanthemum Crown Diameter Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-Based RGB Imagery
by Jiuyuan Zhang, Jingshan Lu, Qiuyan Zhang, Qimo Qi, Gangjun Zheng, Fadi Chen, Sumei Chen, Fei Zhang, Weimin Fang and Zhiyong Guan
Agronomy 2024, 14(2), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14020337 - 6 Feb 2024
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Abstract
Crown diameter is one of the crucial indicators for evaluating the adaptability, growth quality, and ornamental value of garden chrysanthemums. To accurately obtain crown diameter, this study employed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a RGB camera to capture orthorectified canopy images [...] Read more.
Crown diameter is one of the crucial indicators for evaluating the adaptability, growth quality, and ornamental value of garden chrysanthemums. To accurately obtain crown diameter, this study employed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a RGB camera to capture orthorectified canopy images of 64 varieties of garden chrysanthemums at different growth stages. Three methods, namely RGB color space, hue-saturation-value (HSV) color space, and the mask region-based convolutional neural network (Mask R-CNN), were employed to estimate the crown diameter of garden chrysanthemums. The results revealed that the Mask R-CNN exhibited the best performance in crown diameter estimation (sample number = 2409, R2 = 0.9629, RMSE = 2.2949 cm). Following closely, the HSV color space-based model exhibited strong performance (sample number = 2409, R2 = 0.9465, RMSE = 3.4073 cm). Both of the first two methods were efficient in estimating crown diameter throughout the entire growth stage. In contrast, the RGB color space-based model exhibited slightly lower performance (sample number = 1065, R2 = 0.9011, RMSE = 3.3418 cm) and was only applicable during periods when the entire plant was predominantly green. These findings provide theoretical and technical support for utilizing UAV-based imagery to estimate the crown diameter of garden chrysanthemums. Full article
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18 pages, 3754 KiB  
Article
Comparative Analysis of the Performance of a Chain Mower and Tools That Perform Under-Row Weed Control with Tillage in the Vineyard
by Lorenzo Gagliardi, Sofia Matilde Luglio, Andrea Peruzzi, Marco Fontanelli, Christian Frasconi and Michele Raffaelli
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010206 - 17 Jan 2024
Viewed by 839
Abstract
In the Mediterranean area, vineyard soils are often characterized by a high stone content. In these contexts, where tools commonly adopted for under-row weed control are frequently damaged, the utilization of a chain mower could be a preferable alternative. This research aims to [...] Read more.
In the Mediterranean area, vineyard soils are often characterized by a high stone content. In these contexts, where tools commonly adopted for under-row weed control are frequently damaged, the utilization of a chain mower could be a preferable alternative. This research aims to compare a modified mower with chains with other tools commonly employed that control weeds through tillage, such as motorized discs, blade weeder, and rotary star hoe. Weed control effectiveness, effects on weed flora composition, soil compaction, and operative efficiencies were evaluated. The chain mower allowed us to obtain encouraging results of weed biomass reduction (55.4 and 25.4%, between and around vine trunks, respectively), weed height reduction (35.9%), and weed cover reduction (79.2%), comparable to the other tools. All the tools showed a lower weed control efficacy around vine trunks rather than between them (weed biomass reductions of 24.8% and 52.6%, respectively). Results regarding the effect on weed flora composition seem to confirm this trend. Despite the higher chain mower field time (3.78 h ha−1) and fuel consumption (24.24 kg ha−1) compared to the blade weeder and the rotary star hoe, its versatility in stony soil and its lower impact on soil (soil penetration resistances of 1602.42 and 2262.83 kPa in 2022 and 2023, respectively) compared to the other tools make it a potentially advantageous implement for under-row weed management in vineyards. Further studies could be useful to improve chain mower performance, particularly around vine trunks, by evaluating in different planting layouts different dimensions of both the cutting element and feeler, which allows the vine-skipping mechanism. 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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