Special Issue "Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Innovative Cropping Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Giovanni Mauromicale
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A), University of Catania, via Valdisavoia 5, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: agronomy and herbaceous crops
Dr. Sara Lombardo
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A), University of Catania, via Valdisavoia 5, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: field crops; agronomy; food quality; organic farming; plant secondary metabolites
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Herbaceous plants comprise some of the most important crops such as cereals, leguminous, aromatic, oil, etc. They are worldwide diffused for different aims ranging from agricultural and food applications to industry, energetic, pharmacology and medicine sectors. In the last decades, many advances have been made in the cultivation of herbaceous crops, mainly with the aim of yield increasing. However, the rapid expansion of world population and the parallel decreasing of arable lands hold high the alarm on the development of more efficient agricultural techniques. Nevertheless, several aspects related to the effects of agronomic practices on quality characteristics require further efforts, as well as their cultivation in organic farming.

The present Special Issue will be focused on the recent advancements in the wide field of herbaceous field crops cultivation. Research papers, communications and review articles are welcome. In particular, we encourage contributions covering the management of agricultural practices in herbaceous field crops, including fertilisation, irrigation and weed control. Particular attention will be given also to the application of these agronomic practices in organic farming and their effects on food quality.

Prof. Dr. Giovanni Mauromicale
Dr. Sara Lombardo
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • field crops
  • agronomy
  • crop physiology
  • organic farming
  • fertilisation
  • water management
  • weed control
  • food quality

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Agronomic Evaluation and Chemical Characterization of Sicilian Salvia sclarea L. Accessions
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1114; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081114 - 01 Aug 2020
Abstract
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.), known for its aromatic and medicinal properties, belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Although the species grows wild throughout Sicily, knowledge of its production and qualitative properties is limited. The aim of this study was to evaluate the [...] Read more.
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.), known for its aromatic and medicinal properties, belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Although the species grows wild throughout Sicily, knowledge of its production and qualitative properties is limited. The aim of this study was to evaluate the agronomic behavior of the species over two years of testing and to characterize the chemical properties of its wild counterparts in order to identify the most promising accessions for cropping or for use in breeding programs. Tests were carried out during 2008, 2009, and 2010. During the first year, the plot was established. Subsequently, the main parameters for bio-agronomic evaluation were taken in 2009 and 2010. Regarding qualitative characterization, essential oils (EO) were extracted from flowering samples of clary sage. The accessions in the study showed satisfactory adaptation capacity to cropping. The accessions examined belong to the “linalyl acetate” (range 36–43%) chemotype. Test results show good potential for Mediterranean cropping systems, helping to increase the range of medicinal and aromatic species in cultivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Chemical Composition of Cynara Cardunculus L. var. altilis Heads: The Impact of Harvesting Time
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1088; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081088 - 27 Jul 2020
Abstract
Cardoon is a multi-purpose crop with several industrial applications, while the heads (capitula) are edible and commonly used in various dishes of the Mediterranean diet. Several reports in the literature study the chemical composition of the various plants parts (leaves, flower stalks, bracts, [...] Read more.
Cardoon is a multi-purpose crop with several industrial applications, while the heads (capitula) are edible and commonly used in various dishes of the Mediterranean diet. Several reports in the literature study the chemical composition of the various plants parts (leaves, flower stalks, bracts, seeds) aiming to industrial applications of crop bio-waste, whereas for the heads, most of the studies are limited to the chemical composition and bioactive properties at the edible stage. In the present study, cardoon heads were collected at six different maturation stages and their chemical composition was evaluated in order to determine the effect of harvesting stage and examine the potential of alternative uses in the food and nutraceutical industries. Lipidic fraction and the content in fatty acids, tocopherols, organic acids, and free sugars were determined. Lipidic content decreases with the maturation process, while 22 fatty acids were detected in total, with palmitic, oleic, and linoleic acids being those with the highest abundance depending on harvesting time. In particular, immature heads have a higher abundance in saturated fatty acids (SFA), whereas the samples of mature heads were the richest in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). The α-tocopherol was the only isoform detected being present in higher amounts in sample Car B (619 µg/100 g dw). Oxalic, quinic, malic, citric and fumaric acids were the detected organic acids, and the higher content was observed in sample Car E (15.7 g/100 g dw). The detected sugars were fructose, glucose, sucrose, trehalose and raffinose, while the highest content (7.4 g/100 g dw) was recorded in sample Car C. In conclusion, the maturation stage of cardoon heads influences their chemical composition and harvesting time could be a useful means to increase the quality and the added value of the final product by introducing this material in the food and nutraceutical industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Agronomic and Economic Evaluation of Autumn Planted Sugarcane under Different Planting Patterns with Lentil Intercropping
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050644 - 01 May 2020
Abstract
Proper sowing orientation and spacing are important factors for best crop growth. A field experiment was conducted to study the effect of different planting patterns with and without lentil intercropping on sugarcane growth and yield and farm economics. Each of these treatments were [...] Read more.
Proper sowing orientation and spacing are important factors for best crop growth. A field experiment was conducted to study the effect of different planting patterns with and without lentil intercropping on sugarcane growth and yield and farm economics. Each of these treatments were planted as sole crop and intercropped with lentil. Data were collected on plant cane and first ratoon crop. The maximum stripped cane yields (154.36 t/ha and 130.28 t/ha in plant and ratoon crop, respectively) were obtained from sugarcane planted at 120 cm trench planting both as sole as well as lentil intercropped. This treatment also attained 61% and 43% higher total sugar yields compared to traditional 60 cm single rows planting in plant and ratoon crops, respectively. Lentil intercropping did not have any significant effect on sugarcane yield, but trench planting at 120 cm with lentil intercropping had the highest lentil seed yield (598.0 in 2013–2014 and 629.8 kg ha−1 in 2014–2015) along with maximum land equivalent ratio (1.40 and 1.37), net return (Rs.321254/ha), net field benefit (Rs.491703/ha) and benefit cost ratio (2.01). Sugarcane at 120 cm trench planting with lentil intercropping also outperformed other planting patterns in improving economic returns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Are Wheat Hybrids More Affected by Weed Competition than Conventional Cultivars?
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040526 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Seeding rates of hybrid wheat varieties are typically much lower than conventional varieties due to their higher seed costs, which could potentially delay canopy development leading to greater weed pressures. To test whether hybrid wheat crops are more affected by weed pressure than [...] Read more.
Seeding rates of hybrid wheat varieties are typically much lower than conventional varieties due to their higher seed costs, which could potentially delay canopy development leading to greater weed pressures. To test whether hybrid wheat crops are more affected by weed pressure than conventional cultivars, a conventional variety (“Illico”) and a hybrid (“Hystar”), were compared in a three-year (2012–2016) field study at two sites in Northern Italy. Weed infestation was mainly characterized by weeds with an early growth pattern, and in only a few seasons did the hybrid crops show a higher weed density than the conventional cultivar. Despite the lower sowing rate, hybrids were able to achieve a similar crop density to the conventional cultivar even in years of delayed sowing or dry weather conditions. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index values were generally similar between cultivars across the years, regardless of the presence of weeds, except during the springtime. Occasionally, the test weight was significantly higher in weeded plots than un-weeded plots. Overall, the two cultivars showed similar yields within the same year. These results indicate that on fields with a low weed burden, and where these weeds emerge early, cultivars may not be significantly affected by productivity losses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Grazing and Cutting under Different Nitrogen Rates, Application Methods and Planting Density Strongly Influence Qualitative Traits and Yield of Canola Crop
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030404 - 16 Mar 2020
Abstract
Canola crop has the potential for both seeds and grazing. Optimal planting density, time of nitrogen (N) fertilizer application and rates are the major aspects for successful qualitative traits and canola yield formation. In this content, optimization of planting density, N levels and [...] Read more.
Canola crop has the potential for both seeds and grazing. Optimal planting density, time of nitrogen (N) fertilizer application and rates are the major aspects for successful qualitative traits and canola yield formation. In this content, optimization of planting density, N levels and its time of application in dual purpose canola are needed. This study was carried out in RCB design with split pot arrangement having three repeats during winter 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. The study evaluated N levels (120 and 80 kg N ha−1), cutting treatment, N application timings and planting density (20 and 40 plants m−2) effects on qualitative traits and yield of canola. No-cut treatment had 7.02%, 2.46%, and 4.26% higher, glucosinolates, oil, and protein content with 31.3% and 30.5% higher biological and grain yield respectively, compared with grazed canola. Compared with no-cut canola, grazed canola resulted in 7.74% of higher erucic acid. Further, application of N at 120 kg N ha−1 had 8.81%, 5.52%, and 6.06% higher glucosinolates, percent protein, and seed yield, respectively than 80 kg N ha−1. In-addition, the application of N into two splits was most beneficial than the rest application timings. Cutting had 15% reduction in grain yield of canola and fetched additional income of 143.6 USD compared with no-cut. Grazing resulted in a 23% reduction in grain yield while had additional income of 117.7 USD from fodder yield. Conclusively, the application of N in two splits at 120 kg N ha−1 combined with 20 plants m−2 is a promising strategy to achieve good qualitative attributes and canola yield under dual purpose system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Plant Water Extracts for Weed Control in Durum Wheat (Triticum turgidum L. Subsp. durum Desf.)
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030364 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The use of plant water extracts to control weeds is gaining attention in environmentally-friendly agriculture, but the study of the effect that such extracts may exert on the yield of durum wheat is still unexplored. In 2014 and 2016, the herbicidal potential of [...] Read more.
The use of plant water extracts to control weeds is gaining attention in environmentally-friendly agriculture, but the study of the effect that such extracts may exert on the yield of durum wheat is still unexplored. In 2014 and 2016, the herbicidal potential of several plant water extracts was field tested on durum wheat (cv Valbelice). In 2014, extracts obtained from Artemisia arborescens, Rhus coriaria, Lantana camara, Thymus vulgaris, and Euphorbia characias were used, whereas in 2016 only A. arborescens and R. coriaria were tested as “donor” plants. In both years, weed incidence was evaluated, together with the major yield parameters of wheat. None of the treatments (including chemicals) could eradicate weeds from the field. In 2014, dicots were in general prevailing in plots treated with extracts of E. characias, while monocots prevailed after treatments with L. camara and R. coriaria. In 2016, lower weed biomass and diversity level were found, and only Avena and Phalaris were detected at harvest time. Treatment with plant water extracts affected grain yields, but it seems likely that those effects are not due to the diverse incidence of weeds in treated and untreated plots, rather to some direct action exerted by allelopathic substances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Optimizing Nitrogen Fertilization to Improve Qualitative Performances and Physiological and Yield Responses of Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.)
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 352; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030352 - 04 Mar 2020
Abstract
Potato is often produced by adopting high nitrogen (N) external inputs to maximize its yield, although the possible agronomic and qualitative benefits of a N over-fertilization to the crop are scarcely demonstrated. Therefore, our aim was to determine, over two years, the effect [...] Read more.
Potato is often produced by adopting high nitrogen (N) external inputs to maximize its yield, although the possible agronomic and qualitative benefits of a N over-fertilization to the crop are scarcely demonstrated. Therefore, our aim was to determine, over two years, the effect of three N fertilization rates (0, 140 and 280 kg ha−1, referred to as N0, N140 and N280) simultaneously on the crop physiology, yield components, N use efficiency and tuber chemical composition of cv. Bellini. Throughout the field monitoring, our data highlighted that N140 provided an improvement of the crop physiology, as expressed in terms of leaf photosynthesis rate and Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) readings, than the other N fertilization rates. In addition, regardless of year and as compared to N0 and N280, the supply of 140 kg N ha−1 also ensured the highest yield and an intermediate value of the nitrogen use efficiency (59.1 t ha−1 and 37.1 kg tuber dry weight kg N−1, respectively), together with nutritionally relevant tuber qualitative traits, i.e. high levels of dry matter, starch (by an enzymatic/spectrophotometric method), total polyphenols (by Folin-Ciocalteu assay) and ascorbic acid [by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis], and a low nitrate amount (by an ion-selective electrode method) (16.6%, 634-3.31-0.61 and 0.93 g kg−1 of dry matter, respectively). Therefore, although a certain interaction between N fertilization rate and year was observed, our findings demonstrated that a conventional N fertilization rate (280 kg ha−1) is unnecessary from both agronomic and qualitative standpoints. This is of considerable importance in the perspective to both limit environmental pollution and improve growers’ profits by limiting N external inputs to potato crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Yield, Fiber Quality and Dry Matter Production of Cotton Planted at Various Densities under Equidistant Row Arrangement
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020232 - 05 Feb 2020
Abstract
The number of cotton plants grown per unit area has recently gained attention due to technology expense, high input, and seed cost. Yield consistency across a series of plant populations is an attractive cost-saving option. Field experiments were conducted to compare biomass accumulation, [...] Read more.
The number of cotton plants grown per unit area has recently gained attention due to technology expense, high input, and seed cost. Yield consistency across a series of plant populations is an attractive cost-saving option. Field experiments were conducted to compare biomass accumulation, fiber quality, leaf area index, yield and yield components of cotton planted at various densities (D1, 1.5; D2, 3.3; D3, 5.1; D4, 6.9; D5, 8.7; and D6, 10.5 plants m−2). High planting density (D5) produced 21% and 28% more lint yield as compared to low planting density (D1) during both years, respectively. The highest seed cotton yield (4662 kg/ha) and lint yield (1763 kg/ha) were produced by high plant density (D5) while the further increase in the plant population (D6) decreased the yield. The increase in yield of D5 was due to more biomass accumulation in reproductive organs as compared to other treatments. The highest average (19.2 VA gm m−2 d−1) and maximum (21.8 VM gm m−2 d−1) rates of biomass were accumulated in reproductive structures. High boll load per leaf area and leaf area index were observed in high planting density as compared to low, while high dry matter partitioning was recorded in the lowest planting density as compared to other treatments. Plants with low density had 5% greater fiber length as compared to the highest plant density, while the fiber strength and micronaire value were 10% and 15% greater than the lowest plant density. Conclusively, plant density of 8.7 plants m−2 is a promising option for enhanced yield, biomass, and uniform fiber quality of cotton. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Phosphorus Application Improves the Cotton Yield by Enhancing Reproductive Organ Biomass and Nutrient Accumulation in Two Cotton Cultivars with Different Phosphorus Sensitivity
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020153 - 21 Jan 2020
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) plays a pivotal role in cotton by enhancing the reproductive growth and yield formation. Cotton cultivars vary greatly in response to P availability, especially under P-deficient conditions. So, we hypothesized that the increasing P level promotes the reproductive growth in cotton [...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) plays a pivotal role in cotton by enhancing the reproductive growth and yield formation. Cotton cultivars vary greatly in response to P availability, especially under P-deficient conditions. So, we hypothesized that the increasing P level promotes the reproductive growth in cotton cultivars varying with P sensitivity. For this, two cotton cultivars, Lu-54 (sensitive to low P) and Yuzaomian-9110 (tolerant to low P), in response to three different P levels (P0: 0 (control), P1: 100, and P2: 200 kg P2O5 ha−1) were studied at 39, 52, 69, 83, and 99 days after transplanting during 2017 and 2018. The results revealed that the seed cotton yield was improved in P1 and P2 treatments by 23.9%–34.5% and 30.8%–52.3% in Lu-54, and 16.6%–25.6% and 20.6%–38.5% in Yuzaomian-9110 during 2017 and 2018, respectively. The accumulation of reproductive organ biomass was 21.0%–52.1% and 28.5%–56.8% higher in Lu-54 and 24.2%–56.8% and 34.8%–69.1% higher in Yuzaomian-9110 in P1 and P2 over the control, respectively. During the fast accumulation period, the average accumulation of N, P, K, and biomass across the years in P2 were recorded as 0.75, 0.6, 0.5, and 120.5 kg ha−1 d−1 in Lu-54, while they were 0.65, 0.5, 0.8, and 98.5 kg ha−1 d−1 in Yuzaomian-9110. Overall, a longer period, in terms of reproductive biomass accumulation, was recorded for Yuzaomian-9110 compared with Lu-54 in 2017 and vice versa across the 2018 growing season. The results suggested that increasing P rate improved yield, reproductive organ biomass, as well as nutrient accumulation in both cotton cultivars. However, low P-sensitive cultivar (Lu-54) was more responsive to P application compared with low P-tolerant cultivar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Digestate and Biochar as Fertilizers to Improve Processing Tomato Production Sustainability
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010138 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
The principal goal of the organic farming system (OFS) is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment. Unfortunately, the OFS yields fewer products per land than the non-organic farming system in many agricultural products. The objective of our study [...] Read more.
The principal goal of the organic farming system (OFS) is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment. Unfortunately, the OFS yields fewer products per land than the non-organic farming system in many agricultural products. The objective of our study was to assess the effects of digestate and biochar fertilizers on yield and fruit quality of processing tomato produced under the OFS. The experiment was carried out in Po Valley, during the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons. Liquid digestate (LD), LD + biochar (LD + BC) and pelleted digestate (PD) were evaluated and compared to biochar (BC) application and unfertilized control. The results showed that plants fertilized with LD + BC recorded the maximum marketable yield (72 t ha−1), followed by BC (67 t ha−1), PD (64 t ha−1) and LD (59 t ha−1); while the lowest production (47 t ha−1) was recorded in unfertilized plants. Over the two cropping seasons, LD + BC, BC, PD, and LD, increased fruit number per plant (+15%), fruit weight (+24%), Brix t ha−1 (+41%) and reduced Bostwick index (−16%), if compared to the untreated control. Considering the overall agronomic performances, digestate and biochar can be useful options for increasing yield and quality of processing tomato production in the OFS. Hence, these fertilizers can be assessed in future research both on other crops and farming systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Equal K Amounts to N Achieved Optimal Biomass and Better Fiber Quality of Late Sown Cotton in Yangtze River Valley
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010112 - 13 Jan 2020
Abstract
Potassium (K) fertilizer plays a crucial role in the formation of the biological and economic yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Here we investigated the effects of the amount of K on biomass accumulation and cotton fiber quality with lowered N amounts [...] Read more.
Potassium (K) fertilizer plays a crucial role in the formation of the biological and economic yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Here we investigated the effects of the amount of K on biomass accumulation and cotton fiber quality with lowered N amounts (210 kg ha−1) under late sowing, high density and fertilization once at 2 weeks after squaring. A 2-year field experiment was performed with three K fertilizer amounts (168 kg ha−1 (K1), 210 kg ha−1 (K2), and 252 kg ha−1 (K3)) using a randomized complete block design in 2016 and 2017. The results showed correspondingly, K3 accumulated cotton plant biomass of 7913.0 kg ha−1, next to K2 (7384.9 kg ha−1) but followed by K1 (6985.1 kg ha−1) averaged across two growing seasons. Higher K amounts (K2, K3) increased biomass primarily due to a higher accumulation rate (32.68%–74.02% higher than K1) during the fast accumulation period (FAP). Cotton fiber length, micronaire, and fiber strength in K2 were as well as K3 and significantly better than K1. These results suggest that K fertilizer of 210 kg ha−1 should be optimal to obtain a promising benefit both in cotton biomass and fiber quality and profit for the new cotton planting model in the Yangtze River Valley, China and similar climate regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
The Use of Appropriate Cultivar of Basil (Ocimum basilicum) Can Increase Water Use Efficiency under Water Stress
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010070 - 03 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Drought is one of the major yield constraints of crop productivity for many crops. In addition, nowadays, climate change creates new challenges for crop adaptation in stressful environments. The objective of the present study was to determine the effect of water stress on [...] Read more.
Drought is one of the major yield constraints of crop productivity for many crops. In addition, nowadays, climate change creates new challenges for crop adaptation in stressful environments. The objective of the present study was to determine the effect of water stress on five cultivars of basil (Mrs Burns, Cinnamon, Sweet, Red Rubin, Thai) and whether water use efficiency (WUE) can be increased by using the appropriate cultivar. Water stress affected the fresh and dry weight and also the partitioning of dry matter to leaves, flowers, and stems. Also, there are cultivars, such as Mrs Burns and Sweet, which were not affected by the limited amount of water and continued to produce a high amount of dry matter and also showed high essential oil yield. Essential oil content was not affected by the irrigation; however, essential oil yield was affected by the irrigation, and the highest values were found at Mrs Burns. The water use efficiency was affected by the cultivar and irrigation level, and the highest was found at Mrs Burns. The results show that using appropriate cultivars basil can achieve higher WUE and allow saving water resources and utilizing fields in areas with limited water resources for irrigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Leaf Structural and Functional Characteristics when Changing Planting Density at Different Growth Stages Alters Cotton Lint Yield under a New Planting Model
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120859 - 07 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Manipulation of planting density and choice of variety are effective management components in any cropping system that aims to enhance the balance between environmental resource availability and crop requirements. One-time fertilization at first flower with a medium plant stand under late sowing has [...] Read more.
Manipulation of planting density and choice of variety are effective management components in any cropping system that aims to enhance the balance between environmental resource availability and crop requirements. One-time fertilization at first flower with a medium plant stand under late sowing has not yet been attempted. To fill this knowledge gap, changes in leaf structural (stomatal density, stomatal length, stomata width, stomatal pore perimeter, and leaf thickness), leaf gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence attributes of different cotton varieties were made in order to change the planting densities to improve lint yield under a new planting model. A two-year field evaluation was carried out on cotton varieties—V1 (Zhongmian-16) and V2 (J-4B)—to examine the effect of changing the planting density (D1, low, 3 × 104; D2, moderate, 6 × 104; and D3, dense, 9 × 104) on cotton lint yield, leaf structure, chlorophyll fluorescence, and leaf gas exchange attribute responses. Across these varieties, J-4B had higher lint yield compared with Zhongmian-16 in both years. Plants at high density had depressed leaf structural traits, net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance, intercellular CO2 uptake, quenching (qP), actual quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII), and maximum quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm) in both years. Crops at moderate density had improved leaf gas exchange traits, stomatal density, number of stomata, pore perimeter, length, and width, as well as increased qP, ΦPSII, and Fv/Fm compared with low- and high-density plants. Improvement in leaf structural and functional traits contributed to 15.9%–10.7% and 12.3%–10.5% more boll m−2, with 20.6%–13.4% and 28.9%–24.1% higher lint yield averaged across both years, respectively, under moderate planting density compared with low and high density. In conclusion, the data underscore the importance of proper agronomic methods for cotton production, and that J-4B and Zhongmian-16 varieties, grown under moderate and lower densities, could be a promising option based on improved lint yield in subtropical regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Moderate Drip Irrigation Level with Low Mepiquat Chloride Application Increases Cotton Lint Yield by Improving Leaf Photosynthetic Rate and Reproductive Organ Biomass Accumulation in Arid Region
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 834; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120834 - 02 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Due to the changing climate, frequent episodes of drought have threatened cotton lint yield by offsetting their physiological and biochemical functioning. An efficient use of irrigation water can help to produce more crops per drop in cotton production systems. We assume that an [...] Read more.
Due to the changing climate, frequent episodes of drought have threatened cotton lint yield by offsetting their physiological and biochemical functioning. An efficient use of irrigation water can help to produce more crops per drop in cotton production systems. We assume that an optimal drip irrigation with low mepiquat chloride application could increase water productivity (WP) and maintain lint yields by enhancing leaf functional characteristics. A 2-year field experiment determines the response of irrigation regimes (600 (W1), 540 (W2), 480 (W3), 420 (W4) 360 (W5) m3 ha−1) on cotton growth, photosynthesis, fiber quality, biomass accumulation and yield. Mepiquat chloride was sprayed in different concentration at various growth phases (see material section). Result showed that W1 increased leaf area index (LAI) by 5.3–36.0%, net photosynthetic rate (Pn) by 3.4–23.2%, chlorophyll content (Chl) by 1.3–12.0% than other treatments. Improvements in these attributes led to higher lint yield. However, no differences were observed between W1 and W2 in terms of lint and seed cotton yield, but W2 increased WP by 3.7% in both years. Compared with other counterparts, W2 had the largest LAI (4.3–32.1%) at the full boll stage and prolonged reproductive organ biomass (ROB) accumulation by 30–35 d during the fast accumulation period (FAP). LAI, the average (VT) and maximum (VM) biomass accumulation rates of ROB were positively correlated with lint yield. In conclusion, the drip irrigation level of 540–600 m3 ha−1 with reduced MC application is a good strategy to achieve higher WP and lint yield by improving leaf photosynthetic traits and more reproductive organ biomass accumulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Pre-Sowing Irrigation Plus Surface Fertilization Improves Morpho-Physiological Traits and Sustaining Water-Nitrogen Productivity of Cotton
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 772; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110772 - 19 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The changing climatic conditions are causing erratic rains and frequent episodes of moisture stress; these impose a great challenge to cotton productivity by negatively affecting plant physiological, biochemical and molecular processes. This situation requires an efficient management of water-nutrient to achieve optimal crop [...] Read more.
The changing climatic conditions are causing erratic rains and frequent episodes of moisture stress; these impose a great challenge to cotton productivity by negatively affecting plant physiological, biochemical and molecular processes. This situation requires an efficient management of water-nutrient to achieve optimal crop production. Wise use of water-nutrient in cotton production and improved water use-efficiency may help to produce more crop per drop. We hypothesized that the application of nitrogen into deep soil layers can improve water-nitrogen productivity by promoting root growth and functional attributes of cotton crop. To test this hypothesis, a two-year pot experiment under field conditions was conducted to explore the effects of two irrigation levels (i.e., pre-sowing irrigation (W80) and no pre-sowing irrigation (W0)) combined with different fertilization methods (i.e., surface application (F10) and deep application (F30)) on soil water content, soil available nitrogen, roots morpho-physiological attributes, dry mass and water-nitrogen productivity of cotton. W80 treatment increased root length by 3.1%–17.5% in the 0–40 cm soil layer compared with W0. W80 had 11.3%–52.9% higher root nitrate reductase activity in the 10–30 cm soil layer and 18.8%–67.9% in the 60–80 cm soil layer compared with W0. The W80F10 resulted in 4.3%–44.1% greater root nitrate reductase activity compared with other treatments in the 0–30 cm soil layer at 54–84 days after emergence. Water-nitrogen productivity was positively associated with dry mass, water consumption, root length and root nitrate reductase activity. Our data highlighted that pre-sowing irrigation coupled with basal surface fertilization is a promising option in terms of improved cotton root growth. Functioning in the surface soil profile led to a higher reproductive organ biomass production and water-nitrogen productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Growth, Critical N Concentration and Crop N Demand in Butterhead and Crisphead Lettuce Grown under Mediterranean Conditions
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110681 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Excessive nitrogen (N) fertilizers are applied in lettuce causing both environmental issues and N crop luxury consumption. In order to improve the N use efficiency (NUE) by defining optimal crop growth and N requirements of butterhead and crisphead lettuce, two field experiments were [...] Read more.
Excessive nitrogen (N) fertilizers are applied in lettuce causing both environmental issues and N crop luxury consumption. In order to improve the N use efficiency (NUE) by defining optimal crop growth and N requirements of butterhead and crisphead lettuce, two field experiments were conducted using 0, 50, and 100 kg ha−1 of N fertilizer to study (i) the growth and productivity, (ii) the NUE, (iii) the critical N dilution curve, and (iv) the N demand. Nitrogen supply enhanced dry weight (DW) accumulation in the butterhead (from 295 to 410 g m−2), but not in the crisphead type (251 g m−2). The NUE indices underlined the poor ability of the crisphead type in absorbing soil N and also in the utilization of the absorbed N for producing DW. The critical N dilution curves %Nc = 3.96 DW−0.205 and %Nc = 3.65 DW−0.115 were determined for crisphead and butterhead lettuce, respectively. Based on these type-specific %Nc curves, the estimated N demand was 125 kg ha−1 in the butterhead and 80 kg ha−1 in the crisphead lettuce for producing 4.3 and 2.5 Mg ha−1 of DW, respectively, under Mediterranean climate. Neither N fertilization nor genotype affected crop productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable and Profitable Nitrogen Fertilization Management of Potato
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100582 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Nitrogen fertilization is indispensable to improving potato crop productivity, but there is a need to manage it suitably by looking at environmental sustainability. In a three-season experiment, we studied the effects of five nitrogen (N) fertilization rates: 0 (N0), 100 (N100), 200 (N200), [...] Read more.
Nitrogen fertilization is indispensable to improving potato crop productivity, but there is a need to manage it suitably by looking at environmental sustainability. In a three-season experiment, we studied the effects of five nitrogen (N) fertilization rates: 0 (N0), 100 (N100), 200 (N200), 300 (N300) and 400 (N400) kg N ha−1 on crop N uptake, apparent nitrogen recovery efficiency (ANRE), tuber yield, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), nitrogen uptake efficiency (NUpE), nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUtE) and agronomic nitrogen use efficiency (AgNUE) of five different potato cultivars: Daytona, Ninfa, Rubino, Sieglinde and Spunta. The economically optimum N fertilizer rates (EONFR) were also calculated. In seasons with high soil nitrogen availability for the crop (about 85 kg ha−1 of N), tuber yield increased only up to N100 and ANRE was about 50%; in seasons with medium (from 50 to 60 kg ha−1 of N) soil N availability, tuber yield increased up to N200 and ANRE was about 45%. Rubino and Sieglinde (early cultivars) responded for tuber yield only up to N100; Daytona, Ninfa, Spunta (late cultivars) up to N200, showing the highest values of NUE, NUpE, NUtE and AgNUE at N100. EONFR ranged from 176 to 268 kg ha−1 in relation to cultivar and season, but the reduction by 50% led to a tuber yield decrease of only around 16%. The adoption of cultivars characterized by high AgNUE at a low N rate and a soil nitrate test prior to planting, are effective tools to achieve a more sustainable and cost-effective nitrogen fertilization management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessArticle
Planting Density and Fertilization Evidently Influence the Fiber Yield of Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.)
Agronomy 2019, 9(7), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9070368 - 11 Jul 2019
Abstract
Hemp is one of the most important green (i.e., environmentally sustainable) fibers. Planting density, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) significantly affect the yield of hemp fiber. By optimizing the above main four cultivation factors is an important way to achieve sustainable [...] Read more.
Hemp is one of the most important green (i.e., environmentally sustainable) fibers. Planting density, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) significantly affect the yield of hemp fiber. By optimizing the above main four cultivation factors is an important way to achieve sustainable development of high-fiber yield hemp crops. In this study, the effects of individual factors and factor × factor interactions on the yield of hemp fiber over two trial years were investigated by the central composite design with four factors, namely planting density, nitrogen application, phosphorus application, and potassium application rate. The influences of these four test factors on the yield of hemp fibers were in the order nitrogen fertilizer (X2) > planting density (X1) > potassium fertilizer (X4) > phosphate fertilizer (X3). To obtain yields of hemp with high-quality fiber greater than 2200 kg ha−1, the optimal range of cultivation conditions were planting density 329,950–371,500 plants/ha, nitrogen application rate 251–273 kg ha−1, phosphorus application rate 85–95 kg ha−1, and potassium application rate 212–238 kg ha−1. This study can provide important technical and theoretical support for the high-yield cultivation of hemp fiber into the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Accelerating Genetic Gain in Sugarcane Breeding Using Genomic Selection
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040585 - 19 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Sugarcane is a major industrial crop cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is the primary source of sugar worldwide, accounting for more than 70% of world sugar consumption. Additionally, sugarcane is emerging as a source of sustainable bioenergy. However, [...] Read more.
Sugarcane is a major industrial crop cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is the primary source of sugar worldwide, accounting for more than 70% of world sugar consumption. Additionally, sugarcane is emerging as a source of sustainable bioenergy. However, the increase in productivity from sugarcane has been small compared to other major crops, and the rate of genetic gains from current breeding programs tends to be plateauing. In this review, some of the main contributors for the relatively slow rates of genetic gain are discussed, including (i) breeding cycle length and (ii) low narrow-sense heritability for major commercial traits, possibly reflecting strong non-additive genetic effects involved in quantitative trait expression. A general overview of genomic selection (GS), a modern breeding tool that has been very successfully applied in animal and plant breeding, is given. This review discusses key elements of GS and its potential to significantly increase the rate of genetic gain in sugarcane, mainly by (i) reducing the breeding cycle length, (ii) increasing the prediction accuracy for clonal performance, and (iii) increasing the accuracy of breeding values for parent selection. GS approaches that can accurately capture non-additive genetic effects and potentially improve the accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values are particularly promising for the adoption of GS in sugarcane breeding. Finally, different strategies for the efficient incorporation of GS in a practical sugarcane breeding context are presented. These proposed strategies hold the potential to substantially increase the rate of genetic gain in future sugarcane breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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Open AccessReview
Integrated Weed Management in Herbaceous Field Crops
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040466 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Current awareness about the environmental impact of intensive agriculture, mainly pesticides and herbicides, has driven the research community and the government institutions to program and develop new eco-friendly agronomic practices for pest control. In this scenario, integrated pest management and integrated weed management [...] Read more.
Current awareness about the environmental impact of intensive agriculture, mainly pesticides and herbicides, has driven the research community and the government institutions to program and develop new eco-friendly agronomic practices for pest control. In this scenario, integrated pest management and integrated weed management (IWM) have become mandatory. Weeds are commonly recognized as the most important biotic factor affecting crop production, especially in organic farming and low-input agriculture. In herbaceous field crops, comprising a wide diversity of plant species playing a significant economic importance, a compendium of the specific IWM systems is missing, that, on the contrary, have been developed for single species. The main goal of this review is to fill such gap by discussing the general principles and basic aspects of IWM to develop the most appropriate strategy for herbaceous field crops. In particular, a 4-step approach is proposed: (i) prevention, based on the management of the soil seedbank and the improvement of the crop competitiveness against weeds, (ii) weed mapping, aiming at knowing the biological and ecological characteristics of weeds present in the field, (iii) the decision-making process on the basis of the critical period of weed control and weed thresholds and iv) direct control (mechanical, physical, biological and chemical). Moreover, the last paragraph discusses and suggests possible integrations of allelopathic mechanisms in IWM systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbaceous Field Crops Cultivation)
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