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High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 December 2023) | Viewed by 9456

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Natural Resources Development & Agricultural Engineering, School of Environment and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Interests: food physics; food engineering; technology and modelling; food quality; food packaging and preservation; grain technology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Natural Resources Development and Agricultural Engineering, School of Environment and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, 75 Iera Odos Street, 11855 Athens, Greece
Interests: process control; computational intelligence; automation in agriculture; wireless sensor networks; microgrids’ management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Natural Resources Development and Agricultural Engineering, School of Environment and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, 75 Iera Odos Street, 11855 Athens, Greece
Interests: IoT networks; artificial intelligence; embedded systems; robotics; innovative systems in agriculture; engineering education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Under the light of the 5th Industrial Revolution the contemporary food production systems undergo a significant transformation from anthropocentric to machinocentric driven. Vast transformations have been carried out throughout the value food chain and in all the levels of Agri-Food systems. Information from all the levels of food production, from farm to fork, are mined based on intelligent sensor systems and forming big data platforms, are exploited in machine learning intelligent systems for undertaking decision making frameworks. The revolutionary electronics that are widely available assist, drastically, the decentralization of the processing and decision-making actions, at minimal cost levels. Robautomatic Agri-Food Systems and Fusion Techniques convey Agri-Food operations units steadily into the next Industrial Revolution Era. In such a fiercely changing scenario, it is absolutely essential 'workers' for all the different areas of the industry to have a space for the exchange of their views and ideas, something that will act as a driving force for further development of the Agri-Food operations systems.

This Special Issue will provide a platform for researchers to discuss and present their innovative work about the extent to which the limits of Agri-Food operations systems can be further shifted, in terms of autonomy, connectivity, efficiency, intelligence, reliability, sustainability, ease of control, and cost.

We invite you to contribute to this Issue by submitting comprehensive reviews, case studies, or research articles that focus on scientific methods, technological tools, application studies, and innovative statistical analyses, to provide an opportunity for learning the state-of-the-art and for the discussion of future directions in Operations Systems for the Agri-Food domain. Papers selected for this Special Issue are subject to a rigorous peer-review procedure with the aim of the rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Food Production and Security Monitoring;
  • Crop Production Systems and Handling;
  • Edge computing solutions for Agri-Food Systems;
  • Cloud computing solutions for Agri-Food Systems;
  • Artificial intelligence techniques for Agri-Food and Quality Assurance;
  • Enhanced automation/robotic systems and Agri-Food processes;
  • IoT applications for quality tracking in the farm to fork chain;
  • Augmented reality applications for food quality monitoring;
  • Fusion Techniques for Food Security and Quality Assurance;
  • Sensor Fusion and Embedded Systems in Agri-food Systems.

Dr. Georgios Xanthopoulos
Dr. Konstantinos G. Arvanitis
Dr. Dimitrios Loukatos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2400 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

  • agri-food system
  • food production
  • food security
  • food quality monitoring
  • high-end technologies

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 3459 KiB  
Article
Role of Drying Technologies on the Drying Kinetics, Physical Quality, Aroma, and Enzymatic Activity of Pineapple Slices
by Essodézam Sylvain Tiliwa, Isaac Duah Boateng, Cunshan Zhou and Baoguo Xu
Sustainability 2023, 15(22), 15906; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152215906 - 14 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1208
Abstract
With a loss of about 50% of fruits and vegetables annually, there is a continuous need to improve food handling from the farm to the consumer. The solution may come partially from the selection of proper processing techniques that produce healthy and high-quality [...] Read more.
With a loss of about 50% of fruits and vegetables annually, there is a continuous need to improve food handling from the farm to the consumer. The solution may come partially from the selection of proper processing techniques that produce healthy and high-quality sustainable food, preserve natural resources, and contribute to prospering local economies. Pineapple is one of the most consumed fruits worldwide due to its remarkable sensorial and health-promoting attributes. Nevertheless, pineapple’s high moisture content (81–86%) impedes its long-term preservation, resulting in product losses and economic, social, and environmental challenges. Drying is the oldest processing technique for most fruits and vegetables. However, the investigation of modern technologies, such as infrared drying of pineapple, is limited. Moreover, industries are investigating different methods to dry faster, thereby saving energy and reducing environmental impact. Hence, this study used four drying methods to dry pineapple slices to allow the estimation of the most promising technique: infrared drying (ID), freeze-drying (FD), convective drying (CD), and relative humidity convective drying (RHCD). The impact of these dehydration techniques on drying kinetics, physical attributes (color, texture, rehydration, microstructure), aroma, and enzymatic activity (polyphenol oxidase, peroxidase) were reported. The results showed that ID had the highest coefficient of effective moisture diffusivity and drying rates and the shortest drying period (33.45%, 36.18%, and 76.12% lower than CD, RHCD, and FD, respectively). Drying curves were successfully fitted with the parabolic and logarithmic models, which showed higher coefficients of determination and lower reduced chi-square and root mean square error than the Newton and inverse logarithmic models. FD and ID triggered minor browning indexes, leading to the brightest products. RHCD and ID slices had the highest textural values and aroma concentrations, while FD samples showed the lowest. However, FD samples had a higher rehydration ratio than other dried products and showed slight structural modifications. Regarding polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase inactivation, ID was superior, followed by CD, RHCD, and FD. The actual results suggest that infrared drying could be an efficient technique for the obtention of high-quality dehydrated pineapple fruits in a short time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
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17 pages, 2311 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Compost from Digestate as a Peat Substitute in Nursery for Olive and Hazelnut Trees
by Roberto Calisti, Luca Regni, Daniela Pezzolla, Mirko Cucina, Giovanni Gigliotti and Primo Proietti
Sustainability 2023, 15(1), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15010282 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2148
Abstract
This study deals jointly with three aspects of environmental, agricultural and energy sustainability: (a) Biogas is a booming energy source worldwide, resulting in an increasing production of digestate, its main by-product; (b) The extraction of peat, mainly used for nursery substrates, is being [...] Read more.
This study deals jointly with three aspects of environmental, agricultural and energy sustainability: (a) Biogas is a booming energy source worldwide, resulting in an increasing production of digestate, its main by-product; (b) The extraction of peat, mainly used for nursery substrates, is being banned due to the destruction of natural habitats and release of GHGs; (c) Compost can represent a replacement of peat and contributes to the containment of GHGs. This study has verified how a compost obtained from digestate can be used as a substitute for peat in the nursery sector. While previous studies have evaluated compost use on just one species at a time, this study compared the same compost on two very different species: olive tree and hazelnut tree, both with growing interest for new tree plantings. Two concentrations of compost in the potting substrate of nursery seedlings were evaluated: 30% and 45% by weight, measuring the effect on some growth parameters during the growing season. The trials showed responses positive for olive and substantially negative for hazelnut: olive trees manifested better growth parameters with 45% compost, as opposed to hazelnut, where the addition of 45% compost worsened all growth parameters. A general conclusion can be drawn: in the nursery sector, compost can be used to replace peat, but this replacement can almost never be 100 percent, having instead to calibrate the percentage of replacement according to the characteristics of the compost and the individual edaphic needs of the plant species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
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16 pages, 1645 KiB  
Article
Artichoke By-Products Valorization for Phenols-Enriched Fresh Egg Pasta: A Sustainable Food Design Project
by Tiziana Amoriello, Francesco Mellara, Stefania Ruggeri, Roberto Ciorba, Danilo Ceccarelli and Roberto Ciccoritti
Sustainability 2022, 14(22), 14778; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142214778 - 9 Nov 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1479
Abstract
More healthy and sustainable food are nowadays desirable to improve human health and protect the planet’s resources. From this perspective, the aim of this study is to investigate artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) by-products as a potential source of phenolic compounds and to [...] Read more.
More healthy and sustainable food are nowadays desirable to improve human health and protect the planet’s resources. From this perspective, the aim of this study is to investigate artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) by-products as a potential source of phenolic compounds and to use these compounds to design new fresh egg pasta formulation. Sustainable extraction was carried out using ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) and chemometric techniques, such as the Response Surface Methodology (RSM). UAE process parameters (temperature and time) and solvent composition (ethanol aqueous mixtures) were optimized using a three-level Box–Behnken design, in order to carry out the maximum yield in phenols. Under the optimal conditions (temperature: 60 °C; time: 60 min; solvent: 50% ethanol:water), the amount of phenolics (TPC) was 22.4 ± 0.2 mg GAE g−1 d.w., characterized mainly by dicaffeoylquinic acid (32.8 ± 0.6 mg CAE g−1 d.w.) and chlorogenic acid (14.1 ± 0.2 mg CAE g−1 d.w.). Hence, the polyphenols extract was used as an ingredient to design a new formulation of functional fresh egg pasta. Four recipes with soft wheat and semolina (P1 and P2) and with soft wheat alone (P3 and P4) were prepared. Compared with control pastas (P1 and P3), the enriched ones (P2 and P4) showed a higher polyphenol content, especially for P4 (1.86 ± 0.03 mg GAE g−1 d.w. for P1, 2.05 ± 0.02 mg GAE g−1 d.w. for P2, 1.92 ± 0.03 mg GAE g−1 d.w. for P3, 2.04 ± 0.02 mg GAE g−1 d.w. for P4). A high decrease in TPC was observed as a result of the cooking process, especially for the two control formulations (−71% for P1 and −70% for P3) in comparison with P2 (−64%) and P4 (−55%). At last, to assess the antimicrobial effect of artichoke by-products on fresh pasta and to monitor its spoilage, we used image analysis. Corresponding to a higher TPC content, P2 and P4 showed an extended shelf life of 16% and 33%, respectively, probably due to the antioxidant activity of artichoke. The new fresh egg pasta enriched with polyphenols extracted from artichoke by-products showed very good nutritional and technological characteristics, even after cooking, confirming the good potentiality of artichoke by-products in the design of new, healthy, and sustainable food products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
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9 pages, 1244 KiB  
Communication
Crop Harvesting Can Affect Habitat Selection of Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
by Bartłomiej Popczyk, Daniel Klich, Paweł Nasiadka, Maria Sobczuk, Wanda Olech, Piotr Kociuba, Krzysztof Gadkowski and Ludwik Purski
Sustainability 2022, 14(22), 14679; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142214679 - 8 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1798
Abstract
One of the basics of effectively managing a wild boar population is knowledge of its home range, spatial patterns, and habitat use. However, little is known about the reaction of wild boar to changes in the agricultural landscape during the time of harvesting. [...] Read more.
One of the basics of effectively managing a wild boar population is knowledge of its home range, spatial patterns, and habitat use. However, little is known about the reaction of wild boar to changes in the agricultural landscape during the time of harvesting. In this study, we assessed the impact of crop harvesting on habitat selection of wild boar. For this reason, we analyzed radio-collared animals in four summer months (from June to September) in an agricultural landscape in Poland. We analyzed the habitat selection by wild boar with a generalized linear model and Jacob’s selectivity index. The wild boar preference for arable land, pastures and the “other” category showed clear monthly dynamics. In contrast, a stable preference for forests and mosaics was observed throughout all months. The preference of wild boar to arable land dropped significantly in August, which we interpret as the impact of the harvest. We conclude that intensive agriculture contributes to significant changes in the frequency of wild boar in various habitats. This, however, does not apply to all habitats, because forest habitats are constantly visited by wild boar as their main daytime refuge. Moreover, extensive farming, although less attractive for wild boar, is rather neutral and does not alter the abundance of animals in habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
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12 pages, 290 KiB  
Article
Efficiency Analysis and Identification of Best Practices and Innovations in Dairy Sheep Farming
by Alexandros Theodoridis, Sotiria Vouraki, Emmanuel Morin, Georgia Koutouzidou and Georgios Arsenos
Sustainability 2022, 14(21), 13949; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142113949 - 27 Oct 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1797
Abstract
The adoption of the best practices is crucial for the survival of the dairy sheep farms that operate under extensive and/or semi-extensive systems. In this study, an efficiency analysis was implemented to reveal the best observed practices applied by the more efficient dairy [...] Read more.
The adoption of the best practices is crucial for the survival of the dairy sheep farms that operate under extensive and/or semi-extensive systems. In this study, an efficiency analysis was implemented to reveal the best observed practices applied by the more efficient dairy sheep farms. Data Envelopment Analysis was used on data from 60 dairy sheep farms that rear Manech or Basco-bearnaise, and Lacaune breeds under semi-extensive systems in France. The main characteristics of the most efficient farms are presented and a comparative economic analysis is applied between the fully efficient and less efficient farms, highlighting the optimal farm structure and determining the major cost drivers in sheep farming. The most efficient farmers provided information within the iSAGE Horizon 2020 project regarding the management practices that enhance their sustainability. The results show that there is room for improvement in semi-extensive dairy sheep farming. The most efficient farms rear smaller flocks than the less efficient farms and achieve higher milk yields. Fixed capital, labor, and feeding constitute the main cost drivers. Results show that farms should exploit economies of scale in the use of labor and infrastructure to reduce their cost per product, as well as their uptake practices and innovations, related mainly to modern breeding and reproduction methods, efficient feeding practices and digital technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-End Technologies for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems)
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