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Agriculture, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2022) – 125 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The application of modern processing technologies using biogenic waste materials has the potential to develop combined solutions for organic carbon and phosphorus problems of future food production. Sewage sludge-derived pyrogenic materials that are applied to the soil system contain notable levels of P (1–20%). However, only a small portion of total phosphorus is available for plants. Therefore, our study assessed pre-treatment of sewage sludge with Na2CO3 with subsequent pyrolysis of biomass at 400 and 500 °C for MPCM400 and MPCM500 production as a potential alternative for inorganic P-fertilizers. Obtained results showed that pyrogenic carbonaceous materials produced from sewage sludge represent a potential alternative of conventional P-inorganic fertilizers and organic C suppliers. View this paper.
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22 pages, 2221 KiB  
Article
Restoration of Degraded Lands in the Arid Zone of the European Part of Russia by the Method of Phytomelioration
by Marina Vladimirovna Vlasenko, Ludmila Petrovna Rybashlykova and Svetlana Yurievna Turko
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030437 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2683
Abstract
In arid areas, it is necessary to apply phytomelioration widely to create an organized, stable and ecologically well-maintained forest–agrarian landscape in which agricultural lands can provide diverse and stable products, and to provide optimum ecologyfor the existence of a natural and anthropogenic system. [...] Read more.
In arid areas, it is necessary to apply phytomelioration widely to create an organized, stable and ecologically well-maintained forest–agrarian landscape in which agricultural lands can provide diverse and stable products, and to provide optimum ecologyfor the existence of a natural and anthropogenic system. The aim of this work is to select shrub and herbaceous plant species for the restoration of degraded lands in the arid zone of the European part of Russia with the prospect of preserving and increasing the productivity of native biodiversity, and the structure and dynamics of pasture ecosystems. The object of this study is the desert and semi-desert zone in the south-east of the European part of Russia within the Caspian lowland. The productivity of vegetation in the studied zone is largely determined by soil conditions, seasonal weather phenomena and animal grazing. The lowest forage productivity is characterized by the winter period with very strongly beaten white-field-grain pastures on unsalted, weakly- and medium-salted light chestnut soils; very strongly beaten bulbous-bluegrass-white-field pastures on saline deep, medium and strongly saline light chestnut soils; or medium-beaten black-wormwood and bulbous-bluegrass-black-wormwood pastures on small and crusty salt flats. The highest productivity is observed in the spring-summer period on unbroken areas of unsalted, weakly and medium saline light chestnut soils occupied by white-field cereal phytocenoses. The intensity of transpiration of perennial forage grasses growing on sandy loam soils of the dry steppe zone was measured. The analysis of biomorphological features of native forage species resistant to climate change and pasture load, and promising for phytomeliorative reconstruction of degraded pastures include: ecotypes of the genus Artemisia (A. pauciflora, A. Lercheana) and the genus Agropyron (A. cristatum, A. fragile, A. pectinatum), growing on various soils in natural conditions in the south-east of the European part of Russia. It was revealed that the seed productivity of Agropyron varieties varies within 0.5–4.0 c/ha depending on the variety, the method of sowing and climatic conditions of the year. To increase seed productivity, wide-row sowing with row spacing widths of 45 and 70 cm is promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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22 pages, 7042 KiB  
Article
Energy Saving Performance of Agricultural Tractor Equipped with Mechanic-Electronic-Hydraulic Powertrain System
by Zhen Zhu, Yanpeng Yang, Dongqing Wang, Yingfeng Cai and Longhui Lai
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 436; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030436 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3527
Abstract
Tractors are usually applied in field operations, road transport, and other operations. Modern agriculture has higher design requirements for tractor powertrains due to the complicated working environments and various operations. To meet the driving requirements of the tractor under multiple operations, a mechanic-electronic-hydraulic [...] Read more.
Tractors are usually applied in field operations, road transport, and other operations. Modern agriculture has higher design requirements for tractor powertrains due to the complicated working environments and various operations. To meet the driving requirements of the tractor under multiple operations, a mechanic-electronic-hydraulic powertrain system (MEH-PS) for tractors has been designed according to the characteristics of the hydro-mechanical composite transmission and electromechanical hybrid system. The principle of multiple driven and transmission modes of MEH-PS are introduced, the speed regulation characteristic curve of hydro-mechanical transmission (HMT) is given, and the related power element model, tractor model, and efficiency model are established. The HMT optimal economy transmission ratio control strategy and hybrid rule-based optimization energy management strategy were developed. Take three typical tractor operations for analysis: ploughing, harvesting, and transport. The results show that the engine operating points are mainly distributed in the higher load area, the tractor maintains high system efficiency, and the relative error between simulated and tested fuel consumption is within 5%, which further proves the reliability of the model. The solution also showed lower fuel consumption in all three operations compared to DLG’s announced PowerShift tractors and CVT tractors. Thus, the powertrain system can meet the tractor’s drive requirements under complex operating conditions and maintain high efficiency and is therefore suitable for tractors that need to operate frequently in the field and on the road. Full article
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14 pages, 5579 KiB  
Article
Investigation into Experimental and DEM Simulation of Guide Blade Optimum Arrangement in Multi-Rotor Combine Harvesters
by Zhenwei Liang, Jun Li, Jianmin Liang, Yifan Shao, Tengfei Zhou, Zengyong Si and Yaoming Li
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030435 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1947
Abstract
The cleaning performance of the cleaning shoe of a multi-rotor combine harvester has proven to be poor owing to the threshed output entering the cleaning section in an uneven manner. Experimental results indicated that the arrangement of the guide blades on the return [...] Read more.
The cleaning performance of the cleaning shoe of a multi-rotor combine harvester has proven to be poor owing to the threshed output entering the cleaning section in an uneven manner. Experimental results indicated that the arrangement of the guide blades on the return plate surface has a significant effect on the threshed output distribution. In this paper, DEM (discrete element method) simulations were carried out in the EDEM software to examine the effect of the height of the guide blade, the installation angle, and the number of guide blades on threshed output distribution before entering the cleaning shoe. Based on the simulated results under different guide blades arrangements, the optimum arrangement location was obtained. The simulation’s results were verified by a field experiment and were consistent with the experimental results. The field experiment results indicate that the cleaning performance significantly improved with the proper guide blade arrangement. The corresponding grain impurity ratio declined significantly from 1.26% to 0.67%, and the grain sieve loss ratio, with a decrease of 53.2%, was reduced from 1.11% to 0.52%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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15 pages, 3288 KiB  
Article
Single- and Multiple-Adulterants Determinations of Goat Milk Powder by NIR Spectroscopy Combined with Chemometric Algorithms
by Xin Zhao, Yunpeng Wang, Xin Liu, Hongzhe Jiang, Zhilei Zhao, Xiaoying Niu, Chunhua Li, Bin Pang and Yanlei Li
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 434; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030434 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2859
Abstract
In this work, we quantified goat milk powder adulteration by adding urea, melamine, and starch individually and simultaneously, with the utilization of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics. For single-adulterant samples, the successive projections algorithm (SPA) selected three, three, and four optimal [...] Read more.
In this work, we quantified goat milk powder adulteration by adding urea, melamine, and starch individually and simultaneously, with the utilization of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics. For single-adulterant samples, the successive projections algorithm (SPA) selected three, three, and four optimal wavelengths for urea, melamine, and starch, respectively. Models were built based on partial least squares regression (PLS) and the selected wavelengths, exhibiting good predictive ability with an Rp2 above 0.987 and an RMSEP below 0.403%. For multiple-adulterants samples, PLS2 and multivariate curve resolution alternating least squares (MCR-ALS) were adopted to build the models to quantify the three adulterants simultaneously. The PLS2 results showed adequate precision and results better than those of MCR-ALS. Except for urea, MCR-ALS models presented good predictive results for milk, melamine, and starch concentrations. MCR-ALS allowed detection of adulteration with new and unknown substitutes as well as the development of models without the need for the usage of a large data set. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Applied to Agricultural Products)
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27 pages, 5586 KiB  
Article
A Fast Analysis of Pesticide Spray Dispersion by an Agricultural Aircraft Very near the Ground
by Ji King, Xinyu Xue, Weixiang Yao and Zhen Jin
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030433 - 21 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2533
Abstract
This study provides a fast analysis of pesticide spray trails and dispersion influenced by crosswind, headwind, velocity field and the wake of an agricultural aircraft approaching the ground, to improve operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The lifting line-wingtip vortices mixture model is [...] Read more.
This study provides a fast analysis of pesticide spray trails and dispersion influenced by crosswind, headwind, velocity field and the wake of an agricultural aircraft approaching the ground, to improve operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The lifting line-wingtip vortices mixture model is proposed to calculate induced velocity field around a monoplane far to 190 wingspans downstream, and N-vortex system based on point vortex dynamics is applied to simulate vortex rebound and vortex motion on considering extreme ground effect. The droplet trajectories governed by wake vortices and their induced velocity field are therefore determined under the Lagrangian framework. According to the ground deposition of typical droplets, the Gaussian mixture model is employed to predict droplet drift or dispersal for the whole spectrum of droplets in the spanwise direction. The fast analysis is compared to AGDISP and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation for Thrush 510G aircraft, which runs on a common personal computer (CPU 2 GHz, memory 2 GB) within 3.2 s, faster than AGDISP and CFD, and does not rely on swath width input needed by AGDISP. The results suggest crosswind speed and droplet size are two leading factors affecting the drift and ground deposition. To increase droplet size or reduce the portion of fine droplets, the pesticide drift can be suppressed in some degrees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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15 pages, 1886 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Soil Organic Carbon Stocks Evolution in Two Olive Orchards with Different Planting Systems in Southern Spain
by José A. Gómez, Lizardo Reyna-Bowen, Pilar Fernández Rebollo and María-Auxiliadora Soriano
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030432 - 20 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2663
Abstract
This study presents an evaluation of soil organic carbon (SOC) and stock (SOCstock) for the whole rooting depth (60 cm), spaced 55 months in two adjacent olive orchards with similar conditions but different tree densities: (i) intensive, planted in 1996 at [...] Read more.
This study presents an evaluation of soil organic carbon (SOC) and stock (SOCstock) for the whole rooting depth (60 cm), spaced 55 months in two adjacent olive orchards with similar conditions but different tree densities: (i) intensive, planted in 1996 at 310 tree ha−1; (ii) superintensive, planted in 2000 at 1850 tree ha−1. This was carried out to test the hypothesis that olive orchards at different plant densities will have different rates of accumulation of SOC in the whole soil rooting depth. SOC increased significantly in the superintensive orchard during the 55-month period, from 1.1 to 1.6% in the lane area, and from 1.2 to 1.7% in the tree area (average 0–60 cm), with a significant increase in SOCstock from 4.7 to 6.1 kg m−2. In the intensive orchard, there was not a significant increase in SOCstock in 0–60 cm, average of 4.06 and 4.16 kg m−2 in 2013 and 2018, respectively. Results indicate a potential for a significant increase in SOC and SOCstock in olive orchards at higher tree densities when combined with temporary cover crops and mulch of chopped pruning residues. The increase is associated with an increase in SOC, mainly at a 0–15 cm depth. Results also point to the need for improve our monitoring capabilities to detect moderate increases in SOC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Carbon and Nitrogen in Agricultural Systems)
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13 pages, 316 KiB  
Review
Immunological Response during Pregnancy in Humans and Mares
by Aleksandra Figarska and Olga Witkowska-Piłaszewicz
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030431 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2661
Abstract
The immunology of pregnancy deals with the immune responses of a mother and her fetus to each other. More knowledge has been acquired over the last decade to give insight into the complicated immunological processes that help the developing fetus to survive in [...] Read more.
The immunology of pregnancy deals with the immune responses of a mother and her fetus to each other. More knowledge has been acquired over the last decade to give insight into the complicated immunological processes that help the developing fetus to survive in most circumstances. During this unusual state, the mother’s immune system must remain tolerant to paternal major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens while retaining normal immunological competence for pathogen defense, which is a difficult act. In the last decade, numerous processes have been revealed that may explain why the mother does not reject the foreign fetus. To understand how these processes work, the need to look at both fetal and maternal aspects, including trophoblast cell characteristics, local maternal factors, and changed MHC class I expression, is required. Horses, because of their unique anatomy and physiology, are a very useful animal model in pregnancy immunology research. In pregnant mares, chorionic girdle cells generate cytotoxic antibodies to paternal MHC class I antigens, enabling a more in-depth study of these invasive trophoblasts and their effect on the mother’s immune system. Therefore, this review will concentrate on the immune response during pregnancy in both humans and horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
22 pages, 995 KiB  
Article
Web-Based Integer Programming Decision Support System for Walnut Processing Planning: The MeliFen Case
by Carlos F. Brunner-Parra, Luis A. Croquevielle-Rendic, Carlos A. Monardes-Concha, Bryan A. Urra-Calfuñir, Elbio L. Avanzini and Tomás Correa-Vial
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030430 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3129
Abstract
Chile is among the largest walnut producers and exporters globally, thanks to a favorable nut growth and production environment. Despite an increasingly competitive market, the literature offers little scientific advice regarding decision support systems (DSSs) for the nut sector. In particular, the literature [...] Read more.
Chile is among the largest walnut producers and exporters globally, thanks to a favorable nut growth and production environment. Despite an increasingly competitive market, the literature offers little scientific advice regarding decision support systems (DSSs) for the nut sector. In particular, the literature does not present optimization approaches to support decision-making in walnut supply chain management, especially the processing planning. This work provides a DSS that allows the exporter to plan walnut processing decisions taking into account the quality of the raw material, such as size, color, variety, and external and internal defects, in order to maximize the benefits of the business. To formalize the problem, an integer programming model is proposed. The DSS was implemented via a web application for MeliFen, a walnut exporter located near Santiago, Chile. A comparative analysis of the last two years revealed that MeliFen increased its profit by approximately 9.8% using this tool. We also suggest other uses that this DSS provides, besides profit maximization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Decision Support Systems in Agriculture)
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16 pages, 1274 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Antagonistic Effect of Pseudomonas Rhizobacteria on Fusarium Wilt of Chickpea
by Meriem Wafaa Khalifa, Noureddine Rouag and Mariem Bouhadida
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030429 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2750
Abstract
This study aimed to isolate rhizobacteria belonging to the genus Pseudomonas with plant-growth-promoting properties that can be used in the control of chickpea wilt disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceris (Foc). The production of antifungal compounds by the isolated rhizobacteria was [...] Read more.
This study aimed to isolate rhizobacteria belonging to the genus Pseudomonas with plant-growth-promoting properties that can be used in the control of chickpea wilt disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceris (Foc). The production of antifungal compounds by the isolated rhizobacteria was assessed against two Foc isolates, coded Foc-S1 and Foc-S2. Strains E1FP13, E1FP4, and E1PP7 were the most effective against Foc-S1, with percentages of 52.77%, 48.37%, and 47.97%, respectively, while E1PP6, E1FP13, and E1PP15 were the most effective against Foc-S2 with percentages of 52.20%, 52.09%, and 45.38%, respectively. All five isolates were identified as Pseudomonas species using 16S rRNA sequencing. The microscopic examination of the impact of the Pseudomonas strains on Foc revealed that all five strains caused morphological changes in Foc, such as granulation and condensation of the cytoplasm, fragmentation, and deformation of the hyphae. The strains produced several plant-growth-promoting compounds, such as cellulase, hydrogen cyanide, indole acetic acid, ammonia, siderophores, lipase, protease, and solubilized phosphate. They were also able to significantly increase chickpea growth and reduce wilt disease, with E1FP13 resulting in the highest disease reductions of 55.77% (Foc-S1) and 53.33% (Foc-S2). The results revealed that our isolates can make promising biocontrol agents for controlling chickpea wilt disease. Full article
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18 pages, 5170 KiB  
Article
Drip-Tape-Following Approach Based on Machine Vision for a Two-Wheeled Robot Trailer in Strip Farming
by Chung-Liang Chang, Hung-Wen Chen, Yung-Hsiang Chen and Chang-Chen Yu
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030428 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3076
Abstract
Due to the complex environment in the field, using machine vision technology to enable the robot to travel autonomously was a challenging task. This study investigates a method based on mathematical morphology and Hough transformation for drip tape following by a two-wheeled robot [...] Read more.
Due to the complex environment in the field, using machine vision technology to enable the robot to travel autonomously was a challenging task. This study investigates a method based on mathematical morphology and Hough transformation for drip tape following by a two-wheeled robot trailer. First, an image processing technique was utilized to extract the drip tape in the image, including the selection of the region of interest (ROI), Red-Green-Blue (RGB) to Hue-Saturation-Value (HSV) color space conversion, color channel selection, Otsu’s binarization, and morphological operations. The line segments were obtained from the extracted drip tapes image by a Hough line transform operation. Next, the deviation angle between the line segment and the vertical line in the center of the image was estimated through the two-dimensional law of cosines. The steering control system could adjust the rotation speed of the left and right wheels of the robot to reduce the deviation angle, so that the robot could stably travel along the drip tape, including turning. The guiding performance was evaluated on the test path formed by a drip tape in the field. The experimental results show that the proposed method could achieve an average line detection rate of 97.3% and an average lateral error of 2.6 ± 1.1 cm, which was superior to other drip-tape-following methods combined with edge detection, such as Canny and Laplacian. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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23 pages, 8312 KiB  
Article
Optimizing the In-Vessel Composting Process of Sugarbeet Dry-Cleaning Residue
by Said Elshahat Abdallah, Yasser S. A. Mazrou, Tamer Elsakhawy, Reda Elgarhy, Adel H. Elmetwalli, Salah Elsayed and Wael M. Elmessery
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030427 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1990
Abstract
Rapid urbanization and industrialization around the world have created massive amounts of organic residues, which have been prioritized for conversion into valuable resources through the composting process to keep their harmful effect at a minimum. This research aimed to assess the influence of [...] Read more.
Rapid urbanization and industrialization around the world have created massive amounts of organic residues, which have been prioritized for conversion into valuable resources through the composting process to keep their harmful effect at a minimum. This research aimed to assess the influence of active and passive aeration on composting mass of sugar beet residues in the case of using additives (e.g., charcoal only or manure only or combination). Some physicochemical properties of composting mass were analyzed on certain days of composting. Some parameters including temperature–time profile, carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N ratio), moisture content, electrical conductivity, pH, germination and microbial population enumeration of compost were measured. Cress germination test was conducted for each medium of germination which contains a mixture of soil and compost (at a ratio of 3:1) taken from each treatment. The results showed that temperature–time profile data of composting mass showed an irregularity. Forcedly aerated composting mass did not demonstrate a thermophilic phase while passively aerated ones did not show a mesophilic phase. Carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio reduction was greater in most forcedly aerated composting mass than passively aerated on days from 1 to 33 of composting period. The results further showed that electrical conductivity decreased at the end of the composting period where it ranged from 2.55 to 3.1 dS/m. Germination medium containing forcedly aerated compost treated with a combination of charcoal and manure achieved the highest germination index which was higher than the control sample by 58.63% followed by forcedly aerated composting mass treated by charcoal only which exceeded the control sample by 5.35%. Strong correlation coefficient (r > 0.80) for the relationship between germination index and number of bacteria was obtained on day 17th of composting period. Full article
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12 pages, 2623 KiB  
Article
Modeling of Border Irrigation in Soils with the Presence of a Shallow Water Table. I: The Advance Phase
by Sebastián Fuentes and Carlos Chávez
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030426 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2300
Abstract
The overelevation of the water table in surface irrigation plots is one of the main factors affecting salinization in agricultural soils. Therefore, it is necessary to develop simulation models that consider the effect of a shallow water table in the process of advance-infiltration [...] Read more.
The overelevation of the water table in surface irrigation plots is one of the main factors affecting salinization in agricultural soils. Therefore, it is necessary to develop simulation models that consider the effect of a shallow water table in the process of advance-infiltration of the water in an irrigation event. This paper, the first in a series of three, develops a simple mathematical model for the advance phase of border irrigation in soils with the presence of a shallow water table. In this study, the hydrodynamic model of the Barré de Saint-Venant equations is used for the water surface flow, and the equations are solved using a Lagrangian finite-differences scheme, while in the subsurface flow, an analytical solution for infiltration in soils with a shallow water table is found using the bisection method to search for roots. In addition, a hydraulic resistance law is used that eliminates the numerical instabilities presented by the Manning–Strickler law. The model results for difference irrigation tests show adjustments with an R2 > 0.98 for the cases presented. It is also revealed that, when increasing the time step, the precision is maintained, and it is possible to reduce the computation time by up to 99.45%. Finally, the model proposed here is recommended for studying the advance process during surface irrigation in soils with shallow water tables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Saving Irrigation Technology and Strategies for Crop Production)
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5 pages, 193 KiB  
Editorial
Integrated Pest Management of Field Crops
by Renata Bažok
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030425 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2929
Abstract
The Special Issue “Integrated Pest Management of Field Crops” contains eight original research articles and two review articles dealing with different aspects of IPM in some of the major field crops, including Potato [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Pest Management of Field Crops)
3 pages, 186 KiB  
Editorial
The Agricultural Cooperative in the Face of the Challenges of Globalization, Sustainability and Digitalization
by Adoración Mozas Moral and Domingo Fernández Uclés
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030424 - 18 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2792
Abstract
The enormous contribution of agricultural cooperative societies to the rural world has not gone unnoticed [...] Full article
12 pages, 3856 KiB  
Article
Functional Trait Diversity Shapes the Biomass in the Dam-Induced Riparian Zone
by Yanfeng Wang, Shengjun Wu, Ying Liu, Xiaohong Li and Jing Zhang
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030423 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1996
Abstract
The construction of dams has caused a serious decline in riparian ecosystem functioning and associated services. It is crucial to assess the response of riparian plant communities to flooding stress for their conservation. Functional traits composition, functional diversity, and species diversity are commonly [...] Read more.
The construction of dams has caused a serious decline in riparian ecosystem functioning and associated services. It is crucial to assess the response of riparian plant communities to flooding stress for their conservation. Functional traits composition, functional diversity, and species diversity are commonly used to investigate the effect of abiotic stress on ecosystem functioning and services (i.e., biomass). Yet, how the functional traits respond to the flooding stress along a dam-induced riparian habitat remains unclear, and how biodiversity affects biomass still exists controversy. Accordingly, this study investigated the response strategies of functional traits subjected to the flooding stress and its correlation with aboveground biomass (AGB) in the water level fluctuation zone (WLFZ) of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR). We found that leaf traits and root traits showed a significant response to elevation, whereas they demonstrated different distribution patterns. Leaf traits showed acquisitive-conservative-acquisitive resource strategies along the flooding stress, while root traits shifted from species conservative resource to acquisitive resource strategies. AGB was found to be positively related to the community weighted mean (CWM) trait values for leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and negatively related to specific leaf area (SLA), but the AGB showed no relationship with the root traits. AGB accumulated greatly in the intermediate species diversity, and we also found a significant relationship between functional diversity and biomass within threshold values. Additionally, Rao’s exerted the most significant influence on the biomass, suggesting that the functional diversity index is a better indicator of biomass variation. The results obtained only partly supported the “mass ratio hypothesis” in leaf traits and mainly supported the “niche complementarity hypothesis”, which suggested that these two theories are not mutually exclusive at the early stage of vegetation community succession with an unstable community structure in dam-regulated riparian zones. Full article
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10 pages, 1224 KiB  
Article
Differential Physiological Response and Antioxidant Activity Relative to High-Power Micro-Waves Irradiation and Temperature of Tomato Sprouts
by Audrius Radzevičius, Sandra Sakalauskienė, Mindaugas Dagys, Rimantas Simniškis, Rasa Karklelienė, Danguolė Juškevičienė, Roma Račkienė and Aušra Brazaitytė
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030422 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1796
Abstract
Among the various types of stress, microwaves and temperature can induce major impacts on plant growth. There is information describing the thermal impact of microwaves on living organisms, but it is necessary to segregate the warming effect and direct impact of microwaves irradiation [...] Read more.
Among the various types of stress, microwaves and temperature can induce major impacts on plant growth. There is information describing the thermal impact of microwaves on living organisms, but it is necessary to segregate the warming effect and direct impact of microwaves irradiation on plants. It was detected that High Power Microwaves (HPM) (9.3 GHz) and elevated temperature exposure upon tomato seeds and sprouts in primary ontogenetic stages showed a slightly incentive effect on plant-growing indicators such as dry mass, fresh mass, plants height, and assimilation area. Such a positive effect on plant growing parameters could be related to saccharides distribution by microwaves in seeds or plants and nutrients mobilization. Moreover, tomato plants (+R) and seeds (R) irradiation significantly reduced the content of non-structural carbohydrates (raphinose, glucose, fructose, and sucrose). Obtained results confirm that a common plant acclimatization response to various environmental elements is the concentration of secondary metabolites and antioxidants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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11 pages, 601 KiB  
Article
Microbiological and Toxicological Evaluation of Fermented Forages
by Cintia Adácsi, Szilvia Kovács, István Pócsi, Zoltán Győri, Zsuzsanna Dombrádi and Tünde Pusztahelyi
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030421 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2174
Abstract
Several feed preservation methods can ensure lower mycotoxin contamination levels enter the food life cycle, and a relatively common wet preservation method of forage plant materials is fermentation. This study aimed to characterize the microbiological state and mycotoxin contamination of fermented silages and [...] Read more.
Several feed preservation methods can ensure lower mycotoxin contamination levels enter the food life cycle, and a relatively common wet preservation method of forage plant materials is fermentation. This study aimed to characterize the microbiological state and mycotoxin contamination of fermented silages and haylages (corn, alfalfa, rye, and triticale), their main microbiota, and isolation of bacteria with mycotoxin resistance. Bacteria that remain viable throughout the fermentation process and possess high mycotoxin resistance can have a biotechnological benefit. Lactic acid bacteria, primarily found in corn silage, were Lactiplantibacillus plantarum isolates. Meanwhile, a high percentage of alfalfa silage and haylage was characterized by Lactiplantibacillus pentosus. In rye silage and haylage samples, Pediococci were the typical bacteria. Bacterial isolates were characterized by deoxynivalenol and zearalenon resistance. Some of them were sensitive to aflatoxin B1, while ochratoxin A caused 33–86% growth inhibition of the cultures. The mycotoxin resistant organisms are under further research, aiming for mycotoxin elimination in feed. Full article
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14 pages, 1394 KiB  
Article
Effects of Dietary Natural Mycotoxins Exposure on Performance, Biochemical Parameters and Milk Small Molecule Metabolic Pathways of Lactating Cows
by Xufang Wu, Liya Guo, Guoxin Huang, Wenhao Tang, Shengguo Zhao, Jiaqi Wang and Yangdong Zhang
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030420 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2300
Abstract
The presence of mycotoxins in feed has the potential to cause significant detriment to animal and human health, and even severe economic implications. Previous studies on the effects of mycotoxins mainly focused on the addition of commercially available mycotoxins into feeds in animals. [...] Read more.
The presence of mycotoxins in feed has the potential to cause significant detriment to animal and human health, and even severe economic implications. Previous studies on the effects of mycotoxins mainly focused on the addition of commercially available mycotoxins into feeds in animals. In the present study, corn meal and cottonseed were kept in warm and humid conditions to allow for mycotoxins produced and then used to substitute 50% and 100% of normal corn meal and cottonseed in diets for lactating cows for 14 days. The results showed that aflatoxin M1, deoxynivalenol, aflatoxin B1, and zearalenone were primary mycotoxins in milk from cows fed the diets. Compared with the control group, feeding the diets containing mildewy corn meal and cottonseed reduced feed intake, milk yield, and milk fat, protein and lactose productions (p > 0.05). No significant difference was observed in the acetate and valerate concentrations, acetate to propionate ratio, and the calculated CH4 production in rumen fluid (p > 0.05), whereas, the propionate, butyrate, isovalerate concentrations were affected (p < 0.05) depending on the content and type of natural mycotoxins. Serum creatinine and total glyceride concentrations were influenced with corn meal and cottonseed fully replaced with the mildewy feeds. Metabolic pathways for small molecule metabolites in milk were altered by dietary mycotoxin exposures, and the changes were mainly associated with amino acid metabolism, glucose metabolism, and energy metabolism. However, cows exposed to natural mycotoxins in the diets were still in healthy conditions and had low somatic cell count in milk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Nutrition and Milk Quality)
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14 pages, 1609 KiB  
Article
Self-Sufficiency Assessment: Defining the Foodshed Spatial Signature of Supply Chains for Beef in Avignon, France
by Michel Mouléry, Esther Sanz Sanz, Marta Debolini, Claude Napoléone, Didier Josselin, Luc Mabire and José Luis Vicente-Vicente
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030419 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2539
Abstract
Foodshed approaches allow for the assessment of the theoretical food self-sufficiency capacity of a specific region based on biophysical conditions. Recent analyses show that the focus needs to be shifted from foodshed size portrayed as an isotropic circle to a commodity–group-specific spatial configuration [...] Read more.
Foodshed approaches allow for the assessment of the theoretical food self-sufficiency capacity of a specific region based on biophysical conditions. Recent analyses show that the focus needs to be shifted from foodshed size portrayed as an isotropic circle to a commodity–group-specific spatial configuration of the foodshed that takes into account the socio-economic and biophysical conditions essential to the development of local food supply chains. We focused on a specific animal product (beef) and used an innovative modeling approach based on spatial analysis to detect the areas of the foodshed dedicated to beef feeding (forage, pasture, and grassland), considering the foodshed as a complex of complementary areas called an archipelago. We used available statistical data including a census to address the city-region of Avignon, France covering a 100 km radius. Our results showed that the factors driving the use of short supply chains for beef feeding areas are the foodshed archipelago’s number of patches, the connectivity between them, and the rugosity of the boundaries. In addition, our beef self-sufficiency assessment results differ depending on geographical context. For instance, being located within the perimeters of a nature park seems to help orient beef production toward short supply chains. We discuss possible leverage for public action to reconnect beef production areas to consumption areas (the city) via short supply chains (e.g., green, home-grown school food programs) to increase local food security through increased local food self-sufficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconnecting People with Nature through Agriculture)
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11 pages, 2589 KiB  
Article
Effect of Stocking Density on Behavior and Pen Cleanliness of Grouped Growing Pigs
by Yaqiong Zeng, Hao Wang, Rongdan Ruan, Yongzhen Li, Zuohua Liu, Chaoyuan Wang and Anfang Liu
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030418 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2308
Abstract
In recent years, animal cleanliness during production has gradually attracted increasing attention. Although pigs by nature tend to excrete in dark and humid corners, in the prevalent highly intensive pig production, excessive stocking density often restricts the ability of pigs to excrete at [...] Read more.
In recent years, animal cleanliness during production has gradually attracted increasing attention. Although pigs by nature tend to excrete in dark and humid corners, in the prevalent highly intensive pig production, excessive stocking density often restricts the ability of pigs to excrete at designated points, thereby leading to pollution of the pens. To study the effect of stocking density on pen cleanliness and the relevant pig behavior, a total of 216 Landrace × Yorkshire × Duroc hybrid pigs were randomly grouped at 0.5, 0.7, or 0.9 m2 per pig at 59 ± 3 days of age. The temporal and spatial distributions of lying and excreting behavior of pigs were monitored on days 1, 7, and 35 after transfer, and the cleanliness of pig pens under three stocking densities was scored. The results showed that there were no significant differences in excreting or lying time rhythms among the three treatments. In the initial and stable periods of group transfer, the excretion rate of pigs on slatted floors was significantly higher than that on solid floors at 0.9 m2/pig (p < 0.01). During the group stabilization stage and at the end of the experiment, the lying rate of pigs on solid floors under 0.9 m2/pig was 10.81%, that is, 7.43% higher than that of 0.7 m2/pig, and the differences were significant. Judging from the pollution score of the solid floors, the three stocking densities all showed more serious pollution at the corners, and the pollution score of the pens with a density of 0.9 m2/pig was lower than that of the pens with a density of 0.5 and 0.7 m2/pig. The analysis of whether pigs had corresponding behaviors in specific functional areas showed that pigs at a density of 0.9 m2/pig had a 10.14% lower lying rate on slatted floors (the expected excretion area) than on solid floors, whereas the densities of 0.5 and 0.7 m2/pig showed the opposite pattern. Pigs at a density of 0.9 m2/pig had lower excretion rates in both corners of the solid floors (the desired lying area) than that of the 0.5 m2/pig group (p < 0.05) and 0.7 m2/pig group (p > 0.05). These results indicate that when the effective occupied space of pigs was larger, specific behaviors were more likely to occur in the set functional areas, and the cleanliness of the pen was higher. Under the conditions of this experiment, the recommended stocking density for growing pigs was 0.9 m2/pig. Of course, a larger space may be more beneficial to animal health and welfare, but the economic costs must also be considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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24 pages, 4060 KiB  
Article
Impacts of Soil and Water Conservation Practice on Soil Moisture in Debre Mewi and Sholit Watersheds, Abbay Basin, Ethiopia
by Bekele Bedada Damtie, Daniel Ayalew Mengistu, Daniel Kassahun Waktola and Derege Tsegaye Meshesha
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030417 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2986
Abstract
Soil and water conservation (SWC) practices have been widely implemented to reduce surface runoff in the Debre Mewi watershed. However, studies on the issue have disproportionately focused on the lost or preserved soils, expressed in tons per hectare, while the impacts on the [...] Read more.
Soil and water conservation (SWC) practices have been widely implemented to reduce surface runoff in the Debre Mewi watershed. However, studies on the issue have disproportionately focused on the lost or preserved soils, expressed in tons per hectare, while the impacts on the lost or preserved moisture were inadequately addressed. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of soil and water conservation practice on soil moisture in the Debre Mewi and Sholit watersheds, Abbay basin, Ethiopia. We compared soil moisture between the treated (Debre Mewi) and the untreated (Sholit) watersheds with SWCs, based on Sentinel-1A data and the field-measured soil moisture, Leaf Area Index (LAI), and water cloud model (WCM). Field-measurement was based on satellite-synchronized 63 soil moisture samples, systematically collected from the two treatment slope positions, two treatment positions, and two depths. We employed ANOVA to compare samples and discern patterns along space and time. The result indicated that the LAI, a predictor of crop yield, was higher in the SWC treated watershed, demonstrating the potential of conserving moisture for boosting crop production. In addition, the results reveal that the higher soil moisture was recorded on the grasslands of the treated watershed at a depth of 15–30 cm, while the lowest was from croplands and eucalyptus trees at 0–15 cm depth. A higher correlation was observed between the measured and estimated soil moisture across three stages of crop development. The soil moisture estimation using WCM from the Sentinel-1 satellite data gives promising results with good correlation (R2 = 0.69, 0.43 and 0.75, RMSE = 0.16, 2.24 and 0.02, and in Sholit (0.7539, 0.933, and 0.3673 and the RMSEs are 0.17%, 0.02%, and 1.02%) for different dates: August, September, and November 2020, respectively. We conclude that in the face of climate change-induced rainfall variability in tropical countries, predicted to elongate the dry spell during the cropping season, the accurate measurement of soil moistures with the mix of satellite and in-situ data could support rain-fed agriculture planning and assist in fine-tuning the climate adaptation measures at the local and regional scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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12 pages, 833 KiB  
Article
Selection and Fitting of Mixed Models in Sugarcane Yield Trials
by Josafhat Salinas-Ruíz, Sandra Luz Hernández-Valladolid, Juan Valente Hidalgo-Contreras and Juan Manuel Romero-Padilla
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030416 - 16 Mar 2022
Viewed by 2338
Abstract
Mixed models are a useful tool for the analysis of sugarcane field trials in which sugarcane varieties are allocated in different locations and phenotypic traits are evaluated in the same experimental unit (plot) over time. One challenge to analyze these data is how [...] Read more.
Mixed models are a useful tool for the analysis of sugarcane field trials in which sugarcane varieties are allocated in different locations and phenotypic traits are evaluated in the same experimental unit (plot) over time. One challenge to analyze these data is how to build a good mixed model when no experimental design is planned, because all sugarcane varieties in the area of influence of a sugar mill are planted in different years due to the age of the crop and there is no spatial information on all plots. The aim of this research was to examine and to determine the most appropriate mixed model for estimating cane stalk yield of sugarcane varieties when previously there was no planned experimental design. Cane stalk yields of 26 sugarcane genotypes harvested in 24 different locations and in different crop cycles (age) were analyzed. The randomized block nested design (plot within block) with ratoon crop as a class variable in the mixed model was the best for the mean comparisons in sugarcane genotype trials (Model 3), allowing a gain in information. The randomized block design approach helps to fit more general random effects, and the covariance structures helps to improve the performance of mixed model repeated measures. This study emphasizes the need to improve the process of finding a good enough mixed model, that is, how to define the mean structure and the best covariance structure for model sugarcane trials that enables more powerful and efficient parameter estimations. The results showed how a more appropriate mixed model might help avoid errors of judgment in sugarcane genotype recommendations for enhancing the productivity of the cane industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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12 pages, 706 KiB  
Article
Microbial Indices to Assess Soil Health under Different Tillage and Fertilization in Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) Crop
by Sara Marinari, Emanuele Radicetti, Verdiana Petroselli, Mohamed Allam and Roberto Mancinelli
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030415 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2664
Abstract
Intensive agronomic practices such as deep and repeated tillage and applying high mineral fertilization rates to improve crop yields have gradually determined soil resource degradation. A study was carried out over a two-year period (2015 and 2016) to assess effects of tillage (plough; [...] Read more.
Intensive agronomic practices such as deep and repeated tillage and applying high mineral fertilization rates to improve crop yields have gradually determined soil resource degradation. A study was carried out over a two-year period (2015 and 2016) to assess effects of tillage (plough; subsoil; and spading) and fertilization (mineral vs. organic) on soil health relative to carbon and nitrogen dynamics in potato crop in the Mediterranean environment. Microbial indices could be successfully used as tool for assessing soil health in terms of predictors and indicators of carbon sequestration and nitrogen availability. The microbial quotients, calculated as percentage of the microbial-C to total organic C (Cmic:Corg), was significantly higher in subsoiling than in plowing and spading soil tillage, and higher in 2016 (3.19%) than 2015 (1.72%). The activity of enzymes involved in C cycle was significantly higher in subsoiling and spading than in plowing, while acid phosphatase was positively affected by spading and arylsulfatase increased with plowing. The whole enzyme activity expressed as synthetic enzymatic index (SEI) was positively affected by subsoiling and plowing in 2015 (4254) compared to spading tillage (3934). A general decrease in soil enzyme activity in 2016 than 2015 was observed. The subsoiling in potato crop favored the immobilization of carbon and nitrogen during the wet spring–summer period. Conversely, the plowing favored the mineralization process when the spring–summer period became more dried. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Quality and Health to Assess Agro-Ecosystems Services)
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18 pages, 4166 KiB  
Article
Interactive Effects of Honeysuckle Planting and Biochar Amendment on Soil Structure and Hydraulic Properties of Hillslope Farmland
by Etienne Tuyishimire, Junfang Cui, Xiangyu Tang, Zhixiang Sun and Jianhua Cheng
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030414 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2714
Abstract
Plant roots and biochar amendment cause changes in soil structure and hydraulic properties; however, their interactive influences are still inadequately understood. A six-year field study was conducted on hillslope farmland in the Sichuan basin, China, to evaluate how honeysuckle planting and biochar application [...] Read more.
Plant roots and biochar amendment cause changes in soil structure and hydraulic properties; however, their interactive influences are still inadequately understood. A six-year field study was conducted on hillslope farmland in the Sichuan basin, China, to evaluate how honeysuckle planting and biochar application affect soil structure and hydraulic properties. Various parameters related to soil structure (soil organic matter (SOM), soil aggregate stability, bulk density were obtained in the laboratory) and hydraulic (hydraulic conductivity, and soil water retention characteristics by single porosity of van Genuchten 1980 and dual porosity bi-exponential model) properties were determined. The results showed that honeysuckle planting alone increased (SOM) content, honeysuckle planting following biochar amendment could not only enhance SOM content to a greater magnitude in top 20 cm soil but also markedly increase the SOM content in deeper soil layers (20–30 and 30–40 cm), while the application of biochar alone enhanced the SOM content in top 20 cm soil. The combination of honeysuckle planting and biochar amendment could increase soil aggregate stability. Furthermore, It was found that soil pores with size r > 125 µm were the dominant macropores in all treatments. Honeysuckle planting increased saturated soil hydraulic conductivity (Ks) significantly (p < 0.05). Biochar amendment also significantly increased Ks directly or indirectly through enhancement of SOM content. Results also showed that honeysuckle planting and biochar amendment could lead to a greater increase in saturated soil water content than saturated soil hydraulic conductivity. However, SOM showed lower value in bare land plots suggesting that both honeysuckle planting and biochar could increase SOM in soil, hence improving soil quality. Therefore, our field study demonstrated that the practice of honeysuckle planting and biochar amendment jointly in sloping farmland of purple soil could effectively strengthen soil structure and improve soil water retention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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10 pages, 1051 KiB  
Article
A Multiplex PCR System for the Screening of Genetically Modified (GM) Maize and the Detection of 29 GM Maize Events Based on Capillary Electrophoresis
by Hongmei Yi, Ziyue Liang, Jianrong Ge, Haibo Zhang, Fengze Liu, Xuezhen Ren, Jie Ren, Haijie Wang, Jiali Ren, Xingxu Ren, Ying Zhang, Fang Jin, Shiqiao Jin, Yikun Zhao and Fengge Wang
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030413 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2695
Abstract
The detection of genetically modified (GM) maize events is an inevitable necessity under the strict regulatory systems of many countries. To screen for GM maize events, we developed a multiplex PCR system to specifically detect 29 GM maize events as well as the [...] Read more.
The detection of genetically modified (GM) maize events is an inevitable necessity under the strict regulatory systems of many countries. To screen for GM maize events, we developed a multiplex PCR system to specifically detect 29 GM maize events as well as the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter, the Agrobacterium tumefaciens nos terminator, the Streptomyces viridochromogenes pat gene, and the endogenous zSSIIb maize reference gene. These targets were divided into five panels for screening and event-specific detection by multiplex (10-plex, 7-plex, 7-plex, 4-plex, and 5-plex) PCR. All amplification products were separated and visualized by fluorescence capillary electrophoresis (CE). By taking advantage of the high resolution, multiple fluorescence detection, and high sensitivity of CE, our system was able to identify all targets simultaneously with a limit of detection of 0.1%. The accurate identification of specific amplification peaks from different GM maize materials by CE confirmed the specificity of the system. To verify the practical applicability of this system, we analyzed 20 blind samples. We successfully identified five MON810, four TC1507, and three MIR162 samples. The detection of concomitant elements also verified the accuracy of this approach. Our system can, therefore, be used for the screening and detection of GM maize events. The system, which is easy to use, facilitates high-throughput detection with the help of a high-throughput platform and automated identification software. Multiplex PCR coupled with CE is, thus, very suitable for the detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with a large number of detection targets. Additional multiplexed electrophoretic targets can be easily incorporated as well, thereby increasing the usefulness of this system as the number of GMO events continues to increase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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24 pages, 4888 KiB  
Article
The Association between Farmers’ Psychological Factors and Their Choice to Adopt Risk Management Strategies: The Case of Pakistan
by Jamal Shah and Majed Alharthi
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030412 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2846
Abstract
Agriculture is a risky business, and risk persists in all management decisions taken by a farmer at the farm level. Disrupting agricultural business severely affects the livelihood of individual farmers and negatively affects the country’s economy. To cope with risks, farmers’ tend to [...] Read more.
Agriculture is a risky business, and risk persists in all management decisions taken by a farmer at the farm level. Disrupting agricultural business severely affects the livelihood of individual farmers and negatively affects the country’s economy. To cope with risks, farmers’ tend to mitigate the harsh impact of risks by adopting risk management strategies. Such an adoption decision is affected by several factors, most importantly, the psychological factors, i.e., risk perception and risk attitude of the farmer. Therefore, the purpose of the study is to understand farmers’ risk perception and risk attitude that affect their behaviour in making decisions at the farm level in a risky prospect. The association is investigated by employing chi-squared tests and Cramér’s V. The indirect impact of socioeconomic characteristics of the farmer via their psychological factors is conducted using structural equation model (SEM) path analysis. Their direct impact, together with psychological factors, are examined using the probit model. The two models are compared statistically for better performance and interpretations of the results. From the results, we found that risk perception and risk attitude are the key driving forces of farmers’ decisions during uncertainty which induce them to adopt risk management strategies. Other key variables and their quadratic functions that significantly affect farmers’ behaviour include education level, farming experience, off-farm income, and farm size. Thus, it is vital to consider these factors while assessing farmers’ behaviour in a risky prospect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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13 pages, 1501 KiB  
Article
Feasibility of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy for Rapid Detection of Available Nitrogen in Vermiculite Substrates in Desert Facility Agriculture
by Pengfei Zhao, Jianfei Xing, Can Hu, Wensong Guo, Long Wang, Xiaowei He, Zhengxin Xu and Xufeng Wang
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030411 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
Fast and precise estimation of the available nitrogen content in vermiculite substrates promotes prescription fertilization in desert facility agriculture. This study explored near-infrared spectroscopy for rapid detection of the available nitrogen content in vermiculite substrates in desert facility agriculture. The spectra of vermiculite [...] Read more.
Fast and precise estimation of the available nitrogen content in vermiculite substrates promotes prescription fertilization in desert facility agriculture. This study explored near-infrared spectroscopy for rapid detection of the available nitrogen content in vermiculite substrates in desert facility agriculture. The spectra of vermiculite matrices with different available nitrogen contents were collected through a self-assembled near-infrared spectrometer. Partial least squares expression (PLSR) established the available nitrogen spectrum prediction model optimized using different pretreatments. After pretreatment, the prediction model of the available nitrogen spectrum was simplified by adopting three feature extraction methods. A comprehensive comparison of the results of each prediction model showed that the prediction model combining the first derivative with SG smoothing pretreatment was the best. The correlation coefficients of the corresponding calibration and prediction sets were 0.9972 and 0.9968, respectively. The root mean square errors of the calibration and prediction sets were 149.98 and 159.65 mg/kg, respectively, with 12.57 RPD. These results provide a feasible method for rapidly detecting the available nitrogen content of vermiculite substrates in desert facility agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion Modeling and Monitoring)
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17 pages, 670 KiB  
Article
Asymmetric Price Transmission: A Case of Wheat in India
by Ranjit Kumar Paul and Tanmoy Karak
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030410 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2652
Abstract
In the present paper, horizontal and vertical integration was carried out on the wholesale and retail prices of wheat in the major markets of India. On confirming cointegration between the wholesale and retail prices of wheat in all needs, the vector error correction [...] Read more.
In the present paper, horizontal and vertical integration was carried out on the wholesale and retail prices of wheat in the major markets of India. On confirming cointegration between the wholesale and retail prices of wheat in all needs, the vector error correction model (VECM) was applied to find the speed of adjustment in the corresponding price channel. The results revealed that price signals are transmitted across regions, indicating that price changes in one market are consistently related to price changes in markets and can influence the prices in other markets. In addition to studying cointegration, threshold autoregressive (TAR) and Momentum TAR (MTAR) models were applied to test for asymmetric cointegration. Hasen and Seo’s test was used to test for the presence of threshold cointegration. It revealed a significant presence of asymmetric and nonlinear cointegration in many markets. Accordingly, a threshold VECM (TVECM) model with two regimes was applied. The results indicate that the retail price significantly responds to the deviations from the long-run equilibrium compared to the wholesale price. Full article
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16 pages, 4213 KiB  
Article
Design and Parameters Optimization of a Provoke-Suction Type Harvester for Ground Jujube Fruit
by Gaokun Shi, Jingbin Li, Za Kan, Longpeng Ding, Huizhe Ding, Lun Zhou and Lihong Wang
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030409 - 15 Mar 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2219
Abstract
Low working efficiency is an important reason for the limited application of the traditional aspirated-air type jujube fruit pickup machine. In this study, a provoke-suction type harvester for ground jujube fruit (PSH) was designed, based on the principle of negative pressure suction after [...] Read more.
Low working efficiency is an important reason for the limited application of the traditional aspirated-air type jujube fruit pickup machine. In this study, a provoke-suction type harvester for ground jujube fruit (PSH) was designed, based on the principle of negative pressure suction after shoveling the jujube fruit mechanically. The main working parameters were analyzed and the structures of the key devices were designed. Then, a three-factor and three-level Box–Behnken method was used to evaluate the performance of the PSH. The results showed that the pickup rate, impurity rate, and working efficiency were 99.36%, 5.63%, and 1672.3 kg∙h−1, respectively; as the forward speed, provoke teeth buried depth, and airflow velocity were 0.21 kg∙h−1, 74 mm, and 26.4 kg∙h−1, respectively. Furthermore, the verification results showed that the pickup rate, impurity rate, and working efficiency were 98.05%, 5.97%, and 1591.2 kg∙h−1, respectively, moreover, the relative errors were 1.32%, 6.04%, and 4.85%, respectively, indicating that the parameter optimization model can accurately predict the test results. The working efficiency of the PSH was significantly improved compared with the traditional aspirated-air type jujube fruit pickup machine. This research can provide a reference for the development of the jujube fruit pickup machine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanical Harvesting Technology in Orchards)
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19 pages, 5132 KiB  
Article
Parameter Optimization of Newly Developed Self-Propelled Variable Height Crop Sprayer Using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) Approach
by Fraz Ahmad Khan, Abdul Ghafoor, Muhammad Azam Khan, Muhammad Umer Chattha and Farzaneh Khorsandi Kouhanestani
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030408 - 14 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2696
Abstract
The number of spray deposits plays an important role in effective and efficient spraying. The spraying equipment is one of the most significant factors that affect the number of spray deposits. Therefore, the study was focused on the parameter optimization of a newly [...] Read more.
The number of spray deposits plays an important role in effective and efficient spraying. The spraying equipment is one of the most significant factors that affect the number of spray deposits. Therefore, the study was focused on the parameter optimization of a newly developed self-propelled variable height crop sprayer. Response surface methodology (RSM) along with Box–Behnken design (BBD) was used to study the effect of the independent variables (forward speed, spray height, and spray pressure) on response variables such as droplet density, coverage per-centage, and Volume Median Diameter (VMD). The experiment was conducted in the cotton field. Additionally, the RSM model was validated in this research. The results revealed that the coefficient of determination (R2) values was good for all response variables in the quadratic polynomial model. The optimized parameters were 6.5 km/h, 60 cm, 4 bar for fungicide application, and 8 km/h, 70 cm, 3 bar for insecticide and herbicide application. The predicted response variable values at the optimal conditions were 60.4 droplet/cm2, 27%, 230 µm for fungicides and 37.8 droplet/cm2, 19.1%, 225.4 µm for insecticide and herbicides application. The model validation is confirmed by the mean of actual response variable values at the optimal condition for insecticide and herbicides application, which was 41.35 ± 3.67 droplet/cm2, 21.10 ± 1.72%, 227.43 ± 1.22 µm, and the prediction error was 8.46%, 9.2%, and 0.9% for droplet density, coverage percentage, and VMD, respectively. This study can provide support for further optimizing the parameters of the sprayer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Technology)
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