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Agriculture, Volume 13, Issue 1 (January 2023) – 225 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Field research for exploring the impact of winter cover crops (WCCs) integration into cropping systems has limited application beyond the study area. To bridge this gap, we used the APSIM model to simulate corn-rye-corn-rye and corn-rye-soybean-rye rotations in comparison with corn-corn and corn-soybean rotations across the state of Illinois at a spatial resolution of 5 km × 5 km from 2000 to 2020 to study the impact of WCCs on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and crop production. Our results suggest that integrating rye into the crop rotations imparted greater yield stability for corn across the state. Through long-term adoption of WCCs, the areas with a low probability of increase in SOC responded equally well for soil carbon sequestration. View this paper
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19 pages, 2829 KiB  
Article
Crop Yield Prediction Using Machine Learning Models: Case of Irish Potato and Maize
by Martin Kuradusenge, Eric Hitimana, Damien Hanyurwimfura, Placide Rukundo, Kambombo Mtonga, Angelique Mukasine, Claudette Uwitonze, Jackson Ngabonziza and Angelique Uwamahoro
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010225 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 13087
Abstract
Although agriculture remains the dominant economic activity in many countries around the world, in recent years this sector has continued to be negatively impacted by climate change leading to food insecurities. This is so because extreme weather conditions induced by climate change are [...] Read more.
Although agriculture remains the dominant economic activity in many countries around the world, in recent years this sector has continued to be negatively impacted by climate change leading to food insecurities. This is so because extreme weather conditions induced by climate change are detrimental to most crops and affect the expected quantity of agricultural production. Although there is no way to fully mitigate these natural phenomena, it could be much better if there is information known earlier about the future so that farmers can plan accordingly. Early information sharing about expected crop production may support food insecurity risk reduction. In this regard, this work employs data mining techniques to predict future crop (i.e., Irish potatoes and Maize) harvests using weather and yields historical data for Musanze, a district in Rwanda. The study applies machine learning techniques to predict crop harvests based on weather data and communicate the information about production trends. Weather data and crop yields for Irish potatoes and maize were gathered from various sources. The collected data were analyzed through Random Forest, Polynomial Regression, and Support Vector Regressor. Rainfall and temperature were used as predictors. The models were trained and tested. The results indicate that Random Forest is the best model with root mean square error of 510.8 and 129.9 for potato and maize, respectively, whereas R2 was 0.875 and 0.817 for the same crops datasets. The optimum weather conditions for the optimal crop yield were identified for each crop. The results suggests that Random Forest is recommended model for early crop yield prediction. The findings of this study will go a long way to enhance reliance on data for agriculture and climate change related decisions, especially in low-to-middle income countries such as Rwanda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Machine Learning in Agriculture)
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26 pages, 2189 KiB  
Article
Long-Term Trends of Global Wine Market
by Noa Ohana-Levi and Yishai Netzer
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010224 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 7810
Abstract
The major factors of wine trade have been showing distinct patterns of temporal trends worldwide in past decades. Wine consumption, production, imports, and exports differ according to their location and classification to Old World and New World wine markets. Using datasets from various [...] Read more.
The major factors of wine trade have been showing distinct patterns of temporal trends worldwide in past decades. Wine consumption, production, imports, and exports differ according to their location and classification to Old World and New World wine markets. Using datasets from various sources, this work focused on quantifying long-term trends (1995–2021) of these wine industry factors for each country, including long-term means and temporal trends, using the Mann-Kendall trend test, and resulting in Z-scores. The temporal relationships between these global factors were quantified by applying Pearson correlation to the original values, as well as by correlating the Z-scores. Our findings show that Old World wine consumers and producers (e.g., Spain, France, and Italy) have been experiencing gradual decreasing trends of wine consumption and production. In New World countries, some of the largest wine-consuming countries were found to have strong, significant increases in wine consumption and new wine production markets show rapid growth trends. About 80% of the countries demonstrated increasing trends of wine imports, signifying the impact of globalization on the wine market and the growing demand for foreign wine. Globally, consumption per capita was found to have significantly decreased. Wine production showed a strong, significant, and lagged dependence on wine consumption, which was also related to the temporal trends of wine imports and exports. The major forces driving the wine market are possibly economic growth and wider competition, with climate change acting as a disruptive force. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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17 pages, 6798 KiB  
Article
Monitoring Mushroom Growth with Machine Learning
by Vasileios Moysiadis, Georgios Kokkonis, Stamatia Bibi, Ioannis Moscholios, Nikolaos Maropoulos and Panagiotis Sarigiannidis
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010223 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4859
Abstract
Mushrooms contain valuable nutrients, proteins, minerals, and vitamins, and it is suggested to include them in our diet. Many farmers grow mushrooms in restricted environments with specific atmospheric parameters in greenhouses. In addition, recent technologies of the Internet of things intend to give [...] Read more.
Mushrooms contain valuable nutrients, proteins, minerals, and vitamins, and it is suggested to include them in our diet. Many farmers grow mushrooms in restricted environments with specific atmospheric parameters in greenhouses. In addition, recent technologies of the Internet of things intend to give solutions in the agriculture area. In this paper, we evaluate the effectiveness of machine learning for mushroom growth monitoring for the genus Pleurotus. We use YOLOv5 to detect mushrooms’ growing stage and indicate those ready to harvest. The results show that it can detect mushrooms in the greenhouse with an F1-score of up to 76.5%. The classification in the final stage of mushroom growth gives an accuracy of up to 70%, which is acceptable considering the complexity of the photos used. In addition, we propose a method for mushroom growth monitoring based on Detectron2. Our method shows that the average growth period of the mushrooms is 5.22 days. Moreover, our method is also adequate to indicate the harvesting day. The evaluation results show that it could improve the time to harvest for 14.04% of the mushrooms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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16 pages, 2761 KiB  
Article
Decomposition and Nitrogen Release Rates of Foliar Litter from Single and Mixed Agroforestry Species under Field Conditions
by Magnolia del Carmen Tzec-Gamboa, Oscar Omar Álvarez-Rivera, Luis Ramírez y Avilés and Francisco Javier Solorio-Sánchez
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010222 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2006
Abstract
Decomposition and N release pattern from the leaves of three shrubs species were studied under field conditions. Leaves of Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.), Guazuma ulmifolia (Lam.) and Moringa oleifera (Lam.) and two mixtures, Leucaena + Moringa and Leucaena + Guazuma, in a complete [...] Read more.
Decomposition and N release pattern from the leaves of three shrubs species were studied under field conditions. Leaves of Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.), Guazuma ulmifolia (Lam.) and Moringa oleifera (Lam.) and two mixtures, Leucaena + Moringa and Leucaena + Guazuma, in a complete randomized block design, were studied during the dry and wet seasons. Litterbags were randomly distributed in each experimental block and placed on the soil surface, and residues were recovered after 2, 4, 8, and 16 weeks. Double exponential model decay was better fitted to describe the pattern of the decay of the release of various leaf constituents. Litter dry weight loss and N release were faster from Moringa, followed by the Leucaena + Moringa mixture, while the Guazuma leaf litter decomposed much slower. In the wet period, a rapid N release was observed for Moringa (60%) and Leucaena + Moringa (43%) in the first two weeks. In contrast, Guazuma and the Leucaena + Guazuma mixture released about 46% of N in 16 weeks. In the dry period, leaves released most of their N during the first 8 to 16 weeks. Moringa and Leucaena + Moringa ranked first, having lost 81 and 75% of its initial N, respectively. The ratios of condensed tannin and polyphenols to N were significantly correlated with the N released. It was concluded that the initial mass loss from the leaf litter was high and rapid in the rainy period in comparison to the dry period. The residue disappearance pattern of Moringa, Leucaena and Leucaena + Moringa followed an asymptotic model, with more than 80% of the original residue released during the 16-week study period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Legume Nitrogen Fixation in Agroecosystems)
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11 pages, 2320 KiB  
Article
Studies on the Impact of Selected Pretreatments on Protein Solubility of Arthrospira platensis Microalga
by Maria P. Spínola, Mónica M. Costa and José A. M. Prates
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010221 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1809
Abstract
Arthrospira platensis has emerged as a novel protein feed source since it contains high protein level and quality. However, this microalga presents a recalcitrant cell wall and its main proteins form protein-pigment complexes attached to the thylakoid membrane. The objective of the present [...] Read more.
Arthrospira platensis has emerged as a novel protein feed source since it contains high protein level and quality. However, this microalga presents a recalcitrant cell wall and its main proteins form protein-pigment complexes attached to the thylakoid membrane. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the influence of mechanical/physical pretreatments (bead milling, extrusion, freeze-drying, heating, microwave and sonication) on A. platensis protein solubility. Total protein content and solubility were assessed by Bradford method and SDS-PAGE quantification. Protein degradation was assessed through quantification of protein fractions (18–26 kDa, 40–48 kDa and others) in SDS-PAGE gels. Peptide formation was evaluated using the o-phthaldialdehyde assay. The results showed a decrease in total protein content in the supernatant with extrusion (0.07 to 1.42 mg/mL) and microwave pretreatments, and in the pellet with extrusion. Therefore, extrusion, followed by microwave, was the most effective pretreatment for A. platensis proteins denaturation and solubility. It is suggested that the extrusion process cause an irreversible denaturation and aggregation of the major microalga proteins (c-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin), with a strong decrease in their solubility. Therefore, extrusion could increase the bioaccessibility of A. platensis proteins and enable the incorporation of this microalga at higher levels in monogastric diets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of Feed Additives in Animal Production)
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11 pages, 8289 KiB  
Communication
Relationship of Physiographic Position to Physicochemical Characteristics of Soils of the Flooded-Savannah Agroecosystem, Colombia
by Arcesio Salamanca-Carreño, Mauricio Vélez-Terranova, Oscar Mauricio Vargas-Corzo, Otoniel Pérez-López, Andrés Fernando Castillo-Pérez and Pere M. Parés-Casanova
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010220 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2010
Abstract
Savannah floodplains are a natural agroecosystem located in the eastern plains of Colombia, with soils considered to be of low fertility. This assumption has not been rigorously validated by direct experimental studies. The aim of the study was to analyze the soils’ physicochemical [...] Read more.
Savannah floodplains are a natural agroecosystem located in the eastern plains of Colombia, with soils considered to be of low fertility. This assumption has not been rigorously validated by direct experimental studies. The aim of the study was to analyze the soils’ physicochemical characteristics of the “banks” and “lows”, which are physiographic positions, from the floodplain savannah in Arauca, Colombia. Soil samples were collected in “low” (n = 14) and “bank” (n = 15) physiographic positions. For each soil sample, the following chemical variables were determined: pH, organic carbon (OC), total nitrogen (TN), P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, exchange acidity, cation-exchange capacity (CEC), Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn and B, and physical variable (texture). The Wilcoxon non-parametric test (Mann–Whitney) was applied for the comparison of the soil’s physicochemical variables in each physiographic position (p < 0.05). The highest values for each variable analyzed correspond to the physiographic position of “low” (p < 0.05). The pH, T.N., Na, K and B were not statistically significant (p > 0.05). The physiographic positions of “bank” and “low” of floodplain savannah presented low levels of most nutrients, with slightly higher values in the “low” physiographic position. Corrective measures must be applied to improve the nutritional values of savannah soils and, consequently, the productivity of native forages. Despite these deficiencies, the vegetation cover is given by very well-adapted native grasses, reflecting the conditions of said agroecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Quality and Crop Nutrition)
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13 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Impact of Internet Use on Farmers’ Organic Fertilizer Investment: A New Perspective of Access to Credit
by Feilong Weng, Xuan Liu and Xuexi Huo
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010219 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2259
Abstract
Encouraging farmers to increase the use of organic fertilizer will be conducive to promoting the green transformation of farmers’ production and realize sustainable agricultural development. As a long-term investment, the accuracy of farmers’ access to organic fertilizer information and the supporting role of [...] Read more.
Encouraging farmers to increase the use of organic fertilizer will be conducive to promoting the green transformation of farmers’ production and realize sustainable agricultural development. As a long-term investment, the accuracy of farmers’ access to organic fertilizer information and the supporting role of credit are important factors that affect their organic fertilizer application decisions. However, the existence of information asymmetry in the organic fertilizer market and the credit constraints in the financial market, which restricts the enthusiasm of farmers to apply organic fertilizer. In recent years, the rapid development of the Internet in China’s rural areas has effectively alleviated the degree of information asymmetry in rural areas, and improved farmers’ access to credit, which provides a new opportunity for farmers to increase the application rate of organic fertilizer. This study takes 1030 apple growers in the main apple production areas of China as the research object, and employs Tobit model, IV-Tobit model and mediation effect model to explore the impact of internet use on farmers’ organic fertilizer investment. The results show that internet use can promote farmers’ organic fertilizer investment. After addressing the endogeneity issue and the robustness test, the conclusion is still robust. Heterogeneity analysis shows that internet use has a more significant impact on organic fertilizer investment in the older generation and the large-scale group of farmers. The mechanism analysis shows that internet use affects farmers’ organic fertilizer investment through improving access to credit. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously improve the construction of rural digital infrastructure, accelerate the development of the Internet in rural areas, and actively guide financial resources to agriculture, so as to effectively promote the green transformation of agricultural production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
17 pages, 2595 KiB  
Article
Integration of Grape-Duck Production Pattern Boosts Duck Behavior, Meat Quality, Fecal Microbiota and Soil Microorganisms
by Ye Zhou, Chao Yan, Di Chen, Chengde Zhang and Xingbo Zhao
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010218 - 15 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1664
Abstract
The combination of planting and breeding, an agricultural production system, makes full use of land, ecological space and time, increasing the utilization rate and yield of both plant and animal production. This experiment aimed to explore the effects of the grape-duck farming system [...] Read more.
The combination of planting and breeding, an agricultural production system, makes full use of land, ecological space and time, increasing the utilization rate and yield of both plant and animal production. This experiment aimed to explore the effects of the grape-duck farming system by analyzing behavior, meat quality, and fecal microbiota of ducks and the soil microbiota. The results differed significantly on the expressions of positive behaviors between the breeding group and the combination of planting and breeding group, including actions of foraging, feeding and walking (p < 0.05), while the free-range group showed more stereotyped behavior of no apparent purpose or significance. In terms of meat quality, the yellow value b* of the combination group was significantly higher than that of the free-range group (p < 0.05). The drip loss rate of the planting and breeding group was 1.80%, and the drip loss rate of the combination group was 3.80%, with a significant difference (p < 0.05). The combination of planting and rearing increased the alpha diversity of soil microbiota (p < 0.05), but it had no obvious effect on the fecal microbiota of ducks. PCoA showed that soil microorganisms and fecal microbiota are obviously separated and clustered. In conclusion, the combination production mode of “grape-duck” had a positive effect on duck behavior, meat quality, and soil microorganisms, however, it changed virtually nothing in duck production performance and fecal microbiota. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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13 pages, 11882 KiB  
Article
Amelioration of Hypothermia-Induced Damage on Peanut by Exogenous Application of Chitooligosaccharide
by Xinlong Shi, Ziqi Sun, Xian Xue, Huimin Xu, Yue Wu, Ya Zhang, Yueqin Yang, Suoyi Han, Ruifang Zhao, Mengyuan Zhang and Xinyou Zhang
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010217 - 15 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1396
Abstract
Low temperature is the most common abiotic stress factor in peanut cultivation. Chitooligosaccharide (COS) plays an important role in the low-temperature resistance in plants, however, the role of COS in regulating the cold tolerance in peanuts is not clear. This research investigated the [...] Read more.
Low temperature is the most common abiotic stress factor in peanut cultivation. Chitooligosaccharide (COS) plays an important role in the low-temperature resistance in plants, however, the role of COS in regulating the cold tolerance in peanuts is not clear. This research investigated the effects of exogenous COS on peanut seedlings in response to low temperatures. The results showed that exogenous COS can significantly alleviate the cooling symptoms of seedlings by reducing the content of malondialdehyde (MDA) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) under simulated low-temperature conditions (8 °C). These reductions may be related to the elevation of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT) and polyphenoloxidase (PPO) activities and the increased contents of osmotic substances such as soluble sugars (SS), soluble protein (SP), proline (Pro), and total phenols (TP) compared with those in untreated seedlings. Meanwhile, the contents of chlorophyll a and b in a peanut leaf also increased, as well as the net photosynthetic rate (Pn), resulted in an increased plant height, a heavier fresh weight, and an increased dry weight. Notably, the treatment of 100 mg·L−1 COS had maximum gain effects compared with those of other treatments. In summary, this study revealed the usage of COS for chilling stress alleviation, and 100 mg L−1 foliar spraying is recommended. Full article
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16 pages, 630 KiB  
Article
Will Social Network Relationship Significantly Enhance Farmers’ Participation in the Supply of Small Water-Saving Irrigation and Water Conservancy Facilities in China?
by Lei Wang and Yiwen Zhao
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010216 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1726
Abstract
The supply level of irrigation and water conservancy is related to the utilization efficiency of water resources, the production level of farmers, and the supply quality of agricultural products, especially relating to national food security and stability. Based on 1169 pieces of data [...] Read more.
The supply level of irrigation and water conservancy is related to the utilization efficiency of water resources, the production level of farmers, and the supply quality of agricultural products, especially relating to national food security and stability. Based on 1169 pieces of data collected from field surveys in three provinces of China in 2019, an evaluation system of social network relationships was constructed from five aspects: network scale, network tightness, trust and commitment, social atmosphere and sense of belonging, and social participation. These five aspects are the channels for farmers to obtain information. A binary logistic model was used to analyze the impact of the social network relationships on farmers’ participation in small water-saving irrigation and water conservancy facilities supply, and the key factors affecting farmers’ behavior were selected. The purpose of this study is to further improve the evaluation system of social network relationships and the study of the effect of social network relationships on farmers’ water-saving behaviors, enrich relevant theories and provide a feasible path for the implementation of water-saving irrigation from the macro initiative level. The results show that higher network closeness and policy satisfaction, water management experience, agricultural insurance, strong family decision-making power, etc., will reduce the likelihood of farmers participating in the supply of small water-saving irrigation and water conservancy facilities; increasing network compactness will increase the possibility of farmers’ participation in the supply; trust and commitment, social ethos and sense of belonging, social participation, and other factors have no significant influence on farmer participation behavior. It can be seen that network tightness and network scale play an important role in the behavior of farmers’ participation in public affairs. In conclusion, social network relationships will affect farmers’ participation in the supply of irrigation and water conservancy facilities, but different dimensions have different influences on it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Environmental Pollution, Risk Assessment, and Control)
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15 pages, 2890 KiB  
Article
Screening and Identification of the Rhizosphere Fungal Communities Associated with Land Reclamation in Egypt
by Mostafa Nafaa, Samah Mohamed Rizk, Tahany Abdel-Ghafar Ahmed Aly, Mohamed Abdel-Salam Rashed, Diaa Abd El-Moneim, Abir Ben Bacha, Mona Alonazi and Mahmoud Magdy
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010215 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2655
Abstract
Soil fungi are a wide range of microorganisms that play an essential role in enhancing the available nutrients in the soil for plants. In the current study, to study the fungal association with newly reclaimed land in Egypt, 22 composite soil samples were [...] Read more.
Soil fungi are a wide range of microorganisms that play an essential role in enhancing the available nutrients in the soil for plants. In the current study, to study the fungal association with newly reclaimed land in Egypt, 22 composite soil samples were screened and characterized from citrus and olive orchard soil in contrast to a control soil that had never been cultivated (a nearby desert). The isolates were identified and tested for P solubilization and IAA production to highlight their potential as biofertilizers while the sampled soil was characterized. The physicochemical characteristics of the orchard’s soil sample had a high relative mean moisture content, and the C/N ratio were 45.24% and 16.8% compared with desert lands of 32.80% and 8.12%, respectively, while a higher pH was recorded for desert lands. A total of 272 fungal isolates yielded 27 filamentous fungal species. Based on ITS molecular identification, the 27 isolates belonged to phyla Ascomycota, from eight genera. Twelve species were positive in producing a phosphate clearance zone around the fungal colony growth, while ten species were able to release IAA in vitro with different tryptophan concentrations under different pH values. When known pathogenic fungi were excluded, Aspergillus tubingensis and A. fumigatus were the highest IAA producers and can solubilize phosphorus. The screening and identification of the fungal diversity of the newly reclaimed land provided insights into potential phosphate solubilizers and plant phytohormones producers (i.e., IAA). Overall, the obtained results can provide primary knowledge that indicates the great potential fungal ability to develop biofertilizers for application in improving the production of immature soil for agriculture reclamation processes and practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research of Rhizosphere Microbial Activity)
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16 pages, 1291 KiB  
Article
Time, Spatial and Component Characteristics of Agricultural Carbon Emissions of China
by Shulong Li and Zhizhang Wang
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010214 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1617
Abstract
In this study, the time trend, regional distribution and component characteristics of the agricultural carbon emissions (ACEs) of China are analyzed. The estimation methods of each component of the ACE are introduced. According to the annually provincial panel data set with the 31 [...] Read more.
In this study, the time trend, regional distribution and component characteristics of the agricultural carbon emissions (ACEs) of China are analyzed. The estimation methods of each component of the ACE are introduced. According to the annually provincial panel data set with the 31 provinces from 1996 to 2019, the time trend, regional distribution and component characteristics are empirically discussed. Meanwhile, since it is also worthwhile to explore the effect of the ACE on economic growth, econometric models such as the pooled ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed effect (FE) models are employed to examine the inverted “U”-shape effect of ACE on both of the agricultural GDP and GDP under the control of other variables. The results show that (1) the carbon emission started to fall after 2015; (2) the majority source of the agricultural carbon emission is caused by chemical fertilizer, which is approximately half of the total; (3) the current provincial ACE levels (0.287 ×1010 kg in 2019) are significantly smaller than the estimated optimal level for agricultural GDP as well as GDP (respectively, 1.003×1010 kg and 1.256×1010 kg). In light of this, environmental protection and agricultural development are currently conflicted. Therefore, we suggest that the government should accept a trade-off between economic growth and the quality of the environment. Full article
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21 pages, 2430 KiB  
Article
Do China’s National Agricultural Science and Technology Parks Promote County Economic Development? An Empirical Examination Based on Multi-Period DID Methods
by Qi Yu, Yongchang Wu, Xueyuan Chen, Lin Zhang and Yaowen Liang
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010213 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2332
Abstract
China’s National Agricultural Science and Technology Parks (NASTPs) play a key role in improving the nation’s agro-industrial structure and regional economic development; notably, NASTPs can demonstrate innovations in modern agricultural science and technology and, relatedly, incubate emerging modern agri-industries. However, after more than [...] Read more.
China’s National Agricultural Science and Technology Parks (NASTPs) play a key role in improving the nation’s agro-industrial structure and regional economic development; notably, NASTPs can demonstrate innovations in modern agricultural science and technology and, relatedly, incubate emerging modern agri-industries. However, after more than 20 years of development, scholars have not yet to confirm whether NASTPs contribute to local economies. This study sought to explore the impact of NASTPs on county economic development, to identify the mechanisms behind this impact, and to verify these effects using a multi-period double difference method based on panel data from 1743 counties in China collected between 2000 and 2019. The study found that the NASTPs significantly improved county economic development. The policy effects were mainly evident in western regions and counties with higher levels of financial resources. No spatial spillover effects were observed. The NASTPs drove county economic growth through three main channels: agglomeration, institutional environment, and innovation effects. These findings provide insights useful for designing policies related to the high-quality construction of agricultural sci-tech parks, the high-quality growth of county economies, and a reduction in regional economic development gaps. Full article
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19 pages, 8272 KiB  
Article
Early Identification and Localization Algorithm for Weak Seedlings Based on Phenotype Detection and Machine Learning
by Shengyong Xu, Yi Zhang, Wanjing Dong, Zhilong Bie, Chengli Peng and Yuan Huang
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010212 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2039
Abstract
It is important to propose the correct decision for culling and replenishing seedlings in factory seedling nurseries to improve the quality of seedlings and save resources. To solve the problems of inefficiency and subjectivity of the existing traditional manual culling and replenishment of [...] Read more.
It is important to propose the correct decision for culling and replenishing seedlings in factory seedling nurseries to improve the quality of seedlings and save resources. To solve the problems of inefficiency and subjectivity of the existing traditional manual culling and replenishment of seeds, this paper proposes an automatic method to discriminate the early growth condition of seedlings. Taking watermelon plug seedlings as an example, Azure Kinect was used to collect data of its top view three times a day, at 9:00, 14:00, and 19:00. The data were collected from the time of germination to the time of main leaf growth, and the seedlings were manually determined to be strong or weak on the last day of collection. Pre-processing, image segmentation, and point cloud processing methods were performed on the collected data to obtain the plant height and leaf area of each seedling. The plant height and leaf area on the sixth day were predicted using an LSTM recurrent neural network for the first three days. The R squared for plant height and leaf area prediction were 0.932 and 0.901, respectively. The dichotomous classification of normal and abnormal seedlings was performed using six machine learning classification methods, such as random forest, SVM, and XGBoost, for day six data. The experimental results proved that random forest had the highest classification accuracy of 84%. Finally, the appropriate culling and replenishment decisions are given based on the classification results. This method can provide some technical support and a theoretical basis for factory seedling nurseries and transplanting robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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15 pages, 3036 KiB  
Article
Bioactive Compounds in Malanto (Kalimeris indica) Leaves and Their Antioxidant Characteristics
by Jie Liu, Yu-Ting Zhao, Wen-Chien Lu, Ping-Hsiu Huang, Tuzz-Ying Song and Po-Hsien Li
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010211 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1653
Abstract
Currently, there is an increasing trend to replace artificial antioxidants with natural antioxidants. However, certain naturally occurring antioxidants have lower antioxidant activities than artificial antioxidants. Therefore, they will not be as effective in preventing cellular damage. Nevertheless, if they are controlled, natural antioxidants [...] Read more.
Currently, there is an increasing trend to replace artificial antioxidants with natural antioxidants. However, certain naturally occurring antioxidants have lower antioxidant activities than artificial antioxidants. Therefore, they will not be as effective in preventing cellular damage. Nevertheless, if they are controlled, natural antioxidants represent a valuable alternative to synthetic antioxidants. With regard to current knowledge, new applications of natural antioxidants in the food industry include food additives, feedstuffs, food packaging materials, and nutraceuticals. The younger leaves of Malan (Kalimeris indica (L.) Sch. Bip.), often referred to as “malanto”, are usually eaten as a vegetable. The findings of this study demonstrated that malanto flavonoids form the active ingredient of the naturally occurring malanto. The malanto extract contains six flavonoids with antioxidant capacity. Malanto flavonoids (0.02% addition) were evaluated for their antioxidant effects and were found to be similar to BHT in inhibiting the peroxidation of sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils. This study aims to provide unique insights into the comprehensive utilization of the flavonoids extracted from malanto. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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12 pages, 789 KiB  
Article
QTL Mapping for Root Traits and Their Effects on Nutrient Uptake and Yield Performance in Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
by Yanhua Xu, Yuzhen Yang, Si Wu, Dongcheng Liu and Yongzhe Ren
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010210 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1616
Abstract
Wheat is one of the most important crops in the world. Mapping QTLs for root traits is essential for the selection of wheat roots desirable for the efficient acquisition of nutrients. Here, a QTL analysis for wheat root traits was performed using 142 [...] Read more.
Wheat is one of the most important crops in the world. Mapping QTLs for root traits is essential for the selection of wheat roots desirable for the efficient acquisition of nutrients. Here, a QTL analysis for wheat root traits was performed using 142 recombinant inbred lines derived from two wheat varieties Xiaoyan 54 and Jing 411 in a soil column culture trial. The genetic map used in this study contained 470 SSR markers and covered 3438.4 cM of wheat genome. A total of 25 QTLs for root and shoot traits were detected, located at 16 marker intervals of 13 chromosomes. The percentage of phenotypic variation explained by individual QTLs varied from 6.1% to 22.0%. The QTLs regulating RDW and root distribution on chromosomes 1A, 3A, 4A, and 5B are important for root growth in both the top- and subsoils. For qRDW-1A, qRDW-3A, and qRDW-5B, the nearest markers to the QTLs were much closer than that of qRDW-4A, with the genetic distances ranging from 0.01 to 1.18 cM. Combining these three QTLs not only increased RDW and nutrient uptake, but also increased GW, SDW, and BDW under low nitrogen conditions in the field trial. Therefore, these QTLs are valuable for marker-assisted selection of wheat root traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Genotype Evaluation and Breeding)
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18 pages, 36981 KiB  
Article
Potential Anti-Sarcopenia Effect and Physicochemical and Functional Properties of Rice Protein Hydrolysate Prepared through High-Pressure Processing
by Shih-Hsiao Chen, Po-Hsien Li, Yung-Jia Chan, Yu-Tsung Cheng, Hui-Yao Lin, Shih-Chieh Lee, Wen-Chien Lu, Yu-Xu Ma, Min-Ying Li and Tuzz-Ying Song
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010209 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1684
Abstract
Rice protein is a suitable alternative protein source for dairy protein in infant formulas on account of its unique nutrition and hypoallergenicity. Rice protein was isolated through enzymatic hydrolysis (Alcalase, papain, bromelain, Flavourzyme®) in combination with high-pressure processing (HPP) (400 MPa [...] Read more.
Rice protein is a suitable alternative protein source for dairy protein in infant formulas on account of its unique nutrition and hypoallergenicity. Rice protein was isolated through enzymatic hydrolysis (Alcalase, papain, bromelain, Flavourzyme®) in combination with high-pressure processing (HPP) (400 MPa for 15 min at 25 °C) to enhance its functional properties and broaden its food processing applications. The effect of the HPP-treated rice protein hydrolysate on dexamethasone (DEX)-induced atrophy in C2C12 myotubes was also studied. The length of myotubes was observed under a light microscope, and periodic acid Schiff staining. The results showed that even though enzymatic hydrolysis and HPP treatment affected the color of the resulting rice protein, the protein content (3120.31 ± 42.15), branched chain amino acid (BCAA) content (15.12 ± 1.03), peptide content (31.25 ± 0.55), and amino acid composition of the rice protein were significantly increased. Moreover, the combined enzymatic and HPP treatment effectively overcame the problem of limited solubility and water-holding capacity. Rice protein produced through enzymatic and HPP treatment exhibited a higher free radical scavenging activity and oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It also alleviated DEX-induced muscle atrophy in C2C12 myotubes as indicated by the increase in myotube length. In short, the enzymatic and HPP treatment of rice protein not only overcame limitations, but also produced rice protein with high functionality in terms of antioxidant and therapeutic effects on muscle atrophy. The rice protein hydrolysate produced through enzymatic hydrolysis and HPP treatment showed the potential for use as an ingredient for functional foods in the nutraceutical industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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20 pages, 4348 KiB  
Review
Recent Advances in Carbon and Activated Carbon Nanostructured Aerogels Prepared from Agricultural Wastes for Wastewater Treatment Applications
by Syaifullah Muhammad, Esam Bashir Yahya, H. P. S. Abdul Khalil, M. Marwan and Yonss M. Albadn
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010208 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 4424
Abstract
The global demand for clean water has become increasingly important in the past decade as a result of the growing world population, civilization, and the increase in sources of contaminations. Aerogels are an exceptional form of porous materials with extraordinary unique properties. The [...] Read more.
The global demand for clean water has become increasingly important in the past decade as a result of the growing world population, civilization, and the increase in sources of contaminations. Aerogels are an exceptional form of porous materials with extraordinary unique properties. The aerogel has been fabricated from different inorganic and organic materials and incorporated with a variety of novel compounds for specific applications and to enhance its performance in the desired application. Activated carbon is well known for its water-pollutant adsorption, it has been prepared from several organic materials including agricultural wastes and used to treat water from organic dyes, heavy metals, oils, and toxic chemicals. However, as a powder form, activated carbon must be incorporated either into a filter or undergo a post-treatment step to remove the adsorbent from treated water. This review highlighted the development of agricultural waste-based carbon and activated carbon loaded nano-structured aerogels. A review of the types of aerogels and the properties based on the precursor materials was conducted to extensively discuss the potential use of agricultural waste-based carbon and activated carbon loaded nano-structured aerogels in wastewater treatment applications. We also discussed the challenges and future prospects of carbon and activated carbon nano-structured aerogels for wastewater treatment applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agricultural Engineering Technologies and Application)
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20 pages, 2986 KiB  
Article
Optimal Design of Agricultural Mobile Robot Suspension System Based on NSGA-III and TOPSIS
by Zhanghao Qu, Peng Zhang, Yaohua Hu, Huanbo Yang, Taifeng Guo, Kaili Zhang and Junchang Zhang
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010207 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2073
Abstract
The stability of vehicles is influenced by the suspension system. At present, there are many studies on the suspension of traditional passenger vehicles, but few are related to agricultural mobile robots. There are structural differences between the suspension system of agricultural mobile robots [...] Read more.
The stability of vehicles is influenced by the suspension system. At present, there are many studies on the suspension of traditional passenger vehicles, but few are related to agricultural mobile robots. There are structural differences between the suspension system of agricultural mobile robots and passenger vehicles, which requires structural simplification and modelling concerning suspension of agricultural mobile robots. This study investigates the optimal design for an agricultural mobile robot’s suspension system designed based on a double wishbone suspension structure. The dynamics of the quarter suspension system were modelled based on Lagrange’s equation. In our work, the non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm III (NSGA-III) was selected for conducting multi-objective optimization of the suspension design, combined with the Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to the Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) to choose the optimal combination of parameters in the non-dominated solution set obtained by NSGA-III. We compared the performance of NSGA-III with that of other multi-objective evolutionary algorithms (MOEAs). Compared with the second-scoring solution, the score of the optimal solution obtained by NSGA-III increased by 4.92%, indicating that NSGA-III has a significant advantage in terms of the solution quality and robustness for the optimal design of the suspension system. This was verified by simulation in Adams that our method, which utilizes multibody dynamics, NSGA-III and TOPSIS, is feasible to determine the optimal design of a suspension system for an agricultural mobile robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Engineering Innovations in Agriculture)
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18 pages, 2735 KiB  
Article
Prediction of Single Disc Seeding System Forces, Using a Semi-Analytical and Discrete Element Method (DEM)
by Ali Khosravani, Jacky M. A. Desbiolles, John M. Fielke, Mustafa Ucgul and Chris Saunders
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010206 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1722
Abstract
There is a rising interest amongst Australian farmers to use disc seeders due to their ability to operate in high residue conditions and at higher speeds, commonly in the range of 12 to 15 km h−1. This paper reports on developing [...] Read more.
There is a rising interest amongst Australian farmers to use disc seeders due to their ability to operate in high residue conditions and at higher speeds, commonly in the range of 12 to 15 km h−1. This paper reports on developing an analytical and discrete element method (DEM) force prediction model suited to a rotating flat disc blade operating at different sweep and tilt angles. To validate the models, field experiments were carried out with a flat disc blade at two tilt angles of 0 and 20° and four sweep angles of 6, 26, 45 and 90° in sandy soil. An analytical approach was developed following an experimental investigation that showed that only the forward portion of the disc blade is actively involved in generating soil failure, while the magnitude of this active portion of the soil-disc interface varied with sweep angle. The predicted active proportions correlated well with the experimental observations. As applying different sweep angles affects the direction of soil movement relative to the disc face, the directions of the friction and resultant forces at different sweep and tilt angles were determined. The equation of soil acceleration force was adapted to account for different sweep angles. Results showed that the predicted force fits relatively well with the measured data at 90, 45 and 26° sweep angle, while the low correlation between predicted and measured force at 6° sweep angle was due to the scrubbing reaction force not accounted for in the model. Results also showed that a better coefficient of determination (R2 = 0.93) was obtained between DEM vs. test results compared to the analytical model predictions (R2 = 0.86), particularly for predicting side forces. It was found from the study that both the developed analytical approach and DEM model enabled the prediction of soil forces at different sweep and tilt angles acting on a flat disc blade, which can assist in optimising disc design to lower the specific resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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20 pages, 25358 KiB  
Article
Effects of Homogenization on Organoleptic Quality and Stability of Pasteurized Milk Samples
by Yiwei Shao, Yiting Yuan, Yanmei Xi, Tong Zhao and Nasi Ai
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010205 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2781
Abstract
The organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk are closely related to consumption choices. Our study investigated the effects of different homogenization pressures on the organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk during shelf life. The three homogenization pressures used in this work [...] Read more.
The organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk are closely related to consumption choices. Our study investigated the effects of different homogenization pressures on the organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk during shelf life. The three homogenization pressures used in this work were 0, 150, and 300 bar. The three homogenization times were 40 s, 56 s, and 60 s respectively. The sensory quality and stability of pasteurized milk after storage for 8, 72, and 168 h were investigated by sensory description experiment, electronic nose technology, and physical properties (such as stability, color, and particle size). The results showed that, at the same storage time, different homogenization pressures had prominent effects on the creamy, milk, fat, and fresh milk flavors of pasteurized milk, together with different effects on the stability of pasteurized milk. The pasteurized milk samples stored for 8 h under the three homogenization pressures had a good fresh milk flavor, and its strong fat flavor affected the taste. The pasteurized milk samples stored for 72 h under 150-bar homogenization pressure had uniform texture, excellent milk flavor, and delicious taste, and the stability of milk reached the best state. Pasteurized milk samples stored for 168 h under three homogenization pressures had increased metallic, sour, and salty tastes in varying degrees, affecting the flavor quality and stability of milk. In short, the organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk samples stored for 72 h under 150-bar homogenization pressure (ML72) were the most optimal. The results provide a scientific theoretical basis for improving product organoleptic quality and stability, which may inspire a new production strategy to innovate pasteurized milk product. This study examined the impact of different homogenization pressures (0, 150, and 300 bar) on the organoleptic quality and stability of pasteurized milk during shelf life (8, 72, and 168 h). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensory Analysis and Evaluation of Agricultural Products)
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14 pages, 4752 KiB  
Article
A Cucumber Photosynthetic Rate Prediction Model in Whole Growth Period with Time Parameters
by Zichao Wei, Xiangbei Wan, Wenye Lei, Kaikai Yuan, Miao Lu, Bin Li, Pan Gao, Huarui Wu and Jin Hu
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010204 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1466
Abstract
Photosynthetic rate prediction models can provide guidance for crop photosynthetic process optimization, which has been widely used in the precise regulation of the protected environment. The photosynthetic capacity of crops continuously changes during their whole growth process. Previous studies on photosynthetic models mainly [...] Read more.
Photosynthetic rate prediction models can provide guidance for crop photosynthetic process optimization, which has been widely used in the precise regulation of the protected environment. The photosynthetic capacity of crops continuously changes during their whole growth process. Previous studies on photosynthetic models mainly consider the interaction between a crop’s photosynthetic rate and its outer environmental conditions and have been able to predict a crop’s photosynthetic rate in a certain growth period. However, photosynthetic rate prediction models for whole growth periods have not been proposed yet. To solve this question, this paper introduces growing time into a variable set and proposes a method for building a cucumber photosynthetic rate prediction model of whole growth periods. First, the photosynthetic rate of cucumber leaves under different environmental conditions (light, temperature, and CO2 concentration) during the whole growth period was obtained through a multi-gradient nested test. With the environmental data and the cultivation time as the inputs, a photosynthetic rate prediction model was built using the Support Vector Regression algorithm. In order to obtain better modeling results, multiple kernel functions were used for pretraining, and the parameters of the Support Vector Regression algorithm were optimized based on multiple population genetic algorithms. Compared with a Back Propagation neural network and Non-linear Regression method, the Support Vector Regression model optimized had the highest accuracy, with the coefficient of determination of the test set was 0.998, and the average absolute error was 0.280 μmol·m−2·s−1, which provides a theoretical solution for the prediction of the cucumber photosynthetic rate during the whole growth period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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15 pages, 805 KiB  
Article
The Use of Genetic Material of Tall Wheatgrass to Protect Common Wheat from Septoria Blotch in Western Siberia
by Lyudmila Plotnikova, Ainura Sagendykova and Violetta Pozherukova
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010203 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1170
Abstract
The Septoria blotch is one of the most economically harmful diseases of common wheat in Russia and the world. The disease is mainly caused by two pathogen species: Zymoseptoria tritici that damages the leaves, and Parastagonospora nodorum that strikes the leaves and ears. [...] Read more.
The Septoria blotch is one of the most economically harmful diseases of common wheat in Russia and the world. The disease is mainly caused by two pathogen species: Zymoseptoria tritici that damages the leaves, and Parastagonospora nodorum that strikes the leaves and ears. Resistance genes of the alien relatives are traditionally used for genetic defense of cultivars. The aims of the research were to study the resistance of the tall wheatgrass Thinopyrum ponticum (Podp.) Z.-W. Liu and R.-C. Wang and perspective introgressive lines of spring common wheat with its genetic material to Septoria blotch, and to characterize their agronomical properties to be used in breeding programs in Western Siberia. The studies were carried out in 2015–2019 in the field conditions of the southern forest-steppe (Omsk, Russia) on a natural infection background and according to standard methods. The Septoria diseases developed on the wheat in the period of milk-wax ripeness, independently of humid or dry weather conditions. In 2016, a sharp increase in leaf lesion was noted, probably associated with changes in the Z. tritici population. In 2017, the ratio of Z. tritici and P. nodorum was similar, and in 2019 Z. tritici prevailed. During the research, the lines that combined leaf and ear resistance to damage with high yield and grain quality were selected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Diversity of Wheat Fungal Diseases)
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17 pages, 3431 KiB  
Article
Prediction of Single Disc Seeding System Forces, Using a Semi-Analytical and Discrete Element Method (DEM) Considering Rotation Effects
by Ali Khosravani, Jacky M. A. Desbiolles, Chris Saunders, Mustafa Ucgul and John M. Fielke
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010202 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1378
Abstract
Disc seeders are commonly used in no-till farming systems, and their performance evaluation generally rely on expensive and time-consuming field experiments. Mathematical models can help speed up force-related evaluations and improve the understanding of soil-disc interactions, to assist the performance optimisation processes. Previous [...] Read more.
Disc seeders are commonly used in no-till farming systems, and their performance evaluation generally rely on expensive and time-consuming field experiments. Mathematical models can help speed up force-related evaluations and improve the understanding of soil-disc interactions, to assist the performance optimisation processes. Previous analytical force prediction models of disc blades have not accounted for the free rotation aspect of the disc blade. This paper develops an analytical force prediction model from the wide blade failure theory adapted to suit rotating flat disc blades operating at different sweep and tilt angles and compares predictions with Discrete Element Method (DEM) simulations. To validate the two models, experiments were performed on a remoulded sandy soil condition using a rotating flat disc set at two tilt angles of 0° and 20°, and four sweep angles of 6, 26, 45 and 90° the 3-dimensional force components of draught, vertical and side forces were measured. Results showed a higher coefficient of determination (R2 = 0.95) was obtained with analytical model predictions compared to DEM predictions (R2 = 0.85) for their agreement with the test results. It was found that both the developed analytical approach and the DEM model can be used to predict tillage forces at different sweep and tilt angles acting on a rotating flat disc blade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Application of Agricultural Equipment in Tillage System)
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14 pages, 1310 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Sewage Sludge and Fly Ash Fertilization on the Total Number of Bacteria (TNB) and Bradyrhizobium Species in Soybean Agroecosystem
by Izabella Pisarek and Katarzyna Grata
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010201 - 13 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1668
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of different chemical properties in soil, including changes in magnetic susceptibility and the impact of humic substances from sewage sludge and fly ash on the microbial community in the soybean agroecosystem. A field [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of different chemical properties in soil, including changes in magnetic susceptibility and the impact of humic substances from sewage sludge and fly ash on the microbial community in the soybean agroecosystem. A field experiment was carried out using the random plot method on Cambisol with a texture of silt loam. The experiment consisted of 24 plots (six treatments and four replications) using different dozes of sewage sludge and fly ash. The following physicochemical and chemical analyses were performed in the soil samples: pH in KCl, conductivity (λ), total content of heavy metal, magnetic measurements and fractional composition of organic matter. The TNB and the number of the species of Bradyrhizobium in the field cultivation of the soybean variety Lissabon were evaluated using the spread plate method. The total content of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Ni, Pb, Cr, Hg, Fe) in the analyzed treatments showed a significant difference between them. The study of the magnetic parameter χ indicated a significant differentiation between treatments from 34.0 to 65.8 × 10−8·m3·kg−1. High correlation coefficients between χ and Fe (r = 0.789), Zn (r = 0.653), Cr (r = 0.617) and TOC (r = 0.949) indicated that the source of these elements was external organic matter. Biological tests (TNB and species of Bradyrhizobium) in different experimental treatments indicated significant relationships between them and showed the resistance of the microbial community in the field cultivation of Lissabon soybean to heavy metal contamination from sewage sludge and fly ash. The study confirmed that external organic matter, such as sewage sludge, can be used as an alternative to natural fertilizers for soybean production. Full article
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11 pages, 1916 KiB  
Article
Establishment of DNA Molecular Fingerprint of Caladium Core Collections
by Yuanjun Ye, Haiping Fu, Yiwei Zhou, Shanxin Zhang, Zehuang Wang, Lihua Tian, Jianjun Tan, Genfa Zhu, Jinmei Liu and Yechun Xu
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010200 - 13 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1429
Abstract
Caladiums are promising colorful foliage plants due to their unique leaf shapes and dazzling colors. Until now, over 2000 varieties of Caladium have been cultivated worldwide. The long-term natural variation and artificial selection have enriched the germplasm resources of Caladium in the market, [...] Read more.
Caladiums are promising colorful foliage plants due to their unique leaf shapes and dazzling colors. Until now, over 2000 varieties of Caladium have been cultivated worldwide. The long-term natural variation and artificial selection have enriched the germplasm resources of Caladium in the market, yet have blurred its genetic background. In this study, 16 informative EST-SSR markers were used to screen 144 Caladium accessions, indicating that 16 EST-SSRs could distinguish all genotypes with a minimum cumulative identity probability (PI) of 2.0 2 × 10−15. Using the simulated annealing method, the richest genetic information was acquired at the same compression ratio. A final core of 44 accessions was selected, comprising 30.6% of the individuals and retraining more than 95% of the total genetic information. No significant differences were observed in allele frequency distributions or genetic diversity parameters between the core collection and the entire population. Cluster analysis roughly divided the core collections into four populations, where 66.7% of the private alleles were detected in Pop2. Finally, DNA molecular fingerprints of 44 core accessions were established, including barcodes and quick response (QR) code molecular identities (ID). The results will lay a theoretical foundation for identifying, preserving, and utilizing Caladium germplasm resources. Full article
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18 pages, 1153 KiB  
Article
Technological Revolution in the Field: Green Development of Chinese Agriculture Driven by Digital Information Technology (DIT)
by Xiaowen Dai, Yi Chen, Chunyan Zhang, Yanqiu He and Jiajia Li
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010199 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3022
Abstract
According to the Plan for Rural Development of Digital Agriculture (2019–2025), accelerated integration of digital technologies and agriculture is crucial to promoting high-quality agriculture in China. The application of DIT in agricultural activities will not only help improve the efficiency of agricultural production, [...] Read more.
According to the Plan for Rural Development of Digital Agriculture (2019–2025), accelerated integration of digital technologies and agriculture is crucial to promoting high-quality agriculture in China. The application of DIT in agricultural activities will not only help improve the efficiency of agricultural production, but also promote the green development of agriculture and the achievement of the Dual Carbon Target (DCT). In order to further clarify the comprehensive effects of the application of DIT in agricultural systems and provide routes for government decision-makers to assist in reducing agricultural emissions by DIT, this paper adopts the logical deductive method and starts with the application status to draw out the specific paths of low-carbon transformation in DIT-driven agriculture, while further discussing the potential issues in the process and corresponding solutions. DIT is a double-edged sword. It can promote the green and low-carbon transformation of agriculture by implementing precision operation, environmental monitoring, optimizing carbon emission accounting, and supervising the carbon market. However, at the same time, it may face problems such as unbalanced rural development and excessive financialization of the carbon market. Therefore, we should be optimistic but cautious about the application of DIT in reducing agricultural emissions. We can address potential problems by strengthening government-led investment, broadening channels for capital investment, strengthening skills training for farmers, and enhancing the regulation of trading in carbon sink markets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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12 pages, 1500 KiB  
Article
Combination of Mechanical/Physical Pretreatments with Trypsin or Pancreatin on Arthrospira platensis Protein Degradation
by Mónica M. Costa, Maria P. Spínola and José A. M. Prates
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010198 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1442
Abstract
Arthrospira platensis contains high protein content and quality, which makes it a promising feed source for livestock animals. However, this microalga presents a recalcitrant peptidoglycan cell wall, and its main proteins form protein-pigment complexes attached to the algal thylakoid membrane. The purpose of [...] Read more.
Arthrospira platensis contains high protein content and quality, which makes it a promising feed source for livestock animals. However, this microalga presents a recalcitrant peptidoglycan cell wall, and its main proteins form protein-pigment complexes attached to the algal thylakoid membrane. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of mechanical/physical pretreatments (bead milling, extrusion, freeze-drying, heating, microwave and sonication) combined with commercial enzymes (trypsin or pancreatin) on the degradation of A. platensis proteins. Protein degradation was assessed through the quantification of total protein and protein fractions (18–26 kDa, 40–48 kDa and others) on SDS-PAGE gels and the evaluation of the coefficient of protein degradation (CPD). The results showed that no significant differences were found among treatments for CPD values, except for an increase related to 18–26 kDa protein (phycocyanin subunits) with extrusion combined with pancreatin. In addition, extrusion and microwave caused a decrease of total protein in algal supernatant probably due to a denaturation/aggregation and reduction of solubility. Overall, extrusion is a promising pretreatment for A. platensis cell wall disruption and protein bioaccessibility. Further studies could elucidate how the effect of extrusion on protein solubility affects the activity of peptidases on protein degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of Feed Additives in Animal Production)
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30 pages, 4134 KiB  
Review
Soil Bioplastic Mulches for Agroecosystem Sustainability: A Comprehensive Review
by Cristina Abbate, Aurelio Scavo, Gaetano Roberto Pesce, Stefania Fontanazza, Alessia Restuccia and Giovanni Mauromicale
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010197 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 4553
Abstract
The use of plastic mulch films is widespread in agriculture for specialty cropping systems because of several benefits. In this article, we critically review, for the first time under a holistic approach, the use of biodegradable plastic mulches (BdPMs) in soil as a [...] Read more.
The use of plastic mulch films is widespread in agriculture for specialty cropping systems because of several benefits. In this article, we critically review, for the first time under a holistic approach, the use of biodegradable plastic mulches (BdPMs) in soil as a sustainable alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics, highlighting the current state of understanding of their degradation in soil and their effect on soil microorganisms, weed control, and soil properties. In addition, we provide a detailed focus on the history and economic importance of mulching. BdPMs are effective for use in vegetable production in that they improve physical, chemical, and biological soil properties, as well as enhancing microbial biodiversity, controlling weeds, and maintaining soil moisture. BdPMs could be useful to limit the use of agrochemicals and reduce tillage and irrigation supplies for sustainable management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research of Soil Microbial Functional Diversity)
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20 pages, 1734 KiB  
Article
Application of Jeevamrit Improves Soil Properties in Zero Budget Natural Farming Fields
by Baljeet Singh Saharan, Swati Tyagi, Robin Kumar, Vijay, Hari Om, Balwan Singh Mandal and Joginder Singh Duhan
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010196 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5595
Abstract
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), utilizing natural resources, multiple cropping systems, and cow-dung- and urine-based products to improve soil biology, has been practiced by thousands of farmers in India. However, without any scientific proof, this traditional and ancient technique is mocked as a [...] Read more.
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), utilizing natural resources, multiple cropping systems, and cow-dung- and urine-based products to improve soil biology, has been practiced by thousands of farmers in India. However, without any scientific proof, this traditional and ancient technique is mocked as a bugged theory in the scientific community. In the current study, we have investigated the effect of Jeevamrit—cow-dung- and urine-based formulation—on soil chemical and microbial properties of the ZBNF field coupled with metagenomic analysis and the economics of ZBNF. The percentage increase in soil properties, such as organic carbon, available phosphorus, and available potassium, was recorded up to 46%, 439%, and 142%, respectively, while micronutrients, such as Zn, Fe, Cu, and Mn, also increased up to 98%, 23%, 62%, and 55%, respectively, from 2017 to 2019. Whole genome metagenomic analysis revealed that Proteobacteria were dominantly present, and bacterial phyla including Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Rhizobium, and Panibacillus. On the other hand, Ascomycota was the dominating fungal phyla present in the soil sample. Further, functional analysis showed a high representation of genes/enzymes involved in amino acids and carbohydrate metabolism contributing to soil fertility, plant growth, defense, and development. Additionally, the cost–benefit ratio of ZBNF was double the farmer’s practice when tested with the rice and wheat cropping system. The results from this study provide a new proof of concept and understanding of the potential of the ZBNF component, i.e., Jeevamrit, in improving soil properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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