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Agriculture, Volume 13, Issue 3 (March 2023) – 231 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The aim was to characterize disturbances in the hormonal balance and in the accumulation of heat shock proteins (HSP) as a result of deacclimation of oilseed rape. Samples were collected from plants that had not been acclimated, cold acclimated (4 °C d/n, three weeks), and deacclimated (16/9 °C d/n, one week). The tested hormones included—among others—abscisic acid, gibberellins, and auxins. A concentration of ABA increased in all tested cultivars during cold acclimation and strongly decreased during deacclimation. Deacclimation resulted in elevated level of growth hormones. Cold acclimation increased the accumulation of cytoplasmic HSP70 in three of the four tested cultivars, while it often decreased in the deacclimated plants. View this paper
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16 pages, 6321 KiB  
Article
YOLO-Based Light-Weight Deep Learning Models for Insect Detection System with Field Adaption
by Nithin Kumar, Nagarathna and Francesco Flammini
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 741; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030741 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 4943
Abstract
The most incredible diversity, abundance, spread, and adaptability in biology are found in insects. The foundation of insect study and pest management is insect recognition. However, most of the current insect recognition research depends on a small number of insect taxonomic experts. We [...] Read more.
The most incredible diversity, abundance, spread, and adaptability in biology are found in insects. The foundation of insect study and pest management is insect recognition. However, most of the current insect recognition research depends on a small number of insect taxonomic experts. We can use computers to differentiate insects accurately instead of professionals because of the quick advancement of computer technology. The “YOLOv5” model, with five different state of the art object detection techniques, has been used in this insect recognition and classification investigation to identify insects with the subtle differences between subcategories. To enhance the critical information in the feature map and weaken the supporting information, both channel and spatial attention modules are introduced, improving the network’s capacity for recognition. The experimental findings show that the F1 score approaches 0.90, and the mAP value reaches 93% through learning on the self-made pest dataset. The F1 score increased by 0.02, and the map increased by 1% as compared to other YOLOv5 models, demonstrating the success of the upgraded YOLOv5-based insect detection system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hardware and Software Support for Insect Pest Management)
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28 pages, 3738 KiB  
Article
Suitability of Biowaste and Green Waste Composts for Organic Farming in Germany and the Resulting Utilization Potentials
by Ralf Gottschall, Maria Thelen-Jüngling, Martin Kranert and Bertram Kehres
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 740; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030740 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1862
Abstract
In this study, the suitability of biowaste and green waste composts in organic farming is presented based on quality assurance data of approximately 21,000 compost analyses from 2015 to 2020. The evaluation of compost suitability was based on both the legal regulations of [...] Read more.
In this study, the suitability of biowaste and green waste composts in organic farming is presented based on quality assurance data of approximately 21,000 compost analyses from 2015 to 2020. The evaluation of compost suitability was based on both the legal regulations of the EU 2021/1165 and the requirements of the two largest German organic farming associations Bioland and Naturland. In 2020, 70.1% of the composts agreed with the above-mentioned regulations, 21.6% exceeded the limits for heavy metals and 7.3% exceeded the limits for foreign matter. The negative influence of the single elements regarding the suitability of composts for organic agriculture declined in the order Zn > Pb > Cd > Ni > Cu. In the bio-waste composts, the impurity content subsequently decreased by more than 50% from 2015 to 2020. In 2019 and 2020, approximately 2.5 million Mg fresh mass (FM) of the analyzed composts were suitable for organic farming. With an average compost application of 5 Mg FM per hectare (ha) and year, about 500,000 ha of arable land could have been supplied in 2020. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Strategies in Organic Farming Systems)
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14 pages, 2688 KiB  
Article
Development of an N-Free Culture Solution for Cultivation of Nodulated Soybean with Less pH Fluctuation by the Addition of Potassium Bicarbonate
by Takuji Ohyama, Koyo Takayama, Ayaka Akagi, Akihiro Saito, Kyoko Higuchi and Takashi Sato
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 739; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030739 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1507
Abstract
Soybean plants can grow by solely depending on fixed N2 through their root nodules, a symbiotic organ with rhizobia. In this study, when nodulated soybeans were cultivated using hydroponics and an N-free culture solution, the pH rapidly decreased to 4.0, which may [...] Read more.
Soybean plants can grow by solely depending on fixed N2 through their root nodules, a symbiotic organ with rhizobia. In this study, when nodulated soybeans were cultivated using hydroponics and an N-free culture solution, the pH rapidly decreased to 4.0, which may be harmful for root growth and nutrient absorption. Therefore, we prepared a new N-free culture solution characterized by less pH fluctuation due to the addition of potassium bicarbonate. A total of 1–2 mM sodium bicarbonate optimized the pH between 6 and 7. However, the solution pH increased to 8–9 during soybean cultivation when 5–20 mM of sodium bicarbonate was applied. The addition of potassium bicarbonate did not affect the dry weight of each organ. The evapotranspiration rate of the plants with bicarbonate on the 37th day after planting was higher than that of the control without bicarbonate. When the K2SO4 was replaced by KHCO3, the pH just after preparation ranged between 6.3 and 6.5, while that after cultivation for two days ranged frp, about 6.1 to 6.5. It was found that more than half of the bicarbonate remained in the culture solution after 3 days of cultivation. The optimum P concentrations for the modified culture solution were found to be 50 and 100 μM, while the P concentrations over 150 μM reduced the plant growth and led to yellowing in the lower leaves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Legume Nitrogen Fixation in Agroecosystems)
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19 pages, 2696 KiB  
Article
Deep Learning for Laying Hen Activity Recognition Using Wearable Sensors
by Mohammad Shahbazi, Kamyar Mohammadi, Sayed M. Derakhshani and Peter W. G. Groot Koerkamp
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030738 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1750
Abstract
Laying hen activities in modern intensive housing systems can dramatically influence the policies needed for the optimal management of such systems. Intermittent monitoring of different behaviors during daytime cannot provide a good overview, since daily behaviors are not equally distributed over the day. [...] Read more.
Laying hen activities in modern intensive housing systems can dramatically influence the policies needed for the optimal management of such systems. Intermittent monitoring of different behaviors during daytime cannot provide a good overview, since daily behaviors are not equally distributed over the day. This paper investigates the application of deep learning technology in the automatic recognition of laying hen behaviors equipped with body-worn inertial measurement unit (IMU) modules in poultry systems. Motivated by the human activity recognition literature, a sophisticated preprocessing method is tailored on the time-series data of IMU, transforming it into the form of so-called activity images to be recognized by the deep learning models. The diverse range of behaviors a laying hen can exhibit are categorized into three classes: low-, medium-, and high-intensity activities, and various recognition models are trained to recognize these behaviors in real-time. Several ablation studies are conducted to assess the efficacy and robustness of the developed models against variations and limitations common for an in situ practical implementation. Overall, the best trained model on the full-feature acquired data achieves a mean accuracy of almost 100%, where the whole process of inference by the model takes less than 30 milliseconds. The results suggest that the application of deep learning technology for activity recognition of individual hens has the potential to accurately aid successful management of modern poultry systems. Full article
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13 pages, 2555 KiB  
Article
EffiMob-Net: A Deep Learning-Based Hybrid Model for Detection and Identification of Tomato Diseases Using Leaf Images
by Zahid Ullah, Najah Alsubaie, Mona Jamjoom, Samah H. Alajmani and Farrukh Saleem
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 737; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030737 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2736
Abstract
As tomatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the world, production should be increased to fulfill the vast demand for this vegetable. Global warming, climate changes, and other significant factors, including pests, badly affect tomato plants and cause various diseases that ultimately affect [...] Read more.
As tomatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the world, production should be increased to fulfill the vast demand for this vegetable. Global warming, climate changes, and other significant factors, including pests, badly affect tomato plants and cause various diseases that ultimately affect the production of this vegetable. Several strategies and techniques have been adopted for detecting and averting such diseases to ensure the survival of tomato plants. Recently, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) has significantly contributed to agronomy in the detection of tomato plant diseases through leaf images. Deep learning (DL)-based techniques have been largely utilized for detecting tomato leaf diseases. This paper proposes a hybrid DL-based approach for detecting tomato plant diseases through leaf images. To accomplish the task, this study presents the fusion of two pretrained models, namely, EfficientNetB3 and MobileNet (referred to as the EffiMob-Net model) to detect tomato leaf diseases accurately. In addition, model overfitting was handled using various techniques, such as regularization, dropout, and batch normalization (BN). Hyperparameter tuning was performed to choose the optimal parameters for building the best-fitting model. The proposed hybrid EffiMob-Net model was tested on a plant village dataset containing tomato leaf disease and healthy images. This hybrid model was evaluated based on the best classifier with respect to accuracy metrics selected for detecting the diseases. The success rate of the proposed hybrid model for accurately detecting tomato leaf diseases reached 99.92%, demonstrating the model’s ability to extract features accurately. This finding shows the reliability of the proposed hybrid model as an automatic detector for tomato plant diseases that can significantly contribute to providing better solutions for detecting other crop diseases in the field of agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning for Smart Agriculture)
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20 pages, 4328 KiB  
Article
Representative Elementary Volume as a Function of Land Uses and Soil Processes Based on 3D Pore System Analysis
by José V. Gaspareto, Jocenei A. T. de Oliveira, Everton Andrade and Luiz F. Pires
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 736; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030736 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1629
Abstract
Representative elementary volume (REV) is required for representative measurements of soil physical properties. However, questions may arise whether REV depends on how the soil structure is modified or whether processes in the soil affect REV. Here, we explore REV dependence for contrasting land [...] Read more.
Representative elementary volume (REV) is required for representative measurements of soil physical properties. However, questions may arise whether REV depends on how the soil structure is modified or whether processes in the soil affect REV. Here, we explore REV dependence for contrasting land uses (conventional tillage, no-tillage, and minimum tillage) and applying wetting and drying (W-D) cycles. The effect of different subvolume selection schemes (cube and core) on REV was also investigated. For this study, high-resolution three-dimensional images obtained using the X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) technique were analyzed. The micromorphological properties measured were porosity (P), fractal dimension (FD), degree of anisotropy (DA), and pore connectivity (C). The results show that REV depends mainly on the land uses for P and C (both selection schemes). The core method showed lower REV due to the larger volume analyzed than that in the cube method. It was not possible to define a REV for DA. The REV obtained using the cube method was more sensitive to changes in the scale of analysis, showing an increasing trend with applied W-D cycles for P and FD. Our results indicate that REV cannot be considered static since land uses and processes influence it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue X-ray Computed Tomography in Agricultural Systems)
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49 pages, 733 KiB  
Review
The Journey of 1000 Leagues towards the Decontamination of the Soil from Heavy Metals and the Impact on the Soil–Plant–Animal–Human Chain Begins with the First Step: Phytostabilization/Phytoextraction
by Cristina Hegedus, Simona-Nicoleta Pașcalău, Luisa Andronie, Ancuţa-Simona Rotaru, Alexandra-Antonia Cucu and Daniel Severus Dezmirean
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030735 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1828
Abstract
Nowadays, there are a multitude of sources of heavy metal pollution which have unwanted effects on this super organism, the soil, which is capable of self-regulation, but limited. Living a healthy life through the consumption of fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, edible products and [...] Read more.
Nowadays, there are a multitude of sources of heavy metal pollution which have unwanted effects on this super organism, the soil, which is capable of self-regulation, but limited. Living a healthy life through the consumption of fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, edible products and by-products of animal origin, honey and bee products can sometimes turn out to be just a myth due to the contamination of the soil with heavy metals whose values, even if they are below accepted limits, are taken up by plants, reach the food chain and in the long term unbalance the homeostasis of the human organism. Plants, these miracles of nature, some with the natural ability to grow on polluted soils, others needing a little help by adding chelators or amendments, can participate in the soil detoxification of heavy metals through phytoextraction and phytostabilization. The success of soil decontamination must take into account the collaboration of earth sciences, pedology, pedochemistry, plant physiology, climatology, the characteristics of heavy metals and how they are absorbed in plants, and in addition how to avoid the contamination of other systems, water or air. The present work materialized after extensive bibliographic study in which the results obtained by the cited authors were compiled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green and Sustainable Agricultural Ecosystem)
19 pages, 1593 KiB  
Review
Exploring the Research Challenges and Perspectives in Ecophysiology of Plants Affected by Salinity Stress
by Mădălina Trușcă, Ștefania Gâdea, Roxana Vidican, Vlad Stoian, Anamaria Vâtcă, Claudia Balint, Valentina Ancuța Stoian, Melinda Horvat and Sorin Vâtcă
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030734 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3232
Abstract
Soil salinization processes have increased over the years and affect large parts of agricultural fields. The purpose of this review was to highlight the most important aspects regarding the potential effects of soil salinity on plants. In the current context of climate change, [...] Read more.
Soil salinization processes have increased over the years and affect large parts of agricultural fields. The purpose of this review was to highlight the most important aspects regarding the potential effects of soil salinity on plants. In the current context of climate change, extreme weather and increased drought periods can lead to plant metabolic dysfunctionalities and accumulation of salt ions because of the increasing need for irrigation. The most important limiting factor, salinity, has a highly negative impact on plant growth independent of the appearance of either natural or anthropic status. The negative aspects include decreased leaf development rate, a low water level in all parts of the plant, reduced cell division and elongation, and low-intensity photosynthetic rate. Other negative aspects are directly related to stomata closure, reduced transpiration, low CO2 level, and limitations on seed germination. However, there are also some positive aspects to the presence of salinity in soil. The field offers unlimited possibilities of research in order to activate pathways that help plants become resistant to salt stress. Several physiological parameters can benefit from low salt concentration (halopriming), such as germination, vigor, rapid seedling growth, and increased stomata number. Further studies should focus on both the positive and negative aspects of the increase in soil salinity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Production)
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31 pages, 43899 KiB  
Article
Swine Breeding in the Villages of Vâlcea County, Oltenia (Romania)—Tradition or Necessity?
by Camelia Teodorescu, Marin Burcea, Ana-Irina Lequeux-Dincă, Florentina-Cristina Merciu, Adrian-Nicolae Jipa and Laurenţiu-Ştefan Szemkovics
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030733 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1574
Abstract
Food supply has been a constant source of concern for mankind. In the present context, with food security a priority of European and national policies, an analysis of pig farming in a representative NUTS2 administrative level of Romania that emphasizes the proportion of [...] Read more.
Food supply has been a constant source of concern for mankind. In the present context, with food security a priority of European and national policies, an analysis of pig farming in a representative NUTS2 administrative level of Romania that emphasizes the proportion of households raising at least one pig and the main factors influencing farmers to adopt or give up swine breeding could allow a much clearer understanding of this phenomenon that lies at the border between cultural tradition and socio-economic necessity. This study uses mixed methods that complement each another to help reveal this complex phenomenon in the analyzed territory. Cluster analysis shows the concentration of swine breeding and maps its spread in terms of both subsistence and larger farms, and qualitative interviews prove the motivation of farmers to continue in this occupation. As a primary result, the study visualizes the spatial distribution of pig farming in the rural environment of Vâlcea county, Romania, from a diachronic perspective in the post-communist period. It also reveals areas of differing concentrations of both very small-sized farms, which prioritize meeting their own food needs, and larger farms, which prioritize commercial production to supplement their revenue streams. Both categories, but particularly the latter, are of particular interest in a period in which the socio-economic environment after 1990—marked by economic restructuring, unemployment, population migration, the economic crisis of 2008–2010, the pandemic of 2020–2021, and the most recent energy crisis—periodically highlights the importance of rural areas in ensuring food security and sufficiency at both the local and regional levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Citizen Science and Sustainable Regional Development)
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18 pages, 2062 KiB  
Article
Using Digital Image Analysis to Estimate Corn Ear Traits in Agrotechnical Field Trials: The Case with Harvest Residues and Fertilization Regimes
by Dušan Dunđerski, Goran Jaćimović, Jovan Crnobarac, Jelena Visković and Dragana Latković
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 732; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030732 - 22 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2512
Abstract
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility of digital image analysis (DIA) as a substitute for standard analysis (SA) in assessing corn ear traits in agrotechnical field trials. Accurate and timely prediction of corn yield through corn ear traits can lead [...] Read more.
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility of digital image analysis (DIA) as a substitute for standard analysis (SA) in assessing corn ear traits in agrotechnical field trials. Accurate and timely prediction of corn yield through corn ear traits can lead to precise agricultural management recommendations for the improvement of production. Four replications with 10 plots each were subjected to different fertilization regimes and analyzed using DIA and SA to determine the kernel number per ear (KN), ear length (EL), and ear diameter (ED). For both methods, the results showed that only nitrogen doses had a significant effect on the examined corn ear traits, and the correlation matrix revealed a strong and significant relationship between yield and corn ear traits. The post-hoc test showed no discrepancy in cases between the two methods for KN and EL, with a 6.7% discrepancy for ED. For both methods, a linear plateau was the best fit for KN and EL with increasing nitrogen doses, whereas a quadratic plateau was the best fit for ED. The regression equations for both methods provided similar recommendations regarding nitrogen requirements. The findings suggest that DIA can be used as a substitute for SA of corn ear traits obtained from different fertilization variants and can provide nitrogen fertilization recommendations for optimal corn yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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20 pages, 5138 KiB  
Article
Problems and Opportunities within the Wine Industry in Terms of the COVID-19 Pandemic
by František Synák
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 731; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030731 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3908
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and still affects various sectors, including the agricultural sector. A specific industry deriving from agriculture is the wine industry. The purpose of this article is to find out and analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and still affects various sectors, including the agricultural sector. A specific industry deriving from agriculture is the wine industry. The purpose of this article is to find out and analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wine sector, especially regarding the Slovakia wine sector. To achieve this, a wide literary research study was conducted through which an overview of the global wine industry situation was obtained. Subsequently, the impact of COVID-19 on a selected wine business in the Slovak Republic was determined via interviewing. The findings were further analysed and compared with the situations of other Slovak and foreign wineries. It follows from the observations that both risk diversification within supplying and purchasing relations and the business’s essential need to adapt to new circumstances under adverse conditions are very important factors. The article’s contribution lies in a summarization of the problems and opportunities within the wineries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a wide literary research review and interviews with an employee of the large wine company, and the conclusions can also be applied to other agricultural industries. Full article
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19 pages, 7258 KiB  
Article
Wavelet Scattering Convolution Network-Based Detection Algorithm on Nondestructive Microcrack Electrical Signals of Eggs
by Chenbo Shi, Yanhong Cheng, Chun Zhang, Jin Yuan, Yuxin Wang, Xin Jiang and Changsheng Zhu
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 730; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030730 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1659
Abstract
The detection of poultry egg microcracks based on electrical characteristic models is a new and effective method. However, due to the disorder, mutation, nonlinear, time discontinuity, and other factors of the current data, detection algorithms such as support-vector machines (SVM) and random forest [...] Read more.
The detection of poultry egg microcracks based on electrical characteristic models is a new and effective method. However, due to the disorder, mutation, nonlinear, time discontinuity, and other factors of the current data, detection algorithms such as support-vector machines (SVM) and random forest (RF) under traditional statistical characteristics cannot identify subtle defects. The detection system voltage is set to 1500 V in the existing method, and higher voltages may cause damage to the hatched eggs; therefore, how to reduce the voltage is also a focus of research. In this paper, to address the problem of the low signal-to-noise ratio of microcracks in current signals, a wavelet scattering transform capable of extracting translation-invariant and small deformation-stable features is proposed to extract multi-scale high-frequency feature vectors. In view of the time series and low feature scale of current signals, various convolutional networks, such as a one-dimensional convolutional neural network (1DCNN), long short-term memory (LSTM), bi-directional long short-term memory (Bi-LSTM), and gated recurrent unit (GRU) are adopted. The detection algorithm of the wavelet scattering convolutional network is implemented for electrical sensing signals. The experimental results show that compared with previous works, the accuracy, precision, recall, F1-score, and Matthews correlation coefficient of the proposed wavelet scattering convolutional network on microcrack datasets smaller than 3 μm at a voltage of 1000 V are 99.4393%, 99.2523%, 99.6226%, 99.4357%, and 98.8819%, respectively, with an average increase of 2.0561%. In addition, the promotability and validity of the proposed detection algorithm were verified on a class-imbalanced dataset and a duck egg dataset. Based on the good results of the above experiments, further experiments were conducted with different voltages. The new feature extraction and detection method reduces the sensing voltage from 1500 V to 500 V, which allows for achieving higher detection accuracy with a lower signal-to-noise ratio, significantly reducing the risk of high voltage damage to hatching eggs and meeting the requirements for crack detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robots and Autonomous Machines for Agriculture Production)
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16 pages, 3197 KiB  
Communication
Research on Consumer Perception Regarding Wine Products and Wine Tourism in the Republic of Moldova
by Viorica Guțan, Larisa Șavga, Constanta Laura Zugravu, Diana Bucur and Gheorghe Adrian Zugravu
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030729 - 22 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1857
Abstract
Traditions of vine cultivation and wine production have been formed in Moldova over centuries. According to folk traditions, wine is an integral part of any event organized by the locals. Wine tourism is a particularly significant sector for the country’s economy. Although it [...] Read more.
Traditions of vine cultivation and wine production have been formed in Moldova over centuries. According to folk traditions, wine is an integral part of any event organized by the locals. Wine tourism is a particularly significant sector for the country’s economy. Although it only emerged at the end of the 20th century, it is growing in importance every year. To contribute to this area of scientific discourse, a study on consumers’ perception of wine products and wine tourism in the Republic of Moldova was conducted. The main respondents who participated in the survey were citizens of the country, but respondents from Romania and Ukraine also participated. The results obtained indicate that wine products are consumed by the majority of the respondents participating in the survey and that wine tourism has continuity in its development and is of clear interest among citizens. The diversity of the tourist offers of the wineries and the recreational areas in which they are located are of course of particular importance when selecting a wine tour. Full article
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12 pages, 2783 KiB  
Article
Feammox Bacterial Biofilms as an Alternative Biological Process for the Removal of Nitrogen from Agricultural Wastewater
by Ámbar Cerda, Macarena González, Carolina Rodríguez, Jennyfer Serrano and Eduardo Leiva
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030728 - 22 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1940
Abstract
The excessive deposition of ammonium (reactive nitrogen) in the environment has led to losses of biodiversity and the eutrophication of ecosystems. Anthropogenic sources contribute twice the natural rate of terrestrial reactive nitrogen and provide about 45% of the total amount of it produced [...] Read more.
The excessive deposition of ammonium (reactive nitrogen) in the environment has led to losses of biodiversity and the eutrophication of ecosystems. Anthropogenic sources contribute twice the natural rate of terrestrial reactive nitrogen and provide about 45% of the total amount of it produced annually on Earth. Recently, a biological process that anaerobically metabolizes ammonium and facilitates iron reduction, termed Feammox, was discovered. The use of Feammox activity together with hollow fiber membrane bioreactors (HFMB), for which the latter are based on the formation of biofilms of bacterial communities, constitutes an efficient and sustainable method for the removal of ammonium from agriculturally derived wastewater. To implement the use of HFMB with Feammox activity, the formation of Feammox bacterial biofilms from wastewater sludge samples from a brewery was evaluated. The cultures were enriched with two different carbon sources, namely, sodium acetate and sodium bicarbonate; then, ferrous iron and ammonium concentrations, which were used as indicators of reactive nitrogen removal, were measured. The measurements revealed that the ammonium removal level reaches 20.4% when sodium acetate is used as carbon source. Moreover, an increase in the ferrous iron concentration of +Δ84.6 mg/L was observed, indicating that Feammox activity had been generated. Biofilm formation was observed under Feammox conditions on the hollow fibers. These results showed that Feammox bacteria can form biofilms and efficiently remove ammonium from wastewater, constituting an essential feature with which to scale up the process to HFMBs. Overall, these results contribute to a better understanding of the Feammox process that can be used to implement these processes in agriculture and thus progress towards a more sustainable industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Water Management)
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12 pages, 3502 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Fludioxonil Reduction Using Non-Thermal Atmospheric Plasma through Experimental Simulation
by Sangheum Eom, Junghyun Lim, Sang Hye Ji, Jong-Seok Song, Jung Woo Yoon, Hyeongwon Jeon and Seungmin Ryu
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 727; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030727 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1119
Abstract
In this study, the effect of non-thermal atmospheric plasma (NTAP) treatment on the reduction of residual fludioxonil (C12H6F2N2O2, 4-(2,2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole-3-carbonitrile) was investigated through experimental simulation. Fludioxonil is known for its high residual concentration on [...] Read more.
In this study, the effect of non-thermal atmospheric plasma (NTAP) treatment on the reduction of residual fludioxonil (C12H6F2N2O2, 4-(2,2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole-3-carbonitrile) was investigated through experimental simulation. Fludioxonil is known for its high residual concentration on fruits and vegetables. To simulate residual fludioxonil reduction in the storage location prior to consumption of fruits or vegetables by consumers, we designed an experimental setup utilizing a gas distribution system and a cylindrical dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma source. A cylindrical DBD plasma source was adopted to produce the plasma activated chemical species (O3). To evaluate the effect of plasma treatment on the reduction of residual fludioxonil, experiments were performed under three different conditions: varying concentrations and treatment times of O3, as well as the surface roughness of microscope slide glass. Based on the results, 10 min plasma treatment with an O3 concentration of 11.89 μL/L, which showed a 58.5% reduction rate, is recommended. The O3 concentration has a higher priority than the treatment time for reduction rates of residual fludioxonil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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28 pages, 4823 KiB  
Article
Tourism Development in the Framework of Endogenous Rural Development Programmes—Comparison of the Case Studies of the Regions of La Vera and Tajo-Salor (Extremadura, Spain)
by Francisco Javier Castellano-Álvarez, Rafael Robina Ramírez and Ana Nieto Masot
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030726 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1561
Abstract
The promotion of rural tourism is one of the measures that has aroused most expectations in the application of the endogenous rural development programmes promoted by the European Commission at the beginning of the 1990s. Using the case study methodology, this research aims [...] Read more.
The promotion of rural tourism is one of the measures that has aroused most expectations in the application of the endogenous rural development programmes promoted by the European Commission at the beginning of the 1990s. Using the case study methodology, this research aims to compare the implementation of the aforementioned measure in two regions which, according to their characteristics, could be considered as antagonistic examples: one, La Vera, has all the conditions to successfully develop its tourism sector; the other, Tajo-Salor, with an adverse climate, lacking in outstanding tourism resources and far from the main centres of demand, could be considered the opposite. The results of the research show the risks inherent in an excessive specialisation in tourism within development strategies. Paradoxically, in La Vera, the concentration of investment in the tourism sector has resulted in a higher number of failed and transferred projects, as well as the dissatisfaction of most of its tourism promoters with the viability of their businesses. In contrast, in Tajo-Salor, the results are more positive, despite the fact that this region has given less relative importance to the tourism sector. Full article
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12 pages, 616 KiB  
Article
Weed Competition on Soybean Varieties from Different Relative Maturity Groups
by João Victor dos Santos Caldas, Alessandro Guerra da Silva, Guilherme Braga Pereira Braz, Sergio de Oliveira Procópio, Itamar Rosa Teixeira, Matheus de Freitas Souza and Laís Tereza Rêgo Torquato Reginaldo
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 725; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030725 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1769
Abstract
One factor limiting the achievement of high yields in the soybean crop is weed interference. The level of weed interference can vary according to the specificities of the weed community but also due to the agronomic characteristics of the soybean varieties. The objective [...] Read more.
One factor limiting the achievement of high yields in the soybean crop is weed interference. The level of weed interference can vary according to the specificities of the weed community but also due to the agronomic characteristics of the soybean varieties. The objective of this work was to evaluate the effects of weed interference on soybean varieties of different relative maturity groups (RMG). A field experiment was implemented in a randomized complete block design, in a 3 × 4 factorial scheme, with five replications. The treatments were composed of the varieties BMX Flecha® (RMG 6.6), BMX Power® (RMG 7.3), and BMX Bônus® (RMG 7.9), associated with the following four weed managements: weeding throughout the cycle; weeded up to 20 days after emergence (DAE); weeded after 20 DAE until the end of soybean cycle; not weeded throughout the entire cycle. There was no interaction between the effects of the varieties and the weed management for emergence speed index, plant height, chlorophyll, first pod height insertion, plant population, thousand-grain weight and yield. The initial weed management caused changes in the composition of the weed community. The managements weeded throughout the cycle and weeded up until 20 DAE provided higher levels of chlorophyll and grain yield. The management without weeding during the entire cycle negatively influenced yield components. Late interventions in weed control, regardless of the soybean variety, result in yield losses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management of Weeds and Herbicide Resistance)
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14 pages, 1152 KiB  
Review
The Impact of Auxin and Cytokinin on the Growth and Development of Selected Crops
by Jacek Sosnowski, Milena Truba and Viliana Vasileva
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 724; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030724 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 17126
Abstract
With a very diverse structure and small molecules, phytohormones are regulators of plant growth and development. Despite the fact that they are synthesized by plants in small quantities, they are highly active physiologically. According to their action, phytohormones can be divided into two [...] Read more.
With a very diverse structure and small molecules, phytohormones are regulators of plant growth and development. Despite the fact that they are synthesized by plants in small quantities, they are highly active physiologically. According to their action, phytohormones can be divided into two categories, as either activators of plant growth and development or as inhibitors, with auxins and cytokinins belonging to the former group. Auxins are synthesized by plants in the apical meristems of shoots, but also in young leaves, seeds, and fruits. They stimulate the elongation growth of shoots and initiate the production of adventitious and lateral roots. Cytokinins, in turn, are formed in root tips and in unripe fruits and seeds. These hormones are responsible for stimulating the growth of lateral shoots, they also stimulate cytokinesis and, consequently, cell division. The aim of this review paper is to present the progress of the research on the effect of selected auxins and cytokinins on crops, considering the prospect of using them in plant growing methods. Full article
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13 pages, 1739 KiB  
Article
Can Insects Assess Environmental Risk? Movement Responses and Nymph Emergence in Response to Insecticides
by Purushottam Gyawali, Heather Kim, Delaney Ruth Vance, Haleh Khodaverdi, Anil Mantri and Christian Nansen
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030723 - 21 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1650
Abstract
In natural habitats, there is a strong evolutionary selection pressure on herbivorous insects to avoid danger and choose suitable host plants. Similar selection pressures may drive movement and choices of oviposition hosts by herbivorous insects living in agricultural cropping systems, in which insecticides [...] Read more.
In natural habitats, there is a strong evolutionary selection pressure on herbivorous insects to avoid danger and choose suitable host plants. Similar selection pressures may drive movement and choices of oviposition hosts by herbivorous insects living in agricultural cropping systems, in which insecticides are often used. In this study, we quantified movement responses and nymph emergence (collectively referred to as bio-responses) of western-tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae)) individuals when exposed to environments associated with a perceived “risk” (experimental insecticide treatments and their corresponding controls). We introduce a novel analytical approach in which treatments (risk environments) are ranked in ascending order based on bio-responses (movement or nymph emergence). Consequently, linear regression coefficients were generated and used to interpret bio-responses of Lygus individuals in different life stages to risk environments. Initially, we predicted movement by Lygus individuals to be positively associated with environmental risk and nymph emergence to be negatively associated with environmental risk. Overall, based on a comprehensive combination of no- and two-choice bioassays, we found that: (1) In no-choice bioassays, movement parameters (both total distance moved and movement percentage) by all three life stages were lowest in low-risk environments and highest when Lygus individuals were exposed to either malathion or Grandevo. Accordingly, environments involving malathion or Grandevo were considered high-risk. (2) No-choice movement bioassays also revealed that Lygus males moved significantly more (based on comparison of regression intercepts) than other life stages, and that they responded significantly more (based on comparison of regression slopes) than conspecific females and nymphs. (3) In two-choice movement bioassays, neem elicited the most consistent movement responses by Lygus individuals, and adult life stages showed the strongest response. Two-choice movement bioassays also revealed that Lygus adults, compared to nymphs, were more likely to spend time in low-risk areas of the test arenas. (4) Nymph emergence was markedly lower in no-choice compared to two-choice bioassays, and in two-choice bioassays, Grandevo and malathion elicited especially biased nymph emergence from low-risk beans. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which movement bioassays have been used to quantify and characterize behavioral responses by Lygus life stages to environments associated with varying degrees of risk. The novel analytical approach presented in this study provides a high degree of complementarity to more traditional performance-testing methods used to evaluate responses to insecticides. Furthermore, we believe that this analytical approach can be of considerable relevance to studies of animal phenomics and behavioral studies of animals more broadly, in which adaptation and fitness parameters are examined in response to environmental risk and heterogeneity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Ecology and Innovative Crop Management)
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14 pages, 4111 KiB  
Article
A 10-Year Ecological Monitoring of Soils and Triticum aestivum in the Impact Zone of a Power Station
by Victor Chaplygin, Tamara Dudnikova, Saglara Mandzhieva, Tatiana Minkina, Anatoly Barakhov, Dina Nevidomskaya, Vishnu Rajput, Yuri Litvinov, Marina Burachevskaya, Natalia Chernikova, Olga Nazarenko, Andrey Barbashev and Svetlana Sushkova
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 722; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030722 - 21 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1391
Abstract
Based on 10 years of environmental monitoring located around the emission zone of an electricity supplier, the main regularities have been studied for the content of heavy metals (HMs), such as Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, Mn, and Cr, and 16 priority polycyclic [...] Read more.
Based on 10 years of environmental monitoring located around the emission zone of an electricity supplier, the main regularities have been studied for the content of heavy metals (HMs), such as Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, Mn, and Cr, and 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the soils of agricultural landscapes and their accumulation in Triticum aestivum. It has been shown that one of the most significant factors for the pollutants accumulation in soils and plants was the prevailing wind direction on the territory and atmospheric transfer of the dust particles of the enterprise with adsorbed pollutants. As the content of pollutants in the soil increased, their accumulation in Triticum aestivum increased with each season to a level exceeding maximum permissible concentrations (MPC), especially for Pb, Cd, and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). The unambiguous influx of pollutants from the soil into the roots and further into the aboveground organs of the plant was typical only for Mn, Cr, and BaP, and the accumulation of other studied pollutants can be explained by their foliar influx. It has been established that Triticum aestivum was a more tolerant plant with respect to heavy metals pollution than PAHs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remediation of Heavy Metals-Contaminated Soils)
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14 pages, 1087 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Entrepreneurial Ability of Small-Scale Farmers through the Rasch–Andrich Model
by Carlos Alberto Cortés-Rodríguez, Gladys Martínez-Gómez, José Luis Romo-Lozano and Ezequiel Arvizu-Barrón
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030721 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1564
Abstract
Entrepreneurial skills are fundamental to the success of agricultural production units. Since small-scale farmers have developed production skills but not market-oriented skills, it is necessary to assess their entrepreneurial skills to provide a reference for sustainable community development plans. The objective was to [...] Read more.
Entrepreneurial skills are fundamental to the success of agricultural production units. Since small-scale farmers have developed production skills but not market-oriented skills, it is necessary to assess their entrepreneurial skills to provide a reference for sustainable community development plans. The objective was to evaluate the entrepreneurial ability of small-scale farmers in San Pablo Huixtepec, Oaxaca, using the Rasch–Andrich rating scale, a psychometric model that makes it possible to obtain measurements with a certain degree of precision. A survey was conducted among 45 small-scale farmers to collect the characteristics of their production unit, the characteristics of the small-scale farmers, and to determine their entrepreneurial skills (17 items). The data were processed using Winsteps software. Item 14 “I easily market what I produce” was eliminated because it did not contribute to the unidimensionality of the variable. The data fit the model and the Rasch–Andrich thresholds and, together with the category probability curves, demonstrated the good performance of the rating scale. The entrepreneurial ability ranged from −1.54 to 10.11 logits. Since most of producers (66.6%) were below average (1.09 logits), it is considered pertinent to support them to improve their ability. Full article
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15 pages, 7230 KiB  
Article
Native Trichoderma Isolates from Soil and Rootstock to Fusarium spp. Control and Growth Promotion of Humulus lupulus L. Plantlets
by Alejandra J. Porteous-Álvarez, Alexia Fernández-Marcos, Daniela Ramírez-Lozano, Sara Mayo-Prieto, Rosa E. Cardoza, Santiago Gutiérrez and Pedro A. Casquero
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 720; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030720 - 21 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1850
Abstract
Fusarium genus is a wide host phytopathogen causing significant losses in multiple crops, including hops. There is limited information on the sustainable management of Fusarium spp. in hop fields. Trichoderma is an endophytic fungus used in agriculture as a biological control agent (BCA) [...] Read more.
Fusarium genus is a wide host phytopathogen causing significant losses in multiple crops, including hops. There is limited information on the sustainable management of Fusarium spp. in hop fields. Trichoderma is an endophytic fungus used in agriculture as a biological control agent (BCA) and as a plant growth promoter. It has been used to antagonize Fusarium spp. in other crops. The objective of the current study was to identify indigenous hop field Trichoderma isolates with biocontrol and hop growth promotion capabilities. Three isolates of Fusarium and eleven autochthonous Trichoderma isolates collected from sustainable hop fields were evaluated in this work. Direct confrontation tests (the physical interaction between the pathogen and BCA and their competition for space and nutrient resources) and membrane tests (the capacity of the BCA to produce metabolites or enzymes through a cellophane film and inhibit the development of the pathogen) assessed the antagonism of these Trichoderma isolates against Fusarium culmorum, F. sambucinum, and F. oxysporum. A bioassay with hop plantlets inoculated with a spore suspension of Trichoderma was performed to assess its hop growth enhancement. T. hamatum (T311 and T324), T. virens T312, and T. gamsii T327 showed high growth inhibition of Fusarium spp. phytopathogens and high plant growth promotion. Native Trichoderma isolates from sustainable hop-producing soils have great potential as BCAs and hop growth promoters. Full article
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16 pages, 1402 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Remediation with Bacillus and Paenibacillus Strains and Biochar on the Biological Activity of Petroleum-Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Haplic Chernozem
by Tatiana Minnikova, Sergey Kolesnikov, Nikita Minin, Andrey Gorovtsov, Nikita Vasilchenko and Vladimir Chistyakov
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030719 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1273
Abstract
The effect of bacterial strains on certain genera, both independently and in combination with biochar in various options, on petroleum hydrocarbon decomposition in chernozem and the restoration of the ecological state of the soil were studied. To simulate petroleum hydrocarbon contamination, petroleum hydrocarbons [...] Read more.
The effect of bacterial strains on certain genera, both independently and in combination with biochar in various options, on petroleum hydrocarbon decomposition in chernozem and the restoration of the ecological state of the soil were studied. To simulate petroleum hydrocarbon contamination, petroleum hydrocarbons were introduced into soil in the amount of 5% of soil weight. Strains of Bacillus and Paenibacillus bacteria (in recommended and increased doses × 100) and biochar (1% of soil weight) were introduced into contaminated soil separately and together. It was found that after 30 days, the oil content decreased with the joint introduction of an increased dose of Bacillus, Panibacillus and biochar by 64%, as well as with the inoculation of biochar with Bacillus and Panibacillus bacteria at the recommended dose by 67%. The introduction of biochar, inoculated with BP and BP × 100, contributed to an increase in the intensity of CO2 emission compared to the background by 5–10%. With the joint introduction of BP + B, stimulation was 70%, with an increase in the concentration of BP × 100–115%. The preparation BP and BP × 100 introduced with biochar stimulated the activity of the enzyme by 49 and 61%; with the preinoculation of BP in biochar, stimulation was 27% relative to the background value. The most informative biological indicators when introducing ameliorants of biochar, Bacillus and Paenibacillus were the total number of bacteria, the length of the barley roots and the catalase activity, demonstrating the greatest sensitivity. The results of the study should be used for the remediation and biomonitoring of the state of oil-contaminated soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remediation of Contaminated Soil for Sustainable Agriculture)
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17 pages, 10078 KiB  
Article
Spatial-Temporal Pattern of Agricultural Total Factor Productivity Change (Tfpch) in China and Its Implications for Agricultural Sustainable Development
by Haonan Zhang, Zheng Chen, Jieyong Wang, Haitao Wang and Yingwen Zhang
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 718; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030718 - 21 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1535
Abstract
With increasing tension between humans and land, and arising pressure on food security in China, the improvement of total factor productivity is important to realize agricultural modernization and promote rural revitalization strategy. In this study, we applied the DEA-Malmquist index method to measure [...] Read more.
With increasing tension between humans and land, and arising pressure on food security in China, the improvement of total factor productivity is important to realize agricultural modernization and promote rural revitalization strategy. In this study, we applied the DEA-Malmquist index method to measure the growth of China’s agricultural total factor productivity and its decomposition indexes at the prefecture-level city scale from 2011 to 2020. We found the average annual growth rate of agricultural total factor productivity was 4.5% during this period, with technical change being the driving factor and technical efficiency change being the suppressing factor. There is an initial decrease and then an increase in the Dagum Gini coefficient. The cold and hot spot areas of agricultural Tfpch were clearly formed. During the decade, the gravity center of agricultural Tfpch has migrated from the northeast to the southwest in general. Based on the characteristics of agricultural Tfpch, China is classified into four zones. In the future, the Chinese government should balance the government and the market mechanism, improve the agricultural science and technology innovation system and technology adoption promotion system, and implement classified policies to improve agriculture production efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Systems and Management)
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12 pages, 10652 KiB  
Article
Changes in the Growth and Yield of an Extremely Early-Maturing Rice Variety According to Transplanting Density
by Yeotae Yun
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030717 - 20 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2240
Abstract
This study investigated the impact of transplanting density on the growth and yield characteristics of an extremely early-maturing rice variety that has a short vegetative growth period, as the limited growth period results in reduced tiller development and leads to a lower yield. [...] Read more.
This study investigated the impact of transplanting density on the growth and yield characteristics of an extremely early-maturing rice variety that has a short vegetative growth period, as the limited growth period results in reduced tiller development and leads to a lower yield. The experiment was conducted in 2019 and 2020 at Chungcheongnam-do Agricultural Research and Extension Services in Republic of Korea, where various transplanting density treatments were tested using the Bbareumi rice variety with a vegetative growth period of less than 50 days. The results showed that the tiller number seedling−1 and spikelet number m−2 were influenced by the transplanting density and had a significant impact on the milled rice yield. Decreasing the tiller number seedling−1 by increasing the transplanting density led to an increase in the spikelet number m−2, which significantly improve the milled rice yield. Furthermore, the study identified the optimal transplanting density for maximizing yield as a transplanting distance of 30 × 12 cm, with 12 seedlings hill−1, which resulted in the highest milled rice yield of 5.64 ton/ha. These findings provide valuable insights for rice farmers and researchers regarding efforts to improve the cultivation practices of extremely early-maturing rice varieties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improvement of the Technology of Cereal Production)
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15 pages, 2725 KiB  
Article
Detection of Xylella fastidiosa in Host Plants and Insect Vectors by Droplet Digital PCR
by Serafina Serena Amoia, Angelantonio Minafra, Angela Ligorio, Vincenzo Cavalieri, Donato Boscia, Maria Saponari and Giuliana Loconsole
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030716 - 20 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1935
Abstract
Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) is a Gram-negative plant bacterium that causes severe diseases affecting several economically important crops in many countries. To achieve early detection of the pathogen, a droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)-based approach was used to detect the bacterium at low [...] Read more.
Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) is a Gram-negative plant bacterium that causes severe diseases affecting several economically important crops in many countries. To achieve early detection of the pathogen, a droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)-based approach was used to detect the bacterium at low concentrations in different plant species and insect vectors. In this study, we implemented the reaction conditions of a previously developed ddPCR assay, and we validated its use to detect Xf in insect vectors as well as in a broader list of host species. More specifically, the sensitivity and accuracy of the protocol were assessed by testing five plant matrices (Olea europaea, Nerium oleander, Vitis vinifera, Citrus sinensis, and Prunus dulcis), and for the first time, the insect vector (Philaenus spumarius), was either naturally infected or artificially spiked with bacterial suspension at known concentrations. The lowest concentrations detected by ddPCR were 5 ag/µL of bacterial DNA and 1.00 × 102 CFU/mL of bacterial cells. Both techniques showed a high degree of linearity, with R2 values ranging from 0.9905 to 0.9995 and from 0.9726 to 0.9977, respectively, for qPCR and ddPCR. Under our conditions, ddPCR showed greater analytical sensitivity than qPCR for O. europea, C. sinensis, and N. oleander. Overall, the results demonstrated that the validated ddPCR assay enables the absolute quantification of Xf target sequences with high accuracy compared with the qPCR assay, and can support experimental research programs and the official controls, particularly when doubtful or inconclusive results are recorded by qPCR. Full article
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14 pages, 3781 KiB  
Article
Regulation of Density and Fertilization on Crude Protein Synthesis in Forage Maize in a Semiarid Rain-Fed Area
by Hongli Wang, Xucheng Zhang, Guoping Zhang, Yanjie Fang, Huizhi Hou, Kangning Lei and Yifan Ma
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030715 - 20 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Density and fertilization mode are the key factors regulating crude protein synthesis in forage maize; however, there is a lack of systematic understanding of the regulation mechanism. Here, the nitrogen/potassium ratio (N/K), free amino acid (AA) content, crude protein synthesis key enzyme activities [...] Read more.
Density and fertilization mode are the key factors regulating crude protein synthesis in forage maize; however, there is a lack of systematic understanding of the regulation mechanism. Here, the nitrogen/potassium ratio (N/K), free amino acid (AA) content, crude protein synthesis key enzyme activities (nitrate reductase (NR), glutamine synthetase (GS) and glutamic pyruvic transaminase (GPT)) and crude protein content and yield in leaves, stems, and grain of forage maize, as well as the relationships among them, were explored. The results showed that the N/K of DL-40 (60,000 plants per ha−1, 40% N topdressing at large trumpet stage) and DH-50 (75,000 plants per ha−1, 50% N topdressing at large trumpet stage) significantly increased in leaves, stems, and grain, and correspondingly, NR, GS, and GPT activities in leaves, NR activities in stems, NR and GPT activities in grain, and delayed the decline in AA content. After tasseling, for DL-40 and DH-50 the crude protein content increased by 74.1% and 39.8% in leaves, respectively, 19.9% and 25.6% in grain, respectively, and crude protein yield increased by 16.7% and 35.2% in leaves, respectively, and 23.5% and 25.9% in grain, respectively. There were significant quadratic parabolic relationships of NR, GS, and GPT activities with proportion of topdressing. There was a significant relationship of crude protein content with NR activity in leaves, with NR, GS, and GPT activities in stems and with GPT activity in grain. Regulating the key enzyme activity by adjusting the density and fertilization can significantly improve the crude protein yield of forage maize. Treatments DL-40 and DH-50 significantly increased crude protein content and yield by increasing plant N/K, NR activity in leaves, NR activity in stems, and GPT activity in grain, but slowed the decrease in AA content in leaves, stems, and grain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agronomic Management of Crops in Arid and Semi-arid Environments)
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12 pages, 965 KiB  
Article
Efficiency of Magnetically Treated Water on Decontamination of Chlorpyrifos® Residual: A Practically Water Insoluble Organophosphate in Brassica chinensis Linn.
by Chadapust J. Sudsiri, Natawat Jumpa and Raymond J. Ritchie
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030714 - 19 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1754
Abstract
Chlorpyrifos® (Thaion Agro Chemical CO., Ltd. Yannawa, Bangkok 10120, Thailand) (an almost water insoluble organophosphate insecticide) has been extensively used, resulting in the presence as a surface contaminant in foodstuffs, surface streams and soils. It is thus critically essential to develop [...] Read more.
Chlorpyrifos® (Thaion Agro Chemical CO., Ltd. Yannawa, Bangkok 10120, Thailand) (an almost water insoluble organophosphate insecticide) has been extensively used, resulting in the presence as a surface contaminant in foodstuffs, surface streams and soils. It is thus critically essential to develop methods to degrade or remove and eliminate this pollutant from environments. Chlorpyrifos® has very limited solubility and so it is primarily a contaminant of the surfaces of foodstuffs. We present the effect of magnetically treated water (MTW) to remove Chlorpyrifos® contaminating in Brassica chinensis Linn., a commonly eaten vegetable in Thailand and globally. Samples were washed with magnetically treated water (MTW) prior to detection of Chlorpyrifos® with GC-MS (Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectroscopy). Chlorpyrifos® was removed by a factor of 413 times (−99.7%) by MTW compared to the un-washed sample, whereas the removal factor for tap water washing was only 9.6 (−89%). The MTW washed material easily passed safety criteria (Maximum Residue Load—MRL), but the tap water washed vegetables did not do so reliably. Although Chlorpyrifos® may be banned in many countries, the binding properties of replacement organophosphates are likely to be similar, and so our results should generalize to pesticides in the organophosphate chemical class that are not readily water soluble. Full article
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24 pages, 4869 KiB  
Review
A Systematic Review on Automatic Insect Detection Using Deep Learning
by Ana Cláudia Teixeira, José Ribeiro, Raul Morais, Joaquim J. Sousa and António Cunha
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 713; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030713 - 19 Mar 2023
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 8827
Abstract
Globally, insect pests are the primary reason for reduced crop yield and quality. Although pesticides are commonly used to control and eliminate these pests, they can have adverse effects on the environment, human health, and natural resources. As an alternative, integrated pest management [...] Read more.
Globally, insect pests are the primary reason for reduced crop yield and quality. Although pesticides are commonly used to control and eliminate these pests, they can have adverse effects on the environment, human health, and natural resources. As an alternative, integrated pest management has been devised to enhance insect pest control, decrease the excessive use of pesticides, and enhance the output and quality of crops. With the improvements in artificial intelligence technologies, several applications have emerged in the agricultural context, including automatic detection, monitoring, and identification of insects. The purpose of this article is to outline the leading techniques for the automated detection of insects, highlighting the most successful approaches and methodologies while also drawing attention to the remaining challenges and gaps in this area. The aim is to furnish the reader with an overview of the major developments in this field. This study analysed 92 studies published between 2016 and 2022 on the automatic detection of insects in traps using deep learning techniques. The search was conducted on six electronic databases, and 36 articles met the inclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were studies that applied deep learning techniques for insect classification, counting, and detection, written in English. The selection process involved analysing the title, keywords, and abstract of each study, resulting in the exclusion of 33 articles. The remaining 36 articles included 12 for the classification task and 24 for the detection task. Two main approaches—standard and adaptable—for insect detection were identified, with various architectures and detectors. The accuracy of the classification was found to be most influenced by dataset size, while detection was significantly affected by the number of classes and dataset size. The study also highlights two challenges and recommendations, namely, dataset characteristics (such as unbalanced classes and incomplete annotation) and methodologies (such as the limitations of algorithms for small objects and the lack of information about small insects). To overcome these challenges, further research is recommended to improve insect pest management practices. This research should focus on addressing the limitations and challenges identified in this article to ensure more effective insect pest management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Internet of Things (IoT) for Precision Agriculture Practices)
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15 pages, 6586 KiB  
Article
Signal, Not Poison—Screening Mint Essential Oils for Weed Control Leads to Horsemint
by Mohammed Sarheed, Hans-Jakob Schärer, Qiyan Wang-Müller, Pascale Flury, Chloé Maes, Manon Genva, Marie-Laure Fauconnier and Peter Nick
Agriculture 2023, 13(3), 712; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13030712 - 18 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1819
Abstract
Weed control tries to suppress competitors for a crop and often relies on differential intoxication, making use of differences in uptake, development, or metabolism. We explored the possibility of using natural signals to shift competition in favour of the crop. Using the competitive [...] Read more.
Weed control tries to suppress competitors for a crop and often relies on differential intoxication, making use of differences in uptake, development, or metabolism. We explored the possibility of using natural signals to shift competition in favour of the crop. Using the competitive horsemint (Mentha longifolia) as a paradigm, we showed that essential oils from certain mint species suppress the seedling development of different target species in a specific and efficient manner. The specificity concerned both the donor and the receptor. We demonstrated further that the effect of horsemint oil was specific for actin filaments, and not for microtubules. Since the elimination of actin will impair auxin transport, which is essential for root regeneration in vegetatively propagating weeds, we tested the efficacy of horsemint essential oil in combination with a slow-release carrier against field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), a pertinent weed in organic cereal production. We observed that the development of this weed can be specifically blocked, especially if the carrier is worked into the soil. We propose that allelopathic interactions, often relying on manipulative chemical signalling, harbour significant potential for organic weed control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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