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Agriculture, Volume 13, Issue 8 (August 2023) – 179 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Reusing water and nutrients from municipal wastewater can conserve resources and reduce wastewater treatment costs. This study investigated the suitability of different qualities of treated wastewater for plant production in a hydroponic flow-through system. The experiments showed that aerobic and anaerobically–aerobically treated domestic wastewater is suitable for growing lettuce in flow-through hydroponic systems under climatic conditions that allow high transpiration rates. Prospects for coupling wastewater treatment with subsequent hydroponics are seen in three areas: (i) to enable low-tech wastewater treatment plants to comply with high effluent standards regarding nutrients, (ii) to achieve highly efficient nutrient recovery from a resource hardly used, and (iii) for further polishing after secondary treatment. View this paper
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14 pages, 2908 KiB  
Article
Impact of Varying Mass Concentrations of Ammonia Nitrogen on Biogas Production and System Stability of Anaerobic Fermentation
by Yongping Li, Jiaoning Zhu, Yun Tang, Xiangyuan Shi, Sumera Anwar, Juanling Wang, Li Gao and Jingxuan Zhang
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1645; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081645 - 21 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1146
Abstract
High ammonium release from chicken manure poses a significant limitation to aerobic digestion, impeding microbial processes and inhibiting biogas production. In this study, we conducted anaerobic digestion of a mixture consisting of chicken manure and corn straw as the fermented raw material. The [...] Read more.
High ammonium release from chicken manure poses a significant limitation to aerobic digestion, impeding microbial processes and inhibiting biogas production. In this study, we conducted anaerobic digestion of a mixture consisting of chicken manure and corn straw as the fermented raw material. The inoculum used was obtained from the residue of previously fermented chicken manure. To assess the inhibitory effect, we varied the ammonia levels within the range of 750–4250 mg/L by introducing ammonium chloride. The efficiency of aerobic digestion was monitored through the measurement of volatile fatty acids (VFA), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total inorganic carbon (TOC), and methane yield. Our results indicated that elevated levels of ammonia nitrogen had a suppressive impact on methane release, and this decrease followed a linear relationship with the increasing ammonia nitrogen load. Moreover, the addition of ammonia led to a slower release, with the maximum daily ammonia concentration observed at 15 days compared to the 6th day at lower ammonia levels. Furthermore, on the 40th day of aerobic digestion, the cumulative methane production at 4250 mg/L was inhibited by 41% compared to the 750 mg/L condition. The patterns of VFA, inorganic carbon, and COD reduction were consistent across all ammonia levels, with VFA and TOC levels being highest at the highest ammonia concentration and lowest at the lowest ammonia concentration. The accumulation of VFA resulted in a decrease in pH and a decline in methanogenic activity. Additionally, high ammonia levels altered the relative abundance of methanogens. Acetoclastic methanogens (Methanosaeta) exhibited a decrease in abundance, while hydrogenotrophic methanogens (Methanosaeta, Methanoculleus) and methylotrophic methanogens (Candidatus Methanoplasma) demonstrated an increase in abundance. Overall, our findings highlight the inhibitory effects of high ammonia concentrations on biogas production, providing insights into the changes in microbial composition and activity during anaerobic fermentation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture)
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15 pages, 760 KiB  
Article
Risk Cognition, Social Learning, and Farmers’ Adoption of Conservation Agriculture Technology
by Yaqin Ren, Hui Feng and Tianzhi Gao
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081644 - 21 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 980
Abstract
Soil degradation and declining soil fertility are prominent issues for sustainable agricultural development in China. Therefore, it is of great significance to promote the adoption rate of conservation agriculture technology. Risk cognition and technology adoption are closely related, but this perspective is rarely [...] Read more.
Soil degradation and declining soil fertility are prominent issues for sustainable agricultural development in China. Therefore, it is of great significance to promote the adoption rate of conservation agriculture technology. Risk cognition and technology adoption are closely related, but this perspective is rarely focused on, and it is essential to discuss the influence of social learning on the impact. The Loess Plateau is a representative area for promoting and implementing conservation agriculture techniques. By collecting face-to-face survey data from 1268 farmers in Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Ningxia provinces in China, this study used the binary probit model to examine the impact of risk cognition on the adoption of conservation agriculture technology and the influence of social learning on the impact. The results showed that risk cognition has a significant positive impact on the adoption of conservation agriculture technology; social learning significantly enhances the effect of risk cognition on farmers’ adoption of conservation agriculture technology. Both offline practical learning through “learning by doing” and online learning with ICT play an important moderating role in the impact; a high level of social learning enhances risk cognition to a greater extent and promotes enthusiasm for adopting conservation agriculture technology. Therefore, the value of farmers’ risk cognition should be considered in promoting and implementing conservation agriculture technology. Moreover, expanding offline and online social learning channels is crucial to improve farmers’ risk cognition and promote the adoption of conservation agriculture technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Metrology-Assisted Production in Agriculture and Forestry)
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15 pages, 7090 KiB  
Article
Improved YOLOv8-Seg Network for Instance Segmentation of Healthy and Diseased Tomato Plants in the Growth Stage
by Xiang Yue, Kai Qi, Xinyi Na, Yang Zhang, Yanhua Liu and Cuihong Liu
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1643; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081643 - 21 Aug 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4846
Abstract
The spread of infections and rot are crucial factors in the decrease in tomato production. Accurately segmenting the affected tomatoes in real-time can prevent the spread of illnesses. However, environmental factors and surface features can affect tomato segmentation accuracy. This study suggests an [...] Read more.
The spread of infections and rot are crucial factors in the decrease in tomato production. Accurately segmenting the affected tomatoes in real-time can prevent the spread of illnesses. However, environmental factors and surface features can affect tomato segmentation accuracy. This study suggests an improved YOLOv8s-Seg network to perform real-time and effective segmentation of tomato fruit, surface color, and surface features. The feature fusion capability of the algorithm was improved by replacing the C2f module with the RepBlock module (stacked by RepConv), adding SimConv convolution (using the ReLU function instead of the SiLU function as the activation function) before two upsampling in the feature fusion network, and replacing the remaining conventional convolution with SimConv. The F1 score was 88.7%, which was 1.0%, 2.8%, 0.8%, and 1.1% higher than that of the YOLOv8s-Seg algorithm, YOLOv5s-Seg algorithm, YOLOv7-Seg algorithm, and Mask RCNN algorithm, respectively. Meanwhile, the segment mean average precision (segment mAP@0.5) was 92.2%, which was 2.4%, 3.2%, 1.8%, and 0.7% higher than that of the YOLOv8s-Seg algorithm, YOLOv5s-Seg algorithm, YOLOv7-Seg algorithm, and Mask RCNN algorithm. The algorithm can perform real-time instance segmentation of tomatoes with an inference time of 3.5 ms. This approach provides technical support for tomato health monitoring and intelligent harvesting. Full article
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18 pages, 4954 KiB  
Article
Detection and Classification of Citrus Fruit Infestation by Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) Using a Multi-Path Vis/NIR Spectroscopy System
by Dapeng Li, Jiang Long, Ziye Tang, Longbo Han, Zhongliang Gong, Liang Wen, Hailong Peng and Tao Wen
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1642; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081642 - 21 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1093
Abstract
In this study, a multi-path Vis/NIR spectroscopy system was developed to detect the presence of Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) infestations of citrus fruit. Spectra were acquired for 252 citrus fruit, 126 of which were infested. Two hundred and fifty-two spectra were acquired for modeling [...] Read more.
In this study, a multi-path Vis/NIR spectroscopy system was developed to detect the presence of Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) infestations of citrus fruit. Spectra were acquired for 252 citrus fruit, 126 of which were infested. Two hundred and fifty-two spectra were acquired for modeling in their un-infested stage, slightly infested stage, and seriously infested stage. The location of the infestation is unclear, and considering the impact of the light path on the location of the infestation, each citrus fruit was tested in three orientations (i.e., fruit stalks facing upward (A), fruit stalks facing horizontally (B), and fruit stalks facing downward (C)). Classification models based on joint X-Y distance, multiple transmittance calibration, competitive adaptive reweighted sampling, and partial least squares discriminant analysis (SPXY-MSC-CARS-PLS-DA) were developed on the spectra of each light path, and the average spectra of the four light paths was calculated, to compare their performance in infestation classification. The results show the classification result changed with the light path and fruit orientation. The average spectra for each fruit orientation consistently gave better classification results, with overall accuracies of 92.9%, 89.3%, and 90.5% for orientations A, B, and C, respectively. Moreover, the best model had a Kappa value of 0.89, and gave 95.2%, 80.1%, and 100.0% accuracy for un-infested, slightly infested, and seriously infested citrus fruit. Furthermore, the classification results for infested citrus fruits were better when using the average spectra than using the spectrum of each single light path. Therefore, the multi-path Vis/NIR spectroscopy system is conducive to the detection of B. dorsalis infestation in citrus fruits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Machinery and Technology for Fruit Tree Management)
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25 pages, 11658 KiB  
Article
Design and Experiment of Sweet Potato Ridging and Forming Machine
by Xinyu Chen, Mingdong Chen, Mengmeng Liu, Yang Li, Deqiu Yang and Haihua Wu
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1641; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081641 - 21 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1144
Abstract
To address the problem of poor ridging effect, a sweet potato ridging and shaping machine was designed and its overall structure and working principles were described. The design parameters of rotary tillage device, furrowing and shaping device and pressing and shaping device were [...] Read more.
To address the problem of poor ridging effect, a sweet potato ridging and shaping machine was designed and its overall structure and working principles were described. The design parameters of rotary tillage device, furrowing and shaping device and pressing and shaping device were determined. The motion model of soil particles on the furrowing and shaping device was analyzed, the force model of the furrowing and shaping device was established. A response surface Box–Behnken Design test was carried out to obtain the better working parameters of the sweet potato ridging and shaping machine as follows: the embedded depth is 196 mm, the forward speed is 0.82 m/s, and the soil moisture is 18%. At this time the stability coefficient of the ridge height was 99.84%. The comparative test showed that the operation performance and fuel consumption of the ridge shaping machine were better than 1GQL-2 sweet potato two rows rotary plowing and ridging machine, which met the agronomic requirements and created a good soil environment for sweet potato. The research can provide a design reference for the development and application of sweet potato transplanting machinery and ridging machinery in hilly areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Machinery Design and Agricultural Engineering)
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12 pages, 1959 KiB  
Article
Influence of a Hydrocarbon Biodestructor on the Growth and Content of Phytohormones in Secale cereale L. Plants under Petroleum Pollution of the Soil
by Yulia Sotnikova, Anna Grigoriadi, Vadim Fedyaev, Margarita Garipova, Ilshat Galin, Guzal Sharipova, Anna Yamaleeva, Sergey Chetverikov, Dmitriy Veselov, Guzel Kudoyarova and Rashit Farkhutdinov
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1640; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081640 - 21 Aug 2023
Viewed by 809
Abstract
The phytoremediation of soil contaminated with petroleum depends on the association of plants with rhizosphere bacteria capable of promoting plant growth and destroying petroleum hydrocarbonates. In the present work, we studied the effects of “Lenoil” biological product containing bacteria Pseudomonas turukhanskensis IB 1.1, [...] Read more.
The phytoremediation of soil contaminated with petroleum depends on the association of plants with rhizosphere bacteria capable of promoting plant growth and destroying petroleum hydrocarbonates. In the present work, we studied the effects of “Lenoil” biological product containing bacteria Pseudomonas turukhanskensis IB 1.1, capable of destroying petroleum hydrocarbons on Secale cereale L plants, which previously proved to be resistant to the weak oil pollution of gray forest soil and to the composition of microorganisms in their rhizosphere. The composition of microorganisms in the rhizosphere of rye roots was studied, morphometric parameters of shoots and roots of rye plants were estimated, and hormone concentration was immunoassayed under conditions of 4% petroleum pollution of the soil. Addition of petroleum to the soil increased the content of oligonitrophilic (by 24%) and hydrocarbon-oxidizing (by 33%) microorganisms; however, the content of cellulolytic (by 12.5 times) microorganisms in the rhizosphere decreased. The use of Lenoil led to a further increase in the number of cellulolytic (by 5.6 times) and hydrocarbon-oxidizing (by 3.8 times) microorganisms and a decrease in the number of oligonitrophilic (by 22.7%) microorganisms in the rhizosphere. Under petroleum pollution, the content of auxins (IAA), zeatin riboside, zeatin nucleotide, and zeatin decreased, while the content of abscisic acid (ABA) increased in the shoots of rye plants. Lenoil treatment led to an eight-fold increase in the IAA content in the roots and a decrease in the ABA content in the aerial part and in the roots. It was shown for the first time that the treatment of petroleum-contaminated soil with “Lenoil” increased root mass due to the development of lateral roots, concurrent with high root IAA content. Petroleum pollution increased the deposition of lignin and suberin in the roots, which strengthened the apoplastic barrier and, thus, reduced the infiltration of toxic components. The deposition of suberin and lignin decreased under ”Lenoil” treatment, indicating a decrease in the concentration of toxic petroleum components in the soil degraded by the bacteria. Thus, the biological preparation reduced the growth-inhibiting effect of petroleum on rye plants by increasing the content of growth-stimulating phytohormones (IAA and cytokinins) and reducing the content of ABA, justifying the importance of further study of relevant hormones for the improvement of phytoremediation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiology Applied to Crop Systems)
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20 pages, 6327 KiB  
Article
Describing Behavior Sequences of Fattening Pigs Using Process Mining on Video Data and Automated Pig Behavior Recognition
by Andreas Melfsen, Arvid Lepsien, Jan Bosselmann, Agnes Koschmider and Eberhard Hartung
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1639; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081639 - 21 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1483
Abstract
This study aimed to demonstrate the application of process mining on video data of pigs, facilitating the analysis of behavioral patterns. Video data were collected over a period of 5 days from a pig pen in a mechanically ventilated barn and used for [...] Read more.
This study aimed to demonstrate the application of process mining on video data of pigs, facilitating the analysis of behavioral patterns. Video data were collected over a period of 5 days from a pig pen in a mechanically ventilated barn and used for analysis. The approach in this study relies on a series of individual steps to allow process mining on this data set. These steps include object detection and tracking, spatiotemporal activity recognition in video data, and process model analysis. Each step gives insights into pig behavior at different time points and locations within the pen, offering increasing levels of detail to describe typical pig behavior up to process models reflecting different behavior sequences for clustered datasets. Our data-driven approach proves suitable for the comprehensive analysis of behavioral sequences in conventional pig farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence in Livestock Farming)
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12 pages, 2939 KiB  
Article
Experimental Study on Sucrose Losses of Sugarcane by 2450 MHz Microwave Technology
by Lingfeng Li and Shaochun Ma
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1638; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081638 - 20 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Sugarcane is one of the essential raw materials for sugar production worldwide. From a present perspective, extending the storage time of sugarcane after harvest is a crucial step toward increasing sugar production. Particularly, sugarcane harvested by sugarcane harvesters is more susceptible to biological [...] Read more.
Sugarcane is one of the essential raw materials for sugar production worldwide. From a present perspective, extending the storage time of sugarcane after harvest is a crucial step toward increasing sugar production. Particularly, sugarcane harvested by sugarcane harvesters is more susceptible to biological damage due to the increased number of wounds created during harvesting. Once harvested, the most effective way to reduce bio-injury is to deliver sugarcane to the factory as soon as possible. In recent years, microwave radiation has been increasingly used in food products to reduce biological contamination. The present study examines the effect of microwave irradiation on the sucrose loss that occurs in post-harvest sugarcane. A microwave was employed for different time intervals, particularly from 5 to 9 s at a 2450 MHz frequency and 5100 W power. The results reveal that microwave radiation can effectively kill microorganisms in sugarcane wounds in a very short time. With a microwave irradiation time of 6 s, a microbial disinfection efficiency of 91.2% was achieved. The maximum temperature in the billets at that time was only 35.1 °C. Microwave radiation reduced the sucrose loss rate due to a significant decrease in the number of microflora during the 48 h period. As a result, the storage time of harvested sugarcane was prolonged, leading to improved economic benefits in sugar extraction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Product Quality and Safety)
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12 pages, 1757 KiB  
Article
Puccinia Spore Concentrations in Relation to Weather Factors and Phenological Development of a Wheat Crop in Northwestern Spain
by Kenia C. Sánchez Espinosa, María Fernández-González, Michel Almaguer, Guillermo Guada and Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Rajo
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1637; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081637 - 19 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1137
Abstract
Rust is one of the main diseases affecting wheat crops in Spain, causing significant yield and quality losses. Research on its identification and quantification in the air is a worldwide priority due to the importance of this crop as a source of food [...] Read more.
Rust is one of the main diseases affecting wheat crops in Spain, causing significant yield and quality losses. Research on its identification and quantification in the air is a worldwide priority due to the importance of this crop as a source of food and feed. The objective of this study is to determine the temporal variation of airborne spores of Puccinia and their relationship with meteorological variables and the phenological development of a wheat crop in Northwestern Spain during two growing seasons. The study was conducted in A Limia, Ourense, located in Northwestern Spain, during the wheat growing seasons of 2021 and 2022. The Lanzoni VPPS 2010 spore trap was used to collect airborne spores, which were identified using optical microscopy. The wheat growing season was less than 95 days during both years, and wheat rust spores were detected during all phenological stages of the crop. Concentrations were higher than 100 spores/m3 from the booting stage to senescence, mainly in 2021. Statistical analyses showed that temperature was the meteorological variable that most influenced Puccinia concentrations in the air in both years. The modification of a prediction model proposed by other authors for wheat rust, which takes into account mean temperature (10–25 °C), dew point temperature (<5 °C), and nighttime temperature (10–20 °C), allowed us to tentatively predict the increase in Puccinia concentrations in the year 2022 when these conditions occurred for four or five consecutive days. This research is the first in Spain to report the presence of rust-causing Puccinia spores in the air during all phenological stages of the wheat crop and provides useful information for designing management strategies, considering temperature values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Protection, Diseases, Pests and Weeds)
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16 pages, 1750 KiB  
Article
Adjuvant Effects on Pyraclostrobin and Boscalid Residues, Systemic Movement, and Dietary Risk in Garlic under Field Conditions
by Paraskevas Parlakidis, George Adamidis, Christos Alexoudis, Paschalina Pythoglou, Sotirios Papadopoulos and Zisis Vryzas
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1636; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081636 - 19 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1130
Abstract
Adjuvants are supplemental substances added to pesticide tank mixtures to enhance their efficacy by altering the dispersing, emulsifying, spreading, sticking, and wetting properties of the spray mixture. The goals of this study were an assessment of the effectiveness of pyraclostrobin and boscalid against [...] Read more.
Adjuvants are supplemental substances added to pesticide tank mixtures to enhance their efficacy by altering the dispersing, emulsifying, spreading, sticking, and wetting properties of the spray mixture. The goals of this study were an assessment of the effectiveness of pyraclostrobin and boscalid against garlic rust; the fungicide’s dissipation and translocation within plant tissue in the presence of commercial adjuvants Dash® HC EC; and the validation of an analytical method for concurrently determining boscalid and pyraclostrobin in green garlic and garlic bulbs. Pyraclostrobin and boscalid retention in green garlic and the dietary exposure risks were also evaluated. The adjuvant Dash® HC EC is an emulsifiable concentrate containing fatty acids, methyl esters, and alkoxylated alcohol–phosphate esters. The test plots were sprayed with the maximum recommended dosage of 400.5 g a.i. ha−1 boscalid and 100.5 g a.i. ha−1 pyraclostrobin. The residues of pyraclostrobin and boscalid in garlic bulb and green garlic samples were determined using a mini-Luke multi-residue solvent extraction method paired with a high-performance liquid chromatography diode array detector (HPLC–DAD). This method is based on the extraction of a homogeneous sample with acetone, petroleum ether, and dichloromethane. Boscalid and pyraclostrobin recoveries in green garlic and garlic bulbs ranged from 71% to 107% on average, with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 6.8% to 18.1%, and limits of quantification were 0.02 mg/kg. In green garlic and garlic bulbs, boscalid residues ranged from 0.14 to 3.51 mg/kg and pyraclostrobin from lower than LOQ to 1.43 mg/kg, during the experiment. The adjuvant increased the fungicidal efficacy of the fungicides and their retention on green garlic. Although boscalid is considered a nonsystemic fungicide, it showed higher translocation from garlic leaves to garlic bulbs than pyraclostrobin. Regarding the dietary risk assessment, the use of the adjuvant in a tank mixture with boscalid and pyraclostrobin is considered safe 14 days after application, which agrees with the recommended PHI. Full article
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20 pages, 7326 KiB  
Article
Design and Test of Single-Disc Opener for No-Till Planter Based on Support Cutting
by Guangyuan Zhong, Hongwen Li, Jin He, Qingjie Wang, Caiyun Lu, Chao Wang, Zhenwei Tong, Dandan Cui and Dong He
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1635; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081635 - 19 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1115
Abstract
To solve the problem of low straw-cutting efficiency of single-disc openers of no-till planters under conditions of high soil moisture content, a single-disc furrowing and straw-cutting device was designed based on the support-cutting principle. To improve the straw-cutting ability of the disc opener [...] Read more.
To solve the problem of low straw-cutting efficiency of single-disc openers of no-till planters under conditions of high soil moisture content, a single-disc furrowing and straw-cutting device was designed based on the support-cutting principle. To improve the straw-cutting ability of the disc opener when it operates under high-moisture-content soil conditions and to make sure that the straw that is not cut by the disc coulter can be cut smoothly by the disc opener, the support shovel was designed, and the operation mechanism of the support shovel device was analyzed. The soil moisture content, the support shovel’s entry angle, the support shovel’s entry gap angle, and the support shovel’s tip margin were identified as the factors influencing the device design through the theoretical analysis of the furrowing and straw-cutting device. Through the discrete element method (DEM), a single-factor simulation test was first conducted to analyze how different soil moisture contents affected the device’s ability to cut straw, and the results showed that the number of broken bonds was lowest when the soil moisture content was 20 ± 1%, and the time taken for the straw to be wholly cut off was also the longest. Then, a quadratic orthogonal simulation test was conducted to construct a regression model and optimize the parameters at the soil moisture content of 20 ± 1%, and the results revealed that the significant order of each factor’s influence on the number of broken bonds is as follows: entry gap angle, entry angle, and shovel tip margin. In addition, the device’s overall operation quality was better when the entry angle was 49°, the entry gap angle was 0°, and the shovel tip margin was 10 mm. At this time, the number of broken bonds was predicted to be 506. Finally, the simulation validation test was run, and the number of broken bonds was obtained to be 478, with a relative error of 5.6% from the predicted value. According to the optimal parameters to complete the device trial production and field test, the results show that the average cut-off rate of the device is 71.7%, the stability coefficient of the furrowing depth is 90.87%, and the performance of the furrow opening is excellent, which meets the requirements of a no-tillage seeding operation. This study can provide a reference for the design and improvement of no-tillage seeding machines under conditions of high soil moisture content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Modern Agricultural Machinery)
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20 pages, 328 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Solutions for Arid Regions: Harnessing Aquaponics Water to Enhance Soil Quality in Egypt
by Mohieyeddin M. Abd El-Azeim, Eman Yousef, Marwa Hussien, Ahmad Hamza, Ahmad Menesi, Naglaa Youssef, Maha Omar, Joanna Lemanowicz, Gaber E. Eldesoky, Nesrin S. Abdelkarim, Renata Gaj, Jean Diatta and Samir A. Haddad
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1634; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081634 - 19 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1483
Abstract
Dual use of water for fish and crop production could be a promising approach to improve irrigation under arid conditions. A watercress pot study was carried out to assess the effects of irrigation by catfish and tilapia aquaculture water on the sandy soil [...] Read more.
Dual use of water for fish and crop production could be a promising approach to improve irrigation under arid conditions. A watercress pot study was carried out to assess the effects of irrigation by catfish and tilapia aquaculture water on the sandy soil properties as well as the growth parameters of watercress with various combinations of artificial NPK fertilizers at El-Minia Governorate of Egypt (28°18′16″ N latitude and 30°34′38″ E longitude). Catfish aquaculture water had the greatest phytoplankton abundance at 83,762 units (×104/L), while the minimum number of phytoplankton existed in tilapia aquaculture water, recorded at 14,873 units (×104/L). There were significant average changes that varied from 120 to 237 (×104 cfu/mL−1) in total bacterial counts in tilapia and catfish waters. Watercress growth quality parameters closely paralleled at all NPK application rates, indicating that the highest quality plants were produced in pots receiving 25% of the recommended levels and irrigated with catfish aquaculture water. Nitrate concentrations of watercress plants were determined under pollution levels established by the European Commission for leafy and tuber vegetables. In conclusion, the use of microbial and phytoplankton-rich aquaculture water to irrigate vegetables and as fertilizer can maintain a balanced soil ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Needs of Crops and Irrigation Management under Climate Change)
21 pages, 24244 KiB  
Article
Multi-Year Cereal Crop Classification Model in a Semi-Arid Region Using Sentinel-2 and Landsat 7–8 Data
by Manel Khlif, Maria José Escorihuela, Aicha Chahbi Bellakanji, Giovanni Paolini, Zeineb Kassouk and Zohra Lili Chabaane
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1633; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081633 - 19 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1383
Abstract
This study developed a multi-year classification model for winter cereal in a semi-arid region, the Kairouan area (Tunisia). A random forest classification model was constructed using Sentinel 2 (S2) vegetation indices for a reference agricultural season, 2020/2021. This model was then applied using [...] Read more.
This study developed a multi-year classification model for winter cereal in a semi-arid region, the Kairouan area (Tunisia). A random forest classification model was constructed using Sentinel 2 (S2) vegetation indices for a reference agricultural season, 2020/2021. This model was then applied using S2 and Landsat (7 and 8) data for previous seasons from 2011 to 2022 and validated using field observation data. The reference classification model achieved an overall accuracy (OA) of 89.3%. Using S2 data resulted in higher overall classification accuracy. Cereal classification exhibited excellent precision ranging from 85.8% to 95.1% when utilizing S2 data, while lower accuracy (41% to 91.8%) was obtained when using only Landsat data. A slight confusion between cereals and cereals growing with olive trees was observed. A second objective was to map cereals as early as possible in the agricultural season. An early cereal classification model demonstrated accurate results in February (four months before harvest), with a precision of 95.2% and an OA of 87.7%. When applied to the entire period, February cereal classification exhibited a precision ranging from 85.1% to 94.2% when utilizing S2 data, while lower accuracy (42.6% to 95.4%) was observed in general with Landsat data. This methodology could be adopted in other cereal regions with similar climates to produce very useful information for the planner, leading to a reduction in fieldwork. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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18 pages, 2528 KiB  
Article
Morpho-Physiological and Antioxidative Responses of Wheat Seedlings to Different Forms of Selenium
by Ana Vuković Popović, Ivna Štolfa Čamagajevac, Rosemary Vuković, Magdalena Matić, Dharmendra K. Gupta and Zdenko Lončarić
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1632; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081632 - 19 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 931
Abstract
Selenium (Se) deficiency in human and animal nutrition is primarily due to low levels of Se in soils. It can be prevented by enriching crops, such as wheat, with Se through agronomic biofortification. Although Se is not essential for plants, it shows a [...] Read more.
Selenium (Se) deficiency in human and animal nutrition is primarily due to low levels of Se in soils. It can be prevented by enriching crops, such as wheat, with Se through agronomic biofortification. Although Se is not essential for plants, it shows a dual effect on their metabolism depending on its concentration. This study aimed to elucidate the impact of five different concentrations (0.4, 4, 20, 40, and 400 mg/kg) of selenate and selenite on the oxidative status and antioxidative response of wheat (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Kraljica) shoots and roots. According to morpho-physiological analyses, selenite was found to have a lower toxicity threshold than selenate. The measurement of oxidative stress biomarkers showed that Se did not cause oxidative damage to wheat seedlings due to the activation of detoxification mechanisms at the biochemical level, which depended on the type of tissue, concentration, and form of applied Se. Treatment with 20 mg/kg of selenate can be recommended for wheat seedling biofortification due to a sufficient increase in Se accumulation in shoots without signs of toxicity. These results contribute to a better understanding of wheat seedlings’ physiological and biochemical responses to Se and the development of more effective biofortification strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Agricultural Practices on the Environment)
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10 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
Nutrient Digestibility of Soybean Meal Products Based on In Vitro Procedures for Pigs
by Jeonghyeon Son and Beob Gyun Kim
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1631; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081631 - 18 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1009
Abstract
The present work aimed to assess the nutrient digestibility of soybean meal (SBM) products based on in vitro procedures. Two-step and three-step in vitro assays were performed to mimic the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the digestive tracts of growing swine. The [...] Read more.
The present work aimed to assess the nutrient digestibility of soybean meal (SBM) products based on in vitro procedures. Two-step and three-step in vitro assays were performed to mimic the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the digestive tracts of growing swine. The two-step in vitro method was modified to reflect the digesta retention time and digestive enzymes of nursery piglets by decreasing incubation periods and digestive enzymes to half of those in the procedure for growing pigs and was used to determine the crude protein (CP) digestibility of nursery piglets. The seven ingredients included conventional SBM, thermo-mechanically processed SBM (TSBM), and five sources of fermented SBM (FSBM). The five sources of FSBM were produced using different microorganisms for fermentation, namely: (1) Pediococcus pentosaceus and Bacillus subtilis, (2) Enterococcus faecium (FSBM-EF), (3) Aspergillus oryzae and Bacillus subtilis, (4) Aspergillus oryzae, and (5) Bacillus licheniformis. Based on the conventional procedure, the in vitro ileal disappearance of CP in TSBM was greater (p < 0.05) compared with that in FSBM sources. Based on the in vitro assays for total tract digestibility, organic matter in TSBM was better digested (p < 0.05) compared with that in FSBM except for FSBM-EF. Based on the in vitro procedure for nursery piglets, the ileal disappearance of CP in TSBM was greater (p < 0.05) than that in the other SBM products. Taken together, thermo-mechanical processing rather than microbial fermentation of SBM improves the nutrient digestibility of SBM, particularly in nursery pigs. Full article
14 pages, 2149 KiB  
Article
Effects of Fertilization Mode on the Growth of Lactuca sativa L. and Soil Nutrients in Facilitated Cultivation
by Wei Li, Yanpeng Wei, Jiale Zhao, Weiye Han, Ding Li, Jianzhong Wang, Mengfei Zhao, Lin Chen, Limei Chen and Lina Zhou
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1630; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081630 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
This paper aims to find a fertilization method that better matches the growth characteristics of vegetables and reduces the soil and environmental problems caused by unreasonable fertilization methods, in view of the strong buffering of the clayey black soil in the north and [...] Read more.
This paper aims to find a fertilization method that better matches the growth characteristics of vegetables and reduces the soil and environmental problems caused by unreasonable fertilization methods, in view of the strong buffering of the clayey black soil in the north and the mismatch between the amount of chemical fertilizer applied and the growth characteristics of vegetables during cultivation. In this experiment, Lactuca sativa L. (Lactuca sativa) was studied in a randomized complete block design in greenhouse and five different fertilizer application methods were arranged: exponential fertilization (EF), linear fertilization (LF), average fertilization (AF), one-time fertilization (OF), and no fertilization as a control group (CG). The effects of different fertilization methods on soil nutrients, agronomic traits of Lactuca sativa growth, and related quality were investigated, and the pattern of effects of different fertilization methods on growth and soil nutrients was obtained. The results of the experiment showed that the exponential fertilization method gradually took advantage as the growth time extended. The plant height (PLH), leaf length (LL), leaf width (LW), yield, soluble protein (SP), soluble sugar (SS), vitamin C (VC), and elemental nitrogen (EN) and potassium (EK) of Lactuca sativa were significantly improved under the exponential fertilization method compared with other fertilization methods, by 29.9 cm, 51.5 cm, 5.96 cm, 22, 2.32 kg/m2, 0.23%, 0.44%, 3.93%, 94.66 mg/kg, 1.58 g/kg, and 1.94 g/kg, respectively. The alkali-hydrolyzed nitrogen (SAN), available phosphorus (SAP), and available potassium (SAK) in the soil after fertilization were 139.69 mg/kg, 50.23 mg/kg, and 180.30 mg/kg, respectively. The above results showed that the exponential fertilization method not only improved the quality of Lactuca sativa and thus the quality of the crop growth traits, but also changed the soil nutrients favorably after fertilization, which is of some importance for the protection of black soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Soils)
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14 pages, 556 KiB  
Review
Portuguese Castanea sativa Genetic Resources: Characterization, Productive Challenges and Breeding Efforts
by Megan Braga, Susana de Sousa Araújo, Hélia Sales, Rita Pontes and João Nunes
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1629; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081629 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1405
Abstract
Chestnuts are multipurpose trees that grow mainly in the Northern Hemisphere due to their aptitude for fruit and wood production. These trees are vastly significant for the economy and wildlife. The widespread distribution of these trees demonstrates their genetic adaptability to many environmental [...] Read more.
Chestnuts are multipurpose trees that grow mainly in the Northern Hemisphere due to their aptitude for fruit and wood production. These trees are vastly significant for the economy and wildlife. The widespread distribution of these trees demonstrates their genetic adaptability to many environmental conditions. The main varieties of European chestnut (Castanea sativa Miller) cultivated in Portugal, their productive challenges and breeding and biotechnological efforts developed over the last decades are described. This paper highlights the efforts focused on the improvement of varieties and rootstocks through selection and hybridization of European chestnut with the Asian species Castanea crenata Siebold and Zuccarini and Castanea mollissima Blume, which are resistant to ink disease, which have been the foundation of the Portuguese chestnut breeding programs. Breeding and biotechnological efforts developed over the last decades, focused on ink disease and chestnut blight resistance, are described. The potentialities of this research to stimulate the competitiveness of bioeconomy-based knowledge and innovation in the productive chestnut sector is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Resources Exploration and Genetic Breeding of Crops)
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16 pages, 4921 KiB  
Article
Optimal Design of and Experiment on a Dual-Spiral Ditcher for Orchards
by Jianfei Liu, Ping Jiang, Jun Chen, Xiaocong Zhang, Minzi Xu, Defan Huang and Yixin Shi
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1628; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081628 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 935
Abstract
This study aimed to design a counter-rotating dual-axis spiral ditcher to address the problems of the lack of ditching models, low ditching quality, and high power consumption in ditching operations in hilly and mountainous orchards. By establishing a discrete element simulation model of [...] Read more.
This study aimed to design a counter-rotating dual-axis spiral ditcher to address the problems of the lack of ditching models, low ditching quality, and high power consumption in ditching operations in hilly and mountainous orchards. By establishing a discrete element simulation model of the interaction between the dual-spiral cutter and the soil, we analyzed the effects of different operating parameters on the ditching performance and power consumption to explore the mechanism of the interaction between the soil-engaging components and the soil; meanwhile, according to the simulation data, we took the forward speed, cutter speed, and ditching depth as the experimental influencing factors, and we took the ditching qualification rate and power consumption as the experimental indicators. Then, through a three-factor and three-level orthogonal experimental analysis, we obtained the optimal parameter combination. Based on the optimized simulation results, a prototype ditcher was fabricated, and the results of a soil trough test showed that the ditcher had a stable ditching performance, an average ditching qualification rate of 91.4%, an average soil crushing rate of 72%, and a ditching adjustment structure that could adjust the ditching depth and width within the ranges of 15–25 cm and 10–20 cm, respectively. The optimized ditcher had high efficiency, stability, and energy savings during its operation, and it was able to meet the agronomic requirements for ditching operations. This study provides a design basis and technical support for dual-spiral trial ditching operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design, Optimization and Analysis of Agricultural Machinery)
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14 pages, 20483 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Maize Crop Damage Using UAV-Based RGB and Multispectral Imagery
by Barbara Dobosz, Dariusz Gozdowski, Jerzy Koronczok, Jan Žukovskis and Elżbieta Wójcik-Gront
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1627; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081627 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1383
Abstract
The accurate evaluation of crop damage by wild animals is crucial for farmers when seeking compensation from insurance companies or other institutions. One of the game species that frequently cause crop damage in Europe is the wild boar, which often feeds on maize. [...] Read more.
The accurate evaluation of crop damage by wild animals is crucial for farmers when seeking compensation from insurance companies or other institutions. One of the game species that frequently cause crop damage in Europe is the wild boar, which often feeds on maize. Other game species, such as roe deer and red deer, can also cause significant crop damage. This study aimed to assess the accuracy of crop damage evaluation based on remote sensing data derived from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), especially a digital surface model (DSM) based on RGB imagery and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) derived from multispectral imagery, at two growth stages of maize. During the first growth stage, when plants are in the intensive growth phase and green, crop damage evaluation was conducted using both DSM and NDVI. Each variable was separately utilized, and both variables were included in the classification and regression tree (CART) analysis, wherein crop damage was categorized as a binomial variable (with or without crop damage). In the second growth stage, which was before harvest when the plants had dried, only DSM was employed for crop damage evaluation. The results for both growth stages demonstrated high accuracy in detecting areas with crop damage, but this was primarily observed for areas larger than several square meters. The accuracy of crop damage evaluation was significantly lower for smaller or very narrow areas, such as the width of a single maize row. DSM proved to be more useful than NDVI in detecting crop damage as it can be applied at any stage of maize growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Digital Agriculture)
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24 pages, 7390 KiB  
Article
The Potential of Hydroponic Seed Minituber Enrichment with the Endophyte Bacillus subtilis for Improving the Yield Components and Quality of Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.)
by Liudmila Pusenkova, Oksana Lastochkina and Sezai Ercişli
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1626; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081626 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1158
Abstract
This study examined the potential of using the endophytic bacteria Bacillus subtilis (10-4 and 26D) to enrich hydroponically grown potato seed minitubers (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Bashkirsky) to improve plant growth, photosynthetic pigments, yield, and quality parameters, including nutritional value (i.e., macro-/microelements, [...] Read more.
This study examined the potential of using the endophytic bacteria Bacillus subtilis (10-4 and 26D) to enrich hydroponically grown potato seed minitubers (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Bashkirsky) to improve plant growth, photosynthetic pigments, yield, and quality parameters, including nutritional value (i.e., macro-/microelements, vitamin C, anthocyanins). Potato seed minitubers, obtained from in-vitro-grown microplants in a hydroponic system, were inoculated with endophytic B. subtilis and subsequently grown in pots under controlled conditions. The results demonstrated the successful colonization of seed minitubers by B. subtilis, with subsequent distribution into growing plants (roots, shoots). The endophytes accelerated the plant’s phenological shifts, resulting in earlier emergence of sprouts, budding, and flowering compared with control plants. They also had increased leaf photosynthetic pigments (chlorophyll (Chl) a, Chl b, and carotenoids), total leaf area, and positively influenced leaf proline contents. The height of plants and number of stems per plant did not change significantly upon endophyte treatment, but improved root growth was observed throughout the experiment. As a result of endophyte application, there was an increase in stolon weight, number and size of tubers, and overall tuber yield. There were no significant differences in terms of total dry matter and starch content of the tubers compared to the control group, but the sugar levels decreased and the size of the starch grains was larger in endophyte-treated tubers. Furthermore, endophyte treatment resulted in an increased accumulation of nutrients including N, P, K, Cu, and Fe, as well as vitamin C and anthocyanins in harvested tubers. These findings indicate that colonization of hydroponically grown potato seed minitubers with endophytic B. subtilis (10-4 and 26D) before planting has great potential as an eco-friendly approach to obtain higher-quality seeds and to increase tuber yield and nutritional value in field conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria in Crop Production)
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11 pages, 781 KiB  
Review
Fodder Radish as a Potential Alternative Feed Source for Livestock in South Africa
by Lwando Mbambalala, Zikhona Theodora Rani, Thamsanqa Doctor Empire Mpanza, Makiwa Simeon Mthana, Lusanda Ncisana and Ntuthuko Raphael Mkhize
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1625; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081625 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2522
Abstract
The agricultural sector receives substantial support from livestock, which greatly contributes to the well-being of rural communities. Livestock offers animal-derived products, such as meat and milk, which serve as abundant protein sources for human consumption. While the majority of South Africa’s agricultural land [...] Read more.
The agricultural sector receives substantial support from livestock, which greatly contributes to the well-being of rural communities. Livestock offers animal-derived products, such as meat and milk, which serve as abundant protein sources for human consumption. While the majority of South Africa’s agricultural land is suitable for livestock farming within the smallholder sector, these farmers often face a variety of challenges. Among these challenges, there is insufficient access to superior forage resources, resulting in the limited availability of high-quality feed. Traditional nutrient sources for ruminants, such as soybean meal, grain, sunflower meal, and fish meal, are employed as supplementary feeds to provide exceptional nutrition and improve animal performance. Nonetheless, they present logistical, economic, and environmental challenges. To circumvent these challenges, smallholder producers have turned to leguminous trees, including Vachellia species and other locally available feed resources. They are utilized as feasible and cost-effective alternatives to supplement livestock, especially during periods of extended drought. However, these locally available feed resources exhibit inherent limitations, including thorn presence, high fiber content, low digestibility, and the presence of anti-nutritional and toxic factors. Cool season forage crops such as fodder radish present promising alternatives as autumn and winter forages for these farmers. Despite being widely used globally as a supplement for livestock during winter, fodder radish remains relatively underutilized, particularly among smallholder farmers. There is a scarcity of comprehensive information regarding its chemical composition, nutrient utilization, and remarkable potential to revolutionize livestock production, especially within the smallholder sector. Most of the available literature demonstrates the positive effects of fodder radish on soil structure, soil carbon and nitrogen levels, weed suppression, and other benefits. This paper systematically reviews the current state of knowledge on the nutritive value, opportunities, and challenges associated with the utilization of this crop in the cooler eastern regions. Full article
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16 pages, 1436 KiB  
Article
Knowledge, Attitude, and Perception of Students Regarding Renewable Energies in Agriculture in Guilan, Iran
by Hadi Fazeli, Mohammad Sadegh Allahyari, Saeid Firouzi, Tarek Ben Hassen, Jhalukpreya Surujlal, Nima Nejadrezaei and Mina Sadeghzadeh
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1624; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081624 - 18 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1174
Abstract
Transitioning from fossil to renewable energy is a global challenge, especially for countries with large fossil-fuel reserves and exports, such as Iran. This study analyses agricultural students’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and perceptions of renewable energies in the agriculture sector in Guilan Province [...] Read more.
Transitioning from fossil to renewable energy is a global challenge, especially for countries with large fossil-fuel reserves and exports, such as Iran. This study analyses agricultural students’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and perceptions of renewable energies in the agriculture sector in Guilan Province in Iran. The research was based on a structured questionnaire comprising three sections: (i) respondents’ socio-demographics; (ii) practicality and relevance of academic material and curriculum; and (iii) respondents’ knowledge of and attitudes and perceptions toward renewable energies in agriculture. The results showed that students’ attitudes regarding renewable energies ranked highest, and their perception was lowest. The results also showed a positive and significant relationship between the respondents’ knowledge, marital status, age, and level of education. Moreover, respondents’ age and educational level significantly impacted their attitudes. Cluster analysis divided students’ behavior into three different clusters. These clusters were most affected by attitude. In clustering students’ behavior towards using renewable energies, 38.5%, 33.5%, and 28% of respondents were positioned in the first, third, and second clusters, respectively. This is a pioneering study analyzing agricultural students’ behavior regarding renewable energies in agriculture in Guilan Province, Iran. The results of this study can assist agricultural organizations, politicians in the field of energy, and local authorities in promoting sustainable energy in Guilan Province. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management)
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15 pages, 4367 KiB  
Article
Mapping and Candidate Gene Prediction of qPL7-25: A Panicle Length QTL in Dongxiang Wild Rice
by Sanfeng Li, Yuchun Rao, Penggen Duan, Zhonghao Wang, Ping Hu, Ruoqian Yu, Chenxi Luo, Mengna Tang, Caolin Lu, Yuexing Wang and Yijian Mao
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1623; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081623 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1075
Abstract
Panicle length (PL) is an important trait closely related to rice yield. More than 200 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for PL have been identified, but only a few can be used for breeding. Dongxiang wild rice contains many excellent genes, and mining favorable [...] Read more.
Panicle length (PL) is an important trait closely related to rice yield. More than 200 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for PL have been identified, but only a few can be used for breeding. Dongxiang wild rice contains many excellent genes, and mining favorable PL-related QTL from DXWR is helpful for rice variety improvement. Here, we report a QTL analysis for PL using a recombinant inbred line population consisting of 143 individuals derived from a cross between Dongxiang wild rice and indica cultivar Guangluai 4. A total of four QTL (qPL1-37, qPL4-26, qPL7-25, and qPL8-4) for PL were identified and located on chromosomes 1, 4, 7, and 8. Among them, qPL7-25 showed the largest F-value of 32.32 and 16.80, and the QTL explained 18.66% and 13.06% of the phenotypic variation of Dongxiang wild rice in Hangzhou and Hainan, respectively. QTL mapping was performed using a population of 1800 individuals derived from the crossing of NIL-qPL7-25 and GLA4. qPL7-25 was located between two InDel markers, InDel-24591 and InDel-24710, in a 119 kb region containing 14 predicted genes. Using Sanger sequencing and qRT-PCR analysis, we propose that LOC_Os07g41200 is probably a new allele of the well-known GL7 gene, which affects grain length and appearance quality in rice. These results provide new insights into the use of molecular marker-assisted selection for breeding high-yielding and high-quality rice varieties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Resources Exploration and Genetic Breeding of Crops)
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16 pages, 4371 KiB  
Article
Machine Learning Approaches for Forecasting the Best Microbial Strains to Alleviate Drought Impact in Agriculture
by Tymoteusz Miller, Grzegorz Mikiciuk, Anna Kisiel, Małgorzata Mikiciuk, Dominika Paliwoda, Lidia Sas-Paszt, Danuta Cembrowska-Lech, Adrianna Krzemińska, Agnieszka Kozioł and Adam Brysiewicz
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1622; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081622 - 17 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2051
Abstract
Drought conditions pose significant challenges to sustainable agriculture and food security. Identifying microbial strains that can mitigate drought effects is crucial to enhance crop resilience and productivity. This study presents a comprehensive comparison of several machine learning models, including Random Forest, Decision Tree, [...] Read more.
Drought conditions pose significant challenges to sustainable agriculture and food security. Identifying microbial strains that can mitigate drought effects is crucial to enhance crop resilience and productivity. This study presents a comprehensive comparison of several machine learning models, including Random Forest, Decision Tree, XGBoost, Support Vector Machine (SVM), and Artificial Neural Network (ANN), to predict optimal microbial strains for this purpose. Models were assessed on multiple metrics, such as accuracy, standard deviation of results, gains, total computation time, and training time per 1000 rows of data. Notably, the Gradient Boosted Trees model outperformed others in accuracy but required extensive computational resources. This underscores the balance between accuracy and computational efficiency in machine learning applications. Leveraging machine learning for selecting microbial strains signifies a leap beyond traditional methods, offering improved efficiency and efficacy. These insights hold profound implications for agriculture, especially concerning drought mitigation, thus furthering the cause of sustainable agriculture and ensuring food security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Data Analysis in Agriculture)
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24 pages, 17408 KiB  
Article
Unmanned Aerial System-Based Wheat Biomass Estimation Using Multispectral, Structural and Meteorological Data
by Jianyong Zhang, Yanling Zhao, Zhenqi Hu and Wu Xiao
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1621; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081621 - 17 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Rapid estimation of above-ground biomass (AGB) with high accuracy is essential for monitoring crop growth status and predicting crop yield. Recently, remote sensing techniques using unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have exhibited great potential in obtaining structural information about crops and identifying spatial heterogeneity. [...] Read more.
Rapid estimation of above-ground biomass (AGB) with high accuracy is essential for monitoring crop growth status and predicting crop yield. Recently, remote sensing techniques using unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have exhibited great potential in obtaining structural information about crops and identifying spatial heterogeneity. However, methods of data fusion of different factors still need to be explored in order to enhance the accuracy of their estimates. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the combined metrics of different variables (spectral, structural and meteorological factors) for AGB estimation of wheat using UAS multispectral data. UAS images were captured on two selected growing dates at a typical reclaimed cropland in the North China Plain. The spectral response was determined using the highly correlated vegetation index (VI). A structural metric, the canopy height model (CHM), was produced using UAS-based multispectral images. The measure of growing degree days (GDD) was selected as a meteorological proxy. Subsequently, a structurally–meteorologically weighted canopy spectral response metric (SM-CSRM) was derived by the pixel-level fusion of CHM, GDD and VI. Both correlation coefficient analysis and simple function fitting were implemented to explore the highest correlation between the measured AGB and each proposed metric. The optimal regression model was built for AGB prediction using leave-one-out cross-validation. The results showed that the proposed SM-CSRM generally improved the correlation between wheat AGB and various VIs and can be used for estimating the wheat AGB. Specifically, the combination of MERIS terrestrial chlorophyll index (MTCI), vegetation-masked CHM (mCHM) and normalized GDD (nGDD) achieved an optimal accuracy (R2 = 0.8069, RMSE = 0.1667 kg/m2, nRMSE = 19.62%) through the polynomial regression method. This improved the nRMSE by 3.44% compared to the predictor using MTCI × mCHM. Moreover, the pixel-level fusion method slightly enhanced the nRMSE by ~0.3% for predicted accuracy compared to the feature-level fusion method. In conclusion, this paper demonstrated that an SM-CSRM using pixel-level fusion with canopy spectral, structural and meteorological factors can obtain a good level of accuracy for wheat biomass prediction. This finding could benefit the assessment of reclaimed cropland or the monitoring of crop growth and field management in precision agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing Technologies in Agricultural Crop and Soil Monitoring)
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16 pages, 12062 KiB  
Article
Melatonin Secretion in Regulating the Circadian Rhythms of Reproduction in Goose (Anser cygnoides)
by Qiang Bao, Di Liu, Yujiao Guo, Wang Gu, Zhengfeng Cao, Yu Zhang, Yang Zhang, Qi Xu and Guohong Chen
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1620; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081620 - 17 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1202
Abstract
Circadian rhythms affect the physiology and behavior of most organisms. The ovulation–laying cycle of poultry exhibits evident rhythmic patterns. However, the underlying biological mechanism has remained unclear. Herein, Yangzhou goose (Anser cygnoides) were selected at 6:00, 12:00, 18:00, and 24:00 ( [...] Read more.
Circadian rhythms affect the physiology and behavior of most organisms. The ovulation–laying cycle of poultry exhibits evident rhythmic patterns. However, the underlying biological mechanism has remained unclear. Herein, Yangzhou goose (Anser cygnoides) were selected at 6:00, 12:00, 18:00, and 24:00 (n = 6/timepoint) to investigate the regulation of circadian egg-laying through the light-driven melatonin secretion. Our study revealed that the laying rates displayed diurnal fluctuations, with a peak of 40% of eggs being laid between 4:00 and 7:00. The cosine analysis revealed that the expression of clock genes exhibited rhythmicities (p < 0.05). Relevantly, melatonin secretion also displayed circadian rhythmicity and sharply decreases with increasing amount of light (p < 0.001). The immunohistochemical analysis found that the melatonin receptor is highly expressed during the night period. Notably, tissue distribution analysis further revealed that the melatonin receptor genes showed a decreasing trend in the pineal gland and hypothalamic–pituitary–gonad (HPG) axis throughout the day. Concomitantly, the expression of reproduction-related genes at 12:00 was significantly higher than that at 24:00 (p < 0.01). Taken together, these data suggested cyclical secretion of melatonin in response to photoperiod, which acts as a neuroendocrine transducer of circadian rhythm and the time preference of reproduction in domestic geese. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Farm Animal Production)
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17 pages, 1222 KiB  
Article
The Impact of the Establishment of the Mount Wuyi National Park on the Livelihood of Farmers
by Zhen Yang, Jinjie Ren and Dahong Zhang
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1619; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081619 - 17 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 775
Abstract
The construction of national parks has a profound impact on the production and life of surrounding farmers. Based on the survey data of 354 farmers around the Mount Wuyi National Park, this paper uses the method of constructing a difference-in-difference model to analyze [...] Read more.
The construction of national parks has a profound impact on the production and life of surrounding farmers. Based on the survey data of 354 farmers around the Mount Wuyi National Park, this paper uses the method of constructing a difference-in-difference model to analyze the impact of the Mount Wuyi National Park construction on the livelihood choices of surrounding farmers and the main income of families. In addition, this article analyzes the heterogeneity of surrounding farmers based on differences in tea planting area and farmers’ income levels. The results show the following: First, compared with pre-establishment, farmers around the Mount Wuyi National Park still prefer tea-based agricultural employment or part-time employment. Second, after the establishment of the Mount Wuyi National Park, the main income of surrounding farmers’ families is still agricultural income. Therefore, the authors of this article believe that it is necessary to further strengthen the protection of the livelihoods of surrounding farmers and moderately create more livelihood choices for surrounding farmers in order to achieve both ecological and economic benefits. Full article
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13 pages, 1315 KiB  
Article
Understanding In Vitro Embryo Development through Classical Germination Measurements: A Case Study of Dragon’s Blood (Croton lechleri Müll Arg.)
by Janai Pereira de Albuquerque, João Paulo Ribeiro-Oliveira, João Bosco de Oliveira-Júnior, Frederico Henrique da Silva Costa and Edvaldo Aparecido Amaral da Silva
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1618; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081618 - 17 Aug 2023
Viewed by 985
Abstract
Sample size fluctuation and the restriction of measurements that demonstrate kinetics (typical of physiological processes) are two of the largest inferential constraints in studies on embryonic development in vitro. Thus, we hypothesize that a practical and robust way of aggregating knowledge on aspects [...] Read more.
Sample size fluctuation and the restriction of measurements that demonstrate kinetics (typical of physiological processes) are two of the largest inferential constraints in studies on embryonic development in vitro. Thus, we hypothesize that a practical and robust way of aggregating knowledge on aspects of embryonic development in vitro is to use measurements based on the binary counting component. These are typically used to measure the germination process (intraeminal embryonal development). Our biological model was Dragon’s blood (Croton lechleri Müll Arg.), a species native to the Amazon with great socioeconomic impact. Matrices originating from two populations (one native and another cultivated) were the source of biological material. From this material, we studied five sampling densities (5, 25, 50, and 100 embryos), forming a 2 × 4 factorial ANOVA. Among the measurements studied, the coefficient of variation of time, uncertainty, and the synchronization index were the most sensitive to sample-size fluctuation. The synchronization index, however, also proved to be an interesting measurement to detect the parental effect related to the place of occurrence of the matrices. The embryonic development ability, mean development time, and mean development rate were not affected by fluctuations in the sample size or the origin of the material, demonstrating highly conserved traits of the species. Finally, in general, the measurements based on binary counting demonstrated robustness for modeling embryonic growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Seed Science and Technology)
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21 pages, 7421 KiB  
Article
Artefacts in Field Trial Research—Lateral Ammonia Fluxes Confound Fertiliser Plot Experiments
by Karin S. Levin, Felizitas Winkhart, Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen, Hans Jürgen Reents and Karl Auerswald
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1617; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081617 - 16 Aug 2023
Viewed by 712
Abstract
Agricultural ammonia (NH3) emissions can have serious environmental impacts, lower fertiliser nitrogen-use efficiencies, and cause economic losses. NH3 losses may not only occur directly from organic fertilisers such as biogas digestates when applied to crops, the crops themselves may also [...] Read more.
Agricultural ammonia (NH3) emissions can have serious environmental impacts, lower fertiliser nitrogen-use efficiencies, and cause economic losses. NH3 losses may not only occur directly from organic fertilisers such as biogas digestates when applied to crops, the crops themselves may also be a source of ammonia emissions. Wheat yields from 14 years of an organic small plot fertiliser trial fertilised with biogas digestate were analysed to determine if there was significant lateral N transfer between plots. A simple NH3 loss/gain model was developed to calculate possible N gains and losses via NH3 volatilisation from the applied digestate. This model was tested using NH3 volatilisation measurements. In addition, 15N isotope measurements of crop biomass were used to analyse plant N uptake. While digestate fertilisation increased wheat yields, yield patterns indicated that NH3 emissions from plots fertilised with biogas digestate affected yields in neighbouring unfertilised plots. Measurements of ammonia losses and gains in the field validated our modelling results, showing that 55% of digestate NH4+-N was volatilised. 15N isotope analysis indicated that crops took up as much as 30 kg ha−1 NH3-N volatilised from digestate, and that plots closer to fertilised plots took up more of this NH3-N than crops further away from fertilised plots. Our results imply that neither the results from the fertilised plots nor from the unfertilised plots are without bias. To avoid inadvertently introducing artefacts into fertiliser field trials, plot sizes need to be increased and treatments situated further apart. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen Fertilization in Crop Production)
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23 pages, 887 KiB  
Article
Does the Development of Digital Inclusive Finance Promote the Construction of Digital Villages?—An Empirical Study Based on the Chinese Experience
by Chengkai Zhang, Yu Li, Lili Yang and Zheng Wang
Agriculture 2023, 13(8), 1616; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13081616 - 16 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1413
Abstract
The degree of the effect of digital inclusive finance on the construction of China’s digital villages and the mechanism of action is investigated in this study by matching the digital inclusive finance index in accordance with a data sample of China’s provincial digital [...] Read more.
The degree of the effect of digital inclusive finance on the construction of China’s digital villages and the mechanism of action is investigated in this study by matching the digital inclusive finance index in accordance with a data sample of China’s provincial digital villages from 2013 to 2020. As indicated by the result of this study, first, the development of digital inclusive finance positively expedites the development of digital villages. Second, geographical and dimensional differences exist when digital inclusive finance boosts the construction of digital villages. Third, digital inclusive finance is capable of facilitating the construction of digital villages by deepening technological innovation and communication infrastructure construction and further enhancing the digital literacy of residents. Fourth, a positive moderating effect of internal conditions of rural residents’ consumption and external conditions of financial regulation is reported when digital inclusive finance promotes digital rural development. Based on the above-mentioned findings, the following policy recommendations are presented to advance digital countryside construction in depth. First, following the goal of building Chinese modernization, differentiated policies, with regional resource endowments, social conditions, and rural characteristics considered, should be implemented in accordance with local conditions. Second, the digitalization process in rural areas should be vigorously boosted, and it is imperative to optimize and upgrade mobile communication infrastructure, with the aim of injecting new momentum into China’s digital countryside construction. Third, investment in scientific and technological research and development funds and high-level innovative talents should be increased to endow digital technology with better independent innovation capacity and facilitate the level of innovation. Fourth, investment in education should be increased to enhance the digital literacy of urban and rural residents. Full article
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