New and Emerging Technology for High Quality and Sustainable Horticultural Production

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Horticultural and Floricultural Crops".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 16398

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Sciences of Food Production, National Research Council (CNR- ISPA), Bari, Italy
Interests: morphological and nutritional evaluation of agro-biodiversity; market and nutritional quality of vegetable crops; plant nutrition; nitrate content; greenhouse and soilless cultivation
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Guest Editor
Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, 38010 San Michele all’Adige, Italy
Interests: fruit quality; postharvest; phenotyping; fruit physiology; metabolomics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The concept of quality in horticulture includes two principles: the quality of products obtained at the end of the agricultural process and the economic and environmental sustainability of production. Several innovative technologies have enabled the production of high quality products and increasing shelf life. From precision agriculture technologies (sensors for irrigation and pest control, DSS, remote control) aimed at saving agronomic inputs (reduction of phytosanitary residues; decrease of fertilizer and water input) and obtaining a longer shelf life, to soilless cultivation aimed at a precise control of plant nutrition in the greenhouse. Indoor cultivation may provide for strict control of climate, including the application of LED light and specific covering materials. After harvesting, the quality of the horticultural products must be preserved until consumption from post-harvest handling and sale through to domestic consumption. Research articles, review articles, as well as short communications are invited.

Dr. Maria Gonnella
Dr. Brian Farneti
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Vegetable and fruit production
  • High quality
  • Sustainable horticulture
  • Precision agriculture
  • Soilless cultivation
  • Technological greenhouses

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 1108 KiB  
Article
Effects of Short-Term Root Cooling before Harvest on Yield and Food Quality of Chinese Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Alboglabra Bailey)
by Fang He, Björn Thiele, David Kraus, Souhaila Bouteyine, Michelle Watt, Thorsten Kraska, Ulrich Schurr and Arnd Jürgen Kuhn
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030577 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2381
Abstract
Vegetable product quality is an important consideration for consumers. Long-term root cooling could improve certain food quality of horticultural crops, but often comes at the expense of reduced shoot biomass or yield. Since few studies have investigated how fast Chinese broccoli (Brassica [...] Read more.
Vegetable product quality is an important consideration for consumers. Long-term root cooling could improve certain food quality of horticultural crops, but often comes at the expense of reduced shoot biomass or yield. Since few studies have investigated how fast Chinese broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra Bailey) responds to changes of root temperature, we shortened the duration of the root cooling treatment to one week before harvest to make the production system more effective. The aim of this study was to improve the food quality of Chinese broccoli without causing deleterious effects on plant growth and yield. The seedlings were cultivated hydroponically at two root temperatures (10 and 20 °C) during the last week prior to harvest in summer 2018 (Exp-1) and autumn 2019 (Exp-2). Plant growth, yield, physiological variables, soluble sugars, total chlorophyll, glucosinolates and mineral elements concentration were examined. The results showed that the yield reduction was alleviated compared to results over the long-term. Specifically, yield was not affected by root cooling in Exp-1 and reduced by 18.9% in Exp-2 compared to 20 °C. Glucose and fructose concentrations of the leaves were increased when the root temperature was 10 °C in both experiments with a more pronounced impact in Exp-2. In addition, root cooling produced a significant accumulation of individual glucosinolates, such as progoitrin, gluconapin, 4-methoxyglucobrassicin and 4-hydroxyglucobrassicin, in the stems of Exp-1 and the leaves of Exp-2. Minerals, such as N, showed reductions in the shoot, but accumulation in the root. Therefore, compared to long-term root cooling, short-term (one week) reduction of the root temperature is more economical and could help improve certain quality characteristics of Chinese broccoli with less or even no yield reduction. Full article
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15 pages, 2740 KiB  
Article
Supplementary Far-Red Light Did Not Affect Tomato Plant Growth or Yield under Mediterranean Greenhouse Conditions
by Onofrio Davide Palmitessa, Beniamino Leoni, Francesco Fabiano Montesano, Francesco Serio, Angelo Signore and Pietro Santamaria
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1849; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121849 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3986
Abstract
In the Mediterranean region, tomato plants are often cultivated in two short cycles per year to avoid the heat of summer and the low solar radiation of winter. Supplementary light (SL) makes it possible to cultivate during the dark season. In this experiment, [...] Read more.
In the Mediterranean region, tomato plants are often cultivated in two short cycles per year to avoid the heat of summer and the low solar radiation of winter. Supplementary light (SL) makes it possible to cultivate during the dark season. In this experiment, a tomato F1 hybrid cultivar DRW7723 was cultivated in a greenhouse for a fall-winter cycle. After transplant, light emitting diode (LED) interlighting, with two light spectra (red + blue vs. red + blue + far-red) was applied as SL. Plant growth, yield, gas exchange, nutrient solution (NS) consumption, and fruit quality were analyzed. In general, the effects of adding far-red radiation were not visible on the parameters analyzed, although the yield was 27% higher in plants grown with SL than those grown without. Tomatoes had the same average fresh weight between SL treatments, but the plants grown with SL produced 16% more fruits than control. Fruit quality, gas exchange and NS uptake were not influenced by the addition of far-red light. Interlighting is, therefore, a valid technique to increase fruit production in winter but at our latitude the effects of adding far-red radiation are mitigated by available sunlight. Full article
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14 pages, 2521 KiB  
Article
Supplemental LED Increases Tomato Yield in Mediterranean Semi-Closed Greenhouse
by Onofrio Davide Palmitessa, Paolo Paciello and Pietro Santamaria
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1353; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091353 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 3824
Abstract
Supplemental light (SL) is a technique used to increase horticulture yield, especially in northern countries, where the Daily Light Integral (DLI) is a limiting factor during fall and winter, and which could also be used to obtain higher tomato yield at the Mediterranean [...] Read more.
Supplemental light (SL) is a technique used to increase horticulture yield, especially in northern countries, where the Daily Light Integral (DLI) is a limiting factor during fall and winter, and which could also be used to obtain higher tomato yield at the Mediterranean latitude. In this study, three tomato hybrid (F1) cultivars were grown for year-round production in a commercial semi-closed glasshouse in Southern Italy: two of the cherry fruit-type (‘Juanita’ and ‘Sorentyno’) and one mini plum fruit-type (‘Solarino’). From 120 to 243 days after transplant, light-emitting diode (LED) toplights were used as SL, with a photoperiod of 18 h. The main climatic parameters inside and outside the glasshouse were recorded, and tomato plants’ development and yield were examined. Plants grown with LEDs had longer stems as compared to control treatment (9.53 vs. 8.79 m), a higher stem thickness and yielded more trusses. On average, the yield was 21.7% higher with LEDs. ‘Sorentyno’ was the cultivar with the highest cumulated productivity when it was grown under SL. However, the cultivar with best light use efficiency under LEDs was ‘Solarino’. Therefore, supplemental LED from mid-December until March enhanced tomato growth and yield, opening a favorable scenario for large-scale application of this technology also in the Mediterranean area. Full article
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Review

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12 pages, 3598 KiB  
Review
The Evolution of Soilless Systems towards Ecological Sustainability in the Perspective of a Circular Economy. Is It Really the Opposite of Organic Agriculture?
by Maria Gonnella and Massimiliano Renna
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 950; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11050950 - 11 May 2021
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 5587
Abstract
Soilless cultivation systems were primarily developed in response to the excessive spread of soil pathogens; however, they also allow an optimal control of plant grow, high productivity and product quality as well as very high efficiency of water and fertilizer use. At the [...] Read more.
Soilless cultivation systems were primarily developed in response to the excessive spread of soil pathogens; however, they also allow an optimal control of plant grow, high productivity and product quality as well as very high efficiency of water and fertilizer use. At the same time, consumers remain critical towards soilless-cultivated vegetables, mainly due to the perception of these techniques as unnatural, resulting from artificial growth and consequently characterized by low quality. This mini review analyzes the evolutionary process of soilless cultivation within a vision of agriculture that supports environmental sustainability as the central theme of the discussion. Current knowledge suggests that, although apparently opposite, organic and high-tech soilless cultivation have several common or converging points in view of a sustainable use of resources on the planet. As a consequence, new policies should be oriented toward a reduction of environmental “pressure” by introducing a process certification of low environmental impact, which, together with an adequate product certification, related not only to the environmental aspect but also to product quality, can reduce the opposition of the two cultivation systems. Full article
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