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Agriculture, Volume 7, Issue 10 (October 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Energy and Carbon Impact of Precision Livestock Farming Technologies Implementation in the Milk Chain: From Dairy Farm to Cheese Factory
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 79; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100079
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 7 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) is being developed in livestock farms to relieve the human workload and to help farmers to optimize production and management procedure. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the consequences in energy intensity and the related carbon impact,
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Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) is being developed in livestock farms to relieve the human workload and to help farmers to optimize production and management procedure. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the consequences in energy intensity and the related carbon impact, from dairy farm to cheese factory, due to the implementation of a real-time milk analysis and separation (AfiMilk MCS) in milking parlors. The research carried out involved three conventional dairy farms, the collection and delivery of milk from dairy farms to cheese factory and the processing line of a traditional soft cheese into a dairy factory. The AfiMilk MCS system installed in the milking parlors allowed to obtain a large number of information related to the quantity and quality of milk from each individual cow and to separate milk with two different composition (one with high coagulation properties and the other one with low coagulation properties), with different percentage of separation. Due to the presence of an additional milkline and the AfiMilk MCS components, the energy requirements and the related environmental impact at farm level were slightly higher, among 1.1% and 4.4%. The logistic of milk collection was also significantly reorganized in view of the collection of two separate type of milk, hence, it leads an increment of 44% of the energy requirements. The logistic of milk collection and delivery represents the process which the highest incidence in energy consumption occurred after the installation of the PLF technology. Thanks to the availability of milk with high coagulation properties, the dairy plant, produced traditional soft cheese avoiding the standardization of the formula, as a result, the energy uses decreased about 44%, while considering the whole chain, the emissions of carbon dioxide was reduced by 69%. In this study, the application of advance technologies in milking parlors modified not only the on-farm management but mainly the procedure carried out in cheese making plant. This aspect makes precision livestock farming implementation unimportant technology that may provide important benefits throughout the overall milk chain, avoiding about 2.65 MJ of primary energy every 100 kg of processed milk. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Morphological Characterization and Determination of Aflatoxin-Production Potentials of Aspergillus flavus Isolated from Maize and Soil in Kenya
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 80; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100080
Received: 3 July 2017 / Revised: 4 September 2017 / Accepted: 7 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
This study aimed at morphologically identifying Aspergillus flavus in soil and maize and at determining their aflatoxin-producing potentials. Five hundred and fourteen isolates obtained from maize and soil in Kenya were cultivated on Czapeck Dox Agar, Malt Extract Agar, Sabouraud Dextrose Agar, Potato
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This study aimed at morphologically identifying Aspergillus flavus in soil and maize and at determining their aflatoxin-producing potentials. Five hundred and fourteen isolates obtained from maize and soil in Kenya were cultivated on Czapeck Dox Agar, Malt Extract Agar, Sabouraud Dextrose Agar, Potato Dextrose Agar, and Rose-Bengal Chloramphenicol Agar. Isolates were identified using macro-morphological characteristics. Micromorphological characteristics were determined using slide cultures. Aflatoxin production was determined by direct visual determination of the UV fluorescence of colonies on Coconut Agar Medium, Yeast Extract Sucrose agar, and Yeast Extract Cyclodextrin Sodium Deoxycholate agar and by Thin Layer Chromatography. Forty-three presumptive A. flavus isolates were identified; aflatoxin was detected in 23% of the isolates by UV fluorescence screening and in 30% by Thin-Layer Chromatography (TLC). The aflatoxins produced were: aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), aflatoxin B2 (AFB2), and aflatoxin G1 (AFG1); some isolates produced only AFB1, whereas others produced either AFB1 and AFB2 or AFB1 and AFG1. The highest incidence of A. flavus (63%) and aflatoxin production (28%) was recorded in samples from Makueni District. Isolates from Uasin Gishu (21%) and Nyeri (5%) were non-aflatoxigenic. Bungoma District recorded 11% positive isolates of which 2% were aflatoxin producers. The occurrence of aflatoxin-producing A. flavus emphasises the need for measures to eliminate their presence in food crops. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Efficacy of the Herbicide Lancelot 450 WG (Aminopyralid + Florasulam) on Broadleaf and Invasive Weeds and Effects on Yield and Quality Parameters of Maize
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 82; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100082
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 24 September 2017
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Abstract
Reduced efficacy of several herbicides on some important broadleaf weeds might be due to the extended use of the specific active ingredients. In our study, field experiments were carried out in Greece in 2014 and 2015 to study the efficacy of the herbicide
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Reduced efficacy of several herbicides on some important broadleaf weeds might be due to the extended use of the specific active ingredients. In our study, field experiments were carried out in Greece in 2014 and 2015 to study the efficacy of the herbicide Lancelot 450 WG (aminopyralid 300 g ai/kg + florasulam 150 g ai/kg) compared to other herbicides against broadleaf weeds in maize. Effects on crop yield and quality parameters (nitrogen, protein, and oil content) were also evaluated. Our results showed that the ready mixture of aminopyralid + florasulam at the recommended dose of 33 g/ha resulted in a very good control of Xanthium strumarium, Amaranthus retroflexus, Cirsium arvense, and Solanum nigrum even at 28 DAT, providing a long-term effect. Efficacy of the specific mixture was also very efficient against the invasive weed species Physalis angulata L. Moreover, there were not any significant differences between the two doses of Lancelot 450 WG (33 and 66 g/ha) and Callisto 10 SC at double the recommended dose (1500 mL/ha) regarding yield of maize, with untreated plots and treated with Callisto 10 SC at the recommended dose (750 mL/ha) showing significantly lower yields. It has to be noted that even double the recommended dose of Lancelot 450 WG (66 g/ha) was highly selective to the crop, without any adverse effects on yield and quality parameters. Conclusively, Lancelot 450 WG could be proposed as a very efficient herbicide for the control of the major broadleaf weeds and alien, invasive species in maize crop. Full article
Open AccessArticle Geostatistical Determination of Soil Noise and Soil Phosphorus Spatial Variability
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 83; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100083
Received: 8 September 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 27 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
This research studies the effect of stratifying soil samples to try and find a suitable depth to establish a geospatial relationship for a practical soil sampling grid in New Zealand hill country. Cores were collected from 200 predetermined sites in grids at two
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This research studies the effect of stratifying soil samples to try and find a suitable depth to establish a geospatial relationship for a practical soil sampling grid in New Zealand hill country. Cores were collected from 200 predetermined sites in grids at two trial sites at “Patitapu” hill country farm in the Wairarapa, New Zealand. Trial 1 was a 200 m × 100 m grid located in a gently undulating paddock. Trial 2 was a 220 m × 80 m grid located on a moderately sloped paddock. Each grid had cores taken at intervals of 5 m, 10 m, or 20 m. Core sites were mapped out prior to going into the field; these points were found using a Leica Geo Systems GS15 (real time kinematic GPS) and marked with pigtail pegs and spray-paint on the ground. Cores were taken using a 50 mm-diameter soil core sampler. Cores were cut into three sections according to depth: A—0–30 mm, B—30–75 mm, and C—75–150 mm. Olsen P lab results were obtained for half of the total 1400 samples due to financial constraints. The results indicate that there was a significant decrease in variability from Section A to Section B for both trials. Section B and C for Trial 1 had similar variability, whereas there was another significant drop in variability from Section B to C in Trial 2. Measuring samples below the top 3 cm appeared to effectively reduce noise when sampled from 3 to 15 cm. However, measuring from 7.5 cm to 15 cm on the slope in Trial 2 reduced variability so much that all results were almost identical, which may mean that there is no measurable representation of plant available P. The reduction in noise by removing the top 3 cm of soil samples is significant for improving current soil nutrient testing methods by allowing better geospatial predictions for whole paddock soil nutrient variability mapping. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Magnesium on Gas Exchange and Photosynthetic Efficiency of Coffee Plants Grown under Different Light Levels
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 85; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100085
Received: 12 July 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 30 September 2017
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Abstract
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of magnesium on the gas exchange and photosynthetic efficiency of Coffee seedlings grown in nutrient solution under different light levels. The experiment was conducted under controlled conditions in growth chambers and nutrient
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The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of magnesium on the gas exchange and photosynthetic efficiency of Coffee seedlings grown in nutrient solution under different light levels. The experiment was conducted under controlled conditions in growth chambers and nutrient solution at the Department of Plant Pathology of the Federal University of Lavras. The treatments consisted of five different Mg concentrations (0, 48, 96, 192 and 384 mg·L−1) and four light levels (80, 160, 240 and 320 µmol photon m−2·s−1). Both the Mg concentration and light levels affected gas exchange in the coffee plants. Photosynthesis increased linearly with the increasing light, indicating that the light levels tested were low for this crop. The highest CO2 assimilation rate, lowest transpiration, and highest water use efficiency were observed with 250 mg·Mg·L−1, indicating that this concentration was the optimal Mg supply for the tested light levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Nutrient Dynamics in Stressful Environments)
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Open AccessArticle Monitoring and Precision Spraying for Orchid Plantation with Wireless WebCAMs
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 87; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100087
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 27 September 2017 / Accepted: 3 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation. Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation
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Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation. Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation density of pests and diseases. Image data was processed through an algorithm created in MATLAB® (The MathWorks, Inc., Natick, USA). Corresponding to the orchid’s growth stage and its infestation density, varying levels of fertilizer and chemical injections were administered. The acquired LARS images from wireless WebCAMs were positioned using geo-referencing, and eventually processed to estimate vegetative-indices (Red = 650 nm and NIR = 800 nm band center). Good correlations and a clear cluster range were obtained in characteristic plots of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI) against chlorophyll content. The coefficient of determination, the chlorophyll content values (μmol m−2) showed significant differences among clusters for healthy orchids (R2 = 0.985–0.992), and for infested orchids (R2 = 0.984–0.998). The WebCAM application, while being inexpensive, provided acceptable inputs for image processing. The LARS platform gave its best performance at an altitude of 1.2 m above canopy. The image processing software based on LARS images provided satisfactory results as compared with manual measurements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Possible Noise Reduction Arrangements inside Olive Oil Mills: A Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 88; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100088
Received: 9 August 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially
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Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially performed by using a mechanical pressing process (traditional olive oil mills), or by the centrifugation process (modern olive oil mills). The aim of this paper is to evaluate in detail the noise levels within a typical olive oil mill located in the northern part of the Apulia region during olive oil extraction. The feasibility of this study focusing on the assessment of workers’ exposure to noise was tested in compliance with the Italian-European Regulations and US standards and criteria. Several measurements of the noise emission produced by each machine belonging to the productive cycle were carried out during olive oil production. The results obtained were then used to evaluate possible improvements to carry out in order to achieve better working conditions. An effective reduction in noise could probably be achieved through a combination of different solutions, which obviously have to be assessed not only from a technical point of view but also an economic one. A significant reduction in noise levels could be achieved by increasing the area of the room allotted to the olive oil extraction cycle by removing all the unnecessary partition walls that might be present. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Development of a Variable Rate Chemical Sprayer for Monitoring Diseases and Pests Infestation in Coconut Plantations
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 89; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100089
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 17 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 22 October 2017
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Abstract
An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a
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An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a power system, a chemical tank and pump, a crane, a nozzle with a remote monitoring system, and motion and crane controlling systems. As the target was confirmed, the nozzle was moved towards the target area (tree canopy) using the remote monitoring system. The pump then sprayed chemicals to the target at a specified rate. The results suggested optimal design values for 5–9 m tall coconut trees, including the distance between nozzle and target (1 m), pressure (1.5 bar), spraying rate (2.712 L/min), the highest movement speed (1.5 km/h), fuel consumption (0.58 L/h), and working capacity (0.056 ha/h). The sprayer reduced labor requirements, prevented chemical hazards to workers, and increased coconut pest controlling efficiency. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Whole-Body Vibration in Farming: Background Document for Creating a Simplified Procedure to Determine Agricultural Tractor Vibration Comfort
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 84; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100084
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such
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Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such as farming. Despite the wide variability of agricultural surface profiles, studies have shown that with changing soil profile and tractor speed, the accelerations resulting from ground input present similar spectral trends. While on the one hand such studies confirmed that tractor WBV emission levels are very dependent upon the nature of the operation performed, on the other, irrespective of the wide range of conditions characterizing agricultural operations, they led researchers to set up a possible and realistic simplification and standardization of tractor driver comfort testing activities. The studies presented herewith indicate the usefulness, and the possibility, of developing simplified procedures to determine agricultural tractor vibration comfort. The results obtained could be used effectively to compare tractors of the same category or a given tractor when equipped with different seats, suspension, tyres, etc. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Adapting Agricultural Production Systems to Climate Change—What’s the Use of Models?
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 86; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100086
Received: 10 September 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 8 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
Climate change poses a challenge to agricultural production and its impacts vary depending on regional focus and on the type of production system. To avoid production losses and make use of emerging potentials, adaptations in agricultural management will inevitably be required. Adaptation responses
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Climate change poses a challenge to agricultural production and its impacts vary depending on regional focus and on the type of production system. To avoid production losses and make use of emerging potentials, adaptations in agricultural management will inevitably be required. Adaptation responses can broadly be distinguished into (1) short-term incremental responses that farmers often choose autonomously in response to observed changes and based on local knowledge and experiences, and (2) long-term transformative responses that require strategic planning, and which are usually implemented at a larger spatial scale. Models can be used to support decision making at both response levels; thereby, different features of models prove more or less valuable depending on the type of adaptation response. This paper presents a systematic literature review on the state-of-the-art in modelling for adaptation planning in agricultural production systems, investigating the question of which model types can be distinguished and how these types differ in the way they support decision making in agricultural adaptation planning. Five types of models are distinguished: (1) empirical crop models; (2) regional suitability models; (3) biophysical models; (4) meta-models; and (5) decision models. The potential and limitations of these model types for providing decision-support to short- and long-term adaptation planning are discussed. The risk of maladaptation—adaptation that implies negative consequences either in the long term or in a wider context—is identified as a key challenge of adaptation planning that needs more attention. Maladaptation is not only a risk of decision making in the face of incomplete knowledge of future climate impacts on the agricultural production system; but it can also be a threat if the connectedness of the agroecosystem is not sufficiently acknowledged when management adaptations are implemented. Future research supporting climate change adaptation efforts should thus be based on integrated assessments of risk and vulnerabilities (considering climate variability and uncertainty). To secure adaptation success in the long term, frameworks for monitoring management adaptations and their consequences should be institutionalised. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCommentary Establishing a Risk Profile for New Zealand Pastoral Farms
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 81; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100081
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
In this paper, the risk profile of two pastoral production systems in New Zealand are examined. All farmers must manage and mitigate a multitude of risks. Traditionally, a farm budget is solely undertaken to satisfy a lending institution. Limited variance analysis takes place,
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In this paper, the risk profile of two pastoral production systems in New Zealand are examined. All farmers must manage and mitigate a multitude of risks. Traditionally, a farm budget is solely undertaken to satisfy a lending institution. Limited variance analysis takes place, usually for output prices and inputs such as: interest rates, energy costs, and fertiliser. The authors of this paper use “@Risk”, a risk profiling plug-in tool for Microsoft Excel to demonstrate how farm budgets can be more relevant to farmers. Many risk factors that affect farm financial performance, such as climate and commodity prices, are not controlled by the farmer. Wet summers help hill country sheep and beef pastoral farmers, as more grass growth occurs, which thereby reduces the cost of production and increases revenue, as more stock is finished. Whereas in drought years income falls as stock must be sold prior to finishing, in severe droughts capital stock may also be sold. Input costs also rise as pasture weed invasion occurs; health issues such as rye grass staggers may also add cost. Monte Carlo simulations on model farm budgets for a North Island sheep and beef property and a Canterbury dairy farm help demonstrate the risk profile of each farm type. Full article
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