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Agriculture, Volume 7, Issue 2 (February 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Assessment of Photosynthetic Pigment and Water Contents in Intact Sunflower Plants from Spectral Indices
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 8; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020008
Received: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 2 February 2017 / Published: 6 February 2017
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Abstract
Under water-limited conditions, monitoring water and chlorophyll status is essential to avoid restrictions in crop growth and yield. This study was carried out to assess water and chlorophyll contents from spectral indices in sunflower plants. The hybrid Sunbright Supreme was cultivated inside a
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Under water-limited conditions, monitoring water and chlorophyll status is essential to avoid restrictions in crop growth and yield. This study was carried out to assess water and chlorophyll contents from spectral indices in sunflower plants. The hybrid Sunbright Supreme was cultivated inside a non-acclimatized greenhouse until the start of the flowering stage, and later was maintained in a growth chamber with the purpose of submitting the plants to a slow and progressive dehydration rate for 12 consecutive days. Spectral (reflectance and transmittance), leaf masses (fresh and dry), and total chlorophyll measurements were accomplished in sunflower plants. The water stress caused a reduction in the water and chlorophyll contents, resulting in linear and nonlinear decreases for the spectral indicators Water Index (WI) and Chlorophyll Content Index (CCI), respectively. The low scattering of the average values around the fitted models indicates that WI and CCI were effective in representing changes in water and chlorophyll status for sunflowers (R2 = 0.912 and R2 = 0.905). The benefits of using hand-held optical meters for reflectance and transmittance are that they enable rapid, accurate, and nondestructive assessments of water and chlorophyll contents in sunflower plants from radiometric indicators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Approaches to Agricultural Water Management)
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Open AccessArticle Changes in the Polyphenolic Profile, Carotenoids and Antioxidant Potential of Apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) Leaves during Maturation
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 9; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020009
Received: 29 December 2016 / Revised: 20 January 2017 / Accepted: 23 January 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
Apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) leaves were studied to assess the potential of apricot leaves for future studies and their applications in nutraceutical and bioactive functional ingredients. The changes in the phenolic profile, carotenoids, pigments and antioxidant potential were studied at four maturation
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Apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) leaves were studied to assess the potential of apricot leaves for future studies and their applications in nutraceutical and bioactive functional ingredients. The changes in the phenolic profile, carotenoids, pigments and antioxidant potential were studied at four maturation stages. Polyphenols and carotenoids were studied using reversed-phase HPLC-DAD. Pigments, total phenolic contents and radical scavenging activity were also measured. Results revealed twelve phenolic compounds in the apricot leaves. The major phenolic compounds were 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid (14.6–49.6 mg/g), 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid (0.56–7.5 mg/g), 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid (5.6–25.7 mg/g) and quercetin-3-O-glucosides (8.6–19.9 mg/g), while others include caffeic acid and derivatives of coumaric acid and kaempferol. Significant changes were observed in polyphenolic compounds during maturation. Lutein (56.7–65.7 µg/g), neoxanthin (0.66–4.79 µg/g), 5,6-epoxy-α-carotene (5.89–7.9 µg/g), and β-carotene (12.3–26.9 µg/g) were the major carotenoids. There were significant variations in the carotenoids, pigment contents, total phenolic contents and radical scavenging activity during maturation. In conclusion, significant variation occurred in the polyphenolic profile, carotenoids contents and antioxidant potential of apricot leaves under the studied conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Efflux of Soil Nitrous Oxide from Applied Fertilizer Containing Organic Materials in Citrus unshiu Field in Southwestern Japan
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 10; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020010
Received: 7 December 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 2 February 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural fields are an important source of the increasing atmospheric N2O concentration. We conducted a two-year investigation of soil N2O emissions induced by the application of combined organic and synthetic fertilizer (COS)
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Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural fields are an important source of the increasing atmospheric N2O concentration. We conducted a two-year investigation of soil N2O emissions induced by the application of combined organic and synthetic fertilizer (COS) and distilled silage waste (DSW). Three experimental treatments were applied to a Citrus unshiu field in January 2013 in Ehime, Japan: no fertilizer (NF), COS, and DSW. The applied nitrogen (N) from DSW was 192 and 244 kg N ha−1 in the first and second years, respectively, although the N application in COS was 192 kg N ha−1 in both years. The main N forms in COS and DSW were ammonium- and nitrate-N, respectively. Soil N2O and carbon dioxide fluxes, soil chemical properties, and mineral N leaching from topsoil were measured. The soil N2O flux increased after fertilization in COS and DSW, and a higher N2O efflux after supplemental fertilization was induced by warm and wet soil conditions. The emission factor of N2O was higher in COS (2.02%) than in DSW (1.18%), while N leaching was higher in DSW than in COS. The organic materials remaining after the application possibly increased the N2O emissions in the summer season. Therefore, to mitigate N2O emissions in citrus orchards, fertilizer containing organic materials should be applied during a cool and dry season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue C and N Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystem)
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Open AccessArticle Small-Scale Vegetable Farmers’ Participation in Modern Retail Market Channels in Indonesia: The Determinants of and Effects on Their Income
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020011
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 24 January 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
The rise of supermarkets in Indonesia since the end of the 1990s have been transforming the food retail sector and providing further market opportunities for small-scale farmers, in which most of Indonesia’s farmer falls into this category. The aim of this paper is
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The rise of supermarkets in Indonesia since the end of the 1990s have been transforming the food retail sector and providing further market opportunities for small-scale farmers, in which most of Indonesia’s farmer falls into this category. The aim of this paper is to examine the supermarket participation and its effect on the well-being of small-scale farmers. We compare the differences between participants and non-participants in supermarket channels in order to explore the constraints on supermarket participation. By applying a treatment effects model which allows capturing the possibility of selection bias, we examine the factors that determine farmers’ participation as well as the effect on their income. The results show that younger farmers with higher levels of education, irrigated land, who have packaging equipment and storage facilities, and are located near paved roads, are more likely to participate in the supermarket channels. On the other hand, farmers who have sprayer equipment are more likely to participate in the traditional market channels. The effect analysis shows that small-scale farmer participation in the supermarket channels can boost their income. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Durum Wheat Cover Analysis in the Scope of Policy and Market Price Changes: A Case Study in Southern Italy
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 12; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020012
Received: 30 September 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 24 January 2017 / Published: 10 February 2017
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Abstract
Agricultural land systems are the result of human interactions with the natural environment, and subjective evidence of socio-economic and environmental interactions has been demonstrated. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to analyze empirically the link between agricultural market and policy, as well as the
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Agricultural land systems are the result of human interactions with the natural environment, and subjective evidence of socio-economic and environmental interactions has been demonstrated. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to analyze empirically the link between agricultural market and policy, as well as the environmental response due to changes in crop management by local stakeholders. In this study, we propose a cross investigation and analysis to bring the link between vegetation cover, policy, market and farmer’s behavior to light. Our methodology is a combination of a rational positive and analogical approach between the quantifiable and non-quantifiable agents on a temporal basis. The method is applied to a dominant mono-crop agricultural watershed in Southern Italy that has been dedicated to durum wheat cultivation. In this region, we studied the relationship between the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), durum wheat market price, vegetation cover and land allocation. As a first step, we conducted a separate analysis for each factor, exploiting Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite observed Leaf Area Index (LAI) to analyze the land vegetation space–time distribution over the period 2000–2014 and three Land Satellite (Landsat) validated images as check-points for the agricultural pattern and CAP’s reforms. We used the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) and Eurostat data to investigate the on-farm accountancy and the durum wheat market price changes, respectively. Based on the study period, we developed a storyline of the major relevant CAP’s policy changes. In a second step, we conducted a comparative analysis where the CAP’s reforms were used as interpretational support, the land allocation and the on-farm accountability for CAP’s implementation, the price of durum wheat and the LAI for analytical comparison. We found interesting insights regarding the non-agronomic driving forces of LAI dynamics. The behavior of the individual farmers is influenced by the CAP policy that has been implemented by using profitability as the stimulus for the decision making of the farmer. This explains the correlation of the trend between the market price, the LAI of durum wheat and their associated dynamics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mitigating Global Warming Potential and Greenhouse Gas Intensities by Applying Composted Manure in Cornfield: A 3-Year Field Study in an Andosol Soil
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 13; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020013
Received: 28 November 2016 / Revised: 24 January 2017 / Accepted: 7 February 2017 / Published: 13 February 2017
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Abstract
A 3-year study was conducted in cornfield to evaluate how composted cattle manure application affects net global warming potential (GWP; the sum of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) minus net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB)) and greenhouse gas intensity
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A 3-year study was conducted in cornfield to evaluate how composted cattle manure application affects net global warming potential (GWP; the sum of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) minus net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB)) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI; net GWP per unit of plant biomass yield). In the first experiment, conducted from 2010 to 2012, five fertilization strategies that included an unfertilized control plot, inorganic fertilizer-only plot, two plots with inorganic fertilizer plus composted cattle manure, and composted cattle manure-only plot were established. In the second experiment composted cattle manure was applied in autumn 2012 and the field was subdivided into three plots in spring 2013, with one plot receiving additional composted cattle manure, the second plot received additional inorganic fertilizer and the third plot did not receive any additional fertilization. Fluxes of N2O, CH4 and CO2 were measured using the static closed chamber method. NECB was calculated as carbon (C) inputs minus C output (where a negative value indicates net C loss). In experiment 1, manure application significantly increased NECB and reduced net GWP by more than 30% in each of the three years of the study. GHGI in the manure-amended plots was lower than in other plots, except in 2012 when the manure-only plot had higher GHGI than fertilizer-only plot. Application of inorganic fertilizer alone increased GWP by 5% and 20% in 2010 and 2011, but showed a 30% reduction in 2012 relative to the unfertilized control plot. However, due to higher net primary production (NPP), fertilizer-only plot had lower GHGI compared to the control. Application of inorganic fertilizer together with manure showed the greatest potential to reduce GWP and GHGI, while increasing NPP and NECB. In experiment 2, additional manure or inorganic fertilizer application in spring increased NPP by a similar amount, but additional manure application also increased NECB, and decreased GWP and GHGI. Manure application, as a partial substitute or supplemental fertilizer, shows potential to mitigate GWP and GHGI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue C and N Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystem)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Achieving Sustainability: Insights from Biogas Ecosystems in India
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 15; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020015
Received: 11 August 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
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Abstract
This paper focuses on how the use of renewable energy technologies such as biogas can help to achieve environmental and socio-economic sustainability. It combines research on sustainable consumption and production, natural and industrial ecosystems and renewable energy adoption to develop a framework for
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This paper focuses on how the use of renewable energy technologies such as biogas can help to achieve environmental and socio-economic sustainability. It combines research on sustainable consumption and production, natural and industrial ecosystems and renewable energy adoption to develop a framework for an industrial ecosystem for biogas for bottom-of-the-pyramid and rural populations. The framework suggests that three dimensions of industrial ecosystems and a meta-dimension can be embedded in the design of a new industrial ecosystem for biogas to facilitate environmental and socio-economic sustainability. Case studies of an organization engaged in using biogas to create a sustainable bioenergy ecosystem for rural populations and two organizations producing biogas in urban India provide support for the framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economic Sustainability of Bioenergy Systems)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Advances in Eco-Efficient Agriculture: The Plant-Soil Mycobiome
Agriculture 2017, 7(2), 14; doi:10.3390/agriculture7020014
Received: 10 November 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
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Abstract
In order to achieve a desirable ecological and sustainable agriculture a thorough understanding of the plant-soil mycobiome is imperative. Commercial industrial agriculture alters greenhouse gas emissions, promotes loss of plant and soil biodiversity, increases pollution by raising atmospheric CO2, and releases
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In order to achieve a desirable ecological and sustainable agriculture a thorough understanding of the plant-soil mycobiome is imperative. Commercial industrial agriculture alters greenhouse gas emissions, promotes loss of plant and soil biodiversity, increases pollution by raising atmospheric CO2, and releases pesticides, thus affecting both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Diversified farming systems, including perennial cultivated pastures, are among worldwide strategies that aim to reduce terrestrial greenhouse gas emissions and deal with threats to global sustainability. Additionally, stimulation of soil microbes and appropriate soil management can influence soil interactions as well as the rates of organic matter decomposition and the release of gases. Agricultural soil microbial communities play a central role in ecosystem processes and are affected by biocontrol agents, biofertilizers, and exposure to pesticides, the extent to which is yet to be fully elucidated. Intercropping different plant species is beneficial, as this can increase carbon fixation by plants, transferring carbon to the soil, especially via mycorrhizas, thus modifying interplant interactions. This review focuses on agro-ecosystems, showing the latest advances in the plant-soil interface (the mycobiome) for an eco-efficient agricultural production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamics of Root–Soil–Microbial Interactions)
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