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Agriculture, Volume 7, Issue 6 (June 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Exploring Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting Potential for Food Production in Urban Areas
Agriculture 2017, 7(6), 46; doi:10.3390/agriculture7060046
Received: 13 March 2017 / Revised: 4 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 25 May 2017
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Abstract
Homegrown fruits and vegetables are gaining popularity in many metropolitan areas with several facets connected to the wider urban agriculture phenomenon. At the same time, the relationship between urban food production and irrigation water is pivotal in terms of resource management. In this
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Homegrown fruits and vegetables are gaining popularity in many metropolitan areas with several facets connected to the wider urban agriculture phenomenon. At the same time, the relationship between urban food production and irrigation water is pivotal in terms of resource management. In this paper, we investigated water savings through the collection and use of harvestable rainwater from buildings’ rooftops to irrigate 2631 fruits and vegetables gardens in the urban area of Rome (Italy). The methodology makes use of existing geospatial data and data derived from satellite image classification to estimate food gardens’ irrigation requirements and harvestable rainwater from nearby buildings’ rooftops. The comparison of the annual harvestable rainwater with irrigation needs allowed for computing the proportion of water self-sufficient gardens as well as the amount of gardens whose water needs might be partially fulfilled with rainwater. Statistics were produced by land use type (horticulture, mixed crops, olive groves, orchards, and vineyards) and under the hypothesis that irrigation systems with low and high field application efficiency might be employed. We found that 19% and 33% of the gardens could be water self-sufficient for the low and high irrigation efficiency scenario, respectively. The remaining gardens, by using the available rainwater, could satisfy 22% (low efficiency) and 44% (high efficiency) of the water needs resulting in a reduction in the use of conventional water sources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Heterogeneous Organizational Arrangements in Agrifood Chains: A Governance Value Analysis Perspective on the Sheep and Goat Meat Sector of Italy
Agriculture 2017, 7(6), 47; doi:10.3390/agriculture7060047
Received: 13 March 2017 / Revised: 18 May 2017 / Accepted: 23 May 2017 / Published: 26 May 2017
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Abstract
In the Italian agrifood sector, one observes heterogeneity in the types of quality certification processes. This heterogeneity cannot be explained by standard governance theories like transaction costs economics (TCE). We use the governance value analysis (GVA) perspective that synthesizes TCE and a resources-based
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In the Italian agrifood sector, one observes heterogeneity in the types of quality certification processes. This heterogeneity cannot be explained by standard governance theories like transaction costs economics (TCE). We use the governance value analysis (GVA) perspective that synthesizes TCE and a resources-based view (RBV), to suggest that the observed heterogeneity in organizational forms is a result of heterogeneous differentiating strategies that farms have pursued in the face of competitive pricing pressures. To empirically test GVA, data are obtained using a survey methodology on lamb meat produced by local farms in the Abruzzo region of Italy, challenged by price-costs squeeze. Our empirical test evidences the relevance of the adopted approach, enlightening different organizational arrangements, strictly linked to both the strategic positioning and to the farms’ resources and core competencies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Microbial Carbon Substrate Utilization Differences among High- and Average-Yield Soybean Areas
Agriculture 2017, 7(6), 48; doi:10.3390/agriculture7060048
Received: 23 March 2017 / Revised: 4 May 2017 / Accepted: 24 May 2017 / Published: 30 May 2017
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Abstract
Since soybean (Glycine max L. (Merr.)) yields greater than 6719 kg ha−1 have only recently and infrequently been achieved, little is known about the soil microbiological environment related to high-yield soybean production. Soil microbiological properties are often overlooked when assessing agronomic
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Since soybean (Glycine max L. (Merr.)) yields greater than 6719 kg ha−1 have only recently and infrequently been achieved, little is known about the soil microbiological environment related to high-yield soybean production. Soil microbiological properties are often overlooked when assessing agronomic practices for optimal production. Therefore, a greater understanding is needed regarding how soil biological properties may differ between high- and average-yielding areas within fields. The objectives of this study were to (i) evaluate the effects of region on soil microbial carbon substrate utilization differences between high- (HY) and average-yield (AY) areas and (ii) assess the effect of yield area on selected microbiological property differences. Replicate soil samples were collected from the 0–10 cm depth from yield-contest-entered fields in close proximity that had both a HY and an AY area. Samples were collected immediately prior to or just after soybean harvest in 2014 and 2015 from each of seven geographic regions within Arkansas. Averaged across yield area, community-level carbon substrate utilization and Shannon’s and Simpson’s functional diversity and evenness were greater (p < 0.05) in Region 7 than all other regions. Averaged across regions, Shannon’s functional diversity and evenness were greater (p < 0.05) in HY than in AY areas. Principal component analysis demonstrated that a greater variety of carbon substrates were used in HY than AY areas. These results may help producers understand the soil microbiological environment in their own fields that contribute to or hinder achieving high-yielding soybeans; however, additional parameters may need to be assessed for a more comprehensive understanding of the soil environment that is associated with high-yielding soybean. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Net Greenhouse Gas Budget and Soil Carbon Storage in a Field with Paddy–Upland Rotation with Different History of Manure Application
Agriculture 2017, 7(6), 49; doi:10.3390/agriculture7060049
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 7 June 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 10 June 2017
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Abstract
Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes were measured from paddy–upland rotation (three years for soybean and three years for rice) with different soil fertility due to preceding compost application for four years (i.e., 3 kg FW m−2
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Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes were measured from paddy–upland rotation (three years for soybean and three years for rice) with different soil fertility due to preceding compost application for four years (i.e., 3 kg FW m−2 year−1 of immature or mature compost application plots and a control plot without compost). Net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance was evaluated by integrating CH4 and N2O emissions and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions calculated from a decline in soil carbon storage. N2O emissions from the soybean upland tended to be higher in the immature compost plot. CH4 emissions from the rice paddy increased every year and tended to be higher in the mature compost plot. Fifty-two to 68% of the increased soil carbon by preceding compost application was estimated to be lost during soybean cultivation. The major component of net GHG emission was CO2 (82–94%) and CH4 (72–84%) during the soybean and rice cultivations, respectively. Net GHG emissions during the soybean and rice cultivations were comparable. Consequently, the effects of compost application on the net GHG balance from the paddy–upland rotation should be carefully evaluated with regards to both advantages (initial input to the soil) and disadvantages (following increases in GHG). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue C and N Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystem)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization for Smallholders: What Is It and How Can We Implement It?
Agriculture 2017, 7(6), 50; doi:10.3390/agriculture7060050
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 1 June 2017 / Accepted: 7 June 2017 / Published: 10 June 2017
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Abstract
Smallholder farmers are the main producers of the world’s food and they will have to increase production by up to 100 percent by 2050 to feed the growing population. This must be achieved while preserving natural resources and that is why sustainable agricultural
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Smallholder farmers are the main producers of the world’s food and they will have to increase production by up to 100 percent by 2050 to feed the growing population. This must be achieved while preserving natural resources and that is why sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) will be fundamental to the process. SAM is climate-smart and environmentally benign and essentially means no-till conservation agriculture, which requires specific mechanization inputs. Principally, these are seeders and planters capable of penetrating soil surface vegetative cover to deposit seed and fertilizer at the required depth and spacing; and equipment for management of cover crops and weeds. Mechanization is required not only for crop production, but also for processing and along the entire value chain. Mechanization inputs are usually expensive and so specialist service provision will be the indicated way forward. This will need collaboration from both the private and public sectors and will involve public-private partnerships to be developed in one form or another. Given the poor track record of public sector mechanization provision, the delivery of SAM should be firmly in the hands of the private sector that should be committed to SAM principles or otherwise be incentivized to the concept through smart subsidies. Improved information flows via smallholder farmer-friendly innovation platforms; and continuing development and testing of SAM technologies via regional centres of excellence will both be required—especially for sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agriculture Machinery for a Sustainable and Efficient Mechanization)
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