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Agriculture, Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) A high-clearance drill interseeder is used for seeding a cover crop mixture of red clover and [...] Read more.
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Open AccessReview The Efficacy of High-Protein Tropical Forages as Alternative Protein Sourcesfor Chickens: A Review
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060086
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 14 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
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Abstract
Smallholders of poultry production systems in developing countries are commonly found in rural, resource-poor areas, and often face food insecurity. The main constraints for smallholders in poultry production in rural, resource-poor areas are the shortage of available commercial dietary protein and the high
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Smallholders of poultry production systems in developing countries are commonly found in rural, resource-poor areas, and often face food insecurity. The main constraints for smallholders in poultry production in rural, resource-poor areas are the shortage of available commercial dietary protein and the high cost of commercial diets. The beneficial effects of legume and forage cultivation are economic, through providing protein for animals, and ecological, such as soil amendment, nitrogen fixation, and stripping control which participate to increase cropping efficiency. The potential nutritive value of a wide range of forages and grain legumes is presented and discussed. The impacts of dietary protein, fiber, and secondary metabolites in plant content, as as well as their consequences on feed efficiency, animal performance, and digestion processes are enclosed in this review. Lastly, approaches to reduce the anti-nutritional factors of the secondary metabolites of plants are explained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality and Production of Forage)
Open AccessArticle Soil Conservation Practices and Stakeholder’s Participation in Research Projects—Empirical Evidence from Southern Italy
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060085
Received: 26 April 2018 / Revised: 12 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
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Abstract
Adoption of soil conservation practices is promoted by increased engagement between researchers and stakeholders. By reporting a case study from southern Italy where farmers have been involved in research projects dealing with soil conservation over several years, we demonstrated that the rate of
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Adoption of soil conservation practices is promoted by increased engagement between researchers and stakeholders. By reporting a case study from southern Italy where farmers have been involved in research projects dealing with soil conservation over several years, we demonstrated that the rate of adoption of conservative technologies is positively linked to the degree of stakeholder participation in the project and that farmers (and other stakeholders) have been driven toward more conscious perception of the complex link between agricultural practices, environmental impacts and socioeconomic effects. The results of this study reinforce the pivotal role of effective participatory processes in soil conservation—evidencing the importance of (i) time required to build relationships and (ii) intensity (and persistence) of collaboration among similar initiatives. Empirical evidence highlights the need to combine different approaches to deal with soil degradation. As well as the participatory time length, the synergies between the methods utilized, and the range of interacting mind sets are also very important. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Use of Farmer Knowledge in the Delineation of Potential Management Zones in Precision Agriculture: A Case Study in Maize (Zea mays L.)
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060084
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 11 June 2018 / Published: 13 June 2018
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Abstract
One of the fields of research in precision agriculture (PA) is the delineation of potential management zones (PMZs, also known as site-specific management zones, or simply management zones). To delineate PMZs, cluster analysis is the main used and recommended methodology. For cluster analysis,
[...] Read more.
One of the fields of research in precision agriculture (PA) is the delineation of potential management zones (PMZs, also known as site-specific management zones, or simply management zones). To delineate PMZs, cluster analysis is the main used and recommended methodology. For cluster analysis, mainly yield maps, remote sensing multispectral indices, apparent soil electrical conductivity (ECa), and topography data are used. Nevertheless, there is still no accepted protocol or guidelines for establishing PMZs, and different solutions exist. In addition, the farmer’s expert knowledge is not usually taken into account in the delineation process. The objective of the present work was to propose a methodology to delineate potential management zones for differential crop management that expresses the productive potential of the soil within a field. The Management Zone Analyst (MZA) software, which implements a fuzzy c-means algorithm, was used to create different alternatives of PMZ that were validated with yield data in a maize (Zea mays L.) field. The farmers’ expert knowledge was then taken into account to improve the resulting PMZs that best fitted to the yield spatial variability pattern. This knowledge was considered highly valuable information that could be also very useful for deciding management actions to be taken to reduce within-field variability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Quality and Nutritional Evaluation of Regina Tomato, a Traditional Long-Storage Landrace of Puglia (Southern Italy)
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060083
Received: 10 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 11 June 2018 / Published: 13 June 2018
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Abstract
Regina tomato, a locally cultivated Italian landrace, is listed as an item in the ‘List of Traditional Agri-Food Products’ of the Italian Department for Agriculture and itemised as ‘Slow Food presidium’ by the Slow Food Foundation. It is classified as a long-storage tomato
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Regina tomato, a locally cultivated Italian landrace, is listed as an item in the ‘List of Traditional Agri-Food Products’ of the Italian Department for Agriculture and itemised as ‘Slow Food presidium’ by the Slow Food Foundation. It is classified as a long-storage tomato since it can be preserved for several months after harvest thanks to its thick and coriaceous skin. Three ecotypes were investigated for main physical and chemical traits both at harvest and after three months of storage. Experimental results indicate that this tomato landrace has a qualitative profile characterized by high concentrations of tocopherols, lycopene and ascorbic acid (maximum 28.6 and 53.7 mg/kg fresh weight, FW, and 0.28 mg/g FW, respectively) even after a long storage time, together with lower average Total Soluble Solids. The initial and post-storage contents of the bioactive compounds changed at a different rate in each ecotype (i.e., in Monopoli Regina tomato the highest content of α-Tocopherol, thereafter reduced to the same level of the other two ecotypes). These results indicate unique and unmistakable features of this long-storage tomato, closely linked to the geographic origin area that include both natural (available technical inputs) and human (specific cultural practices) factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity of Vegetable Crops, A Living Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle The Impact of Human Error in the Use of Agricultural Tractors: A Case Study Research in Vineyard Cultivation in Italy
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060082
Received: 6 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 8 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
Recently, standards and regulations concerning occupational safety have become more and more rigorous. Nevertheless, the number of accidents and victims has not decreased significantly, as reported by official statistics. In Italy, the agricultural sector is certainly one of the most affected by this
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Recently, standards and regulations concerning occupational safety have become more and more rigorous. Nevertheless, the number of accidents and victims has not decreased significantly, as reported by official statistics. In Italy, the agricultural sector is certainly one of the most affected by this situation, especially taking into account the occurrence of serious injuries and fatalities related to the use of tractors. The main reasons for such a situation can be ascribed to the peculiarities of agricultural operations. Therefore, when analyzing the root causes of agricultural accidents, a user-centered approach is needed in order to make the development of health and safety interventions easier and more effective. Based on this, the present paper proposes a practical case study research focused on integrating the factor of human error into the risk assessment procedures of agricultural activities in vineyard cultivation. Such an approach allowed us to consider the impact of human error—while performing work activities (e.g., the use of a tractor)—on hazards and related hazardous events in a thorough manner. The proposed approach represents a novelty in the sector of the safety assessment of agricultural activities, providing a first valuable basis for further analysis and implementation by researchers and practitioners. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Feeding Forage in Poultry: A Promising Alternative for the Future of Production Systems
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060081
Received: 25 May 2018 / Revised: 1 June 2018 / Accepted: 8 June 2018 / Published: 9 June 2018
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Abstract
The present review discusses the existing research findings on the nutritional impact of forages in poultry diet and the significance of forages in sustainable poultry production systems. The nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of the main forages and the pros and cons of
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The present review discusses the existing research findings on the nutritional impact of forages in poultry diet and the significance of forages in sustainable poultry production systems. The nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of the main forages and the pros and cons of feeding forage on poultry meat and egg quality under free-range and organic production systems are also discussed. This review highlights the importance of forages and forage meals in poultry ration, considering that these feedstuffs may have greater value to the success of local poultry production in many regions of the world due to their potential of production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality and Production of Forage)
Open AccessReview Advancing Intercropping Research and Practices in Industrialized Agricultural Landscapes
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060080
Received: 2 May 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
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Abstract
Sustainable intensification calls for agroecological and adaptive management of the agrifood system. Here, we focus on intercropping and how this agroecological practice can be used to increase the sustainability of crop production. Strip, mixed, and relay intercropping can be used to increase crop
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Sustainable intensification calls for agroecological and adaptive management of the agrifood system. Here, we focus on intercropping and how this agroecological practice can be used to increase the sustainability of crop production. Strip, mixed, and relay intercropping can be used to increase crop yields through resource partitioning and facilitation. In addition to achieving greater productivity, diversifying cropping systems through the use of strategic intercrops can increase yield stability, reduce pests, and improve soil health. Several intercropping systems are already implemented in industrialized agricultural landscapes, including mixed intercropping with perennial grasses and legumes as forage and relay intercropping with winter wheat and red clover. Because intercropping can provide numerous benefits, researchers should be clear about their objectives and use appropriate methods so as to not draw spurious conclusions when studying intercrops. In order to advance the practice, experiments that test the effects of intercropping should use standardized methodology, and researchers should report a set of common criteria to facilitate cross-study comparisons. Intercropping with two or more crops appears to be less common with annuals than perennials, which is likely due to differences in the mechanisms responsible for complementarity. One area where intercropping with annuals in industrialized agricultural landscapes has advanced is with cover crops, where private, public, and governmental organizations have harmonized efforts to increase the adoption of cover crop mixtures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessArticle Utilisation of Ground and Airborne Optical Sensors for Nitrogen Level Identification and Yield Prediction in Wheat
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060079
Received: 24 April 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
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Abstract
A healthy crop growth ensures a good biomass development for optimal yield amounts and qualities. This can only be achieved with sufficient knowledge about field conditions. In this study we investigated the performance of optical sensors in large field trails, to predict yield
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A healthy crop growth ensures a good biomass development for optimal yield amounts and qualities. This can only be achieved with sufficient knowledge about field conditions. In this study we investigated the performance of optical sensors in large field trails, to predict yield and biomass characteristics. This publication investigated how information fusion can support farming decisions. We present the results of four site-year studies with one fluorescence sensor and two spectrometers mounted on a ground sensor platform, and one spectrometer built into a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The measurements have been carried out in three winter wheat fields (Triticum aestivum L.) with different Nitrogen (N) levels. The sensor raw data have been processed and converted to features (indices and ratios) that correlate with field information and biological parameters. The aerial spectrometer indices showed correlations with the ground truth data only for site-year 2. FERARI (Fluorescence Excitation Ratio Anthocyanin Relative Index) and SFR (Simple Fluorescence Ratio) from the Multiplex® Research fluorometer (MP) in 2012 showed significant correlations with yield (Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.63), and the NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) and OSAVI (Optimized Soil-Adjusted Vegetation Index) of the FieldSpec HandHeld sensor (FS) even higher correlations with an Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.67. Concerning the available N (N avail ), the REIP (Red-Edge Inflection Point) and CropSpec indices from the FS sensor had a high correlation (Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.86), while the MP ratio SFR was slightly lower (Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.67). Concerning the biomass weight, the REIP and SAVI indices had an Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.78, and the FERARI and SFR ratios an Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.85. The indices of the HandySpec Field ® spectrometer gave a lower significance level than the FS sensor, and lower correlations (Adj. r 2 ≤ 0.64) over all field measurements. The features of MP and FS sensor have been used to create a feature fusion model. A developed linear model for site-year 4 has been used for evaluating the rest of the data sets. The used model did not correlate on a significant de novo level but by changing only one parameter, it resulted in a significant correlation. The data analysis reveals that by increasing mixed features from different sensors in a model, the higher and more robust the r 2 values became. New advanced algorithms, in combination with existent map overlay approaches, have the potential of complete and weighted decision fusion, to ensure the maximum yield for each specific field condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Application in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Sampling Stratification Using Aerial Imagery to Estimate Fruit Load in Peach Tree Orchards
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060078
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 4 June 2018
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Abstract
A quick and accurate sampling method for determining yield in peach orchards could lead to better crop management decisions, more accurate insurance claim adjustment, and reduced expenses for the insurance industry. Given that sample size depends exclusively on the variability of the trees
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A quick and accurate sampling method for determining yield in peach orchards could lead to better crop management decisions, more accurate insurance claim adjustment, and reduced expenses for the insurance industry. Given that sample size depends exclusively on the variability of the trees on the orchard, it is necessary to have a quick and objective way of assessing this variability. The aim of this study was to use remote sensing to detect the spatial variability within peach orchards and classify trees into homogeneous zones that constitute sampling strata to decrease sample size. Five mature peach orchards with different degrees of spatial variability were used. A regular grid of trees was established on each orchard, their trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was measured, and yield was measured as number of fruits/tree on the central tree of each one of them. Red Vegetation Index (RVI) was calculated from aerial images with 0.25 m·pixel−1 resolution, and used, either alone or in combination with TCSA, to delineate sampling strata using cluster fuzzy k-means. Completely randomized (CRS) and stratified samplings were compared through 10,000 iterations, and the Minimum Sample Size required to obtain estimates of actual production for three quality levels of sampling was calculated in each case. The images allowed accurate determination of the number of trees, allowing a proper application of completely randomized sampling designs. Tree size and the canopy density estimated by means of multispectral indices are complementary parameters suitable for orchard stratification, decreasing the sample size required to determine fruit count up to 20–35% compared to completely randomized samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Factors Affecting Collective Actions in Farmer-Managed Irrigation Systems of Nepal
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060077
Received: 22 April 2018 / Revised: 26 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 2 June 2018
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Abstract
The efficient management of agricultural water to meet its growing demand and to increase farm productivity has become a major concern in many agrarian countries. Various management principles, such as changes in governance, and crafting locally devised institutions have been prioritised in recent
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The efficient management of agricultural water to meet its growing demand and to increase farm productivity has become a major concern in many agrarian countries. Various management principles, such as changes in governance, and crafting locally devised institutions have been prioritised in recent literature. The Nepalese government has considered farmers’ governance in managing irrigation systems as a successful irrigation policy. One of the measures for a successful farmer-managed irrigation systems (FMIS), each farmer must engage actively in collective choice actions and share both the costs and benefits from the system, proportionately. Various aspects in an institution affects farmers’ cooperative behavior to engage in the irrigation management process. A study of 232 FMIS in Nepal revealed that there is a need for a revised institutional design that can empower farmers by investing them with more defined property rights so that they can actively engage in maintenance activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling for Water Management in Agriculture Systems)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Genetic Engineering of Energy Crops to Reduce Recalcitrance and Enhance Biomass Digestibility
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060076
Received: 24 April 2018 / Revised: 25 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 2 June 2018
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Abstract
Bioenergy, biofuels, and a range of valuable chemicals may be extracted from the abundantly available lignocellulosic biomass. To reduce the recalcitrance imposed by the complex cell wall structure, genetic engineering has been proposed over the years as a suitable solution to modify the
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Bioenergy, biofuels, and a range of valuable chemicals may be extracted from the abundantly available lignocellulosic biomass. To reduce the recalcitrance imposed by the complex cell wall structure, genetic engineering has been proposed over the years as a suitable solution to modify the genes, thereby, controlling the overall phenotypic expression. The present review provides a brief description of the plant cell wall structure and its compositional array i.e., lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, wall proteins, and pectin, along with their effect on biomass digestibility. Also, this review discusses the potential to increase biomass by gene modification. Furthermore, the review highlights the potential genes associated with the regulation of cell wall structure, which can be targeted for achieving energy crops with desired phenotypes. These genetic approaches provide a robust and assured method to bring about the desired modifications in cell wall structure, composition, and characteristics. Ultimately, these genetic modifications pave the way for achieving enhanced biomass yield and enzymatic digestibility of energy crops, which is crucial for maximizing the outcomes of energy crop breeding and biorefinery applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Breeding in Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview Advances in Integrating Genomics and Bioinformatics in the Plant Breeding Pipeline
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060075
Received: 9 May 2018 / Revised: 28 May 2018 / Accepted: 28 May 2018 / Published: 31 May 2018
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Abstract
With the global human population growing rapidly, agricultural production must increase to meet crop demand. Improving crops through breeding is a sustainable approach to increase yield and yield stability without intensifying the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Current advances in genomics and bioinformatics
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With the global human population growing rapidly, agricultural production must increase to meet crop demand. Improving crops through breeding is a sustainable approach to increase yield and yield stability without intensifying the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Current advances in genomics and bioinformatics provide opportunities for accelerating crop improvement. The rise of third generation sequencing technologies is helping overcome challenges in plant genome assembly caused by polyploidy and frequent repetitive elements. As a result, high-quality crop reference genomes are increasingly available, benefitting downstream analyses such as variant calling and association mapping that identify breeding targets in the genome. Machine learning also helps identify genomic regions of agronomic value by facilitating functional annotation of genomes and enabling real-time high-throughput phenotyping of agronomic traits in the glasshouse and in the field. Furthermore, crop databases that integrate the growing volume of genotype and phenotype data provide a valuable resource for breeders and an opportunity for data mining approaches to uncover novel trait-associated candidate genes. As knowledge of crop genetics expands, genomic selection and genome editing hold promise for breeding diseases-resistant and stress-tolerant crops with high yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Breeding in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Optimal Level of Woody Biomass Co-Firing with Coal Power Plant Considering Advanced Feedstock Logistics System
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060074
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 26 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 31 May 2018
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Abstract
Co-firing from woody biomass feedstock is one of the alternatives toward increased use of renewable feedstock in existing coal power plants. However, the economic level of co-firing at a particular power plant depends on several site-specific factors. Torrefaction has been identified recently as
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Co-firing from woody biomass feedstock is one of the alternatives toward increased use of renewable feedstock in existing coal power plants. However, the economic level of co-firing at a particular power plant depends on several site-specific factors. Torrefaction has been identified recently as a promising biomass pretreatment option to lead to reduction of the feedstock delivered cost, and thus facilitate an increase in the co-firing ratio. In this study, a mixed integer linear program (MILP) is developed to integrate supply chain of co-firing and torrefaction process and find the optimal level of biomass co-firing in terms of minimized transportation and logistics costs, with or without tax credits. A case study of 26 existing coal power plants in three Great Lakes States of the US is used to test the model. The results reveal that torrefaction process can lead to higher levels of co-firing, but without the tax credit, the effect is limited to the low capacity of power plants. The sensitivity analysis shows that co-firing ratio has higher sensitivity to variation in capital and operation costs of torrefaction than to the variation in the transportation and feedstock purchase costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle GeoFIS: An Open Source, Decision-Support Tool for Precision Agriculture Data
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060073
Received: 25 April 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2018 / Accepted: 28 May 2018 / Published: 30 May 2018
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Abstract
The world we live in is an increasingly spatial and temporal data-rich environment, and agriculture is no exception. However, data needs to be processed in order to first get information and then make informed management decisions. The concepts of ‘Precision Agriculture’ and ‘Smart
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The world we live in is an increasingly spatial and temporal data-rich environment, and agriculture is no exception. However, data needs to be processed in order to first get information and then make informed management decisions. The concepts of ‘Precision Agriculture’ and ‘Smart Agriculture’ are and will be fully effective when methods and tools are available to practitioners to support this transformation. An open-source software called GeoFIS has been designed with this objective. It was designed to cover the whole process from spatial data to spatial information and decision support. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the abilities of GeoFIS along with its embedded algorithms to address the main features required by farmers, advisors, or spatial analysts when dealing with precision agriculture data. Three case studies are investigated in the paper: (i) mapping of the spatial variability in the data, (ii) evaluation and cross-comparison of the opportunity for site-specific management in multiple fields, and (iii) delineation of within-field zones for variable-rate applications when these latter are considered opportune. These case studies were applied to three contrasting crop types, banana, wheat and vineyards. These were chosen to highlight the diversity of applications and data characteristics that might be handled with GeoFIS. For each case-study, up-to-date algorithms arising from research studies and implemented in GeoFIS were used to process these precision agriculture data. Areas for future development and possible relations with existing geographic information systems (GIS) software is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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Open AccessCommunication The Effects of Forage Policy on Feed Costs in Korea
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060072
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 26 May 2018 / Accepted: 27 May 2018 / Published: 29 May 2018
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Abstract
Feeding operations are substantial on livestock farms, besides being potentially expensive. Feeding efficiency has been considered a major influence on profits in the livestock industry. Indeed, feed costs are shown to be the largest single item of production cost in Korea. To promote
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Feeding operations are substantial on livestock farms, besides being potentially expensive. Feeding efficiency has been considered a major influence on profits in the livestock industry. Indeed, feed costs are shown to be the largest single item of production cost in Korea. To promote production and use of domestic forage, the Korean government has enforced the forage base expansion program that strengthens the competitiveness of the livestock industry by reducing the production cost. The forage base expansion program includes three main policies: subsidized forage production, support for processing and distribution, and expanding land for forage production. This paper investigates the influence of the government’s policies often conjectured to have pronounced effects on forage production. To evaluate the forage policies, this paper uses a path-analysis approach linking government spending on forage base expansion programs and feed costs. Results indicate that the Korean government’s spending on supporting domestic forage production results in a decrease in the ratio of forage expenses to total feed cost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality and Production of Forage)
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Open AccessArticle Determining the Stability of Sugarcane Filtercake Biochar in Soils with Contrasting Levels of Organic Matter
Agriculture 2018, 8(6), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8060071
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 14 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 26 May 2018
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Abstract
Sugarcane filtercake is a nutrient-rich residue produced prior to sugarcane distillation and is commonly disposed of by applying directly to agricultural fields, often causing high decomposition and leaching rates. Transforming this material into biochar could improve its stability in the soil. In this
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Sugarcane filtercake is a nutrient-rich residue produced prior to sugarcane distillation and is commonly disposed of by applying directly to agricultural fields, often causing high decomposition and leaching rates. Transforming this material into biochar could improve its stability in the soil. In this 92-day incubation study, filtercake biochar produced at 400 °C (BC400) and 600 °C (BC600) was used to trace biochar stability when mixed with two soils with different organic matter levels: an agricultural field (1.2% carbon (C)) and a forest (2.8% C) soil. Based on δ13C isotope analysis, biochar decreases in the field soil mostly occurred in the coarse silt fraction. In contrast, biochar decreases in forest soil appeared to be more equally distributed in all particle size fractions. A negative priming effect in biochar-amended soils was noticeable, mainly in the forest soil. Cumulative CO2 emissions were greater in soils with BC400 than in those with BC600 for both field and forest soils, while adding biochar increased CO2 emissions only in field soils. This increase did not appear to affect native soil organic matter pools. High-temperature filtercake biochar could thus be a more stable alternative to the current practice of raw filtercake applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biochar and Soil: What Is behind Its Impacts?)
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