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Agriculture, Volume 8, Issue 8 (August 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Puglia region (Southern Italy) is rich in agro-biodiversity. The research project [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle BiodiverSO: A Case Study of Integrated Project to Preserve the Biodiversity of Vegetable Crops in Puglia (Southern Italy)
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080128
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 8 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
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Abstract
Puglia region is particularly rich in agro-biodiversity, representing an example of how local vegetables varieties can still strongly interact with modern horticulture. Unfortunately, the genetic diversity of vegetable crops in this region has been eroded, due to several factors such as abandonment of
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Puglia region is particularly rich in agro-biodiversity, representing an example of how local vegetables varieties can still strongly interact with modern horticulture. Unfortunately, the genetic diversity of vegetable crops in this region has been eroded, due to several factors such as abandonment of rural areas, ageing of the farming population, and failure to pass information down the generations. This article summarizes the objectives, methodological approach and results of the project “Biodiversity of the Puglia’s vegetable crops (BiodiverSO)”, an integrated project funded by Puglia Region Administration under the 2007–2013 and 2014–2020 Rural Development Program (RDP). Results were reported for each of the eight activities of the project. Moreover, the Polignano carrot (a local variety of Daucus carota L.) was described as a case study, since several tasks have been performed within all eight project activities with the aim of verifying the effectiveness of these actions in terms of safeguarding for this genetic resource strongly linked with local traditions. BiodiverSO is an example of protection and recovery of vegetables at risk of genetic erosion that could help to identify and valorize much of the Puglia’s plant germplasm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity of Vegetable Crops, A Living Heritage)
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Open AccessDiscussion Why Pain Is Still a Welfare Issue for Farm Animals, and How Facial Expression Could Be the Answer
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080127
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 28 July 2018 / Accepted: 8 August 2018 / Published: 11 August 2018
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Abstract
Pain is a sensory and emotional experience that significantly affects animal welfare and has negative impacts on the economics of farming. Pain is often associated with common production diseases such as lameness and mastitis, as well as introduced to the animal through routine
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Pain is a sensory and emotional experience that significantly affects animal welfare and has negative impacts on the economics of farming. Pain is often associated with common production diseases such as lameness and mastitis, as well as introduced to the animal through routine husbandry practices such as castration and tail docking. Farm animals are prey species which tend not to overtly express pain or weakness, making recognizing and evaluating pain incredibly difficult. Current methods of pain assessment do not provide information on what the animal is experiencing at that moment in time, only that its experience is having a long term negative impact on its behavior and biological functioning. Measures that provide reliable information about the animals’ affective state in that moment are urgently required; facial expression as a pain assessment tool has this ability. Automation of the detection and analysis of facial expression is currently in development, providing further incentive to use these methods in animal welfare assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethology and Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle Changes in the Concentration of Leaf Nitrogen over the Season Affect the Diagnosis of Deficiency or Sufficiency in Strawberries in the Subtropics
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080126
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 31 July 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
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Abstract
Optimum leaf nitrogen (N) concentrations have been identified for strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) in temperate and Mediterranean areas, but whether these values are appropriate for the subtropics is unclear. Two experiments were conducted for 2 years to determine if the seasonal
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Optimum leaf nitrogen (N) concentrations have been identified for strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) in temperate and Mediterranean areas, but whether these values are appropriate for the subtropics is unclear. Two experiments were conducted for 2 years to determine if the seasonal changes in the concentration of leaf N affect the diagnosis of deficiency or sufficiency of strawberry plants in Queensland, Australia. In 2014, ‘Festival’, ‘Fortuna’, and ‘Winter Dawn’ were planted in early April and grown with and without N for the entire season. Then, ‘Festival’ was planted the following year in mid- or late April and, again, was grown with and without N. Yield was slightly lower with N in 2014, but higher with it the following year, particularly in the early planting. The concentration of total N in young, fully expanded leaves decreased from 3.0% to 2.0% as leaf, crown, and root dry weight increased, while the concentration of nitrate-N (NO3-N) decreased from 1200–3200 to 50–500 mg/kg. These changes in leaf N were large enough to affect the diagnosis of N deficiency or sufficiency. The concentration of leaf N was less variable than the concentration of leaf NO3-N and, therefore, better for estimating the nutrient status of strawberry plants in the subtropics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Horticultural Practices for Berry Crops)
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Open AccessReview Peach Brown Rot: Still in Search of an Ideal Management Option
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080125
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 2 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
The peach is one of the most important global tree crops within the economically important Rosaceae family. The crop is threatened by numerous pests and diseases, especially fungal pathogens, in the field, in transit, and in the store. More than 50% of the
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The peach is one of the most important global tree crops within the economically important Rosaceae family. The crop is threatened by numerous pests and diseases, especially fungal pathogens, in the field, in transit, and in the store. More than 50% of the global post-harvest loss has been ascribed to brown rot disease, especially in peach late-ripening varieties. In recent years, the disease has been so manifest in the orchards that some stone fruits were abandoned before harvest. In Spain, particularly, the disease has been associated with well over 60% of fruit loss after harvest. The most common management options available for the control of this disease involve agronomical, chemical, biological, and physical approaches. However, the effects of biochemical fungicides (biological and conventional fungicides), on the environment, human health, and strain fungicide resistance, tend to revise these control strategies. This review aims to comprehensively compile the information currently available on the species of the fungus Monilinia, which causes brown rot in peach, and the available options to control the disease. The breeding for brown rot-resistant varieties remains an ideal management option for brown rot disease control, considering the uniqueness of its sustainability in the chain of crop production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Disease Control in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Seasonal Changes of Soil Quality Indicators in Selected Arid Cropping Systems
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080124
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
Improving the soil quality in arid agro-ecosystems requires a greater understanding of how the time-of-sampling and management affect the soil measurements. We evaluated the selected soil quality indicators on samples collected at a 0–0.15 m depth, and at various sampling dates of the
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Improving the soil quality in arid agro-ecosystems requires a greater understanding of how the time-of-sampling and management affect the soil measurements. We evaluated the selected soil quality indicators on samples collected at a 0–0.15 m depth, and at various sampling dates of the year, corresponding to the fall of 2015, winter of 2015/2016, spring of 2016, and the summer of 2016. The three crop management systems sampled included alfalfa (Medicago sativa), upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), and pecan (Carya illinoinensis). The soil properties measured included the wet aggregate stability (WAS), mean weight diameter of dry aggregates (MWD), dry aggregates greater than 2 mm (AGG >2 mm), dry aggregates less than 0.25 mm (AGG <0.25 mm), available water capacity (AWC), soil organic matter (SOM), permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC), soil bulk density (BD), soil electrical conductivity (EC), pH, nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N), extractable potassium (K), extractable phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), and micronutrients (zinc, iron, copper, and manganese). Out of the 21 soil measurements, 15 varied significantly with the time-of-sampling within a year, although there were no consistent trends in variability. However, only a few measurements differed significantly with the crop management practices tested. Wet aggregate stability, MWD, AWC, and BD were significantly higher in the summer, while POXC and SOM were significantly higher in the fall and winter, respectively. Soil quality indicators such as NO3-N, K, and P decreased significantly during the spring. This study shows that the seasonal variability of the soil measurements can be significant in the arid agro-ecosystems, with the magnitude of variation depending on the measurement type. The soil managers in the region need to account for this variability, in order to be able to assess the changes in the soil quality. Also, because of the variability that can occur across the different sampling dates within a year, it is advisable to sample during the same period every year, for a consistent interpretation of the directional changes of the soil quality indicators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Pesticide Use in Northern Ireland’s Arable Crops from 1992–2016 and Implications for Future Policy Development
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080123
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
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Abstract
Since the 1960s, the objective for the United Kingdom (UK) government policy and legislation on crop protection practices has been to minimise the impact of pesticide use in agriculture and horticulture to the wider environment. Subsequent European Union (EU) policy and legislation have
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Since the 1960s, the objective for the United Kingdom (UK) government policy and legislation on crop protection practices has been to minimise the impact of pesticide use in agriculture and horticulture to the wider environment. Subsequent European Union (EU) policy and legislation have also targeted this objective through a demanding approvals process, competency tests for users, maximum residue limits, regular post-registration monitoring and the promotion of integrated pest and disease management techniques. However, none of this substantive regulation refers to target reduction levels for pesticide use. Since 1992, the number of arable farms in Northern Ireland has decreased by 61% with a consequent reduction of 34% in the area of arable crops grown. Despite this reduction in area of arable crops grown, the area treated by the major pesticide groups increased by 49% due to intensification, but the weight of major pesticides applied to arable crops decreased by 37%. However, the intensity of application measured by the total quantity of all pesticides applied to the basic area of arable crops treated remained relatively constant at approximately 3.2 kg/ha. Pesticide usage trends and reduction policies in other geographic regions are also discussed for comparative purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pesticides in Agriculture System)
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Marbling Gene Loci in Commercial Pigs in Canadian Herds
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080122
Received: 20 June 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
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Abstract
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on the intramuscular fat percentage in pork chops in commercially available swine in Canada. The Duroc, Iberian, Lacombe, Berkshire, and Pietrain breeds were crossed with Large White sows, and their F1 offspring were ranked according to
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A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on the intramuscular fat percentage in pork chops in commercially available swine in Canada. The Duroc, Iberian, Lacombe, Berkshire, and Pietrain breeds were crossed with Large White sows, and their F1 offspring were ranked according to the intramuscular fat percentage (IMF %) obtained in their longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle loin chops. The ideal IMF % is considered to be >3%, whereas the average is ~1.5% in North American pork. The genetics of the top 10% and bottom 10% from our sample population were analysed by using 80,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarrays in the GWAS. Our sample population had an average IMF % of 2.5 ± 0.7%, but some pork achieved >7% IMF. GWAS analysis revealed SNP markers which were associated with the highest marbled pork chops on chromosomes 5, 7, and 16. Using the Sus scrofa/ susScr 11.1 map, we determined that the nearest genes were sarcospan (SSPN), Rh-associated glycoprotein (RHAG), and EGF-like fibronectin and laminin G (EGFLAM), which can be linked with muscular dystrophy disorders. We tested a subpopulation of Duroc-sired animals and found a different set of markers close to glycine receptor beta (GRLB) and potassium channel 3 (KCNJ3) on chromosomes 8 and 15. Based on our results, we could achieve pork with a good IMF of >4% from animals commercially bred and raised to standard market weights of 110 kg. The choice of obtaining a good marbling line of pigs is not necessarily breed-specific, but it is line-specific. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Breeding and Genetics)
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Open AccessArticle The Adoption of Farm Innovations among Rice Producers in Northern Ghana: Implications for Sustainable Rice Supply
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080121
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 28 July 2018 / Accepted: 30 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
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Abstract
Achieving a sustainable food supply is crucial to meet the ever-increasing demand emanating from high population growth, rising consumer incomes, and high rates of urbanisation in developing countries including Ghana. The adoption of farm innovations in these countries has proven to be quintessential
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Achieving a sustainable food supply is crucial to meet the ever-increasing demand emanating from high population growth, rising consumer incomes, and high rates of urbanisation in developing countries including Ghana. The adoption of farm innovations in these countries has proven to be quintessential to the attainment of self-sufficiency in supply food including rice. Nonetheless, the adoption of farm innovations has been challenging. This paper, therefore, analyses the factors that influence the number of farm innovations adopted by rice farmers in two districts of the Upper East Region of Ghana using the Poisson model. The result indicated that the adoption of individual farm innovations was low. The study showed that farm size, labour input, experience in rice farming, access to extension services, and access to credit exerted significant positive effects on the number of farm innovations adopted, whereas farmer age and distance to market tended to decrease the number of farm innovations used by rice farmers. The study concludes that increasing the number of farm innovations adopted tends to promote a sustainable supply of rice output; therefore, food policy should aim at promoting the adoption of different farm innovations in developing countries including Ghana. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Role of Localized Agri-Food Systems in the Provision of Environmental and Social Benefits in Peripheral Areas: Evidence from Two Case Studies in Italy
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080120
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 22 June 2018 / Accepted: 23 June 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
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Abstract
The article focuses on the role of Localized Agri-food Systems (LAFS) in the provision of environmental and social benefits (ESBs) in peripheral areas, by comparing two case studies in Italy: bergamot production in Grecanic area (Calabria region) and a basket of local products
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The article focuses on the role of Localized Agri-food Systems (LAFS) in the provision of environmental and social benefits (ESBs) in peripheral areas, by comparing two case studies in Italy: bergamot production in Grecanic area (Calabria region) and a basket of local products in Garfagnana area (Tuscany region). On the basis of the evidence collected through semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, the paper shows the different mechanisms by which LAFS may stimulate the provision of ESBs in such areas. In both case studies the provision of ESBs was the result of the interplay among three different types of drivers: markets factors, the set of policies implemented in the specific territorial context and collective actions performed by local actors to promote new governance patterns and new institutions. The article shows that in peripheral areas LAFS, alongside food production, have a strong potential in delivering a broad range of environmental and social benefits, which are highly valued by local communities and consumers. However, this potential varies to large extent according to the socio-economic and institutional settings, as well as on the type of interactions of market drivers with public policies and collective action. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Gaseous Emissions after Soil Application of Pellet Made from Composted Pig Slurry Solid Fraction: Effect of Application Method and Pellet Diameter
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080119
Received: 24 June 2018 / Revised: 25 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
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Abstract
The study aimed at determining ammonia and GHG emissions from soil fertilized with pellets made from composted pig slurry solid fraction and to evaluate the effects of pellet diameter and pellet application method on gaseous emissions. A laboratory scale experiment was carried out
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The study aimed at determining ammonia and GHG emissions from soil fertilized with pellets made from composted pig slurry solid fraction and to evaluate the effects of pellet diameter and pellet application method on gaseous emissions. A laboratory scale experiment was carried out investigating two composts: pig slurry solid fraction compost (SSFC) and pig slurry solid fraction mixed with wood chips compost (WCC). The two composts were pelettized in two different diameters—6 and 8 mm—by means of mechanical pelletizer. In total, eight fertilized treatments plus one unfertilized control were included in the experiment. The investigated pellets were applied at the same nitrogen rate (equivalent to 200 kg ha−1) using two different methods (on soil surface and incorporated into the soil). Ammonia (NH3) emission was monitored immediately after pellet application, while nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) were measured on a 57-day incubation period. As expected, ammonia volatilization was not detected from any of the treatments investigated. At the end of the experiment, the cumulative amounts of N2O, CO2 and CH4 ranged from 2.70 mg N-N2O m−2 to 24.30 mg N-N2O m−2, from 601.89 mg C-CO2 m−2 to 1170.34 mg C-CO2 m−2 and from 1.22 mg C-CH4 m−2 to 1.31 mg C-CH4 m−2, respectively. The overall results of the investigation highlighted that application on the soil surface reduced nitrous oxide emission, while the carbon dioxide emission increased significantly with smaller pellet diameter. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessReview Sustainable Weed Management for Conservation Agriculture: Options for Smallholder Farmers
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080118
Received: 25 May 2018 / Revised: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 19 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
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Abstract
Land degradation and soil fertility deterioration are two of the main causes of agricultural production stagnation and decline in many parts of the world. The model of crop production based on mechanical soil tillage and exposed soils is typically accompanied by negative effects
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Land degradation and soil fertility deterioration are two of the main causes of agricultural production stagnation and decline in many parts of the world. The model of crop production based on mechanical soil tillage and exposed soils is typically accompanied by negative effects on the natural resource base of the farming environment, which can be so serious that they jeopardize agricultural productive potential in the future. This form of agriculture is destructive to soil health and accelerates the loss of soil by increasing its mineralization and erosion rates. Conservation agriculture, a system avoiding or minimizing soil mechanical disturbance (no-tillage) combined with soil cover and crop diversification, is considered a sustainable agro-ecological approach to resource-conserving agricultural production. A major objective of tillage is supposed to be weed control, and it does not require very specific knowledge because soil inversion controls (at least temporarily) most weeds mechanically (i.e., by way of burying them). However, repeated ploughing only changes the weed population, but does not control weeds in the long term. The same applies to the mechanical uprooting of weeds. While in the short term some tillage operations can control weeds on farms, tillage systems can increase and propagate weeds off-farm. The absence of tillage, under conservation agriculture, requires other measures of weed control. One of the ways in which this is realized is through herbicide application. However, environmental concerns, herbicide resistance and access to appropriate agro-chemicals on the part of resource-poor farmers, highlight the need for alternative weed control strategies that are effective and accessible for smallholders adopting conservation agriculture. Farmers in semi-arid regions contend with the additional challenge of low biomass production and, often, competition with livestock enterprises, which limit the potential weed-suppressing benefits of mulch and living cover crops. This paper reviews the applicability and efficacy of various mechanical, biological and integrated weed management strategies for the effective and sustainable management of weeds in smallholder conservation agriculture systems, including the role of appropriate equipment and prerequisites for smallholders within a sustainable intensification scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Management)
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Open AccessArticle Tripartite Relationships in Legume Crops Are Plant-Microorganism-Specific and Strongly Influenced by Salinity
Agriculture 2018, 8(8), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8080117
Received: 6 May 2018 / Revised: 13 July 2018 / Accepted: 14 July 2018 / Published: 24 July 2018
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Abstract
This study investigated the effects of specific strains of two arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi (AMF) (Rhizophagus irregularis and Claroideoglomus claroideum) and of two plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) (Rhizobium leguminosarum and Burkholderia spp.), supplied either individually or as combination of a mixture
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This study investigated the effects of specific strains of two arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi (AMF) (Rhizophagus irregularis and Claroideoglomus claroideum) and of two plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) (Rhizobium leguminosarum and Burkholderia spp.), supplied either individually or as combination of a mixture of both arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi with each bacteria on root morphology, growth and fresh grain yield in pea (Pisum sativum L.) plants. Inoculated and non-inoculated pea plants were subjected to two levels of salinity (0 and 50 mM) by the addition of sodium chloride into tap water. Prior to fresh grain harvesting the morphology of root system was analyzed and the dry matter of roots and shoots were individually measured in randomly selected plants. Fresh pods were individually harvested per each plant; fresh (green) grains were separately counted and weighted per each pod at each individual plant, and the average grain weight was calculated by dividing total grain weight of plant with the respective number of green grains. The raise of salinity in the irrigation water strongly diminished the growth of pea plants by significantly reducing weight, length, surface area and root volume of pea plants. The relationships of pea plants with beneficiary fungi and bacteria were specific to each microorganism and highly depended on the environment. We found that under saline conditions, Rhizophagus irregularis provided a better vegetative growth and a higher yield than Claroideoglomus claroideum. Although, single application of Burkolderia spp. provides a better vegetative growth than single application of Rhizobium leguminosarum the best results, in terms of growth and harvested yield, were still obtained by combined application of AM fungi with Rhizobium leguminosarum. This combination was able to sustain the average grain weight at the level of non-saline plants and provided a significantly higher yield than the control plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rhizosphere Research in Agriculture)
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