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Agronomy, Volume 14, Issue 5 (May 2024) – 210 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This study explores an AI-driven deep CNN model for identifying Sericea Lespedeza (SL) among field weeds, developing a smartphone app for precise herbicide application, and promoting SL as beneficial nutraceutical forage, enhancing sustainable agriculture. View this paper
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23 pages, 2907 KiB  
Article
Assessment of the Impact of Magnesium and Nitrogen Fertilization on Two Species of Grasses Used as Horse Feed
by Hanna Sulewska, Karolina Ratajczak and Roman Roszkiewicz
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1086; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051086 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 458
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of nitrogen (three doses of N) and magnesium (two doses of Mg) fertilization on the yield and quality of fodder obtained from two old and extensive grass species Festulolium braunii cv. ‘Felopa’ and [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of nitrogen (three doses of N) and magnesium (two doses of Mg) fertilization on the yield and quality of fodder obtained from two old and extensive grass species Festulolium braunii cv. ‘Felopa’ and Lolium multiflorum cv. ‘Tur’ in field cultivation under dry conditions. F. braunii was better adapted to cultivation on light, dry soils than L. multiflorum; in such conditions, it produces higher yields of dry matter and protein, characterized by a higher concentration of nutrients. F. braunii fertilized with doses of 120 and 180 kg N∙ha−1 yielded higher than that fertilized with a dose of 60 kg N∙ha−1, and L. multiflorum produced similar yields after applying doses of 60, 120 and 180 kg N∙ha−1. For tested grass pasture, a single N application after the start of vegetation in two forms (fast- and slow-acting) appears to be adequate. Resignation from splitting the nitrogen dose due to variable rainfall distribution that can occur after the first cut during the dry summer is beneficial due to a reduction in the losses of nutrients and environmental burdens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen Cycle in Farming Systems—2nd Edition)
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16 pages, 3241 KiB  
Article
Clonal Transgenerational Effects of Parental Grazing Environment on Offspring Shade Avoidance
by Jingjing Yin, Weibo Ren, Ellen L. Fry, Ke Xu, Kairi Qu, Kairu Gao, Hailong Bao and Fenghui Guo
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1085; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051085 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 428
Abstract
Grassland plants that endure livestock grazing exhibit a dwarf phenotype, which can be transmitted to clonal offspring. Yet to date, it remains poorly understood whether such transgenerational dwarf effects alter the plants’ response to shade. Here, we conducted a common garden experiment under [...] Read more.
Grassland plants that endure livestock grazing exhibit a dwarf phenotype, which can be transmitted to clonal offspring. Yet to date, it remains poorly understood whether such transgenerational dwarf effects alter the plants’ response to shade. Here, we conducted a common garden experiment under sunlight and shade conditions with clonal Leymus chinensis offspring, the parents of which had endured livestock overgrazing (OG) and non-grazing (NG) in the field, respectively. Plant morphological, physiological, and transcriptomic analyses were carried out. The results indicated that NG offspring showed greater shade avoidance than OG offspring. That is, NG offspring exhibited greater plasticity of vegetative height and leaf width, which may be contributed to their greater photosynthetic capacity and gibberellin (GA3) content compared with OG offspring when treated with shade. In addition, RNA-Seq profiling showed that differentially expressed genes in NG offspring were mainly enriched in RNA modification and metabolic processes, which facilitated rapid response to shade. Phytochrome interacting factors (PIFs) promoted downstream shade marker genes in NG offspring by significantly downregulating the expression of PHYC, SPY, and DELLA. Our findings suggest that light conditions should be taken into account to better understand transgenerational dwarf effects induced by livestock grazing on grassland ecosystems. These results provide new insights into the inducible factors of phenotypic variations in grassland plants that experience grazing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Grassland Ecology and Grass Phenotypic Plasticity)
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18 pages, 3330 KiB  
Article
Cross-Regional Crop Classification Based on Sentinel-2
by Jie He, Wenzhi Zeng, Chang Ao, Weimin Xing, Thomas Gaiser and Amit Kumar Srivastava
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1084; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051084 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 436
Abstract
Accurate crop classification is of vital importance for agricultural water management. Most researchers have achieved crop classification by model optimization in the same temporal and regional domain by adjusting the value of input features. This study aims to improve the accuracy of crop [...] Read more.
Accurate crop classification is of vital importance for agricultural water management. Most researchers have achieved crop classification by model optimization in the same temporal and regional domain by adjusting the value of input features. This study aims to improve the accuracy of crop classification across temporal and spatial domains. Sentinel-2 satellite imagery is employed for crop classification training and prediction in selected farming areas of Heilongjiang Province by calculating vegetation indices and constructing sequential input feature datasets. The HUNTS filtering method was used to mitigate the influence of cloud cover, which increased the stability and completeness of the input feature data across different years. To address the issue of shifts in the input feature values during cross-scale classification, this study proposes the hypothesis testing distribution method (HTDM). This method balances the distribution of input feature values in the test set even without knowing the crop distribution, thereby enhancing the accuracy of the classification test set. The results indicate that the HTDM significantly improves prediction accuracy in cases of substantial image quality variance. In 2022, the recognition accuracy for crop types at all farms processed by the HTDM was above 87%, showcasing the strong robustness of the HTDM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision and Digital Agriculture)
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19 pages, 10865 KiB  
Article
Organ Segmentation and Phenotypic Trait Extraction of Cotton Seedling Point Clouds Based on a 3D Lightweight Network
by Jiacheng Shen, Tan Wu, Jiaxu Zhao, Zhijing Wu, Yanlin Huang, Pan Gao and Li Zhang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1083; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051083 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 447
Abstract
Cotton is an important economic crop; therefore, enhancing cotton yield and cultivating superior varieties are key research priorities. The seedling stage, a critical phase in cotton production, significantly influences the subsequent growth and yield of the crop. Therefore, breeding experts often choose to [...] Read more.
Cotton is an important economic crop; therefore, enhancing cotton yield and cultivating superior varieties are key research priorities. The seedling stage, a critical phase in cotton production, significantly influences the subsequent growth and yield of the crop. Therefore, breeding experts often choose to measure phenotypic parameters during this period to make breeding decisions. Traditional methods of phenotypic parameter measurement require manual processes, which are not only tedious and inefficient but can also damage the plants. To effectively, rapidly, and accurately extract three-dimensional phenotypic parameters of cotton seedlings, precise segmentation of phenotypic organs must first be achieved. This paper proposes a neural network-based segmentation algorithm for cotton seedling organs, which, compared to the average precision of 75.4% in traditional unsupervised learning, achieves an average precision of 96.67%, demonstrating excellent segmentation performance. The segmented leaf and stem point clouds are used for the calculation of phenotypic parameters such as stem length, leaf length, leaf width, and leaf area. Comparisons with actual measurements yield coefficients of determination R2 of 91.97%, 90.97%, 92.72%, and 95.44%, respectively. The results indicate that the algorithm proposed in this paper can achieve precise segmentation of stem and leaf organs, and can efficiently and accurately extract three-dimensional phenotypic structural information of cotton seedlings. In summary, this study not only made significant progress in the precise segmentation of cotton seedling organs and the extraction of three-dimensional phenotypic structural information, but the algorithm also demonstrates strong applicability to different varieties of cotton seedlings. This provides new perspectives and methods for plant researchers and breeding experts, contributing to the advancement of the plant phenotypic computation field and bringing new breakthroughs and opportunities to the field of plant science research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Applications of Deep Learning in Smart Agriculture)
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17 pages, 3378 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Effectiveness of Reflective and Diffusive Polyethylene Films as Greenhouse Covers in Arid Environments
by Abdullah A. Al-Madani, Ibrahim M. Al-Helal and Abdullah A. Alsadon
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1082; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051082 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 490
Abstract
The application of diffusive and reflective polyethylene (PE) films as greenhouse coverings in arid climates presents an opportunity to improve the microclimate of the greenhouse and achieve consistent light distribution within the crop canopy. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of understanding regarding [...] Read more.
The application of diffusive and reflective polyethylene (PE) films as greenhouse coverings in arid climates presents an opportunity to improve the microclimate of the greenhouse and achieve consistent light distribution within the crop canopy. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of understanding regarding the properties of these covers and their impact on the microclimate and the growth parameters of crops. This study aimed to assess the impact of different covers on the diffusion of beam radiation during transmission, microclimatic parameters, and growth parameters of cucumbers in each of the greenhouses they covered. In the study, three PE covers were evaluated: a reflective cover (RC), a diffusive film (DC), and a locally produced cover (LPC) as the control treatment. The covers were installed on three identical, single-span, evaporatively cooled greenhouses named GH1/LPC, GH2/RC, and GH3/DC, which were utilized for cultivating cucumber crops. The results indicated that the diffusive nature of the tested films increased the ratio of diffuse to global solar radiation (D/G) from 0.22 outside the greenhouses to 0.49, 0.42, and 0.41 inside GH1/LPC, GH3/DC, and GH2/RC, respectively. Similarly, the ratio of diffuse to direct beam radiation (D/B) showed an increase, with values of 0.95, 0.70, and 0.68 inside GH1/LPC, GH3/DC, and GH2/RC, respectively, compared to the outside value of 0.28. The DC used in GH3 showed a favorable microclimate by reducing the air temperature and improving the relative humidity. Accordingly, the vegetative growth of the cucumbers was significantly improved in GH3/DC, reflected in increases in their biomass, followed by GH2/RC and GH1/LPC. The highest crop yield (p ≤ 0.05) of 12.3 kg/m2 was achieved in GH3/DC, followed by 10.2 kg/m2 in GH2/RC and 10.1 kg/m2 in GH1/LPC. Interestingly, the LPC not only stood out as a low-cost option but also displayed excellent diffusive–radiative properties, and demonstrated reasonable growth development and productivity for the cucumber crops. Consequently, the LPC emerges as a practical and cost-effective greenhouse covering material for crop production in arid climates. Full article
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14 pages, 2071 KiB  
Article
Screening of Germplasm and Construction of Evaluation System for Autotoxicity Tolerance during Seed Germination in Cucumber
by Jie Li, Jian Li, Ping Yang, Hongbo Fu, Yongchao Yang and Chaowei Liu
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1081; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051081 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 499
Abstract
Due to the widespread use of intensive cropping patterns, the problem of continuous cropping obstacle, which is dominated by autotoxicity, has been becoming more and more prominent. Although many methods have been proposed to overcome the continuous cropping obstacle of cucumber, no study [...] Read more.
Due to the widespread use of intensive cropping patterns, the problem of continuous cropping obstacle, which is dominated by autotoxicity, has been becoming more and more prominent. Although many methods have been proposed to overcome the continuous cropping obstacle of cucumber, no study has reported the screening and evaluation of cucumber germplasm resistant to autotoxicity. In this study, 28 physiological indices related to the cucumber bud stage under cinnamic acid (CA) treatment were determined. In total, 45 cucumber cultivars were classified into three groups using principal component analysis and cluster analysis, and a model for evaluating cucumber resistance to autotoxicity was developed. The evaluation model was validated using autotoxicity-tolerant and non-autotoxicity-tolerant cultivars. The results showed that the growth of non-autotoxicity-tolerant cultivars was significantly inhibited compared to autotoxicity-tolerant cultivars. This indicated that the evaluation model of cucumber autotoxicity tolerance is reliable. The results of this study provide a valuable reference for the application of cucumber autotoxicity-tolerant germplasm resources and the development of autotoxicity-tolerant genes. Full article
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16 pages, 4708 KiB  
Article
Hydrogen Sulfide Increases Drought Tolerance by Modulating Carbon and Nitrogen Metabolism in Foxtail Millet Seedlings
by Juan Zhao, Shifang Zhang, Xiaoxiao Yang, Ke Feng, Guo Wang, Qifeng Shi, Xinru Wang, Xiangyang Yuan and Jianhong Ren
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1080; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051080 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 564
Abstract
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a novel gas signaling molecule, has been shown to enhance plant resistance to various abiotic stresses. Here, we investigated the effect of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS, a H2S donor) on the growth, photosynthetic parameters, and enzyme activities [...] Read more.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a novel gas signaling molecule, has been shown to enhance plant resistance to various abiotic stresses. Here, we investigated the effect of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS, a H2S donor) on the growth, photosynthetic parameters, and enzyme activities related to carbon and nitrogen metabolism, as well as the levels of carbohydrates and nitrogen metabolites in foxtail millet seedlings subjected to drought stress conditions in pots. The findings revealed that drought stress led to a significant 41.2% decline in the total dry weight (DW) after 12 days of treatment, whereas plants treated with NaHS showed a lesser reduction of 18.7% in total DW. Under drought stress, exogenous NaHS was found to enhance carbon metabolism in foxtail millet seedlings by significantly enhancing photosynthetic capacity, starch, and sucrose content. Additionally, exogenous NaHS was observed to improve nitrogen metabolism by substantially increasing soluble protein content, nitrogen assimilate activity, and synthesis of nitrogen-containing compounds in foxtail millet seedlings. In summary, the exogenous application of NaHS stimulated seedling growth and enhanced drought resistance in foxtail millet by modulating carbon and nitrogen metabolism processes affected by drought stress. Full article
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17 pages, 6184 KiB  
Article
Humic Acid Promotes the Growth of Switchgrass under Salt Stress by Improving Photosynthetic Function
by Jiaxing Zhang, Qiuxia Meng, Zhiping Yang, Qiang Zhang, Min Yan, Xiaochan Hou and Xunzhong Zhang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1079; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051079 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 412
Abstract
As a potential crop in saline-alkali land, the growth of switchgrass could also be threatened by salt stress. Promoting the growth of switchgrass under salt stress by humic acid has great significance in the utilization of saline-alkali land. In this study, a pot [...] Read more.
As a potential crop in saline-alkali land, the growth of switchgrass could also be threatened by salt stress. Promoting the growth of switchgrass under salt stress by humic acid has great significance in the utilization of saline-alkali land. In this study, a pot experiment was arranged to investigate the responses of photosynthetic and physicochemical characteristics of switchgrass to HA under salt stress. Results showed that humic acid increased the photosynthetic function of switchgrass and enhanced plant height by 41.1% and dry weight by 26.9% under salt stress. Correlation analysis showed that the membrane aquaporin gene PvPIP1, malondialdehyde, ascorbate peroxidase, abscisic acid, polyamine, and jasmonic acid were important factors affecting the photosynthetic function of switchgrass in this study. Meanwhile, HA reduced the content of malondialdehyde, indicating the alleviation of the membrane damage caused by salt stress. On the other hand, HA upregulated the relative expression of the PvPIP1 gene and activated ascorbate peroxidase, abscisic acid, polyamine, and jasmonic acid in switchgrass to resist salt stress. These improved the membrane stability and promoted the photosynthetic activity of switchgrass to enhance the plant’s tolerance against salt stress and growth. Results from this study are helpful to the efficient growing of switchgrass and the sustainable development of saline-alkali land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Soil and Plant Nutrition)
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17 pages, 1948 KiB  
Article
An Incubation System for the Simulation of Ammonia Emissions from Soil Surface-Applied Slurry: Effect of pH and Acid Type
by Nils Carsten Thomas Ellersiek and Hans-Werner Olfs
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1078; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051078 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 410
Abstract
Acidification of slurry is a promising approach for reducing ammonia emissions during the application procedure. Since only a few studies have been conducted focusing on ammonia emissions during the application of liquid organic fertilizers on the soil surface, a suitable incubation system was [...] Read more.
Acidification of slurry is a promising approach for reducing ammonia emissions during the application procedure. Since only a few studies have been conducted focusing on ammonia emissions during the application of liquid organic fertilizers on the soil surface, a suitable incubation system was developed to evaluate the effects of acidification under controlled conditions. This incubation system was used to measure the ammonia emissions of various liquid organic fertilizers. The substrates were acidified with sulfuric and citric acid to different pH values to determine both the influence of the pH value of the substrates and of the type of acid on the ammonia emissions. The emissions decreased with declining pH value, and the reduction in emissions compared to the initial pH of the substrate was over 86% for pH 6.5 and over 98% for pH 6.0 and below. At the same pH value, the ammonia emissions did not differ between substrates acidified with citric acid and sulfuric acid, although more than twice as much 50% citric acid was required compared to 96% sulfuric acid to achieve the same pH value. Overall, our results demonstrate that the incubation system used is suitable for measuring ammonia emissions from surface-applied liquid organic fertilizers. The system allows for the differentiation of emission levels at various pH levels and is therefore suitable for testing the effectiveness of additives for reducing ammonia emissions from liquid organic fertilizers. Full article
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17 pages, 3500 KiB  
Article
Mulching Practices Improve Soil Moisture and Enzyme Activity in Drylands, Increasing Potato Yield
by Wenhuan Song, Fanxiang Han, Zhengyu Bao, Yuwei Chai, Linlin Wang, Caixia Huang, Hongbo Cheng and Lei Chang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1077; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051077 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 452
Abstract
Mulch is an important measure for improving agricultural productivity in many semiarid regions of the world. However, the impacts of various mulching materials on soil hydrothermal characteristics, enzyme activity, and potato yield in fields have not been comprehensively explored. Thus, a two-growing-season field [...] Read more.
Mulch is an important measure for improving agricultural productivity in many semiarid regions of the world. However, the impacts of various mulching materials on soil hydrothermal characteristics, enzyme activity, and potato yield in fields have not been comprehensively explored. Thus, a two-growing-season field experiment (2020–2021) with four treatments (SSM, straw strip mulching; PMP, plastic film mulching with large ridge; PMF, double ridge-furrow with full film mulching; and CK, no mulching with conventional planting as the control) was conducted to analyze soil hydrothermal and soil enzyme activities and potato yield on the semiarid Loess Plateau of Northwest China. The results indicated that mulching practices had a positive effect on the soil moisture, with SSM, PMP, and PMF increasing by 7.3%, 9.2%, and 9.2%, respectively, compared to CK. Plastic film mulching significantly increased the soil temperature by 1.3 °C, and straw mulching reduced the soil temperature by 0.7 °C in the 0–30 cm soil layers of the whole growth period. On average, SSM, PMP, and PMF increased soil urease activity in 0–40 cm soil layers by 14.2%, 2.8%, and 2.7%, respectively, and enhanced soil sucrase activity by 19.2%, 8.6%, and 5.7%, respectively, compared with CK. Plastic film mulching increased soil catalase activity by 9.6%, while SSM decreased by 10.1%. Mulching treatments significantly increased tuber yield and water use efficiency based on dry tuber yield (WUE), and SSM, PMP, and PMF increased tuber yield by 18.6%, 31.9%, and 29.7%, enhanced WUE by 50%, 50%, and 57.0% over CK. The correlation analysis revealed that soil moisture was the main factor influencing tuber yield (r = 0.95**). Mulching could improve the soil hydrothermal environment, regulate soil enzyme activities, and promote yield increase. As a sustainable protective mulching measure, straw strip mulching is conducive to improving the ecological environment of farmland and the sustainable development of regional organic agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agroecology Innovation: Achieving System Resilience)
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3 pages, 155 KiB  
Editorial
The Recognition and Utilization of Natural Genetic Resources for Advances in Plant Biology through Genomics and Biotechnology
by Guofei Tan, Feng Que and Jian Zhang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1076; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051076 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 433
Abstract
Biological diversity is the most essential gift from nature, and many elite or superior genes that confer favorable traits remain to be discovered and utilized [...] Full article
13 pages, 2500 KiB  
Article
Genome-Wide and Transcriptome-Wide Association Analysis Identifies qRS-6D and Its Candidate Genes Regulating Root Development of Wheat Seedlings
by Mingzhu Cheng, Pengcheng Wang, Xueting Liu, Zhiwei Zhu, Sichun Qiu, Yuxiu Liu, Xue Shi, Wanquan Ji, Shengbao Xu and Xiaoming Wang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1075; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051075 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 464
Abstract
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important cereal crops worldwide, and its production is challenged by global climate change and a shortage of resources. The root system plays a vital role in uptaking water and nutrients and sensing soil [...] Read more.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important cereal crops worldwide, and its production is challenged by global climate change and a shortage of resources. The root system plays a vital role in uptaking water and nutrients and sensing soil environmental signals, and it has great potential to improve the final yield and stress tolerance of wheat. In order to further explore the genes regulating root development, this study focused on qRS-6D, located on chromosome 6D and spanning from 462,701,391 to 465,068,943, which was significantly associated with the total root length, root volume, root surface, and root fresh weight in our previous GWAS analysis. Firstly, its genetic effects were validated using an F6 segregating population by comparing the root-related traits of homologous lines harboring the alternative haplotypes of this QTL. Then, the number of causal genes of this QTL was narrowed down to four with a transcriptome-wide association study. Additionally, qRS-6D has been demonstrated to have genetic effects on several yield- (kernel length, kernel width, and thousand-kernel weight) and plant structure-related traits (plant height, peduncle length, total tiller number, productive tiller number, flag leaf length, and flag leaf angle). Relatively, the frequency of the favorable haplotype increased with the wheat breeding practice. This study provides a reliable genetic locus to improve root development and structure and evaluate its application potential in wheat breeding improvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Wheat Molecular Genetics and Genomics)
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17 pages, 2864 KiB  
Article
Physicochemical Properties and Fine Structure of Starch in Jinong Xiangruan 1 and DGR1 Soft Rice Varieties Cultivated in Different Regions of China
by Zhuoyi Hua, Zubair Iqbal, Yu Han, Chenyang Wu, Zhongyou Pei, Xin Zhang, Jing Sun, Mingnan Qu and Zhibin Li
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1074; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051074 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 390
Abstract
Rice, a staple food for billions around the globe, is cultivated in numerous forms. Among them, soft rice is well known, which is characterized by its tender, creamy consistency and desirable texture. In this study, we examined the physicochemical properties and fine structure [...] Read more.
Rice, a staple food for billions around the globe, is cultivated in numerous forms. Among them, soft rice is well known, which is characterized by its tender, creamy consistency and desirable texture. In this study, we examined the physicochemical properties and fine structure of starch from two soft rice varieties, Jinong Xiangruan 1 and DGR1, cultivated in different regions in China (Baodi District, Tianjin City; Liaoning Province; and Fengyang City, Anhui Province). The aim was to understand how amylopectin content (AC) influences rice quality. This research aims to bridge the knowledge gap regarding the role of amylopectin in determining rice’s adhesive consistency and viscosity. Significant regional differences were observed in yield components such as the number of grains per panicle, seed setting rates and 1000-grain weight, with Liaoning generally showing higher performance metrics compared to other regions. Physicochemical analysis highlighted that though glue consistency and taste values showed little regional variation, AC significantly influenced rice hardness and viscosity. Rapid Visco Analyzer (RVA) profile analysis further demonstrated distinct differences in viscosity characteristics, underscoring the regional impacts on starch behavior. Additionally, molecular weight distribution and amylopectin chain length analysis, conducted via SEC-MALLS-RI and ICS ion chromatography, revealed notable differences in starch composition across varieties and locations. The findings suggest that environmental conditions play a crucial role in defining starch characteristics and, consequently, the eating quality of rice. This provides valuable insights for breeding high-quality japonica rice with broad adaptability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant-Crop Biology and Biochemistry)
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13 pages, 1491 KiB  
Article
Genome-Wide Identification and Expression Profiles of IMB Genes Reveal Their Potential Roles in the Gametophytic Sexual Reproduction Process of Camellia sinensis
by Xiaohan Xu, Anqi Xing, Zichen Wu, Yi Sun, Xuefeng Xu, Shujing Liu, Zhen Zhao, Xuan Chen, Xinghui Li and Yuhua Wang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1073; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051073 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 566
Abstract
It is of great significance to explore the molecular mechanism of gametophytic sexual reproduction in the genetic improvement and breeding of tea plants [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze]. Imported beta family members (IMBs) are a class of widely distributed nucleoplasmic transport receptor proteins [...] Read more.
It is of great significance to explore the molecular mechanism of gametophytic sexual reproduction in the genetic improvement and breeding of tea plants [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze]. Imported beta family members (IMBs) are a class of widely distributed nucleoplasmic transport receptor proteins in eukaryotes, affecting plant development and reproduction, and participating in flowering time and sexual reproduction. Still missing, though, is a thorough examination of IMB members in tea plants. Here, seven members of the IMB gene family were screened by a genome-wide investigation in tea plants. These members were scattered unevenly throughout five chromosomes. All of them contained the conserved KAP95 and HEAT Repeat domains. Additionally, the promoter regions of CsIMBs harbored cis-acting elements associated with plant hormones, light, and abiotic stress responses. In order to further confirm the function of CsIMBs in the sexual reproduction of tea plants, the expression patterns of CsIMBs in different flower development stages and the ovary (before and after pollination) were analyzed. The expression results highlighted that CsIMBs were related to the fertility and fruiting of tea plants. Furthermore, five of the seven CsIMBs (CsIMB1a, CsIMB1b, CsIMB2, CsIMB3a, and CsIMB3b) were found to be localized in the nucleus revealed by subcellular localization analysis. These results offer a comprehensive characterization of IMB genes as well as insights into the potential roles of CsIMBs participating in the gametophytic sexual reproduction of C. sinensis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beverage Crops Breeding: For Wine, Tea, Juices, Cocoa and Coffee)
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21 pages, 4514 KiB  
Article
Comprehensive Analysis of Groundwater Suitability for Irrigation in Rural Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan
by Shoukat Ali Soomro, Li Hao, Gulsher Ali Memon, Abdul Rahim Junejo, Wenquan Niu, Zahid Ali Channa, Muhammad Kareem Chandio, Jamshed Ali Channa, Jawaher Alkahtani and Jahangeer Dahri
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1072; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051072 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 574
Abstract
An irrigation quality assessment for rural Hyderabad was made by determining the pH, EC, TDS and TH beside major cations and anions. This study employed various parameters to determine the suitability of groundwater for irrigation and its hydrochemistry. Permissible limits of major cations [...] Read more.
An irrigation quality assessment for rural Hyderabad was made by determining the pH, EC, TDS and TH beside major cations and anions. This study employed various parameters to determine the suitability of groundwater for irrigation and its hydrochemistry. Permissible limits of major cations and anions revealed that approximately 26% of samples exceeded acceptable levels for Electrical Conductivity (EC), 87% for Ca2+, 89% for Mg2+, and 60% for Na+, while none exceeded the limits for K+. Conversely, 47% of samples for HCO3, 91% for Cl, and 100% for SO42−, NO3, and CO32− proved suitability for irrigation. Notably, irrigation indices highlighted favorable results, with 100% conformity for SAR, SSP, RSP, and PI values, and substantial percentages of 78% and 85% for MH and KR values, respectively, affirming their suitability for irrigation practices. Employing the USSL diagram, 22%, 65%, and 11% of samples fall into the C2S1, C3S1, and C4S1 categories. According to the Wilcox diagram, 25%, 43%, 30%, and 2% are classified under C1, C2, C3, and C4 categories, respectively. The Gibbs ratio shows a concentration within the evaporation dominance, and CAI values showed positive ion exchange. Overall, Hyderabad’s rural areas are generally suitable for irrigation, apart from certain areas where water quality may not be acceptable for plants lacking high salt tolerance. Full article
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24 pages, 6087 KiB  
Article
Spatial Analysis on Resource Utilization, Environmental Consequences and Sustainability of Rice–Crayfish Rotation System in Jianghan Plain, China
by Hang Shi, Guang Han, Naijuan Hu, Shuyang Qu and Liqun Zhu
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1071; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051071 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 659
Abstract
The rice–crayfish rotation system (RCR), originating in the Jianghan Plain, is developing rapidly in various regions of China and has been characterized by unbalanced regional development, which has also led to widespread concerns and discussion on its environmental impacts and sustainability. This study [...] Read more.
The rice–crayfish rotation system (RCR), originating in the Jianghan Plain, is developing rapidly in various regions of China and has been characterized by unbalanced regional development, which has also led to widespread concerns and discussion on its environmental impacts and sustainability. This study selects representative RCR production areas in the Jianghan Plain, including Jianli, Qianjiang, Shishou, Shayang, Gong’an and Honghu, to analyze resource inputs, resource utilization efficiency, environmental impacts and sustainability by employing the emergy analysis method. Our analysis of Jianli, Honghu, Qianjiang, Gong’an, Shishou and Shayang reports total emergy inputs ranging from 6.46 × 1016 to 8.25 × 1016, with renewable rates between 78.38% and 84.34%. Shishou leads in the unit emergy value (5.58 × 10−1) and the emergy yield ratio (5.30). The sustainability evaluation finds that the environmental loading ratio is from 0.19 to 0.28 and the emergy index for sustainable development varies between 1.27 and 3.00. This analysis indicates that the southern regions have higher inputs and efficiency, with southeastern areas showing lower environmental impact and higher sustainability. We also underscore the impact of non-renewable resources on environmental outcomes and sustainability, suggesting tailored development strategies for the rice–crayfish rotation system’s optimization and sustainable growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agroecology Innovation: Achieving System Resilience)
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18 pages, 4798 KiB  
Article
Machine Learning-Powered Forecasting of Climate Conditions in Smart Greenhouse Containing Netted Melons
by Yu-Jin Jeon, Joon Yong Kim, Kue-Seung Hwang, Woo-Jae Cho, Hak-Jin Kim and Dae-Hyun Jung
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1070; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051070 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 422
Abstract
The greenhouse environment plays a crucial role in providing favorable conditions for crop growth, significantly improving their quality and yield. Accurate prediction of greenhouse environmental factors is essential for their effective control. Although artificial intelligence technologies for predicting greenhouse environments have been researched [...] Read more.
The greenhouse environment plays a crucial role in providing favorable conditions for crop growth, significantly improving their quality and yield. Accurate prediction of greenhouse environmental factors is essential for their effective control. Although artificial intelligence technologies for predicting greenhouse environments have been researched recently, there are limitations in applying these to general greenhouse environments due to computing resources or issues with interpretability. Moreover, research on environmental prediction models specifically for melon greenhouses is also lacking. In this study, machine learning models based on MLR (Multiple Linear Regression), SVM (Support Vector Machine), ANN (Artificial Neural Network), and XGBoost were developed to predict the internal temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 conditions of melon greenhouses 30 min in advance. The XGBoost model demonstrated high accuracy and stability, with an R2 value of up to 0.9929 and an RPD (Residual Predictive Deviation) of 11.8464. Furthermore, the analysis of the XGBoost model’s feature importance and decision trees revealed that the model learned the complex relationships and impacts among greenhouse environmental factors. In conclusion, this study successfully developed a predictive model for a greenhouse environment for melon cultivation. The model developed in this study can facilitate an understanding and efficient management of the greenhouse environment, contributing to improvements in crop yield and quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IoT in Agriculture: Rationale, State of the Art and Evolution)
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23 pages, 8454 KiB  
Article
Multitemporal Field-Based Maize Plant Height Information Extraction and Verification Using Solid-State LiDAR
by Junhong Zhao, Shengde Chen, Bo Zhou, Haoxiang He, Yingjie Zhao, Yu Wang and Xingxing Zhou
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1069; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051069 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 401
Abstract
Plant height is regarded as a key indicator that is crucial for assessing the crop growth status and predicting yield. In this study, an advanced method based on solid-state LiDAR technology is proposed, which is specifically designed to accurately capture the phenotypic characteristics [...] Read more.
Plant height is regarded as a key indicator that is crucial for assessing the crop growth status and predicting yield. In this study, an advanced method based on solid-state LiDAR technology is proposed, which is specifically designed to accurately capture the phenotypic characteristics of plant height during the maize growth cycle. By segmenting the scanned point cloud of maize, detailed point cloud data of a single maize plant were successfully extracted, from which stem information was accurately measured to obtain accurate plant height information. In this study, we will concentrate on the analysis of individual maize plants. Leveraging the advantages of solid-state LiDAR technology in precisely capturing phenotypic information, the data processing approach for individual maize plants, as compared to an entire maize community, will better restore the maize’s original growth patterns. This will enable the acquisition of more accurate maize plant height information and more clearly demonstrate the potential of solid-state LiDAR in capturing detailed phenotypic information. To enhance the universality of the research findings, this study meticulously selected key growth stages of maize for data validation and comparison, encompassing the tasseling, silking, and maturity phases. At these crucial stages, 20 maize plants at the tasseling stage, 40 at the flowering stage, and 40 at the maturity stage were randomly selected, totaling 100 samples for analysis. Each sample not only included actual measurement values but also included plant height information extracted using point cloud technology. The observation period was set from 20 June to 20 September 2021. This period encompasses the three key growth stages of maize described above, and each growth stage included one round of data collection, with three rounds of data collection each, each spaced about a week apart, for a total of nine data collections. To ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data, all collections were performed at noon when the natural wind speed was controlled within the range of 0 to 1.5 m/s and the weather was clear. The findings demonstrate that the root mean square error (RMSE) of the maize plant height data, procured through LiDAR technology, stands at 1.27 cm, the mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) hovers around 0.77%, and the peak R2 value attained is 0.99. These metrics collectively attest to the method’s ongoing high efficiency and precision in capturing the plant height information. In the comparative study of different stem growth stages, especially at the maturity stage, the MAPE of the plant height was reduced to 0.57%, which is a significant improvement compared to the performance at the nodulation and sprouting stage. These results effectively demonstrate that the maize phenotypic information extraction method based on solid-state LiDAR technology is not only highly accurate and effective but is also effective on individual plants, which provides a reliable reference for applying the technique to a wider range of plant populations and extending it to the whole farmland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision and Digital Agriculture)
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15 pages, 3744 KiB  
Article
Hot Spots of Bitter Compounds in the Roots of Gentiana lutea L. subsp. aurantiaca: Wild and Cultivated Comparative
by Óscar González-López, Álvaro Rodríguez-González, Carmelo García Pinto, Julia Arbizu-Milagro and Pedro A. Casquero
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1068; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051068 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 405
Abstract
Gentiana lutea L. subsp. aurantiaca M. Lainz is a plant endemic to the north-western mountainous areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Its roots are widely used mainly because of the high content of bitter compounds. The occurrence of these valuable bitter compounds in the [...] Read more.
Gentiana lutea L. subsp. aurantiaca M. Lainz is a plant endemic to the north-western mountainous areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Its roots are widely used mainly because of the high content of bitter compounds. The occurrence of these valuable bitter compounds in the roots is rather inhomogeneous, resulting in fluctuating root quality. Methanolic extracts obtained from different parts and tissues of wild and cultivated gentian, in and out of its natural environment, were analysed using HPLC chromatography to investigate the variation in the concentration of amarogentin, gentiopicroside, sweroside and swertiamarin. The distribution patterns of these compounds in the different analysed fractions showed that the concentration of bitter compounds varies significantly. Amarogentin is much more highly concentrated in the secondary roots, and all of the analysed compounds were found in a significantly higher content in the root cortex than in the vascular tissues. Roots cultivated in the natural habitat showed much higher concentrations in amarogentin and more biomass, while in those cultivated out of the natural environment, sweroside concentration was higher. These results allow us to understand that, when cultivated, the variability in the concentration of the different bitter compounds is linked with the edaphoclimatic conditions, but more importantly that it is linked with the dominating kind of tissues and the root system structure, especially when analysing the content of amarogentin and sweroside. The selection of plants with an optimal root system structure for breeding may increase the yield in bitter compounds and contribute to developing the commercial cultivation of this protected plant. Full article
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23 pages, 13069 KiB  
Article
Improving the Spatiotemporal Transferability of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing for Estimating Soil Organic Matter by Minimizing the Coupling Effect of Soil Physical Properties on the Spectrum: A Case Study in Northeast China
by Yuanyuan Sui, Ranzhe Jiang, Nan Lin, Haiye Yu and Xin Zhang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1067; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051067 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 386
Abstract
Soil organic matter (SOM) is important for the global carbon cycle, and hyperspectral remote sensing has proven to be a promising method for fast SOM content estimation. However, because of the neglect of the spectral response of soil physical properties, the accuracy and [...] Read more.
Soil organic matter (SOM) is important for the global carbon cycle, and hyperspectral remote sensing has proven to be a promising method for fast SOM content estimation. However, because of the neglect of the spectral response of soil physical properties, the accuracy and spatiotemporal transferability of the SOM prediction model are poor. This study aims to improve the spatiotemporal transferability of the SOM prediction model by alleviating the coupling effect of soil physical properties on spectra. Based on satellite hyperspectral images and soil physical variables, including soil moisture (SM), soil surface roughness (root-mean-square height, RMSH), and soil bulk weight (SBW), a soil spectral correction model was established based on the information unmixing method. Two important grain-producing areas in Northeast China were selected as study areas to verify the performance and transferability of the spectral correction model and SOM content prediction model. The results showed that soil spectral corrections based on fourth-order polynomials and the XG-Boost algorithm had excellent accuracy and generalization ability, with residual predictive deviations (RPDs) exceeding 1.4 in almost all the bands. In addition, when the soil spectral correction strategy was adopted, the accuracy of the SOM prediction model and the generalization ability after the model migration were significantly improved. The SOM prediction accuracy based on the XG-Boost-corrected spectrum was the highest, with a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.76, a root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 5.74 g/kg, and an RPD of 1.68. The prediction accuracy, R2 value, RMSE, and RPD of the model after the migration were 0.72, 6.71 g/kg, and 1.53, respectively. Compared with the direct migration prediction of the model, adopting the soil spectral correction model based on fourth-order polynomials and XG-Boost reduced the RMSE of the SOM prediction results by 57.90% and 60.27%, respectively. This performance comparison highlighted the advantages for considering soil physical properties in regional-scale SOM predictions. Full article
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17 pages, 3653 KiB  
Review
Ecology, Cultivation, and Utilization of the Dittany of Crete (Origanum dictamnus L.) from Ancient Times to the Present: A Short Review
by Alexandra D. Solomou, Anastasia Fountouli, Aikaterini Molla, Manolis Petrakis, Ioanna Manolikaki and Elpiniki Skoufogianni
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1066; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051066 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 413
Abstract
Medicinal and aromatic plants are a consistent component of the biodiversity heritage in numerous countries worldwide. Origanum dictamnus L. (Lamiaceae family), also known as Dittany, an endemic plant of the Greek island of Crete, has been widely used as traditional medicine since antiquity, [...] Read more.
Medicinal and aromatic plants are a consistent component of the biodiversity heritage in numerous countries worldwide. Origanum dictamnus L. (Lamiaceae family), also known as Dittany, an endemic plant of the Greek island of Crete, has been widely used as traditional medicine since antiquity, all over Europe. The aim of the present review is to provide a thorough and detailed account of Dittany in antiquity, the plant’s physical characteristics and ecology, and its cultivation methods, as well as its chemical components, biological properties, and pharmacological studies. The information is presented and analyzed in a critical manner. A total of 86 research studies were systematically reviewed based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. The findings indicate that Dittany is one of the most important medicinal and aromatic plants, with many uses not only in pharmacology but also in gastronomy. While a large body of literature exists regarding the application of essential oils, the number of publications concerning the plant’s cultivation is rather small. Therefore, the main focus of this review is on the cultivation methods and the significance of cultivating and employing Dittany in Greece and the wider Mediterranean region in the future. Further research on this plant species is warranted since it has significant medicinal, economic, and environmental value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Horticultural and Floricultural Crops)
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15 pages, 1525 KiB  
Article
Effects of Grain Sprout Fertilizer Application Rate on Yield and Its Composition of Hybrid Middle Rice–Ratoon Rice System
by Fuxian Xu, Chi Yuan, Dong Han, Rong Xie, Xingbing Zhou, Peng Jiang, Xiaoyi Guo, Hong Xiong, Lin Zhang and Changchun Guo
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1065; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051065 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 661
Abstract
Enhancing yield and achieving environmental goals represent challenges for the future of agriculture. Rational nitrogen (N) management is one of the most promising ways to meet this challenge. However, complicated nitrogen management strategies and considerable input requirements still exist in rice–ratoon rice production. [...] Read more.
Enhancing yield and achieving environmental goals represent challenges for the future of agriculture. Rational nitrogen (N) management is one of the most promising ways to meet this challenge. However, complicated nitrogen management strategies and considerable input requirements still exist in rice–ratoon rice production. To address this issue, field experiments were conducted with two main high-yield rice crop genotypes and five fertilization treatments at six sites in Southwest China from 2018 to 2020. The results showed the following: (1) the yield of the main rice crop was extremely significantly affected by the year, location, and fertilization, but not by genotype; (2) the yield of the ratoon rice was extremely significantly affected by year, genotype, location, and fertilization; and (3) the total plant N content (TPN) and leaf SPAD value at the full heading stage of the main crop were significantly positively correlated with the total soil N content (TSN) and soil available N (SAN) content of the basic soil. The highly efficient N application rate of grain- and bud-promoting fertilizer for ratoon rice was 60–120 kg ha−1. The TSN, SAN, TPN, and SPAD values higher than 0.247 kg N kg−1, 298 mg N kg−1, 2.159 kg N kg−1, and 49.94 were, respectively, considered the reference values when not applying grain- and bud-promoting fertilizer. A regression equation was established to predict the amount of high-efficiency grain- and bud-promoting fertilizer based on the TSN and SPAD. Overall, the yield of rice–ratoon rice was significantly affected by year, genotype, location, fertilization, and their interactions. The use of the predicted grain- and bud-promoting fertilizer regression equation can achieve high yields under simplified and reduced N input practices in the rice–ratoon rice systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Crop Breeding and Genetics)
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22 pages, 2979 KiB  
Article
Application of Irrigation Management and Water-Lifting Technologies to Enhance Fodder Productivity in Smallholder Farming Communities: A Case Study in Robit Bata, Ethiopia
by Misbah A. Hussein, Fikadu T. Riga, Melkamu B. Derseh, Tewodros T. Assefa, Abeyou W. Worqlul, Amare Haileslassie, Abera Adie, Chris S. Jones and Seifu A. Tilahun
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1064; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051064 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Small-scale cultivation of irrigated fodder is emerging as a vital production system in mixed farming communities. Efficient water management plays a key role in enhancing forage production, especially in the face of changing climate. A field-scale experimental study was conducted in Robit Bata [...] Read more.
Small-scale cultivation of irrigated fodder is emerging as a vital production system in mixed farming communities. Efficient water management plays a key role in enhancing forage production, especially in the face of changing climate. A field-scale experimental study was conducted in Robit Bata kebele, Ethiopia, with the following objectives: (1) to examine the effects of conventional farmers’ irrigation scheduling versus climate-based irrigation scheduling; and (2) to assess the influence of water-lifting technologies (manual pulley and solar Majipump) on dry matter yield (DMY), water productivity (WP), irrigation labor productivity (ILP), and water productivity in terms of crude protein and metabolizable energy (WP.CP and WP.ME) of Napier grass. The experiment used 10 farmers’ plots each with a size of 100 m2. Half of the plots were treated using farmers’ scheduling while the other half were treated using climate-based irrigation scheduling. Monitoring of irrigation water use and crop yield took place over two irrigation seasons from November 2020 to June 2021. Results showed there was an interaction effect of irrigation management (p = 0.019) and water-lifting technologies (p = 0.016) with season on DMY. The highest DMY occurred in the first irrigation season with climate-based scheduling and solar Majipump use. The interaction effect of irrigation management and season affected WP (p = 0.047). Climate-based scheduling had a higher WP in the first season, while farmers’ scheduling had a higher WP during the second season. On average, the solar Majipump outperformed the pulley, achieving 5 kg m−3 WP compared to the pulley’s 4 kg m−3 (p = 0.018). Emphasizing the seasonal impact, it is recommended to promote full irrigation (climate-based) in the first season for maximum yield and WP. Conversely, in the second season, advocating only deficit irrigation is advised due to water scarcity and sustainability concerns. Statistical parity in DMY and lower WP with full irrigation in the second season supports this recommendation, addressing the challenge of optimizing water use in the context of a changing climate and ensuring sustainable smallholder agriculture practices. Therefore, implementing appropriate irrigation management alongside efficient water-lifting technologies holds the potential to enhance fodder productivity and bolster smallholder farmers’ livelihoods. Future research should explore the comparative benefits of irrigated fodder versus other crops and the overall advantages of investing in irrigated fodder over vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Irrigation)
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14 pages, 3395 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Light Intensity on the Chlorogenic Acid Biosynthesis Pathway in Marsdenia tenacissima
by Hengling Meng, Ying Li, Bingyue Lu, Wei Zhang, Xian Shi, Hongbo Fu and Guangqiang Long
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1063; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051063 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 421
Abstract
The goal of this study was to understand the effect of light intensity on the chlorogenic acid content and biosynthesis-related gene expression in Marsdenia tenacissima. In this study, M. tenacissima plants were treated with different light intensities; the chlorogenic acid content was [...] Read more.
The goal of this study was to understand the effect of light intensity on the chlorogenic acid content and biosynthesis-related gene expression in Marsdenia tenacissima. In this study, M. tenacissima plants were treated with different light intensities; the chlorogenic acid content was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography; and transcriptome sequencing was performed. The amount of chlorogenic acid in the control was the highest and differed significantly from that under three different shading treatments. With a decrease in light intensity, the content of chlorogenic acid also showed a decreasing trend. A total of 1149 differentially expressed genes were identified by transcriptome sequencing, and most of the genes were down-regulated under the 90% shading treatment. A weighted gene co-expression network analysis identified the differentially expressed genes associated with light-induced chlorogenic acid biosynthesis. The different shading treatments down-regulated the expression of the chlorogenic acid biosynthesis pathway structural genes (HCTs). The MIKC family genes were the main transcription factors regulating light-induced chlorogenic acid biosynthesis, but the MYB and SBP family genes were also involved. In summary, combined physiological and transcriptome analysis, candidate structural genes, and transcription factors in the biosynthesis pathway of chlorogenic acid were identified in M. tenacissima. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant-Crop Biology and Biochemistry)
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11 pages, 2629 KiB  
Article
In Vitro Screening of Endophytic Micromonospora Strains Associated with White Clover for Antimicrobial Activity against Phytopathogenic Fungi and Promotion of Plant Growth
by Wojciech Sokołowski, Sylwia Wdowiak-Wróbel, Monika Marek-Kozaczuk and Michał Kalita
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1062; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051062 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Bacteria belonging to the genus Micromonospora are recognized as microorganisms with the potential to be used in biotechnology processes, given their beneficial influence on plant growth and the biocontrol of phytopathogens. In this study, nineteen Micromonospora isolates originating from the root nodules of [...] Read more.
Bacteria belonging to the genus Micromonospora are recognized as microorganisms with the potential to be used in biotechnology processes, given their beneficial influence on plant growth and the biocontrol of phytopathogens. In this study, nineteen Micromonospora isolates originating from the root nodules of white clover plants were taxonomically assigned based on the phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene and four housekeeping genes. The antifungal properties of the bacteria against phytopathogenic Botrytis cinerea, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium equiseti, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and Verticillium albo-atrum were tested with the agar plug test and the dual culture test. The ability to produce various metallophores was determined with the agar plug diffusion test on modified chrome azurol S (CAS) agar medium. International Streptomyces Project-2 medium (ISP2) broth amended with 0.2% L-tryptophan was used to indicate the bacterial ability to produce auxins. The strains belonging to M. tulbaghiae, M. inaquosa, and M. violae showed in vitro potential as antimicrobial agents against the tested fungi. M. inaquosa strain 152, M. violae strain 126, M. violae strain 66, and M. violae strain 45 were recognized as the most efficient metallophore producers. M. alfalfae strain 55 and M. lupini strain 5052 were identified as the most promising auxin compound producers and, therefore, show potential as plant-growth-promoting bacteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research Progress on Pathogenicity of Fungi in Crops—2nd Edition)
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14 pages, 2614 KiB  
Article
Genetic Map Construction and Primary Quantitative Trait Locus Analysis of Low-Light-Stress-Related Traits in Cucumber
by Dandan Li, Shaofeng Linghu, Yuting Zhang, Siwen Song, Jiawen Cao, Kaihong Hu, Yanzhao Zhang, Fushun Yu and Yehui Han
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1061; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051061 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 462
Abstract
To ascertain the effect of low-light stress (80 μmol·m−2·s−1) on cucumbers, we report on improving and breeding low-light-tolerant varieties by mining genes related to low-light tolerance. In this study, the quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping of cucumber plant height [...] Read more.
To ascertain the effect of low-light stress (80 μmol·m−2·s−1) on cucumbers, we report on improving and breeding low-light-tolerant varieties by mining genes related to low-light tolerance. In this study, the quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping of cucumber plant height and internode length under low-light stress was conducted using the F2 population, employing specific-length amplified fragment sequencing (SLAF-seq) and phenotypic analysis. A genetic map with a total length of 1114.29 c M was constructed from 1,076,599 SNPs, and 2233 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were distributed on seven linked groups, with an average map distance of 0.50 c M. Two QTLs related to plant height, CsPlH5.1 and CsPlH6.1, were detected on Chr.5 and Chr.6, with a cumulative contribution rate of 16.33%. The contribution rate (PVE), max LOD value, additive effect (ADD), and dominant effect (DOM) of CsPlH5.1 were 9.446%, 4.013, 1.005, and 0.563, respectively. CsPlH5.1 was located between 4,812,907 and 5,159,042 in the Gy14_V2.0 genome of cucumber, with a genetic distance of 0.32 Mb; the interval contained 41 candidate genes, and CsPlH6.1 was found to be located between Marker537985 (171.10 c M) and Marker537984 (171.55 c M), a range containing only one candidate gene. A total of 42 candidate genes related to photosynthesis, chloroplast development, abiotic stress, and plant growth were found in the location range associated with plant height. Simultaneously, a QTL (Csnd2_NdL6.1) for the second internode length was detected, and the max LOD, ADD, and DOM values were 5.689, 0.384, and −0.19, respectively. Csnd2_NdL6.1 was located between 29,572,188 and 29,604,215, with 0.03 Mb on Chr.6 including seven candidate genes. The molecular function of the CsGy6G032300 gene is involved with the binding of calcium ions, which may be related to the elongation and growth of plants; however, the population needs to be further expanded for acceptable localization verification. The results of this study provide a preliminary basis for the mining of essential genes of cucumber’s low-light tolerance and identifying low-light-tolerance genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Vegetable Breeding, Genetics and Genomics)
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15 pages, 1100 KiB  
Article
Effects of Cultivation Years on the Distribution of Nitrogen and Base Cations in 0–7 m Soil Profiles of Plastic-Greenhouse Pepper
by Haofeng Lv, Zhongjun Pang, Fei Chen, Hongxu Ji, Weixuan Wang, Weiwei Zhou, Jing Dong, Junliang Li and Bin Liang
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1060; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051060 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 561
Abstract
To clarify the migration and accumulation of nitrogen (N), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and potassium (K) in soil profiles of plastic-greenhouse vegetable fields with cultivation years, soil samples from the 0–7 m soil profiles were collected from 10 pepper greenhouses with 10 and [...] Read more.
To clarify the migration and accumulation of nitrogen (N), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and potassium (K) in soil profiles of plastic-greenhouse vegetable fields with cultivation years, soil samples from the 0–7 m soil profiles were collected from 10 pepper greenhouses with 10 and 20 years planting history, and parallel soil samples were taken from adjacent wheat-maize fields as controls. The results showed that: (1) Compared with wheat-maize fields, the total N amount in the 0–7 m soil layers from the greenhouses increased by 6.19 ± 1.16 and 9.11 ± 3.43 t ha−1 at 10 and 20 years, respectively, accounting for about 30.4% and 17.5% of the N input. (2) The N amount that entered the environment outside the 0–7 m soil layers were 6.95 t ± 2.76 and 29.10 ± 10.14 t ha−1 after 10 and 20 years of continuous planting, accounting for approximately 34.2% and 55.9% of the N input, respectively. (3) The concentration of water-soluble Ca and Mg in the 0–7 m soil layers increased significantly with cultivation years, and correlated positively with mineral N concentration. (4) Moreover, K mainly accumulates in the form of non-exchangeable K in the surface layers (0–50 cm). Our results demonstrated that huge amounts of N migrate to the deep soil with the extension of cultivation years in plastic-greenhouse pepper production systems, accompanied by significant leaching of Ca and Mg, while K mainly accumulates in the surface layers. Full article
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20 pages, 5714 KiB  
Article
Thymol Deploys Multiple Antioxidative Systems to Suppress ROS Accumulation in Chinese Cabbage Seedlings under Saline Stress
by Changwei Sun, Jian Chen, Lanlan Wang, Jiajun Li, Zhiqi Shi, Lifei Yang and Xiangyang Yu
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1059; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051059 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 391
Abstract
Developing biostimulants is a promising approach for sustainable agriculture under a saline environment. Thymol is a plant-derived compound with a potential antioxidative capacity. However, little is known about whether and how the antioxidative property of thymol plays a role in inducing plant tolerance [...] Read more.
Developing biostimulants is a promising approach for sustainable agriculture under a saline environment. Thymol is a plant-derived compound with a potential antioxidative capacity. However, little is known about whether and how the antioxidative property of thymol plays a role in inducing plant tolerance against abiotic stresses. Here, we find that thymol induces saline tolerance in Chinese cabbage seedlings via enhancing the antioxidative capacity. Treatment with NaCl (100 mM) decreased the seedling fresh weight by 59.9% as compared to a control. Thymol at 20 μM showed the greatest effect on promoting seedling growth under saline stress, with the seedling fresh weight being increased by 71.0% as compared to NaCl treatment. Thymol remarkably decreased the overaccumulation of ROS (hydrogen peroxide and a superoxide radical); cell membrane damage (evaluated by lipid oxidation, membrane integrity, and relative conductivity); and cell death in seedlings under saline stress. Thymol induced three antioxidative systems to lower the ROS level in salt-treated seedlings. First, thymol remarkably activated a set of antioxidative enzymes, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase), APX (ascorbate peroxidase), CAT (catalase), and POD (peroxidase). Second, thymol balanced the cellular redox status by increasing the ratio of AsA/DHA (ascorbic acid/dehydroascorbic acid) and GSH/GSSG (glutathione/oxidized glutathione). Third, thymol significantly enhanced the level-two kinds of antioxidants (total phenol and flavonoid). All of these physiological responses were observed in both the shoots and the roots. In sum, thymol deploys multiple antioxidative systems to help Chinese cabbage seedlings against saline stress. Such findings suggest that thymol has great potential to be developed as a novel biostimulant enhancing crop tolerance against saline stress. Full article
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23 pages, 14264 KiB  
Article
Study on Water and Salt Transport Characteristics of Sunflowers under Different Irrigation Amounts in the Yellow River Irrigation Area
by Changfu Tong, Rui He, Jun Wang and Hexiang Zheng
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1058; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051058 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 391
Abstract
The control of irrigation volume is of significant importance in arid regions of northwest China. Particularly, it has a crucial impact on the salinization of shallow groundwater areas. In 2022 and 2023, field experiments were conducted to test three distinct under-membrane irrigation treatments. [...] Read more.
The control of irrigation volume is of significant importance in arid regions of northwest China. Particularly, it has a crucial impact on the salinization of shallow groundwater areas. In 2022 and 2023, field experiments were conducted to test three distinct under-membrane irrigation treatments. These treatments were assigned water quotas of HW (27 mm), MW (22.5 mm), and LW (18 mm). The HYDRUS-2D model was integrated with a field experiment to accurately simulate the dynamic fluctuations of soil water and salt in the sunflower root zone. The model’s performance was assessed and verified using real-field data from 2022 and 2023, and the simulation results closely matched the measured values. This research also used stable hydroxide isotopes to assess the water supply from various soil layers at different time intervals in sunflower plants. The results indicated that the three different levels of irrigation applied under the membrane had a significant impact on soil water content. Specifically, there was a significant difference in soil water content at a depth of 0–40 cm (p < 0.05), while there was little effect on the water content at a depth of 40–60 cm (p > 0.05). After irrigation, the average salt content in the top 0–20 cm of soil decreased by 7.0% compared to the medium and low irrigation levels, and by 10.8% compared to the medium irrigation level. Additionally, the medium irrigation level resulted in a 10.8% decrease in salt content compared to the low irrigation level, and a 4.1% decrease compared to the medium irrigation level. During the same period, the soil salinity levels at depths of 0–20 cm, 20–40 cm, 40–60 cm, and 60–100 cm in the area outside the membrane were measured to be 2.7~4.8 g·kg−1, 2.8~4.0 g·kg−1, 2.7~3.4 g·kg−1, and 1.7~2.6 g·kg−1, respectively. These levels decreased by 13.1~55.5%, 0.7~42.8%, −0.4~16.2%, and −72.7~7.5%, respectively. Following irrigation, the HW treatment mostly absorbed water in the 0–40 cm soil layer, while the MW and LW treatments absorbed water in both the 0–40 cm and 60–80 cm soil levels. The results indicated that the most optimal drip irrigation method beneath the membrane in this location was achieved when the amount of water applied was between 25–30 mm. This method demonstrated a combination of water conservation, high crop yield, and effective salt suppression. Full article
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Article
An Intelligent Detection System for Wheat Appearance Quality
by Junling Liang, Jianpin Chen, Meixuan Zhou, Heng Li, Yiheng Xu, Fei Xu, Liping Yin and Xinyu Chai
Agronomy 2024, 14(5), 1057; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agronomy14051057 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 392
Abstract
In the realm of commercial trade, the appearance quality of wheat is a crucial metric for assessing its value and grading. Traditionally, evaluating wheat appearance quality is a manual process conducted by inspectors, which is time-consuming, laborious, and error-prone. In this research, we [...] Read more.
In the realm of commercial trade, the appearance quality of wheat is a crucial metric for assessing its value and grading. Traditionally, evaluating wheat appearance quality is a manual process conducted by inspectors, which is time-consuming, laborious, and error-prone. In this research, we developed an intelligent detection system for wheat appearance quality, leveraging state-of-the-art neural network technology for the efficient and standardized assessment of wheat appearance quality. Our system was meticulously crafted, integrating high-performance hardware components and sophisticated software solutions. Central to its functionality is a detection model built upon multi-grained convolutional neural networks. This innovative setup allows for the swift and precise evaluation and categorization of wheat quality. Remarkably, our system achieved an exceptional overall recognition accuracy rate of 99.45% for wheat grain categories, boasting a recognition efficiency that was approximately five times faster than manual recognition processes. This groundbreaking system serves as a valuable tool for assisting inspectors, offering technical support for customs quarantine, grain reserves, and food safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue In-Field Detection and Monitoring Technology in Precision Agriculture)
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