Special Issue "Recent Advances in Technological and Agronomic Practices for Sustainable Agriculture"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Technology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 May 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mohsin Tanveer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart 2007, Tasmania, Australia
Interests: agronomy; farming system; stress management; environmental pollution; sustainable development
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Ejaz Ahmad Khan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Gomal University, DI Khan, Pakistan
Interests: weed managment; allelopathy; agronomy; intercropping; cropping systems; irrigation management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable agriculture is a kind of agriculture that specializes in generating long-term plants and cattle at the same time as having minimum outcomes on the surroundings. This kind of agriculture tries to discover a top balance among the demand for food production and the preservation of the ecological gadgets inside the environment. In addition to generating meals, there are several general goals associated with sustainable agriculture, consisting of holding water, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and selling biodiversity in plants grown and the ecosystem. Sustainable agriculture additionally specializes in retaining the monetary balance of farms and assisting farmers with improving their techniques and satisfactoriness of existence.

Innovative technology and agronomic practices refer to specific practices used to improve soil fertility, crop diversification, and plant protection, promote crop growth, and increase productivity. A range of innovative technological development farming practices, approaches, and technologies exist that can increase output and productivity, supporting sustainability. At the farm level, several innovations related to improving production techniques are continuously evolving—for example, use of growth models to predict and estimate nutrient use efficiency, radiation use efficiency and water use efficiency, tillage practices that promote seed germination, priming techniques to improve seed germination and seedling growth, foliar application to improve plant growth, organic fertilization to support crop demands in nutrients, and growth regulators that improve crop growth under stress conditions, cover crop or crop rotation to increase crop diversity in the field.

Agricultural intensification increases crop productivity but simplifies production with a lower diversity of cropping systems, higher genetic uniformity, and a higher uniformity of agricultural landscapes. Associated detrimental effects on the environment and biodiversity as well as the resilience and adaptability of cropping systems to climate change are of growing concern. Crop diversification may stabilize the productivity of cropping systems and reduce the negative environmental impacts and loss of biodiversity, but a shared understanding of crop diversification, including approaches towards a more systematic research, is lacking.

For this Special Issue on ‘Recent Advances in Technological and Agronomic Practices for Sustainable Agriculture’, we are ready to accept papers that enhance our understanding of novel technologies and practices to improve crop production and discuss opportunities for maximizing agricultural productivity. Moreover, critical review and research articles are more than welcome to address the potential role of different techniques and practices to improve crop diversification and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Mohsin Tanveer
Prof. Dr. Mirza Hasanuzzaman
Prof. Dr. Ejaz Ahmad Khan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Crop growth models
  • Radiation use efficiency
  • Tillage practices
  • Foliar application and seed priming
  • Novel cultivation techniques
  • Agricultural intensification
  • Cover crops and crop rotation
  • Sustainability of crop plants

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Computer-Vision-Based Approach for Nitrogen Content Estimation in Plant Leaves
Agriculture 2021, 11(8), 766; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11080766 - 11 Aug 2021
Viewed by 519
Abstract
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient element required for optimum crop growth and yield. If a specific amount of nitrogen is not applied to crops, their yield is affected. Estimation of nitrogen level in crops is momentous to decide the nitrogen fertilization in crops. [...] Read more.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient element required for optimum crop growth and yield. If a specific amount of nitrogen is not applied to crops, their yield is affected. Estimation of nitrogen level in crops is momentous to decide the nitrogen fertilization in crops. The amount of nitrogen in crops is measured through different techniques, including visual inspection of leaf color and texture and by laboratory analysis of plant leaves. Laboratory analysis-based techniques are more accurate than visual inspection, but they are costly, time-consuming, and require skilled laboratorian and precise equipment. Therefore, computer-based systems are required to estimate the amount of nitrogen in field crops. In this paper, a computer vision-based solution is introduced to solve this problem as well as to help farmers by providing an easier, cheaper, and faster approach for measuring nitrogen deficiency in crops. The system takes an image of the crop leaf as input and estimates the amount of nitrogen in it. The image is captured by placing the leaf on a specially designed slate that contains the reference green and yellow colors for that crop. The proposed algorithm automatically extracts the leaf from the image and computes its color similarity with the reference colors. In particular, we define a green color value (GCV) index from this analysis, which serves as a nitrogen indicator. We also present an evaluation of different color distance models to find a model able to accurately capture the color differences. The performance of the proposed system is evaluated on a Spinacia oleracea dataset. The results of the proposed system and laboratory analysis are highly correlated, which shows the effectiveness of the proposed system. Full article
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Article
Advantages of Amending Chemical Fertilizer with Plant-Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria under Alternate Wetting Drying Rice Cultivation
Agriculture 2021, 11(7), 605; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11070605 - 29 Jun 2021
Viewed by 939
Abstract
Chemical fertilizer (CF) is necessary for optimal growth and grain production in rice farming. However, the continuous application of synthetic substances has adverse effects on the natural environment. Amending synthetic fertilizer with plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) is an alternate option to reduce CF usage. [...] Read more.
Chemical fertilizer (CF) is necessary for optimal growth and grain production in rice farming. However, the continuous application of synthetic substances has adverse effects on the natural environment. Amending synthetic fertilizer with plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) is an alternate option to reduce CF usage. In this study, a field trial was undertaken in southern Taiwan. We aimed to investigate the effects of reducing CF, either partially or completely, with PGPR on the vegetative growth, biomass production, and grain yield of rice plants cultivated under alternate wetting and drying (AWD) cultivation. In addition, we aimed to determine an optimal reduction in CF dose when incorporated with PGPR for application in rice cultivation under AWD. The trial consisted of four treatments, namely, 0% CF + 100% PGPR (FP1), 25% CF + 75% PGPR (FP2) 50% CF + 50% PGPR (FP3), and 100% CF + 0% PGPR (CONT). A randomized complete blocked design (RCBD) with three replicates was used. A reduction in CF by 25–50% with the difference compensated by PGPR significantly (p ≤ 0.05) influenced the crops biomass production. This improved the percentage of filled grains (PFG), and the thousand-grain weight (1000-GW) of treated plants by 4–5%. These improvements in growth and yield components eventually increased the grain yield production by 14%. It is concluded that partial replacement of CF with PGPR could be a viable approach to reduce the use of CF in existing rice cultivation systems. Furthermore, the approach has potential as a sustainable technique for rice cultivation. Full article
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Article
Socio-Economic Impacts of Livelihood from Fuelwood and Timber Consumption on the Sustainability of Forest Environment: Evidence from Basho Valley, Baltistan, Pakistan
Agriculture 2021, 11(7), 596; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11070596 - 27 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 575
Abstract
Forests across the world are considered to be a huge socio-economic and environmental benefit to host and adjacent communities. This study focuses on assessing the impacts of fuelwood and timber consumption on the livelihood of households in the Baltistan region in Pakistan. Primary [...] Read more.
Forests across the world are considered to be a huge socio-economic and environmental benefit to host and adjacent communities. This study focuses on assessing the impacts of fuelwood and timber consumption on the livelihood of households in the Baltistan region in Pakistan. Primary and secondary sources of data were employed for the study. The primary sources involved the use of questionnaire survey and interview while the secondary sources involved the use of documented information in textbooks and internet materials. The study revealed that 82% of the people within the region were involved in agricultural activities, 71% depended on the extraction of forest resources for their livelihood, while 18% depended on off-farm activities for their livelihood. The study also observed that among the number that depended on forest resources for their livelihood, 59% were involved in the extraction of non-timber forest products while 41% were involved in the extraction of timber forest resources. The study further revealed that there was no significant difference in the level of benefits from the forest across the seven districts under investigation with a chi square value. The volume of forest products extraction was found to be high closest to the forest and to be low with increasing distance from the communities. The major benefits from the forest range were due to employment that increases the individual and family income. Forest also helps to control erosion and enhances aesthetic beautification and temperature regulation. The research suggests that the policy makers must provide a sustainable solution to reduce the overexploitation of the forest resources by providing better alternative earning resources to the resident communities. Full article
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Article
Field Decomposition of Corn Cob in Seasonally Frozen Soil and Its Intrinsic Influencing Factors: The Case of Northeast China
Agriculture 2021, 11(6), 556; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11060556 - 17 Jun 2021
Viewed by 519
Abstract
Returning corn cobs to the field during corn kernel harvesting is an effective way to improve soil properties and increase crop yield. However, seasonally frozen soil seriously hinders the field decomposition process of corn cobs. To explore the decomposition characteristics and promote field [...] Read more.
Returning corn cobs to the field during corn kernel harvesting is an effective way to improve soil properties and increase crop yield. However, seasonally frozen soil seriously hinders the field decomposition process of corn cobs. To explore the decomposition characteristics and promote field decomposition, in this study, the nylon mesh bag method was used to perform field decomposition tests for 150 days. Fiber composition analysis and microstructure observation were carried out. The results showed that the field decomposition of corn cob was influenced by temperature, precipitation, and frozen soil environment. The 150-day cumulative decomposition rates of the pith, woody ring, and glume were 40.0%, 24.2%, and 36.3%, respectively. Caused by the difference in fiber compositions, the decomposition speeds of pith and glume were much higher than that of the woody ring. The complex microstructures of the pith, woody ring, and glume led to differences in the accessibility of cellulose, which indirectly influenced the field decomposition characteristics. The homogeneous sponge-like structure of the pith and glume increased the accessibility of cellulose and ultimately accelerated the field decomposition, while the compact lignocellulosic structure of the woody ring hindered the decomposition process. Compared with corn stalk, corn cob had similar or even better field decomposition characteristics and excellent application prospects. Full article
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Article
Farming Systems Changes in the Urban Shadow: A Mixed Approach Based on Statistical Analysis and Expert Surveys
Agriculture 2021, 11(5), 455; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11050455 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 532
Abstract
Due to the growth of the “urban shadow”, farming systems in metropolitan areas (MAs) are characterized by specific environmental, economic, and social pressures. Urbanization pressure and its related threats, as well as the opportunities resulting from a convenient location close to consumers’ markets, [...] Read more.
Due to the growth of the “urban shadow”, farming systems in metropolitan areas (MAs) are characterized by specific environmental, economic, and social pressures. Urbanization pressure and its related threats, as well as the opportunities resulting from a convenient location close to consumers’ markets, cause rapid farming systems changes. The present study provides a quali-quantitative overview of change in farming systems in selected Polish metropolitan areas. Various statistical methods were applied to analyze changes in farming systems. First, farming system changes were characterized for the study area by the exploratory factor analysis. In addition, experts’ opinions (qualitative data) on changes in farming systems until 2027 are presented. The research conducted showed that there are a few main patterns in changes to/adaptations of farming systems: Horizontal growth of farms, farmland concentration, process of specialization (horticulture, orchards), trajectories towards more multifunctional farming practices (off-farm diversification, as well as “deepening” and “broadening” strategies), reduction of livestock farming, deintensification and farmland abandonment. Those processes vary in space, and they are only partially explained in terms of distance to the core city (location). Experts forecast that the identified trends will continue, paying attention to the growing importance of multifunctional agriculture and the intensification of recessive processes, including farmland abandonment and excessive deintensification of production. According to the experts surveyed, most farmers will continue to apply traditional development strategies, which will be ineffective without the possibility of increasing the area of farms. Full article
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Article
Adoption and Dis-Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture: A Case of Farmers’ Innovations and Integrated Fruit Fly Management in Kenya
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 338; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040338 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1085
Abstract
The invasive fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis poses a major threat to the production and trade of mango in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers devise different innovations to manage the pest in an attempt to minimize yield loss and production costs while maximizing revenues. Using survey [...] Read more.
The invasive fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis poses a major threat to the production and trade of mango in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers devise different innovations to manage the pest in an attempt to minimize yield loss and production costs while maximizing revenues. Using survey data obtained from Embu County, Kenya, we analyzed farmers’ knowledge and perception as regards the invasive fruit fly, their innovations for the management of the pest, and the determinants of their adoption and dis-adoption decisions of recently developed and promoted integrated pest management (IPM) technologies for suppression of the pest. The results show that farmers consider fruit flies as a major threat to mango production (99%) and primarily depend on pesticides (90%) for the management of the pest. Some farmers (35%) however use indigenous methods to manage the pest. Though farmers possess good knowledge of different IPM strategies, uptake is relatively low. The regression estimates show that continued use of IPM is positively associated with the gender and education of the household head, size of a mango orchard, knowledge on mango pests, training, contact with an extension officer, and use of at least one non-pesticide practice for fruit fly management, while IPM dis-adoption was negatively correlated with the size of the mango orchard, practice score and use of indigenous innovations for fruit fly management. We recommend enhancing farmer′s knowledge through increased access to training programs and extension services for enhanced adoption of sustainable management practices for B. dorsalis. Full article
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Article
Production and Molecular Identification of Interspecific Hybrids between Phaius mishmensis (Lindl. and Paxton) Rchb. f. and Phaius tankervilliae (Banks) Blume
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 306; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040306 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 456
Abstract
This study aimed at assessing the hybridization feasibility and evaluating genetic fidelity of the hybrid seedlings originated from Phaius mishmensis (Lindl. and Paxton) Rchb. f. and P. tankervilliae (Banks) Blume. Intra- and interspecific hybridization between Phaiusmishmensis (Lindl. and Paxton) Rchb. f. and [...] Read more.
This study aimed at assessing the hybridization feasibility and evaluating genetic fidelity of the hybrid seedlings originated from Phaius mishmensis (Lindl. and Paxton) Rchb. f. and P. tankervilliae (Banks) Blume. Intra- and interspecific hybridization between Phaiusmishmensis (Lindl. and Paxton) Rchb. f. and P. tankervilliae (Banks) Blume were examined to establish the primary hybrid, observe their cross ability and identify the F1 hybrids using sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers. Self-incompatibility and cross ability of P. mishmensis and P. tankervilliae were tested before starting the breeding program. Results showed that they were self-compatible orchids. The interspecific hybridization between P. mishmensis and P. tankervilliae was achieved with the highest pod setting (80%), seed germination percentage (94.8%) and the rate of protocorm development into mature seedlings (stage 6) (10.6%), but the smallest size of embryo with width 46.5 μm, length 67.3 μm was also observed when P. mishmensis was taken as the female parent. A comparative study on leaf morphology and anatomy of plantlets regenerated from intra- and interspecific hybrids of P.mishmensis and P. tankervilliae showed a transitional character to the parental species. Herein, the presence of interspecific hybrids between P.mishmensis and P. tankervilliae, as well as their reciprocal cross, was verified using Pmis524 SCAR markers developed by the decamer primer. Full article
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Article
Examining the Influence of Sludge from Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants Processed by Euphore Installations on the Quantity and Quality of Rapeseed and Soybean Production
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 278; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040278 - 24 Mar 2021
Viewed by 487
Abstract
Sludge management is a complex issue due to the environmental standards. It is required that the wastewater treatment activity be in close connection with the controlled recovery and storage of sludge. Thus, by using sludge in agriculture, nutrients essential for plant development can [...] Read more.
Sludge management is a complex issue due to the environmental standards. It is required that the wastewater treatment activity be in close connection with the controlled recovery and storage of sludge. Thus, by using sludge in agriculture, nutrients essential for plant development can be recycled and some soil properties can be improved. The purpose of this paper was to present some results on the influence of municipal sludge treated and processed in a Euphore plant on the quantity and quality of rapeseed and soybean production. This technology allows for the recovery of the constituents of phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, and copper. Our experimental data revealed that the obtained yield of Pioneer PT225 rapeseed hybrid was 5200 kg/ha in the variant treated with the Euphore process compared to that of the control variant at only 2356 kg/ha. For the Condor variety soybean crop, the highest average number of pods obtained per plant was 195.3 compared 88 pods per plant in the control variant. Thus, the sludge obtained from urban wastewater treatment plants processed using the Euphore method is a good source of macro and micronutrients in agriculture, without having a negative impact on the environment. Full article
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Article
Impact of Tillage and Crop Residue Management on the Weed Community and Wheat Yield in a Wheat–Maize Double Cropping System
Agriculture 2021, 11(3), 265; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11030265 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 693
Abstract
Weeds are often harmful to crop growth due to the competition for space and resources. A field experiment containing four treatments with three replications in a complete randomized design was conducted at Yucheng Comprehensive Experiment Station, Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2008 to [...] Read more.
Weeds are often harmful to crop growth due to the competition for space and resources. A field experiment containing four treatments with three replications in a complete randomized design was conducted at Yucheng Comprehensive Experiment Station, Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2008 to assess the impact of shifting from conventional tillage to no-till with crop residue management on weeds and wheat production at the North China Plain. We found that both aboveground weed density and species richness were higher under continuous no-till (NT) than conventional tillage (CT) in the regrowth and stem elongation stage of wheat growth. On the other hand, aboveground weed density in the stage of flowering and filling decreased with crop residue mulching. The density of the soil seed bank in crop residue removal treatments was significantly higher than that of crop residue retention. Besides, either crop residue mulching or incorporating into the soil significantly increased the wheat yield compared with crop residue removal regardless of tillage management. In conclusion, crop residue retention could decrease the weed density and species richness both aboveground and in the soil seed bank and inhibit the growth of broadleaf weeds by the residue layer. Moreover, crop residue retention could improve the wheat yield. Full article
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Article
Manganese Supply Improves Bread Wheat Productivity, Economic Returns and Grain Biofortification under Conventional and No Tillage Systems
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 142; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020142 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1304
Abstract
Manganese is an important essential micronutrient, and its deficiency causes latent health issues in humans. Agronomic biofortification can promisingly improve the plant nutrient concentration without changing the genetic makeup of plants. This study was designed to assess the best method of Mn application [...] Read more.
Manganese is an important essential micronutrient, and its deficiency causes latent health issues in humans. Agronomic biofortification can promisingly improve the plant nutrient concentration without changing the genetic makeup of plants. This study was designed to assess the best method of Mn application to enhance productivity and grain Mn contents under conventional tillage (CT) and no tillage (NT) systems. Manganese was delivered through seed coating (250-mg kg−1 seed), osmopriming (0.1-M Mn solution), soil application (1 kg ha−1), and foliar application (0.25-M Mn solution). A general control with no seed Mn application was included, whereas hydropriming and water spray were used as positive control treatments for Mn seed priming and Mn foliar spray, respectively. No tillage had a higher total soil porosity (9%), soil organic carbon (16%), soil microbial biomass carbon (4%), nitrogen (2%), and soil nutrients in the CT system. Manganese nutrition through various methods significantly enhanced the yield, grain biofortification, and net benefits for CT and NT systems. Averaged across two years, the maximum improvement in grain productivity was recorded with osmopriming (28%) followed by foliar application (26%). The highest grain Mn concentration (29% over no application) was recorded with Mn foliar applications under both tillage systems. Moreover, the highest economic returns and marginal net benefits were recorded with osmopriming. To improve the wheat production, profitability, and grain Mn concentration, Mn application through priming and foliar application may be opted. Full article
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Article
Repeated Application of Rice Straw Stabilizes Soil Bacterial Community Composition and Inhibits Clubroot Disease
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 108; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020108 - 31 Jan 2021
Viewed by 727
Abstract
Straw amendment can improve soil properties and is an effective strategy to control soil-borne diseases. However, gramineous straw application to vegetable fields has rarely been studied. In this study, rice straw was added to the field of Chinese cabbage for one or two [...] Read more.
Straw amendment can improve soil properties and is an effective strategy to control soil-borne diseases. However, gramineous straw application to vegetable fields has rarely been studied. In this study, rice straw was added to the field of Chinese cabbage for one or two years (repeated), and Chinese cabbage plant growth, disease occurrence and changes in soil chemical properties were measured. In addition, the bacterial community composition of Chinese cabbage was analyzed using Illumina MiSeq sequencing. Results showed that rice straw application increased the content of available nutrients, pH and electrical conductivity, but decreased the diversity and richness of the bacterial community. The relative abundances of Acidobacteria and Chloroflexi were increased after repeated rice straw application, which were associated with the available potassium and pH in the soil. Network analysis revealed that rice straw amendment differentially affected the key bacterial genera. These results suggest that repeated application of rice straw changed the soil chemical properties and altered the bacterial community composition to suppress the clubroot disease incidence in Chinese cabbage. Full article
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Article
Influence of Iron-Enriched Biochar on Cd Sorption, Its Ionic Concentration and Redox Regulation of Radish under Cadmium Toxicity
Agriculture 2021, 11(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11010001 - 22 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1111
Abstract
Cadmium (Cd), a potent heavy metal, causes a significant reduction in plant growth and its yield by interfering with the plant’s mineral nutrition and, primarily, by inducing Cd-induced oxidative damage. Cd mobilization at the soil–root interface is also very important in context of [...] Read more.
Cadmium (Cd), a potent heavy metal, causes a significant reduction in plant growth and its yield by interfering with the plant’s mineral nutrition and, primarily, by inducing Cd-induced oxidative damage. Cd mobilization at the soil–root interface is also very important in context of its bioavailability to plants. Therefore, an experiment was carried out to evaluate the mitigating role of iron-enriched biochar (Fe-BC) on Cd accumulation in soil and Cd toxicity in radish plants. Radish seeds were sown in pots, and two levels of Cd (0 and 0.75 mg kg−1) and two levels of Fe-BC (0 and 0.5%) were applied. Cd stress significantly reduced radish fresh and dry biomass production, which was due to high production of malondialdehyde (36%) and increase in cell membrane permeability (twofold) relative to control. Moreover, Cd stress considerably reduced chlorophyll concentrations and uptake of some essential nutrients, such as Ca, K, and Fe. Contrarily, Fe-BC application ameliorated Cd toxicity by triggering the activation of antioxidant enzymes (catalase and ascorbate peroxidase), primary and secondary metabolite accumulation (protein and phenolics concentrations), and by improving plant mineral nutrition under Cd treatment, compared with Cd treatment only. The ability of biosorbent material (Fe-BC) to adsorb the Cd ion on its surface and its immobilization from Cd-polluted soil to plant root was determined by using Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models. Interestingly, Cd concentration was found in soil as diethylenetriamine (DTPA)-extractable soil Cd on radish root, but not reported in radish shoot with Cd+Fe-BC treatment, compared to Cd treatment; suggesting that Fe-BC treatment has a potential to provide extra strength to the root and shoot, and plays an important role in regulation ionic and redox homeostasis under Cd stress. Full article
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Article
Development of Microwave Slow-Wave Comb Applicators for Soil Treatment at Frequencies 2.45 and 0.922 GHz (Theory, Design, and Experimental Study)
Agriculture 2020, 10(12), 604; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10120604 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 645
Abstract
In agriculture and industry, it is often necessary to heat surface layers of material like soil, timber, concrete, and so on, with microwave (MW) energy. Traditional MW irradiators (antennas) cannot restrain their heating to the surface, with the energy penetrating deeply into the [...] Read more.
In agriculture and industry, it is often necessary to heat surface layers of material like soil, timber, concrete, and so on, with microwave (MW) energy. Traditional MW irradiators (antennas) cannot restrain their heating to the surface, with the energy penetrating deeply into the material. Slow-wave comb applicators can provide the required energy distribution in the surface layer. Theoretical analyses of the comb applicators used for heating were carried out and on this basis, three comb applicators were designed and made for soil treatment: two applicators Comb 1 and Comb 2 for frequency 2.45 GHz and Comb 3 for frequency 0.922 GHz. An experimental study of applicators was carried out using two MW plants: 30 kW (2.45 GHz) and 60 kW (0.922 GHz) for heating soil with moisture content in the range from 32% to 173% and density 460 to 1290 kg m−3. The study showed that comb applicators provide the following advantages: reduction in energy dissipation in material depth and release of the significant part of applied MW energy in layers close to the applicator surface. Comb applicators can provide the required soil top layer treatment (sterilization) with reasonable efficiency and can be recommended for practical use in shallow soil treatment for weed seed and pathogen control in agricultural applications. Comb applicators can also be used for effective heating and MW treatment of the surface layers of wood, concrete, bricks, plastics, and other dielectric materials. Full article
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Article
The Effects of 1-Methylcyclopropene Treatment on the Fruit Quality of ‘Idared’ Apples during Storage and Transportation
Agriculture 2020, 10(11), 490; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10110490 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 921
Abstract
1-Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is applied as an inhibitor of ethylene action, which is widely used in postharvest technology to prolong the shelf life of many fruits. The aim of the study was to assess the possibility to apply 1-MCP treatment to maintain the quality [...] Read more.
1-Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is applied as an inhibitor of ethylene action, which is widely used in postharvest technology to prolong the shelf life of many fruits. The aim of the study was to assess the possibility to apply 1-MCP treatment to maintain the quality of ‘Idared’ apples for long-distance transportation. The studied apples were assessed in three groups: (I) 1-MCP postharvest treatment; (II) 1-MCP postharvest treatment with Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) selected gas permeability bags; and (III) control groups (with neither 1-MCP treatment, nor dedicated packaging). Apples were subjected to storage in the Ultra Low Oxygen (ULO) chamber that was applied for 0 weeks, 10 weeks and 20 weeks (three periods of storage); simulated long-distance transport (6 weeks); and simulated distribution, which was applied for 0 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 15 days (4 periods of distribution). The obtained 36 groups (three postharvest treatments per three periods of storage per four periods of distribution) were analyzed to assess firmness, total soluble solids (TSS) and titratable acidity (TA). There were differences between firmness values for control groups and those with 1-MCP applied, which were characterized by higher values of firmness (p < 0.05). Groups with 1-MCP and MAP applied combined were characterized by higher values of TSS than control groups (p < 0.05). The majority of groups with 1-MCP applied alone were characterized by higher values of TA than control groups (p < 0.05), but values for samples attributed to 1-MCP and MAP combined were not higher than for 1-MCP alone. It may be concluded that 1-MCP applied postharvest contributed to higher results of firmness and TA of ‘Idared’ apples after long-distance transportation, but combining 1-MCP with MAP did not contribute to further differences for TA. However, for TSS the observed influence was inconclusive. It may be stated that 1-MCP is a beneficial treatment for ‘Idared’ apples for long-distance transportation as it prolongs their shelf life and improves firmness. Full article
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Article
Indexes of Radicle are Sensitive and Effective for Assessing Copper and Zinc Tolerance in Germinating Seeds of Suaeda salsa
Agriculture 2020, 10(10), 445; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10100445 - 30 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 699
Abstract
Euhalophytes, such as Suaeda salsa, are ideal candidates to remediate heavy metal-polluted saline soils. However, the metal tolerance ability of dimorphic seeds and subsequent seedlings is largely unknown. This study investigated the tolerance of S. salsa seeds to different concentrations of Cu [...] Read more.
Euhalophytes, such as Suaeda salsa, are ideal candidates to remediate heavy metal-polluted saline soils. However, the metal tolerance ability of dimorphic seeds and subsequent seedlings is largely unknown. This study investigated the tolerance of S. salsa seeds to different concentrations of Cu2+ (0–300 mM) and Zn2+ (0–300 mM) during germination and seedling growth stages. Results showed that dimorphic seeds of S. salsa had high metal tolerance during germination, and even germinated under 300 mM Cu and Zn treatments. However, seedling growth was more sensitive to metal solutions and radicle growth was almost completely inhibited by Cu at 10 mM, and by Zn at 50 mM. Germinating seeds and seedlings of S. salsa had a higher metal toxicity threshold of Zn than that of Cu. In all indexes, indexes of radicle were the most sensitive and effective indicator of metal tolerance. Seeds of S. salsa germinated successfully and seedlings survived under high Zn and Cu stress. The results suggest that S. salsa could be sown directly in heavy metal-contaminated soils for phytoremediation. Full article
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Article
Comparative Study on Leaf Gas Exchange, Growth, Grain Yield, and Water Use Efficiency under Irrigation Regimes for Two Maize Hybrids
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 369; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10090369 - 20 Aug 2020
Viewed by 863
Abstract
Drought stress has been a great challenge for the sustainability of maize (Zea mays L.) production in arid and semi-arid regions. The utilization of drought-tolerant hybrids and proper irrigation regimes represent a management strategy to stabilize maize production under water-limited conditions. A [...] Read more.
Drought stress has been a great challenge for the sustainability of maize (Zea mays L.) production in arid and semi-arid regions. The utilization of drought-tolerant hybrids and proper irrigation regimes represent a management strategy to stabilize maize production under water-limited conditions. A two-year field experiment was conducted to assess the leaf gas exchange, growth, grain yield, and water use efficiency in two cultivars of maize, i.e., Zhengdan 958 (H1) and Zhongdan 909 (H2), under different water regimes, i.e., full irrigation (FI), reproductive irrigation (RI), and rainfed (RF). Plant samples were collected at different growth stages to measure the maize growth and development under the three irrigation regimes. The grain yield in RF was significantly reduced by 30.4% (H1) and 31.1% (H2); and the water use efficiency (WUE) by 8.5% (H1) and 9.3% (H2) compared with FI. On the other hand, irrigation application at the flowering stage was shown to significantly boost the grain yield by 40.3% (H1) and 25.5% (H2); and the WUE by 27.6% (H1) and 14.1% (H2) compared to RF. This indicated that H1 benefited more from irrigation use compared to H2. The improved grain yield through reproductive irrigation was due to the greater soil plant analysis development (SPAD), net photosynthesis, and biomass production when compared to zero irrigation. Zhengdan 958 was shown to be relatively more resistant to drought stress during flowering compared to Zhongdan 909. Thus, to achieve reliable maize production in Huaibei Plain, reproductive irrigation is recommended, combined with Zhengdan 958. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Agricultural Sustainability: Microbial Biofertilizers in Rhizosphere Management
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 163; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020163 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2086
Abstract
The world’s human population continues to increase, posing a significant challenge in ensuring food security, as soil nutrients and fertility are limited and decreasing with time. Thus, there is a need to increase agricultural productivity to meet the food demands of the growing [...] Read more.
The world’s human population continues to increase, posing a significant challenge in ensuring food security, as soil nutrients and fertility are limited and decreasing with time. Thus, there is a need to increase agricultural productivity to meet the food demands of the growing population. A high level of dependence on chemical fertilizers as a means of increasing food production has damaged the ecological balance and human health and is becoming too expensive for many farmers to afford. The exploitation of beneficial soil microorganisms as a substitute for chemical fertilizers in the production of food is one potential solution to this conundrum. Microorganisms, such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and mycorrhizal fungi, have demonstrated their ability in the formulation of biofertilizers in the agricultural sector, providing plants with nutrients required to enhance their growth, increase yield, manage abiotic and biotic stress, and prevent phytopathogens attack. Recently, beneficial soil microbes have been reported to produce some volatile organic compounds, which are beneficial to plants, and the amendment of these microbes with locally available organic materials and nanoparticles is currently used to formulate biofertilizers to increase plant productivity. This review focuses on the important role performed by beneficial soil microorganisms as a cost-effective, nontoxic, and eco-friendly approach in the management of the rhizosphere to promote plant growth and yield. Full article
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Review
Mechanism of Plant Growth Promotion and Disease Suppression by Chitosan Biopolymer
Agriculture 2020, 10(12), 624; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10120624 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2187
Abstract
The chitosan (CHT) biopolymer is a de-acetylated chitin derivative that exists in the outer shell of shrimp, shellfish, lobster or crabs, as well as fungal cell walls. Because of its biodegradability, environmental non-toxicity, and biocompatibility, it is an ideal resource for sustainable agriculture. [...] Read more.
The chitosan (CHT) biopolymer is a de-acetylated chitin derivative that exists in the outer shell of shrimp, shellfish, lobster or crabs, as well as fungal cell walls. Because of its biodegradability, environmental non-toxicity, and biocompatibility, it is an ideal resource for sustainable agriculture. The CHT emerged as a promising agent used as a plant growth promoter and also as an antimicrobial agent. It induces plant growth by influencing plant physiological processes like nutrient uptake, cell division, cell elongation, enzymatic activation and synthesis of protein that can eventually lead to increased yield. It also acts as a catalyst to inhibit the growth of plant pathogens, and alter plant defense responses by triggering multiple useful metabolic pathways. This review emphasizes the role and mechanisms of CHT as a plant growth promoter and disease suppressor, and its future implications in agriculture. Full article
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