Special Issue "Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture"

A special issue of AgriEngineering (ISSN 2624-7402).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marcello Biocca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CREA – Research Centre for Engineering and Agro-food Processing, Monterotondo (Rome), Italy
Interests: agricultural engineering; crop protection; agricultural mechanization; health and safety in agriculture
Dr. Maurizio Cutini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CREA – Research Centre for Engineering and Agro-food Processing, Treviglio (BG), Italy
Interests: ergonomics and safety of agricultural machines and equipment; precision farming; agricultural tires; agricultural tractors; energy efficiency in agriculture
Dr. Elio Romano
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research, Economics-Research Centre for Engineering and Agro-Food Processing, CREA-IT, 24047 Treviglio Bergamo, Italy
Interests: precision agriculture; image analysis; environmental impact; energy consumption
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to contribute to a Special Issue in the MDPI journal AgriEngineering.

The title of the Issue will be “Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture”.
Contemporary agricultural systems are now facing an amazing availability of new technologies that are derived mostly from the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sector. These technologies, together with digital and advanced mechanical devices, have seen a constant and fast diffusion. At the same time, global threats such as climate change, soil and water pollution, economic crisis, and social inequalities are undermining the traditional agricultural systems.

New technologies can offer a potential remediation to these threats, making it possible to maintain, stabilize, or enhance agricultural production with a more targeted, suitable or reduced use of input to decrease the environmental impact and to improve the farmers’ profit.

In this scenario, the evaluation of any novel technology in the existing agricultural systems seems to be a crucial point of understanding and knowledge. Future technologies will need to address emerging issues in land use, decline in work force, and increasing concerns for food safety and the environment. Both the development of a technology (largely driven by a need to address a problem) and its adoption need to be carefully evaluated. In particular, the adoption of a technology is linked with complex drivers of agricultural systems, including social, political, and economic.
Therefore, evaluation shall include the assessment, comparison, appraisal, or measurement of sustainability, economic aspects, and efficacy of the studied or adopted innovative solution.

The following are some of the topics proposed for this Special Issue (not an exhaustive list):

  • Evaluation of the environmental sustainability of new technologies;
  • Evaluation of new technologies at different scales: field, farm, region, globe;
  • Monitoring of production-related factors (plant phenotype, soil characteristics, etc.) ;
  • Modelling information obtained from new monitoring technologies;
  • Adoption and penetration of new technologies in agriculture, including psychological and social aspects;
  • Economic evaluation of new technologies;
  • Evaluation of technologies, such as sensors and actuators, geo-positioning systems, aerial and terrestrial autonomous vehicles, robotics, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and cloud computing.

We hope you will contribute your high-quality research, and we look forward to reading your valuable results.

Dr. Marcello Biocca
Dr. Maurizio Cutini
Dr. Elio Romano
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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. AgriEngineering is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly 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 1000 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

  • precision agriculture
  • digital farming
  • technological drivers
  • advanced machinery
  • sustainability
  • precision livestock farming
  • LCA
  • DSS

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Development of a Lab-Scale Prototype for Validating an Innovative Pitting Method of Oil Olives
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(3), 622-632; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriengineering3030040 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 313
Abstract
In olive oil extraction processes, different operating methods used for the preparation of olive pastes significantly affect their rheological characteristics, as well as the extraction yields and qualitative characteristics of the oils. To enhance and improve the characteristics of high-quality EVOOs (Extra Virgin [...] Read more.
In olive oil extraction processes, different operating methods used for the preparation of olive pastes significantly affect their rheological characteristics, as well as the extraction yields and qualitative characteristics of the oils. To enhance and improve the characteristics of high-quality EVOOs (Extra Virgin Olive Oils), milling technologies have implemented olive pitting in the preparation of olive pastes to be processed for olive oil extraction. Commonly used pitting machines employ the percussion and centrifugal projection of drupes, which often involve the heating of pastes, breaking of kernels, and emulsion of oils. Aiming to improve olive oil pitting processes, the CREA Research Centre for Engineering and Agri-food Processing in Treviglio, Italy, has conceived an alternative method, which is based on the low-speed constriction and mutual abrasion of drupes inside a rotative working chamber. This paper describes the process that led to the hypothesis of an innovative pitting method and to the validation of the hypothesis through the development of a lab-scale pitter prototype. The development steps and the assessment of the results of the prototype trials are reported. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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Article
From Conventional to Precision Fertilization: A Case Study on the Transition for a Small-Medium Farm
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(2), 438-446; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriengineering3020029 - 16 Jun 2021
Viewed by 718
Abstract
At the CREA research facility of Treviglio (Bergamo, Italy), to provide farmers with valuable hints for the transition from conventional to precision agriculture, information on crop production dynamics (Maize and Triticale) has been obtained using real-time soil mapping (resistivity technique) and production quality [...] Read more.
At the CREA research facility of Treviglio (Bergamo, Italy), to provide farmers with valuable hints for the transition from conventional to precision agriculture, information on crop production dynamics (Maize and Triticale) has been obtained using real-time soil mapping (resistivity technique) and production quality and quantity monitoring with a commercial yield mapping apparatus. The geostatistical processing of data resulted in the same zoning for Triticale, meaning that the characteristics of soil influenced crop behavior more than the variability resulting from other factors, which suggests that improvements in product yields can be planned and achieved acting, for instance, on variable rate distribution of fertilizers. The importance of the acquired data can help farmers to manage factors that are external to their plots of land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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Article
Design, Development, and Performance Evaluation of a Power-Operated Jute Fiber Extraction Machine
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(2), 403-422; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriengineering3020027 - 13 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1006
Abstract
Jute is the golden fiber of Bangladesh, but its production is declining due to the involvement of higher production and processing costs, where a major portion of the cost is needed for fiber extraction. Labor unavailability and increasing labor cost have led to [...] Read more.
Jute is the golden fiber of Bangladesh, but its production is declining due to the involvement of higher production and processing costs, where a major portion of the cost is needed for fiber extraction. Labor unavailability and increasing labor cost have led to higher jute fiber production cost. To address these issues, this study looks at the development of a power-operated and cost-effective fiber extraction machine aiming at reducing the production cost. The study was conducted at the Rangpur regional office premises of Practical Action in Bangladesh, and the developed machine was branded as “Aashkol”, which had the following major parts: a feeding tray, a primary extraction roller, a secondary extraction roller, grabbing rollers, fiber collection stand, base frame, protection cover, and a spring-loaded tray under the primary extraction roller. The Aashkol can extract green ribbon from the jute stem, but jute sticks were broken down into smaller pieces (3–6 cm). The performance evaluation of the machine was conducted using different types of jute (Deshi, Kenaf, and Tossa) and compared with another jute extraction machine (KP model, introduced by Karupannya Rangpur Ltd.). The Aashkol-based extraction and improved retting systems were also evaluated and compared with traditional jute extraction systems. The jute stem input capacity (4.99 t h−1) of the Aashkol was 47.6% higher than the KP model (3.38 t h−1). Compared with the traditional system, across jute types, the Aashkol produced a 9% higher fiber yield and saved 46% retting time. Overall, the Aashkol reduced 90% of the labor requirement and saved 11.6 USD t−1 in jute fiber extraction and retting than the traditional method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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Article
Evaluation of Drift-Reducing Nozzles for Pesticide Application in Hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.)
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(2), 230-239; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriengineering3020015 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 790
Abstract
Spraying pesticides using air induction nozzles is a well-known method to reduce drift. These drift-reducing nozzles have been tested on many different tree crops (such as apples, citrus, and grapes), but we are still lacking information on their utilization on hazelnut (Corylus [...] Read more.
Spraying pesticides using air induction nozzles is a well-known method to reduce drift. These drift-reducing nozzles have been tested on many different tree crops (such as apples, citrus, and grapes), but we are still lacking information on their utilization on hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.) groves, although hazelnut is a major nut crop in Italy, and in recent years its cultivated area has been constantly growing. This paper reports a comparison between treatments carried out with cone and flat-fan low-drift nozzles versus two conventional nozzles. The distribution quality, the number of droplets per cm2 of the target area, and the drift in non-target trees adjacent to those treated were evaluated by analyzing the impact of the droplets on water-sensitive papers placed on the tree canopies. The results show that because no significative differences in terms of application quality were found between the tested nozzles, low-drift nozzles can be a good alternative to the standard nozzles to reduce the drift of pesticide applications in hazelnuts without altering the chosen distribution of the pesticide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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Article
Simulation and Evaluation of Heat Transfer Inside a Diseased Citrus Tree during Heat Treatment
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(1), 19-28; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3010002 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1382
Abstract
Heat treatment has been applied in previous studies to treat diseased plants and trees affected by heat-sensitive pathogens. Huanglongbing (HLB) is a heat-sensitive pathogen and the optimal temperature–time for treating HLB-affected citrus trees was estimated to be 54 °C for 60 to 120 [...] Read more.
Heat treatment has been applied in previous studies to treat diseased plants and trees affected by heat-sensitive pathogens. Huanglongbing (HLB) is a heat-sensitive pathogen and the optimal temperature–time for treating HLB-affected citrus trees was estimated to be 54 °C for 60 to 120 s from indoor experimental studies. However, utilizing this method in orchards is difficult due to technical difficulties to effectively apply heat. Recently, a mobile thermotherapy system (MTS) was developed to in-field treat HLB-affected trees. This mobile device includes a canopy cover that covers the diseased tree and a system to supply steam under the cover to treat the tree. It was proven that the temperature inside the canopy cover can reach the desired one (i.e., 54 °C) to kill bacteria. However, for HLB, the heat should penetrate the tree’s phloem where the bacteria live. Therefore, measuring the heat penetration inside the tree is very critical to evaluate the performance of the MTS. In this study, a heat transfer model was developed to simulate the heat penetration inside the tree and predict the temperature in the phloem of the diseased tree during the in-field heat treatment. The simulation results were compared with in-field experimental measurements. The heat transfer model was developed by a comparative analysis of the experimental data using the ANSYS software. Results showed that the temperature in the phloem was 10–40% lower than the temperature near the surface of the bark. Simulation results were consistent with experimental results, with an average relative error of less than 5%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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Article
Development and Testing of a Low-Cost Belt-and-Roller Machine for Spheroid Fruit Sorting
AgriEngineering 2020, 2(4), 596-606; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriengineering2040040 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1269
Abstract
Sorting is one of the most critical factors in the marketing development of fruit and vegetable and should be performed without any damage to the product. This article reports results of the development and testing of a prototype of a low-cost mechanical spherical [...] Read more.
Sorting is one of the most critical factors in the marketing development of fruit and vegetable and should be performed without any damage to the product. This article reports results of the development and testing of a prototype of a low-cost mechanical spherical fruit sorter based on a belt-and-roller device built at the State University of Tabriz, Iran. The efficiency and damage effect of the prototype of the machine was tested at different sorting rates on apples (Red Delicious and Golden Delicious) and oranges. Performance tests indicated that the speed of the feeding belt and transporting belt as well as the spherical coefficient significantly affect the machine’s sizing performance and damages. The results of the test showed a 95.28% and 92.48% accuracy in sorting for Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, respectively, and 94.28% for orange. Furthermore, the machine sorts fruits without any significant damage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluation of New Technological Solutions in Agriculture)
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