Agriculture

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EISSN : 2077-0472
Current Publisher: MDPI AG (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 2,021
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Published: 20 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060563

Abstract:
Estimation of plant canopy using low-altitude imagery can help monitor the normal growth status of crops and is highly beneficial for various digital farming applications such as precision crop protection. However, extracting 3D canopy information from raw images requires studying the effect of sensor viewing angle by taking into accounts the limitations of the mobile platform routes inside the field. The main objective of this research was to estimate wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) leaf parameters, including leaf length and width, from the 3D model representation of the plants. For this purpose, experiments with different camera viewing angles were conducted to find the optimum setup of a mono-camera system that would result in the best 3D point clouds. The angle-control analytical study was conducted on a four-row wheat plot with a row spacing of 0.17 m and with two seeding densities and growth stages as factors. Nadir and six oblique view image datasets were acquired from the plot with 88% overlapping and were then reconstructed to point clouds using Structure from Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS) methods. Point clouds were first categorized into three classes as wheat canopy, soil background, and experimental plot. The wheat canopy class was then used to extract leaf parameters, which were then compared with those values from manual measurements. The comparison between results showed that (i) multiple-view dataset provided the best estimation for leaf length and leaf width, (ii) among the single-view dataset, canopy, and leaf parameters were best modeled with angles vertically at −45° and horizontally at 0° (VA −45, HA 0), while (iii) in nadir view, fewer underlying 3D points were obtained with a missing leaf rate of 70%. It was concluded that oblique imagery is a promising approach to effectively estimate wheat canopy 3D representation with SfM-MVS using a single camera platform for crop monitoring. This study contributes to the improvement of the proximal sensing platform for crop health assessment.
Published: 20 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060566

Abstract:
In recent years, horticultural plants have frequently suffered significant heat damage due to excessive temperatures. In this study, a horticultural spray cooling system was designed, consisting mainly of a jet fan and spraying system. CFD simulation technology and response surface methodology were used to optimize the design of the jet fan, which improved the thrust of the fan. The length of the inlet section was 300 mm, the length of the outlet section was 300 mm, the length of the cone section was 450 mm, and the diameter of the outlet was 950 mm, where the thrust of the jet fan was 225.06 N. By establishing the CFD model of spray cooling in a tea field and designing a L9 (34) orthogonal experiment, the effect of the spray parameters on the maximum temperature drop and effective cooling distance was studied, and the best parameters were selected. The simulation results show that the optimum parameters are a spray flow rate of 4.5 kg/s, a droplet diameter of 15–45 μm, a droplet temperature of 298.15 K, and a nozzle double circle layout. Based on the simulation results of the optimized jet fan and spray parameters selected, a spray cooling test bench was established. Field test results show that when the initial ambient temperature was 310.05 K–310.95 K, the maximum temperature drop of the spray cooling fan was 9.1 K, and the cooling distance was approximately 36.0 m. The temperature drop decreased with increasing distance from the fan. This study is of great significance to protect horticultural plants from extremely high temperatures.
Published: 20 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060567

Abstract:
Common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) is a widespread legume crop in the Mediterranean mega-environment, due to its versatile uses and its compatibility with organic and low-input farming systems. However, its adaptation to various such environments should be studied and varieties suitable for forage yield must be selected. This study aimed to explore forage yield stability of common vetch varieties based on the stability index, with a specific target to explore common vetch variety behavior in various environments. Six Greek varieties of common vetch were used over four environments for two years. The cultivation was conducted using a strip plot with the varieties randomized within each plot in both conventional and low-input cultivation systems. (Alexandros) and (Tempi) varieties showed stability for days to 50% of flowering (index >4000), while (Pigasos) and (Zefyros) for fresh forage yield (>200) across environments. Combined estimations, also showed stability of (Pigasos) and (Zefyros) for fresh forage yield. Comparisons between the conventional and low-input farming systems generally showed minor differences but revealed varieties that exhibit stable performance even in the low-input farming systems, where stability is generally a little higher. The AMMI and GGE biplot analysis depicted the stability performance of the varieties regarding the traits under experimentation. As far as the fresh forage and dry matter yield, (Zefyros) was the most stable and productive variety over all others. Correlations between traits displayed the positive relation of fresh forage yield with days for 50% flowering and dry forage yield. Positive correlations may be proved useful for indirect breeding through traits with high stability leading to the selection of traits that show low stability.
Published: 20 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060564

Abstract:
Microalgae have long been used for the commercial production of natural colorants such as carotenoids and chlorophyll. Due to the rising demand for carotenoids and other natural products from microalgae, strategies to increase production efficiency are urgently needed. The production of microalgal biorefineries has been limited to countries with moderate climates. For countries with cooler climates and less daylight, methodologies for the efficient production of microalgal biorefineries need to be investigated. Algal strains that can be safely consumed as whole cells are also attractive alternatives for developing as carotenoid supplements, which can also contain other compounds with health benefits. Using such strains helps to eliminate the need for hazardous solvents for extraction and several other complicated steps. In this study, the mesophilic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was employed to study the effects of cold stress on cell physiology and the production of pigments and storage compounds. The results showed that temperatures between 10 and 20 °C induced carotenoid and chlorophyll accumulation in the wild-type strain of C. reinhardtii. Interestingly, the increased level of carotenoids suggested that they might play a crucial role in cold stress acclimation. A temperature of 15 °C resulted in the highest carotenoid and chlorophyll productivity. At this temperature, carotenoid and chlorophyll productivity was 2 times and 1.3 times higher than at 25 °C, respectively. Subjecting a mutant defective in lutein and zeaxanthin accumulation to cold stress revealed that these two carotenoids are not essential for cold stress survival. Therefore, cold temperature could be used as a strategy to induce and increase the productivity of pigments in C. reinhardtii.
Published: 20 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060565

Abstract:
Grain size affects the yield and quality of rice. The large grain line (LGL), showing a large grain size and japonica-like genome, was selected in the breeding field. The 94 F2 plants derived from a cross between LGL and Hanareum (a high-yielding tongil-type variety) were used for the quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis of grain length (GL), grain width (GW), and grain thickness (GT). A linkage map of the F2 population, covering 1312 cM for all 12 chromosomes, was constructed using 123 Fluidigm SNP markers. A total of nine QTLs for the three traits were detected on chromosomes two, three, four, six, and seven. Two QTLs for GL on chromosomes two and six explained 17.3% and 16.2% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. Two QTLs were identified for GW on chromosomes two and three, and explained 24.3% and 23.5% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. The five QTLs for GT detected on chromosomes two, three, five, six and seven, explained 13.2%, 14.5%, 16.6%, 10.9%, and 10.2% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. A novel QTL for GT, qGT2, was validated on the same region of chromosome two in the selected F3 population. The QTLs identified in this study, and LGL, could be applied to the development of large-grain rice varieties.
Published: 19 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060562

Abstract:
The results of this study provided accurate guidance on the possibility of using common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) in phytoremediation practices for mineral soil or organic soils contaminated with Cd or Pb. Based on a model pot experiment, the tolerance of buckwheat to elevated contents of cadmium and lead in organic and mineral soils was examined. The soils were differentiated into neutral and acidic, and amended with metals at doses of 10 mg Cd kg−1 DM and 100 mg Pb kg−1 DM of soil. The growth, development, biomass, translocation coefficient, and tolerance index (TI) of the tested plants were examined. The use of metals caused a weakening of plant growth and development, as well as intensified chlorotic and necrotic changes to the buckwheat leaves. The application of Cd caused a statistically significant decrease in shoot biomass. The plants growing in organic acidic soil were most vulnerable to Cd toxicity. The (TI) values confirm the generally low tolerance of buckwheat to Cd, except for the treatment in organic neutral soil, and the high tolerance of this plant to Pb in all the studied soils.
Published: 18 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060559

Abstract:
The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray) is a serious threat to beekeeping and crops that rely on honeybees for pollination. The small hive beetle not only causes significant damage to honeybees by feeding on pollen and honey, attacking bee brood and causing stored honey to ferment, but also might serve as a vector of diseases. In addition, the small hive beetle has developed resistance to the pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticides registered for control of honeybee pests in the United States. The development of resistance in small hive beetle populations is a great concern to the beekeeping industry; thus, there is an urgent need for strategies to manage that resistance. Therefore, we used synergist probes to determine the mechanisms of resistance in a small hive beetle population to these insecticides. Our studies on the toxicity of insecticides alone or with the synergists piperonyl butoxide (PBO) and S,S,S,-tributyl phosphorotrithionate (DEF) suggested that mixed-function oxidases and esterases were the major resistance factors to these insecticides in a studied population of the small hive beetle. In contrast, there was no synergism with diethyl maleate (DEM), triphenyl phosphate (TPP) and formamidine. Therefore, glutathione-S-transferase, carboxylesterase and target site were not involved in insecticide resistance in the small hive beetle. Rotation of classes of insecticides (with different modes of action) and metabolic synergists were suggested for the development of successful resistance management programs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of the mechanisms of resistance in small hive beetle populations in Florida and suggests an urgent need for alternative control strategies for these serious pests of honeybee colonies.
Published: 18 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060561

Abstract:
Rice straw is a byproduct of agricultural production and an important agricultural resource. However, rice straw has not yet been effectively used, and incorrect treatment methods (such as burning in the field) can cause serious damage to the environment. Studies have shown that straw returning is beneficial to soil, but there have been few studies focused on the effect of the amount of short-term straw returned on the soil microbial community. This study evaluates 0%, 50%, 75%, and 100% rice straw returned to the field on whether returning different amounts of straw in the short term would affect the diversity and composition of the soil microbial community and the correlation between bacteria and fungi. The results show that the amount of straw returned to the field is the main factor that triggers the changes in the abundance and composition of the microbial community in the paddy soil. A small amount of added straw (≤ 50% straw added) mainly affects the composition of the bacterial community, while a larger amount of added straw (> 50% straw added) mainly affects the composition of the fungal community. Returning a large amount of straw increases the microbial abundance related to carbon and iron cycles in the paddy soil, thus promoting the carbon and iron cycle processes to a certain extent. In addition, network analysis shows that returning a large amount of straw also increases the complexity of the microbial network, which may encourage more microbes to be niche-sharing and comprehensively improve the ecological environment of paddy soil. This study may provide some useful guidance for rice straw returning in northeast China.
Published: 18 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060560

Abstract:
The rapid development of cities in the recent 10 years caused a reduction in the cultivated land area, which only accounts for 14% of the total land area in China. Land development and reclamation have been regarded as an effective way to compensate farmland occupation. However, most of the newly reclaimed land has poor soil fertility and suitability; in some cases, the production capacity is only 10–30% of the occupied farmland. In order to ameliorate the soil quality of the newly reclaimed land, this study evaluated the effects of commercial organic fertilizer (0.75, 1.50, and 2.25 kg/m2), mushroom residue (1.50, 2.25, and 3.00 kg/m2), biogas slurry (150, 225, and 300 kg/m2), vegetable cake (0.30 and 0.60 kg/m2), and chemical compound fertilizer (37.50 g/m2) on the pH, moisture content and organic matter content (OMC), available phosphate, total nitrogen, alkaline hydrolysis nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen, and number of total bacteria and phosphate-solubilizing bacteria, as well as the growth of maize seedlings. The results from this study indicate that the soil quality (OMC is an indicator) was ameliorated by chemical and organic fertilizers, in particular commercial organic fertilizers, which caused a 9.35–16.35% increase in moisture content, a 11.56–18.72% increase in pH, a 1.73–2.15 fold increase in OMC, a 338.44–491.41% increase in available P, a 36.80–48.14% increase in total N, a 95.32–128.34% increase in alkaline hydrolysis N, a 92.57–178.38% increase in total bacterial numbers, and a 7.57–20.87 fold increase in microbial biomass carbon compared with the control. The pot experiment further indicated that soil amended with commercial organic fertilizers caused a 20.35–30.55% increase in the height and a 12.50–16.67% increase in the total dry weight of maize seedlings. In addition, representative strains with the ability to dissolve phosphorus and fix nitrogen were successfully isolated using the culture method, and were then identified based on colony morphological observation and 16S rDNA sequence analysis, which help us to not only understand why organic fertilizer has great effect on soil improvement, but also provides beneficial microbial resources for further study.
Published: 18 June 2021
Agriculture, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture11060558

Abstract:
Rice yield is a complex trait that is strongly affected by environment and genotype × environment interaction (GEI) effects. Consideration of GEI in diverse environments facilitates the accurate identification of optimal genotypes with high yield performance, which are adaptable to specific or diverse environments. In this study, multiple environment trials were conducted to evaluate grain yield (GY) and four yield-component traits: panicle length, panicle number, spikelet number per panicle, and thousand-grain weight. Eighty-nine rice varieties were cultivated in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions for two years. The effects of both GEI (12.4–19.6%) and environment (23.6–69.6%) significantly contributed to the variation of all yield-component traits. In addition, 37.1% of GY variation was explained by GEI, indicating that GY performance was strongly affected by the different environmental conditions. GY performance and genotype stability were evaluated using simultaneous selection indexing, and 19 desirable genotypes were identified with high productivity and broad adaptability across temperate, subtropical, and tropical conditions. These optimal genotypes could be recommended for cultivation and as elite parents for rice breeding programs to improve yield potential and general adaptability to climates.
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