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  Subjects -> AGRICULTURE (Total: 764 journals)
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AGRICULTURE (520 journals)

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Journal Cover European Journal of Agronomy
  [SJR: 1.488]   [H-I: 75]   [9 followers]  Follow
    
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1161-0301
   Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3039 journals]
  • From stakeholders narratives to modelling plausible future agricultural
           
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): Sylvestre Delmotte, Vincent Couderc, Jean-Claude Mouret, Santiago Lopez-Ridaura, Jean-Marc Barbier, Laure Hossard
      European farmers are facing challenges that call for important transformations on their agricultural production systems, including an increasing number of regulations aimed at reducing environmental impacts from farming practices. Climate change is also expected to affect agricultural production in most European regions, and in Southern Europe this effect is expected to negatively impact yields. In this study, we present the application of an innovative participatory approach to assess the potential of innovative agricultural systems to reconcile environmental sustainability with economic viability while contributing to local and global food security. Our approach consisted of combining (1) the participation of local stakeholders in the design of narrative scenarios, and (2) an integrated assessment of scenarios through the calculation of indicators at different scale with a bio-economic model. We tested our approach with a case study situated in the Camargue region of Southern France. Rice is currently the main crop in this region, but farmers there face adverse economic conditions linked to the recent reform of European Common Agriculture Policy. After identifying the main drivers of change, local stakeholders developed narrative scenarios and described how farmers would adapt within the context of those changes. These elements were then translated into model inputs. At the regional level, the four scenarios led to variations in farmland acreage (28,000–33,000ha), as well as the proportion of rice crops (19–75%) and areas cultivated under organic farming standards (8–43%). The four scenarios also led to different values for indicators of agricultural economic welfare, food production, and environmental impacts. Trade-offs between these indicators and the associated objectives assigned to agriculture were identified and discussed with the stakeholders. We end with a discussion of the limitations and advantages of our approach to the participatory development and assessment of locally developed narrative scenarios.

      PubDate: 2016-09-27T13:08:20Z
       
  • The farming system component of European agricultural landscapes
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): Erling Andersen
      Agricultural landscapes are the outcome of combined natural and human factors over time. This paper explores the scope of perceiving the agricultural landscapes of the European Union (EU) as distinct patterns of farming systems and landscape elements in homogeneous biophysical and administrative endowments. The focus is on the farming systems component of the agricultural landscapes by applying a typology to the sample farms of the Farm Accountancy Data Network and scaling up the results to the landscape level for the territory of the EU. The farming system approach emphasises that agricultural landscapes evolve from the praxis of the farmers and takes into account the scale, intensity and specialisation of the agricultural production. From farming system design point of view, the approach can be used to integrate the landscape in the design process. From a policy point of view, the approach offers handles to implement policies that design agricultural landscapes by targeting the farming system pattern.

      PubDate: 2016-09-27T13:08:20Z
       
  • Pig slurry fertilization in a double-annual cropping forage system under
           sub-humid Mediterranean conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): J. Ovejero, C. Ortiz, J. Boixadera, X. Serra, S. Ponsá, J. Lloveras, C. Casas
      In areas of Southern Europe with very intensive pig production, most of the pig slurry (PS) is applied as fertilizer. However, in the European Union, no more than 170kgNha−1 year−1 can be applied in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) from livestock manures. In this context, a six-year trial was conducted for a maize-triticale double-annual forage cropping rotation under rainfed conditions. Four different N rates were applied (0, 170, 250 and 330kgNha−1 year−1), to evaluate their effect on crop yield, N uptake, unrecovered N and soil nitrate content. The corresponding PS rates were defined as zero (PS 0), low (PSL) medium (PSM) and high (PSH). The annual average dry matter (DM) yields (maize+triticale) for the PS fertilization treatments PS0, PSL, PSM and PSH were 12.6, 17.7, 20.2 and 22.0MgDMha−1, respectively. Maize DM yield was influenced mainly by weather conditions, and triticale DM yield was clearly influenced by initial soil NO3 −-N and PS fertilization rates. Unrecovered N was affected by PS fertilization rate and initial soil NO3 −-N content. A residual effect of the PS when applied to maize had an important effect on soil NO3 −-N and subsequent triticale DM yield. Moreover, total annual average unrecovered N, considering the sum of both crops (maize+triticale), were 91, 144, and 222kgNha−1 in PSL, PSM and PSH, respectively. In order to avoid part of this unrecovered N, mainly by lixiviation of nitrates, PS fertilization in triticale should be applied as side dressing at tillering. The application of N, in the form of PS, at rates higher than the legally permitted maximum of 170kgNha−1 year−1, may result in better yields. However, high rates of PS fertilization may originate in significantly lower N use efficiency and a higher potential environmental impact in double-cropping systems, practiced in rainfed sub-humid Mediterranean conditions.

      PubDate: 2016-09-27T13:08:20Z
       
  • Effects of irrigation and nitrogen fertilization on the greenhouse gas
           emissions of a cropping system on a sandy soil in northeast Germany
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Benjamin Trost, Annette Prochnow, Andreas Meyer-Aurich, Katrin Drastig, Michael Baumecker, Frank Ellmer
      Irrigation induces processes that may either decrease or increase greenhouse gas emissions from cropping systems. To estimate the net effect of irrigation on the greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to consider changes in the crop yields, the content of soil organic carbon and nitrous oxide emissions, as well as in emissions from the use and production of machinery and auxiliary materials. In this study the net greenhouse gas emissions of a cropping system on a sandy soil in northeast Germany were calculated based on a long-term field experiment coupled with two-year N2O flux measurements on selected plots. The cropping system comprised a rotation of potato, winter wheat, winter oil seed rape, winter rye and cocksfoot each under three nitrogen (N) fertilization intensities with and without irrigation. Total greenhouse gas emissions ranged from 452 to 3503kg CO2-eqha−1 and 0.09 to 1.81kg CO2-eqkg−1 yield. Application of an adequate amount of N fertilizer led to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions compared to zero N fertilization whereas excessive N fertilization did not result in a further decrease. Under N fertilization there were no significant differences between irrigation and non-irrigation. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions from the operation, production and maintenance of irrigation equipment were mainly offset by increases in crop yield and soil organic carbon contents. Thus, on a sandy soil under climatic conditions of north-east Germany it is possible to produce higher yields under irrigation without an increase in the yield-related greenhouse gas emissions.

      PubDate: 2016-09-22T13:04:32Z
       
  • Methodology to design agroecological orchards: Learnings from on-station
           and on-farm experiences
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): Sylvaine Simon, Magalie Lesueur-Jannoyer, Daniel Plénet, Pierre-Éric Lauri, Fabrice Le Bellec
      Agricultural research has to tackle complex questions such as the design of sustainable cropping systems. System experiments are innovative approaches to address this challenge and a framework to iteratively design annual cropping systems has been proposed by Debaeke et al. (2009). However, specificities of some other cropping systems are not considered. Orchards are complex perennial agroecosystems formed of grass and tree layers aiming at the production of fresh fruit that require specific design and management over space and time. To identify orchard specificities and adapt the design framework to such perennial systems, we used two case studies of orchards aiming at decreasing pesticide use in temperate (apple, system experiment) and tropical (citrus, on-farm network) fruit productions. Specificities to take into account in the design framework are: (1) the spatial heterogeneity of the orchard with grass and tree layers, and tree rows and alleys; (2) the succession and interrelations among a young unproductive and then a productive stage; (3) the permanency of the fruit-tree crop constraining the management of soil fertility, (4) ground cover and (5) pest control, especially for pests that complete their lifecycle in the orchard and can build up important populations or inoculum across years. This is especially true in tropical areas where there is no dormant season. (6) Conversely, the permanency of the orchard habitats facilitates the sowing, planting or conservation of plant assemblages (e.g., ground covers, lining hedgerows) to enhance conservation biocontrol and/or compete weeds, provided non-disruptive practices are applied. Because of their longevity, orchards contribute to foster both plant-mediated (e.g., bottom-up) and natural enemy-mediated (e.g., top-down) processes in the foodweb to avoid direct measures against pests. Interactions among the orchard life stages, spatial and functional dimensions and practices need to be explicitly considered to optimize the efficiency of the system as a whole. Using the generic framework proposed by Debaeke et al. (2009) to design annual cropping systems, our framework includes adaptations to account for orchard specificities: (i) Agronomic objectives have to be fixed for each orchard stage; (ii) The cultivar choice and the composition and spatial arrangement of plants within the orchard are key elements to provide the expected services in the long term. This entails to include an additional step of perennial spatial design; (iii) Within-time and −space interactions have to be considered in the decisional system; (iv) Evaluation has to consider all the orchard stages in the global impact or performance, to account for carry-over effects and possible ‘paybacks’ of a given stage or period to the orchard whole lifetime. Last, to handle such complex interactions, design needs knowledge from many stakeholders in the food system (growers, advisors, scientists etc.) and requires more and renewed interactions among those stakeholders in a co-design process.

      PubDate: 2016-09-22T13:04:32Z
       
  • Radiation interception and radiation use efficiency of potato affected by
           different N fertigation and irrigation regimes
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Zhenjiang Zhou, Mathias Neumann Andersen, Finn Plauborg
      Three years of field experiments were carried out to explore the response of potato dry matter production, accumulated intercepted photosynthetic active radiation (Aipar) and radiation use efficiency (RUE) to five N levels providing 0, 60, 100, 140 and 180kgNha−1 and three drip irrigation strategies, which were full, deficit and none irrigation. Results showed that, irrespective of years, dry matter production and Aipar were increased by prolonged N fertigation, even though N fertigation was carried out from middle to late growing season. The highest total and tuber dry matter and accumulated radiation interception in all three years were obtained when potatoes were provided with 180kgNha−1. RUE on the other hand was not affected by N regime. Thus, increases in total dry matter production with increasing N levels were essentially caused by higher Aipar. The strongest response to N fertilization occurred when most N was applied early in the growing season and the latest N fertilization should be applied no later than 41–50days after emergence. Deficit irrigation, which received ca.70% of irrigation applied to full irrigation, did not reduce radiation interception and radiation use efficiency.

      PubDate: 2016-09-22T13:04:32Z
       
  • Differential effect of regulated deficit irrigation on growth and
           photosynthesis in young peach trees intercropped with grass
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Oswaldo Forey, Aurélie Metay, Jacques Wery
      The effects of a moderate soil water deficit on several shoot growth variables (1st and 2nd order shoot growth and final leaves number, final height and final number of 2nd order shoots) and on net photosynthesis were studied in young peach trees during the two years following plantation (January 2014). Trees were either fully irrigated (C), subjected to moderate water deficit (RDI) or subjected to moderate water deficit and associated with a grass-legume mixture on the entire orchard floor (RDI +G). Irrigation was scheduled according to soil water potential target ranges in order to keep C trees above −0.02MPa, i.e. at field capacity, and RDI and RDI+G trees between −0.04MPa and −0.06MPa. The level of water deficit obtained was moderate but yet significantly reduced by 50% overall tree growth in 2014 in RDI. This reduction was enhanced when water deficit lasted longer and when it was associated with grass in RDI+G. No reduction in growth variables occurred in RDI in 2015 due to the shorter duration of water deficit. Overall reduction was observed in 2015 in RDI+G mostly due to a carry-over effect of the previous year. Net photosynthesis was reduced by the longer and more intense water deficit in 2014, but was not reduced during the soil water deficit in 2015. An indicator of plant process sensitivity to water deficit, taking into account the variable reduction with regards to the control, the water deficit intensity and its duration was used to classify shoot growth variables and net photosynthesis according to their sensitivity to water deficit. Variables could be classified according to the following order of ascending sensitivity: net photosynthesis <1st order final leaf number<final tree height <1st order final shoot length <2nd order final leaf number <2nd order final shoot number <2nd order final shoot length. Applying a moderate water deficit combined with full grass cover drastically reduces overall tree size due to grass competition.

      PubDate: 2016-09-22T13:04:32Z
       
  • A model-based approach to assist variety evaluation in sunflower crop
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Pierre Casadebaig, Emmanuelle Mestries, Philippe Debaeke
      Assessing the performance and the characteristics (e.g. yield, quality, disease resistance, abiotic stress tolerance) of new varieties is a key component of crop performance improvement. However, the variety testing process is presently exclusively based on experimental field approaches which inherently reduces the number and the diversity of experienced combinations of varieties×environmental conditions in regard of the multiplicity of growing conditions within the cultivation area. Our aim is to make a greater and faster use of the information issuing from these trials using crop modeling and simulation to amplify the environmental and agronomic conditions in which the new varieties are tested. In this study, we present a model-based approach to assist variety testing and implement this approach on sunflower crop, using the SUNFLO simulation model and a subset of 80 trials from a large multi-environment trial (MET) conducted each year by agricultural extension services to compare newly released sunflower hybrids. After estimating parameter values (using plant phenotyping) to account for new genetic material, we independently evaluated the model prediction capacity on the MET (relative RMSE for oil yield was 16.4%; model accuracy was 54.4%) and its capacity to rank commercial hybrids for performance level (relative RMSE was 11%; Kendall's τ =0.41, P <0.01). We then designed a numerical experiment by combining the previously tested genetic and new cropping conditions (2100 virtual trials) to determine the best varieties and related management in representative French production regions. Finally, we proceeded to optimize the variety-environment-management choice: growing different varieties according to cultivation areas was a better strategy than relying on the global adaptation of varieties. We suggest that this approach could find operational outcomes to recommend varieties according to environment types. Such spatial management of genetic resources could potentially improve crop performance by reducing the genotype–phenotype mismatch in farming environments.

      PubDate: 2016-09-17T13:00:43Z
       
  • Screening chickpea for adaptation to water stress: Associations between
           yield and crop growth rate
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Lachlan Lake, Victor O. Sadras
      Robust associations between yield and crop growth rate in a species-specific critical developmental window have been demonstrated in many crops. In this study we focus on genotype-driven variation in crop growth rate and its association with chickpea yield under drought. We measured crop growth rate using Normalised Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI) in 20 diverse chickpea lines, after calibration of NDVI against biomass accounting for morphological differences between Kabuli and Desi types. Crops were grown in eight environments resulting from the combination of seasons, sowing dates and water supply, returning a yield range from 152 to 366gm−2. For both sources of variation – environment and genotype – yield correlated with crop growth rate in the window 300°Cd before flowering to 200°Cd after flowering. In the range of crop growth rate from 0.07 to 0.91gm−2 °Cd−1, the relationship was linear with zero intercept, as with other indeterminate grain legumes. Genotype-driven associations between yield and crop growth rate were stronger under water stress than under favourable conditions. Despite this general trend, lines were identified with high crop growth rate in both favourable and stress conditions. We demonstrate that calibrated NDVI is a rapid, inexpensive screening tool to capture a physiologically meaningful link between yield and crop growth rate in chickpea.

      PubDate: 2016-09-17T13:00:43Z
       
  • The relevance of N fertilization for the amount of total greenhouse gas
           emissions in sugar beet cultivation
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Kerrin Trimpler, Nicol Stockfisch, Bernward Märländer
      The agricultural sector is highly affected by climate change and it is a source of greenhouse gases. Therefore it is in charge to reduce emissions. For a development of reduction strategies, origins of emissions have to be known. On the example of sugar beet, this study identifies the main sources and gives an overview of the variety of production systems. With data from farm surveys, calculations of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in sugar beet cultivation in Germany are presented. Emissions due to the production and use of fertilizers and pesticides, emissions due to tillage as well as field emissions were taken into account. All emissions related to the growing of catch crops during fall before the cultivation of sugar beet were also included. The emissions are related to the yield to express intensity. The median of total GHG emissions of sugar beet cultivation in Germany for the years 2010–2012 amounted to 2626 equivalents of CO2 (CO2eq)kgha−1 year−1 when applying mineral plus organic fertilizer and to 1782kgha−1 when only organic fertilizer was applied. The CO2eq emissions resulting from N fertilization exclusively were 2.5 times higher than those caused by diesel and further production factors. The absence of emissions for the production of organic fertilizers led to 12% less total CO2eq emissions compared to the use of mineral fertilizer only. But by applying organic fertilizer only, there were more emissions via the use of diesel due to larger volumes transported (126l diesel ha−1 vs. 116lha−1 by applying mineral fertilizer exclusively). As there exists no official agreement about calculating CO2eq emissions in crop production yet, the authors conclude that there is still need for further research and development with the aim to improve crop cultivation and crop rotations concerning GHG emissions and the therewith related intensity.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-09-17T13:00:43Z
       
  • Effects of reduced nitrogen input on productivity and N2O emissions in a
           sugarcane/soybean intercropping system
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Shasha Luo, Lingling Yu, Yu Liu, Ying Zhang, Wenting Yang, Zhixian Li, Jianwu Wang
      A seven-year (2009–2015) continuous field experiment was established at the South China Agricultural University in order to identify the effects of sugarcane/soybean intercropping and reduced N rate on ecosystem productivity, yield stability, soil fertility, and N2O emissions. The randomized block experiment was designed with four cropping patterns (sugarcane monocropping (MS), soybean monocropping (MB), sugarcane/soybean (1:1) intercropping (SB1), and sugarcane/soybean (1:2) intercropping (SB2)) and two rates of N fertilization (300kghm−2 (N1, reduced rate) and 525kghm−2 (N2, conventional rate)). The results showed that the land equivalent ratio (LER) of all intercropping systems was greater than 1 (between 1.10 and 1.84), and the SB2-N1 optimally improved the land utilization rate among all treatments. The cropping patterns and N applied rates had no significant effect on sugarcane yield. The soybean yield was influenced by different cropping patterns because of different planting densities (4, 8 and 16 rows of soybean were plant under SB1, SB2, and MB, respectively) and was adopted in this experiment. In addition, under the SB2 cropping pattern, the soybean yield at the reduced N application rate was higher than that at the conventional N application rate. Wricke’s ecovalence (Wi 2), the sustainable yield index (SYI) and the coefficient of variation (CV) were used to evaluate yield stability. Different treatments had no significant effects on sugarcane yield stability, as demonstrated by three indicators (Wi 2, SYI and CV), which indicated that intercropping with soybean and reduced N rate had no effect on sugarcane yield. For soybeans, the value of Wi 2 demonstrated that the stability of the intercropping system was higher than its counterpart monocropping system, as SYI and CV values indicated that SB2 had higher stability than SB1. During seven years of experiments, there was no significant difference in the soil fertility between MS and SB patterns. The soybean monocropping had a higher available K, pH and lower available P content than sugarcane inter- and mono-cropping. Different cropping patterns had a slight impact on N2O emissions and the greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI) value. Higher N input promoted N2O emissions and increased GHGI values. In conclusion, the present study observed that a 40% reduced nitrogen input combined with intercropping soybeans could maintain sugarcane yield and soil sustainable utilization, and that higher N fertilizer additions induced negative impacts on greenhouse gases emissions. Sugarcane intercropping with soybeans can reduce chemical fertilizer input and simultaneously maintain crop productivity; thus, it can be considered to be a reasonable practice for field management.

      PubDate: 2016-09-17T13:00:43Z
       
  • Phenological response of spring wheat to timing of photoperiod perception:
           The effect of sowing depth on final leaf number in spring wheat
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): E.D. Meenken, H.E. Brown, C.M. Triggs, I.R. Brooking, M. Forbes
      Wheat phenological modelling literature suggests final leaf number (FLN) targets of wheat (Triticum aestivum) will be set only once daylight is perceived and will be based upon environmental and cultivar-specific genetics at that time. Development is thought to proceed relative to thermal time regardless of light perception prior to emergence. Modelled predictions of final leaf number (FLN) and thence anthesis are based on this mechanism. Results did not support this hypothesis, and we suggest and alternative hypothesis based on molecular interactions between vernalization genes Vrn1, Vrn2 and Vrn3.

      PubDate: 2016-09-17T13:00:43Z
       
  • Effects of different soil conservation tillage approaches on soil
           nutrients, water use and wheat-maize yield in rainfed dry-land regions of
           North China
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Yunhui Shao, Yingxin Xie, Chenyang Wang, Junqin Yue, Yuqing Yao, Xiangdong Li, Weixing Liu, Yunji Zhu, Tiancai Guo
      Excessive tillage compromises soil quality by causing severe water shortages that can lead to crop failure. Reports on the effects of conservation tillage on major soil nutrients, water use efficiency and gain yield in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) in rainfed regions in the North China Plain are relatively scarce. In this work, four tillage approaches were tested from 2004 to 2012 in a randomized study performed in triplicate: one conventional tillage and three conservation tillage experiments with straw mulching (no tillage during wheat and maize seasons, subsoiling during the maize season but no tillage during the wheat season, and ridge planting during both wheat and maize seasons). Compared with conventional tillage, by 2012, eight years of conservation tillage treatments (no tillage, subsoiling and ridge planting) resulted in a significant increase in available phosphorus in topsoil (0–0.20m), by 3.8%, 37.8% and 36.9%, respectively. Soil available potassium was also increased following conservation tillage, by 13.6%, 37.5% and 25.0%, and soil organic matter by 0.17%, 5.65% and 4.77%, while soil total nitrogen was altered by −2.33%, 4.21% and 1.74%, respectively. Meanwhile, all three conservation tillage approaches increased water use efficiency, by 19.1–28.4% (average 24.6%), 10.1–23.8% (average 15.9%) and 11.2–20.7% (average 15.7%) in wheat, maize and annual, respectively. Additionally, wheat yield was increased by 7.9–12.0% (average 10.3%), maize yield by 13.4–24.6% (average 17.4%) and rotation annual yield by 12.3–16.9% (average 14.1%). Overall, our findings demonstrate that subsoiling and ridge planting with straw mulching performed better than conventional tillage for enhancing major soil nutrients and improving grain yield and water use efficiency in rainfed regions in the North China Plain.

      PubDate: 2016-09-09T12:50:01Z
       
  • Review of yield gap explaining factors and opportunities for alternative
           data collection approaches
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): Eskender Beza , João Vasco Silva, Lammert Kooistra, Pytrik Reidsma
      Yield gap analysis is gaining increased scientific attention, as estimating and explaining yield gaps shows the potential for sustainable intensification of agricultural systems. Explaining yield gaps requires detailed information about the biophysical environment, crop management as well as farm(er) characteristics and socio-economic conditions in which farmers operate. However, these types of data are not always available, mostly because they are costly to collect. The main objective of this research is to assess data availability and data collection approaches for yield gap analysis, and to summarize the yield gap explaining factors identified by previous studies. For this purpose, a review of yield gap studies (50 agronomic-based peer-reviewed articles) was performed to identify the most commonly considered and explaining factors of the yield gap. Besides a global comparison, differences between regions, crops and methods were analysed as well. The results show that management and edaphic factors are more often considered to explain the yield gap compared to farm(er) characteristics and socio-economic factors. However, when considered, both farm(er) characteristics and socio-economic factors often explain the yield gap. Fertilization and soil fertility factors are the most often considered management and edaphic factors. In the fertilization group, factors related to quantity (e.g. N fertilizer quantity) are more often considered compared to factors related to timing (e.g. N fertilizer timing). However, when considered, timing explained the yield gap more often. Explaining factors vary among regions and crops. For example, while soil fertility is considered relatively much both in Africa and Asia, it is often explaining in Africa, but not in Asia. Agronomic methods like crop growth simulation models are often used for yield gap analysis, but are limited in the type and number of factors that can be included. Qualitative methods based on expert knowledge can include the largest range of factors. Although the data included in yield gap analysis also depends on the objective, knowledge of explaining factors, and methods applied, data availability is a major limiting factor. Bottom-up data collection approaches (e.g. crowdsourcing) involving agricultural communities can provide alternatives to overcome this limitation and improve yield gap analysis.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • Modelling soil tillage and mulching effects on soil water dynamics in
           raised-bed vegetable rotations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 1 September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): F. Alliaume, W.A.H. Rossing, P. Tittonell, S. Dogliotti
      Reduced tillage and mulching may bring about new production systems that combine better soil structure with greater water use efficiency for vegetable crops grown in raised bed systems. These are especially relevant under conditions of high rainfall variability, limited access to irrigation and high soil erosion risk. Here we evaluate a novel combination of empirical models on water interception and infiltration, with a soil-water balance model to evaluate water dynamics in raised bed systems on fine Uruguayan soils to analyze the effect of reduced tillage, cover crops and organic matter addition on soil physical properties and water balance. In the experiment mulching increased water capture by 9.5% and reduced runoff by 37%, on average, leading to less erosion risk and greater plant available water over four years of trial. Using these data we calibrated and evaluated different models that predicted interception+infiltration efficiently (EF=0.93 to 0.95), with a root mean squared error (RMSE) from 0.32 to 0.40mm, for an average observed interception+infiltration of 28.8mm per day per rainfall event. Combining the best model with a soil water balance resulted in predictions of total soil water content to 1m depth (SWCT) with RMSE ranging from 4.5 to 10.3mm for observed SWCT ranging from 180.4 to 380.6mm. Running the model for a four-year crop sequence under 10 years of Uruguayan historical weather revealed that reduced tillage required on average 141mmyr−1 less irrigation water than conventional tillage combined with organic matter application, thus enabling a potential increase in irrigated area of vegetable crops and crop yields. Results also showed the importance of inter-annual rainfall variability, which caused up to 3-fold differences in irrigation requirements. The model is easily adaptable to other soil and weather conditions.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • Estimation of litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) leaf nitrogen content at
           different growth stages using canopy reflectance spectra
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Dan Li, Congyang Wang, Wei Liu, Zhiping Peng, Siyu Huang, Jichuan Huang, Shuisen Chen
      The estimation of crop nitrogen status in fresh vegetation leaf using field spectroscopy is challenging due to the weak responses on leaf/canopy reflectance and the overlapping with the absorption features of other compounds. Although the spectral indices were proposed in the literature to predict leaf nitrogen content (LNC), the performance of selected spectral indices to estimate the LNC is often inconsistent. Moreover, the models for nitrogen content estimation changed with the growth stage. The goal of this study was to evaluate the performance of published indices, ratio of data difference index (RDDI) and ratio of data index (RDI) developed by band iterative-optimization algorithm in LNC estimation. The correlation analysis, linear regression and cross validation were used to analyze the relationship between spectral data and LNC and construct the best performed estimation model. The study was conducted by the data of five growing seasons of litchi from the orchards in Guangdong Province of China. Results showed that the relationship between chlorophyll (Chl) related spectral indices and LNC varied with the growth stage. Even in flower bud morphological differentiation stage and autumn shoot maturation stage, there were not significant correlations between the proposed spectral indices and LNC. Besides it is difficult to estimate the LNC by the general model across the growth stages due to the integrated effects of cultivar, biochemical, canopy structure, etc. The band iterative-optimization algorithm can improve the sensitivity of spectral data to LNC to some extent. The optimal RDDI performed better than other indices for the synthetic dataset and the dataset in each growth stage. And the sensitive bands selected in the optimal indices at each growth stage are not consistent, which are not only related to the Chl absorption but also other biochemical components, such as starch, lignin, cellulose, protein, etc. In general, the LNC can be estimated by the optimized CR-based RDDI indices in autumn shoot maturation stage, flower spike stage, fruit maturation stage, and flowering stage with the R2 >0.50 and RMSE<0.14. Although there were the significant relationship between RDIs and RDDIs in flower bud morphological differentiation stage, the highest R2s of the model developed by RDDIs and RDIs were less than 0.50 in cross validation. This study indicated that the applicability of canopy reflectance to estimate litchi LNC was closely related to the growth stage of litchi. Growth stage-specific models will be preferred for estimating litchi LNC estimation.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • A comparison of cardinal temperatures estimated by linear and nonlinear
           models for germination and bulb growth of forage brassicas
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): M.P. Andreucci, D.J. Moot, A.D. Black, R. Sedcole
      Forage brassicas are widely used as a supplementary feed in temperate pasture systems but there is a lack of quantitative data about their growth and development. Furthermore, numerous models are available to estimate cardinal temperatures but there is uncertainty about whether linear or nonlinear models should be used. Initially a germination experiment was used to describe the rate response of nine forage brassicas to temperature. Three models were compared to estimate cardinal temperatures and the two best models were used for thermal time (Tt) accumulation for three groups of forage brassicas. Cardinal temperatures, defined as the base (Tb), optimum (Topt) and maximum (Tm), differed among groups of species for the bilinear and Lactin models but were similar within a group of species for these models. In most cases, cardinal temperatures estimated by the bilinear and Lactin models for the B. rapa group ranged from 3 to 4°C for Tb, 31°C for Topt and 41 to 48°C for Tm. For the B. napus and B. napus biennis groups these temperatures ranged from 0 to 3°C for Tb, 29 to 33°C for Topt and 38°C for Tm. The B. oleracea group had temperatures from 0 to 1°C for Tb, 25 to 27°C for Topt and 35°C for Tm. A second data set based on hypocotyl thickening was used to estimate the base temperature (Tb) for bulb growth of turnips and swedes. Both models estimated an average Tb of 4.2°C for bulb turnips and an average of 3.7°C for swedes. The Lactin model was considered the most adequate model to describe temperature responses where as, in some cases, the bilinear model had to be modified to account for changes in the rate of development. More importantly, an appropriate range of test temperatures was crucial for the estimation of reliable cardinal temperatures, independent of the model used.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • Delayed permanent water rice production systems do not improve the
           recovery of 15N-urea compared to continuously flooded systems
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Terry J. Rose, Dirk V. Erler, Tania Farzana, Lukas Van Zwieten
      Crop recovery of nitrogen (N) fertiliser in flooded rice systems is low relative to fertiliser N recoveries in aerobic crops, and the N losses have environmental consequences. Recent water shortages across the globe have seen a move towards alternative water management strategies such as delayed permanent water (DPW, also known as delayed flood). To investigate whether N fertiliser regimes used in DPW systems result in greater recovery of N fertiliser than traditional continuously flooded (CF) rice systems, we conducted a multi-N rate field trial using 15N-labelled urea. Around 27% of the 15N-labelled fertiliser was recovered in aboveground biomass at maturity, regardless of water regime or N fertiliser rate, and approximately 20% recovered in the soil to 300mm depth. Plants in the CF system accumulated more total N at each rate of applied N fertiliser than plants in the DPW system due to greater exploitation of native soil N reserves, presumably because the earlier application of N fertiliser in the CF systems led to greater early growth and higher crop N demand. The greater crop biomass production as a result of higher N uptake in the CF system did not increase grain yields above those observed in the DPW system, likely due to cold weather damage. In the following season at the same site, a single N rate (150kgNha−1) trial found no significant differences in crop N uptake, biomass yields, grain yields or 15N-labelled urea recovery in DPW, CF and drill sown-CF (DS-CF) treatments. However, owing to higher 15N fertiliser recovery in the 0–100mm soil horizon, total plant+soil recovery of 15N was significantly higher in the CF treatment (63%) than the DS-CF and DPW treatments (around 50% recoveries). The loss of 40–50% of the applied N (presumably as NH3 or N2) in both seasons regardless of watering regime suggests that new fertiliser N management strategies beyond optimising the rate and timing of urea application are needed, particularly in light of increasing N fertiliser prices.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • Performance of DSSAT-Nwheat across a wide range of current and future
           growing conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Belay T. Kassie, Senthold Asseng, Cheryl H. Porter, Frederick S. Royce
      Crop models are widely used in agricultural impact studies. However, many studies have reported large uncertainties from single-model-based simulation analyses, suggesting the need for multi-model simulation capabilities. In this study, the APSIM-Nwheat model was integrated into the Decision Support System for Agro-technology (DSSAT), which already includes two wheat models, to create multi-model simulation capabilities for wheat cropping systems analysis. The new model in DSSAT (DSSAT-Nwheat) was evaluated using more than 1000 observations from field experiments of 65 treatments, which included a wide range of nitrogen fertilizer applications, water supply (irrigation and rainout shelter), planting dates, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, temperature variations, cultivars, and soil types in diverse climatic regions that represented the main wheat growing areas of the world. DSSAT-Nwheat reproduced the observed grain yields well with an overall root mean square deviation (RMSD) of 0.89t/ha (13%). Nitrogen applications, water supply, and planting dates had large effects on observed biomass and grain yields, and the model reproduced these crop responses well. Crop total biomass and nitrogen uptake were reproduced well despite relatively poor simulations of observed leaf area measurements during the growing season. The low sensitivity of biomass simulations to poor simulations of leaf area index (LAI) were due to little changes in intercepted solar radiation at LAI>3 and water and nitrogen stress often limiting photosynthesis and growth rather than light interception at low LAI. The responses of DSSAT-Nwheat to temperature variations and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations were close to observed responses. When compared with the two other DSSAT-wheat models (CERES and CROPSIM), these responses were similar, except for the responses to hot environments, due to different approaches in modeling heat stress effects. The comprehensive evaluation of the DSSAT-Nwheat model with field measurements, including a comparison with two other DSSAT-wheat models, created a multi-model simulation platform that allows the quantification of model uncertainties in wheat impact assessments.

      PubDate: 2016-09-03T12:38:30Z
       
  • Preanthesis biomass accumulation of plant and plant organs defines yield
           components in wheat
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Quan Xie, Sean Mayes, Debbie L. Sparkes
      The preanthesis period in wheat is critical for growth of plant organs including leaves, stems, spikes and roots. However, the roles of the preanthesis biomass accumulation of plant and plant organs in yield determination are only partially elucidated, and the underlying genetic basis remains largely unknown. This study aimed to understand the physiological and genetic relationships between preanthesis biomass accumulation and yield determination. In a mapping population of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum ‘Forno’) and its relative spelt (Triticum spelta ‘Oberkulmer’) contrasting for biomass, the dry weight of above-ground whole shoots and different organs, and leaf area, were analysed at GS39 (full flag leaf emergence) and anthesis. Yield components (thousand grain weight, grains per spike, final shoot biomass and grain weight per spike) and plant height were measured at maturity, followed by identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for all above traits. Field experiments were carried out in UK in 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 seasons, each using a randomised complete block design with three replicates. The results showed that there was a significant variation in biomass and its partitioning to organs at different stages. Consistent with the previous findings, stem water soluble carbohydrates and spike dry weight at anthesis contributed to thousand grain weight and grains per spike, respectively. In addition, this study revealed many other traits positively associated with one or more yield components, including biomass and leaf area at GS39, leaf and structural stem growth as well as whole shoot biomass at anthesis, and higher dry matter accumulation and crop (and spike) growth rates between the two stages. Increasing shoot biomass by removing other tillers at GS39 led to higher grain number and grain weight per spike. These results indicate the importance of the preanthesis growth of plant and plant organs for yield determination. Plant height was only weakly correlated with final biomass at maturity so it is possible to produce high-biomass genotypes without increasing plant height. Genetic analysis revealed 193 QTL associated with biomass and biomass-related traits. Frequent QTL coincidences between biomass and yield traits were observed, mainly on chromosomes 2B, 3A, 4A, 4B, 5A, 6A and 7B, indicating pleiotropy or tight gene linkages, consistent with their phenotypic associations. The preanthesis biomass traits associated with yield components and the underlying QTL, would facilitate the trait-based physiological and molecular breeding in wheat.

      PubDate: 2016-08-25T09:35:43Z
       
  • Does the recoupling of dairy and crop production via cooperation between
           farms generate environmental benefits? A case-study approach in Europe
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 24 August 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy
      Author(s): John T Regan, Silvia Marton, Olivia Barrantes, Eimear Ruane, Marjoleine Hanegraaf, Jérémy Berland, Hein Korevaar, Sylvain Pellerin, Thomas Nesme
      The intensification of agriculture in Europe has contributed significantly to the decline of mixed crop-livestock farms in favour of specialised farms. Specialisation, when accompanied by intensive farming practices, leaves farms poorly equipped to sustainably manage by-products of production, capture beneficial ecological interactions, and adapt in a volatile economic climate. An often proposed solution to overcome these environmental and economic constraints is to recouple crop and livestock production via cooperation between specialised farms. If well-managed, synergies between crop and livestock production beyond farm level have the potential to improve feed and fertiliser autonomy, and pest regulation. However, strategies currently used by farmers to recouple dairy livestock and crop production are poorly documented; there is a need to better assess these strategies using empirical farm data. In this paper, we employed farm surveys to describe, analyse and assess the following strategies: (1) Local exchange of materials among dairy and arable farms; (2) Land renting between dairy and arable farms; (3) Animal exchanges between lowland and mountainous areas; and (4) Industrially mediated transfers of dehydrated fodder. For each strategy, cooperating farm groups were compared to non-cooperating farm groups using indicators of metabolic performance (input autonomy, nutrient cycling and use efficiency), and ecosystem services provision. The results indicate that recoupling of crop and dairy production through farm cooperation gives farmers access to otherwise inaccessible or underutilised local resources such as land, labour, livestock feed or organic nutrients. This in turn leads to additional outlets for by-products (e.g. animal manure). Farmers’ decisions about how to allocate the additional resources accessed via cooperation essentially determine if the farm diversifies, intensifies or expands operations. The key finding is that in three of the four crop-livestock integration strategies assessed, these newly accessed resources facilitated more intensive farming practices (e.g. higher stocking rate or number of milking cows per hectare) on cooperating dairy farms relative to non-cooperating, specialised dairy farms. As a consequence, cooperation was accompanied by limited environmental benefits but helped to improve resource use efficiency per unit of agricultural product produced. This article provides a critical step toward understanding real-world results of crop-livestock cooperation beyond the farm level relative to within-farm crop-livestock integration. As such, it brings practical knowledge of vital importance for policy making to promote sustainable farming.

      PubDate: 2016-08-25T09:35:43Z
       
  • Climate, soil and land-use based land suitability evaluation for oil palm
           production in Ghana
    • Abstract: Publication date: November 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 81
      Author(s): Tiemen Rhebergen, Thomas Fairhurst, Shamie Zingore, Myles Fisher, Thomas Oberthür, Anthony Whitbread
      In the past decade, oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) has become the world’s most important oil crop. The large demand for palm oil has resulted in a rapid expansion of oil palm cultivation across the globe. Because of the dwindling availability of land in Southeast Asia, most expansion of the industry is expected in Central and South America and sub-Saharan Africa, where land with suitable agro-ecological conditions is available. Using Ghana as a case study, a method for evaluating areas that are both suitable and available for oil palm production is presented. Our assessment used spatial data and GIS techniques, and showed that areas with suitable climatic conditions (annual average water deficit <400mm) is about 20% greater than was previously identified. The observed differences are the result of using different methods to determine suitability, and climate change. A major climatic factor limiting suitability for oil palm production in Ghana is the annual water deficit, with the most suitable areas located in the rainforest and semi-deciduous forest zones with higher rainfall in southern Ghana. Opportunities for large-scale oil palm plantation development is limited, however, because of the lack of availability of large and contiguous tracts of land that are required for commercial plantation oil palm development. A feasible strategy for oil palm expansion is therefore smallholder production, which can make use of smaller parcels of land. Alternatively, oil palm production in Ghana can be increased by yield intensification on land already planted to oil palm. This can also reduce the requirement for further land clearance for new plantations to meet the growing demand for palm oil. Such assessments will be essential for guiding government policy makers and investors considering investments in oil palm development.

      PubDate: 2016-08-25T09:35:43Z
       
  • Intensification of an irrigated rice system in Senegal: Crop rotations,
           climate risks, sowing dates and varietal adaptation options
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): P.A.J. van Oort, A. Balde, M. Diagne, M. Dingkuhn, B. Manneh, B. Muller, A. Sow, S. Stuerz
      Feeding the future world population requires increased crop production. Here, we investigate the intensification option of increasing production by increasing cropping intensity and choice of varieties with different crop duration. We developed a model to generate, compare and visualise opportunities for single/double/triple cropping systems consisting of irrigated rice and optionally a vegetable. The model was applied in a case study in the Senegal River valley. Results showed that with appropriate choice of sowing dates, severe cold sterility in rice can be avoided, also in rice–rice crop rotations. At optimal sowing dates, simulated total long term average potential yields of single, double and triple cropping yields were 10.3, 19.0 and 18.9 t/ha respectively (total of 1,2 and 3 yields). With a hypothetical completely cold tolerant variety, yields could increase to 11.2, 20.2 and 20.9 respectively. Simulated Triple crop yields are hardly any higher than those of a double crop with two medium duration varieties. Delay in sowing due to late availability of resources (machinery, irrigation water allocation within a scheme, credits for pump fuel) is a known problem in the region. Therefore we also simulated how much delay was possible (width of the sowing windows) whilst still allowing for double cropping. We found enough delay was possible to allow for a rice–rice or a rice-vegetable crop. A rice-rice-vegetable triple cropping system would only be possible without delays and with a very short duration vegetable of 2 months. Most promising options to increase production are through shifting the sowing date to facilitate double cropping, adoption of medium duration varieties and breeding for cold tolerant varieties.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-08-19T09:12:37Z
       
  • Fertilizers, hybrids, and the sustainable intensification of maize systems
           in the rainfed mid-hills of Nepal
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): K.P. Devkota, A.J. McDonald, L. Khadka, A. Khadka, G. Paudel, M. Devkota
      In the rainfed mid-hill region of Nepal, most fields receive 2–3tha−1 of organic compost application every year. Despite efficient recovery and use of organics in the mixed crop-animal systems that predominant in the mid-hills, depleted soil fertility is widely understood to be a significant constraint to crop productivity, with most farmers achieving maize grain yields below 2tha−1. Increased use of fertilizer may arrest and even reverse long-term soil quality degradation, but few farmers in the mid-hills use them at present and existing recommendations are insufficiently responsive to site, varietal, and management factors that influence the productivity and profitability of increased fertilizer use. Moreover, policy makers and development practitioners often hold the perception that returns to fertilizer use in the mid-hills are too low to merit investment. In this study, on-farm experiments were conducted at 16 sites in the Palpa district, Nepal to assess the responsiveness of a maize hybrid (DKC 9081) and an ‘improved’ open-pollinated maize variety (‘OPV’, Manakamana-3) to four nitrogen (N) rates, i.e., 0, 60, 120 and 180kgha−1, with each N rate response evaluated at 30:30 and 60:60kgha−1 rates of phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O), respectively. With sound agronomy and high rates of fertilizer (180:60:60kgN:P2O5:K2Oha−1), grain yields observed in the field experiments exceeded 8tha−1 with hybrids and 6tha−1 with OPV. Yield levels were lower for OPV than hybrid at every level of applied N, but both genotypes responded linearly to N with partial factor productivity for N (PFPN) ranging from 14 to 19 for OPV versus 26–30 for hybrid, with improved N efficiencies obtained when P and K rates were significantly higher. Averaged across phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels, a $ 1 incremental investment in fertilizer increased the gross margin (GM) by $ 1.70ha−1 in OPV and by $ 1.83ha−1 in the hybrid. For the full response of N, requires higher rate of P2O5:K2O and vice-versa and full response to P2O5:K2O does not occur if N is absent. These results suggest that, i) degraded soils in the mid-hills of Nepal respond favorably to macronutrient fertilizers – even at high rates, ii) balanced fertilization is necessary to optimize returns on investments in N but must be weighed against additional costs, iii) OPVs benefit from investments in fertilizer, albeit at a PFPN that is 36–47% lower than for hybrids, and, consequently iv) hybrids are an effective mechanism for achieving a higher return on fertilizer investments, even when modest rates are applied. To extend these findings across years and sites in the mid-hills, crop growth simulations using the CERES-maize model (DSSAT) were conducted for 11 districts with historical weather and representative soils data. Average simulated (hybrid) maize yields with high fertilizer rate (180:60:60kgN:P2O5:K2Oha−1) ranged from 3.9tha−1 to 7.5tha−1 across districts, indicating a high disparity in attainable yield potential. By using these values to estimate district-specific attainable yield targets, recommended N fertilizer rates vary between 65 and 208kgNha−1, highlighting the importance of developing domain-specific recommendations. Simulations also suggest the potential utility of using weather forecasts in tandem with site and planting date information to adjust fertilizer recommendations on a seasonal basis.

      PubDate: 2016-08-14T08:41:20Z
       
  • Dynamic change of mineral nutrient content in different plant organs
           during the grain filling stage in maize grown under contrasting nitrogen
           supply
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Qinwu Chen, Xiaohuan Mu, Fanjun Chen, Lixing Yuan, Guohua Mi
      The introduction of new hybrids and integrated crop-soil management has been causing maize grain yield to increase. However, less attention has been paid on the nutrient concentration of the grain; this aspect is of great importance to supplying calories and nutrients in the diets of both humans and animals worldwide. Increasing the retranslocation of nutrients from vegetative organs to grain can effectively increase the nutrient concentration of grain and general nutrient use efficiency. The present study involved monitoring the dynamic change of macro- and micronutrients in different organs of maize during the grain filling stage. In addition, the mobility of different elements and their contribution to grain nutrient content were evaluated in a 2-year experiment under low (LN, no N supplied) and high N (HN, 180kgNha−1) supply. Under HN supply, the net remobilization efficiency (RE) of the vegetative organs as a whole (calculated as nutrient remobilization amount divided by nutrient content at silking) of N, P, K, Mn, and Zn were 44%, 60%, 13%, 15%, and 25%, respectively. The other nutrients (Mg, Ca, Fe, Cu, and B) showed a net accumulation in the vegetative organs as a whole during the grain filling stage. Among the different organs, N, P, and Zn were remobilized more from the leaves (RE of 44%, 51% and 43%, respectively) and the stalks (including leaf sheaths and tassels) (RE of 48%, 71% and 43%, respectively). K was mainly remobilized from the leaves with RE of 51%. Mg, Ca, Fe, Mn, and Cu were mostly remobilized from the stalks with the RE of 23%, 9%, 10%, 42%, and 28%, respectively. However, most of the remobilized Mg, Ca, Fe, Mn, Cu, and Zn were translocated to the husk and cob, which seemingly served as the buffer sink for these nutrients. The REs of all the nutrients except for P, K, and Zn were vulnerable to variations in conditions annually and were reduced when the grain yield and harvest index were lower in 2014 compared with 2013. Under LN stress, the RE was reduced in P and Zn in 2013, increased in Cu and unchanged in other nutrients. The concentration of these nutrients in the grain was either unchanged (P, K, Ca, Zn, and B) or decreased (N, Mg, Fe, Mn, and Cu). It is concluded that grain N, P, K, Mn, and Zn, but not Mg, Ca, Fe, Cu, and B concentration, can be improved by increasing their remobilization from vegetative organs. However, enhancing the senescence of maize plant via LN stress seems unable to increase grain mineral nutrient concentration. Genetic improvement aiming to increase nutrient remobilization should take into account the organ-specific remobilization pattern of the target nutrient.

      PubDate: 2016-08-09T13:30:50Z
       
  • Ridge-furrow mulching system in semiarid Kenya: A promising solution to
           improve soil water availability and maize productivity
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Fei Mo, Jian-Yong Wang, You-Cai Xiong, Simon N. Nguluu, Feng-Min Li
      In semiarid Kenya, field productivity of maize has been at a low integrity level due to insufficient use of rainwater use. From 2012 to 2013, an innovative ridge-furrow mulching system (RFMs) was tested using local maize (Zea mays L.) hybrid, KCB in KARI-Katumani Farm, Kenya in long and short rainy seasons. Field experiments were conducted in a randomized complete block design with four treatments: 1) RFMs with transparent polyethylene film (RFT), 2) RFMs with black polyethylene film (RFB), 3) RFMs with grass straw mulching (RFS), and 4) RFMs without mulching (CK). Soil moisture & temperature, grain yield, water use and economic benefit were determined and analyzed. The results indicated that both RFT and RFB treatments significantly increased soil water storage amount in the depth of 0–60cm. Grain yield and water use efficiency (WUE) in both treatments were increased by 66.5–349.9% and 72.9–382% respectively, compared with those of CK over two growing seasons. In addition, grain yield and WUE in RFS treatment were only increased by from 4.2–127.1% compared with those of CK. Particularly, two types of plastic films displayed different effects on modifying topsoil temperature. Transparent film mulching significantly increased topsoil temperature by 1.3°C (p <0.05) higher than CK, to facilitate growth and grain formation in long (but cool) growing season. In contrast, black film mulching lowered soil temperature by 0.3°C lower than CK in short (but warm) growing season, which led to better soil thermal balance. Overall, RFMs with film mulching could serve as an effective solution to increase maize productivity, and hence a promising strategy to cope with food security under climate change in semiarid Kenya.

      PubDate: 2016-08-09T13:30:50Z
       
  • Impacts of agricultural land use changes on pesticide use in French
           agriculture
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Nicolas Urruty, Tanguy Deveaud, Hervé Guyomard, Jean Boiffin
      Public policies seeking to regulate pesticide use must be based on a clear identification of the factors influencing such use. Since the agricultural use of pesticides is primarily crop-dependent, agricultural land use change is potentially an important driver of the overall level of pesticide use in a given country. In this paper, we investigate the influence of agricultural land use changes on pesticide use in French agriculture over the period 1989–2013, during which important changes in the Common Agricultural Policy took place. Toward that end, we developed a method allowing the direct effects of agricultural land use changes to be disentangled from other factors affecting the intensity of pesticide use. On the basis of standard protection programs defined by crop protection experts, a fixed pesticide use intensity is estimated for 19 annual and perennial crops representing 90% of French arable land area and the bulk of pesticide use in French agriculture. These coefficients, combined with national agricultural land use statistics, are used to construct an artificial index of pesticide use in France whose variations depend solely on changes in agricultural land use. This index is calculated over the period 1989–2013. Our results indicate that the direct impacts of agricultural land use changes on pesticide use in France have varied depending on the time period considered, reflecting the influence of public regulations, notably the compulsory set-aside policy in force during the 1990s, and market conditions, particularly the context of high prices for cereal grains at the end of the 2000s. Over the six years from 2008 to 2013, this index is roughly constant, indicating that the 17% increase in French pesticide use in 2013 compared to 2008 (as assessed from annual pesticide sales) cannot be even partially attributed to agricultural land use changes. Since 2000, land use changes mainly corresponded to substitutions between crops with similar per-hectare pesticide use intensities, and/or to substitutions with counterbalancing impacts on these intensities. A prospective approach shows that other types of land use changes (e.g. a massive conversion of grassland to arable land or, conversely, a strong diversification of arable crop rotations), could have much higher impacts on pesticide use, with the effect of either offsetting or reinforcing efforts to reduce pesticide use intensity in arable crops. Thus, better coordination is needed between public policies aimed at regulating pesticide use and public policies influencing land use.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-08-09T13:30:50Z
       
  • Field evaluation of mixed-seedlings with rice to alleviate flood stress
           for semi-arid cereals
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Simon K. Awala, Koji Yamane, Yasuhiro Izumi, Yuichiro Fujioka, Yoshinori Watanabe, Kaede C. Wada, Yoshimasa Kawato, Osmund D. Mwandemele, Morio Iijima
      Flash floods, erratically striking semi-arid regions, often cause field flooding and soil anoxia, resulting in crop losses on food staples, typically pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench). Recent glasshouse studies have indicated that rice (Oryza spp.) can enhance flood stress tolerance of co-growing dryland cereals by modifying their rhizosphere microenvironments via the oxygen released from its roots into the aqueous rhizosphere. We tested whether this phenomenon would be expressed under field flood conditions. The effects of mix-planting of pearl millet and sorghum with rice on their survival, growth and grain yields were evaluated under controlled field flooding in semi-arid Namibia during 2014/2015–2015/2016. Single-stand and mixed plant treatments were subjected to 11–22day flood stress at the vegetative growth stage. Mixed planting increased plant survival rates in both pearl millet and sorghum. Grain yields of pearl millet and sorghum were reduced by flooding, in both the single-stand and mixed plant treatments, relative to the non-flooded upland yields, but the reduction was lower in the mixed plant treatments. In contrast, flooding increased rice yields. Both pearl millet–rice and sorghum–rice mixtures demonstrated higher land equivalent ratios, indicating a mixed planting advantage under flood conditions. These results indicate that mix-planting pearl millet and sorghum with rice could alleviate flood stress on dryland cereals. The results also suggest that with this cropping technique, rice could compensate for the dryland cereal yield losses due to field flooding.

      PubDate: 2016-08-04T13:12:24Z
       
  • Annual crop rotation of tropical pastures with no-till soil as affected by
           lime surface application
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Carlos A.C. Crusciol, Rubia R. Marques, Antonio C.A. Carmeis Filho, Rogério P. Soratto, Claudio H.M. Costa, Jayme Ferrari Neto, Gustavo S.A. Castro, Cristiano M. Pariz, André M. de Castilhos
      Soil acidity and low natural fertility are the main limiting factors for grain production in tropical regions such as the Brazilian Cerrado. The application of lime to the surface of no-till soil can improve plant nutrition, dry matter production, crop yields and revenue. The present study, conducted at the Lageado Experimental Farm in Botucatu, State of São Paulo, Brazil, is part of an ongoing research project initiated in 2002 to evaluate the long-term effects of the surface application of lime on the soil’s chemical attributes, nutrition and kernel/grain yield of peanut (Arachis hypogaea), white oat (Avena sativa L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) intercropped with palisade grass (Urochloa brizantha cv. Marandu), as well as the forage dry matter yield of palisade grass in winter/spring, its crude protein concentration, estimated meat production, and revenue in a tropical region with a dry winter during four growing seasons. The experiment was designed in randomized blocks with four replications. The treatments consisted of four rates of lime application (0, 1000, 2000 and 4000kgha−1), performed in November 2004. The surface application of limestone to the studied tropical no-till soil was efficient in reducing soil acidity from the surface down to a depth of 0.60m and resulted in greater availability of P and K at the soil surface. Ca and Mg availability in the soil also increased with the lime application rate, up to a depth of 0.60m. Nutrient absorption was enhanced with liming, especially regarding the nutrient uptake of K, Ca and Mg by plants. Significant increases in the yield components and kernel/grain yields of peanut, white oat and maize were obtained through the surface application of limestone. The lime rates estimated to achieve the maximum grain yield, especially in white oat and maize, were very close to the rates necessary to increase the base saturation of a soil sample collected at a depth of 0–0.20m to 70%, indicating that the surface liming of 2000kgha−1 is effective for the studied tropical no-till soil. This lime rate also increases the forage dry matter yield, crude protein concentration and estimated meat production during winter/spring in the maize-palisade grass intercropping, provides the highest total and mean net profit during the four growing seasons, and can improve the long-term sustainability of tropical agriculture in the Brazilian Cerrado.

      PubDate: 2016-07-24T12:55:44Z
       
  • The new nitrification inhibitor 3,4-dimethylpyrazole succinic (DMPSA) as
           an alternative to DMPP for reducing N2O emissions from wheat crops under
           humid Mediterranean conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Ximena Huérfano, Teresa Fuertes-Mendizábal, Kevin Fernández-Diez, José María Estavillo, Carmen González-Murua, Sergio Menéndez
      Nowadays agricultural practices are based in the use of N fertilizers which can lead to environmental N losses. These losses can occur as nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions as result of the microbial processes of nitrification and denitrification. N2O together with carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are the strongest greenhouse gases (GHG) associated with agricultural soils. Nitrification inhibitors (NI) have been developed with the aim of decreasing fertilizer-induced N losses and increasing N efficiency. One of the most popular NI is the 3,4-dimethylpyrazol phosphate (DMPP) which have proven to be an advisable strategy to mitigate GHG emissions while maintaining crops yield. A new NI, 3,4-dimethylpyrazole succinic (DMPSA), has been developed. The objective of this study was to compare the impact of the new nitrification inhibitor DMPSA on greenhouse gases emissions, wheat yield and grain protein with respect to DMPP. For this purpose a field-experiment was carried out for two years. Fertilizer dose, with and without NIs, was 180kgNha−1 applied as ammonium sulphate (AS) split in two applications of 60kgNha−1 and 120kgNha−1, respectively. A single application of 180kgNha−1 of AS with NIs was also made. An unfertilized treatment was also included. The new nitrification inhibitor DMPSA reduces N2O emissions up to levels of the unfertilized control treatment maintaining the yield and its components. The DMPSA shows the same behavior as DMPP in relation to N2O fluxes, as well as wheat yield and quality. In spite of applying a double dose of N at stem elongation than at tillering, N2O losses from that period are lower than at tillering as a consequence of the influence of soil water content and temperature reducing the N2O/N2 ratio by denitrification. NI efficiency in reducing N2O losses is determined by the magnitude of the losses from the AS treatment.

      PubDate: 2016-07-24T12:55:44Z
       
  • Seasonal pattern of biomass and rubber and inulin of wild Russian
           dandelion (Taraxacum koksaghyz L. Rodin) under experimental field
           conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Marie Kreuzberger, Thomas Hahn, Susanne Zibek, Joachim Schiemann, Katja Thiele
      The roots of Taraxacum koksaghyz (Tks) are a promising alternative source for local rubber and inulin production in the temperate zone. Recent data on the agronomic performance of Tks are rare, older data partly not reliable. Thus, this study aimed at filling this gap by providing a comprehensive data set on Tks yield performance (root and leaf biomass, rubber, and inulin) and by highlighting the challenges being associated with its cultivation. The yield performance of wild Tks was investigated over a period of 17 months in two studies conducted at one site in Germany. The biennial life cycle of Tks was documented and the seasonal pattern of biomass, expected rubber and inulin yield were investigated over two successive seasons after harvesting Tks at six different dates and growth stages. Due to varying planting densities in the two trials (60,000plantsha−1 (trial 1), 500,000plantsha−1 (trial 2)), all yield parameters differed significantly between the trials at seasonal level e.g. fresh root yield ranged from 1.3 to 1.9tha−1 in trial 1 to 2.2–3.7tha−1 in trial 2. All measured parameters, i.e. biomass yield, rubber/inulin concentration and content, expected rubber/inulin yield, and inulin quality showed a significant seasonal dependency. At maximum, 32 (trial 1) and 62kg of dry rubber could be expected from dry Tks roots harvested from one hectare at the end of flowering during the second season, 14 months post field emergence. At the same time the maximum of expected inulin yield (128kgha−1 (trial 1), 209kgha−1 (trial 2)) was observed. These findings support the thesis of a synchronal harvest of Tks roots for rubber and inulin production with high yield. In addition, the degree of polymerization (DP) of inulin from Tks with >15 indicated it was comparable to chicory inulin. In contrast, low yields of biomass, rubber and inulin of wild Tks make breeding and optimization of agronomic measures in Tks a necessity to turn it into a profitable crop.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-07-17T01:02:26Z
       
  • Estimating the environmental footprint of barley with improved nitrogen
           uptake efficiency—a Swedish scenario study
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Pernilla Tidåker, Göran Bergkvist, Martin Bolinder, Henrik Eckersten, Holger Johnsson, Thomas Kätterer, Martin Weih
      Plant breeding is a powerful tool for improving nitrogen (N) uptake efficiency and thus reducing the environmental impact relating to crop production. This study evaluated the environmental impact of current barley production systems in two Swedish agricultural areas (South and East) compared with scenarios with improved N uptake efficiency at two levels, in which the fraction of mineral N available for daily crop uptake was increased by 50 and 100%. Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology was used to quantify energy use, global warming potential (GWP) and acidification and eutrophication potentials along the production chain for spring barley with differing N uptake efficiency, but similar N application rate. The functional unit, to which all energy use and emissions were related, was 1 Mg barley grain. Energy use, GWP and acidification proved to be higher for the East production system, mainly due to lower yield, while eutrophication was higher for South. The two impacts most affected by improved N uptake efficiency were eutrophication and GWP, with GWP decreasing due to a combination of higher yield, soil carbon sequestration and lower indirect emissions of N2O due to lower N leaching. Accounting for land savings due to increased yield, reducing the pressure to transform land elsewhere, would further lower the carbon footprint. Potential eutrophication per Mg grain was reduced by 15% in the production system with the highest N uptake efficiency in southern Sweden. Crops with improved N uptake efficiency can thus be an important complementary measure for reducing N losses to water, provided that the N application rate does not increase. However, incentives for farmers to maintain or even lower the N application rate might be required. Using simulation modelling is a promising approach for assessment of expected effects of improved crop varieties when no long-term experimental data are available. However, advanced crop models are required to better reflect the effect of plant breeding on e.g. expected yield. Future model development should involve expertise in plant breeding, plant physiology and dynamic crop and soil modelling.

      PubDate: 2016-07-17T01:02:26Z
       
  • Short time effects of biological and inter-row subsoiling on yield of
           potatoes grown on a loamy sand, and on soil penetration resistance, root
           growth and nitrogen uptake
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Victor Guaman, Birgitta Båth, Jannie Hagman, Anita Gunnarsson, Paula Persson
      Soil compaction, especially subsoil compaction, in agricultural fields has increased due to widespread use of heavy machines and intensification of vehicular traffic. Subsoil compaction changes the relative distribution of roots between soil layers and may restrict root development to the upper part of the soil profile, limiting water and mineral availability. This study investigated the direct effects of inter-row subsoiling, biological subsoiling and a combination of these two methods on soil penetration resistance, root length density, nitrogen uptake and yield. In field experiments with potatoes in 2013 and 2014, inter-row subsoiling (subsoiler) and biological subsoiling (preceding crops) were studied as two potential methods to reduce soil penetration resistance. Inter-row subsoiling was carried out post planting and the preceding crops were established one year, or in one case two years, prior to planting. Soil resistance was determined with a penetrometer three weeks after the potatoes were planted and root length density was measured after soil core sampling 2 months after emergence. Nitrogen uptake was determined in haulm (at haulm killing) and tubers (at harvest). Inter-row subsoiling had the greatest effect on soil penetration resistance, whereas biological subsoiling showed no effects. Root length density (RDL) in the combined treatment was higher than in the separate inter-row and biological subsoiling treatments and the control, whereas for the separate inter-row and biological subsoiling treatments, RLD was higher than in the control. Nitrogen uptake increased with inter-row subsoiling and was significantly higher than in the biological subsoiling and control treatments. However, in these experiments with a good supply of nutrients and water, no yield differences between any treatments were observed.

      PubDate: 2016-07-17T01:02:26Z
       
  • Agronomic and quality characteristics of old, modern and mixture wheat
           varieties and landraces for organic bread chain in diverse environments of
           northern Italy
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Paola Migliorini, Sandra Spagnolo, Luisa Torri, Marco Arnoulet, Giulio Lazzerini, Salvatore Ceccarelli
      Wheat landraces and old varieties could have an important role for food security not only as source of gene readily available for breeders, but also because they perform well in marginal environments and are more resilient as compared to the modern cultivars. The Italian cereal sector suffers from lack of seed companies that breed specifically adapted varieties for organic and biodynamic farms. Participatory and evolutionary plant breeding (PPB and EPB) have been used in this research to (i) evaluate the agronomic characteristics of old, modern and mixture of varieties and landrace of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum spp.) and their adaptability to organic farming in hilly and mountainous areas; (ii) assess the technological, nutritional and functional properties of grains (rheological characteristic, macro and micro elements contents and antioxidants); (iii) explore the consumers’ preferences for breads obtained by old and modern varieties. Between five and seven old (Sieve, Verna, Gentil Rosso, Andriolo, Gambo di ferro, Frassineto and Abbondanza), two mixtures and four modern (Bolero, Blasco, Arabia and Bologna) varieties were tested for two years in between two and three organic farms (FARM1, FARM2 and FARM3) in hilly areas of Piedmont. Agronomic characteristic were strongly affected by locations and years. On average, Bologna, Abbondanza and Arabia, and the two mixtures were the highest yielding varieties. Flour strength (W) varied greatly ranging from 230 in 2011 for Andriolo to 38 in 2012 for Gambo di ferro. Gluten quality, expressed by GI, was found to be almost within the optimal range but was affected by the year. All six bread samples were acceptable to the 233 consumers who scored them, but the bread produced with old wheat varieties, particularly with Andriolo and Gambo di Ferro, was the preferred one. The old varieties and their mixtures yielded less than the modern varieties but with higher stability as shown by the inability of the modern varieties in FARM1 to survive the winter (they were not harvested) while the old varieties reached maturity showing higher robustness, Therefore, the use of old bread wheat varieties and their mixture, assessed with participatory and evolutionary plant breeding, could represent a strategy for local communities to cope with climate change while improving food security and food quality.

      PubDate: 2016-07-17T01:02:26Z
       
  • Optimising crop production and nitrate leaching in China: Measured and
           simulated effects of straw incorporation and nitrogen fertilisation
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Kiril Manevski, Christen D. Børgesen, Xiaoxin Li, Mathias N. Andersen, Xiying Zhang, Per Abrahamsen, Chunsheng Hu, Søren Hansen
      The sustainability of growing a maize—winter wheat double crop rotation in the North China Plain (NCP) has been questioned due to its high nitrogen (N) fertiliser use and low N use efficiency. This paper presents field data and evaluation and application of the soil–vegetation–atmosphere transfer model Daisy for estimating crop production and nitrate leaching from silty loam fields in the NCP. The main objectives were to: i) calibrate and validate Daisy for the NCP pedo-climate and field management conditions, and ii) use the calibrated model and the field data in a multi-response analyses to optimise the N fertiliser rate for maize and winter wheat under different field managements including straw incorporation. The model sensitivity analysis indicated that a few measurable crop parameters impact the simulated yield, while most of the studied topsoil parameters affect the simulated nitrate leaching. The model evaluation was overall satisfactory, with root mean squared residuals (RMSR) for simulated aboveground biomass and nitrogen content at harvest, monthly evapotranspiration, annual drainage and nitrate leaching out of the root zone of, respectively, 0.9Mgha−1, 20kgNha−1, 30mm, 10mm and 10kgNha−1 for the calibration, and 1.2Mgha−1, 26kgNha−1, 38mm, 14mm and 17kgNha−1 for the validation. The values of mean absolute deviation, model efficiency and determination coefficient were also overall satisfactory, except for soil water dynamics, where the model was often found erratic. Re-validation run showed that the calibrated Daisy model was able to simulate long-term dynamics of crop grain yield and topsoil carbon content in a silty loam field in the NCP well, with respective RMSR of 1.7 and 1.6Mgha−1. The analyses of the model and the field results showed that quadratic, Mitscherlich and linear-plateau statistical models may estimate different economic optimal N rates, underlining the importance of model choice for response analyses to avoid excess use of N fertiliser. The analyses further showed that an annual fertiliser rate of about 300kgNha−1 (100 for maize and 200 for wheat) for the double crop rotation with straw incorporation is the most optimal in balancing crop production and nitrate leaching under the studied conditions, given the soil replenishment with N from straw mineralisation, atmospheric deposition and residual fertiliser. This work provides a sound reference for determining N fertiliser rates that are agro-environmentally optimal for similar and other cropping systems and regions in China and extends the application of the Daisy model to the analyses of complex agro-ecosystems and management practices under semi-arid climate.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-07-17T01:02:26Z
       
  • An empirical analysis of risk in conventional and organic arable farming
           in The Netherlands
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): P.B.M. Berentsen, M.A.P.M. van Asseldonk
      This paper assesses and compares risk in conventional and organic arable farming in The Netherlands with respect to family farm income and underlying price and production variables. To investigate the risk factors the farm accountancy data network was used containing unbalanced panel data from 196 conventional and 29 organic representative Dutch arable farms (for the period 2002 up to and including 2011). Variables with regard to price and production risk were identified using a family farm income analysis scheme. Price risk variables are input and output prices, while yield volatility of different crops is the main production risk variable. To assess risk, an error components implicit detrending method was applied and the resulting detrended standard deviations were compared between conventional and organic farms. Results indicate that the risk at the level of family farm income is higher in organic farming. The underlying variables show higher risk for organic farms in crop yields, crop prices and variable input costs per crop.

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Mechanisation of organic fertiliser spreading, choice of fertiliser and
           crop residue management as solutions for maize environmental impact
           mitigation
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Jacopo Bacenetti, Daniela Lovarelli, Marco Fiala
      The environmental impact of crop production is mainly related to fossil fuels consumption and to fertilisers application. Emissions arising from the spreading of organic and mineral fertilisers are important contributors for impact categories such as eutrophication and acidification. The choice of the fertilisers and of the spreading techniques as well as the crop residues management can deeply affect the environmental impact related to crop cultivation. In this study, seven scenarios describing fertilising schemes characterised by different organic and mineral fertilisers and by different mechanisation were compared. The aim is to evaluate, using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method, how the environmental performances of grain maize production were affected by these different fertilisers schemes. The study was carried out considering a cradle to farm gate perspective and 1t grain maize was selected as functional unit. Inventory data were collected on a farm located in Po Valley (Northern Italy) during year 2013 and were processed using the composite method recommended by the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD). The compared scenarios involved organic and mineral fertiliser distribution and were: pig slurry incorporation after >3days after spreading (BS), fast pig slurry incorporation within 2h from spreading (AS1), direct soil injection of pig slurry (AS2), pig slurry incorporation (after >3days) with straw collection (AS3), digestate spreading instead of pig slurry (after >3days) (AS4), only mineral fertilisers (i.e. urea and superphosphate) distribution (AS5) and only mineral fertilisers (i.e. calcium ammonium nitrate and superphosphate) distribution (AS6). The results were not univocal, since climate and soil conditions as well as physical and chemical fertiliser characteristics differently affected the environmental load, especially for particulate matter formation, terrestrial acidification and terrestrial eutrophication impact categories. AS1 and AS2 showed the most beneficial results for these impact categories (between −67% and −73% respect to worst scenario). AS6, on the opposite, showed the highest environmental impact for those impact categories mainly affected by energy and fossil fuel consumption (climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity with carcinogenic effect, particulate matter, freshwater eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity and mineral, fossil and renewable resources depletion), categories on which AS3 and AS4 were the best solutions. AS3 was the most impacting for terrestrial acidification and eutrophication A sensitivity analysis was carried out varying grain maize yield (mostly affected: marine eutrophication) and ammonia volatilisation losses due to organic fertilisers (mainly affected: terrestrial acidification and eutrophication). The achieved results can be useful for the development of “spreading rules” that drive the application of organic fertilisers in agricultural areas where there is an intense livestock activity.

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Best management practices of tillage and nitrogen fertilization in
           Mediterranean rainfed conditions: Combining field and modelling approaches
           
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Carlos Cantero-Martínez, Daniel Plaza-Bonilla, Pedro Angás, Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes
      In this work, appropriate management practices for crop production under the variable climate conditions of the Mediterranean region, in particular rainfall, were tested with the use of a modelling system applied to long-term (i.e. 18 years) field data. The calibration of the CropSyst model was performed using data collected from 1996 to 1999 at three different Mediterranean locations (i.e., HYP-Guissona, MYP-Agramunt and LYP-Candasnos, i.e. high, medium and low yield potential, respectively) within a degree of yield potential. The model simulated reasonably well barley growth and yield to different tillage and N fertilization strategies. Simulations of barley performance over 50 years with generated weather data showed that yields were often greater and never smaller under no-tillage compared to conventional tillage with a mean increase of 36%, 63% and 18% for HYP-Guissona, MYP-Agramunt and LYP-Candasnos. In MYP-Agramunt, the long-term data showed a 40% increase in grain yields when using no-tillage compared to conventional tillage, as an average of 18 years. The model also predicted that greater N applications in no-tillage were appropriate to take advantage of additional water supply. Taking into account the limited amount of soil water available, overall N fertilizer applications could be reduced to about half of the traditional rate applied by the farmers without yield loss. The 50-yr simulation, confirmed by the long-term experimental data, identified no-tillage as the most appropriate tillage practice for the rainfed Mediterranean areas. Also, N fertilization must be reduced significantly when tillage is used or when increasing aridity. Our work demonstrates the usefulness of the combination of long-term field experimentation and modelling as a tool to identify the best agricultural management practices. It also highlights the importance of posterior analysis with long-term observed field data to determine the performance of simulation results.

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Girdling and gibberellic acid effects on yield and quality of a seedless
           red table grape for saving irrigation water supply
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Pasquale Crupi, Donato Antonacci, Michele Savino, Rosalinda Genghi, Rocco Perniola, Antonio Coletta
      Table grapes need of substantial water supply for achieving commercial requirements. Viticulture practices such as girdling (G) and gibberellic acid (GA) application, as well as water supply, can improve table grape quality. The study, which was conducted in two consecutive seasons (2010–2011), aimed to assess the counterbalance effect of these viticulture practices on yield and quality parameters and flavonoids composition in case of a significant and unusual irrigation water reduction (40%) applied to a table grape variety. The data from the two-way ANOVA and PCA analyses indicated that viticulture practices were clearly related to anthocyanins and flavonols variations whereas water management appeared mainly involved in the yield parameters variability. Specifically, the reduced water supply (RWS) decreased the grape yield (−20%) with respect to full water supply (FWS); by contrast GA, G, and G×GA treatments determined an increment of grape production ranging from 10 to 23%, independently from irrigation strategy. Moreover, G, in particular applied to RWS grapes, was able to improve the total soluble solids over titrable acidity (TSS/TA), a ratio strictly related to the quality perception by the consumer. Total anthocyanins were found positively linked to FWS whereas flavanols content was indifferent to water management. Instead viticulture practices seemed to have a greater impact on anthocyanin composition, considering that in RWS grapes under GA condition, higher contents of malvidin and peonidin (mainly responsible for the color stability of the skins) were revealed. Furtheremore, catechins and rutin appeared significantly enhanced by G and G×GA, and GA, respectively. From gathered findings, it can be concluded that suitable viticulture practices can allow a sensible reduction of water supply during table grape growth cycle without detrimental effects on yield and quality.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Crop-livestock integration, from single practice to global functioning in
           the tropics: Case studies in Guadeloupe
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): Fabien Stark, Audrey Fanchone, Ivan Semjen, Charles-Henri Moulin, Harry Archimède
      Agricultural systems will have to produce more and better in a changing world. Mixed crop livestock systems (MCLS) are sound alternative ways to progressively achieve these goals through crop-livestock integration (CLI). CLI exploits the synergies between cropping and livestock systems, for example, through organic fertilization and the use of crop residues to feed livestock, and offers many opportunities to improve productivity, as well as to increase resource use efficiency and improve the resilience of the whole farming system. In the scientific literature, authors advocate the interest of MLCS and CLI, based on theoretical considerations, modelling and empirical evidence from local case studies. But these studies do not clearly identify the respective roles of the diversity of activities and CLI management practices in improving performances at the level of the whole farming system. The aim of this study was thus to assess CLI at farm scale in a range of MCLS and to explain farm performances by analyzing the combination of activities and the level of integration. This study was conducted in Guadeloupe, (French West Indies), where MCLS and CLI are complex but important challenges for local agricultural. Ecological network analysis was used to study the structure, functioning and performance of agrosystems. To this end, a range of eight farms was selected to characterize CLI as practices, and as a network of nitrogen flows at farm level. The land and labor productivity were then assessed along with the resilience, efficiency, productivity and self-sufficiency of the network of flows. Results show that CLI only applies to certain types of production, including feeding pigs with a wide range of crop residues (crop residues provide from 16 to 45% of the N supply to pigs) or organic fertilization of small market gardens and plots used to grow tubers (manure provides 24–100% of the N supply to plots). But at whole system level, CLI remains low: in seven cases, the N circulating within the system – ICR- represent only between 0.7 to 3.5% of the total N circulating through the system; only one farm presents a higher intensity of CLI, with an ICR of 18.9%. Consequently, performances and especially efficiency and productivity, depend more on the nature of the activity than on CLI management practices.

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Nitrogen use efficiency and residual effect of fertilizers with
           nitrification inhibitors
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 80
      Author(s): M. Alonso-Ayuso, J.L. Gabriel, M. Quemada
      Blending fertilizers with nitrification inhibitors (NI) is a technology to reduce nitrogen (N) losses. The application of NI could increase the soil N supply capacity over time and contribute to an enhancement of N use efficiency (NUE) in some cropping systems. The objectives were to determine in a field experiment located in Central Spain (i) the effect of NI-fertilizers applied to maize (Zea mays L.) during two seasons on yield, N content and NUE compared to conventional fertilizers, (ii) the soil residual effect of NI-fertilizers in a non-fertilized sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) planted during a third season, and (iii) the possible sources of residual N via laboratory determinations. The maize was fertilized with ammonium sulfate nitrate (ASN) and DMPP (3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate) blended ASN (ENTEC®) at two levels (130 and 170kgNha−1). A control treatment with no added N fertilizer was included to calculate NUE. The second year, DMPP application allowed a 23% reduction of the fertilizer rate without decreasing crop yield or grain quality. In addition, the sunflower planted after the maize scavenged more N in treatments previously treated with ENTEC® than with traditional fertilizers, increasing NUE in the cropping systems. After DMPP application, N was conserved in non-ready soil available forms during at least one year and subsequently released to meet the sunflower crop demand. The potential N mineralization obtained from aerobic incubation under controlled conditions of soil samples collected before sunflower sowing was higher for ENTEC® than ASN or control treatments. A higher δ15N in the soil indicated larger non-exchangeable NH4 + fixation in soils from the plots treated with ENTEC® or ASN-170 than from the ASN-130 or the control. These results open the opportunity to increase NUE by designing crop rotations able to profit from the effect of NI on the soil residual N.

      PubDate: 2016-07-11T03:44:32Z
       
  • Virtual modeling based on deep phenotyping provides complementary data to
           field experiments to predict plant emergence in oilseed rape genotypes
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): C. Durr, J. Constantin, M.-H. Wagner, H. Navier, D. Demilly, S. Goertz, N. Nesi
      Breeding oilseed rape for oil and protein contents may have led to differences in seedling emergence in genotypes. New opportunities for deep automated phenotyping of germination and seedling growth are being developed on phenotyping platforms. Our aim was to demonstrate that using these data to parameterize a crop emergence model complements field experiments for the evaluation of differences among genotypes. Five genotypes, chosen in a diverse set of winter oilseed rape for their different germination speeds, were phenotyped for germination at different temperatures and water potentials as well as for radicle and hypocotyl growth. These data were used as parameters to run the SIMPLE crop emergence model over a period of 27 years (1985–2012), at two locations, one in France and one in Germany, and at four sowing dates. Field experiments were performed in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the emergence of the five genotypes was measured at early and late sowing dates. First, model predictions were compared with observed field emergence in the French sowing trials in 2014. The model proved to be rather good at predicting the emergence of the genotypes. Then, for the simulation study, the model extended the observed differences between locations and sowing dates over a greater number of years. The model also identified the main reasons for non-emerging seedlings and their frequencies in the simulated sowings. Differences between the five genotypes were on average very small, but complex interactions appeared that led to bigger differences under certain sowing conditions. This study demonstrates that combining deep phenotyping with crop models in simulation studies paves the way for more precise and detailed evaluation of genotypes.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Perennial wild plant mixtures for biomass production: Impact of species
           composition dynamics on yield performance over a five-year cultivation
           period in southwest Germany
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Moritz von Cossel, Iris Lewandowski
      Wild plant mixtures (WPMs) are a promising perennial cultivation system for biogas production with numerous ecological benefits. However, to date, there is little information on their long-term development. To investigate this, two different WPMs (S1, Rieger-Hofmann GmbH, 2016; S2, Saaten-Zeller GmbH, 2016) of up to 27 native, mainly wild species with a combination of annual, biennial and perennial life cycles were established at three sites in southwest Germany in 2011. At Hohenheim (HOH), fertilization was varied (0, 50, 100kgha−1 nitrogen) and a split plot design with three replications was used. At Renningen (REN) and Sankt Johann (SJO) single plots were used and fertilized with 50kgha−1. Harvest and sample analysis were conducted each year over a five-year cultivation period. The development of dry matter yield (DMY), dry matter content (DMC) and species composition dynamics of the WPMs were investigated. The DMYs varied strongly between the mixtures, sites and years, ranging from 2.9–22.5Mg ha−1 yr−1. Significant effects of mixture (P<0.001) and site x age interactions (P<0.05) were found. On average, S2 had about 55% higher yield than S1 over the five years (S2 accumulated DMY: 50.2–74.2Mgha−1 s). For both mixtures, a high number (up to 19) of WPM species were recorded, but this declined over the cultivation period at all sites. The DMYs at REN and SJO increased with time, whereas at HOH the high weed pressure from the grassland pre-crop resulted in decreasing yields. Here, the nitrogen mineralization of the grassland residues was high enough to mask fertilization effects. A good substrate quality for ensilaging (DMC >28%) was achieved at all sites every year except 2011. From these findings, we can recommend the WPM concept based on the S2 mixture as a feasible cultivation system with potentially high ecological benefits, in particular for marginal sites.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Estimation of phenotypic variability in symbiotic nitrogen fixation
           ability of common bean under drought stress using 15N natural abundance in
           grain
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Jose Polania, Charlotte Poschenrieder, Idupulapati Rao, Stephen Beebe
      Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the most important food legume, cultivated by small farmers and is usually exposed to unfavorable conditions with minimum use of inputs. Drought and low soil fertility, especially phosphorus and nitrogen (N) deficiencies, are major limitations to bean yield in smallholder systems. Beans can derive part of their required N from the atmosphere through symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF). Drought stress severely limits SNF ability of plants. The main objectives of this study were to: (i) test and validate the use of 15N natural abundance in grain to quantify phenotypic differences in SNF ability for its implementation in breeding programs of common bean with bush growth habit aiming to improve SNF, and (ii) quantify phenotypic differences in SNF under drought to identify superior genotypes that could serve as parents. Field studies were conducted at CIAT-Palmira, Colombia using a set of 36 bean genotypes belonging to the Middle American gene pool for evaluation in two seasons with two levels of water supply (irrigated and drought stress). We used 15N natural abundance method to compare SNF ability estimated from shoot tissue sampled at mid-pod filling growth stage vs. grain tissue sampled at harvest. Our results showed positive and significant correlation between nitrogen derived from the atmosphere (%Ndfa) estimated using shoot tissue at mid-pod filling and %Ndfa estimated using grain tissue at harvest. Both methods showed phenotypic variability in SNF ability under both drought and irrigated conditions and a significant reduction in SNF ability was observed under drought stress. We suggest that the method of estimating Ndfa using grain tissue (Ndfa-G) could be applied in bean breeding programs to improve SNF ability. Using this method of Ndfa-G, we identified four bean lines (RCB 593, SEA 15, NCB 226 and BFS 29) that combine greater SNF ability with greater grain yield under drought stress and these could serve as potential parents to further improve SNF ability of common bean.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Density responses and spatial distribution of cotton yield and yield
           components in jujube (Zizyphus jujube)/cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)
           agroforestry
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Qi Wang, Shuo Han, Lizhen Zhang, Dongsheng Zhang, Wopke van der Werf, Jochem B. Evers, Hongquan Sun, Zhicheng Su, Siping Zhang
      Trees are the dominant species in agroforestry systems, profoundly affecting the performance of understory crops. Proximity to trees is a key factor in crop performance, but rather little information is available on the spatial distribution of yield and yield components of crop species under the influence of trees in agroforestry systems. Also, little information is available on how crop density may be exploited to optimize the yield in such systems. Here we studied the performance of cotton in jujube/cotton agroforestry. Field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 in Hetian, Xinjiang, China. Cotton was grown at a row distance of 60cm in three densities, 13.5, 18.0 and 22.5plantsm−2 in six m wide paths between tree lines in a jujube plantation. Plant density affected both cotton aboveground dry matter and yield significantly. The highest yield was attained at the intermediate density of 18.0plantsm−2 (20.0plantsm−2 corresponding in sole cotton), lower than the optimal density in sole cotton (25.0plantsm−2). Yield at the lower density was constrained by the low number of bolls per m2 as a direct consequence of the low density, whereas at the high plant density yield was constrained by a lower allocation of assimilates to cotton seed and lint, as a consequence of intraspecific and interspecific competitions. There were strong gradients in yield and yield components in relation to the distance from the tree rows. Leaf area and total dry matter of cotton in rows close to the tree lines were reduced, especially in the rows next to the trees. Moreover, biomass allocation to cotton fruits was reduced in these rows. Competitive influences from the trees on cotton performance extended two rows deep in a six-year old jujube stand, and even three rows deep in a seven-year old stand. Shading effects on cotton yield were compensated by increasing plant density as a result of greater boll numbers per unit ground area. Data from this study help guide the design of optimal plant density of cotton in jujube plantations and give insight in the spatial distribution and dynamics of competitive effects in agroforestry systems in general.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Functional mechanisms of drought tolerance in maize through phenotyping
           and genotyping under well watered and water stressed conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Mandapaka Maheswari, Vijaya Lakshmi Tekula, Varalaxmi Yellisetty, Basudeb Sarkar, Sushil Kumar Yadav, Jainender Singh, Seshu Babu G., Ashish Kumar, Sushma Amirineni, Jyothilakshmi Narayana, Vanaja Maddi
      Developing tolerant genotypes is crucial for stabilizing maize productivity under drought stress conditions as it is one of the most important abiotic stresses affecting crop yields. Twenty seven genotypes of maize (Zea mays L.) were evaluated for drought tolerance for three seasons under well watered and water stressed conditions to identify interactions amongst various tolerance traits and grain yield as well as their association with SSR markers. The study revealed considerable genetic diversity and significant variations for genotypes, environment and genotype×environment interactions for all the traits. The ranking of genotypes based on drought susceptibility index for morpho-physiological traits was similar to that based on grain yield and principal component analysis. Analysis of trait – trait and trait – yield associations indicated significant positive correlations amongst the water relations traits of relative water content (RWC), leaf water potential and osmotic potential as well as of RWC with grain yield under water stressed condition. Molecular analysis using 40 SSRs revealed 32 as polymorphic and 62 unique alleles were detected across 27 genotypes. Cluster analysis resulted in categorization of the genotypes into five distinct groups which was similar to that using principal component analysis. Based on overall performance across seasons tolerant and susceptible genotypes were identified for eventual utilization in breeding programs as well as for QTL identification. The marker-trait association analysis revealed significant associations between few SSR markers with water relations as well as yield contributing traits under water stressed conditions. These associations highlight the importance of functional mechanisms of intrinsic tolerance and cumulative traits for drought tolerance in maize.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Above- and belowground nitrogen uptake of winter catch crops sown after
           silage maize as affected by sowing date
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Martin Komainda, Friedhelm Taube, Christof Kluß, Antje Herrmann
      Regions in north-western Europe characterized by high density of livestock/biogas plants and extensive silage maize production are facing major environmental challenges due to excessive residual soil mineral nitrogen (N) in autumn and hence nitrate leaching. Winter catch crops (CC) have potential to accumulate residual N; however, the N uptake potential after maize harvest in autumn and spring remains unclear. Therefore, a two-year field trial (April 2012–April 2014) was conducted at three sites, to quantify the combined effects of four consecutive CC sowing dates (10 Sep; 20 Sep; 30 Sep and 15 Oct) and two CC species (rye, Secale cereale. L. and Italian ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum Lam.) on DM accumulation and N uptake of CC above- and belowground in autumn and spring, and to derive functional relationships. The results clearly showed that rye was more effective in accumulating biomass and nitrogen than Italian ryegrass. The better performance of rye was related to increased growth intensity of roots and shoot, a different allocation pattern and higher N uptake efficiency. An exponential function of temperature sum (Tsum) produced a reliable prediction of above- and belowground biomass and N. To achieve an agronomically relevant N uptake of 20kgNha−1, rye required 278°Cd Tsum, which corresponds to a sowing date latest in the second decade of September. Under favourable growing conditions, a biomass accumulation of up to 5MgDMha−1, corresponding to 83kgNha−1 above- and belowground, seems achievable under the given environmental conditions. In continuous maize grown under the environmental conditions of Northern Germany, however, catch crops will not reach a relevant N uptake on the long-term average.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Evolutionary changes of weed competitive traits in winter wheat composite
           cross populations in organic and conventional farming systems
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): N.O. Bertholdsson, O. Weedon, S. Brumlop, M.R. Finckh
      Seedling root and shoot growth in hydroponics and allelopathic activity using a bioassay have been studied in very diverse populations of winter wheat grown under either organic or conventional conditions for a number of generations and subjected only to natural selection. The study was conducted on seeds from generation 6 (F6) and 11 (F11) from three composite cross populations (CCPs) produced by the Organic Research Centre in the UK. Since the F5 the populations were maintained under organic and conventional conditions in Germany. Two parallel populations were created from each CC, resulting in a total of six organic and six conventional CCPs. The sets of parallel populations showed similar evolutionary trends indicating that the observed changes are related to differences in management rather than chance. Seedling root length and seedling root and shoot weight in the F11 of the organically-managed CCPs were significantly greater than in the organic F6 CCPs. In the conventionally-managed CCPs no such differences were observed. Both organic and conventional CCPs produced for quality showed higher early root and shoot growth than those produced for yield pointing to genetic differences among population types and highlighting the importance of early vigour for NUE. There were no significant differences in the allelopathic activity of the populations and between generations. The Shannon-Weaver diversity indices were similar for the studied traits in organic and conventional CCPs and hence no major changes in diversity had occurred between F6 to F11. As changes in plant height were small and weed pressure in the fields low it is concluded that the observed differences are more related to NUE, rather than intra-specific competition for light or the direct effect of increased weed pressure in the organic system.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Nitrogen use efficiency and fertiliser fate in a long-term experiment with
           winter cover crops
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): J.L. Gabriel, M. Alonso-Ayuso, I. García-González, C. Hontoria, M. Quemada
      The use of winter cover crops enhances environmental benefits and, if properly managed, may supply economic and agronomic advantages. Nitrogen retained in the cover crop biomass left over the soil reduces soil N availability, which might enhance the N fertiliser use efficiency of the subsequent cash crop and the risk of depressive yield and pre-emptive competition. The main goal of this study was to determine the cover crop effect on crop yield, N use efficiency and fertiliser recovery in a 2-year study included in a long-term (10 years) maize/cover crop production system. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and vetch (Vicia sativa L.), as cover crops, were compared with a fallow treatment during the maize intercropping period. All treatments were cropped following the same procedure, including 130kgNha−1 with 15N fertiliser. The N rate was reduced from the recommended N rate based on previous results, to enhance the cover crop effect. Crop yield and N uptake, soil N mineral and 15N fertiliser recovered in plants and the soil were determined at different times. The cover crops behaved differently: the barley covered the ground faster, while the vetch attained a larger coverage and N content before being killed. Maize yield and biomass were not affected by the treatments. Maize N uptake was larger after vetch than after barley, while fallow treatment provided intermediate results. This result can be ascribed to N mineralization of vetch residues, which results in an increased N use efficiency of maize. All treatments showed low soil N availability after the maize harvest; however, barley also reduced the N in the upper layers before maize planting, increasing the risk of pre-emptive competition. In addition to the year-long effect of residue decomposition, there was a cumulative effect on the soil’s capacity to supply N after 7 years of cover cropping, larger for the vetch than for the barley.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
  • Comprehensive assessment of nutrient management technologies for
           cauliflower production under subtropical conditions
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2016
      Source:European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 79
      Author(s): Kaushik Batabyal, Biswapati Mandal, Dibyendu Sarkar, Sidhu Murmu, Amrit Tamang, Ipsita Das, Gora Chand Hazra, Partha Sarathi Chattopadhyay
      We developed a methodological protocol for comprehensive evaluation of nutrient management (NM) technologies for production of cauliflower taking its yield, quality, profitability, energy balance and environmental sustainability in terms of soil quality as the goal variables. Fifteen NM technologies comprising three sources of nutrients viz., organics [farmyard manure (FYM), vermicompost (VC) and green manure], inorganic fertilizations (recommended NPK at the rate of 200-44-82kgha−1and 125% of recommended NPK) and their selected combinations were tested for producing cauliflower for six consecutive growing seasons during 2006–2011. Integrated NM technology proved to be economically sound and environment-friendly practice. It helped to produce better quality cauliflower with higher value added products such as crude protein, dietary fibre, and vitamin C. Further, it concomitantly maintained better soil quality by improving soil organic carbon stock, microbial biomass carbon, bulk density and extractable plant available nutrients. Combining all the parameters together by employing non-parametric evaluation of regression factor scores through principal component analysis, the NM technology of FYM 5Mgha−1 +125% of recommended NPK and VC 3Mgha−1 +125% of recommended NPK were found to be the best among the NM technologies compared. The superiority of the technologies were attributed to higher curd biomass yield (8.36 and 9.70Mgha−1, respectively), higher economic return (benefit-cost ratio 2.7 and 2.5; marginal rate of return 8.0 and 5.1, respectively), more energy conserving efficiency (net energy 22.4 and 25.7GJha−1; output-input energy ratio 1.86 and 2.00, respectively) and greater improvement in the indices of soil quality (6.219 and 5.709, respectively) and crop quality for human (6.7 and 7.4, respectively) and animal (7.4 and 6.4, respectively) nutrition. Organics were less productive, less profitable, and energetically less efficientas compared to integrated and inorganic systems for cauliflower production in subtropics.

      PubDate: 2016-06-16T17:59:35Z
       
 
 
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