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Kosmos
Astronomia Astrofizyka
Inne

Kultura
Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metoda
Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Materia
Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Człowiek
Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Wizje
Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Ziemia
Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Życie
Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Cyberprzestrzeń
Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Działalność
Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Technologie
Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne

Italian Journal of Agronomy

The use of compost tea (CT) is becoming interesting for applications in organic agriculture. CTs are oxygenated extracts of compost that give positive effects on the crops because contain bioactive molecules and microorganisms that improve plant growth and health. This study was carried out to evaluate the effects of CTs applied as foliar spray and drenching, respectively, on kohlrabi and lettuce cultivation. The CT tested here was originated by an aerated water-extraction of two artichoke and fennel composts. CT treatments considerably improved crop yields. CT, in fact, increased lettuce and kohlrabi commercial yields higher 24% and 32%, respectively. Due to CT, the physiological and nutritional status of the plants increased, as noticed by foliar chlorophyll content assessment measured during crop cycles. The results provided encouraging indications about the practical application of CT in horticultural organic farming system.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.596 2014/10/02 - 11:10

The aim of this study is to assess the agronomic effect of a threeyear continuous intensive double-crop cultivation of different varieties of legumes and grasses sown in autumn and grasses sown in spring under irrigated and rain-fed conditions in the European Union (EU) Mediterranean environment. Our experiment aimed to compare the dry matter (DM, t ha–1) and the milk feed unit (MFU, kg (DM)–1) from silage production and soil characteristics of popular autumn-sown Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) and spring-sown maize (Zea mays L.) compared with other crop system legume and grass varieties. The autumn and spring legume and grass varieties were grown under either rain-fed or irrigated conditions. The investigated traits, i.e. DM, MFU and organic carbon (OC, g kg–1), were influenced by the cropping system, the sowing time and the irrigation treatments. The mean total number of MFU ha–1, derived from the potential silage yield of legume and grass autumn varieties, ranged from 4297 to 5895 MFU ha–1 under rain-fed conditions and from 5778 to 7871 MFU ha–1 with irrigation, respectively. The MFU ha–1 observed in varieties sown in spring under rain-fed conditions was 8926 for grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. (Moench)), 12,459 for silage sorghum; and 15,148, 24,004, 20,323 and 13,521 for lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), maize, silage and grain sorghum grown with irrigation respectively. Furthermore, the mean MFU ha–1 of autumn and spring legume and grass varieties used for grain consumption, in comparison to those of silage, was reduced by 67.6% under rain-fed conditions and 53.4% with irrigation. Three years of continuous rotations of irrigated autumn and spring grass varieties reduced the initial experimental content of OC by 2.49 g kg–1 in the autumn grass and 1.50 g kg–1 in legumes, while under rain-fed conditions the decrease was 0.81 g kg–1 and 1.86 g kg–1 in autumn legumes and grass respectively.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.594 2014/09/25 - 16:06

The objective of this research was to study the nutrient uptake of soybean exposed to aluminium (Al) toxicity. The factorial design consisted of two treatments arranged in a randomized block design with three replications. Liming was the first factor which consisted of four levels, i.e. i) without liming; ii) liming with 0.5×Al(exchangeable/ec); iii) liming with 1×Al(ec); and iv) liming with 1.5×Al(ec). Five genotypes were used as second factor, i.e. three tolerant genotypes (W3898- 14-3, Wilis, and Kawi), and two sensitve genotypes (MLG 3209 and MLG 3083). It was found that two tolerant genotypes, W3898-14-3 and Kawi, had a higher potassium (K) and sodium (Na) uptake than susceptible genotypes. Liming affected significantly the ratio of Al/[calcium (Ca) + magnesium (Mg)] in roots and leaves, the content of Ca and Mg in the roots and the content of Mg in the leaves. The K content in the roots and the content of Ca, K, and Na in the leaves were unresponsive to the alteration of pH and Al saturation.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.600 2014/09/25 - 16:06

An evaluation of the agronomic performance of two tetraploid wheat varieties (Triticum turgidum spp. durum, Claudio; Triticum turgidum spp. turanicum, Kamut®) grown strictly under low input conditions was carried out over three consecutive cropping years. The study reported grain yield values ranging from 1.8 to 2.6 t ha-1. Productivity showed to be primarily affected by environmental conditions, while no differences were observed between the two genotypes. The study of the yield components highlighted that the durum wheat variety had a higher plant density than Kamut®, but this discrepancy was offset by a greater number of kernels per spike and the kernel weight of khorasan wheat. The investigated wheat genotypes were also analysed to assess the mycotoxin (DON) levels of wholegrain semolina and the efficiency of cleaning treatments to reduce contamination. Results showed that both wheat varieties had a good hygienic and sanitary quality with a DON content ranging from 0.35 to 1.31 mg kg-1, which was lower than the maximum acceptable level set by the European regulation at 1.75 mg kg-1. In addition, our research work investigated the effects of premilling cleaning procedures, such as water washing and brushing, on mycotoxin levels, which yielded interesting results in terms of decontamination efficiency. These methods were particularly efficient with Kamut® semolina (46-93% DON reduction), suggesting that mycotoxins accumulate in this variety at more superficial levels than in the durum wheat variety. On the whole, our study provided additional knowledge on the traits to be further improved to respond to low input requirements and to enhance the potential adaptability of wheat genotypes to organic agriculture. Our results emphasized the need to develop wheat varieties that can provide adequate performance without high levels of nitrogen inputs by selecting specific traits, such as kernel weight, spike length and kernel/spike. This may help achieve productivity gains in organic systems.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.583 2014/09/21 - 05:08

The sustainability of biomass sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench.) in the Mediterranean environment is linked to the possibility of increasing crop productivity by using conventional clean water and wastewater irrigation. An experimental setup was arranged in Southern Italy during 2012 and 2013 seasons to determine the potential productivity of biomass sorghum irrigated with conventional water at different irrigation regimes (100 and 50% of calculated evapotranspiration) and different types of municipal wastewater. During the sorghum growing season, the crop development (biomass and leaf are index) and the soil water content were monitored for all irrigation treatments. The data obtained showed that the dry biomass of sorghum irrigated with the deficit treatment (17 t ha–1) was lower compared with conventionally irrigated sorghum. For both seasons and under full irrigated conditions, sorghum irrigated with wastewater produced on average more dry biomass (23 t ha–1) than the crop irrigated with conventional water (20.5 t ha–1), using the same irrigation volumes.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.577 2014/09/03 - 22:36

Conservative agriculture and nitrogen fertilisation have been evaluated for the purpose of assessing their impact on the sustainability of a cropping system based on a two-year rotation with two crops considered for the bio-ethanol supply chain: sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris) and sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench). The experimental activity started in 2009 in Foggia (Apulia, southern Italy). We discuss the results obtained in the 2010-2011 period. Soil minimum tillage (MT) vs no tillage (NT) combined with two doses of nitrogen fertilisation (75 and 150 kg ha–1 of mineral nitrogen as ammonium nitrate) were compared. The experimental system, which is still operational (soil tillage plus nitrogen fertilisation), was arranged with a split-plot design with three replicates. Treatments were applied on the same plots every year with both crops present at the same time. At the first harvest in 2010, no difference was observed. As to the second year, the comparison between NT vs MT treatments showed that sugar beet had lower total yield (35 vs 42 t ha–1), dry biomass (10 vs 14 t ha–1), and sucrose yield (6.7 vs 8.2 t ha–1). Total soluble solids, on average 19%, were not influenced by the experimental treatments. Nitrogen (N) control was less productive than the fertilised treatments (average between N75 and N150) in terms of total fresh root yield (32 vs 42 t ha–1), dry biomass (10 vs 14 t ha–1), and sucrose yield (6.0 vs 8.1 t ha–1). As with sugar beet, during the second year, also sweet sorghum sown in NT vs MT plots had a reduced yield, although the difference was more marked for fresh biomass (–35%) than for dry biomass (–20%). No interaction in terms of soil tillage nitrogen fertilisation occurred. In summary, in the first two-year period (2010-2011) of the experimental trial, no tillage soil management showed decreased yields of both crops. Sugar beet displayed a higher sensitivity to the lack of nitrogen supply than sweet sorghum.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.568 2014/08/22 - 21:58

C3 plant species are widely used to vegetate constructed wetlands (CW), but so far no information is available on their effect on CW CO2(eq) balance in the Mediterranean climate. The aim of this research was to study carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions and CO2(eq) budgets of CW horizontal sub-surface flow pilot-plant beds vegetated with Arundo donax L. and Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. compared with an unvegetated bed in Sicily. The highest total plant biomass production was measured in the bed vegetated with A. donax (17.0 kg m–2), whereas P. australis produced 7.6 kg m–2. CO2 and CH4 emissions and showed significant correlation with average air temperature and solar radiation for each bed. The CO2 emission values ranged from 0.8±0.1 g m–2 d–1, for the unvegetated bed in April, to 24.9±0.6 g m–2 d–1 for the bed with P. australis in August. The average CO2 emissions of the whole monitored period were 15.5±7.2, 15.1±7.1 and 3.6±2.4 g m–2 d–1 for A. donax, P. australis and unvegetated beds respectively. The CH4 fluxes differed significantly over the monitored seasons, with the highest median value being measured during spring (0.963 g m–2 d–1). No statistical differences were found for CH4 flux among the studied beds. Cumulative estimated CH4 emissions during the study period (from April to December) were 159.5, 134.1 and 114.7 g m–2 for A. donax, P. australis and unvegetated beds respectively. CO2(eq) balance showed that the two vegetated beds act as CO2(eq) sinks, while the unvegetated bed, as expected, acts as a CO2(eq) source. Considering only the above-ground plant biomass in the CO2(eq) budgets, P. australis and A. donax determined uptakes of 1.30 and 8.35 kg CO2(eq) m–2 respectively.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.601 2014/08/22 - 21:58

The growing focus on the protection and the conservation of biodiversity has attracted attention to problem of the potential invasiveness of alien species that escaped cultivation spread in various types of habitats and might replace native species. This would lead to a loss of biodiversity and have negative economic and environmental repercussions. The Mediterranean flora is particularly rich in genera and species that are characteristic of different habitats, soil and climatic conditions, and can offer exciting opportunities for innovation in the floricultural industry. In this paper we test the qualitative and quantitative data of wild geophytic species with a focus on the peninsular regions of Southern Italy. Information regarding the attributes of each species was obtained from a number of published sources, including flora and plant checklists. This selection of geophytes belonging to the spontaneous flora of Southern Italy presents a potential floricultural interest in Italy, since these plants could be used as street furniture and for gardens and turfing.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.595 2014/06/20 - 04:20

The CRITERIA model simulates crop development and water dynamics in agricultural soils at different spatial scales. The objective of this paper was to test CRITERIA in order to evaluate the suitability of the model as a tool for scheduling irrigation at field scale. The first step of the work was to validate this hypothesis, by means of calibration and validation of CRITERIA on processing tomato in two experimental sites in Southern Italy (Rutigliano and Foggia) for the years 2007 and 2008 under different irrigation regimes. The irrigation treatments were: i) absence of plant water stress (the control treatments set up for both years and sites), ii) moderately stressed (applied in Rutigliano for 2007), and iii) severely stressed (applied in Foggia for 2008). The second step consisted in the evaluation of the expected impact of different irrigation regimes on daily actual evapotranspiration. For model calibration, the 2007 data of the control treatment was used, whereas in the validation process of actual evapotranspiration, the other part of the dataset was used. The observed data were crop evapotranspiration, agrometeorological data, leaf area index, physical-chemical and hydrological characteristics of soil, phenological stages and irrigation management. In order to evaluate model performance we used three statistical indicators to compare simulated and measured values of actual evapotranspiration: the normalized differences of seasonal values are less than 10% for all treatments; the model efficiency index on the typical period between two irrigations (4 days) was positive for all treatments, with the best values in the Foggia site, for both the irrigated and the severely stressed experiments; the relative root mean square error (RRMSE) was smaller than 20% in both the control treatments, but higher than 30% for the stressed treatments. The increase in RRMSE for the stressed experiments is due to CRITERIA simulating a crop in good soil water conditions and, as a consequence, with a larger evapotranspiration demand with respect to water stressed crop. Therefore, we can consider CRITERIA as a suitable tool to manage irrigations of processed tomato, especially for the full irrigation regime; an improvement can be reached by simulating the impact of water stress conditions on the eco-physiological parameters of the crop, in order to use the model also under deficit irrigation regimes.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.579 2014/06/18 - 21:31

In this paper the suitability of three perennial, herbaceous, lignocellulosic grasses (Arundo donax, Saccharum spontaneous spp. aegyptiacum and Miscanthus x giganteus) for the production of second-generation bioethanol in semi-arid Mediterranean environment was studied. Crops were established in spring 2002, supplying irrigation and nitrogen fertilization up to 2004/2005 growing season. Subsequently, crops were grown without any agronomic input and harvested annually. Data reported in this paper refers to 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 growing seasons. Aboveground dry matter (DM) yield was higher in Arundo (35.4±2.1 Mg ha–1 in 2009 and 32.2±1.9 Mg ha–1 in 2010 harvest) than in Saccharum (27.3±2.0 and 23.9±1.9 Mg ha–1, respectively) and Miscanthus (19.6±2.8 and 17.2±1.6 Mg ha–1, respectively). Structural polysaccharides of the raw material were higher in Miscanthus (63.4% w/w) followed by Saccharum (61.5% w/w) and Arundo (57.6% w/w). The same trend was identified for the cellulose content (41.0%, 36.8% and 34.6%, respectively). The highest values in the total hemicellulose complex were observed in Saccharum (24.7%), followed by Arundo (23.1%) and Miscanthus (22.4%). The composition of structural polysaccharides leads to a higher theoretical ethanol yield (TEY) from one dry ton of Miscanthus feedstock (kg DM Mg–1), followed by Saccharum and Arundo. On the other hand, the TEY per unit surface (Mg ha–1) was greater in Arundo than in Saccharum and Miscanthus. When compared to other lignocellulosic sources used in the second-generation bioethanol technology, such as agricultural residues, woody species and other herbaceous perennial crops, Arundo, Saccharum and Miscanthus showed a great potential in terms of TEY ha–1. Given the high levels of biomass yield and composition of structural polysaccharides, the three species might be introduced into the Mediterranean cropping systems to supply lignocellulosic biomass for second-generation industrial plants or bio-refineries.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.581 2014/06/18 - 21:31

Many research works propose sophisticated methods to analyse the carbon balance, while only a few tools are available for the calculation of both greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration with simplified methods. This paper describes a carbon balance assessment conducted at farm level with a simplified methodology, which includes calculations of both CO2 emissions and carbon sequestration in crop rotations. This carbon balance was tested in the Montepaldi Long Term Experiment (MOLTE) trial in central Italy, where two agroecosystems managed with two different farming practices (organic vs conventional) are compared. Both in terms of CO2eq emissions and carbon sequestration, this simplified method applied in our experiment provided comparable results to those yielded by complex methodologies reported in the literature. With regard to the crop rotation scheme applied in the reference period (2003-2007), CO2 emissions from various farm inputs were found to be significantly lower (0.74 Mg ha-1) in the organically managed system than in the conventionally managed system (1.76 Mg ha-1). The same trend was observed in terms of CO2eq per unit of product (0.30 Mg kg-1 in the organic system and 0.78 Mg kg-1 in the conventional system). In the conventional system the sources that contributed most to total emissions were direct and indirect emissions associated with the use of fertilisers and diesel fuel. Also the stock of sequestered carbon was significantly higher in the organic system (27.9 Mg ha-1 of C) than in the conventional system (24.5 Mg ha-1 of C). The carbon sequestration rate did not show any significant difference between the two systems. It will be necessary to test further this methodology also in commercial farms and to validate the indicators to monitor carbon fluxes at farm level.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.566 2014/06/11 - 06:28

An understanding of crop availability of livestock slurry nitrogen (N) is necessary to maximise crop N use efficiency and to minimise environmental losses. Results from field and laboratory incubation experiments suggest that first-year crop availability of slurry N comes mainly from its ammonium fraction because net mineralisation of organic N is often negligible in the short term. A two-year field experiment during 2011 and 2012 in northern Italy was undertaken with several aims: to estimate the N fertiliser value of raw dairy cow slurry, digested dairy cow slurry, and the liquid and solid fractions of the digested slurry, and to verify if applied ammonium recovery was similar both among slurries and between slurries and inorganic N fertiliser (ammonium sulphate). Different fertilisers were applied before silage maize cultivation followed by an unfertilised Italian ryegrass crop. The results showed that ammonium recovery was significantly higher in mineral-fertilised (75%) versus slurry-fertilised (30%) treatments, except in digested slurry (65%). This indicates that ammonium applied with organic materials is less efficient than when applied with mineral fertiliser. For the digested slurry and its liquid fraction, most of the applied ammonium was available to the maize during its application year (55%) due to a low carbon (C)/organic N ratio. The apparent N recovery of the raw slurry and digested slurry solid fraction increased substantially between the first (-1.4%) and second (20%) years, as these materials had high C/organic N ratios; they likely immobilised N for several months post application, producing residual effects during the Italian ryegrass and next maize crops.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.567 2014/06/11 - 06:28

The assessment of food production capacity is particularly important in small- and medium-sized cities, which have greater chances to develop local periurban farming. To date the literature has been focused on niche sectors of the food market, such as alternative food networks and public procurement for school canteens, but less attention has been paid to urban food production. We present a method to assess the food production capacity in periurban areas, which we tested on meat production (beef and lamb) in the urban region of Pisa, a medium-sized Italian city. The capacity of periurban livestock farms for meat production to fulfil urban demand was assessed on the basis of meat supply and demand. We derived meat demand from statistical data, whereas we calculated meat supply on the basis of three estimates (i.e. potential, current, actual meat supply) taking into account both statistical and on-farm survey data. In particular, the potential meat supply was estimated from statistical data on slaughtered livestock, the current meat supply was estimated from meat production data of on-farm surveys, while the actual meat supply was estimated from the amount of meat sold by farmers on the local market from onfarm surveys. For the urban region of Pisa, we estimated that the potential meat supply met is equal to 16% of the beef demand and 62% of the lamb demand. This data could change, if the on-farm data is taken into account in the current supply, as was the case with lamb, which decreased to 37%, whereas beef remained almost unchanged (14%). The actual supply was 70% and 10% of the current supply for beef and lamb respectively. We identified some gaps between the three estimates, particularly for lamb production, suggesting that it may have some constraints in terms of production and commercialisation. Our results can contribute to assess local food systems and their drivers at the farm level. Furthermore these results also highlight the need for an agronomical approach to food systems based on the analysis of farm activities located in periurban areas in order to quantify the food supply that is actually produced for the local market. Food planning policies, as well as studies at the local level, could take advantage from this method.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.569 2014/06/07 - 10:53

In addition to be a possible solution to the food crisis becoming a productive model to follow, the development of a process and/or a technique of food production in a developing country could create advantages from an industrial point of view due to the use of alternative raw materials, which have a potentially high competitiveness. In developing countries, agriculture is able to offer a variety of products making up the daily diet and provide products with potential that could make up for many nutritional deficiencies to which resident populations are subject. Food technology applications on cereals, tubers, roots, fruits, and by-products from related processes are reported at aiming to obtain finished and semi-finished foods and/or basic ingredients meeting the food safety criteria. In detail, this study aims to generate a processing method for the white bitter roots collected in a rural area of Burundi with a cyanogenic glycoside content >400 mg cyanide equivalent/kg dry weight. A standardised procedure consisting of peeling, grating, and oven drying at 60°C, with or without fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, was successfully tested.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.573 2014/06/06 - 07:54

A 3-year field experiment was carried out in southern Italy to evaluate the effect of different combinations of nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates (0, 55, 90, 135 kg ha–1), time of application (sowing, tillering, stem elongation) and number of nitrogen applications on durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L., var. durum). A total of eight different combinations - in terms of quantity and time of application - were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Soil plant analysis development was analysed along with leaf area index, grain and straw yield, plant height, plant lodging, thousand-kernel weight, non-vitreous kernels, shrunken and discarded kernels, hectolitre weight, grain protein content, and sodium dodecylsulfate sedimentation. Nitrogen contents of soil, grain and straw were measured in order to assess nitrogen efficiency. The results showed the positive effect of increased nitrogen dosages of 90 and 135 kg ha–1. The optimization of nitrogen administration increased by splitting the nitrogen into three application times, as shown by the eco-physiological, productive and qualitative parameters, and the nitrogen efficiency parameters measured (N application efficiency and N recovery fraction).

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.536 2014/04/18 - 23:18

Aim of this study was to understand the allocation of biomass into different canopy and root components and to measure the stem area index and its partitioning by cladode functionality (age), for fruiting Opuntia ficus-indica (OFI) Gialla trees, spaced 6x5 m apart and trained to a globe. The net primary productivity (NPP), calculated taking into account dry weight gain for above-ground vegetative components of OFI trees was 3.6 t C ha–1. Including the fruit component and 1st flush current-year cladodes, NPP of above-ground components becomes 12 t ha–1, equivalent to 5.4 t C ha–1. Current-year cladodes were the highest C sink (49% of total annual C fixed in the canopy), secondary growth accounted for 22% of C fixation and the fruit component for 29%. This study demonstrated that OFI trees, grown in a commercial fruit orchard, couple high productivity, in terms of fruit yield and harvest index, with relevant C fixed in the canopy.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.537 2014/03/03 - 23:51

In 2005-2007 growing season, few varieties of field bean, high protein pea and white lupin were compared in an organic farm of Central Italy (Mugello area, Tuscany), to evaluate their agronomic performance in terms of grain yield, nutritional quality and competitive ability against weeds. The experiment was performed under rain-fed conditions. Furthermore, grain legumes features were compared between two different sowing seasons (autumnal vs late-winter) for two years, in order to get information on the best time of sowing of these species, and the stability of yields of different genotypes in those climatic and soil conditions. These legumes could be an alternative protein source to external soybean, a high-risk alimentary source of genetically modified organisms, in the organic livestock sector. The main findings indicate that higher yields in grain and crude protein were obtained with the pea species and in particular with cultivars Hardy (4.0 t/ha grain yield; 626 kg/ha crude protein yield) and Classic (3.1 t/ha grain yield; 557 kg/ha crude protein yield); followed by field bean cv. Chiaro di Torre Lama (2.9 t/ha grain yield; 624 kg/ha crude protein yield) and cv. Vesuvio (2.5 t/ha grain yield; 549 kg/ha crude protein yield). Furthermore the field bean is interesting for the stability of yield in both years despite climatic conditions rather different. The white lupin has showed the lower yield but the best values of grain quality, with higher values in lupin Multitalia for dry matter, crude protein and ether extract and in lupin Luxe also for crude fibre, respect to the other legumes analysed. Among lupin varieties, lupin Multitalia showed the best yield results for the pedo-climatic conditions of Mugello area (0.9 t/ha lupin Multitalia; 0.2 t/ha lupin Luxe). The total yield of organic grain legumes, in the experimental site, is resulted higher with an autumnal seeding respect to the late-winter seeding (2.8 t/ha vs 1.9 t/ha).

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.525 2014/03/03 - 23:51

The effect of two row spacing configurations and four water supply levels was investigated on sweet and fibre sorghum in Central Italy for two consecutive years. Results highlighted the influence of both irrigation and row spatial configuration on crop productivity. Indeed, several studies have pointed out the positive response of sorghum to irrigation in Mediterranean climate, as in this environment water stress represents one of the main limiting factors on crop productivity. On the other hand, few attempts have been made to explore the role of row spacing on energy sorghum productivity. Results outlined an average increase in sorghum dry biomass yield ranging from +23% to +79% at variable rates of water supply as compared to rainfed control. The positive effect of irrigation was also observed on leaf area index and radiation use efficiency. Moreover, we observed a crop yield increase, from 9% to 20%, under double row spacing compared to the standard planting pattern (i.e. single row spacing). Finally, it was confirmed the efficient use of water by sorghum and the great ability of sorghum to increase its biomass yield in response to increasing volumes of water supplied. Therefore, this work suggests how row spacing configuration and drip irrigation could be feasible technical options to increase sorghum biomass yields in Mediterranean environments. These techniques should be experienced by farmers towards a sustainable intensification of current cropping systems.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.563 2014/02/27 - 00:53

This research is part of a project aimed at verifying the potential of a specifically assessed wooded riparian zone in removing excess of combined nitrogen from the Zero river flow for the reduction of nutrient input into Venice Lagoon. Specific objectives were pursued to determine seasonal fluctuations of the microbial populations from the input water to a drainage ditch, conveying back the flux into the river after passing through the soil of the wooded riparian strip. The bacterial communities were determined by combined approaches involving cultivation, microscopic methods and DNA based techniques to determine both culturable and total microbial community in water. The results indicate that the size of the bacterial population, including the culturable fraction, increases from the river to the drainage ditch especially on the warm season. The multiple approach here adopted enabled also to demonstrate that the special condition created in the buffer strip supports the development and the metabolism of the microbial community. The nature of the bacterial population, in terms of phylotypes distribution, was investigated by 16S rDNA analysis indicating that the most represented genera belong to Gamma-proteobacteria, which is known to include an exceeding number of important pathogens. In spring, the effect of the buffer strip seems to significantly reduce such a sub-population. The changes observed for the total bacterial community composition become much evident in summer, as revealed by both denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis cluster analysis and by the diversity index calculation. The hydraulic management coupled to the suspension of farming practices and the development of the woody and herbaceous vegetation resulted in a condition suitable for the containment of undesired microbiota (mainly during the spring season) while continuing to support denitrification activity (especially throughout the summer) as verified by the total nitrogen removal.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.548 2014/02/27 - 00:53

Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum) is one of the major crops in the Mediterranean basin, where water stress often occurs during grain filling which represents a critical stage for the synthesis and accumulation of storage proteins (gliadins and glutenins). The aim of the study is to evaluate, by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DE SDS-PAGE), the storage proteins composition of two durum wheat cultivars (Ciccio and Svevo) cultivated in a growth chamber under two different water regimes (control and water deficit). At milk stage and physiological maturity, gluten proteins have been extracted and separated by 2DE SDS-PAGE. The analysis of the gels was performed by the software ImageMaster 2D Platinum (Amersham). The results showed differences in protein expression within the different gel regions between water regimes and cultivars; under water deficit the rate of protein accumulation was faster for all the protein regions, either at milk and physiological stage. Protein accumulation within high molecular weight (H) region resulted faster in Ciccio than in Svevo mainly in the control treatment. In the low molecular weight region between 48 and 35 kDa (L 48-35), the cultivar Ciccio showed a higher protein expression than Svevo. Furthermore under water deficit a marked increase in H region volume and a decrease in the L 48-35 region was observed only for Svevo; instead in Ciccio no change was observed showing this cultivar a greater stability on changing water regime. Further studies by the use of mass spectrometry are necessary to identify specific peptides relative to drought stress during grain filling as well as to investigate the relationships with technological quality.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.558 2014/02/04 - 20:44

Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba L.) is a spring-summer legume with a high drought tolerance, grown mainly in India, Pakistan, United States and South Africa, whose seeds contain galactomannans. These can be used as an emollient, softening or thickening agent, a flocculant, as well as in hydraulic fracturing, and as a stabiliser in a wide range of other industrial activities: the production of cosmetics, paper, textiles, paints and varnishes, detergents, in construction, and in food products (jams, jellies, yogurt, mayonnaise, ketchup, diet foods, foods for coeliacs, etc.). In the light of a growing industrial demand for guar flour, in May 2012 a trial was carried out in southern Italy. Seeds from South Africa were sown in large plots on two farms with different soil characteristics. The crop showed yields varying between 1.8 and 2.2 t ha–1. Agronomic results were then used to conduct an integrated sustainability analysis using the production cost analysis and the life cycle assessment, in order to assess, respectively, the cost-effectiveness and the environmental impact of the production process of guar in a Mediterranean environment. Compared to other competitive crops, guar, with less than 3000 kg of CO2 eq. emissions, can be considered as a low-emission crop. Given the above-mentioned yield, guar growing is economically sustainable when the purchase price of seeds is not less than 0.96 € kg–1.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.565 2014/02/04 - 20:44

Conservation tillage techniques are becoming increasingly popular worldwide as they have the potential to generate environmental, agronomic, and economic benefits. In Mediterranean areas, studies performed on the effects of conservation tillage [in comparison with the conventional tillage technique (CT)] on grain yield of cereal crops have reported contradictory results as well as considerable year-to-year variation, demonstrating how the impact of different soil tillage techniques on crop productivity is strongly site-specific. The present paper summarises the main results from a set of experiments carried out in Sicily during the last 20 years in which we compared no tillage (NT) to CT in terms of their respective effects on the productivity and quality of durum wheat, while at the same time varying some other crop management practices (e.g. crop sequence, N fertilisation, wheat genotype, sowing time). On average, no differences were observed between the two tillage techniques; yields were 3.84 and 3.87 Mg ha–1 for CT and NT, respectively. However, NT guaranteed superior yield when water stress during the crop cycle was high, whereas CT led to higher yields when water availability was adequate. Moreover, the results suggest that the use of NT needs to be accompanied by a rational crop sequence. In fact, a cumulative detrimental effect of NT over time was found for continuous wheat. Finally, grain quality in terms of protein content was slightly higher for CT (15.1%) than NT (14.4%). Thus, when using NT, the rate of nitrogen fertiliser application should be increased to offset this difference.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.560 2014/01/23 - 21:22

This in-farm research study was aimed at evaluating new strategies in the use of plastic protective covers in field grown melon in order to expand the production period and reduce costs. Four experiments were set up in 2010 and repeated in 2011 in Central Italy, in an inland region with a temperate climate. We evaluated: i) the use of high tunnels for two growing cycles per year, i.e. for very early and very late production (target transplanting in late winter and mid-summer, respectively), for either one year or two consecutive years, and the use of grafted plants in the second year as an alternative to normal plants to prevent soil born diseases; ii) the use of ethylene-vinyl-acetate film low tunnels alone or combined with non-woven floating row covers for transplanting in early spring; iii) the use of non-woven low tunnels for transplanting in mid-spring; iv) the use of biodegradable and conventional polyethylene ground mulch films, both in the presence of nonwoven low tunnels. As far as the non-woven cover is concerned, we adopted the strategy of removing later with respect to usual practices, i.e. ten days after the onset of first pistillate flowers. This was based on the evidence that covers hamper honeybee circulation, which may be exploited on a farm-scale to delay pollination until an adequate number of pistillate flowers set, in order to shorten scaled fruit ripening and harvest. Our results demonstrate that high tunnels may be used for at least four consecutive melon growing cycles (early and late productions for two years) with good off-season yields and no appreciable drawbacks in terms of disease scale-up, irrespective of the use of normal or grafted plants. The non-woven low tunnel was effective in hampering honeybee circulation and its delayed removal allowed the harvest period to be halved, a more uniform fruit size to be obtained, and labour productivity of harvest to be increased. This had positive implications on the management of irrigation and chemical disease control close to the harvest period, and on the management of harvest and post-harvest operation schedules, including fruit processing, packaging and delivery to markets. In the presence of a non-woven low tunnel, there was no substantial difference in the biodegradable mulch compared to other mulches in terms of effects on harvest dates, yield and weed control, so that its use can be cost-effective and convenient provided that costs are not higher than those for traditional polyethylene films and their usage/disposal.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2014.556 2014/01/23 - 21:22

Conservation tillage techniques are becoming increasingly popular worldwide as they have the potential to generate environmental, agronomic, and economic benefits. In Mediterranean areas, studies performed on the effects of conservation tillage [in comparison with the conventional tillage technique (CT)] on grain yield of cereal crops have reported contradictory results as well as considerable year-to-year variation, demonstrating how the impact of different soil tillage techniques on crop productivity is strongly site-specific. The present paper summarises the main results from a set of experiments carried out in Sicily during the last 20 years in which we compared no tillage (NT) to CT in terms of their respective effects on the productivity and quality of durum wheat, while at the same time varying some other crop management practices (e.g. crop sequence, N fertilisation, wheat genotype, sowing time). On average, no differences were observed between the two tillage techniques; yields were 3.84 and 3.87 Mg ha–1 for CT and NT, respectively. However, NT guaranteed superior yield when water stress during the crop cycle was high, whereas CT led to higher yields when water availability was adequate. Moreover, the results suggest that the use of NT needs to be accompanied by a rational crop sequence. In fact, a cumulative detrimental effect of NT over time was found for continuous wheat. Finally, grain quality in terms of protein content was slightly higher for CT (15.1%) than NT (14.4%). Thus, when using NT, the rate of nitrogen fertiliser application should be increased to offset this difference.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/560 2014/01/17 - 06:22

This in-farm research study was aimed at evaluating new strategies in the use of plastic protective covers in field grown melon in order to expand the production period and reduce costs. Four experiments were set up in 2010 and repeated in 2011 in Central Italy, in an inland region with a temperate climate. We evaluated: i) the use of high tunnels for two growing cycles per year, i.e. for very early and very late production (target transplanting in late winter and mid-summer, respectively), for either one year or two consecutive years, and the use of grafted plants in the second year as an alternative to normal plants to prevent soil born diseases; ii) the use of ethylene-vinyl-acetate film low tunnels alone or combined with non-woven floating row covers for transplanting in early spring; iii) the use of non-woven low tunnels for transplanting in mid-spring; iv) the use of biodegradable and conventional polyethylene ground mulch films, both in the presence of nonwoven low tunnels. As far as the non-woven cover is concerned, we adopted the strategy of removing later with respect to usual practices, i.e. ten days after the onset of first pistillate flowers. This was based on the evidence that covers hamper honeybee circulation, which may be exploited on a farm-scale to delay pollination until an adequate number of pistillate flowers set, in order to shorten scaled fruit ripening and harvest. Our results demonstrate that high tunnels may be used for at least four consecutive melon growing cycles (early and late productions for two years) with good off-season yields and no appreciable drawbacks in terms of disease scale-up, irrespective of the use of normal or grafted plants. The non-woven low tunnel was effective in hampering honeybee circulation and its delayed removal allowed the harvest period to be halved, a more uniform fruit size to be obtained, and labour productivity of harvest to be increased. This had positive implications on the management of irrigation and chemical disease control close to the harvest period, and on the management of harvest and post-harvest operation schedules, including fruit processing, packaging and delivery to markets. In the presence of a non-woven low tunnel, there was no substantial difference in the biodegradable mulch compared to other mulches in terms of effects on harvest dates, yield and weed control, so that its use can be cost-effective and convenient provided that costs are not higher than those for traditional polyethylene films and their usage/disposal.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/556 2014/01/17 - 06:22

Recent urbanisation trends are frequently characterised by spatial fragmentation and scatteredness, as urbanised territories are distributed in space at irregular intervals. In this article, it is argued that such irregularities in spatial distribution result, at least in part, from the absence of a specific policy design about land use. Soil, in fact, is a public good , finite and non-reproducible. As such, soil management requires well-defined policies preventing misuse and excessive soil consumption for economic sustainability. The case for policy intervention is discussed in relation to the Italian context. On the one hand, it is argued that a sufficient knowledge of the phenomenon is a fundamental prerequisite for policy design. Accordingly, commonly agreed measures of soil use should be available for the whole country on a territorial level. On the other hand, the causes of soil use change should be identified. In particular, a relevant issue to be addressed is to what extent changes in soil use are driven by actual housing demand and then, in turn, by population growth. There is evidence, in fact, showing that changes in soil use are driven by the demand for real estate investments. Consequently, land use policies are required to take into account the social costs of land transformation.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e26 2013/12/11 - 23:38

A number of processes of degradation threaten soil functions. Ten of them are acknowledged by the European Union and fifteen by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but at least another seven have been indicated by different authors in Italy and in other parts of the world. This short review paper summarizes the nature, economic relevance, and territorial impact of soil degradation in Italy, and with reference to Europe as a whole, and highlights the most relevant research needs in soil conservation. The direct annual costs of the main soil degradation processes are estimated to be over 38,000,000,000 euro per year in Europe as a whole, while in Italy, only for landslides, floods, and soil erosion, costs amount to 900,000,000 euro. Loss of the ability to produce food commodities because of soil degradation is particularly important in Italy, since selfsufficiency in food has recently decreased to less than 80% and Italian agricultural soils are hit by several problems, such as limited soil drainage, unfavorable texture and stoniness, shallow rooting depth, and poor chemical properties. On average, soil sealing, reduction in organic matter, and soil compaction in Italy are comparable with those of many other countries, but the occurrence of soil erosion, floods, and landslides is more widespread than in most parts of Europe, and also the presence of salt-affected soils is becoming a major worry. The fight against soil degradation in Italy is certainly more difficult than in other countries because of the high environmental variability. However, according to the current trends, Italy is mostly probably destined not to achieve the European objective to significantly reduce main soil degradation processes by the year 2020. There are several research needs in the field of soil conservation in Italy. These include: i) a better basic knowledge about many soil degradation processes and of pedodiversity; ii) reliable, sensitive, and locally validated models for main degradation processes; iii) assessment of resilience of different soils against degradation processes, as well as of their reaction to the measures foreseen in the current European agricultural policy.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e28 2013/12/10 - 00:19

Little information is available as to the real effectiveness of the phytoextraction remediation technique, since laboratory experiments are still the most common way in which this is measured. Given this, an experiment on a cadmium-polluted soil was carried out in open field conditions in Southern Italy with the aim of assessing the growth and the phytoextraction potential of giant reed (Arundo donax L). Compost fertilisation and Trichoderma harzianum A6 inoculations were used to verify the possibility of increasing the metal uptake of the crop. Biomass yield of giant reed in the first growth season (average 12.8 Mg ha–1) was not affected by the Cd concentration in the soil and this increased significantly with compost fertilisation (13.8 Mg ha–1). Both compost fertilisation and T. harzianum inoculation increased cadmium uptake and translocation in leaves. Nitrifying bacteria was shown to be a useful tool to biomonitor soil quality. These results proved the suitability of the giant reed for assisted-phytoremedation with the use of compost fertilisation and T. harzianum.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e29 2013/12/10 - 00:19

In this review, the technique of soil-less cultivation of horticultural crops is analysed, the main differences between this and traditional cultivation techniques are described, and the advantages and disadvantages of each method in relation to the others are identified. Soilless cultivation has revolutionised various sectors of vegetable and floriculture production, and recent years have also seen interest being shown by Italian fruit crop producers, particularly those involved in table grape viticulture. The various issues related to the use of this technique are described in relation to the needs of the substrate, water management, and mineral nutrition of the different species, and to the fact that not all species are suitable for the application of soil-less cultivation. Finally, since the soil-less system is strongly influenced by Man and is increasingly conditioned by this, the links between the final product and the territory where it is grown appear to be very limited. This is particularly true in Italy where, for certain protected geographical indication food products, soil-less cultivation is prohibited.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e30 2013/12/06 - 20:49

In the European Union, as in many parts of the world, there is increasing pressure to demonstrate that environmental projects achieve expected outcomes and are cost-effective. This paper reports on a trial application of an environmental investment framework, the Investment Framework for Environmental Resource (INFFER). The framework, based on benefit:cost analysis principles, was applied to agro-environmental assets in the Mugello and Valdisieve areas of northern Tuscany, Italy. Farmers, environmental and institutional representatives and technical experts took part in the process of identifying agro-environmental assets in the region. A total of 26 assets were identified, and of these, only 2 (the last remaining population of Cistus laurfolius within the natural protected area of local interest (Area Naturale Protetta di Interesse Locale, ANPIL) of Santa Brigida, and the Sant’ Antonio forest were selected as having reasonable prospects of progressing to cost-effective projects (benefit:cost ratio>1). Detailed projects were developed for both assets and found to be cost-effective based on available information. While the mindset of being clear about identifying and valuing natural assets was a new concept to participants, overall the process worked well. The factors considered in calculating a benefit:cost ratio, including technical feasibility, adoption and compliance factors, socio-political risks, costs and the likelihood of obtaining long-term funding to maintain project benefits, were all relevant in Tuscany and required the knowledge of local experts. Overall, INFFER appears relevant and useful in an EU context, and, in particular, is highly compatible with the EU Natura 2000 nature and biodiversity policy.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e27 2013/12/06 - 20:49

Throughout Italy, soil sealing has had a significant impact on the landscape and on agricultural land. This issue needs to be analyzed in order to provide the policy maker with strategic information for rational land planning and environmental management. In this context, the purpose of this study is to widen our knowledge about the consumption of agricultural land in Italy, analyzing its dynamics, causes and impact. The analysis considers three specific aspects: design of a territorial model to study the extent of land consumption, qualitativequantitative evaluation and classification of the ways in which sealing areas are extended, and analysis of impact and driving forces. The results have helped identify the extent of soil sealing on a geographical basis and, at the same time, to understand how artificialization morphotypologies are linked to the changes that take place and what impact these changes have in relation to territorial multifunctionality and hydrogeological risk.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e24 2013/10/11 - 17:53

The main objective of this paper was to study the growth and the yield responses of different vegetable crops to pomace compost and biowaste (source-separated municipal organic fraction) compost and to the increase in their rates. A secondary aim was to assess the efficiency of nitrogen (N) supplied to the crops by the compost rate integrated or not with N fertilisers. Finally, the ability of the two composts to improve the soil organic carbon content was also compared. The research was carried out from July 2009 to June 2011. A comparison was made of treatments resulting from the factorial combination of two composts, two rates of application, and two levels of nitrogen fertiliser. A non-fertilised control was also analysed and a standard mineral fertilisation completed the group of treatments. Cauliflower and potato were harvested after the first compost distribution, and onion and lettuce after the second. Our results indicated that the higher the quantity of olive pomace compost applied the greater the slow release of NO3–N for crop needs. This has to be related to the high carbon:nitrogen ratio of the olive pomace compost.The halved rate of N fertiliser added to compost was sufficient to overcome the competition between soil microorganisms and roots for nitrogen, only on the second crop in the annual sequence. The biowaste compost without N fertiliser integration also reduced crop yields, but this was to a lesser degree than that achieved with olive pomace compost and was independent of the rate applied. The halved rate of N fertiliser supplied was able to overcome the problems of nitrogen availability. As a consequence, the nitrogen utilisation efficiency showed a higher recovery of nitrogen from biowaste compost than from olive pomace compost, as well as from the 10 t ha–1 dose (rate 10) of dry matter than from the 20 t ha–1 dose. On the other hand, the soil organic carbon content increased significantly only when the composts were added at doses of 20 t ha–1.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e25 2013/10/11 - 17:53

With the increase in the world population and the demand for food, new agricultural practices have been developed to improve food production through the use of more effective pesticides and fertilisers. These technologies can lead to an uncontrolled release of undesired substances into the environment, with the potential to contaminate soil and groundwater. Today, nanotechnology represents a promising approach to improve agricultural production and remediate polluted sites. This paper reviews the recent applications of nanotechnologies in agro-environmental studies with particular attention to the fate of nanomaterials once introduced in water and soil, to the advantages of their use and their possible toxicology. Findings show that the use of nanomaterials can improve the quality of the environment and help detect and remediate polluted sites. Only a small number of nanomaterials demonstrated potential toxic effects. These are discussed in detail.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e18 2013/09/13 - 00:04

The management of pasture, through the use of appropriate stocking rates and grazing systems, influences the feeding behaviour of the animals. The impact of animal behaviour on vegetation can be of great importance for the sustainability of pastures and mantaining their biodiversity. Indeed, a different response in terms of quality of animal products is mediated by the ability of animals to concentrate or transform grass components, according to the characteristics of the soil. The herbage ingested by animals provides them with compounds with aromatic characteristics, such as terpenes, and with functional properties beneficial for human health, such as carotenoids, vitamins, polyphenols and polyunsatured fatty acids. The combination of different ecological conditions on different soils through specific management practices determines the differentiation of several pasture vegetation types, a unique patrimony of great value in terms of biodiversity and capability to sustain local production, also important because of their own high added value. This review deals with pasture management aimed at conserving the soil and reducing gas emissions, and takes into consideration the quality of animal products as a result of such management.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e19 2013/09/13 - 00:04

No-tillage (NT) is an alternative way of reducing costs and lessening the burden of working the land, but in essence it is a method of sustainable land use in dryland cropping systems. The physical quality of the soil is the fundamental factor that defines the sustainability of agro-ecosystems, and its evaluation can be obtained using both capacitive and dynamic indicators. The main objectives of this study were: i) to assess the physical quality of the soil in an almond orchard where long-term different soil tillage systems and weed control methods, such as NT with chemical control and surface tillage (ST), were used; and ii) to compare the indicators under consideration with the proposed reference values, using the information gathered to evaluate the effects of NT and ST. The following physical properties were determined: bulk density, air capacity, macroporosity, plant available water capacity, relative field capacity, Dexter’s index, field saturated hydraulic conductivity, as well as the location (modal, median, and mean pore diameter) and shape (standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis) parameters which corresponded to the equivalent pore size distribution functions. Our results showed that the physical soil indicators adopted were sufficiently sensitive to identify tillage-induced changes and then to quantify the physical quality of rigid to moderately expansive agricultural soils. After thirty years of NT, a set of capacitive indicators, along with measurements of hydraulic conductivity, used in conjunction with an optimal pore volume distribution and the water release curve, unanimously classified the quality of the studied soil as optimal or near optimal.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e20 2013/09/10 - 12:43

Optimising bioenergy chains and the creation of a bio-energy district can make a positive contribution to territorial development, land use planning and employment, while reducing environmental pollution. Energy planning issues are complex problems with multiple decision makers and criteria. Given the spatial nature of the problem, the present paper proposes a spatial multi-criteria analysis approach for supporting decision makers in the site selection process for short rotation forestry planting in the Basilicata Region, southern Italy. The methodology applied in the decision-support system is ordered weighted averaging, extended by means of fuzzy linguistic quantifiers. The purpose of the research is to formulate a systematic procedure to analyse complex decision problems, while supplying decision makers with a flexible tool to decide on possible agro-energy policies. The outcomes of the analysis may support decision makers in defining targeted agro-energy policies and help the private sector to identify the most appropriate cropping plan.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e21 2013/09/10 - 12:43

Combination of plant inoculation with a commercial mycorrhizal formulation with half or full fertiliser application rates was evaluated for the effects on plant growth and yield and mycorrhization occurrence throughout two consecutive field tomato crops in southern Italy. Mycorrhizal formulation was inoculated on tomato seedling roots both in the nursery and after transplant. Inoculated tomato seedlings were significantly larger than non-inoculated seedlings less than 30 days after the first inoculation in the nursery. Above ground dry biomass and stem number of inoculated plants were found to be higher also at the end of each crop. Positive effects of mycorrhizal inoculation were extended also to marketable yield of both crops, mainly due to an increased number and weight of clusters and fruits. Mycorrhizal treatment also improved crop earliness, seen in terms of anticipating plant flowering, increasing first harvest yield, and reducing average harvesting time compared to non-inoculated plants. Both rates of mineral fertilisers positively affected tomato growth and marketable yield, but did not influence fruit quality parameters. No significant interaction was found between mineral fertilisation and plant mycorrhization. Crop inoculation with mycorrhizal formulations could reduce the amounts of fertilisers and pesticides being used, and could represent a sustainable technique to improve crop yield and profitability.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e22 2013/09/10 - 12:43

Farmers’ irrigation practices play a crucial role in the sustainability of crop production and water consumption, and in the way they deal with the current and future effects of climate change. In this study, a system dynamic multi-agent model adopting the soil water balance provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Irrigation and Drainage Paper 56 was developed to explore how farmers’ decision making may affect future water needs and use with a focus on the role of climate services, i.e. forecasts and insurance. A climatic projection record representing the down-scaled A1B market scenario (a balance across all sources) of the assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is used to produce future daily data about relative humidity, precipitation, temperature and wind speed. Two types of meteorological services are made available: i) a bi-weekly bulletin; and ii) seasonal forecasts. The precision of these services was altered to represent different conditions, from perfect knowledge to poor forecasts. Using the available forecasts, farming agents take adaptation decisions concerning crop allocation and irrigation management on the basis of their own risk attitudes. Farmers’ attitudes are characterized by fuzzy classifications depending on age, relative income and crop profitability. Farming agents’ adaptation decisions directly affect the crop and irrigation parameters, which in turn affect future water needs on a territorial level. By incorporating available and future meteorological services, the model allows the farmer’s decision making-process to be explored together with the consequent future irrigation water demand for the period 2015 to 2030. The model prototype is applied to a data set of the Venice Lagoon Watershed, an area of 2038 km2 in north-east Italy, for a preliminary test of its performance and to design future development objectives.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e23 2013/09/10 - 12:43

Sclerophyllous vegetation contributes to the formation of forest resources in the Mediterranean biome that in turn provides an important resource in terms of ecosystem services. Despite this, scientific knowledge of sclerophyllous vegetation, in particular with regard to their root systems, is fragmented. This review takes into account the research on below-ground sclerophyllous biomass in different contexts where there is a Mediterranean climate. In particular, the authors analyse the different investigative approaches used in studying roots, the main topics covered by research, and the relationships between root and shoot biomass. The review shows that there is a paucity of research on the root systems of sclerophyllous vegetation although there are examples of innovative technologies being applied to research questions. This review considers some key works in the literature, and provides useful information to address re-vegetation and reforestation programmes in the context of Mediterranean ecosystems.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e17 2013/06/27 - 19:39

The sustainable development of agricultural systems is currently challenged by many complex agro-environmental issues. These are characterized by an incomplete understanding of the situation and the problems that arise, and the conflicting opinions that result, issues over boundaries that are often difficult to define, and controversy over the multiple goals and uncertain outcomes. Added to these characteristics, we also have the slow and often inadequate uptake and implementation of research outcomes in this complex, real world. In order to improve sustainability of agro-ecosystems, agronomic research must move away from the linear research approaches and extension practices adopted so far that have focused purely on biophysical agroecosystems. The theoretical operational space of agronomic research must be transformed by considering agronomic issues as part of a broader social-agro-ecosystem. One aspect of this transformation is the inclusion of knowledge collected on a local level with the participation of farmers on the ground. The integration of local experiential knowledge with traditional agronomic research is by necessity based on the participation of many different stakeholders and there can be no single blueprint for how best to develop and use the input received. However, agronomists and policy advisors require general guidelines drawn up from actual experience in order to accelerate positive agronomic change. We address this need through a comparative analysis of two case studies; one involves multi-stakeholder research in a cropping system in the dairy district of Arborea, Sardinia, Italy. The central question was: How can high crop production be maintained while also achieving the EU target water quality and minimizing the production costs? The second case is a multi-stakeholder soil health project from south-eastern Australia. Here the central question was: How can soil decline be prevented and reversed in this district, and soils made more resilient to future challenges? The Social Learning for the Integrated Management and sustainable use of water (SLIM) framework, a useful heuristic tool for exploring the dynamics of transformational change, guided the analysis of the case studies. Within this framework, a key indicator of success is the emergence of new knowledge from the creation of new spaces for learning between researchers and local stakeholders. The Italian case study appears to have been the most successful in this sense, as opportunities for joint exploration of research data allowed new potential farming responses to the central question to emerge. The multi-stakeholder processes in the Australian case focused more on providing public openings for individual learning, and missed the opportunity for new knowledge to emerge through joint exploration. We conclude that participatory approaches may enable transformative practice through knowledge integration, but that this process is not an automatic outcome of increased community participation.

http://www.agronomy.it/index.php/agro/article/view/ija.2013.e15 2013/06/19 - 10:32