Agriculture

Published by MDPI AG
Online ISSN: 2077-0472
Publications
In agriculture and industry, it is often necessary to heat surface layers of material like soil, timber, concrete, and so on, with microwave (MW) energy. Traditional MW irradiators (antennas) cannot restrain their heating to the surface, with the energy penetrating deeply into the material. Slow-wave comb applicators can provide the required energy distribution in the surface layer. Theoretical analyses of the comb applicators used for heating were carried out and on this basis, three comb applicators were designed and made for soil treatment: two applicators Comb 1 and Comb 2 for frequency 2.45 GHz and Comb 3 for frequency 0.922 GHz. An experimental study of applicators was carried out using two MW plants: 30 kW (2.45 GHz) and 60 kW (0.922 GHz) for heating soil with moisture content in the range from 32% to 173% and density 460 to 1290 kg m−3. The study showed that comb applicators provide the following advantages: reduction in energy dissipation in material depth and release of the significant part of applied MW energy in layers close to the applicator surface. Comb applicators can provide the required soil top layer treatment (sterilization) with reasonable efficiency and can be recommended for practical use in shallow soil treatment for weed seed and pathogen control in agricultural applications. Comb applicators can also be used for effective heating and MW treatment of the surface layers of wood, concrete, bricks, plastics, and other dielectric materials.
 
Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) is an important crop that serves as a source of edible oil and protein. However, little is known about its molecular mechanism of adaptation to extreme environmental conditions. Based on the Arabidopsis thaliana sequence database and Phytozome, a soybean gene that had a highly similar sequence to the reduced induction of the non-photochemical quenching2 (AtRIQ2) gene, GmRIQ2-like (accession NO.: Glyma.04G174400), was identified in this study. The gene structure analysis revealed that GmRIQ2-like encoded a transmembrane protein. Elements of the promoter analysis indicated that GmRIQ2-like participated in the photosynthesis and abiotic stress pathways. The subcellular localization results revealed that the protein encoded by GmRIQ2-like was located in chloroplasts. The quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR results revealed that GmRIQ2-like-overexpression (OE) and -knock-out (KO) transgenic soybean seedlings were cultivated successfully. The relative chlorophyll (Chl) and zeaxanthin contents and Chl fluorescence kinetic parameters demonstrated that GmRIQ2-like dissipated excess light energy by enhancing the non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) and reduced plant photoinhibition. These results suggested that GmRIQ2-like was induced in response to strong light and depressed Chl production involved in soybean stress tolerance. These findings indicate that the transgenic seedlings of GmRIQ2-like could be used to enhance strong light stress tolerance and protect soybean plants from photoinhibition damage. This study will serve as a reference for studying crop photoprotection regulation mechanisms and benefits the research and development of new cultivars.
 
The aim of this paper is to determine the influence of the Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP) subsidies on the level of economic sustainability of farms by means of three-fold study. To determine the economic sustainability of farms the authors applied the income gap ratio. Next, the level of income differentiation between farms of various economic classes was established. The last part consisted of the recognition of statistically significant CAP schemes that shape agricultural income in farms of different size and in assessing how the respective subsidies should increase or decrease to fill the recognized gap, based on the coefficients of panel regression. The spatial scope covered all EU countries in 2005–2015. Results show that due to the CAP’s support the average income of farms has approached the average non-agricultural income, but distribution of this support favored the largest farms, increasing disparities within the sector.
 
Acerola fruit is one of the richest natural sources of ascorbic acid. As a consequence, acerola fruit and its products are in demand worldwide for the production of health supplements and for the development of functional products. Acerola phenotypes (103) were screened in Western Paraná State, in the Southern region of Brazil, and evaluated to obtain information on fruit quality characteristics with the aim of using them in future breeding programs. Principal Component and Hierarchical Cluster analysis were performed on all datasets to explore the variability among samples and to identify the main clusters. A great variability among phenotypes was observed, with potential for use in breeding programs. Seven phenotypes were selected as candidates in the next breeding program, characterized by high vitamin C content and yield, or higher values of fruit size and color parameters. Four belong to cluster 1 and three to cluster 2. Specifically, two phenotypes, belonging to cluster 2, showed the best performance in terms of vitamin C (2150 mg 100 g−1 pulp and 2625 mg 100 g−1 pulp respectively) and pulp yield (74.8% and 82.3% respectively), and one phenotype, belonging to cluster 1, for high pulp yield, fruit size and vitamin C content (80.3% 6.43 g and 2490 mg 100 g−1 pulp).
 
Varieties of willow tested in the field experiment.
Yield of biomass and biometric features of willow crops in separated clusters.
In response to the growth in the global population and climate change concerns, questions remain regarding the adaptation of production systems to meet increasing food and energy demands. The aim of the paper is to present the production potential and biometric features of 11 willow varieties bred and cultivated mainly in Europe. The experiment was set up on marginal soil. The research was conducted in 2016–2020 and concerned 11 varieties of willow harvested in a three-year cycle. The dry matter yield of the examined willow varieties ranged from 6.5 to 13.8 Mg ha−1 year−1. Varieties Tur, Sven, Olof, Torhild, and Tordis were characterized by a relatively low level of yield (7.2–8.2 Mg ha−1 year−1). The highest dry matter yield was obtained for the varieties Ekotur and Żubr, respectively, of 11.5 and 13.8 Mg ha−1 year−1. The assessed varieties differed in both the level of obtained dry matter yield and biometric features. The Żubr variety produced the smallest number of shoots (three), but with the greatest height (4.8 m) and diameter (29.6 mm). Varieties with high production potential develop fewer shoots, but are taller and have a larger diameter than other varieties.
 
Easily available and detailed area-related information is very valuable for the optimization of crop production processes in terms of, e.g., documentation and invoicing or detection of inefficiencies. The present study dealt with the development of algorithms to gain sophisticated information about different area-related parameters in a preferably automated way. Rear hitch position and wheel-based machine speed were recorded from ISO 11783 communication data during plowing with a mounted reversible moldboard plow. The data were georeferenced using the position information from a low-cost differential global navigation satellite system (D-GNSS) receiver. After the exclusion of non-work sequences from continuous data logs, single cultivated tracks were reconstructed, which represented as a whole the cultivated area of a field. Based on that, the boundary of the field and the included area were automatically detected with a slight overestimation of 1.4%. Different field parts were distinguished and single overlaps between the cultivated tracks were detected, which allowed a distinct assessment of the lateral and headland overlapping (2.05% and 3.96%, respectively). Incomplete information about the work state of the implement was identified as the main challenge to get precise results. With a few adaptions, the used methodology could be transferred to a wide range of mounted implements.
 
Profile summary of mean soil carbon stock along three catenas at semi-natural Miscanthus sinensis grassland sites in Japan (i.e., Kawatabi Field Science Center, Miyagi Prefecture (KAW); Soni Plateau, Nara Prefecture (SONI); Aso-Kuju National Park, Kumamoto Prefecture (ASO)). Error bars represent the standard errors. Statistically different means within a site are noted by means separation letters (p < 0.05).
Miscanthus-dominated semi-natural grasslands in Japan appear to store considerable amounts of soil C. To estimate the long-term effect of Miscanthus vegetation on the accumulation of soil carbon by soil biota degradation in its native range, we measured total soil C from the surface to a 1.2 m depth along a catena toposequence in three annually burned grasslands in Japan: Kawatabi, Soni, and Aso. Soil C stock was estimated using a radiocarbon age and depth model, resulting in a net soil C accumulation rate in the soil. C4-plant contribution to soil C accumulation was further estimated by δ13C of soil C. The range of total soil C varied among the sites (i.e., Kawatabi: 379–638 Mg, Soni: 249–484, and Aso: 372–408 Mg C ha−1). Catena position was a significant factor at Kawatabi and Soni, where the toe slope soil C accumulation exceeded that of the summit. The soil C accumulation rate of the whole horizon in the grasslands, derived C mainly from C4 plant species, was 0.05 ± 0.02 (Average ± SE), 0.04 ± 0.00, and 0.24 ± 0.04 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 in Kawatabi, Soni, and Aso, respectively. Potential exists for long-term sequestration of C under M. sinensis, but the difference in the C accumulation rate can be influenced by the catena position and the amount of vegetation.
 
MicroRNAs suppressed the expression of SAA1 by binding to the 3 -UTR target sequence. Luciferase activity in HEK293 cells co-transfected with miRNA mimic, miRNA inhibitor, miRNA control and empty vector for the SAA1 3 -UTR. Luciferase activity was assayed 24 h after transfection. All luciferase values were normalized to Renilla luciferase. Black columns represent the luciferase activity upon co-transfection with miRNA-mimic control. Middle gray columns represent the luciferase activity upon co-transfection with miRNA-inhibitor control. Dark gray columns represent the luciferase activity upon co-transfection with miRNA mimic. Light gray columns represent the luciferase activity upon co-transfection with miRNA inhibitor. (A) represents the luciferase activity of SAA1 after over-or under-expression of miR-125a compared with controls; (B) represents the luciferase activity of SAA1 after transfecting the mutant vector and miR-125a, compared with control. ** Very significant difference between the control and the treatment (p < 0.01).
Primer sequences for qPCR.
Primer sequences used for qRT-PCR.
The nutritional value of cow milk mainly depends on its fatty acid content and protein composition. The identification of genes controlling milk production traits and their regulatory mechanisms is particularly important for accelerating genetic progress in the breeding of dairy cows. On the basis of mammary gland transcriptome analyses, in this study we identified an miRNA, bta-miR-125a, that could control bovine milk-fat production by targeting the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of the serum amyloid A-1 (SAA1) mRNA. The presence of synthetic bta-miR-125a (i.e., an miR-125a mimic) significantly down-regulated the expression of luciferase from mRNAs containing the binding sequence for bta-miR-125a in the 3′-UTR in a dual-luciferase reporter assay. Furthermore, the presence of the miR-125a mimic decreased the steady-state level of the SAA1 protein, but increased the accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol content in bovine mammary epithelial cells (MAC-Ts). Blocking the function of bta-miR-125a using a specific inhibitor decreased the level of triglycerides and cholesterol content in the cells. These results indicate that bta-miR-125a can serve as a positive regulator of lipid synthesis in mammary epithelial cells, which acts by targeting SAA1 gene expression.
 
The citrus yield is limited by soil and/or water salinity, but appropriate rootstocks can ensure the sustainability of the production system. Therefore, the objective of the present research was to evaluate the salt content in the soil and the production and physiological aspects of the ‘Tahiti’ acid lime combined with thirteen rootstocks, irrigated with saline water in the first two production years to identify indicators of salt tolerance. The rootstocks evaluated were: ‘Santa Cruz Rangpur’ lime, ‘Indio’, ‘Riverside’ and ‘San Diego’ citrandarins, ‘Sunki Tropical’ mandarin, and eight hybrids, obtained from the Citrus Breeding Program of Embrapa Cassava and Fruits. The waters used had three saline levels: 0.14, 2.40, and 4.80 dS m−1, in a randomized block adopting a split-plot design, with rootstocks in the plots and saline waters in the subplots, with four replicates. From August 2019 to February 2021, fruit harvests and agronomic traits were measured. At the end of each production year, the soil characteristics, leaf gas exchange, and chlorophyll a fluorescence analysis were performed. It was concluded that: (1) the effects of water salinity on citrus are of osmotic nature, reducing gas exchange, (2) the salinity did not significantly damage the photosynthetic apparatus until the second year of production, and (3) using more stable, salt-tolerant rootstocks makes it possible to cultivate ‘Tahiti’ acid lime under irrigation with waters of 2.4 dS m−1 electrical conductivity.
 
Respiration intensity (A) and ACC synthase (ACS) content (B) of Green Mangoes stored at 13 • C for 30 days under different carbon dioxide-MAPs (CK: 21% O 2 + 79% N 2 ; C3: 3% CO 2 + 7% O 2 + 90% N 2 ; C5: 5% CO 2 + 5% O 2 + 90% N 2 ; C7: 7% CO 2 + 3% O 2 + 90% N 2 ). Different superscript letters (a-d) indicate a significant difference between treatment and control at p ≤ 0.05.
Color parameters of mango pulp in different MAP combinations on the 30th day of 13 • C storage.
Mangoes (Mangifera indica L.) were stored under four different carbon dioxide-modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) combinations at 13 ± 1 °C to investigate their effects on moisture distribution and content, physiological metabolism, as well as fruit quality. The mangoes stored under C7 combination (7% CO2 + 3% O2 + 90% N2) maintained respiration rate, inhibited the increase in 1-aminocyclocarboxylic acid-1-carboxylic acid synthase (ACS) content, and slowed down the senescence process of the fruit. The mangoes subjected to C7 combination also maintained higher firmness, protopectin, and free moisture content. The C7 combination suppressed the increase in soluble pectin and malondialdehyde (MDA) content, with the lowest weight loss. The yellowing rate of the mango pulp preserved under the C7 combination condition was significantly reduced, and the loss of vitamin C was reduced from the 0th to 6th day of storage. The treatment with lower carbon dioxide content was not as effective as C7 combination. In conclusion, 7% CO2 + 3% O2 + 90% N2 MAP conditions delayed pulp yellowing and biochemical characteristics and maintained firmness and free moisture content along with better quality of mango for 30 days at low temperature.
 
Guiding and encouraging farmers to adopt low-carbon agricultural technologies is highly significant for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating climate change, and achieving agricultural production development and food security. This study used survey data from 1843 grain farmers in 14 provinces of China to empirically analyze the impact of non-farm employment experience and risk preferences on grain farmers’ low-carbon agricultural technology (LCAT) adoption. The results show that for grain farmers: (1) non-farm employment experience significantly promoted the adopting of LCAT. The probability of adopting LCAT by those with non-farm experience is 23.5% higher than those without. (2) Non-farm employment experience reinforced their risk preferences and promoted the adoption of LCAT. The adoption probability of LCAT of those with high-risk preferences was 6.1% higher than those with low-risk preferences. (3) The impact of non-farm employment experience on adopting LCAT was more significant for those with high education and training. Non-farm employment experience outside the province and employment experience in the tertiary sector while working outside significantly affect grain farmers’ LCAT adoption.
 
Sunflower annual production, harvested areas, and yields in Italy, 2010-2022. (Sources: FAOSTAT and EUROSTAT.)
Domestic consumption of sunflower products and impact on land use (2010-2021).
Main properties of sunflower oil and diesel. (Source: CTI, 1993.)
The sunflower was introduced in Europe (in Spain) in the 15th century, and later in Italy in the second half of the 16th century by Giacomo Antonio Cortuso who was the head of the Botanical Garden in Padua. He and Andrea Mattioli published a detailed description of the species. The sunflower was mainly used for ornamental and medicinal purposes in the following two centuries. In the early 1800s, its cultivation area expanded as a consequence of two new, divergent uses and breeding programs: oilseed production and seed consumption. Nowadays, sunflower is cropped for many uses, mainly food, feed, and biodiesel. Beyond the global interest in this crop, it is extremely difficult to predict its cultivation and productivity in the short/medium term because of the current geopolitical and climate change scenarios. In this last perspective, sunflower cropping should foresee the integration of (i) crop breeding for improving quali-quantitative traits and biotic and abiotic stress tolerance; (ii) agronomic practices to increase the resilience of this crop through anticipated sowing dates and scheduled irrigation according to its phenological phases; and (iii) exploration of new cultivation areas towards higher latitudes.
 
Nitrogen cycles in the Brachiaria and Eremochloa soil. Values shown represent gross N transformation rates (mean ± SD, μg N g −1 d −1 ). The thickness of the arrows indicates the strength of each process. Different lowercase indicates denote a significant difference between treatments at p < 0.05. NH4 + ads: ammonium adsorbed to soil.
Descriptions and average gross N transformation rates (mean ± standard deviation, μg N g −1 soil d −1 ) in the Brachiaria and Eremochloa soils.
Biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) in the tropical grass Brachiaria humidicola could reduce net nitrification rates and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in soil. To determine the effect on gross nitrogen (N) transformation processes and N2O emissions, an incubation experiment was carried out using 15N tracing of soil samples collected following 2 years of cultivation with high-BNI Brachiaria and native non-BNI grass Eremochloa ophiuroide. Brachiaria enhanced the soil ammonium (NH4+) supply by increasing gross mineralization of recalcitrant organic N and the net release of soil-adsorbed NH4+, while reducing the NH4+ immobilization rate. Compared with Eremochloa, Brachiaria decreased soil gross nitrification by 37.5% and N2O production via autotrophic nitrification by 14.7%. In contrast, Brachiaria cultivation significantly increased soil N2O emissions from 90.42 μg N2O-N kg−1 under Eremochloa cultivation to 144.31 μg N2O-N kg−1 during the 16-day incubation (p < 0.05). This was primarily due to a 59.6% increase in N2O production during denitrification via enhanced soil organic C, notably labile organic C, which exceeded the mitigated N2O production rate during nitrification. The contribution of denitrification to emitted N2O also increased from 9.7% under Eremochloa cultivation to 47.1% in the Brachiaria soil. These findings confirmed that Brachiaria reduces soil gross nitrification and N2O production via autotrophic nitrification while efficiently stimulating denitrification, thereby increasing soil N2O emissions.
 
Nitrogen (N) in a maize crop is a determining yield factor, but its negative impact on the environment is also known. Therefore, it is necessary to propose mitigation strategies that allow an improvement in the N fertilizer efficiency (NFE), such as the use of cover crops (CC) and the adjustment of the fertilizer dose. The objective of the study was to determine NFE using 15N isotopic techniques and nitrate (NO3−) leaching in a maize–fallow versus a maize–CC rotation with optimal and excessive doses of N in the Mediterranean area of Chile. The treatments were a combination of crop rotation (maize–fallow versus maize–CC of Lolium multiflorum) with the optimal dose of N (250 kg ha−1) or excessive dose (400 kg ha−1). We found that the optimal dose of maize–CC rotation contributed to reducing the losses of N by leaching and improving the NFE. Using the optimal dose decreased the dissolved inorganic N (DIN) emission intensity by 50% compared to the excessive doses. Even if grain yield was higher (19 t ha−1) when applying the excessive N dose, the NFE (28%) was lower than when applying the optimal dose (40%). In the maize–CC rotation with optimal dose, yield was 17 Mg ha−1. The excessive N dose generated higher DIN content at the end of the maize season (177 kg N ha−1). In conclusion, replacing the traditional autumn–winter fallow in the maize monoculture with a CC with optimal N dose contributed to improving NFE and reducing N leaching in a Mediterranean agricultural system. Consequently, it is a strategy to consider as it has positive advantages in soil and N management, helping to reduce diffuse pollution of surface and groundwater bodies.
 
The magnitudes and source partitioning of soil dinitrogen (N2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are not well documented, yet. To address both issues for black soil subject to a typical cool temperate climate, soil N2O and N2 fluxes following the basal application event of an ammonium-based fertilizer (labeled by 15N) for maize were simultaneously measured in situ by using the 15N gas flux (15NFG) method. During the two-month field experiment, the measured N2 and N2O fluxes cumulated to 1.61 ± 0.47 and 0.12 ± 0.01 kg N ha−1, respectively, showing N2O to N2O plus N2 ratios (RN2O) of 0.02–0.31 (0.15 on average). Temperature was identified as a key factor regulating the total soil N2 fluxes (r2 = 0.27, p < 0.01), despite the N2 fluxes originated from nitrate denitrification related to dissolved organic carbon concentrations (r2 = 0.39, p < 0.01). Differently, both temperature and soil moisture jointly accounted for 85% and 74% of the variances in the N2O fluxes and the RN2O values, respectively (p < 0.01). Moreover, the process(es) other than autotrophic nitrification and heterotrophic denitrification could be of substantial importance for the soil N2O emissions. Our findings emphasized the importance of temperature in regulating N2 emissions from black soil and the possible site- and/or time specificity of a soil factors-based parametrization of RN2O. In addition, this study implicates that labeling a nitrogen substrate of nitrification while using the 15N enrichment of N2O is necessary to more accurately quantify total soil N2 fluxes in situ by using the 15NFG approach even though further confirmation in future studies is still needed.
 
Characteristics of soil and organic amendments used in the present study.
Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) indices among different N sources in the study period.
Chemical properties of soil after harvest.
The rising cost of inorganic fertilizers, coupled with their adverse effects on soil conditions, has resulted in increasing interest in organic amendments. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of organic amendments (OAs) with different C/N ratios on nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and recovery rate, as well as on the growth and yield of Zea mays and soil properties. A precise pot experiment was conducted on a low-fertile, sandy-loam soil, and the dynamics of nitrogen (N) were also analyzed by the A-value method, using 15N tracer. The plant height of the treatment groups decreased in the following order: inorganic fertilizer (IF) = rapeseed waste (RW) > chicken manure (CnM) > bamboo tealeaf (BTL) > cow manure (CwM) > bamboo compost (BC). Furthermore, the maize fertilized with RW only took up half of the N in IF, despite producing the same yield, which indicates that the physiological nitrogen efficiency (PUE) of RW was twice as high as that of IF. RW and CnM were regarded as valuable fertilizers that could be used to replace inorganic fertilizers. A linear relationship between the N mineralization of the OAs was obtained by an incubation test and the pot experiments, estimating the effect of OA application on the maize. Maize plants mainly absorbed N derived from fertilizers; however, for the both sources of N (fertilizer and soil), N was mainly accumulated in grains followed by the leaves, stem, and root, suggesting that studies should be conducted to improve soil N use efficiency.
 
Herd-level prevalence of different stomach scores (n of observations = 360).
Descriptive statistics of the continuous predictor variables and their association with the gastric ulcers prevalence in pig herds.
Descriptive statistics of the nominal predictor variables and their association to the gastric ulcers prevalence in pig herds.
Sudden death caused by the acute form of gastric ulceration has developed into a widely recognised health and welfare problem. The importance of different triggering factors is poorly understood. The study was carried out on finishers slaughtered in Poland. The collected animal-level data were transformed to a herd-level dataset, which included 27 predictor variables. From a total of 32,264 pig stomachs examined, 23,188 (71.9%) had gastric lesions. Total of 17,703 organs (54.9%) had ulcers. Scores 1 (hyperkeratotic) and 2 (erosions) were observed in 2958 (9.2%) and 2527 (7.8%), respectively. A significant (p < 0.05) association of the ulcer prevalence was found for a number of variables. Raising the level of protein significantly (p = 0.04) increased (ρ = 0.22) the occurrence of gastric ulcers. The addition of wheat bran (p = 0.02) and its growing share in feed composition had the contrary effect (ρ = −0.27). Feeding pelleted feed was significantly associated (p = 0.001) with the higher prevalence of the disease, opposite to liquid feeding (p = 0.0002) and supplementation of a mycotoxin deactivator (p = 0.0008). Although, the immediate transition from one feeding system to another in most of the farms is impossible, the addition of materials such as wheat bran, and routine supplementation with mycotoxin deactivators may be a practical and relatively low-cost solution.
 
In city farming, when growing green crops, a significant part of the production cost is the cost of electricity for lighting. The physiology, biochemistry, morphology and productivity of plants can be affected by changing irradiation modes and these changes reduce electricity costs. However, the results of studies in the literature are contradictory. In this work, we investigated the effect of impulse (frequency 1000 Hz and duty cycle 67%), scanning (the principle of running lights) and constant 16 h and 24 h modes of operation of white light LED irradiators on the physiological, biochemical and morphometric parameters of lettuce with red and green leaves. The daytime integral of light in all variants remained unchanged ~15.6 mol m−2 day−1. Daily electricity consumption also did not differ significantly. Plants were grown on racks in a climatic chamber up to 35 days of age. For lettuce with red leaves, the most optimal for biomass accumulation and synthesis of anthocyanins was the impulse illumination mode, while for lettuce with green leaves, no statistically significant differences in biomass were observed under different irradiation modes. For red-leaved lettuce, it was found that the highest concentration of carotenoids in the leaf was observed under constant (24 h) and scanning irradiation, which is associated with a more active reaction of the photosynthetic system to prolonged irradiation and increased intensity during scanning irradiation. Also, increased photosynthetic activity was found in both varieties of lettuce at 16 h of operation of LED irradiators, which, however, did not affect their final productivity. The results may be useful for the development of LED illuminators for use in rack growing.
 
Soil salinity is considered to be a major impediment to the production of rice among other abiotic stresses. In this study, 16S rRNA Illumina amplicon sequencing was performed to characterise the halophilic communities entrapped in rice rhizosphere soil cultivated in different planting systems (conventional, aerobic and System of Rice Intensification (SRI)) under saline conditions. The physicochemical properties and urease, soil dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and arylsulphatase activity of soil samples were evaluated to understand their influence on the bacterial communities of the soil. Electrical conductivity (EC) of soil was lower in SRI soil samples, while the available major soil nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) content and soil enzyme activities such as dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase, urease and arylsulphatase were higher. A total of 2,516,700 reads were generated by amplicon sequencing of the hypervariable V3–V4 regions of bacterial 16S rRNA gene and were clustered into 273,447 OTU operational taxonomic units. The total number of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) was higher in the conventional soil samples compared to the SRI and aerobic soil samples. Metagenomic analysis revealed that Proteobacteria was the most dominant phyla in all the planting systems followed by Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Chloroflexi. The alpha diversity index was higher in conventional soil samples compared to other samples and more species diversity was found in SRI soil samples. KEGG analysis revealed that bacterial communities in different soil samples showed varied functional properties. The bacterial diversity of saline soil in this study can be utilised to identify microbial communities with biotechnological potential that can be employed for plant growth promotion in saline environments.
 
Nitrifying bacteria and archaea are ubiquitous and can transform ammonia locked up in soil or manure into nitrate, a more soluble form of nitrogen. However, nitrifying bacteria and archaea inhabiting maize rhizosphere have not been fully explored. This study evaluates the diversity and abundance of nitrifying bacteria and archaea across different growth stages of maize using 16S amplicon sequencing. Moreover, the influence of environmental factors (soil physical and chemical properties) on the nitrifying communities was evaluated. Rhizosphere soil DNA was extracted using Nucleospin Soil DNA extraction kit and sequenced on Illumina Miseq platform. MG-RAST was used to analyze the raw sequences. The physical and chemical properties of the soil were measured using standard procedure. The results revealed 9 genera of nitrifying bacteria; Nitrospira, Nitrosospira, Nitrobacter, Nitrosovibrio, Nitrosomonas, Nitrosococcus, Nitrococcus, unclassified (derived from Nitrosomonadales), unclassified (derived from Nitrosomonadaceae) and 1 archaeon Candidatus Nitrososphaera. The Nitrospirae phyla group, which had the most nitrifying bacteria, was more abundant at the tasselling stage (67.94%). Alpha diversity showed no significant difference. However, the Beta diversity showed significant difference (p = 0.01, R = 0.58) across the growth stages. The growth stages had no significant effect on the diversity of nitrifying bacteria and archaea, but the tasselling stage had the most abundant nitrifying bacteria. A correlation was observed between some of the chemical properties and some nitrifying bacteria. The research outcome can be put into consideration while carrying out a biotechnological process that involves nitrifying bacteria and archaea.
 
Cont.
Genetic distance between all pairings of clusters based on SSR analysis.
Information of 20 markers used for SSR analysis by release period.
Genetic distance between all pairings of group by release period based on SSR analysis.
The soybean development goal in Korea has changed over time, but the pattern of genetic diversity in modern varieties has not yet been well characterized. In this study, 20 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers are shown to generate a total of 344 alleles, where the number of alleles ranges from 7 to 29, with an average of 17.2 per locus, and the polymorphism informative content (PIC) values range from 0.6799 to 0.9318, with an average of 0.8675. Five different clusters are classified using the unweighted pair group mean arithmetic (UPGMA) method. The genetic distance between clusters I and V (0.3382) is the farthest, and that between clusters III and IV (0.0819) is the closest. The genetic distance between all pairings of groups, according to the time period of their release, is lowest (0.1909) between varieties developed in the 1990s and those from 2000 onward, and highest (0.5731) between varieties developed in the 1980s and those from 2000 onward. Model-based structure analysis revealed the presence of three sub-populations and 17 admixtures in the Korean soybean varieties. All 172 Korean soybean varieties were tested for discrimination using six SSR markers. The numbers of varieties that were clustered in each step are as follows: 7 (4.1%) in step 1 (Sat_076), 73 (42.4%) in step 2 (Sat_417), 69 (40.1%) in step 3 (Sat_043), 13 (7.6%) in step 4 (Satt197), 8 (4.6%) in step 5 (Satt434), and 2 (1.2%) in step 6 (Satt179). These results, based on the analysis of genetic resources, can contribute to the creation of a core collection for soybean conservation and breeding, as well as to the development of future varieties with useful traits.
 
Pearson's correlation coefficients (σ) and significance in brackets (p-value) between laid eggs and egg weight for the two groups of partridges across the experimental period.
The competence to locate natural feeding sources is one of the main limiting factors for survival in the wild, especially for captive-born birds. Therefore, environmental enrichment through the diet can be strategic before their release into nature. In this research, a feeding trial was undertaken to evaluate the potential use of yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor L.) larvae (TM) provisions to captive bred couples of Sardinian partridges (Alectoris barbarabarbara Bonaterre, 1790) during the laying period. Twenty-four couple-caged Sardinian breeding partridges were enrolled during the laying period (April–May 2019) and randomly allotted to two feeding groups of 12 couples each: (a) the control (CON) group was fed a conventional complete pelleted diet for laying quails; (b) the yellow mealworm enriched group was additionally fed 5% whole, defrosted TM larvae (TM5%) on top of the same amount of the control diet. As a prerequisite, partridges were unaccustomed to eating mealworms before the start of the trial. Daily feed intake (DFI), bodyweight (BW), and number of laid eggs (LE) were monitored over five weeks of experimental feeding. Partridges fed the TM5% diet displayed a higher preference for whole mealworms (first choice and complete consumption) than expressed for the CON pelleted feed. Differences in daily dry matter intake (p = 0.028) between CON and TM5% groups were observed (DMI: 42.6 ± 1.73 vs. 43.4 ± 1.62 g, respectively); the final body weights (BW) (p = 0.098) of birds in the CON group was higher than those in the TM5% group (435 ± 36.9 vs. 416 ± 36.3 g, respectively). Differences in daily energy intake relative to BW (p < 0.001) as well as relative to metabolic weight (BW0.75) (p < 0.001) were observed between groups, but this was not followed by higher BW, probably due to the absence of grit and inaccessible nutrients and energy (larval exoskeleton). No difference in the average LE per week and egg weight was observed between CON and the enriched TM5% groups, though in the last weeks, a statistically lower number of eggs was laid in TM5% group. Our results suggest that whole yellow mealworms can be a promising feed material to broaden the spectrum of competence for natural feeding sources with similar physical form and nutritional characteristics available in the environment.
 
Formulation of experimental diets, analytical nutrient composition and gross energy content (GE MJ × kg −1 ).
The use of selected Baltic coastal organisms as potential alternative feed material in the formulation of rainbow trout diets was studied. German coastal water organisms (Delesseria sanguinea, seaweed red algae (A); Mytilus spp., Baltic blue mussel (M); Alitta virens, king ragworm (W)) were analyzed for nutrient, amino acid and mineral composition, and tested in comparative feeding trials. Five dietary treatments were supplied to a total of 165 juvenile rainbow trout (778 ± 111 g) for 75 days, allotted in 15 special brackish (3–5 practical salinity units (PSU)) water basins consisting of 11 fish each (3 fish tanks (300 L) at 12 °C per feeding group). The fish were fed as follows: C group, 100% basic diet (control); A group, 10% red algae in C diet; M group, 10% mussel in C diet; W group, 35% ragworm in C diet; AW group, 10% algae + 30% ragworm in C diet. Feed provision was performed manually, once a day, with the feed offer adjusted to 1.8% of fish weight for the respective tank. The fish weight gain (WG) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were recorded. In the proximate analysis of the different coastal organisms, the lowest crude protein content in dry matter (DM) was found in blue mussels (10.9%), whereas it was almost doubled in algae (21.8%), with the highest being found in the ragworm (63.1%). By contrast, the crude ash content was the highest in the mussel (84.4%, mostly due to CaCO3 from the shell), much less in the red algae (28.1%) and the lowest in the ragworms (20.1%). The gross energy (GE) concentration was the highest in the ragworm (18.8 MJ × kg−1), 12.1 MJ × kg−1 in the algae and the lowest in the blue mussel (2.93 MJ × kg−1). The final weight of the fish ranged between 1780 and 2310 g at the end of the feeding trial, being the lowest for the fish fed the diet combined with red algae (A diet group) and the highest for the fish fed the control diet. No differences in FCR were found for the fish fed the five dietary treatments (p > 0.05), except for the W diet group (king ragworm has a lower FCR than that of the A group red algae, p < 0.05). The results from this trial suggest that at the tested amounts, both king ragworm and blue mussels are promising alternative feed material for rationing the rainbow trout diet, but not red algae, unless combined with ragworms.
 
The study aimed to evaluate the slaughter value and meat characteristics of ten ostrich females reared and slaughtered at the age of 18 months in Hungary. The ratio of selected body parts, the main organs and the lean meat parts were examined. The nutritive composition, the colour, the technological and organoleptic characteristics of five valuable meat parts (outside strip—M. flexor cruris lateralis, oyster—M. iliofemoralis externus, tip—M. femorotibialis medius, outside leg—M. gastrocnemius pars externa, medal—M. ambiens) and the amino acid, fatty acid and mineral composition of outside strip (M. flexor cruris lateralis) were also evaluated. The ratio of body parts and the main organs as the percentage of live weight, and the lean meat part as the percentage of carcass weight showed 16.74 ± 0.01%, 6.16 ± 0.01% and 57.29 ± 0.59%, respectively. The dry matter content of the examined valuable meat parts ranged between 24.89 ± 0.08 and 26.23 ± 0.13%, the protein ratio took on values between 18.40 ± 0.09 and 20.62 ± 0.16%, the fat content showed values between 2.36 ± 0.07 and 4.50 ± 1.09% and the hydroxyproline content ranged between 0.01 ± 0.001 and 0.08 ± 0.001%. The amino acid content of the outside strip showed a range between 0.15 and 3.33%. The ratio of SFA, MUFA and PUFA was 35.10 ± 0.53, 37.37 ± 1.52 and 27.54 ± 1.01. The n-6/n-3 ratio showed 3.91 ± 0.43 and the SFA/UFA ratio was 0.54 ± 0.02. Among the examined minerals, the content of Ca, K, Mg, Na and P was the highest in the meat. In the case of the colour, regarding L* value, we could reveal no significant difference between the examined meat parts. For a* and b* values, the outside leg had the lowest data of all. We could not reveal a significant difference between the pH values of the meat parts. Regarding technological parameters, meat differed only in thawing loss. The significantly lowest thawing loss could be detected in the outside leg (2.72 ± 0.01%) and in the medal (2.32 ± 0.01%). The results of the organoleptic evaluation showed that the outside strip and the tip had the best flavour and tenderness. In comparison with the younger birds (10–14 months of age) in the literature, the 18-month-old ostriches in our study showed similar or slightly lower slaughter weight, skin weight and head ratio, greater liver weight, lighter meat, lower protein and higher fat content, higher essential amino acid and lower non-essential amino acid content and higher SFA content in some cases. However, data on nutrition and population size were not always available. In comparison with other ratites (emu and rhea), ostrich meat has lower dry matter and protein, but higher fat, SFA, MUFA and PUFA content and lower n-6/n-3 ratio.
 
The methodology of the study.
Examples of typical vegetation image segments with sizes of 200 × 200 pixels including damage caused by L. malifoliella (a-c); other objects (d).
The structure of the EfficientDet neural network, where the number of layers changes depending on how much processing power is available [33].
Validation parameters of the models for the PMD and VMD.
Metrics per class in the model for the Pest Monitoring Device (PMD).
The pear leaf blister moth is a significant pest in apple orchards. It causes damage to apple leaves by forming circular mines. Its control depends on monitoring two events: the flight of the first generation and the development of mines up to 2 mm in size. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop two models using artificial neural networks (ANNs) and two monitoring devices with cameras for the early detection of L. malifoliella (Pest Monitoring Device) and its mines on apple leaves (Vegetation Monitoring Device). To train the ANNs, 400 photos were collected and processed. There were 4700 annotations of L. malifoliella and 1880 annotations of mines. The results were processed using a confusion matrix. The accuracy of the model for the Pest Monitoring Device (camera in trap) was more than 98%, while the accuracy of the model for the Vegetation Monitoring Device (camera for damage) was more than 94%, all other parameters of the model were also satisfactory. The use of this comprehensive system allows reliable monitoring of pests and their damage in real-time, leading to targeted pest control, reduction in pesticide residues, and a lower ecological footprint. Furthermore, it could be adopted for monitoring other Lepidopteran pests in crop production.
 
Hydrochemical indicators of water of the Tokyrauyn River (average values).
Numerical development of zooplankton in the Tokyrauyn River (average values).
Quantitative development of zoobenthos in the Tokyrauyn River (average values).
Biological characteristics and age composition of the Balkhash marinka from Tokyrauyn River.
Abiotic parameters during incubation of Balkhash marinka eggs in industrial conditions.
As a result of the complex impact of anthropogenic factors on the ecosystem of Balkhash Lake, the main commercial species of fish—endemic—Balkhash marinka was on the verge of extinction. Artificial reproduction is becoming increasingly important every year in the complex of works to maintain the commercial stocks of valuable fish species as well as to preserve rare and endangered populations. Despite the fact that attempts at artificial reproduction have been repeatedly made, to date no scientific and methodological basis has been created to study and preserve rare and endangered fish species in the Republic of Kazakhstan and there are no adapted technologies for the formation of repair herds of fish of this category for the fish breeding enterprises of the reproductive complex of Kazakhstan. The presence of a replacement stock of the Balkhash marinka will further contribute to the development and improvement of biotechnical methods for their breeding and cultivation of viable stocking material. The stocking of natural water bodies with viable fish seeds and the maintenance of living collections of rare and endangered fish species will contribute to their conservation in natural conditions and, as a reserve, in the country’s fish farms. The results of the development of effective technologies for artificial reproduction and the formation of a replacement stock of the Balkhash marinka in industrial conditions contribute to solving the fundamental problem associated with the preservation of rare and endemic fish species from complete extinction, genetic diversity and the rational use of the potential of natural populations. An analysis of genetic identification showed that the breeders of marinka, according to the results of sequencing the barcoding gene CO1 of mitochondrial DNA, belong to the species Balkhash marinka S. argentatus with an accuracy of 99–100%.
 
Sampling data and GenBank accession numbers for Macrochlamys indica specimens collected from different locations in Saudi Arabia.
The Primer-pairs and PCR conditions used for amplifying the COI and 16S rRNA regions from Macrochlamys indica.
Morphometric characteristics of Macrochlamys indica.
Pairwise p-distances calculated from COI sequences from Macrochlamys and their closely relative snails.
Many terrestrial gastropod species have been dispersed as a result of anthropogenic activities and have adapted to new habitats where they are considered as alien or invasive species. Several synanthropic gastropods are invasive in urban and agricultural environments worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, increased human activities have accelerated the introduction of terrestrial gastropod species, increasing the need to study its gastropod fauna. Our preliminary survey disclosed the presence of ariophantid snails in a number of agricultural nurseries. Based on morphological features of shell, body, and reproductive system, we report the first record of Macrochlamys indica from Saudi Arabia. The phylogenetic analysis obtained from DNA sequences of the mitochondrial COI and 16S regions confirmed the identity of M. indica. One third of the investigated nurseries were infested with this snail, however, we did not find any specimens of M. indica in natural habitats or open agricultural fields. The snail-infested nurseries were distributed all over Saudi Arabia. The occurrence of one haplotype of partial mitochondrial COI sequence from these nurseries suggests that the introduction of M. indica is likely very recent. Based on the obtained results, it is recommended that control measurements must be implemented in order to eradicate or at least restrict the dissemination of M. indica from nurseries to natural habitats or agricultural fields.
 
The setting of short-term high-temperature treatment. (A) The whole cage with F 1 of Z. cucurbitae was exposed to short-term high temperatures. (B) The whole cage with F 1 and F 2 of Z. cucurbitae was exposed to short-term high temperatures.
Zeugodacus cucurbitae is an important pest of fruit and vegetable crops in tropical and subtropical regions, and high-temperature stress can have different effects on the development and reproduction of successive generations of Z. cucurbitae. To clarify the multigenerational effects of short-time high temperature on the development and reproduction of Z. cucurbitae, the newly emerged adults of the contemporary (F1 generation) and the next generation (F2 generation) were exposed to short-term high temperatures of 25 °C, 33 °C, 37 °C, 41 °C, and 45 °C for 1 h, and the multigenerational (F1, F2, and F3 generation) effects of these temperatures on the development and reproduction of Z. cucurbitae were evaluated. The results showed that (1) when the F1 was exposed to short-term high temperature, the egg production and lifespan of the F1 decreased continuously with the increasing temperature, except for the 45 °C treatment for 1 h, which stimulated egg production. Only the 41 °C group had significantly higher egg production and lifespan than the control group in the F3. (2) In the F1 and F2 that were exposed to short-term high temperature, the F1 and F3 were consistent with the results of F1 that were exposed to short-term high temperature. In conclusion, the effects of high-temperature intensity and frequency on multiple generations of Z. cucurbitae were different. The results of this study can elucidate the effects of short-term high-temperature stress on the growth, development, and reproduction of Z. cucurbitae in different generations, and provide a reference basis for the integrated control of Z. cucurbitae.
 
Estimation of the farmland price equations (in log).
Falsification test of the DiD model.
Estimation of the government payments equation.
COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the global economy, particularly the agricultural sector. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the relationship between COVID-19 and the farmland market. A few descriptive studies have speculated about the impact of COVID-19 on farmland prices but presented no quantitative evidence. This study provides quantitative evidence on the causal effect of COVID-19 on farmland prices using the difference-in-differences method with population-based data on farmland transactions in Taiwan. While prior descriptive studies argued that increased farmland prices associated with COVID-19 were largely driven by macroeconomic conditions, we found that the onset of COVID-19 increased farmland prices by 5.1%, even after controlling for macroeconomic conditions and parcel-level farmland characteristics. Furthermore, we found that government payments are likely responsible for these increases in farmland prices. Financial assistance easing the economic burdens of the agricultural sector can also stabilize farmland prices.
 
The agricultural organization based on digital platforms in C2F (Company–Platform–Farmers) may be an effective way to reduce the increased risk of green production caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the specific mechanism and impact involved are unclear. Applying risk cognition and decision theory, we built the theoretical framework on platform organization, pandemic risk, perception value, and green production continuity, and ascertained the impact effects and path using the PLS-SEM method. We found that the risk of COVID-19 overflow had a significant impact on farmers' green production continuity by mediating perception value, especially regarding reduced green technology adoption intention and increased cost of living. Utilizing perfect platform value cognition, participation co-operation, access and benefit distribution, and safeguard and restraint measures of platform organization in C2F, we offered a new approach to reduce the green production risks caused by COVID-19, such as material and labor shortages, financial pressure, sales channel blockages, and price volatility. We explained the behavior-moderating motivation of farmers with different risk preferences and subjective norms in relation to tackling COVID-19. We should aim to perfect the functions of digital platform organizations to optimize the benefit linkages in C2F, accelerate farmers’ digitization ability cultivation to increase the cognitive risk level, and strengthen the policy guidance of COVID-19 prevention to reduce the influence of farmers’ subjective norms.
 
With the widespread vaccination against COVID-19, people began to resume regional tourism. Outdoor attractions, such as leisure agricultural parks, are particularly attractive because they are well ventilated and can prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the considerations around choosing a leisure agricultural park are different from usual, and will be affected by uncertainty. Therefore, this research proposes a fuzzy collaborative intelligence (FCI) approach to help select leisure agricultural parks suitable for traveler groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed FCI approach combines asymmetrically calibrated fuzzy geometric mean (acFGM), fuzzy weighted intersection (FWI), and fuzzy Vise Kriterijumska Optimizacija I Kompromisno Resenje (fuzzy VIKOR), which is a novel attempt in this field. The effectiveness of the proposed FCI approach has been verified by a case study in Taichung City, Taiwan. The results of the case study showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers (especially traveler groups) were very willing to go to leisure agricultural parks. In addition, the most important criterion for choosing a suitable leisure agricultural park was the ease of maintaining social distance, while the least important criterion was the distance from a leisure agricultural park. Further, the successful recommendation rate using the proposed methodology was as high as 90%.
 
Face masks have become an essential commodity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their use rises daily. Excessive face mask use will likely continue to combat the virus and bacterial impacts in the long term. Afterward, used face masks are hazardous to the environment since most are made of nonbiodegradable porous polymeric fibrous materials. Thus, finding new ways to recycle waste face masks is urgently needed. Similarly, managing agricultural water for irrigation is a crucial challenge in saving water. This study demonstrates an approach for recycling face masks as bag- or small-sized pillows filled with superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) for the slow release of water near plant roots. Previous studies have reported that SAPs or hydrogel could boost soil’s water retention capacity, mixed with hydrogel/SAP. However, mixing SAPs into soil is improper because biodegradation generates low toxic organic molecules and contaminates soil and surface water. The objective of this research was to develop a face mask reuse approach, reduce irrigation water using polymers, and reduce toxic contamination in the soil. Here, swollen SAPs were taken inside the pillow and buried near plants, and the growth of the plants was studied. The moisture of the inner soil was constant for a long time, boosting plant growth. Afterward, the face mask pillows could be removed from the soil and maintained for further use. This new approach could be helpful in pot farming. This approach could contribute to the circular economy and the development of environmental sustainability.
 
This article compares attitudes to buying organic food in selected countries in Central Europe. The current research was conducted in 2019 on a total sample of 2800 respondents in the Czech Republic, Slovakia (Central Europe, with a relatively new organic food market), and Germany (a traditional Western Europe country with a mature food market). The study results demonstrate significant differences between the three selected markets. The product quality is the most important for German consumers. Slovak consumers consider organic food to be the least recognizable and least promoted of all the regions surveyed, and they are also the least likely to encounter targeted advertising for organic products. Germany is the country where most respondents regularly or occasionally buy organic food. In Slovakia, an interesting finding is the highest proportion of respondents who do not buy organic food at all. Czech respondents often buy organic products in specialized shops and like to grow organic products themselves. The results also suggest that Slovak consumers slightly more often prefer foreign organic products to the local ones, whereas consumers in Germany select regional organic products more often and prefer to buy regional products at farmers’ markets.
 
Operational Definitions.
Means, standard deviations, and correlations.
The analysis results of CFA.
To achieve sustainable production in medium-sized farms, this research proposes a hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to predict environmental strategy (ES), which is a crucial source of sustainable production. Based on the theory of upper echelons, the present research puts forward that the environmental leadership (EL) of the chief executive officer (CEO) at phase one affects the development of environmental corporate social responsibility (ECSR) adoption, which in turn affects the development of ES adoption over time. The empirical data were obtained through a three-stage sampling method of 90 CEOs and 270 members of senior management teams (SETs) of Taiwanese medium-sized farms, over a period of six months. The research results support that the higher level of CEO EL at phase one results in the development of ECSR adoption, which in turn results in the development of ES adoption. This research opens a new direction for sustainable production by showing how to implement ES through organizational management mechanisms (EL). These findings can fill the gaps in the literature on the sustainable production of farms and can also help these farms to achieve sustainable production by adopting ES.
 
The article aims to present the essence of agritourism in the literature regarding the subject of its profitability during the COVID-19 pandemic. To verify the goal, data from our own research was applied. The research was conducted in 2019 and 2020 with the exploratory survey method and an interview questionnaire. Thirty-two service providers running agritourism activities in randomly selected rural communes of the Podlaskie province (communes of Mielnik, Suchowola, Giby, Płaska, and Hajnówka) participated in the study. The Ward cluster analysis method was used to group the counties of the Podlaskie Province in terms of spatial differentiation in the development of agritourism. For this purpose, data provided by the Central Statistical Authority in Poland reported for 2019 and the primary data (research by M. Roman) was applied. In the first part of the article, the authors describe and explain the basic concepts of rural tourism and agritourism based on the literature. The figures were also quoted, for example, the number of agritourism farms in Poland and other European countries. The last part of the study provides the results of our own research. The study demonstrates that in 2020 agritourism was profitable, as the owners of the farms recorded a profit. The research confirms the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agritourism. During a pandemic, many people choose places with few people (e.g., rural areas). The research also considered the importance of innovation on agritourism farms and business profitability. The issues discussed in the study relate to current events—scientific studies examining the impact of COVID-19 on agritourism concern other countries; however, the authors were not able to find studies focusing on agritourism farms in Poland. A new element of methodology in this article was to organize the concepts of agritourism and to present the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the profitability of agritourism. It was also essential to present the classification of rural tourism. According to the authors of the study, the problems covered here are new and point to new trends in the development of agritourism during the pandemic.
 
Output value, import, and export value of China's agri-food products from 2015 to 2020 (Unit: USD 100 million).
Descriptive statistics.
Translog estimates (agriculture and dairy industry).
Agricultural food is generally regarded as the basis of “national security” by most countries. Through marketing strategies, promoting the sales of agri-food products in the context of a pandemic is of great significance to national food security and economic growth. The purpose of our study is to understand how the COVID-19 crisis affects the sales of agri-food products as well as the organizational and management changes it brings. By understanding those points above, we can address the problem and policy challenges to better promote the recovery of the agri-food sector from the effects caused by COVID-19. The demand is today overwhelmingly urgent. Based on the data of China’s agricultural-listed companies from 2015 to 2020, this study adopted the perspective of financial statements and conducted empirical analysis through the translog revenue function, and the results showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the sales of agri-food products, and the sales of agri-food products by large agricultural companies have fallen more than those of small- and medium-sized ones. Based on the results of the study, the government can consider the policy of providing financial support and temporary subsidies to agri-food enterprises during the pandemic, while agri-food enterprises actively practice digital marketing to reduce the adverse impact of COVID-19 on agri-food sales.
 
Transformations of organisational resilience (OR). Source: authors' elaboration based on literature review (see [10,34,39,47,53]).
The areas of activity undertaken by RNPOs under the uncertainty conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notes: CM-crisis management; FI-finance; AF-activity forms; AS-activity scopes; CO-cooperation; HR-human resources; WO-work organisation; PL-planning; NC-no change. Source: authors' survey.
Spearman's rank correlation coefficients ρ S and determination coefficients (R 2 in %) matrix between descriptive levels of organisational resilience (OR).
The d coefficients of transformations between descriptive OR levels.
The study investigated the organisational resilience (OR) levels of rural non-profit organisations (RNPOs) in the areas of activity or non-activity to adapt under the global uncertainty conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, in April/May 2020, the managers of 35 RNPOs located in Poland were queried. The Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient (ρS), the coefficient of determination (R2) and a transformation coefficient (d) were primarily used to verify the hypotheses and interpret the relationships studied. The study revealed four OR descriptive levels—progressive (PR), sustainable (SR), regressive (RR), and downward (DR). The findings also show that the undertaken activities are related to the OR descriptive levels. RNPOs realised one of two adaptations: passive adaptation aimed at returning to the pre-pandemic original state with no changes may lead to a bounce backwards and an uncertain survival, whilst active adaptation leads to a transformation process between OR levels to move forward and thrive in adapting to post-pandemic changes. This study confirmed that building OR requires understanding the ways of transformations among OR levels to undertake activities in strategic areas, i.e., activity scope (AS), cooperation (CO), and finance (FI), to adapt and transform RNPOs’ in an environment of post-pandemic uncertainty.
 
Comparison of imports of pastures and related turfgrass seed expressed as a proportion of the mean of the 19-year period (2698 Mt).
Joinpoint regressions (APC) for imported seed in terms of (a) metric tons for the total (∎), Lolium spp. (•) and Festuca spp. (♦); (b) metric tons for the species L. perenne (∎), L. multiflorum (•), L. x hybridum (♦), F. arundinacea (▲) and T. repens (x); (c) proportion of the total for Lolium spp. (∎); (d) proportion of the total for the species L. perenne (∎), L. multiflorum (•), L. x hybridum (♦) and T. repens (▲).
Proportion of the total seed imports (PT) of species of pasture and related turfgrass by group from 2001 to 2019.
Pastures are important for the agricultural sector as forage, recreational and sports systems. The Chilean pasture seed market is highly dependent on introduced genetics; however, the effect of climate change and market conditions can modify pasture options. The objective of this study was to quantify changes of the pasture seeds sown by Chilean end-users, as metric tons (Mt) or proportion of the total (PT), based on 19 years of imported seed. The Mann–Kendall test and joinpoint regression analysis were used to estimate the overall trends and the average annual percent change (AAPC) for the whole period, respectively. The total imported Mt had an increasing trend and AAPC (+5.7%), wherein a large PT corresponded to ryegrasses (Lolium spp.) (0.681), with increasing trends for Mt and PT. Clovers (Trifolium spp.) had decreasing trends and AAPC (−2.9% for Mt and −9.6% for PT). For PT, the main species was perennial ryegrass (L. perenne L.) (0.357), with increasing trends for Mt. As Mt, a positive AAPC was found for plantain (P. lanceolata L.) (+17.4%) and chicory (C. intybus L.) (+63.2%). Over a period of 19 years, based on Mt but not PT, Chilean end-users have been adopting new pasture species with a decreasing use of Trifolium spp.
 
Description of the resilience's aspects.
Description of the clusters derived from the survey sample.
The restriction measures linked to the COVID-19 shock suddenly highlighted the vulnerability of most socioeconomic systems, including the food sector. In a context in which the limitation to the movement of people and goods has put the longer and more structured supply chains in serious difficulty, many experiences and initiatives have emerged as viable alternatives. The aim of the research was to understand if and how the Solidarity Purchasing Groups (SPG) of Rome have contributed to the resilience of the food system of the metropolitan city during the lockdown. The research was based on the results of a questionnaire administered to the SPGs of Rome during the first period of the pandemic (April–July 2020), enriched by some in-depth interviews carried out by the authors. What emerged was that, despite the limited extent in terms of products conveyed within the whole food system, the SPGs represented an important food supply channel during the lockdown period, for two main reasons: a greater flexibility and agility in moving and in handling goods and the possibility of remunerating local farms, contributing to the resilience of the local agri-food fabric. The analysis of the results confirms the strong vitality of such Food Movements in Rome and, at the same time, allows for the identification of a series of interventions that the institutions could adopt to favor the spread of a food environment more compatible with more sustainable and fairer forms of food production and distribution.
 
Securitization of the agricultural commodity market has accelerated since the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in the times of financial market uncertainty and crisis. Sugar belongs to the group of important agricultural commodities. The global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a substantial increase in the stock market volatility. Moreover, the novel coronavirus hit both the sugar market’s supply and demand side, resulting in sugar stock changes. The paper aims to assess potential structural changes in the relationship between sugar prices and the financial market uncertainty in a crisis time. In more detail, using sequential Bai–Perron tests for structural breaks, we check whether the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have induced structural breaks in that relationship. Sugar prices are represented by the S&P GSCI Sugar Index, while the S&P 500 option-implied volatility index (VIX) is used to show stock market uncertainty. To investigate the changes in the relationship between sugar prices and stock market uncertainty, a regression model with a sequential Bai–Perron test for structural breaks is applied for the daily data from 2000–2020. We reveal the existence of two structural breaks in the analysed relationship. The first breakpoint was linked to the global financial crisis outbreak, and the second occurred in December 2011. Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not induced the statistically significant structural change. Based on the regression model with Bai–Perron structural changes, we show that from 2000 until the beginning of the global financial crisis, the relationship between the sugar prices and the financial market uncertainty was insignificant. The global financial crisis led to a structural change in the relationship. Since August 2008, we observe a significant and negative relationship between the S&P GSCI Sugar Index and the S&P 500 option-implied volatility index (VIX). Sensitivity analysis conducted for the different financial market uncertainty measures, i.e., the S&P 500 Realized Volatility Index confirms our findings.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic affected consumers’ behavior worldwide. This paper aims to analyze consumers’ sustainable food behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was based on an online survey during May–October 2020 among 859 Romanian consumers. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis were employed to group the consumers based on their behavior. Furthermore, the binary-logistic regression was used to identify the socio-demographic profile of the identified groups. Based on the cluster analysis, the consumers were grouped into three main groups: indifferent, pro-environment protection, and health concerned. The results indicate a positive attitude towards sustainable food behavior. Consumers’ attitude towards sustainable food choice is mainly influenced by age and education level. The study offers valuable information for future public policy and marketing campaign regarding sustainable food behavior.
 
COVID-19 significantly impacts coffee production, which smallholders dominate. Unaddressed impacts will affect coffee production sustainability. However, smallholders face some constraints. This study aims to determine the impact of COVID-19 from the perspective of Arabica and Robusta farmers in Indonesia, examine technical recommendations as coping strategies, and develop an institutional model to accelerate implementation. We analyzed the divergences in the perceptions of different categories and clusters using farm-level data. Descriptive statistics, Mann–Whitney analysis, cluster analysis, and crosstab analysis were used to explore the facts. Immediate effects of COVID-19 were observed through a decline in household income, impacting the allocation of farming costs, which influences productivity related to the intensity of cultivation, particularly in purchasing and fertilization decisions. It was explored by the study that coffee livestock integration is an important strategy to improve farmers’ livelihood to mitigate the impact. The innovation sharing model complements this technical recommendation as institutional recommendations, including innovation sharing elements and processes. Four farmer clusters have been identified based on the adoption spectrum and farmer conditions. The intervention provides innovation-sharing elements for farmers who have not adopted integration. Where integration was partially completed, reusing waste is recommended by completing innovation elements and improving the sharing process.
 
Total fungal population quantified by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The bar values indicate the average of the four replicates (n) of each treatment. T represents each of the treatments from 1 to 7, F represents the inoculum with the fungus P. destruens, 19 represents the inoculum with the bacterium B. velezensis T149-19 and 76 represents the inoculum with the bacterium B. safensis T052-76. The position of letter F (before or after the numbers) indicates the moment of inoculation of the fungus (before or after bacteria). Treatments that do not share a letter have a mean difference that is statistically significant based on Tukey's HSD test (p < 0.05).
Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) plot based on Bray-Curtis dissimilarities of fungal ITS regionbased PCR-DGGE bands. Plant health parameters (plant height, number of leaves) and fungal abundance in qPCR were used here as vectors for NMDS analyses. T1 to T7 treatments: T1 = F; T2 = 19 + F; T3 = 76 + F; T4 = 19 + 76 + F; T5 = F + 19; T6 = F + 76; T7 = F + 19 + 76. PH = plant height, LN = number of leaves and FA = fungal abundance.
Biosynthetic gene clusters related to the production of a variety of antimicrobial substances in the Bacillus vele- zensis T149-19 genome.
Biosynthetic gene clusters related to the production of a variety of antimicrobial substances in the Bacillus safensis T052-76 genome.
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) tuberous roots are used for human consumption, animal feed, and many industrial products. However, the crop is susceptible to various pests and diseases, including foot rot disease caused by the phytopathogenic fungus Plenodomus destruens. Biological control of plant pathogens by Bacillus species is widely disseminated in agrosystems, but specific biological control agents against the foot rot disease-causing fungus are not yet available. Our previous studies showed that two Bacillus strains isolated from sweet potato roots—B. safensis T052-76 and B. velezensis T149-19—were able to inhibit P. destruens in vitro, but data from in vivo experiments using simultaneously the fungus and the bacteria were missing. In this study, both strains were shown to protect the plant from the disease and to mitigate the symptoms of foot rot disease in pot experiments. Total fungal community quantification using real-time PCR showed a significant decrease in the number of copies of the ITS gene when the bacteria were inoculated, compared to the control (with the fungus only). To determine the genes encoding antimicrobial substances likely to inhibit the fungus, their genomes were sequenced and annotated. Genes coding for mycosubtilin, bacillaene, macrolactin, bacillibactin, bacilysin, plantazolicin, plipastatin, dificidine, fengycin and surfactin were found in B. velezensis T149-19, while those coding for bacylisin, lichenysin, bacillibactin, fengycin and surfactin were found in B. safensis T052-76. Altogether, the data presented here contribute to advancing the knowledge for the use of these Bacillus strains as biocontrol products in sweet potato.
 
OTUs richness and diversity of soil CO2-fixing bacteria communities across all the treatments. (a) Venn diagram containing the unique and shared and unique OTUs among the treatments. (b) Alpha diversity index including Chao1, Simpson, Shannon, and observed OTUs. The asterisks indicate significant differences among the treatments. (c) Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) based on bacterial community composition. The treatment descriptions are summarized in Table 1. The numbers following the treatment name denote the sampling replications. For example, NT1, NT2, and NT3 mean the soil sampling, respectively, from replicate 1, 2, and 3 of the NT plots.
Microbial community composition under the four tillage practices and crop residue management treatments. (a) Relative abundance (%) of the most abundant phylum across all soil samples. (b) Taxonomic differences of cbbL-harboring microbial community. The largest circles represent the phylum level and the inner circles represent class, order, family, and genus. (c) Hierarchical cluster analysis and relative abundance (%) of the top 10 cbbL-harboring bacterial genera. The treatment descriptions are summarized in Table 1. The numbers following the treatment name denote the sampling replications. For example, NT1, NT2, and NT3 mean the soil sampling, respectively, from the NT plots in each of the three replicates.
The cbbL gene copy numbers of the soil samples under the different soil management practices.
The roles of bacterial communities in the health of soil microenvironments can be more adequately defined through longer-term soil management options. Carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation by autotrophic bacteria is a principal factor in soil carbon cycles. However, the information is limited to how conservation tillage practices alter soil physiochemical properties, autotrophic bacterial communities, and microbial catabolic diversity. In this study, we determined the changes in autotrophic bacterial communities and carbon substrate utilization in response to different soil management practices. A replicated field study was established in 2001, with the following soil treatments arranged in a randomized complete block: conventional tillage with crop residue removed (T), conventional tillage with residue incorporated into the soil (TS), no tillage with crop residue removed (NT), and no tillage with residue remaining on the soil surface (NTS). Soils were sampled in 2019 and microbial DNA was analyzed using high-throughput sequencing. After the 19-year (2001–2019) treatments, the soils with conservation tillage (NTS and NT) increased the soil’s microbial biomass carbon by 13%, organic carbon by 5%, and total nitrogen by 16% compared to conventional tillage (T and TS). The NTS treatment increased the abundance of the cbbL gene by 53% in the soil compared with the other soil treatments. The cbbL-carrying bacterial community was mainly affiliated with the phylum Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, accounting for 56–85% of the community. Retaining crop residue in the field (NTS and TS) enhanced community-level physiological profiles by 31% and carbon substrate utilization by 32% compared to those without residue retention (T and NT). The 19 years of soil management lead to the conclusion that minimal soil disturbance, coupled with crop residue retention, shaped autotrophic bacterial phylogenetics, modified soil physicochemical properties, and created a microenvironment that favored CO2-fixing activity and increased soil productivity.
 
Nowadays, China’s food consumption structure is shifting from being survival-oriented to health-oriented. However, the food industry is still facing a research and development (R&D) dilemma. Scientific evaluation of an enterprise’s R&D performance can help to reduce the investment risk of R&D and promote economic benefits. This study implements the dynamic data envelopment analysis (DDEA) technique to measure and evaluate the level of R&D performance in the Chinese food manufacturing industry. Twenty-eight listed companies were selected for the study, considering the time period from 2019 to 2021. After constructing a system of inputs, outputs and carry-over indicators, overall and period efficiency scores were obtained. The results reveal that the overall level of R&D in the industry is relatively low (0.332). Average efficiency scores across years were estimated as 0.447, 0.460, 0.430 for 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. Lastly, this study considers the actual business situation of the industry and makes suggestions for improvement from the perspective of enterprises and the government; these anticipate aiding the food manufacturing industry to improve the performance management of R&D activities.
 
Top-cited authors
Christos A. Damalas
  • Democritus University of Thrace
Chad J Penn
  • United States Department of Agriculture
James John Camberato
  • Purdue University
Ilias Giannenas
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Rosario Nicoletti
  • Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economy Analysis