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  • Open access
  • 59 Reads
Remote Visual Monitoring System for Tunnel Grown Crops

With soft fruit growers facing tighter margins due to changing economic circumstances and competition from low cost imports, it is imperative that growers can maximise their yield whilst maintaining a healthy . With longer growing seasons, disease can be a real problem affecting the health of the plant whilst also limiting the potential yield further impacting the grower. This project aims to provide a tool for the grower to remotely monitor a crop from anywhere with access to the internet. Using clusters of custom designed modules consisting of low-cost computing and imaging equipment, a system has been developed to monitor a crop throughout a growing season remotely. The system was able to power itself via renewable energy while capturing images of strawberry plants, inoculated with Phytophthora cactorum, via a fully customisable schedule for data collection, which reduced the risk of pathogen contamination of other crops by removing the requirement to physically visit the crop. The self-powered remote monitoring system is scalable by adding or removing clusters and lends itself to the collection of additional sensory data also.

  • Open access
  • 43 Reads
Assessment of Bacillus megaterium as durum wheat (Triticum durum) biofertilizer

According to the UN, the World population is going to achieve 9.700 million people by 2050. Finding a sustainable and efficient way to feed the growing population is one of the major challenges of this generation. Cereal grain crops are the major source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamin B and minerals in human feeding, among them maize, wheat, and rice are the most important cereals. Crop yields can be improved by plant growth promoting (PGP) bacteria in substitution of chemical fertilization, which has shown to cause a wide list of environmental harms.

Bacterial strains were isolated from the rhizosphere of cereals crop fields nearby Salamanca (Spain) and characterized by both MALDI-TOF and 16S rRNA sequencing. Bacillus megaterium strain was identified and characterized phenotypically in order to analyze the PGP potential. Within the assessments performed, positive results were obtained for phosphates solubilization, auxins synthesis, and siderophores, cellulose, and biofilm production.

Wheat seedlings in planta assays during the early days revealed that Bacillus megaterium improved the plant growth, for which colonization test were performed to evaluate the capacity of this strain to associate with the crop. Inoculated seedlings were grown in controlled conditions; after that, root slides were immunolocalized with GFP-labelled uricase antibody and visualized on fluorescence microscopy. Additionally, the genome was sequenced and bioinformatics analyzes showed interesting annotations regarding PGP potential.

Finally, the strain was inoculated on wheat seedlings and left to grow on greenhouse conditions until harvesting. Aerial biomass was recollected, measured, and weighted; furthermore, grains were counted and physicochemically analyzed to evaluate the nutrient quality. Promising results were obtained on both, grain yield and nutrient quality parameters.

Authors acknowledge the Diputación de Salamanca for funding this research through the project 18VB2I/463AC06, which belongs to “III Convocatoria de Proyectos de Investigación” of “VIII Centenario” of the University of Salamanca.

  • Open access
  • 66 Reads
Effect of biological preparations and different nitrogen fertilization on soil properties and spring wheat crop

Intensifying production of agriculture, rising prices of energy resources and the EU ecological policy goals are forcing farmers to seek solutions to reduce industrial and production costs and energy resources. At the same time, new and efficient measures are sought to increase soil fertility and quality. The investigations were carried out at the Experimental Station of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Lithuania, in 2018–2019, in Calc(ar)i-Endohypogleyic Luvisol, a semi-neutral (pHKCl 6.8), highly phosphorous (226.6 mg kg-1 P2O5), mid-potassium-level (105.0 mg kg-1 K2O), mid-humus-level (2.33%) soil, in order to evaluate the effect of biological preparations BactoMix2, BactoMix5 and Rhizobacterin on soil properties and spring wheat crop. Treatments of the experiment: Factor A – biological preparations: 1) without spraying, 2) biological preparation BactoMix2 (Enterobacter V-402 D and 409 D), norm 1.0 L ha-1, 3) biological preparation Rhizobacterin (associative nitrogen-fixing bacteria Klebsiella planticola), norm 2.0 L ha-1, 4) biological preparation BactoMix5 (Bacillus subtilis V-845 D and V-843 D, Pseudomonas aurantiaca, Bacillus megatarium and Brevibacillus sp.), norm 1.0 L ha-1. Factor B - nitrogen rates: 1) fertilized with N105, 2) fertilized with N165.

The use of biological preparations had positive influence on the agrochemical soil properties. Biological preparations significantly (P <0.05) increased available phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and humus content. Fertilization with a lower nitrogen rate (N105) showed a better effect of biological preparations on soil properties. In general, the use of biological preparation had positive effect on soil agrochemical properties, especially the use of BactoMix5. Application of biological preparation significantly (P≤0.05) increased grain yield of spring wheat when fertilization rate was N105. When fertilization rate was N165, a significantly (P≤0.05) higher yield of spring wheat grain was harvested in plots sprayed with biological preparation BactoMix5, compared to the yield of unsprayed plots.

  • Open access
  • 152 Reads
Analysis of the core microbiome of blueberry and blackberry plants as a first step in the design of efficient bacterial biofertilizers
Published: 01 May 2021 by MDPI in The 1st International Electronic Conference on Agronomy session Posters

As humans, plants harbour a microbiome, and as human microbiome, plants microbiome is essential for their health and fitness. Several components of this microbiome are able to increase crop’s yields and quality because of their ability to supply nutrients, phytohormones and protect them from pathogens.

On the other hand, traditional farming usually uses chemicals to promote plant yields that are related to many negative effects to the environment and human’s health. As an alternative to agrochemicals, we can select beneficial members of the plants’ microbiome as plant probiotics, which can be applied in fields.

Blueberries and blackberries are forest fruits broadly consumed with high antioxidants content. Their production is increasing and the development of microbial probiotics for these crops is desirable.

As a first step to select microbial probiotics for blueberry and blackberry plants, we analysed their microbiome using massive parallel sequencing. We collected DNA from the rhizosphere, roots and leaves of different plant samples from four different locations. Then, we analysed bacterial and fungal diversity through amplicon-based metagenomics.

While fungal communities are very diverse, we found that blueberries and blackberries share a common bacteriome with some core taxa, such as Ellin329, Chitinophagaceae, Bradyrhizobiaceae, Sinobacteraceae and Rhodoplanes. Based on this, we are attempting to isolate core members of this microbiome to study their ecological roles in the plants and will be tested in future works for their ability to enhance yields and quality of these crops.

Funding: This work was funded from the MINECO, under grant agreement PID2019-109960RB-100 and by by Junta de Castilla y León (Escalera de Excelencia CLU-2018-04) co-funded by the P.O. FEDER of Castilla y León 2014–2020.

  • Open access
  • 118 Reads
Chemical characterization of rosehip (Rosa canina L.) seed: application of Raman spectroscopy and gas chromatography
Published: 01 May 2021 by MDPI in The 1st International Electronic Conference on Agronomy session Posters

Rosehip seeds represent the waste material in the food industry, in production of marmalade, jam, beverages, jelly, syrup, tea, etc. Utilization of fruits by-products and wastes such as seeds could be useful for obtaining a new source of oil and/or functional food. In the recent years, rosehip seeds have been used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, due to their specific fatty acid composition. The aim of this study was to assess the chemical composition of seed from Rosa canina L. hips, with the focus on seed oil fatty acid profile. In this respect, analytical methods in situ Raman spectroscopy (RS) and gas chromatography (GC) were used. Ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) was applied for isolation of lipid fraction. Fatty acids in form of methyl esters (FAMEs) were analyzed by gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector (GC/FID). Raman spectra showed the presence of lipids, fatty acids, poliphenolics and saccharides (including cellulose) as the predominant classes of compounds in seeds. Bands at 1266, 1328, 1369 and 1655 cm-1, were associated to lipids and unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs). The spectra also indicated cis isomers in the lipid fraction. Seeds contained 5.6 % of oil, and GC analysis confirmed the presence of UFAs. Linoleic acid (w-6) and α-linolenic acid (w-3) (29.72 and 4.20 %, respectively) were the most abundant ones, whereas among saturated FAs, arachidic acid was found in the unusually high percent. Raman spectroscopy was applied as the fast and nondestructive analytical method, and spectra provided information about the structure of chemical species which contributed strongly to seed spectral signature. Results of GC analysis showed that rosehip seeds are good source of nutritionally valuable fatty acids that might be utilized in products specified as functional food.

  • Open access
  • 102 Reads
Water saving techniques and practices for on-farm surface irrigation systems

Water saving from irrigated agriculture is a world-wide priority facing the increasing water demand by multiple non­agricultural users and the variability in climate regimes affecting the availability of water resources. A major irrigation challenge is maintaining agricultural production and farmer’s income, with less water use. It needs the adaptation of irrigated agriculture through a change in the technology and practices aiming the water productivity improvement, compatible with the technical know-how of the farmers and the economic sustainability of the farms. This presentation refers to the surface irrigation systems, the oldest and most widely used irrigation method, comprising traditional systems developed over millennia, and modern ones with mechanized and often automated water application. They adapt well to non-sloping areas, to low to medium soil infiltration characteristics, to most crops, and to crop mechanization as well as to most environmental conditions, but they are still used in various regions of the world in a precarious and inefficient way, so there is a significant margin of progress for saving water and improving its productivity. The water saving technologies consider several aspects, including agronomic, soil management, irrigation scheduling, inflow and cutoff control, the precise land-leveling, runoff reuse, monitoring. Modern methods provide water and energy saving, control of environmental impacts, labor saving, and cropping economic success. These systems, when properly designed and managed, have a significant impact in the water use and productivity, and thus a competitive advantage relative to pressurized systems. This paper presents the main technical aspects of modern surface irrigation systems, their capabilities to reduce water demand, and the challenges to increase water productivity. It is illustrated with case studies where innovative practices have been applied.

  • Open access
  • 83 Reads

Background: Poultry manure (PM) is a source macro and micro nutrients for plant growth. PM applied to soil enhances soil properties and increases the crop yield. As an important strategy to decrease the amount of inorganic phosphorus (P) fertilizers, the combined use of rock phosphate (RP) with PM has been found to be more advantageous for sustainable agriculture than their single use. The objective was to assess PM dose effect on RP dissolution and the PM effect on P availability in an Andisol.

Methods: Composted PM was chemically analyzed according to Sadzawka et al. (2006). Additionally, it was fractionated according to a modified sequential Hedley P methodology. Then, we performed two incubation experiments. The first incubation was done by mixing PM and RP at two different rates: 50:50 and 70:30 during 30 days. In the second experiment, an Andisol was incubated with PM at the dose of 100, 200 and 300 mg P kg-1 and soil subsamples were taken at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 days of incubation. P availability was determined according to Olsen and Summers (1982) based on an extraction with a solution of 0.5 M sodium bicarbonate at pH 8.5, using molybdate colorimetry of Murphy and Riley (1962).

Results and Conclusions: Combined use of PM and RP at 70:30 rate resulted in the greatest increase of available P released from RP during PM decomposition. The Andisol amended with the highest PM dose (300 mg P kg-1) showed the highest P availability at the third incubation day. Then, at the fifth incubation day, both PM doses (200 and 300 mg P kg-1) resulted in similar increases. We therefore conclude that poultry manure addition may mobilize protected soil P. Long-term results will be necessary to analyze the combined effect of PM and RP in pasture growth.

  • Open access
  • 61 Reads
Xenobiotics in Phaseolus vulgaris
Published: 01 May 2021 by MDPI in The 1st International Electronic Conference on Agronomy session Posters

Controlling the contamination of crop plants with pollutants has raised increasing interest in recent years; among the investigated pollutants, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are of particular interest because some f them are remarkable for their toxicity and/ or carcinogenicity. The main purpose of this paper is to establish the degree of contamination of Phaseolus vulgaris’s grains (Ardeleana variety) with the xenobiotics lead, cadmium, copper, zinc and 15 priority PAH in the conditions of experimental cultures carried out during three years in three locations with different pollution patterns: a reference field, a contaminated surface from diffuse sources and a site with historical contamination. PAHs’ determinations was performed by high performance liquid chromatography on an Agilent 1100 system, while the heavy metals’ content was determined by atomic absorption spectrometry using a Shimadzu AA6300 spectrophotometer. The obtained results revealed a higher share of low molecular weight PAHs, mainly naphthalene, fluorine, acenaphthene and anthracene, high molecular weight PAH contamination being due to benzo(a,h)anthracene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene and indeno(1,2,3-c,d)pyrene. The content of PAHs was highest in the samples from the site contaminated from diffuse sources (6.03 mg total PAHs/ kg), in the contamination mechanism predominantly intervening the atmospheric depositions loaded with combustion products. The highest content of heavy metals was recorded in samples from the site with historical contamination: 0.03 μg Pb/ kg, 0.02 μg Cd/ kg, 1.40 mg Cu/ kg and 32.35 mg Zn/ kg. Overall, the obtained results highlighted relatively low concentrations of the studied xenobiotics in Phaseolus vulgaris grains; these data may be useful in future studies dealing with human exposure on these pollutants.

  • Open access
  • 88 Reads
Use of microbial biostimulants to enhance the salinity tolerance of tomato transplants

Vegetable plants are more sensitive to salt stress during the early growth stages, hence, the availability of poor-quality brackish water can be a big issue for the nursery vegetable industry. Microbial biostimulants may promote growth and vigor and counterbalance salt stress in mature plants. This study aimed to evaluate the application of plant growth-promoting microorganisms for improving salt tolerance of tomato seedlings irrigated with increasing salinity (0, 25, and 50 mM NaCl) during nursery growth. Two commercial microbial biostimulants were applied to the substrate before seeding: 1.5 g L-1 of TNC BactorrS13 containing 1.3 x 108 CFU g-1 of Bacillus spp.; 0.15 g L-1 of Flortis Micorrize containing 30 % of Glomus spp., 1.24 x 108 CFU g-1 of Agrobacterium radobacter, Bacillus subtilis, Streptomyces spp. and 3 x 105 CFU g-1 of Thricoderma spp.. Tomato seedlings suffered negative effects of salinity on plant height, biomass, shoot/root ratio, leaf number, leaf area, relative water content, and stomatal conductance. The use of the bacterial biostimulants modified seedling growth and its response to salt stress. They had a growth-promoting effect on the unstressed tomato seedlings increasing fresh and dry biomass accumulation, leaf number, and leaf area and were successful in increasing salinity tolerance of tomato seedlings especially when using Flortis Micorizze that enhanced salinity tolerance up to 50 mM NaCl. The inoculation of the substrate with microbial biostimulants could represent a sustainable way to improve tomato transplant quality and to use brackish water in vegetable nurseries limiting its negative effect on seedling growth.

  • Open access
  • 145 Reads
Identification of quinoa seed bacterial endophytes and selection of strains for biofertilization of quinoa crops
Published: 01 May 2021 by MDPI in The 1st International Electronic Conference on Agronomy session Posters

Quinua, quínoa or quinua (from the quechua kinwa or kinuwa), whose scientifc name is Chenopodium quinoa Willdenow, is a plant of the family Amaranthaceae, subfamily Chenopodiaceae native to the Andean region of South America. Its seeds, which do not contain gluten, have higher nutritional value than cereals because of its high protein content and its balanced content among proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Coming from America, in recent years its consumption has become popular in European countries, where its cultivation has been recently introduced. In Spain, quinoa is mainly produced in “Andalucía”, but its cultivation is beginning to be tested in other regions such as “Castilla y León”. So far there are no studies about quinoa endophytic bacteria and their potential as biofertilizers for this plant. For this reason in this study we have isolated and identify the endophytic bacteria of seeds from quinoa obtained after the cultivation of this plant in a soil from “Castilla y León”. The isolated strains were classified into the genera Bacillus, Staphylococcus and Pantoea after MALDI-TOF MS and 16S rRNA gene sequence analyses. After the analysis of several in vitro plant growth promotion mechanisms, two strains belonging to the genus Bacillus were selected for inoculation of quinoa plants in microcosms assays , which were carried up to seed production in greenhouse using two soils collected in Salamanca province (“Castilla y León”) as substrate. The results showed that despite the dry weight per plant was lower in the inoculation treatments with respect to the fertilized control, the weight of the collected seeds was similar or even higher in the two inoculation treatments. These results suggest that the biofertilization could be a reliable alternative to the chemical fertilization for quinoa crops.

This project has received funding from the Junta de Castilla and León Government under the Grant SA293P18