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Influence of harvest date on physicochemical properties and flesh image parameters of red-fleshed apples
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The harvest date affects the ripeness and properties of apples. The objective of this study was to compare the properties of red-fleshed apples ‘Alex Red’, ‘Trinity’, and ‘Roxana’ harvested on August 31 and September 06, 2021. Color parameters (L*, a*, b*) and image textures of the flesh, as well as the content of chemical compounds were determined. The values of parameter L* of the flesh statistically significantly decreased for apples sampled on the second date, from 54.4 to 50.5 for ‘Alex Red’, from 51.6 to 47.0 for ‘Trinity’, and from 71.9 to 69.5 for ‘Roxana’. The significant increase in parameter a* for ‘Alex Red’ (29.1 to 32.8) and ‘Trinity’ (33.0 to 36.3) and parameter b* for ‘Trinity’ (11.1 to 12.7) and ‘Roxana’ (11.8 to 14.0) were determined. The greatest significant changes in image texture HMean were found for color channel R, from 228 to 236 for ‘Alex Red’, from 232 to 236 for ‘Trinity’, and from 218 to 228 for ‘Roxana’. A significant increase in sugar content from 85.6 to 90.9 g kg-1 for ‘Alex Red’ and from 112 to 128 g kg-1 for ‘Trinity’ was observed. The total phenolic content significantly decreased with harvest delay, from 536 to 502 mg kg-1 for ‘Alex Red’ and increased from 516 to 573 mg kg-1 for ‘Trinity’, and from 1121 to 1293 mg kg-1 for ‘Roxana’. The obtained results indicate that a weekly interval of harvesting red-fleshed apples can significantly affect the composition of chemical compounds, as well as flesh color intensity.

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Molybdenum Trioxide Nanoparticles Enhance Drought Tolerance in Pea Plants

Legumes family plants, high in protein and essential minerals for humans and animals, play a vital role in the food industry. However, they are susceptible to a warming climate and especially droughts. The pea plant is a legume that carries out nitrogen fixation from the air to the soil with the help of symbiotic bacteria on the root nodules. A sufficient amount of molybdenum in the soil is significant for nitrogen fixation. The aim of this research was to investigate the effects of an aqueous suspension of molybdenum trioxide nanoparticles (MoO3 NPs) on the antioxidant system, mineral composition, and yield of drought-affected peas (Pisum sativum L. cultivar 'Respect'). The experiments were conducted using potted plants in a greenhouse with natural daylight. Pea plants were treated with different concentrations (0, 12.5, 25, and 50 ppm) of MoO3 NPs by watering and spraying and were subjected to ten days of drought. Drought was initiated by maintaining substrate moisture at 30% while standard conditions were 80%. The researchers evaluated the impact of MoO3 NPs and drought on the growth of the plants, the activity of enzymes (CAT, SOD, APX, GR, GPX), and the level of non-enzymatic antioxidants (FRAP, DPPH, ABTS, TPC) and stress biomarkers (H2O2, MDA amount). Elemental analysis was performed using the leaves, stems, and roots. The findings indicated that 50 ppm MoO3 NPs significantly increased the yield, height, leaf area, and nodule number of drought-stressed pea plants. MoO3 nanoparticles increased the activity of CAT, APX, SOD, and GPX. The highest Mo accumulation was found in pea roots when the plants were watered with NPs suspensions. MoO3 nanoparticles increased the resistance of pea plants to drought stress by boosting the antioxidant activity, which may have led to higher growth parameters and yield of pea plants.

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Effect of CuO nanoparticles and two lightning intensities on growth parameters of Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris ssp. cicla L.), Kale (Brassica oleracea), and Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
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Published: 21 November 2023 by MDPI in 2nd International Online Conference on Agriculture session Crop Production;

Copper (Cu) is a highly essential micronutrient impacting many vital plant physiological processes, such as photosynthesis, enzymatic activity, cellular functions like cell wall formation, mitochondrial respiration, oxidative stress response, and protein metabolism. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NPs) sprayed onto Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris ssp. cicla L.), kale (Brassica oleracea), and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) leaves grown in hydroponic Ebb systems (electric conductivity of mineral solution 1.3 mS cm-2, pH 5.5-6.0) in controlled environment chambers (photoperiod of 18 h, day/night temperature 21/17±2 °C, and 60±5% relative air humidity) under the combination of white 65%, blue 5%, red 30% light emitting diodes (LEDs) with two intensities 150 and 250 µmol m-2 s-1. The influence was determined on the fresh (FW) and dry (DW) shoot and root biomass, leaf area, chlorophyll and flavanol index, and nitrogen balance index. Swiss chard, kale, and lettuce were sprayed with suspensions of CuO NPs of 10 and 40 nm at a concentration of 30 ppm. Plants that were sprayed with distilled water were considered as control. The results showed that the most effective CuO NPs influence on growth parameters was under 250 µmol m-2 s-1 intensity, especially for Swiss chard. The leaf area of such a plant increased by 62% and FW by 56% when sprayed with 10 nm CuO NPs suspension compared with the control. Meanwhile, the lettuce leaf area increased by 25% and kale by 15%. Spraying with CuO NPs suspension positively affected kale DW and chlorophyll content in lettuce leaves. Meanwhile, lower 150 µmol m-2 s-1 intensity resulted in more diminutive plants and a lower effect of CuO NPs on their growth rates than plants grown under higher intensity conditions. In conclusion, these results revealed that CuO NPs could be used in plant production to improve growth parameters. Acknowledgments: This project has received funding from the Research Council of Lithuania (LMTLT), agreement No. S-MIP-21-27.

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Can early-stage detection of pathogens in plants be enlighted by luminescent nanoparticles?
Published: 21 November 2023 by MDPI in 2nd International Online Conference on Agriculture session Poster Session.

Detecting and diagnosing plant diseases promptly is crucial for food security and effective crop management, especially when dealing with deadly pathogens that cause significant losses and economic damage1. Plant infections are estimated to contribute 20-40% to global production losses, annually2. Therefore, early detection of pathogens is critical, and nanotechnology-based sensing technologies offer promising solutions. Luminescent nanomaterials provide enhanced sensitivity and depth, making them valuable for bioimaging and real-time monitoring. In this study, we propose the development of functionalized luminescent silicate-based nanoparticles (NPs) using pulsed-laser ablation in liquid (PLAL) to target specific phytopathogens.

The objective is to create diagnostic nanoprobes capable of detecting Neofusicoccum parvum and Diplodia seriata, the phytopathogens responsible for grapevine trunk diseases. Hence, a spectral analysis of grapevine stems was conducted, including healthy and infected plants, as well as phytopathogen fungi cultures and growth medium (PDA). Results indicated that the materials’ emission should be within the 500-650 nm spectral range to avoid interference with chlorophyll absorption bands.

Mn2+-doped Zn2SiO4 ceramic targets were synthesized using solid-state reaction and solution combustion synthesis to optimize the photoluminescence (PL) intensity and afterglow, by investigating various factors, such as Mn2+ concentrations, H3BO3, and co-doping with lanthanide ions. Structural and optical characterization of the targets was performed using X-ray diffraction, Raman, and PL spectroscopies. NPs production through PLAL was studied, exploring different laser wavelengths, solvents, and other parameters. To ensure safety for plants and phytopathogens, toxicity assessments were conducted through foliar disc analysis and culture-based methods.

1Z. Li, T. Yu, R. Paul, J. Fan, Y. Yang, and Q. Wei, “Agricultural nanodiagnostics for plant diseases: Recent advances and challenges,” Nanoscale Adv., vol. 2, no. 8, pp. 3083–3094, 2020, doi: 10.1039/c9na00724e.

2FAO, “Climate change fans spread of pests and threatens plants and crops, new FAO study,” 2021. https://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1402920/icode/ (accessed Feb. 23, 2022)

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A Cost-Effective Portable Multiband Spectrophotometer for Precision Agriculture
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Published: 22 November 2023 by MDPI in 2nd International Online Conference on Agriculture session Poster Session.

The United Nations marks responsible consumption and production as one of the 17 key goals to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this context, affordable precision instruments can play a significant role in the optimization of crops in developing countries where precision agriculture tools are barely available. In this work, a simple to use, cost-effective instrument for spectral analysis of plants and fruits based on open source hardware and software has been developed. The instrument is a 7-band spectrophotometer equipped with a microprocessor that allows one to acquire the reflectance spectrum of samples and compute up to 9 vegetation indices. The accuracy in reflectance measurements is between 0.4% and 1.4% full scale, just above that of high-end spectrophotometers, while the precision at determining the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is 0.61%, between 3 and 6 times better than more expensive commercial instruments. Some use cases of this instrument have been tested, and the prototype has proven to be able to precisely monitor minute spectral changes of different plants and fruits under different conditions, most of them before they were perceptible to the bare eye. This kind of information is essential in the decision-making process regarding harvesting, watering, or pest control, allowing precise control of crops. Given the low cost (less than USD 100) and open source architecture of this instrument, it is an affordable tool to bring precision agriculture techniques to small farmers in developing countries.

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Evaluation of durum wheat genotypes at germination stage under salinity stress
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Published: 27 November 2023 by MDPI in 2nd International Online Conference on Agriculture session Poster Session.

Salinity is one of the most severe abiotic stress factors affecting plant growth and agricultural production worldwide. It strongly inhibits seed germination through osmotic stress, ion-specific effects, and oxidative stress. Durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) is a typical Mediterranean species very important for the Mediterranean areas, especially in drylands. Information on the genotypic tolerance to salt stress during the germination process are lacking in Sicilian durum wheat landraces. Limited literature work is documented so far on these genotypes so knowing their behavior can help breeding programs in the selection of salt tolerant varieties to achieve optimum wheat growth under saline condition.

The aim of this work was to investigate several durum wheat genotypes (11 landraces, 2 old varieties and 7 modern cultivars) for salt tolerance at germination and early growth stages.

Experiments were laid out in a two-factorial with four replications. Two-way ANOVA was performed and means were compared with Duncan’s multiple range test.

There were 3 salinity level (0, 50 mM and 100 mM) and 20 genotypes tested. Seven parameters were measured under laboratory conditions: germination, mean germination time, shoot length, root length, root number, shoot dry matter and root dry matter.

Genotype, concentration and their interaction showed significant differences in many of the parameters studied.

Remarkable germination (greater than 96%) were obtained by Timilia Reste Nere, Ciclope, Mongibello and Timilia Reste Bianche at the highest NaCl concentration; Rusticano, Ciclope , Simeto, and Mongibello are notable for the shorter mean germination time (range from 2,15 to 2,20 days). Among the landraces, Ciciredda and Urria showed good values of mean germination time. All the landraces have been reported for the better shoot length than modern varieties; Timilia Reste Bianche, Timilia Reste Nere, Ciciredda and Senatore-Cappelli are highlighted for the best performance for root length at 100 mM.

Raise of concentration determined an increase of the mean germination time and a decreasing trend for shoot length.

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Effective parameters in the separation of Pectin by Vacuum Membrane Filtering

Pectin, which is made from citrus peel and waste, is one of the most used compounds in the food industry. For large-scale production, a combination of membrane-vacuum filtering has been suggested as an alternative to traditional methods of purifying the acidic solution for pectin extraction. This study investigates the main factors involved in the membrane filtering system for the separation of fibrous materials from an acidic pectin solution under a vacuum. These factors include filter-aid-particle size, amount of filter-aid (perlite) added to the solution, and the vacuum level, effect, separation quality, volumetric flow rate, and energy consumption. A vacuum separation device was developed for this purpose in order to separate the fibrous material dissolved in the solution. The independent variables were examined at three levels, the data were analyzed, and the optimum value for each variable was determined using the response surface method (RSM). Results revealed that increasing the vacuum level from 0.2 to 0.4 bar increases the flow rate 6.5 folds, while, a further increase in the vacuum level decreases the flow rate. This indicates clogging of the paper filter and decreased flow rate at a vacuum level of 0.6 bar and perlite particle size of 100 microns. The evaluation results showed that the thickness of the perlite layer has the greatest effect on the separation efficiency and when increased from 1 to 2 cm, increases the efficiency 2.5 folds. The maximum value of separation efficiency was obtained at a vacuum level of 0.2 bar, particle size of 20 microns, and perlite thickness of 2 cm. The energy consumption of 60-micron perlite was 0.74 Wh in the optimal state, and the larger and smaller sizes of perlite had 4.5 times the energy consumption. These findings are applicable in the industrial-scale implementation of a biomaterial separation system using vacuum membrane filtering.

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Enhancing Vegetative Growth of Quinoa and Soil Properties Under Water Shortage through Targeted Organic Amendments

The scarcity of water resources is considered a major threat and challenge for agriculture. The water limitations could strongly affect the growth and development of many crops including quinoa, a nutrition-rich, climate-resilient crop that is gaining attention globally. The organic amendment application is reported as a suitable option to mitigate the detrimental impacts of water shortage on soil and plant growth. In this context, two experiments were conducted on Chenopodium quinoa 'Titicaca'; in the first one, we investigated the effect of different organic amendments i.e., woodchips biochar (BW), vineyard pruning biochar (BV), and vermicompost (V), applied (alone and mixed) at 2% soil dry weight, on soil properties and plant biomass of quinoa subjected to a water stress period during vegetative development. Among organic amendments tested, BW and BW+V increased plant biomass on average by 15%, while BV and BV+V reduced the plant biomass by 62% compared to non-amended soil. A significant reduction in soil pH was observed by BW (7.61) while BV increased pH (8.04) compared to non amended soil (7.76). The BW and BV reduced soil bulk density (BD) (1.19 g/m3) and (1.05 g/m3), respectively, compared to non-amended soil (1.28 g/m3). As BW performed better in the first experiment, the second one assess only BW at different doses i.e., 0%, 2% and 4% under water shortage by restoring 50% evapotranspiration losses when soil water content reached the 50% of available water content. The plants treated with BW2% showed 34% and 19% more biomass, while 36% and 66% more panicles than BW0% and BW4%, respectively. The BW2% decreases the soil pH (7.79 versus 7.85) and electrical conductivity (286 versus 307 mS/m) compared to BW0% that was not different from BW4%. No differences were observed in BD between BW0% and BW2% (on average: 1.28), while decreased in BW4% (1.06 g/m3). The findings of both experiments highlighted that the appropriate type and dose of biochar could improve soil properties and help the quinoa plants to grow better under water limited conditions.

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Can Precision Agriculture be the future of Indian farming?-A case study across South-24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India

Agricultural practises such as tilling, sowing, cropping and harvesting along with land-use patterns in any agrarian economy depend on climate. Therefore any adverse climatic conditions can seriously affect the production or yield of the crops. Increased temperature enhances the susceptibility of crops to pests and various plant-diseases. Weeds are also known to multiply rapidly and decrease the nutritive value of soil in turn negatively affecting crop production. Our present study was designed to address similar problems faced by the farming community in the South-24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India and in turn suggest several probable technological solutions. Importantly, West Bengal is included under one of the six agro-climatic zones. Major crops from this study site are rice, wheat, maize, jute, green gram, black gram, pigeon pea, lentils, sugarcane, pulses, rapeseed, mustard, sesame, linseed and vegetables. Significantly cultivable land area has decreased in comparison to overall crop area in this region. Reduced interest in agriculture, irrigation problems, increased profit in non-agricultural economy, rapid conversion of agricultural land for commercial purposes (construction of plots, hatcheries for fishing practices) along with uncertainties associated with rainfall patterns and frequent cyclones are matters of grave concern in this study site. Agricultural scientists, researchers, environmentalists, local bodies and government organizations are suggesting alternatives for benefitting farmers. Thus Precision Agriculture or Crop Management is required to recognise site-specific variables within agricultural lands and formulate strategies for improving decision making regarding crop sowing, appropriate use of herbicides, weedicides, precision irrigation along with innovative harvesting technologies. Thus the present paper would provide a vision to the farming community of our study site to overcome their traditional practices and adopt different techniques of precision agriculture to increase flexibility, performance, accuracy and cost-effectiveness. Usage of soil temperature, humidity and moisture monitoring sensors could be beneficial. Precision soil management, precision irrigation, crop disease management, weed management along with harvesting technologies are the different modules being considered for discussion in this paper. Machine Learning algorithm such as Linear regression, Decision Tree, K-nearest neighbour (KNN), Gaussian Naïve Bayes (GNB) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) could prove helpful for progressive farmers. Usage of AI powered weeding machines, drones, UAVs for rapid weed removal, localised application of herbicides, pesticides could also improve the accuracy and efficiency of agriculture. Utilizing drones fitted with high resolution cameras could help in gathering precision field images in turn proving quite helpful in crop monitoring and crop health assessment. Unmanned driverless tractors, harvesting machines using robotics integrated with data from GPS/GIS sensors or radars could also be considered as an effective and time-saving option. Thus Machine Learning along with innovative agricultural technologies could probably contribute towards improving the livehood of the farming fraternity.

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The Contribution of Tribal Women Entrepreneurs to Long-Term Economic Growth: A Bibliometric Analysis and Prospects for Future Study

Tribal women entrepreneurship has gained significant attention in recent years as a means to empower women from indigenous communities and foster sustainable development within their societies. However, with the recognition of their unique skills, knowledge, and cultural heritage, tribal women are increasingly embracing entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic self-sufficiency and empowerment. Our research analysed bibliometric data from 2002 through 2023 to see how the field of study on tribal women entrepreneurs has evolved. This study looked at a wide range of factors, including publication details, authorship details, country of origin, and author-related keywords. The R studio Bibliometrix programme was used to make the visuals. The annual output of publications increased by 9.82 % after the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was a notable increase in the number of publications on tribal women entrepreneurship. Possible causes include supportive technological development, a thriving environment for new businesses, and government initiatives. India and United States have produced the most comprehensive studies of entrepreneurship followed by United Kingdom, but researchers from all over the world have worked together on similar projects. This study has shown that there has been a significant increase in entrepreneurial research activity, as well as demonstrating the breadth and interdisciplinary character of this research. However, more work needs to be done to bring together scholars from different fields to examine how different organisations have impacted the study of tribal women entrepreneurs.

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