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European Journal of Agronomy
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.335
Citation Impact (citeScore): 4
Number of Followers: 10  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 1161-0301
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3168 journals]
  • Yield gap analysis simulated for sugar beet-growing areas in water-limited
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Esmaeil Mohammadi-Ahmadmahmoudi, Reza Deihimfard, Omid NooriAbstractSugar beet is one of the main two field crops cultivated to extract sugar. In order to increase the production of sugar beet, it is necessary to identify limiting and reducing factors by quantifying and analyzing yield gap. For this purpose, a crop simulation model was evaluated and used to simulate the storage organ of the sugar beet as well as yield gaps due to water shortage, inappropriate sowing date, and other biotic and abiotic factors at 10 locations of Khorasan Razavi province in northeastern Iran. Results of long-term simulations indicated that the province has a good potential for sugar beet yield with the highest yield of 103.6 t ha−1. However, there is a huge difference between actual production level and simulated attainable one (65.4 t ha−1); the average actual yield was only 32.7 % of the simulated attainable yield. In spite of the large amount of water applied as irrigation by most farmers, there are still water limitations because of water mismanagement, high vapor pressure deficit, and the temperatures occurring during most sensitive the major sugar beet growth stages at most locations. On average, water limitation had a major influence on yield gap (47.5 % of total yield gap) compared with sowing date (15 %) and other limiting and reducing factors (37.5 %). Under these circumstances, farmers must focus on increasing the water productivity of the sugar beet agroecosystem by replacing the current furrow irrigation systems, sowing earlier crops, and substituting sugar beet with crops that have a shorter growing season and are better adapted to the hot and arid climate during summer.
  • Performance of wheat-based cropping systems and economic risk of low
           relative productivity assessment in a sub-dry Mediterranean environment
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): A. Nasrallah, H. Belhouchette, N. Baghdadi, M. Mhawej, T. Darwish, S. Darwich, G. FaourAbstractThe promotion of optimum rotations and agricultural management of winter wheat-based cropping systems is very critical, as wheat is considered an essential component in the Mediterranean diet. Considering the delicate economic situation of farmers in the Mediterranean area, recommending a low risk, sustainable farming system is desirable. In this study, an innovative application of a multi-criteria field-level approach is presented, targeting food security, farmer profitability and environmental sustainability. The CropSyst biophysical simulation model was calibrated and implemented for the study site. It was chosen for its agro-environmental robustness to simulate four rotations (wheat-wheat, wheat-fallow, wheat-potato, and wheat-fava bean). Four types of wheat agricultural management systems (full fertilization and full irrigation, full fertilization and zero irrigation, zero fertilization and full irrigation, and zero fertilization and irrigation) were tested in low and high soil water holding capacity (WHC) types. The effects of soil conditions, management practices and rotation type on wheat grain yields were assessed. Furthermore, the performance of each winter wheat-based cropping system was evaluated in terms of productivity (protein production and profitability) and the efficient use of resources (nitrogen and water), as well as the economic risk of low relative productivity each one engenders. The results show that there is no particular optimal scenario that can simultaneously ensure high productivity, reduce economic risk of low relative productivity, and achieve high wheat- water- and nitrogen-use efficiency. However, the wheat-fava bean rotation cultivated with no wheat fertilization appeared to be a better substitute to the wheat-wheat rotation in terms of protein production (0.93 t/ha versus 0.8 t/ha in low WHC soil and 1.34 t/ha versus 1.17 t/ha in high WHC). This cropping system achieved a higher net profit (2111 US$/ha versus 1222US$/ha in low WHC and 3550 US$/ha versus 2450 US$/ha in high WHC), showing high resource-use efficiency and was less risky for farmers. Moreover, a very high profit could only be attained with the wheat-potato rotation (8640 US$/ha and 12,170 US$/ha in low and high WHC, respectively), yet with low input-efficiency and high economic risk of low relative productivity.
  • Expanding row ratio with lowered nitrogen fertilization improves system
           productivity of maize/pea strip intercropping
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Yan Tan, Falong Hu, Qiang Chai, Guang Li, Jeffrey A. Coulter, Cai Zhao, Aizhong Yu, Zhilong Fan, Wen YinAbstractIntercropping is increasingly applied to confront food security issues in a sustainable manner. However, whether changing of row ratio and lowering N fertilization will affect interspecific interactions in maize (Zea mays L.)/pea (Pisum sativum L.) strip intercropping is unknown. Here we determined interspecific competition and yield response of pea and maize in a substitutive strip intercropping field experiment with irrigation in arid northwestern China from 2009–2011. Expanding the maize-to-pea row ratio from 2 : 4 to 3 : 4 intensified interspecific competition by 39, 96 and 154 % at 45, 60 and 75 d after maize sowing, and increased crop growth dynamics index of maize by 102, 89 and 16 % during 75–105, 105–135, and 135–165 d after maize sowing. Accordingly, grain yield of pea and maize with row ratio 3 : 4 was improved by 12 and 8 %, respectively, compared to row ratio 2 : 4. Meanwhile, the overyielding effect of pea and maize with row ratio 3 : 4 at 28 and 35 %, respectively, was significantly greater than row ratio 2 : 4. Lowering N fertilizer rate from 450 to 300 kg N ha−1 intensified interspecific competition without affecting grain yield of pea and maize in the intercropping system. Grain yield of pea was positively correlated with interspecific competition, while that of maize was positively correlated with crop growth dynamics index of maize. Consequently, expanding row ratio with reduced N fertilizer rate could optimize interspecific interactions and improve system productivity of maize/pea strip intercropping.
  • Protein-rich legume and pseudo-cereal crop suitability under present and
           future European climates
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Rhys Manners, Consuelo Varela-Ortega, Jacob van EttenAbstractReplacing animal proteins with plant proteins in diets has been demonstrated to have both health and environmental advantages, driving a debate about the potential of protein-rich crops as dietary replacements for animal products. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how climate change could influence the potential for producing protein-rich crops. This study addresses this knowledge gap for the European Union. We analysed 13 protein-rich crops, using the crop suitability model EcoCrop and climate projections for the 2050s, based on 30 Global Circulation Models, under the Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5. The results suggest that current protein-rich crop distributions reflect climatic suitability. We demonstrate the heterogeneous impacts of climate change on crop suitability. In general, conditions in northern Europe were modelled to become more favourable for protein-rich crops, while in southern Europe modelled future climates limit the production of traditional protein-rich crops commonly grown there, including chickpea and lentil. Model results show an expanded area of high suitability for quinoa. Our results confirm the need for concerted breeding and research planning strategies to improve the tolerance of faba bean, lentil, and chickpea to the abiotic stresses that are predicted to become more common with climate change. At the same time, production in northern Europe can benefit from experimentation with protein-rich crops predicted to become more suitable there. Production planning and agricultural policy should consider these likely impacts, to encourage shifts that follow the emerging geographic patterns of crop suitability, and to support the resilience of protein-rich crop production in regions that may be negatively impacted by climate change.
  • Inoculation with native Bradyrhizobium strains formulated with biochar as
           carrier improves the performance of pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.)
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Juan Araujo, César-Antonio Díaz-Alcántara, Beatriz Urbano, Fernando González-AndrésAbstractPigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) originated in India and is now a major source of protein in countries in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. However, little is known about the effect on crop yields of inoculation with appropriate rhizobia strains. The objective of this study was to explore the possibility of improving pigeonpea yields in the Caribbean region, by inoculating with selected N-fixing symbionts. To achieve the study objective, we selected three elite strains of the genus Bradyrhizobium isolated from root nodules of pigeonpea in the Dominican Republic, we formulated them using innovative carriers, and finally we tested the formulated inoculant on eight farms located in the Dominican Republic. Three different carriers (sewage sludge, pine bark biochar and poultry litter) plus perlite as control were tested for the formulation. The first step was to test bacterial survival in the different carriers at different times up to one year (shelf-life). Pine bark biochar and the control resulted in the best shelf-life and were selected for the field experiment. The experimental design comprised two pigeonpea cultivars and five fertilisation strategies: Inoculation with three Bradyrhizobium strains without nitrogen (N) fertilisation, plus two non-inoculated controls one of them fertilised with 125 and 210 kg N ha−1 in non-irrigated and irrigated fields respectively. Nodule occupancy by the inoculated bacterial strain depended solely on the level of soil native nodulating bacteria and not on the bacterial strain or the carrier. Inoculation produced, on average, a significant yield increase compared to the non-inoculated non-N-fertilised control. Furthermore, the yield with the inoculated treatments did not significantly differ from the yield of the N-fertilised control. However, either inoculation or N-fertilisation were ineffective in two out of the eight fields with more than 104 nodulating bacteria g soil−1, compared to the non-inoculated non-N-fertilised control. Yield was neither significantly affected by the bacterial strain nor by the cultivar-strain interaction, and therefore, the two cultivars can be considered promiscuous. Neither carrier had a significant effect on yield. Thus, inoculants based on strains of Bradyrhizobia isolated from the root nodules of pigeonpea, formulated with pine bark biochar or perlite as carrier, are recommended as a good strategy to ensure food security in tropical agroecosystems with pigeonpea.
  • Seasonal and climatic variation of weighted VPD for transpiration
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Michel Edmond Ghanem, Zakaria Kehel, Hélène Marrou, Thomas R. SinclairAbstractVapor pressure deficit (VPD) is one of the critical variables that drives evapotranspiration, and is of fundamental importance in crop physiology and modeling in the face of climate change. Unfortunately, direct records of atmospheric moisture are rarely available at short temporal scales, e.g. hourly, and country or regional scales. Most models use approximations to estimate daily transpiration-weighted VPD. Tanner and Sinclair (1983) suggested an approach to calculate weighted daily VPD as a fraction (0.75) of the difference between daily maximum and minimum vapor pressure based on estimates calculated from daily maximum and minimum temperatures, respectively. A test of the Tanner-Sinclair suggestion is reported by obtaining daily weighted VPD from hourly measurements of humidity and temperature. The objective of this study was to assess the fractional value to obtained daily weighted VPD estimations. This study was based on ten years of hourly weather data collected at thirty five stations across the wide diversity of environments that exist in France.
  • Simulating alfalfa regrowth and biomass in eastern Canada using the
           CSM-CROPGRO-perennial forage model
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Qi Jing, Budong Qian, Gilles Bélanger, Andrew VanderZaag, Guillaume Jégo, Ward Smith, Brian Grant, Jiali Shang, Jiangui Liu, Wentian He, Kenneth Boote, Gerrit HoogenboomAbstractAlfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) is the predominant forage legume species in Canada and is considered a prioritized option for sustainable cropping under climate change. Crop growth models provide an opportunity to explore the potential impacts of climate change on alfalfa and for evaluating potential adaptation options. For this study, six experimental datasets in eastern Canada were used to parameterize the newly adapted CSM-CROPGRO-Perennial Forage Model (CSM-CROGRO-PFM) in simulating alfalfa regrowth and to identify areas for further model improvement needed for climate change assessments in the northern agricultural regions of North America. Estimated air temperatures under snow cover were used successfully to drive the CSM-CROPGRO-PFM model for simulating alfalfa regrowth in eastern Canada. The simulated values of aboveground biomass across all sites and years were acceptable with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 936 kg dry matter (DM) ha−1 and a normalized RMSE of 24%. A sensitivity analysis of the model revealed that with no change in the number of harvests per year, the simulated annual herbage yield (harvestable biomass) declined with increasing temperature, increased with elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration, and changed little with increased precipitation. However, the increase in the number of harvests made possible by warmer temperatures may increase the simulated annual herbage yield. Although most alfalfa physiological processes were successfully simulated, some additional model functions may be required to further improve the simulation of alfalfa regrowth for climate change studies conducted in Canada. These functions include quantifying plant density decline and its relationship with biomass in post-seeding years, estimating temperatures surrounding alfalfa crowns during the overwintering period, and simulating herbage nutritive attributes.
  • Analysis of soybean germination, emergence, and prediction of a possible
           northward establishment of the crop under climate change
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Jay Ram Lamichhane, Julie Constantin, Céline Schoving, Pierre Maury, Philippe Debaeke, Jean-Noël Aubertot, Carolyne DürrAbstractSoybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) has the potential to improve sustainability of agricultural production systems. A higher focus on this crop is needed to re-launch its production in the EU. A better understanding of key determinants affecting soybean establishment represents a first step to facilitate its adoption in cropping systems. To this objective, we conducted laboratory and field experiments in order to better characterize seed germination and seedling growth in relation to temperatures, water content, and soil structure. We then used these data to parametrize the SIMPLE crop emergence model and to evaluate its prediction quality, by comparing observed field germination and emergence data with the predicted ones. Finally, we performed a simulation study over the 2020–2100 period, for three sowing dates, from mid-March to mid-April, in the northern climate of France to evaluate whether soybean will successfully establish in the Northern part of the country under future climate change. Experimental results showed that soybean germination was very fast, taking only 17 °C days to reach 50% germination at optimal conditions. The base, optimum and maximum temperatures were determined as 4, 30 and 40 °C, respectively while the base water potential was −0.67 MPa, indicating a high sensitivity to water stress. The SIMPLE model finely predicted germination and emergence courses and their final rates, compared with the observed field data. The simulation study showed average emergence rate ranging from 61 to 78% with little variability among sowing dates and periods, but a high variability between years. Main causes of non-emergence were: i) seedling mortality due to clods or soil surface crust, followed by ii) non-germination, and iii) seedling mortality due to drought. When sown in mid-April, seedling mortality due to drought was higher compared with earlier sowing dates. These results provide a better knowledge of soybean establishment that are encouraging to introduce soybean with early sowings to diversify current cropping systems.
  • Co-limitation and stoichiometry capture the interacting effects of
           nitrogen and sulfur on maize yield and nutrient use efficiency
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Walter D. Carciochi, Victor O. Sadras, Agustín Pagani, Ignacio A. CiampittiAbstractNitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) deficiencies, individually and in combination, produce gaps between actual and potential yields in maize (Zea mays L.). Our objectives were to evaluate the effect of N and S status and their interaction on yield gap, and nutrient use efficiency (yield per unit of nutrient supply) using frameworks of co-limitation and stoichiometry. Factorial trials were established combining two N (unfertilized, N-fertilized) and two S (unfertilized, S-fertilized) treatments in five site-years. Yield ranged from 6.7 to 15.4 Mg ha−1. In a scale from 0 (no stress) to 1 (maximum stress), N stress varied from 0 to 0.67, and S stress from 0 to 0.66. Yield gap varied from 0 to 10 Mg ha−1, diminished as both N and S stresses reduced, and with higher N-S co-limitation. Both N and S use efficiencies increased with reductions in nutrient stresses and with increases in some of the N-S co-limitation indices. Co-limitation between N and S was maximized with N:S ratio ∼9.6 in shoot biomass and ∼11.2 in grain, indicating the balanced nutrient ratio in each plant organ at maturity. Both co-limitation and stoichiometry frameworks captured the interacting N and S effects on yield and nutrient use efficiency.
  • Weed regulation by crop and grassland competition: critical biomass level
           and persistence rate
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Mauricio Z. Schuster, François Gastal, Diana Doisy, Xavier Charrier, Anibal de Moraes, Safia Médiène, Corentin M. BarbuAbstractIt is widely agreed that competition is an important factor that regulates plant populations and shapes communities in agricultural landscapes. Many studies have suggested that crop and grassland competition can be used for cost-effective sustainable weed control. However, effective weed management requires a precise knowledge of the effects of agronomic practices and there is a lack of quantitative indicators to compare and predict the success of weed control by competition. Here, we studied weed abundance dynamics over a 12-year period in crop-grassland rotations (rotation treatments consisted of maize, wheat and barley crops, alternating with temporary grassland maintained for three or six years in the rotation and fertilised with ∼30 or ∼230 kg ha−1 year−1 of nitrogen). In addition to classical statistical analysis of the different rotation treatments, we modelled weed abundance as a function of the crop and grassland competition, expressed here by biomasses harvested in the preceding years. We show that weed abundance decreases over the years in grassland and subsequent crops only if the grassland receives sufficient nitrogen fertiliser. Our model had a greater explanatory power than the rotation treatments. This model estimates a critical biomass level above which weeds are suppressed in subsequent years, and below which they tend to thrive. This critical biomass level was 24.3 and 4.7 tonnes ha−1 of dry matter for crops and grassland, respectively, highlighting the greater competitiveness of grasslands than of crops. Several clear differences between weed functional groups emerged. This new modelling approach directly links the interannual dynamics of weed populations to current and previous biomass production levels. This approach facilitates the development of environment-friendly weed management strategies and paves the way for comparisons of the competitiveness against weeds of crops and grassland under various pedoclimatic conditions and agronomic practices.
  • Determination of the post-anthesis nitrogen status using ear critical
           nitrogen dilution curve and its implications for nitrogen management in
           maize and wheat
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Ben Zhao, Xiaoli Niu, Syed Tahir Ata-Ul-Karim, Laigang Wang, Aiwang Duan, Zhandong Liu, Gilles LemaireAbstractNitrogen (N) accumulation in plant reproductive organs during the post-anthesis growth phase of maize and wheat plays a crucial role in the formation of grain yield and quality. However, little is known about the effect of crop pre-anthesis and post-anthesis N status on ear N accumulation (NAE). This study endeavored to extend the crop N dilution theory already developed for vegetative growth period to determine ear critical N concentration (%NcE) during post-anthesis period of crop growth for analyzing the difference of NAE under various N levels. The data including the weight of dry mass (W) and N concentration of entire plant and ear, post-anthesis plant N uptake (PANU) from soil, grain number (GN), and grain weight (GW) were collected on wheat (two cultivars) and maize (three cultivars) from eight N rates (0–300 kg N ha−1) field experiments. The results revealed that the process of %N dilution exists in ear and it is plausible to extend the concept of %NcE curve till crop post-anthesis period. The %NcE curves as function of ear dry mass (WE) of wheat (%NcE = 2.85WE-0.17) and maize (%NcE = 2.22WE-0.26) were lower than those developed in maize and wheat on whole plant basis. This study revealed that the ear has the potential to diagnose ear N status under different N conditions and the increases in ear N nutrition index (NNIE) during the post-anthesis period with increasing N rate were well synchronized with plant NNI (NNIp) at anthesis. GN and GW of maize and wheat showed significantly positive correlation with NNIp at anthesis and NNIE at maturity under N-limiting treatments, and GN and GW could keep relatively stable under non-N limiting treatments. NNIp and NNIE showed the potential capacity to predict GN and GW of maize and wheat under N limiting condition. Ear critical N accumulation (NAcE) was calculated using ear Nc curve to investigate the differences mechanism of NAE under different N conditions. The difference of NAcE under different N treatments was deduced from the pre-anthesis N status of maize and wheat by determining GN. The ear N deficiency (NDE) between NAcE and NAE was co-regulated by plant pre-anthesis and post-anthesis N status, which in turn have potential to explain the variance of GW at maturity in both crops. The significantly attenuated effect of pre-anthesis N deficiency on ear potential N demand in maize and wheat indicated that the post-anthesis N management must consider the pre-anthesis N status and the corresponding reduction of the post-anthesis N input to prevent N loss under N limiting treatment in both crops. Maize was more dependent on post-anthesis N status while wheat was more reliant on pre-anthesis N status for satisfying ear growth and producing optimum GN owing to the differential values of PANU/NAE in maize and wheat during post-anthesis period. This study provides a new viewpoint on post-anthesis N management of maize and wheat for enhancing N use efficiency and grain yield.
  • Plant structure as a determinant of coriander (Coriandrum sativum
           L.) seed and straw yield
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 113Author(s): Alessandra Carrubba, Alberto LombardoAbstractCoriander (Coriandrum sativum L., Apiaceae) is a Mediterranean aromatic plant that is mainly cultivated for its fruits. Understanding the association between various vegetative and reproductive structures as they pertain to yield can help addressing efforts for achieving the highest productivity levels, by improving both cropping techniques and breeding. Multiple Regression (MR) analysis is a suitable tool to understand this association; notwithstanding, due to the plant’s inherent “weedy” growth, the interpretation of MR results in coriander is often difficult. Therefore, in our analysis we also calculated additional indicators of variable contribution to the model and to one another. We analyzed data (n = 193) obtained from field experiments on coriander carried out in Sicily from 1999 to 2007. Nine plant variables were submitted to different MR approaches, including Path Analysis (PA), Commonality Analysis (CA) and Dominance Analysis (DA). All MR analyses attributed to the number of umbels per plant the highest importance in assessing both seed and straw yield. Additionally, the mass of one umbel proved to be a strong determinant of fruit yield per plant, whereas the umbel diameter was relevant for the assessment of plant straw production. This information will be useful for addressing coriander cropping technique and breeding.
  • Effects of strip width on yields in relay-strip intercropping: A
           simulation study
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): P.A.J. van Oort, F. Gou, T.J. Stomph, W. van der WerfIntercropping is the cultivation of multiple crop species on the same land. Relay strip intercropping is an intercropping system in which the component species are grown in strips, while the growing periods of the crop species overlap only partially. The effects of strip width on yields in relay-strip intercropping are still poorly understood. Here in a case study on wheat-maize relay intercropping a simple strip intercropping model was applied to quantify intercropping performance as a function of a wide range of strip widths. Simulations showed that (1) the optimum strip width is less than 1 meter and (2) benefits of intercropping rapidly drop as strips become wider. Most previous experimental work was also done at narrow configurations, with strips less than 3 meters wide. Benefits of intercropping may therefore be less than what would be expected from experiments if narrow configurations are not attainable because of lack of mechanisation. All optimised strip configurations showed a Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) larger than 1 indicating benefits of intercropping, irrespective of assumptions that were made on radiation use efficiency in intercropped species as compared to sole crops. At current prices of wheat and maize, however, intercropping gross margin exceeded sole cropping gross margin only if the intercrop RUE was larger than sole crop RUE for both species. This study shows that strip crop growth models can be used to specify needs for future machinery, that will enable farmers to attain benefits from intercropping.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Future development of apricot blossom blight under climate change in
           Southern France
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): Paul Tresson, Laurent Brun, Iñaki García de Cortázar-Atauri, Jean-Marc Audergon, Sophie Buléon, Hélène Chenevotot, Freddy Combe, Doriane Dam, Maxime Jacquot, Baptiste Labeyrie, Vincent Mercier, Claude-Eric Parveaud, Marie LaunayAbstractClimate change will have several consequences for agro-systems, one of which will concern changes to the development of pathogens. Because of the losses it causes, particularly in organic farming, Monilinia laxa is an important pathogen affecting apricot crops. This study focuses on the consequences of climate change regarding blossom and twig blight (Monilinia laxa) of apricot. To achieve this, a Climatic Index of cumulated Blight risk (CIB) was built, to obtain the weighted sum of blossom blight incidence throughout the blooming period. An epidemiological model to calculate the incidence of blossom blight during every potentially infectious episode and based on biological parameters, was calibrated using a trap pot experiment where trees were placed in orchards and subject to various meteorological conditions. The CIB derived from this model was evaluated on field data, and was shown to be a robust and useful tool to predict the effects of climate change on the development of apricot blight. Then, using the CIB with a phenological model to predict blooming periods in the future, we estimated the risks of apricot blight until 2100 on four contrasted apricot cultivars and in three geographical zones under climate change scenarios RCP 4.5 and 8.5. This study revealed different effects of climate change depending on the cultivar and altitude. Apricot trees would bloom earlier (up to a difference of 50 days between 1950 and 2100) under climate change. Under the combined effects of these shifts of blooming period and changing climatic conditions, late cultivars such as Bergarouge might see a reduction in the risk of blossom blight (down to 31%) because of warmer but dryer blooming periods. Other varieties (e.g.: Bergeron) could experience an increase in this risk by up to 27% with a shift of the blooming period towards rainier conditions at the highest altitudes. The results of this study could be used to anticipate future changes as well as be used at present as a decision-support tool for farmers.
  • Estimation of the harvest index and the relative water content – Two
           examples of composite variables in agronomy
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): Signe M. Jensen, Jesper Svensgaard, Christian RitzAbstractComposite variables are variables derived from measurable traits. They are commonly used in agronomy: two well-known examples being the harvest index and the relative water content. There are two approaches for finding estimated averages of such variables that are derived from direct measurements: They can be found either based on a calculation using individual measurements (“pre-processing”) or from a calculation using averages or estimates (“after-fitting”). The former needs to be done prior to fitting a statistical model whereas the latter is carried out after a statistical model has been fitted to the original measurements. We show that the commonly used pre-processing approach results in biased estimates. Moreover, the bias depends on both the correlation between and the uncertainty associated with the variables used for the composite variable. This finding is shown in two examples and a simulation study.
  • Simulation using the STICS model of C&N dynamics in alfalfa from sowing to
           crop destruction
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): L. Strullu, N. Beaudoin, P. Thiébeau, B. Julier, B. Mary, F. Ruget, D. Ripoche, L. Rakotovololona, G. LouarnWe adapted the STICS agro-environmental model to simulate the effects of cultivation practices on the biomass production and nitrogen accumulation of perennial crops undergoing regular defoliation, using alfalfa as an example. A unique set of parameters was used to simulate both establishment and regrowth phases over several years, with the assumption that crop growth is driven by interaction between crop development stage and abiotic stresses. The model accurately simulated the total biomass (stems + leaves + crown + taproot + roots) and aboveground biomass of the crop, with model efficiencies of 0.75 and 0.70, respectively, and relative root mean squared errors (rRMSE) of 42% and 36%, respectively. The evaluation results were also satisfactory with respect to total nitrogen content and the aboveground biomass nitrogen content, with model efficiencies of 0.90 and 0.60, respectively, and rRMSE values of 29% and 31%, respectively. The model thus enabled simulations of both the establishment and regrowth of alfalfa and accurately reproduced its seasonal patterns of growth, even though it tended to underestimate spring biomass production. It also produced accurate simulations of the water and nitrate contents of the soil during cropping and after crop destruction. It could therefore be a useful tool regarding the multi-criteria assessment of cropping systems based on alfalfa with respect to their sustainability.Graphical abstractDynamic simulation of biomass partitioning during the initial growth of spring seedlings and subsequent regrowth. Blue line = simulated total biomass (t DM ha-1); Green line = simulated aboveground biomass (t DM ha-1); Brown line = simulated structural stem biomass (t DM ha-1); Grey line = simulated green leaf structural biomass (t DM ha−1); Blue circle = observed total biomass (t DM ha−1); Green square = observed aboveground biomass (t DM ha−1); Brown triangle = observed stem biomass (t DM ha−1); Grey cross = observed green leaf biomass (t DM ha−1).Graphical abstract for this article
  • High-resolution assessment of French grassland dry matter and nitrogen
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): A.-I. Graux, R. Resmond, E. Casellas, L. Delaby, P. Faverdin, C. Le Bas, D. Ripoche, F. Ruget, O. Thérond, F. Vertès, J.-L. PeyraudAbstractGrasslands offer many environmental and economic advantages that put them at the heart of future sustainable ruminant production systems. This study aimed to quantify and map the dry matter yield (DMY) and nitrogen yield (NY) of French grasslands resulting from cutting and grazing practices, based on the existing diversity of grassland vegetation, management, soil and climate conditions, using a research version of the STICS crop model called PâturSTICS. This model simulates daily dry matter (DM), nitrogen (N) and water fluxes involved in the functioning of grasslands and crops in response to management and environmental conditions. It was improved to represent deposition of animal waste on grassland soils during grazing and to simulate DM production and N content of grasses and legumes more accurately. Simulations were performed for locations across France on a high-resolution grid composed of pedoclimatic units (PCU) obtained by combining the spatial resolutions of climate and soil. The main grassland types and associated management types were determined for each PCU and then simulated over 30 years (1984–2013). Using the simulated values, predictive metamodels of annual grassland DMY and NY were developed from easily accessible explanatory variables using a random forest approach. Annual model predictions were aggregated and averaged at the PCU scale, then compared to regional observations. Predicted DMY agreed with available observations, except in semi-mountainous and mountainous regions, where PâturSTICS tended to overpredict DMY, probably because it ignores effects of snow, frost and slope, and due to how it represents effects of temperature and water stress on plant growth. According to results, three-quarters of French grasslands produce and export at least 7.6 t DM ha−1 yr−1 and 172 kg N ha−1 yr−1, respectively. One-quarter of French grasslands produce and export at least 10.7 t DM ha−1 yr−1 and 254 kg N ha−1 yr−1, respectively. The latter are located mainly in north-western France, the north-western Massif Central, the French Alps and the western Pyrénées, all of which have environmental conditions favourable for grass growth. The metamodels developed are interesting proxies for PâturSTICS’ predictions of grassland DMY and NY. Our results provided valuable knowledge that promotes better use of the potential forage production of French and European grasslands to improve protein self-sufficiency and N fertilisation management in ruminant livestock systems.
  • Re-designing organic grain legume cropping systems using systems agronomy
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): Moritz Reckling, Göran Bergkvist, Christine A. Watson, Frederick L. Stoddard, Johann BachingerAbstractCrop production in Europe is intensive, highly specialized and responsible for some negative environmental impacts, raising questions about the sustainability of agricultural systems. The (re)integration of grain legumes into European agricultural systems could contribute to the transition to more sustainable food production. While the general benefits from legume cultivation are widely known, there is little evidence on how to re-design specific cropping systems with legumes to make this option more attractive to farmers. The objectives of this study were to describe the constraints and opportunities of grain legume production perceived by farmers, explain the agronomic impacts of current grain legume cropping, explore technical options to improve grain legume agronomy, and to re-design current grain legume cropping systems in a participatory process with farmers. A co-design approach was implemented with farmers, advisors and scientists on 25 farms in northern Germany, that were part of two large demonstration networks of about 170 farms supporting grain legumes across Germany. We used the DEED research cycle (Describe, Explain, Explore and Design) as a conceptual framework combining on-farm research, crop rotation modelling, and on-station experiments. From it, we identified nine agronomic practices that either were novel or confirmed known strategies under new conditions, to re-design grain legume cropping systems at the field and farm level. The practices included (i) inter-row hoeing, (ii) direct seeding into a cover-crop, (iii) species-specific inoculation, (iv) cover crops to reduce leaching, (v) reduced tillage, (vi) soybean for increased gross margins, (vii) cultivars for food and feed use, (viii) flexible irrigation, (ix) grain legumes with cover crop to enhance subsequent crop yields. We also demonstrate how to complement knowledge of farmers’ perceptions (Describe step) and formal knowledge from classical on-station experiments and modelling (Explain step) with on-farm research including the local views of farmers (Explore step) to identify tailored options for specific farm contexts rather than prescriptive solutions (Design step) to intensify legume production. This approach therefore contrasts with traditional methods that are often solely participatory and qualitative or model/experimental-based and quantitative. Hence, our results provide new insights in how to re-design cropping systems using a combination of participatory and quantitative approaches. While participatory approaches are common in developing countries, this study shows their potential in an industrialized context with large-scale farmers in Europe. These novel findings can be used as a starting point for further adaptations of cropping systems and contribute to making grain legume production economically and environmentally more sustainable.
  • Maize-bean intercropping yields in Northern Germany are comparable to
           those of pure silage maize
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): Jenny Fischer, Herwart Böhm, Jürgen HeβMaize-bean intercropping is currently gaining popularity among farmers in Germany, although there is hardly any data available on the yield potential under moderate maritime climate conditions in comparison to pure maize cultivation as well as on the choice of the bean cultivar. To assess the agronomic potential of maize-bean intercropping for organic farming, field-experiments over two growing seasons were conducted in Northern Germany (53°46′N, 10°30′E).A split-plot design with two sowing times of the beans as main-plot-factor and different bean species and cultivars (Phaseolus vulgaris, cv.: Cobra, Eva, Tarbais, P. coccineus, cv.: Preisgewinner, Weiße Riesen, Vicia faba cv.: Isabell) as subplot-factor was applied. In both years, the average intercropping yield (11 t ha−1 in 2011 and 14 t ha−1 in 2012) of the two sowing dates was comparable to that of maize-control, except for Maize-Eva in 2011. The highest intercropping yields in 2011 were shown by cv. Tarbais and Preisgewinner with bean shares ranging from 34% to 39%. By contrast, the late-sown beans in 2012 had a share of 6–12% only, reflecting the overall higher maize yield level. Compared to maize control, the intercropping with Tarbais and Preisgewinner, which achieved the highest leaf mass scores, led to a significant improvement in crude protein yield by 36% and 18% in 2011, respectively. Earlier ripening bean cultivars (e.g. cv. Eva and Cobra) tend to lose their leaves before harvest. So cultivars with a longer growth period (e.g. cv. Tarbais), similar to maize, should be used to achieve high bean and crude protein yields.Our results demonstrate the importance of cultivar choice for achieving high bean yields that have the potential to improve feed quality. Tarbais and Preisgewinner were the most suitable cultivars for maize-bean intercropping, as they achieved the highest bean yields and improved the crude protein yield in 2011. Even though further optimization is indispensable, we have shown that maize-bean intercropping can fit into organic farming systems under moderate maritime climate.Graphical abstractGraphical abstract for this article
  • Integrated Pest Meadow-ploughing timing as an integrated pest management
           tactic to prevent soil-pest damage to maize
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): Lorenzo Furlan, Isadora Benvegnù, Francesca Chiarini, Donato Loddo, Francesco MorariAbstractThe management of soil-pests still largely relies on conventional chemical insecticides despite the provisions of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Long-term research was carried out in north-eastern Italy to assess the potential of meadow ploughing just before maize sowing to prevent wireworm damage. The research was based on the observation that no serious wireworm damage occurred in 20 years when meadows were ploughed just before maize sowing. The research hypothesis was that soil-incorporated fresh meadow turf would be a more attractive wireworm food source than seeds, emerging seedlings and young plants. Meadow plots with a sufficiently homogeneous wireworm density were alternately ploughed the previous autumn and a few days before maize sowing. The same conditions were simulated in pots into which known numbers of cage-reared wireworms had been introduced. Results showed very consistently that plant damage in plots ploughed just before maize sowing was much lower than the damage in plots ploughed in autumn-winter, and always below the economic risk threshold (15% of damaged plants). In controlled conditions, plant damage in pots with soil-incorporated fresh meadow turf was significantly lower than that observed in pots without. In both field and controlled conditions, this major effect on plant protection is likely to be caused by the incorporation of meadow turf living plant parts into the soil. Therefore, the ploughing timing of meadows in rotation may be a viable alternative to chemical insecticides when rotation includes meadow.
  • High potential of variable rate fertilization combined with a controlled
           released nitrogen form at affecting cv. Barbera vines behavior
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2020Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 112Author(s): M. Gatti, M. Schippa, A. Garavani, C. Squeri, T. Frioni, P. Dosso, S. PoniAbstractVariable rate technologies allow site-specific management of parcels characterized by different levels of vigor and/or yield. Fertilization based on actual plant needs is one of the most promising applications of precision farming aiming at improving efficiency, optimizing vine balance, as well as limiting environmental impact. Although this strategy appears suitable for developing new vineyard management models, few experiences validating this hypothesis are available in the literature. Based on a pre-trial remotely sensed vigor map (NDVI-derived, 5 m resolution), a three-year study was performed in a Vitis vinifera L. cv. Barbera vineyard situated in the Colli Piacentini area. Vigor level (L = low, M = medium and H = high) and fertilization technique (Standard, Variable Rate Application, and unfertilized Control) were the main factors in a randomized block design. The controlled release fertilizer Multicote™ Agri ([NPK fertilizer 13-5-21 + 7MgO+14SO3 (Controlled Release Nitrogen>46% on the total nitrogen, with longevity 2÷4 months), low in chloride] was used and the input rate calculated according to the N-supply. For each vigor level the study compared no fertilization (0 kg/ha), standard supply (40 kg of N /ha) and Variable Rate Application (VRA) supply delivering 0, 40 and 80 kg of N/ha to H, M and L, respectively. Vine growth, yield, leaf nutritional status and fruit composition were assessed. Results show that the classified L vigor plots had significantly less growth (i.e leaf area or pruning weight per vine) than M and H vigor plots, whereas yield components and grape composition followed a linear variation with vigor. There was a large prevalence of vigor x technique interactions suggesting that VRA had a differential impact on vine behavior depending upon the initial level of vigor. For vegetative and yield parameters, in the L vigor vines, increased Multicote™ Agri dosage delivered as control (0 kg of N/ha), standard (40 kg of N/ha) and VRA (80 kg of N/ha) caused a very close and linear increase in total leaf and yield per vine, whereas, within the M and H vigor plots, the effect due to fertilization technique was very mild. Such a behavior was nicely mirrored by grape composition at harvest as, in L vines, applying 40 or 80 kg of N in the form of Multicote™ Agri induced a progressive and significant reduction in both must soluble solids and total anthocyanins concentration, although the oenological quality of the resulting must was still satisfactory and in compliance with the oenological target.The novelty of the present work is that, unlike previous variable rate fertilization attempts where a rapid nitrogen release fertilizer such as urea was used, L vigor vines showed a very prompt response to the amount of Multicote™ Agri application, confirming higher effectiveness of this chemical form and higher flexibility in adjusting the level of vigor and yield according to specific needs. Conversely, when the initial level of vigor was medium or high, differential fertilization resulted in overall minor modifications of the vine behavior.
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
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