Dr. Marcello Iriti
Professor of Plant Biology and Pathology,
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Milan State University, Italy.

ISBN 978-93-90149-86-5 (Print)
ISBN 978-93-90149-87-2 (eBook)
DOI: 10.9734/bpi/ctas/v1

This book covers key areas of agricultural sciences. The contributions by the authors include particle size distribution, physical property, water retention, available moisture, reduced tillage, irrigation management, biotechnology education, capacity development, biosafety training, gene silencing, RNA Interference, ontogenesis, phylogenesis, crop production, breeding, gene conservation, Genetic erosion, genetic resources, arabidopsis, plant defense activator, systemic acquired resistance, physical treatment, seed germination, Setaria, green foxtail, giant foxtail, collective farming, economic yield, insecticides, integrated pest and disease management. This book contains various materials suitable for students, researchers and academicians in the field of agricultural sciences.

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Soil survey investigations were carried out in Ferké 1 as well as Ferké 2 sugar mill plantations of northern Ivory Coast to determine soil texture and water storage capacity for sprinkler irrigation and tillage management. A 5-year term observation experiment on reduced tillage compared to conventional tillage was also conducted in Ferké 1 over an irrigated cane crop of 28 ha for yield optimization purpose. Soil sampling was achieved after harvest or prior to re-plantation at five different spots along two transects over 30 cm depth in each sugarcane field which covers about 30-40 ha, with 432 m long cane rows for obtaining an average soil sample of 1.5-2 kg. Soil physical properties like texture and water retention curves were determined in the sugar company’s soil laboratory. It came out that the majority of soils investigated were coarse-textured for about 64% in Ferké 1 and 85% in Ferké 2, with a lower to medium water storage capacity (70-89 mm) over 60 cm depth which corresponds to a readily available moisture less than 60 mm. Except for the sugarcane plant crop, no significant difference in cane yields resulting from tillage practices was observed over four consecutive cropping seasons. The yield decline from plant cane to first ratoon was very high under conventional tillage (-16 t/ha) compared to the reduced tillage (+3 t/ha). Even higher cane yield was obtained on the second ratoon (89 t/ha) compared with the conventional tillage (83 t/ha).

Case Study: A Roadmap for Developing Capacity in Plant Biotechnology Field Research

John W. Medendorp, Jane Payumo, Cholani Weebaddee, Kelly Zarka, Karen Hokanson, Phil Wharton, Dave Douches

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 10-29

This case study analyzes learning gains from a five-year capacity development effort for a biotechnology project focused on the development, testing, and preparation for the general release of a genetically engineered potato under national biotechnology regulatory regimes in two Asian countries. This study contributes to two gaps in the literature 1) the application of experiential learning to biotechnology, and 2) training for biotechnology in developing countries. The case study methodology was applied to data collected using statistical comparisons (mean and standard deviation) between the pre-and post-project period to determine the impact of the HICD intervention on the Country A and Country B core teams. Due to non-normal data determined after the Shapiro-Wilk test, a non-parametric equivalent of the t-test, the Wilcoxon rank-sum test called Mann-Whitney U-test, was employed to determine statistically significant differences between the pre-and post-fellowship datasets. Significant learning gains were made in most areas of biosafety practice using experiential learning methods. Where gains were not made, it was due to a breakdown in the application of experiential methods. Training in biosafety, especially in poorly regulated or unregulated contexts, is best benefited by a systematic experiential learning process, adequate base knowledge, time-extensive training in standard operating procedures accompanied by mentoring and coaching, frequent formative evaluation, and simulated trials under local conditions where trainees can experience the full process of biosafety operating standards under the constraints of their contexts.

RNA Interference (RNAi): Application in Crop Improvement

Khanin Pathak

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 30-36

RNA Interference (RNAi) is one of the most important technological breakthroughs in current biology. RNAi mechanism has the potential in identification and functional assessment of thousands genes within any genome that is responsible for crop improvement. RNAi technology provides an efficient means for blocking expression of a specific gene and evaluating its response to chemical compounds. It is a powerful experimental tool in reverse genetics and this technique has wide spread future applications in medicine. RNAi is a unique strategy to regulate gene expression for better quality attributes and nutritional development in many crops and it has been widely employed in diverse species to suppress gene activity. This technology may go a long way to narrow the gap through production of disease, insect and virus resistant, nutritionally rich and toxic-free crops. In the end, this type of technology could be critical to global food security and sustainability.

Importance of Root-Shoot Ratio for Crops Production: A Review

Ladislav Bláha

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 37-49

The root has a fundamental role in taking nutrients, water, agricultural production and stress tolerance. The trait “root: shoot” ratio is a very complex unlike some partial problems, it is a problem of plant integrity, where each species, every crop or variety represents a specific original solution. Important is analyze of root system step by step at different growth and developmental phases.  More than 500 scientific papers concerning this “ratio trait” was step by step analysed, and the attempt was to extrapolate the basic general trend regarding the importance of this ratio in plant production. Given the abundance of crops, varieties and their growth phases, there is an effort to capture the basic general trend of importance and use of this trait. For these reasons, quotations are not in the text even though it is unusual unconventionally, little unscientific approach to the issue in the text. Detailed analysis of one species, crop or variety is a quite different situation. Theroot: Shoot ratio is also one of the basic veryimportant traits, which can assess the overall plant health, complex overall physiological level and health of analyzed genotypes. It is very important to analyze root: Shoot ratio changes during vegetation period in relationship with other traits of plants to obtain imagination about the influence of this ratio on metabolical processes, growth, development, etc.

Growth rates of roots and shoots during vegetation period continually adjust to environmental conditions and “genetic program” of plant growth and development. For example, fertilization and irrigation can make important changes. In case of the high value of this ratio, there is with large probability a possibility to absorb more nutrients from the soil and this will help in increasing above-ground biomass and probably also increases resistance to the stresses (drought conditions, low level of nutrients in the soil).

Development of the human population accompanied by current climate change is in contrast to a relatively small spectrum of crops utilized for food. A small basic number of utilized crops are very disadvantageous from the ecological view and security of human food resources. Due to long-term genetic erosion, the increasing similarity of varieties etc., there is a necessity to use the opportunities offered by national parks and other localities, i.e., to search for new genotypes for plant breeding or as a new crop. From a historical view, the beginning of genetic erosion is an old affair, which happened in the Amazon region of South America. This occurred after 1492 when Europeans began to occupy the Amazon region. Indian populations used 138 or more species (crops) probably in a high state of domestication. The following decline of their populations has resulted in a decreasing number of crops used. The second unfavorable trend, the growth of cultivar similarity occurred mostly in the 20th century. Breeding to increase yield, quality and resistance to pests and diseases have led to  the narrowing of the gene pool and genetic diversity. Crop resistance to stress at the time of seed growth and development that subsequently influence the future properties of seeds at filial generation. Cultivars are more similar from the morphological and physiological view. It is a disadvantageous process. It can be mentioned that there is a large number of wild plants so far not explored, which are growing in extreme localities and thus probably have the desired properties for new climatic and soil conditions. We should search for them not only in traditional but also in unexplored nature reserves.

Study on Systemic Acquired Resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana Induced by Weed Extracts

Hidehiro Inagaki, Yukiko Usui

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 67-73

Plant defense activators need to induce systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in order to protect crops by enhancing their inherent disease-resistance mechanisms. In order to screen for plant species that contain active substances as plant defense activators, seven weed extracts, which were previously demonstrated as potential plant defense activators inducing SAR in a bioassay using cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus L.) and Colletotrichum orbiculare, were evaluated for their SAR-inducing potential using SAR marker genes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Additionally, we evaluated extracts of three oxalate-rich species that are closely related to the giant knotweed (Fallopia sachalinensis), which is used as a plant defense activator. The results revealed that the expression of SAR marker genes, PR1 and PR5, was higher in A. thaliana plants treated with seven tested weed species, namely, Pueraria montana, Trifolium pretense, Boehmeria nivea, Sedum japonicum, Gamochaeta purpurea, Silene armeria, and Fallopia japonica, than those treated with the water control. The extracts of these weeds have the potential to function as defense activators and SAR inducers.

The difficulty of breaking seed dormancy in Setaria (foxtail) species presents a problem in using them as model plants. In the present study, we observed the structure of the seed coat surface of two Setaria species, the green foxtail (Setaria viridis) and the giant foxtail (Setaria faberi), using an electron microscope in order to clarify the factors of difficulty in breaking seed dormancy. In addition, we tested the effects of physical treatment on Setaria seeds using four treatments: (1) Removing the outer seed coat, (2) Removing the outer seed coat+mechanical scarification of the inner seed coat (the seeds were scarified using sand-paper with grit 350–2000), (3) Removing the outer and inner seed coat, and (4) No treatment (control). During the observation using electron microscope, we found a structure that was supposed to repel water (which is called the ‘lotus effect’). We found that seed germination in Setaria species can be induced by removing the outer seed coat along with mechanical scarification of the inner seed coat (second treatment) as well as by removing the outer and inner seed coat (third treatment), whereas seed germination was not observed after removing only the outer seed coat and no treatment.

Determination of Women Collective Farming Groups in Kerala towards Attaining Goals: A Critical Analysis

T. Shahlas Binth, Basavaraj Hulagur, S. B. goudappa, Jagrati B. Deshmanya

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 82-88

Collective farming aims to bring significant changes among farmwomen through increased agricultural production and productivity. The present study was undertaken to analyse the ‘mode of functioning of different women collective farming groups’ in Palakkad district of Kerala during 2017- 2018 by the ex-post-facto research design with a sample size of 90 groups. The result revealed that the majority (67.78%) of the collective women groups were formed by the support of local self- governing bodies. The groups concentrated on location-based farming activities and the reason might be that these groups were operating at the grassroots level obliviously they got full support from the local bodies. Freedom of participation in the group process was expressed by 65.56 per cent of the participants. Three-fourth (75.56%) of respondents expressed that decision-making in groups done with consensus brings strong coherence among the members. Attendance of members in group meetings/activities was expressed by 84.44 per cent of the respondents. Further, the function of record maintenance was expressed by 92.20 per cent of the respondents which helped them to analyse and review the past activities with existing ones. There was 84.44 per cent of benefits sharing among the group members equally and the remaining 15.56 per cent of them were keeping some amount as corpus fund for the group. In nutshell, to strengthen the women collective farming groups, one must facilitate the groups to acquire strong communication process, decision making and mutual trust, transparency in benefit sharing, risk taking etc., which will help the groups to take up agriculture and allied activities in a sustained manner.

Investigating the Response of Boron on Yield and Economics of Maize under Eastern Ghat High Land Zone of Odisha

Amit Phonglosa, Bibhuti Bhusan Dalei, Subhashis Saren

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 89-94

During the kharif 2016 season, a field experiment was undertaken on farmers' fields in Sankumari village of Nabarangpur district of Odisha's Eastern Ghat High Land (EGHL) zone to analyse the impact of boron application on maize yield and economics. Maize has been grown in various seasons and places, with crop durations ranging from <90-130 days, due to its photo insensitivity. Maize being a C4 plant has higher yield potential which also depends on nutrient supplying capacity of the soil. The study used a Randomized Block Design, with four treatments replicated five times. The experimental soils were slightly acidic, non-saline loamy sands with a medium level of organic carbon and available K but low levels of available N, P, B, and Zn. The highest possible grain yieldper cob (210.21 g),100 seeds weight (38.16 g), stover yield (8.10 t ha-1), grain yield (6.52 t ha-1), total dry biomass (14.62 t ha-1), harvest index (44.59%) and B:C ratio (1.90) were recorded in Soil Test Based NPKZn @ 150:75:60:6.25 kg ha-1 + 0.5 kg B ha-1 soil application + 0.2% borax as foliar spray at 30 and 45 DAS (T4) followed by Soil Test Based NPKZn @ 150:75:60:6.25 kg ha-1 + 1.0 kg B ha-1(T3) over control (i.e. Soil Test Based NPKZn @ 150:75:60:6.25 kg ha-1+ 0 kg B ha-1). As a result, the Soil Test Based boron fertiliser application needs to be followed in soil deficient in boron under continuous maize producing areas of Odisha's EGHL zone for farmers to produce remunerative maize.

A Brief Overview of Major Citrus Diseases and Pests and Its Management

Priyanka Sharma, Monish Roy, Bidhan Roy

Current Topics in Agricultural Sciences Vol. 1, 8 September 2021, Page 95-110

Incidence of several insects, pests and diseases has created a significant impact on lower productivity and shorter productive life span of citrus trees in the entire world. In citrus, pathogens or the causal organisms in terms of bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, and virus like pathogens are responsible for initiating the occurrences of several seeds, soil and air borne diseases as well as pests infested/ infected symptoms in citrus plant parts thereby leading to an economic losses to the citrus growers of the citrus belts.  Exposure of plants on occurrence to high humidity and heavy rainfall from the month of May to September is more likely prone to pest infestations in addition to fungal, bacterial and viral diseases in the cultivated area. Therefore, the main objectives of this chapter were to identify the major harmful organisms to the citrus crops and to highlight the appropriate methods to manage them. In this chapter, more emphasis was given to twenty five important diseases and pests that have been identified in citrus and aids in limiting production and productivity of Citrus particularly Citrus Greening, Citrus Canker, Orange Scab, Leaf and fruit Spot, Blue mould, Phytophthora Root Rot, Sooty Mould, Citrus Wither Tip, Armillaria, Sooty Blotch, Tristeza Virus, Citrus Yellow Mosaic Virus, Grey Mould, Black Pit, Pink Disease, Powdery Mildew, Citrus, Scab, Blue Mould, Sooty Mould, Gummosis, Collar Rot, Brown Rot, Citrus Greasy Spot in addition to certain pests including Citrus Aphid, Citrus Mealy Bug, Citrus leaf miner, Fruit flies and wooly white flies respectively thereby limiting citrus production. In addition, it has also been emphasised that control of such harmful pests and diseases are entirely relied on the use of chemicals. Therefore, an alternative method of minimizing the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides is use of integrated orchard management methods in addition to use of sanitation practices and critically monitoring the occurrence and development of major pests and diseases.

The study determined the institutional characteristics of poultry farmers, analyzed their access to information sources, and awareness and knowledge of poultry drugs. It determined the relationships between variables with a view to making deductions. Multi stage sampling procedure was used to select 100 poultry farmers with the use of structured interview schedule and questionnaire. Frequency counts, percentages, mean and Chi-square were used to analyze data. The findings showed that majority (67%) of the respondents had never led a group, while 62% had contact with extension agents and were members of poultry drug associations. It was observed that 60% of the farmers were aware of and had access to avian charge, 48.8% had access to happy hen treat drug. Others are: petamine (45.0%) and tricero (32.5%). Among the various information sources identified, only neighbour (mean = 2.58) recorded high level of accessibility among the farmers and the implication of this is that rate of development of poultry enterprise in such a community will be slow. At 0.01 significant level, Chi-square results showed campaign (r = 0.762), exhibition (r = 0.528), and workshop/seminar (r = 2.607) were the only information sources that significantly correlated with the knowledge of poultry drugs. Based on the study findings, farmers should be exposed to other information sources that will facilitate community development.