Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Scientia Agricola]]> vol. 73 num. 1 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Managing agricultural phosphorus to minimize water quality impacts]]> ABSTRACT Eutrophication of surface waters remains a major use-impairment in many countries, which, in fresh waters, is accelerated by phosphorus (P) inputs from both point (e.g., municipal waste water treatment plants) and nonpoint sources (e.g., urban and agricultural runoff). As point sources tend to be easier to identify and control, greater attention has recently focused on reducing nonpoint sources of P. In Brazil, agricultural productivity has increased tremendously over the last decade as a consequence, to a large extent, of increases in the use of fertilizer and improved land management. For instance, adoption of the “4R” approach (i.e., right rate, right time, right source, and right placement of P) to fertilizer management can decrease P runoff. Additionally, practices that lessen the risk of runoff and erosion, such as reduced tillage and cover crops will also lessen P runoff. Despite these measures P can still be released from soil and fluvial sediment stores as a result of the prior 10 to 20 years’ management. These legacy sources can mask the water quality benefits of present-day conservation efforts. Future remedial efforts should focus on developing risk assessment indices and nonpoint source models to identify and target conservation measures and to estimate their relative effectiveness. New fertilizer formulations may more closely tailor the timing of nutrient release to plant needs and potentially decrease P runoff. Even so, it must be remembered that appropriate and timely inputs of fertilizers are needed to maintain agricultural productivity and in some cases, financial support might also be required to help offset the costs of expensive conservation measures. <![CDATA[Phosphorus distribution and availability in untreated and mechanically separated biogas digestates]]> ABSTRACT Biogas digestates contain valuable nutrients but also have high water contents. Di-gestates were sampled from two different biogas facilities before and after solid-liquid separation and were analyzed with regard to their composition and phosphorus (P) fractions. Additionally, to investigate the P fertilizer effects of these digestates in comparison with undigested slurry or TripleSuper-P (TSP), they were applied in a pot experiment (6 kg soil per pot) in an amount corresponding to 200 mg P per pot in combination with various crops (amaranth, maize, maize + beans mixed cropping, sorghum). A separation of digestates resulted in higher P concentrations of the solid fraction in comparison with the liquid fraction. The proportion of the readily soluble P fractions (H2O-P, NaHCO3-P) to the total P was higher than 70 % in all digestates. The digestates increased P uptake of the tested crops and concentrations of bioavailable P in the soil to the same extent as highly soluble TSP. Activities of soil enzymes were lower after application of the digestates in comparison to unfermented slurry. The fertilizer management of digestates can be improved by a solid-liquid separation since the solid fraction showed a relatively high concentration of P resulting in a reduction in application doses required to meet the P demands of crops. <![CDATA[Plant biostimulants: physiological responses induced by protein hydrolyzed-based products and humic substances in plant metabolism]]> ABSTRACT In recent years, the use of biostimulants in sustainable agriculture has been growing. Biostimulants can be obtained from different organic materials and include humic substances (HS), complex organic materials, beneficial chemical elements, peptides and amino acids, inorganic salts, seaweed extracts, chitin and chitosan derivatives, antitranspirants, amino acids and other N-containing substances. The application of biostimulants to plants leads to higher content of nutrients in their tissue and positive metabolic changes. For these reasons, the development of new biostimulants has become a focus of scientific interest. Among their different functions, biostimulants influence plant growth and nitrogen metabolism, especially because of their content in hormones and other signalling molecules. A significant increase in root hair length and density is often observed in plants treated with biostimulants, suggesting that these substances induce a “nutrient acquisition response” that favors nutrient uptake in plants via an increase in the absorptive surface area. Furthermore, biostimulants positively influence the activity and gene expression of enzymes functioning in the primary and secondary plant metabolism. This article reviews the current literature on two main classes of biostimulants: humic substances and protein-based biostimulants. The characteristic of these biostimulants and their effects on plants are thoroughly described. <![CDATA[Plant proton pumps as markers of biostimulant action]]> ABSTRACT A standard protocol to evaluate the effects of biostimulants on plant physiology is still lacking. The proton pumps present in the vacuolar and plasma membranes are the primary agents responsible for the regulation of the electrochemical gradient that energizes the nutrient uptake system and acid growth mechanism of plant cells. In this study, two of these enzymes were characterized as biochemical markers of biostimulant activity. A simple and fast protocol based on the degree of root acidification using a pH sensitive dye and the Micro-Tom tomato as a plant model is proposed as an efficient methodology to prove the efficacy of biostimulants that are claimed to improve nutrient acquisition and root growth. The results agree with the data from more conventional, expensive and time-consuming proton pump assays. A direct correlation was found between plasmalemma proton-adenosine triphosphatase (H+-ATPase) activation and the amount of rhizosphere acidification observed in the bromocresol gel. Moreover, roots of the diageotropica (dgt) Micro-Tom plants, defective in auxin responses, barely acidify bromocresol purple gel even in the presence of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA, 1 μM). The biostimulant TEA (vermicompost water extract, 25 %) enhances proton extrusion by 40 % in wild type (WT) plants, but no effect was induced in dgt plants. These results reinforce the notion that the class of biostimulant known as humic substances stimulates plant proton pumps and promotes root growth by exerting an auxin-like bioactivity and establish the usefulness of an economically and technically feasible assay to certify this kind of biostimulant. <![CDATA[Rock biofertilizer and earthworm compost on sugarcane performance and soil attributes in two consecutive years]]> ABSTRACT The deployment of soluble fertilizers has been one of the most commonly applied agricultural practices in the bid to increase crop yield. However, the production of soluble fertilizers has a considerable economic cost and consumes a substantial amount of energy. In general, soil organic matter provides the nutrients needed for plant growth in organic agriculture. However, these nutrients are not sufficient if the best yield is to be obtained. The aim of our field experiment was to evaluate the effectiveness of phosphate and potassic sources (rocks, bio-fertilizers and soluble fertilizers) based on several sugarcane characteristics and soil attributes. Our experiment was conducted over two consecutive years, and we assessed the effect of using sugarcane filter mud cake (SFMC). In addition, we mixed the phosphate and potassic sources with earthworm compost enriched in N by inoculation with diazotrophic bacteria (OM) and applied at 50, 100 and 150 % of the recommended dosage rate (RDR). The PK biofertilizer with OM enriched in N positively affected sugarcane height, yield, and industrial characteristics. The application of SFMC greatly increased available P and K in the soil and plant characteristics with residual effect in the two consecutive harvests. We conclude that the biofertilizer has the potential to increase sugarcane characteristics and may represent an alternative to soluble fertilizers. <![CDATA[Root extracts of <em>Bracchiaria humidicola</em> and<em>Saccharum spontaneum</em> to increase N use by sugarcane]]> ABSTRACT Retaining the mineral N in the form of NH4+ in the soil for a lengthy period is desirable for reducing losses. Furthermore, there is evidence that sugarcane prefers NH4+-N in place of NO3−-N. This study aimed firstly, to evaluate the potential of root extracts of Bracchiaria humidicola andSaccharum spontaneum, in contrast with the DCD (Dicyandiamide) inhibitor, to increase absorption of N by plants fertilized with ammonium sulfate, and secondly, to quantify the emission of N2O fluxes with the use of this inhibitor. The experiment was developed in a glasshouse in an entirely randomized design where four treatments were applied: AS) ammonium sulfate (control); AS+DCD) ammonium sulfate associated with dicyandiamide; AS+BCH) ammonium sulfate associated with root extracts ofBrachiaria humidicola; and AS+SCS) ammonium sulfate associated with root extracts of Saccharum spontaneum. Differences were observed in biomass production in plants 45 and 60 days after fertilization (DAF) and 15 and 60 days in biomass accumulation of roots. The application of AS associated with DCD synthetic inhibitor kept NO3−-N values low throughout the evaluation period, while in other treatments the concentration increased right up to the second evaluation 15 DAF. Sugarcane plants did not benefit from the increased presence of ammoniacal N promoted by DCD. The use of DCD reduced the average flux of N2O during the evaluation period compared to plants receiving AS treatments only, which was not observed when root extracts of B. humidicola and S. spontaneum were used. <![CDATA[Yield-scaled global warming potential of two irrigation management systems in a highly productive rice system]]> ABSTRACT Water management impacts both methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from rice paddy fields. Although controlled irrigation is one of the most important tools for reducing CH4emission in rice production systems it can also increase N2O emissions and reduce crop yields. Over three years, CH4 and N2O emissions were measured in a rice field in Uruguay under two different irrigation management systems, using static closed chambers: conventional water management (continuous flooding after 30 days of emergence, CF30); and an alternative system (controlled deficit irrigation allowing for wetting and drying, AWDI). AWDI showed mean cumulative CH4 emission values of 98.4 kg CH4 ha−1, 55 % lower compared to CF30, while no differences in nitrous oxide emissions were observed between treatments ( p &gt; 0.05). No yield differences between irrigation systems were observed in two of the rice seasons ( p &gt; 0.05) while AWDI promoted yield reduction in one of the seasons ( p&lt; 0.05). When rice yield and greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions were considered together, the AWDI irrigation system allowed for lower yield-scaled total global warming potential (GWP). Higher irrigation water productivity was achieved under AWDI in two of the three rice seasons. These findings suggest that AWDI could be an option for reducing GHG emissions and increasing irrigation water productivity. However, AWDI may compromise grain yield in certain years, reflecting the importance of the need for fine tuning of this irrigation strategy and an assessment of the overall tradeoff between relationships in order to promote its adoption by farmers. <![CDATA[How can dairies maximize their profits and properly remunerate their dairy farmers?]]> ABSTRACT The current pricing process of raw milk in Brazil discourages producers from improving milk composition, which affects both yield and quality of dairy products. Furthermore, small and medium-sized dairies face great difficulties when it comes to planning production. Thus, a linear programming model was developed to price the raw milk and determine the optimal mix (combination of quantities) of dairy products that maximizes total contribution margin (TCM) under daily scenarios of high (January) and low (July) raw milk supplies (summer and winter, respectively) by comparing optimal solutions with actual results. The TCM of optimal and actual mixes were higher in January due to the greater availability of raw material. Packaging was a limiting factor in the production of cheese in optimal mixes. The relationship between unit contribution margin (UCM) and the required amount of raw materials per product unit and resource availability is crucial to defining the mix of dairy products and TCM of the dairy. Casein and raw milk volume showed shadow prices. Under both scenarios, the calculated prices of raw milk were higher than the prices charged by the dairy and were higher in January. The proposed model remunerates the producers based on the quantity and quality of raw milk. The dairy can maximize its TCM by better planning its mix of products with the use of linear programming. <![CDATA[Identifying forest ecosystem regions for agricultural use and conservation]]> ABSTRACT Balancing agricultural needs with the need to protect biodiverse environments presents a challenge to forestry management. An imbalance in resource production and ecosystem regulation often leads to degradation or deforestation such as when excessive cultivation damages forest biodiversity. Lack of information on geospatial biodiversity may hamper forest ecosystems. In particular, this may be an issue in areas where there is a strong need to reassign land to food production. It is essential to identify and protect those parts of the forest that are key to its preservation. This paper presents a strategy for choosing suitable areas for agricultural management based on a geospatial variation of Shannon's vegetation diversity index (SHDI). This index offers a method for selecting areas with low levels of biodiversity and carbon stock accumulation ability, thereby reducing the negative environmental impact of converting forest land to agricultural use. The natural forest ecosystem of the controversial 1997 Ex-Mega Rice Project (EMRP) in Indonesia is used as an example. Results showed that the geospatial pattern of biodiversity can be accurately derived using kriging analysis and then effectively applied to the delineation of agricultural production areas using an ecological threshold of SHDI. A prediction model that integrates a number of species and families and average annual rainfall was developed by principal component regression (PCR) to obtain a geospatial distribution map of biodiversity. Species richness was found to be an appropriate indicator of SHDI and able to assist in the identification of areas for agricultural use and natural forest management. <![CDATA[Increasing the resistance of common bean to white mold through recurrent selection]]> ABSTRACT White mold, caused by Sclerotinea sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary is one of the most important diseases of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) worldwide. Physiological resistance and traits related to disease avoidance such as architecture contribute to field resistance. The aim of this study was to verify the efficiency of recurrent selection in physiological resistance to white mold, “Carioca” grain type and upright habit in common bean. Thirteen common bean lines with partial resistance to white mold were intercrossed by means of a circulant diallel table, and seven recurrent selection cycles were obtained. Of these cycles, progenies of the S0:1, S0:2 and S0:3 generations of cycles III, IV, V and VI were evaluated. The best (8 to 10) progenies of the seven cycles were also evaluated, in two experiments, one in the greenhouse and one in the field. Lattice and/or randomized block experimental designs were used. The traits evaluated were: resistance to white mold by the straw test method, growth habit and grain type. The most resistant progenies were selected based on the average score of resistance to white mold. Subsequently, they were evaluated with regard to grain type and growth habit. Recurrent selection allowed for genetic progress of about 11 % per year for white mold resistance and about 15 % per year for the plant architecture. There was no gain among cycles for grain type. Progeny selection and recurrent selection were efficient for obtaining progenies with a high level of resistance to white mold with “Carioca” grain type and upright habit. <![CDATA[Longitudinal data assessment of global stability index in kale leaves]]> ABSTRACT Kale plants are usually sold “in natura” in street markets and malls. Kale leaves can have their appearance compromised by dehydration and discoloration due to increased post-harvest time exposure. We aimed to analyze the Global Stability Index (GSI) in kale accessions by means of repeated measurement analysis and curve grouping as a complementary form of superior sample identification with regard to post-harvest preservation. Thirty kale accessions were evaluated using a randomized block design with four blocks and five plants per plot. Two commercial leaves per plant were collected, and kept on workbenches in the shade at a temperature of 18 ± 1 °C. Subsequently, the degrees of discoloration and dehydration, total chlorophyll content, and accumulated fresh mass loss were evaluated over a 15-day period. From these data, the GSI was calculated for each day of evaluation. In addition, using mixed models, thirteen co-variance structures were tested. For graphical analysis, thirteen linear and non-linear models were assessed followed by curve grouping using multivariate analysis. The GSI was efficient for differentiating accessions, which became an important tool in post-harvest studies. GSI values were not equally correlated, therefore the use of mixed models became an important approach. The unstructured matrix was the best fit to model the dependence of error. The Melow I model was the best fit for studying the GSI. The accessions UFVJM-10, UFLA-1, COM-1, UFVJM-32, COM-3, UFVJM-8, UFVJM-36 and UFVJM-24, belonging to 3 and 5 clusters, are recommended for crop cultivation and as parental material in breeding programs. <![CDATA[Physico-chemical properties and amino acid profiles of sap from Tunisian date palm]]> ABSTRACT Date palm sap (Phoenix dactylifera L.), also known as “legmi”, is a fresh juice extracted from date palm trees. The present study aimed to elucidate the effects of collection time (at the beginning of the tapping period and after seven days of collection) on the amino acid profile and physico-chemical properties of date palm sap from both male and female trees. Dry matter, protein, amino acid, and sugar profiles were determined using the Kjeldahl method, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric Detection (HPAEC-PAD), respectively. Date palm sap from both male and female trees contained high levels of carbohydrates. HPLC analysis showed that this fraction was dominated by sucrose in the sap sample from female trees compared to that from male trees. Male date palm sap was noted to exhibit lower dry matter content than female date palm sap but higher protein, total polyphenol, ash, and amino acid contents. While the major essential amino acids in the sap from male trees consisted of valine and threonine, they were represented by lysine and phenylalanine in sap samples from female trees. Further, Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis showed the presence of a proteinic band of 30 kDa only for the sap from male trees. Taken together, the sap from both male and female date palm trees had a number of properties that are highly valued by the functional food industry.