Nitrogen (N) is an essential element for plants and animals. Due to large inputs of mineral fertilizer, crop yields and livestock production in Europe have increased markedly over the last century, but as a consequence losses of reactive Nto air, soil and water have intensified as well. Two different models (CAPRI and MITERRA) were used to quantify the N flows in agriculture in the European Union (EU27), at country-level and for EU27 agriculture as a whole, differentiated into 12 main food categories. The results showed that the N footprint, defined as the totalNlosses to the environment per unit of product, varies widely between different food categories, with substantially higher values for livestock products and the highest values for beef (c. 500 gN/kg beef), as compared to vegetable products. The lowest N footprint of c. 2 gN/kg product was calculated for sugar beet, fruits and vegetables, and potatoes. The losses of reactive N were dominated by N leaching and run-off, and ammonia volatilization, with 0.83 and 0.88 due to consumption of livestock products. The N investment factors, defined as the quantity of new reactive N required to produce one unit of N in the product varied between 1.2 kg N/kg N in product for pulses to 15-20 kg N for beef.
A growing trend for nutraceutical and gluten-free cereal-based products highlights the need for development of new products. Buckwheat is one of the potential candidates for such products and the present paper reviews the functional and nutraceutical compounds present in common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) and tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum). The vital functional substances in buckwheat are flavonoids, phytosterols, fagopyrins, fagopyritols, phenolic compounds, resistant starch, dietary fibre, lignans, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which make it a highly active biological pseudocereal. Cholesterol-lowering effects that lessen the problems of constipation and obesity are important health benefits that can be achieved through the functional substances of buckwheat.
Winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important crop for human consumption and biofuel production and its production is increasing worldwide. It is generally assumed that cross-pollination by insects increases oilseed rape yield but testing of this has been restricted to a few rapeseed varieties and produced varying results. The present study determines whether cross-pollination benefits a number of oilseed rape varieties by comparing yield in the presence and absence of insects. Four rapeseed varieties (Sherlock, Traviata, Treffer and Visby) were used with ten individuals each in four pollination treatments: (1) supplementary hand-pollination, (2) open pollination with insects able to access the flowers, (3) wind pollination and (4) autonomous self-pollination. Across all four varieties, open and supplementary hand-pollination treatments resulted in higher fruit set, numbers of seeds per pod and seed yield compared with wind and self-pollination. The cross-pollination benefits, however, differed among rapeseed varieties: Treffer and Visby had a higher dependence on open (insects) and supplementary crosspollination than Sherlock and Traviata. Across all four varieties, seed weight compensated for reduced fruit set and was highest when plants were self-pollinated. The present results highlight the importance of considering varietal differences in crop pollination research. Information on the pollination requirements of crop varieties is required by farmers to optimize management decisions in a world of increasing agropollination deficits.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions associated with urine nitrogen (N) deposition during grazing are a major component of greenhouse gas emissions from domestic livestock. The present study investigated the relationship between urine N loading rate and the efficacy of a nitrification inhibitor, dicyandiamide (DCD), on cumulative N2O emissions from a grassland soil in Ireland over 80 and 360-day periods in 2009/10 and 2010/11. A diminishing curvilinear relationship between urine Nrate and cumulative N2O emissions was observed in both years. Despite this increase in cumulative N2O emissions, the emission factor (EF3) for N2O decreased with increasing urine N rate from, on average, 0.24 to 0.10% (urine applied at 300 and 1000 kg N/ha, respectively), during an 80-day measurement period. This was probably the result of a factor other than N, such as carbon (C), limiting the production of N2O. The efficacy of DCD varied with urine N loading rate, and inter-annual variability in efficacy was also observed. Dicyandiamide was effective at reducing N2O production for 50-80 days after urine application, which accounted for the major period of elevated daily flux. However, DCD was ineffective at reducing N2O production after this period, which was likely a result of its removal from the soil via degradation and leaching.
The need for nitrogen (N) efficiency measures for dairy systems is as great as ever if we are to meet the challenge of increasing global production of animal-based protein while reducing N losses to the environment. The present paper provides an overview of current N efficiency and mitigation options for pastoral dairy farm systems and assesses the impact of integrating a range of these options on reactive N loss to the environment from dairy farms located in five regions of New Zealand with contrasting soil, climate and farm management attributes. Specific options evaluated were: (i) eliminating winter applications of fertilizer N, (ii) optimal reuse of farm dairy effluent, (iii) improving animal performance through better feeding and using cows with higher genetic merit, (iv) lowering dietary N concentration, (v) applying the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) and (vi) restricting the duration of pasture grazing during autumn and winter. The Overseer (R) Nutrient Budgeting model was used to estimate N losses from representative farms that were characterized based on information obtained from detailed farmer surveys conducted in 2001 and 2009. The analysis suggests that (i) milk production increases of 7-30% were associated with increased N leaching and nitrous oxide (N2O) emission losses of 3-30 and 0-25%, respectively; and (ii) integrating a range of strategic and tactical management and mitigation options could offset these increased N losses. The modelling analysis also suggested that the restricted autumn and winter grazing strategy resulted in some degree of pollution swapping, with reductions in N leaching loss being associated with increases in N loss via ammonia volatilization and N2O emissions from effluents captured and stored in the confinement systems. Future research efforts need to include farm systems level experimentation to validate and assess the impacts of region-specific dairy systems redesign on productivity, profit, environmental losses, practical feasibility and un-intended consequences.
Although the effect of saponins or saponin-containing plants on rumen microorganisms and rumen fermentation has been intensively investigated, this issue still requires special attention. Many of the phenomena occurring in the rumen related to dietary saponin supplementation are still not fully understood. Saponaria officinalis is a triterpenoid saponin-containing plant; thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of S. officinalis L. powdered root, methanolic extract of the S. officinalis root (SOR) and the effect of the separated fractions (polysaccharides, saponins and phenolics) of S. officinalis on rumen methanogenesis, microbial population and rumen fermentation characteristics in an in vitro batch culture fermentation system. The powdered root (raw plant material) and S. officinalis extract (SOE) decreased in vitro methane production and consequently reduced the microbial population in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibition of methanogenesis was accompanied by changes in the volatile fatty acids profile. In vitro dry matter digestibility was not affected by any of the secondary compounds applied. The highest applied doses of SOE caused a higher reduction in methanogenesis (33.5 v. 14.4%) than the highest doses of powdered root form. Such results suggest that the basic components of the SOR could interact with phytochemicals or that the phytochemicals became physically less available for microbiota, resulting in a decreased antimethanogenic activity of the powdered root v. the extract. Among all the fractions selected, the saponin fraction exerted the greatest impact on ruminal fermentation. In conclusion, saponins decreased methane production by 29% in comparison with the control. This decrease was related to the reduction in protozoa and methanogen counts. It is proposed that S. officinalis has the potential to inhibit rumen methanogenesis without affecting rumen fermentation adversely.
There is increasing concern about balancing agronomic and environmental gains from nitrogen (N) usage on dairy farms. Data from a 3-year (2009-2011) survey were used to assess farm-gate N balances and N use efficiency (NUE) on 21 intensive grass-based dairy farms operating under the good agricultural practice (GAP) regulations in Ireland. Mean stocking rate (SR) was 2.06 livestock units (LU)/ha, mean N surplus was 175 kg/ha, or 0.28 kg N/kg milk solids (MS), and mean NUE was 0.23. Nitrogen inputs were dominated by inorganic fertilizer (186 kg N/ha) and concentrates (26.6 kg N/ha), whereas outputs were dominated by milk (40.2 kg N/ha) and livestock (12.8 kg N/ha). Comparison with similar studies carried out before the introduction of the GAP regulations in 2006 would suggest that N surplus, both per ha and per kg MS, have significantly decreased (by 40 and 32%, respectively) and NUE increased (by 27%), mostly due to decreased inorganic fertilizer N input and improvements in N management, with a notable shift towards spring application of organic manures, indicating improved awareness of the fertilizer value of organic manures and good compliance with the GAP regulations regarding fertilizer application timing. These results would suggest a positive impact of the GAP regulations on dairy farm N surplus and NUE, indicating an improvement in both environmental and economic sustainability of dairy production through improved resource-use efficiencies. Such improvements will be necessary to achieve national targets of improved water quality and increased efficiency/sustainability of the dairy industry. The weak impact of SR on N surplus found in the present study would suggest that, with good management, increased SR and milk output per ha may be achievable, while decreasing N surplus per ha. Mean N surplus was lower than the overall mean surplus (224 kg N/ha) from six studies of northern and continental European dairy farms, while mean NUE was similar, largely due to the low input/output system that is more typical in Ireland, with seasonal milk production (compact spring calving), low use of concentrates, imported feed and forages, high use of grazed grass and lower milk yields per ha.
The allelic composition at five glutenin loci was assessed by one-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (1D SDS-PAGE) on a set of 155 landraces (from 21 Mediterranean countries) and 18 representative modern varieties. Gluten strength was determined by SDS-sedimentation on samples grown under rainfed conditions during 3 years in north-eastern Spain. One hundred and fourteen alleles/banding patterns were identified (25 at Glu-1 and 89 at Glu-2/Glu-3 loci); 0 center dot 85 of them were in landraces at very low frequency and 0 center dot 72 were unreported. Genetic diversity index was 0 center dot 71 for landraces and 0 center dot 38 for modern varieties. All modern varieties exhibited medium to strong gluten type with none of their 13 banding patterns having a significant effect on gluten-strength type. Ten banding patterns significantly affected gluten strength in landraces. Alleles Glu-B1e (band 20), Glu-A3a (band 6), Glu-A3d (bands 6+11), Glu-B3a (bands 2+4+15+19) and Glu-B2a (band 12) significantly increased the SDS-value, and their effects were associated with their frequency. Two alleles, Glu-A3b (band 5) and Glu-B2b (null), significantly reduced gluten strength, but only the effect of the latter locus could be associated with its frequency. Only three rare banding patterns affected gluten strength significantly: Glu-B1a (band 7), found in six landraces, had a negative effect, whereas banding patterns 2+4+14+15+18 and 2+4+15+18+19 at Glu-B3 had a positive effect. Landraces with outstanding gluten strength were more frequent in eastern than in western Mediterranean countries. The geographical pattern displayed from the frequencies of Glu-A1c is discussed.
The introduction of cover crops in the intercrop period may provide a broad range of ecosystem services derived from the multiple functions they can perform, such as erosion control, recycling of nutrients or forage source. However, the achievement of these services in a particular agrosystem is not always required at the same time or to the same degree. Thus, species selection and definition of targeted objectives is critical when growing cover crops. The goal of the current work was to describe the traits that determine the suitability of five species (barley, rye, triticale, mustard and vetch) for cover cropping. A field trial was established during two seasons (October to April) in Madrid (central Spain). Ground cover and biomass were monitored at regular intervals during each growing season. A Gompertz model characterized ground cover until the decay observed after frosts, while biomass was fitted to Gompertz, logistic and linear-exponential equations. At the end of the experiment, carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and fibre (neutral detergent, acid and lignin) contents, and the N fixed by the legume were determined. The grasses reached the highest ground cover (83-99%) and biomass (1226-1928 g/m(2)) at the end of the experiment. With the highest C:N ratio (27-39) and dietary fibre (527-600 mg/g) and the lowest residue quality (similar to 680 mg/g), grasses were suitable for erosion control, catch crop and fodder. The vetch presented the lowest N uptake (24 and 07 g N/m(2)) due to N fixation (98 and 16 g N/m(2)) and low biomass accumulation. The mustard presented high N uptake in the warm year and could act as a catch crop, but low fodder capability in both years. The thermal time before reaching 30% ground cover was a good indicator of early coverage species. Variable quantification allowed finding variability among the species and provided information for further decisions involving cover crop selection and management.
The current study investigated the coupling of groundwater and surface water nitrogen (N) dynamics over 3 years, and considered intensive agricultural land-management influences over this period where the risk of N loss to water was considered high. Groundwater N (as nitrate) was monitored monthly in different strata and zones in four hillslopes, two in each of two agricultural catchments of c. 10 km(2), and stream water N flux was monitored subhourly in the catchment outlets. Field nutrient sources were connected to surface water via groundwater; the groundwater along hillslopes was seen to be influenced spatially and temporally by management, geology and weather as observed in the concentration variability of nitrate in groundwater. Based on spatio-temporal averages of nitrate-N concentration, groundwater status was considered good (at least below a maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 11.3 mg/l). However, zones coincident with land-use change (ploughing and reseeding, typical of a management event in intensive landscapes), showed high spatio-temporal variability in nitrate-N concentration, exceeding the MAC temporarily, before recovering. This spatio-temporal variability highlighted the need for insight into these differences when interpreting groundwater quality data from a limited number of basinscale sampling points and occasions. In both catchments the 3-year mean nitrate-N concentration in stream water was similar to the spatio-temporal mean concentration in groundwater. The magnitude and variability of loads, however, were more related to changes in annual runoff rather than changes in annual groundwater nitrate-N status. In one wet year, nitrate-N loads exceeded 48 kg/ha froman Arable catchment and 45 kg/ha from a grassland catchment (close to double the loss in a dry year).
Findings from multi-year, multi-site field trial experiments measuring maize yield response to inoculation with the phosphorus-solubilizing fungus, Penicillium bilaiae Chalabuda are presented. The main objective was to evaluate representative data on crop response to the inoculant across a broad set of different soil, agronomic management and climate conditions. A statistical analysis of crop yield response and its variability was conducted to guide further implementation of a stratified trial and sampling plan. Field trials, analysed in the present study, were conducted across the major maize producing agricultural cropland of the United States (2005-11) comprising 92 small (with sampling replication) and 369 large (without replication) trials. The multi-plot design enabled both a determination of how sampling area affects the estimation of maize yield and yield variance and an estimation of the ability of inoculation with P. bilaiae to increase maize yield. Inoculation increased maize yield in 66 of the 92 small and 295 of the 369 large field trials (within the small plots, yield increased significantly at the 95% confidence level, by 0.17 +/- 0.044 t/ha or 1.8%, while in the larger plots, yield increases were higher and less variable (i.e., 0.33 +/- 0.026 t/ha or 3.5%). There was considerable inter-annual variability in maize yield response attributed to inoculation compared to the un-inoculated control, with yield increases varying from 0.7 +/- 0.75 up to 3.7 +/- 0.73%. No significant correlation between yield response and soil acidity (i.e., pH) was detected, and it appears that pH reduction (through organic acid or proton efflux) was unlikely to be the primary pathway for better phosphorus availability measured as increased yield. Seed treatment and granular or dribble band formulations of the inoculant were found to be equally effective. Inoculation was most effective at increasing maize yield in fields that had low or very low soil phosphorus status for both small and large plots. At higher levels of soil phosphorus, yield in the large plots increased more with inoculation than in the small plots, which could be explained by phosphorus fertilization histories for the different field locations, as well as transient (e.g., rainfall) and topographic effects.
The nitrogen (N) cycle is one of the best studied elemental cycles. However, the N flows and transformations, in particular in aggregated soils, at small scales and in plant-soil systems are not yet fully understood. Analytical and molecular techniques are now available to address N dynamics at small scales. The methodological advances should go hand in hand with the development of suitable mathematical models addressing the small scale and the full complexity of the many interacting effects. The importance of denitrification within the N cycle is highlighted and used as an example of the progress achieved in recent times. Research gaps and possible research pathways are outlined.
There is little empirical evidence to indicate that dairy cow live weight affects the extent of soil damage at the hoof-soil interface during grazing on poorly drained permanent grassland. In the present study the impact of Holstein-Friesian (HF) dairy cows with a mean (+/- standard deviation) live weight of 570 (+/- 61) kg were compared with Jersey x Holstein-Friesian (JX) with a mean live weight of 499 (+/- 52) kg each at two stocking densities: mean 2.42 +/- (0.062) and 2.66 (+/- 0.079) cows/ha. Soil physical properties (bulk density, macroporosity, gravimetric water content, air-filled porosity, penetration resistance and shear strength), poaching damage (post-grazing soil surface deformation and hoof-print depth), herbage yield and milk production were measured throughout 2011 and 2012. Soil physical properties, post-grazing soil surface deformation and herbage production were not affected by dairy cow breed or by interactions between breed and stocking density. Hoof-print depth was higher in the HF treatments (39 v. 37 mm, S.E. 0.5 mm). Loading pressure imposed at the soil surface was the same for both breeds due to a direct correlation between live weight and hoof size. Poaching damage was greater at higher stocking density. Using the lighter JX cow offered little advantage in terms of lowering the negative impact of treading on soil physical properties or reducing poaching damage and no advantage in terms of herbage or milk production compared with the heavier HF cow.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi increase nitrogen (N) uptake by their host plants, but their role in plant N capture from soil organic material is still unclear. In particular, it is not clear if AM fungi compete with the host plant for the N coming from the decomposing organic matter (OM), especially when the AM extraradical mycelium (ERM) and plant roots share the same soil volume. The goal of the present research was to study the effects of AM fungi on wheat N capture after the addition of N-15-labelled OM to soil. Durum wheat (Triticum durum) was grown under controlled conditions in a sand:soil mix and the following treatments were applied: (1) AM inoculation with Glomus mosseae and uninoculated control; and (2) soil amended with N-15-enriched maize leaves and unamended soil. The addition of OM reduced plant growth and N uptake. The AM fungi increased both plant growth and N uptake compared with uninoculated control plants and the effect was enhanced when wheat was grown in soil amended with OM compared with the unamended control. Although AM fungi increased soil N mineralization rates and total plant N uptake, they strongly reduced wheat N recovery from OM, suggesting that AM fungi have marked effects on competition between plants and bacteria for the different N sources in soil.
Ethiopia is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and change on agriculture. The present study aims to understand and characterize agro-climatic variability and changes and associated risks with respect to implications for rainfed crop production in the Central Rift Valley (CRV). Temporal variability and extreme values of selected rainfall and temperature indices were analysed and trends were evaluated using Sen's slope estimator and Mann–Kendall trend test methods. Projected future changes in rainfall and temperature for the 2080s relative to the 1971–90 baseline period were determined based on four General Circulation Models (GCMs) and two emission scenarios (SRES, A2 and B1). The analysis for current climate showed that in the short rainy season (March–May), total mean rainfall varies spatially from 178 to 358 mm with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 32–50%. In the main (long) rainy season (June–September), total mean rainfall ranges between 420 and 680 mm with a CV of 15–40%. During the period 1977–2007, total rainfall decreased but not significantly. Also, there was a decrease in the number of rainy days associated with an increase (statistically not significant) in the intensity per rainfall event for the main rainy season, which can have implications for soil and nutrient losses through erosion and run-off. The reduced number of rainy days increased the length of intermediate dry spells by 0·8 days per decade, leading to crop moisture stress during the growing season. There was also a large inter-annual variability in the length of growing season, ranging from 76 to 239 days. The mean annual temperature exhibited a significant warming trend of 0·12–0·54 °C per decade. Projections from GCMs suggest that future annual rainfall will change by +10 to -40% by 2080. Rainfall will increase during November–December (outside the growing season), but will decline during the growing seasons. Also, the length of the growing season is expected to be reduced by 12–35%. The annual mean temperature is expected to increase in the range of 1·4–4·1 °C by 2080. The past and future climate trends, especially in terms of rainfall and its variability, pose major risks to rainfed agriculture. Specific adaptation strategies are needed for the CRV to cope with the risks, sustain farming and improve food security.
Biogenic nitrogen (N-2) and nitrous oxide (N2O ) accumulations were measured in groundwater, streams and the vadose zone of small agricultural watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic USA. In general, N-2 and N2O in excess of atmospheric equilibrium were found in groundwater virtually everywhere that was sampled. Excess N-2 in groundwater ranged from undetectable to 616 mu mol N-2-N/l, the latter representing c. 50% of background N-2. The N2O-N concentrations varied from undetectable to 75 mu M, and usually greatly exceeded values at atmospheric equilibrium (25-30 nM); however, N2O was generally 1-10% of excess N-2. Intermediate levels of deficit and excess N-2 in flowing streams (-65 to +250 mu mol N-2-N/L) resulting from both abiotic and biotic processes were also measured. In vadose zone gases, multiple N-2/Ar gas profiles were measured which exhibited seasonal variations with below atmospheric values when the soil was warming in spring/summer and above atmospheric values when groundwater was cooling in fall/winter. Both abiotic and biotic processes contributed to the excess N-2 and N2O that was observed. The current data indicate that large concentrations of excess N gases can accumulate within soil, groundwater, and streams of agriculturally dominated watersheds. When excess N gases are exchanged with the atmosphere, the net fluxes to the atmosphere may represent an important loss term for watershed N budgets.
Nitrification inhibitors are used in agriculture for the purpose of decreasing nitrogen (N) losses, by limiting the microbially mediated oxidation of ammonium (NH4+) to nitrate (NO3-). Successful inhibition of nitrification has been shown in numerous studies, but the extent to which inhibitors affect other N transformations in soil is largely unknown. In the present study, cattle slurry was applied to microcosms of three different grassland soils, with or without the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD). A solution containing NH4+ and NO3-, labelled with N-15 either on the NH4+ or the NO3- part, was mixed with the slurry before application. Gross N transformation rates were estimated using a N-15 tracing model. In all three soils, DCD significantly inhibited gross autotrophic nitrification, by 79-90%. Gross mineralization of recalcitrant organic Nincreased significantly with DCD addition in two soils, whereas gross heterotrophic nitrification from the same pool decreased with DCD addition in two soils. Fungal to bacterial ratios were not significantly affected by DCD addition. Total gross mineralization and immobilization increased significantly across the three soils when DCD was used, which suggests that DCD can cause non-target effects on soil N mineralization- immobilization turnover.
Current production systems for crops, meat, dairy and bioenergy in the European Union (EU) rely strongly on the external input of nitrogen (N). These systems show a high productivity per unit of land. However, the drawback is a complex web of N pollution problems contributing in a major way to degradation of ecosystems. European Union Directives and national policies have improved nutrient management and reduced fertilizer N use in most European countries, which has curbed the N pollution trends particularly in regions with high stocking rates of animals. However, improvement is slowing down and environmental targets for N are not within reach. Building on the 2011 European Nitrogen Assessment, the current paper reviews key features of the complex relationships between N use and food production in Europe in order to develop novel options for a more N-efficient, less N-polluting and secure European food system. One option is to relocate feed and livestock production from Northwestern to Central and Eastern Europe. This would allow a reduction of N rates and N pollution in cereal production in Northwest Europe by 30% (50 kg N/ha), while increasing total cereal production in Europe. Another option is a change towards legume-based cropping systems to produce animal feed, in order to decrease dependence on N fertilizer and feed imports. The greatest challenge for Europe is to decrease the demand for feed commodities, and thus for land and N, by a shift to more balanced (and healthier) diets with less animal protein. These drastic changes can be stimulated by targeted public-private research funding, while the actual implementation can be enhanced by smart payment schemes using, for example money from the Common Agricultural Policy, certification and agreements between stakeholders and players in the food and energy chain. Involving networks of consumers, producers and non-governmental organizations is critical. An effective strategy starts with convincing consumers with a Western diet to eat less meat and dairy by communicating the associated health benefits and smaller ecological footprints. Internalizing the cost of N pollution leading to increased prices for N-intensive food products may also enhance involvement of consumers and provide financial resources to compensate farmers for loss of income and extra costs for stricter N measures.
The current situation of volatile milk prices and rising costs of, e.g. grain and labour, suggests that it is worth studying productivity and efficiency in dairy farming. The objective of the current whole-system study, carried out in lowland Central Switzerland from 2007 to 2010, was to compare the performance, efficiency, land productivity and profitability of indoor-feeding (IF) dairy production with that of pasture-based feeding (PF) dairy production. An IF herd consisting of 11 Holstein-Friesian (HF) and 13 Brown Swiss (BS) cows was kept in a free-stall barn and fed a part-mixed ration (PMR) of maize silage, grass silage and protein concentrate. The cows were allocated 15.8 ha of agricultural land (AL). In the PMR, an average per lactation of 443 kg protein concentrate and 651 kg compound feed was fed by a concentrate dispenser according to the requirements of each cow. The PF herd comprised 14 Swiss Fleckvieh (SF) and 14 BS cows, which were kept in a free-stall barn throughout the winter; barn-ventilated hay was offered ad libitum during the lactation period. This herd was allocated 15.7 ha of AL. After calving in spring, the PF cows grazed on semi-continuous pastures; they consumed an average of 285 kg of concentrate per lactation. The IF cows of the BS breed produced significantly more energy-corrected milk (ECM) per standard lactation compared with PF cows (8750 v. 5610 kg), more milk fat (350 v. 213 kg) and more milk protein (306 v. 203 kg). However, the milk of PF cows had higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (1.9 v. 0.6 g/100 g fat) and omega - 3 fatty acids (1.7 v. 0.9 g/100 g fat) than the milk of the IF cows. The calving interval (378 v. 405 days) and the empty time (87 v. 118 days) of the BS breed were significantly shorter in the PF in comparison with that of the IF production system. The IF herd yielded significantly higher ECM/ha AL and year (12716 v. 10307 kg), and showed a higher feed efficiency (1.3 v. 1.1 kg ECM/kg of total dry matter intake (DMI)). The productivity per hour was roughly similar in the two systems (IF: 76 v. PF: 73 kg milk/h). The PF system resulted in higher labour income compared with the IF system (20.7 v. 13.4 (sic)/h), but the difference was not significant. In conclusion, land productivity and efficiency were higher with the IF herd than the PF herd due to the higher energy intake per kg feed. However, within the given conditions, the more interesting case, economically, might be the reduced costs and improved milk quality of the PF system rather than the increased milk yield of the IF cows.
The relationships between physiological variables and sugarcane productivity under water deficit conditions were investigated in field studies during 2005 and 2006 in Weslaco, Texas, USA. A total of 78 genotypes and two commercial varieties were studied, one of which was drought-tolerant (TCP93-4245) and the other drought-sensitive (TCP87-3388). All genotypes were subjected to two irrigation regimes: a control well-watered treatment (wet) and a moderate water-deficit stress (dry) treatment for a period of 90 days. Maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II (F (v)/F (m)), estimated chlorophyll content (SPAD index), leaf temperature (LT), leaf relative water content (RWC) and productivity were measured. The productivity of all genotypes was, on average, affected negatively; however, certain genotypes did not suffer significant reduction. Under water deficit, the productivity of the genotypes was positively and significantly correlated with F (v)/F (m), SPAD index and RWC, while LT had a negative correlation. These findings suggest that genotypes exhibiting traits of high RWC values, high chlorophyll contents and high photosynthetic radiation use efficiency under low moisture availability should be targeted for selection and variety development in programmes aimed at improving sugarcane for drought prone environments.