Phenological models are considered key tools for the short-term planning of viticultural activities and long-term impact assessment of climate change. In the present study, statistical phenological models were developed for budburst (BUD), flowering (FLO) and veraison (VER) of 16 grapevine varieties (autochthonous and international) from the Portuguese wine-making regions of Douro, Lisbon and Vinhos Verdes. For model calibration, monthly averages of daily minimum (Tmin), maximum (Tmax) and mean (Tmean) temperatures were selected as potential regressors by a stepwise methodology. Significant predictors included Tmin in January-February-March for BUD, Tmax in March-April for FLO, and Tmin, Tmax and Tmean in March-July for VER. Developed models showed a high degree of accuracy after validation, representing 071 of total variance for BUD, 083 for FLO and 078 for VER. Model errors were in most cases < 5 days, outperforming classic growing degree-day models, including models based on optimized temperature thresholds for each variety. Applied to the future scenarios RCP45/85, projections indicate earlier phenophase onset and shorter interphases for all varieties. These changes may bring significant challenges to the Portuguese wine-making sector, highlighting the need for suitable adaptation/mitigation strategies, to ensure its future sustainability.
Eleven widely used crop simulation models (APSIM, CERES, CROPSYST, COUP, DAISY, EPIC, FASSET, HERMES, MONICA, STICS and WOFOST) were tested using spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) data set under varying nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates from three experimental years in the boreal climate of Jokioinen, Finland. This is the largest standardized crop model inter-comparison under different levels of N supply to date. The models were calibrated using data from 2002 and 2008, of which 2008 included six N rates ranging from 0 to 150 kg N/ha. Calibration data consisted of weather, soil, phenology, leaf area index (LAI) and yield observations. The models were then tested against new data for 2009 and their performance was assessed and compared with both the two calibration years and the test year. For the calibration period, root mean square error between measurements and simulated grain dry matter yields ranged from 170 to 870 kg/ha. During the test year 2009, most models failed to accurately reproduce the observed low yield without N fertilizer as well as the steep yield response to N applications. The multi-model predictions were closer to observations than most single-model predictions, but multi-model mean could not correct systematic errors in model simulations. Variation in soil N mineralization and LAI development due to differences in weather not captured by the models most likely was the main reason for their unsatisfactory performance. This suggests the need for model improvement in soil N mineralization as a function of soil temperature and moisture. Furthermore, specific weather event impacts such as low temperatures after emergence in 2009, tending to enhance tillering, and a high precipitation event just before harvest in 2008, causing possible yield penalties, were not captured by any of the models compared in the current study.
Drought risk is considered to be among the main limiting factors for maize (Zea mays L.) production in the Northeast Farming Region of China (NFR). Maize yield data from 44 stations over the period 1961-2010 were combined with data from weather stations to evaluate the effects of climatic factors, drought risk and irrigation requirement on rain-fed maize yield in specific maize growth phases. The maize growing season was divided into four growth phases comprising seeding, vegetative, flowering and maturity based on observations of phenological data from 1981 to 2010. The dual crop coefficient was used to calculate crop evapotranspiration and soil water balance during the maize growing season. The effects of mean temperature, solar radiation, effective rainfall, water deficit, drought stress days, actual crop evapotranspiration and irrigation requirement in different growth phases were included in the statistical model to predict maize yield. During the period 1961-2010, mean temperature increased significantly in all growth phases in NFR, while solar radiation decreased significantly in southern NFR in the seeding, vegetative and flowering phases. Effective rainfall increased in the seeding and vegetative phases, reducing water deficit over the period, whereas decreasing effective rainfall over time in the flowering and maturity phases enhanced water deficit. An increase in days with drought stress was concentrated in western NFR, with larger volumes of irrigation needed to compensate for increased dryness. The present results indicate that higher mean temperature in the seeding and maturity phases was beneficial for maize yield, whereas excessive rainfall would damage maize yield, in particular in the seeding and flowering phases. Drought stress in any growth stage was found to reduce maize yield and water deficit was slightly better than other indicators of drought stress for explaining yield variability. The effect of drought stress was particularly strong in the seeding and flowering phases, indicating that these periods should be given priority for irrigation. The yield-reducing effects of both drought and intense rainfall illustrate the importance of further development of irrigation and drainage systems for ensuring the stability of maize production in NFR.
An in vitro study was conducted to investigate the effects of condensed tannin (CT) structural properties, i.e. average polymer size (or mean degree of polymerization), percentage of cis flavan-3-ols and percentage of prodelphinidins in CT extracts on methane (CH 4 ) production and fermentation characteristics. Condensed tannins were extracted from eight plants in order to obtain different CT types: blackcurrant leaves, goat willow leaves, goat willow twigs, pine bark, redcurrant leaves, sainfoin plants, weeping willow catkins and white clover flowers. They were analysed for CT content and CT composition by thiolytic degradation, followed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis. Grass silage was used as a control substrate. Condensed tannins were added to the substrate at a concentration of 40 g/kg, with or without polyethylene glycol (+ or −PEG 6000 treatment) to inactivate tannins, then incubated for 72 h in mixed buffered rumen fluid from three different lactating dairy cows per run. Total cumulative gas production (GP) was measured by an automated GP system. During the incubation, 12 gas samples (10 µ l) were collected from each bottle headspace at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, 30, 36, 48, 56 and 72 h of incubation and analysed for CH 4 . A modified Michaelis-Menten model was fitted to the CH 4 concentration patterns and model estimates were used to calculate total cumulative CH 4 production (GP CH4 ). Total cumulative GP and GP CH4 curves were fitted using biphasic and monophasic modified Michaelis-Menten models, respectively. Addition of PEG increased GP, GP CH4 , and CH 4 concentration compared with the −PEG treatment. All CT types reduced GP CH4 and CH 4 concentration. All CT increased the half time of GP and GP CH4 . Moreover, all CT decreased the maximum rate of fermentation for GP CH4 and rate of substrate degradation. The correlation between CT structure and GP CH4 and fermentation characteristics showed that the proportion of prodelphinidins within CT had the largest effect on fermentation characteristics, followed by average polymer size and percentage of cis flavan-3-ols.
Association mapping based on linkage disequilibrium (LD) is a promising tool to identify genes responsible for quantitative variations underlying complex traits. The present paper presents an association mapping panel consisting of 172 upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) accessions. The panel was phenotyped for five cotton plant architecture traits across multiple environments and genotyped using 386 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. Of these markers, 101 polymorphic SSR markers were used in the final analysis. There were abundant phenotypic variations within this germplasm panel and a total of 267 alleles ranging from two to seven per locus were identified in all collections. The threshold of LD decay was set to r(2) = 0.1 and 0.2, and the genome-wide LD extended up to about 13-14 and 6-7 cM, respectively, providing the potential for association mapping of agronomically important traits in upland cotton. A total of 66 marker-trait associations were detected based on a mixed linear model, of which 35 were found in more than one environment. The favourable alleles from 35 marker loci can be used in marker-assisted selection of target traits. Both the synergistic alleles and the negative alleles for some traits, especially plant height and fruit branch angle, can be utilized in plant architecture breeding programmes according to specific breeding objectives.
The effect of feeding two levels of Saccharomyces cerevisiae on the performance of crossbred Friesian calves was investigated. Twenty- four neonatal male Friesian x Baladi calves (35.5 +/- 0.25 kg of initial body weight) were randomly assigned in a completely randomized design into three experimental groups for 90 days (eight calves per group). Calves fed their diets without yeast (S. cerevisiae) were considered as Control, while the diets of other calves were supplemented daily either with 2.5 g (YL diet) or with 5 g (YH diet) of yeast per calf. Calves fed the YH diet showed increased feed intake, while dry matter and fibre digestibilities were increased in calves fed YH and YL diets. Calves fed YL and YH diets showed lower ruminal ammonia- N and higher total volatile fatty acids, acetate and propionate concentrations than Control calves. Both YH and YL calves showed increased plasma concentrations of total protein, globulin and glucose and decreased cholesterol and triglycerides concentrations. Calves' final weight and daily gain were increased with S. cerevisiae yeast supplemented diets. After 42 days of experiment, Clostridium spp., Escherichia coli and Enterobacteria spp. counts were down to undetectable levels in the faeces of calves fed S. cerevisiae additive. It could be concluded that adding S. cerevisiae to milk- fed calves increased feed utilization and improved pre- weaned calf performance and health status, reducing faecal pathogenic bacteria.
Crop production in the Northeast Farming Region of China (NFR) is affected considerably by variation in climatic conditions. Data on crop yield and weather conditions from a number of agro-meteorological stations in NFR were used in a mixed linear model to evaluate the impacts of climatic variables on the yield of maize (Zea mays L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.), soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) and spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in different crop growth phases. The crop growing season was divided into three growth phases based on the average crop phenological dates from records covering 1981 and 2010 at each station, comprising pre-flowering (from sowing to just prior to flowering), flowering (20 days around flowering) and post-flowering (10 days after flowering to maturity). The climatic variables were mean minimum temperature, thermal time (which is used to indicate changes in the length of growth cycles), average daily solar radiation, accumulated precipitation, aridity index (which is used to assess drought stress) and heat degree-days index (HDD) (which is used to indicate heat stress) were calculated for each growth phase and year. Over the 1961-2010 period, the minimum temperature increased significantly in each crop growth phase, the thermal time increased significantly in the pre-flowering phase of each crop and in the post-flowering phases of maize, rice and soybean, and HDD increased significantly in the pre-flowering phase of soybean and wheat. Average solar radiation decreased significantly in the pre-flowering phase of all four crops and in the flowering phase of soybean and wheat. Precipitation increased during the pre-flowering phase leading to less aridity, whereas reduced precipitation in the flowering and post-flowering phases enhanced aridity. Statistical analyses indicated that higher minimum temperature was beneficial for maize, rice and soybean yields, whereas increased temperature reduced wheat yield. Higher solar radiation in the pre-flowering phase was beneficial for maize yield, in the post-flowering phase for wheat yield, whereas higher solar radiation in the flowering phase reduced rice yield. Increased aridity in the pre-flowering and flowering phases severely reduced maize yield, higher aridity in the flowering and post-flowering phases reduced rice yield, and aridity in all growth phases reduced soybean and wheat yields. Higher HDD in all growth phases reduced maize and soybean yield and HDD in the pre-flowering phase reduced rice yield. Such effects suggest that projected future climate change may have marked effects on crop yield through effects of several climatic variables, calling for adaptation measures such as breeding and changes in crop, soil and agricultural water management.
Grain yield in bread wheat is often tightly associated with grain number/m(2). In turn, spike fertility (SF), i.e., the quotient between grain number and spike chaff dry weight, accounts for a great proportion of the variation in grain number among cultivars. In order to examine the potential use of SF as a breeding target, (1) variation for the trait was assessed in six datasets combining commercial cultivars under different environmental conditions, (2) trait heritability was estimated in a set of F-1 hybrids derived from controlled crosses between cultivars with contrasting SF and (3) SF distribution pattern was analysed in two F-2 segregating populations. Analysis of commercial cultivars revealed considerable variation for SF, under both optimal and sub-optimal conditions. In addition, genotypic variation was consistently larger than genotype x environment interaction variation in all datasets. Narrow sense heritability, estimated by the mid-parent-offspring regression of 20 F-1 hybrids and their respective parents, was 0.63. Data from two F-2 populations exhibited bell-shaped and symmetric frequency distributions of SF, with a SF mean intermediate between the parental values. Substantial transgressive segregation was detected in both F-2 populations. In conclusion, SF appears to be a heritable trait with predominantly additive effects. This warrants further investigation on the feasibility of using SF as an early selection criterion in wheat breeding programs aimed at increasing grain yield.
Dairy farms are under pressure to increase productivity while reducing environmental impacts. Effective fertilizer management practices are critical to achieve this. In the present study the effect of timing and rate of nitrogen (N) fertilizer application on pasture production and N losses, either via direct leaching of fertilizer N or indirectly through consumption of N in pasture and subsequent excretion via dairy cow grazing, was modelled. The Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) was first tested with experimental data from N fertilizer response experiments conducted on a well-drained soil in the Waikato region of New Zealand. The model was then used in a 20-year simulation to investigate the effect of fertilizer management on the impacts on potential N leaching losses. Year-to-year variability was assessed by incorporating 20 years of climate data into the model. Modelling indicated that N fertilization at rates of 140 and 220 kg N/ha/year, applied in four split applications and avoiding application in winter months, could increase pasture yield on average by 2.2-3.0 t dry matter (DM)/ha (25-38%). There were some significant amounts of direct leaching in some years, related to environmental conditions. The maximum loss was as high as 61 kg N/ha at an N application rate of 220 kg N/ha/year, in a year with low pasture production and high rainfall following fertilizer application. In general, however, the risk of direct N leaching from applied fertilizer was low. It seems the main effect of N fertilization is to increase the risk of indirect N leaching, due to increased N intake and excretion. The modelling indicated that the major contribution to increased indirect N leaching risk was from the extra DM grown (more urine deposited per ha). Increased N concentration in the pasture due to fertilization and the resultant extra partitioning of excretal N to urine had only a minor effect on indirect leaching losses. The exception was N fertilizer applied in late winter/early spring (July), where fertilizer N (55 kg/ha) increased pasture N concentration by c. 25%, suggesting that the N concentration in urine patch areas could increase from c. 550 to 840 kg N/ha. Further measurements are required to test the hypothesis developed from the modelling that the main effect of N fertilizer on urinary N leaching is by increasing DM production rather than increasing pasture N concentration.
In search of a suitable resource conservation technology under pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.)-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) system in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the effects of conservation agriculture (CA) on crop productivity and water-use efficiency (WUE) were evaluated during a 3-year study. The treatments were: conventional tillage (CT), zero tillage (ZT) with planting on permanent narrow beds (PNB), PNB with residue (PNB + R), ZT with planting on permanent broad beds (PBB) and PBB + R. The PBB + R plots had higher pigeonpea grain yield than the CT plots in all 3 years. However, wheat grain yields under all plots were similar in all years except for PBB + R plots in the second year, which had higher wheat yield than CT plots. The contrast analysis showed that pigeonpea grain yield of CA plots was significantly higher than CT plots in the first year. However, both pigeonpea and wheat grain yields during the last 2 years under CA and CT plots were similar. The PBB + R plots had higher system WUE than the CT plots in the second and third years. Plots under CA had significantly higher WUE and significantly lower water use than CT plots in these years. The PBB + R plots had higher WUE than PNB + R and PNB plots. Also, the PBB plots had higher WUE than PNB in the second and third years, despite similar water use. The interactions of bed width and residue management for all parameters in the second and third years were not significant. Those positive impacts under PBB + R plots over CT plots were perceived to be due to no tillage and significantly higher amount of estimated residue retention. Thus, both PBB and PBB + R technologies would be very useful under a pigeonpea-wheat cropping system in this region.
Increasing recognition of the extent to which nitrous oxide (N2O) contributes to climate change has resulted in greater demand to improve quantification of N2O emissions, identify emission sources and suggest mitigation options. Agriculture is by far the largest source and grasslands, occupying c. 022 of European agricultural land, are a major land-use within this sector. The application of mineral fertilizers to optimize pasture yields is a major source of N2O and with increasing pressure to increase agricultural productivity, options to quantify and reduce emissions whilst maintaining sufficient grassland for a given intensity of production are required. Identification of the source and extent of emissions will help to improve reporting in national inventories, with the most common approach using the IPCC emission factor (EF) default, where 001 of added nitrogen fertilizer is assumed to be emitted directly as N2O. The current experiment aimed to establish the suitability of applying this EF to fertilized Scottish grasslands and to identify variation in the EF depending on the application rate of ammonium nitrate (AN). Mitigation options to reduce N2O emissions were also investigated, including the use of urea fertilizer in place of AN, addition of a nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) and application of AN in smaller, more frequent doses. Nitrous oxide emissions were measured from a cut grassland in south-west Scotland from March 2011 to March 2012. Grass yield was also measured to establish the impact of mitigation options on grass production, along with soil and environmental variables to improve understanding of the controls on N2O emissions. A monotonic increase in annual cumulative N2O emissions was observed with increasing AN application rate. Emission factors ranging from 106-134% were measured for AN application rates between 80 and 320 kg N/ha, with a mean of 119%. A lack of any significant difference between these EFs indicates that use of a uniform EF is suitable over these application rates. The mean EF of 119% exceeds the IPCC default 1%, suggesting that use of the default value may underestimate emissions of AN-fertilizer-induced N2O loss from Scottish grasslands. The increase in emissions beyond an application rate of 320 kg N/ha produced an EF of 174%, significantly different to that from lower application rates and much greater than the 1% default. An EF of 089% for urea fertilizer and 059% for urea with DCD suggests that N2O quantification using the IPCC default EF will overestimate emissions for grasslands where these fertilizers are applied. Large rainfall shortly after fertilizer application appears to be the main trigger for N2O emissions, thus applicability of the 1% EF could vary and depend on the weather conditions at the time of fertilizer application.
There is limited information about the influences of long-term fertilizer management on methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N-2O) emissions from double-cropping paddy fields in Southern China. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to characterize the changes of CH4 and N2O related to different fertilizer treatments based on a long-term field experiment. The experiment was initiated in 1986 and consisted of five treatments: unfertilized (CK), mineral fertilizer alone (MF), rice residues plus mineral fertilizer (RF), low manure rate plus mineral fertilizer (M1 + F), and high manure rate plus mineral fertilizer (M2 + F). Investigations were conducted over 2 years, from 2013 to 2014, to examine the CH4 and N(2)Oemissions from paddy field of Southern China. The results indicated that M2 + F plots had the largest CH4 emissions during the early rice and late cropped rice and that MF and RF had larger N2O emissions than CK in both early and late cropped rice. When compared with the control, total N2O emissions in both rice-growing seasons increased in both MF and RF in 2013 and 2014. The global warming potentials (GWP) from paddy fields were ranked as M2 + F > M1 + F > RF > MF > CK. Meanwhile, the results demonstrated that CH4 and N2O emissions were closely associated with the soil redox potential and soil temperature. In summary, the incorporation of rice residues in addition to the use of mineral fertilizer (RF treatment) may be an effective fertilizer management practice for mitigating total GWP per grain yield and maintaining rice grain yield in southern China.
A range of options was explored to test the hypothesis that diets for dairy cows could be formulated to reduce the carbon footprint (CFP) of feed, increase efficiency of conversion of potentially human-edible feed into milk, increase nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and reduce methane (CH4) emissions per kg milk. Diets based on grazed grass, grass silage, maize silage or straw, supplemented with raw material feeds, were formulated to meet requirements for metabolizable energy and metabolizable protein for a range of daily milk yields. At similar levels of milk yield, NUE, predicted CH4 emissions and diet CFP were generally higher for diets based on maize silage than for those based on grazed grass, grass silage or straw. Predicted CH4 emissions and human-edible proportion decreased, while NUE increased with the increasing level of milk yield. It is concluded that there is potential to reduce the environmental impact of milk production by altering diet formulation, but the extent to which this might occur is likely to depend on availability of raw material feeds with low CFPs.
Understanding the physiological mechanisms of biomass accumulation and partitioning in the grain, and the nitrogen (N) uptake associated with different plant densities and N management strategies, is essential for achieving both high yield and N use efficiency (NUE) inmaize plants. A field experiment was conducted in 2013 and 2014, using five rates of N application and three plant densities (6.0, 7.5 and 9.0 plants/m(2)) in Quzhou County on the North China Plain (NCP). The objective was to evaluate whether higher plant density can produce more biomass allocated to the grain to achieve higher grain yield and to determine the optimal N management strategies for different plant densities. The highest grain yield and NUE were achieved in the 7.5 plants/m(2) treatment; both the sub-optimal (6.0 plants/m(2)) and supra-optimal (9.0 plants/m(2)) plant densities resulted in diminished yield and NUE. Compared to 6.0 plants/m(2), the 7.5 plants/m(2) treatment displayed higher biomass accumulation during the grain-filling period and also exhibited more biomass allocated to kernels with similar total biomass accumulation compared with the 9.0 plants/m(2) treatment, which contributed to its higher grain yield. The N uptake in the 7.5 plants/m(2) treatment was similar to that in the 9.0 plants/m(2) treatment up to pre-silking. However, the post-silking N uptake of the 7.5 plants/m(2) treatment was 66.4 kg/ha, which was 29.1% higher than that of the 9.0 plants/m(2) treatment. Furthermore, the highest maize grain yield was achieved in the 0.7 x optimal N rate (ONR x 0.7), ONR and ONR x 1.3 treatments for 6.0, 7.5 and 9.0 plants/m(2), respectively, which suggests that different N management strategies are needed for different plant densities. In conclusion, selecting a planting density of 7.5 plants/m(2) with an in-season root zone N management is a potentially effective strategy for achieving high grain yield and high NUE for maize production on the NCP.
Eight winter oilseed rape and two spring oilseed rape field experiments were performed in the UK in harvest years 2009-12. Each experiment consisted of at least one hybrid and one open-pollinated variety grown at five seed rates from 10 or 20 seeds/m(2) to 160 or 200 seeds/m(2). Linear plus exponential curves were used to describe the yield response to seed rate and to calculate economically optimal seed rates. Plant counts were then used to derive optimal plant population densities. These ranged from 155 plants/m(2) in two winter oilseed rape experiments with severe spring droughts, and from 47 to 65 plants/m(2) for spring oilseed rape. Optimal plant population densities were lower for hybrid than for open-pollinated varieties, due to a combination of the higher cost of hybrid seed and, for some experimental sites, hybrid varieties compensating better for low plant populations. Across all sites, sowing winter oilseed rape at 30 seeds/m(2) rather than common commercial rates of 70 seeds/m(2) for hybrids and 100 seeds/m(2) for open-pollinated varieties would have increased average gross margin by 29 pound/ha. Sowing spring oilseed rape at 70 seeds/m(2) rather than commonly used rates of 120 or 150 seeds/m(2) would have increased average gross margin by 64 pound/ha.
Nitrogen (N) supply is essential for achieving high grain yield in maize production, but excessive N application can lead to lodging risks and potential yield loss. The main objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of ethephon application under different N fertilizer rates in reducing maize lodging. Field experiments were conducted to determine the interactive effects of ethephon (0 and 180 g/ha) and N rate (0, 75, 150 and 225 kg N/ha) on the morphological and chemical characteristics of basal internode and yield across two summer maize-growing seasons (2011/12) in Wuqiao of the North China Plain. Findings showed that ethephon significantly increased the maximum diameter of the 7th to 14th internodes, and decreased the internode lengths, which led to a decrease in plant and ear heights under different N rates. Significant ethephon xN interaction effects were observed on the diameter and length of internode, dry weight per unit internode length and breaking resistance. Ethephon significantly increased N, cellulose and hemicellulose contents of the basal internode, but cellulose and hemicellulose contents decreased as the rate of N application increased. Internode diameter, dry weight per unit internode length, and N content of the basal internode were significantly positively correlated with breaking resistance. Ethephon significantly increased grain yield and harvest index in 2011, but not in 2012. Grain yield and above-ground biomass were increased with increasing N application in both growing seasons, showing linear and quadratic responses. These results suggested that ethephon could increase stalk strength by improving the morphological and chemical characteristics of the basal internode, and maintain high yield and biomass under high N rates.
A warmer and potentially drier future climate is likely to influence the production of forage crops on dairy farms in the southeast dairy regions of Australia. Biophysical modelling was undertaken to explore the resilience of forage production of individual forage crops to scalar increases in temperature, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and changes in daily rainfall. The model APSIM was adapted to reflect species specific responses to growth under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations. It was then used to simulate 40 years of production of forage wheat, oats, annual ryegrass, maize grown for silage, forage sorghum, forage rape and alfalfa grown at three locations in southeast Australia with increased temperature scenarios (1, 2, 3 and 4 degrees C of warming) and atmospheric CO2 concentration (435, 535, 640 and 750 ppm) and decreasing rainfall scenarios (10, 20 or 30% less rainfall). At all locations positive increases in DM yield compared with the baseline climate scenario were predicted for lucerne (26-932% increase), wheat (89-374% increase), oats (61-359% increase) and annual ryegrass (97-667% increase) under all future climate scenarios. The response of forage rape and forage sorghum varied between location and climate change scenario. At all locations, maize was predicted to have a minimal change in yield under all future climates (between a 26% increase and a 68% decrease). The future climate scenarios altered the seasonal pattern of forage supply for wheat, oats and lucerne with an increase in forage produced during winter. The resilience of forage crops to climate change indicates that they will continue to be an important component of dairy forage production in southeastern Australia.
Soybean is an important oil- and protein-producing crop and over the last few decades soybean genetic transformation has made rapid strides. The probability of occurrence of transgene flow should be assessed, although the discrimination of conventional and transgenic soybean seeds and their hybrid descendants is difficult in fields. The feasibility of non-destructive discrimination of conventional and glyphosate-resistant soybean seeds and their hybrid descendants was examined by a multispectral imaging system combined with chemometric methods. Principal component analysis (PCA), partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLSDA), least squares-support vector machines (LS-SVM) and back propagation neural network (BPNN) methods were applied to classify soybean seeds. The current results demonstrated that clear differences among conventional and glyphosate-resistant soybean seeds and their hybrid descendants could be easily visualized and an excellent classification (98% with BPNN model) could be achieved. It was concluded that multispectral imaging together with chemometric methods would be a promising technique to identify transgenic soybean seeds with high efficiency.
Breeding for resistance to Striga hermonthica Del. (Benth) and tolerance to drought has been a major strategy to improve maize (Zea mays L.) production and productivity in West and Central Africa during the last three decades. The three decades consisted of three breeding periods or eras based on the germplasm and methodologies used; that is, 1988-2000, 2001-06 and 2007-11. A total of 50 early maturing cultivars, combining Striga resistance with drought tolerance were developed, including 15, 16 and 19 cultivars for the three periods, respectively. Although the cultivars were not selected intentionally for low-nitrogen (N) tolerance, it was hypothesized that tolerance to low-N had been significantly improved while selecting for drought tolerance and Striga resistance. This hypothesis was tested by evaluating the 50 cultivars in 2010 and 2011 in Nigeria at Mokwa and Ile-Ife under both low-N (30 kg N/ha) and high-N (90 kg N/ha) levels. Under low-N conditions, grain yield improved from 2280 kg/ha during the first period to 2610 kg/ha during the third period, an increase of 165 kg/ha per period with r(2) of 0.99. Under high-N, yield increased from 3200 to 3650 kg/ha, an increase of 225 kg/ha and r(2) of 0.93. Relative gain per period was 30 kg/ha for the two N rates with r(2) values of 0.99 and 0.94 respectively. Grain yield performance of the 50 cultivars under low-N conditions adequately predicted their performance under high-N. Selection for Striga resistance and drought tolerance in early maturing maize populations enhanced low-N tolerance in the maize cultivars derived from the populations. The improvement was higher in later than earlier breeding periods.
Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is one of the most important cereal crops in the world and a potentially important source of zinc (Zn) in the diet. The improvement of Zn content of rice is a global challenge with implications for both rice production and human health. The objective of the present study was to identify the effects of nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates and Zn application methods on Zn content of rice by evaluating rice production on native soils with different Zn availabilities in 2010/11. The results indicated that Zn application increased rice grain yield and Zn content in grains compared with the control; however, this effect was also affected by the native soil Zn availability, N fertilizer rate and Zn fertilizer application method. The native soil Zn status was the dominant factor influencing grain yield and grain Zn content in response to Zn fertilizer application. Grain Zn content ranged from 19.74 to 26.93 mg/kg under the different Zn statuses. The results also indicated that Zn application method has a significant influence on grain yield. Application of Zn fertilizer to the soil was more effective than the foliar spray on rice grain yield; however, the foliar spray resulted in a greater increase in grain Zn content when compared with soil application. Grain Zn content was affected by application method and displayed the following general trend: soil application + foliar spray > foliar spray > soil application. The experiments investigating the effect of N fertilizer rate combined with Zn application method showed a clear increase in both grain yield and Zn content as the N fertilizer level increased from 200 to 300 kg/ha. In addition, the results also indicated that N content and accumulation increased in all plant tissues, which suggests that Zn application might influence the uptake and translocation of N in rice plants. These results suggest that soil application in addition to a foliar spray of Zn should be considered as an important strategy to increase grain yield and grain Zn content of rice grown in soils with low background levels of Zn-associated diethylene triamine pentaacetate acid. Moreover, this process could be further strengthened by a high N application rate. In conclusion, these results demonstrate the potential of optimizing nutrient management using Zn fertilizer to obtain higher grain yields and higher grain Zn content in fields with low native Zn status.