Precision agriculture involves applying artificial intelligence, computers, sensors, and automation to improve crop field productivity while monitoring environmental conditions to conserve soil, water, and other natural resources focusing on agricultural sustainability. Despite many applications in agriculture, data monitoring and recording technologies have limited use due to the price. Low-cost open-source systems, like the ones available with the Internet of things (IoT) world, can potentially be developed as a universal-fit and cloud-connected technology for multiple applications. We designed and built a basic data collecting system using a commercial standalone embedded computer with Python programming language, serial data interface (SDI)-12/analog sensor adaptor, and digital sensors to monitor soil moisture and transmit the data remotely. SDI-12 is a standard communication protocol that transfers digital sensor measurements to a data recorder. We set up a pilot study that automatically collected and uploaded the data into the Internet to allow remote data transfer and access. The system performed reliably over 1 week with potting soil under field conditions without maintenance and successfully recorded data in real-time. The volumetric water content ranged from 0.03 to 0.23 m3·m−3, dielectric permittivity from 3.3 to 18.9 (unitless), EC from 0.0 to 0.3 dS·m−1, and soil temperature from 20.7 to 44.8 °C. All the data were successfully collected and uploaded to the cloud every 20 min, allowing users to remotely monitor the data using a free online application. However, heavy rainfall and high insolation could damage the system through excessive moisture or overheating, requiring a waterproof and heavy-duty protection case. The ThingSpeak channel allows customizing to suit a user’s specific requirements or adding more features for further development, such as automated irrigation, which can improve irrigation and fertilization efficiency by applying water and fertilizers at the right time based on sensor readings.
Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi and Tzu Wei Peng
Lakshmy Gopinath, Dennis L. Martin, Justin Quetone Moss, Yanqi Wu, Shuhao Yu, and James R. Underwood
Suitable tensile strength is essential for sod harvest, transport, and installation. Thirty-nine bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) entries were evaluated for sod handling quality (SHQ) and sod tensile strength (STS) during 2014–15. The SHQ (a discontinuous qualitative parameter) was evaluated using a 1 to 5 scale with 1 = complete pad separation during handling and 5 = no cracking or separation in the sod pad with excellent quality. The STS (a quantitative parameter) was determined using the force required to shear/separate the sod pad. Sod harvests were conducted at 14, 22, and 24 months after planting (MAP). The entry, harvest date, and their interaction affected STS and SHQ. Entries OKC 1302 and 12-TSB-1 had greater STS than ‘Patriot’ but less STS than ‘Latitude 36’, ‘Tifway’, ‘Astro’, and ‘TifGrand’. The seeded entry PST-R6T9S had the lowest STS and SHQ. The overall mean STS and SHQ were lowest at 22 MAP, which could be attributed to the slow recovery of the entries after Winter 2014. A strong positive correlation (r = 0.92) between STS and SHQ suggests that SHQ can be used as a rapid field method to estimate suitability for sod harvest. A predictive linear relationship between overall STS and overall SHQ (r 2 = 0.85) found predicted STS values of 8.5, 22.6, 36.8, and 51.0 kg⋅dm–2 for overall mean SHQ ratings of 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. The results of this work will help sod producers in cultivar selection and will aid breeders in making commercialization decisions.
Karen K. Schneck, Cheryl R. Boyer, and Chad T. Miller
Dahlia (Dahlia ×hybrida) is an important floriculture crop that has gained popularity in recent years. Greenhouse growers have recently reported a phenomenon known as “dahlia decline,” that can affect potted dahlias in greenhouse production. The crop exhibits graying foliage, root decline, and plant death, and the phenomenon has reportedly caused partial or total crop loss and has no known initiating factor. We hypothesized that plant exposure to supraoptimal root-zone temperatures (RZTs) during production may decrease dahlia root quality, especially above 40 °C and could initiate dahlia decline. Because there is a lack of understanding on how supraoptimal RZT may impact dahlia growth and development, experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of supraoptimal RZTs on seven dahlia cultivars in Spring 2019 and 2020. Dahlias were grown for 4 to 5 weeks in the greenhouse and then root zones were exposed to ≈22 (control), 35, 40, 45, or 50 °C using a water bath. Root quality was rated before treatment and rated weekly after the hot water bath treatment, along with vegetative growth parameters for 4 weeks. In both years, significant decline in root ratings were observed. ‘XXL Veracruz’ and ‘XXL Sunset’ average root ratings decreased after a 45 and 50 °C treatments in year 2 and both cultivars demonstrated increased root rating averages by 3 weeks after treatment. Cultivars exhibited a significant increase in root rating in the final observations when compared with root ratings taken 1 week posttreatment even if the initial decline after treatment was not significant. Overall plant height was significantly impacted, resulting in shorter heights in both years for all cultivars as treatment temperatures increased to 50 °C in comparison with the control and 35 °C, and a few cultivars exhibited significantly shorter height at 40 and 45 °C. Ultimately, our research did not show typical plant responses that were consistent with reported dahlia decline, but we were better able to characterize dahlia response to supraoptimal RZT.
William Reichert, Harna Patel, Christopher Mazzei, Chung-Heon Park, H. Rodolfo Juliani, and James E. Simon
Manoj Chhetri and Charles Fontanier
Objective methods of estimating green coverage using digital image analysis have been used increasingly by turfgrass scientists. The objective of our research was to evaluate the effectiveness of Canopeo, a relatively new smartphone application, for estimating green coverage of bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) emerging from winter dormancy, with or without colorants. A field study was conducted on a research ‘U3’ bermudagrass fairway in Stillwater, OK, during Spring 2019 and 2020. The experiment was conducted as a randomized complete block design with three colorant treatments: Endurant Fairway (FW), Endurant Perennial Ryegrass (PR), and an untreated control. Green coverage of the turfgrass canopy was determined weekly from mid-March to early May using a digital camera and ImageJ software, and a smartphone and the Canopeo application. Green coverage estimates from Canopeo correlated strongly (r = 0.91) with those from ImageJ when no colorants were applied. Correlation between Canopeo and ImageJ was diminished under plots treated with colorants. Canopeo is an effective tool for estimating green coverage of living turfgrasses, but additional calibration may be required for acceptable performance when evaluating greenness of colorant-treated turfgrasses.
Shannon Rauter, Youping Sun, and Melanie Stock
In response to the growing demand for specialty cut flowers, floral crops are increasingly produced in semiarid areas where soil salinity can impact crop timing, reduce stem length, and decrease yield. The goal of this study was to investigate the salinity sensitivity of ‘Carmel’ and ‘Galilee’ anemone (Anemone coronaria), and ‘Amandine’ and ‘LaBelle’ ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus) with respect to physiological characteristics and marketable yield. Nine plants were irrigated weekly for 8 weeks with a nutrient (control) solution with an electrical conductivity (EC) of 0.5 dS⋅m–1 or saline solutions prepared by adding sodium chloride and calcium chloride dihydrate to a nutrient solution to obtain an EC of 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, or 5.5 dS⋅m–1. Yield was evaluated by dividing stems into marketable and cull grades based on length and bloom quality. At the end of the study, the visual quality of the plants was scored, and gas exchange data were collected using a portable photosynthesis system. Cultivars of each species responded similarly, and marketable yields were low across all treatments, with average marketable yields (mean ± sd) of 1.7 ± 0.6 stems/plant for anemone and 1.2 ± 0.1 stems/plant for ranunculus. Visual quality (0–5 scale, with 0 = dead and 5 = excellent) decreased from 3 to 1 for anemone and 3 to 2 for ranunculus as EC increased from 0.5 to 4.5 dS⋅m–1 and 0.5 to 5.5 dS⋅m–1, respectively. Anemone leaf greenness decreased by 48%, stomatal conductance (g S) decreased by 79%, transpiration (E) decreased by 75%, and net photosynthesis (Pn) decreased by 92% when irrigation solution EC increased from 0.5 to 4.5 dS⋅m–1. The ranunculus growth index decreased by 17%, leaf greenness decreased by 45%, and E decreased by 23% as irrigation solution EC increased from 0.5 to 5.5 dS⋅m–1. Both anemone and ranunculus can be considered sensitive to salinity, indicating the importance of careful soil management in cut flower production systems in semiarid areas that are at risk for elevated soil salinity.
Fahed A. Al-Mana, Abdullah M. Algahtani, Yaser H. Dewir, Majed A. Alotaibi, Mohammed A. Al-Yafrsi, and Khalid M. Elhindi
Freshwater resources are being rapidly depleted because of the increased demand resulting from exponential world population growth and the effects of climate change, especially in arid and semiarid regions (e.g., Saudi Arabia). The present study aimed to examine the changes in growth and inflorescence production of snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.) plants in response to irrigation with saline or magnetized water, in addition to application of inorganic and/or organic soil amendments. Three different water types—tap water, magnetized saline water, and nonmagnetized saline water—were used to irrigate A. majus plants with or without soil amendments consisting of ferrous sulfate (Fe2SO4) and/or peatmoss. Irrigation with magnetized saline water adversely affected vegetative growth, inflorescence production, mineral contents, and survival rates of A. majus plants as compared with irrigation with tap water or magnetized saline water. Nevertheless, compared with unmagnetized saline water treatment, magnetizing nonmagnetized saline water before irrigation significantly improved water characteristics and plant growth and survival. Moreover, the addition of inorganic or organic soil amendments enhanced the growth of A. majus plants regardless of irrigation water type. Interestingly, the combination of irrigating with magnetized saline water and soil amendments (Fe2SO4 and peatmoss) significantly enhanced the growth of A. majus plants to a level that was comparable to that of control plants irrigated with tap water without soil amendments. Magnetization improved water quality and increased plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients from soil solution. The utilization of magnetized saline water for irrigating food and forage crops either alone or in combination with soil amendments has potential benefits that warrant further research.
Ricardo Goenaga, Brian Irish, and Angel Marrero
Banana (Musa acuminata AAA) is the most exported fruit worldwide and represents a major source of revenue for Central American and South American countries as well as the Caribbean region, among others. Black leaf streak disease (BLSD) or black sigatoka, caused by Pseudocercospora fijiensis (formerly Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is responsible for significant losses to this crop due to the high susceptibility of the most economically important cultivars. BLSD does not immediately kill banana plants, but it causes severe leaf necrosis that results in reduced photosynthetic area, thereby adversely impacting bunch weight and fruit production. Without cultural and chemical control, yields can be reduced by 20% to 80%, depending on severity. This study evaluated ‘FHIA-17’, a BLSD-resistant synthetic hybrid (AAAA), against ‘Grand Nain’, a standard commercial cultivar with no BLSD tolerance, at two locations in Puerto Rico on Ultisol (Corozal site) and Oxisol (Isabela site) soils where BLSD was not managed. Significantly lower bunch yield (45,990 kg·ha−1) and significantly fewer fruit (220,671 fruit/ha) were obtained at Corozal than at Isabela (53,755 kg·ha−1; 380,241 fruit/ha). Lower production at Corozal was the result of higher severity of BLSD at this location than at Isabela and to soil factors interfering with optimum nutrient uptake. Average fruit production of ‘FHIA-17’ was significantly higher than that of ‘Grand Nain’ at both locations, with bunch yields of 68,105 and 72, 634 kg·ha−1 at Corozal and Isabela, respectively. Fruit of the third-upper hand was significantly longer for ‘FHIA-17’ at Corozal but not different at Isabela; however, ‘FHIA-17’ fruit in this hand were of significantly greater diameter. Fruit in the last hand of ‘FHIA-17’ were significantly longer than in ‘Grand Nain’ at Corozal, but of significantly greater diameter at both locations. At both locations, the mean fruit weight was significantly higher in ‘FHIA-17’ than in ‘Grand Nain’. The number of functional leaves present at flowering and at harvest was significantly higher in ‘FHIA-17’ than in ‘Grand Nain’ at both locations, indicating more availability of photosynthetic area in ‘FHIA-17’ during the fruit-filling period. The harvest cycle of ‘FHIA-17’ was significantly longer than for ‘Grand Nain’. It took 315 and 204 more days in Corozal and Isabela, respectively, to harvest three cycles (mother crop and two ratoon crops) of ‘FHIA-17’ than for ‘Grand Nain’. No significant differences were found for starch and soluble sugars in green unripe or fully mature fruit among cultivars. In this long-term study, ‘FHIA-17’ showed to have good production and resistance against BLSD and is a viable alternative to current commercial cultivars. Its relative advantage of reduced production costs by not needing fungicide applications should be weighed against its longer harvest cycle to produce a fruit bunch.
Martina Göttingerová, Michal Kumšta, Eliška Rampáčková, Tomáš Kiss, and Tomáš Nečas
The apricot is attractive for several reasons, with the most important being the harvest period and the significant amount of contained substances that positively affect human health. This report discusses the identification and quantification of phenolic substances in 15 selected apricots. The following 14 phenolic compounds were identified: 4aminobenzoic acid, chlorogenic acid, cinnamic acid, flavonols quercetin and quercitrin, isoquercetin (quercetin-3-β-D-glucoside), rutin, resveratrol, vanillin, phloridzin, phloretin, epicatechin, catechin, and transpiceid. Significant amounts of phytochemicals found in apricot fruits are chlorogenic acid [0.69–21.94 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW)], catechin (0.55–10.75 mg/100 g FW), epicatechin (0.04–13.52 mg/100 g FW), and rutin (1.49–20.44 mg/100 g FW). Rutin and chlorogenic acid were the dominant compounds found in the studied set of cultivars. Furthermore, other important analytical properties of fruits (total acids, vitamin C, total content of phenolic substances, flavonoids, antioxidant capacity, and carotenoids) were also determined.
Yang Hu, Chao Gao, Quanen Deng, Jie Qiu, Hongli Wei, Lu Yang, Jiajun Xie, and Desheng Liao
Petalized anther abortion is an important characteristic of male sterility in plants. The male sterile plants (HB-21) evincing petalized anther abortion previously discovered in a clone population of the Camellia oleifera cultivar Huashuo by our research group were selected as the experimental material in this study. Using plant microscopy and anatomic methods and given the correspondence between external morphology and internal structure, we studied the anatomic characteristics of petalized anther abortion (with a fertile plant as the control group) in various stages, from flower bud differentiation to anther maturity, in hopes of providing a theoretical basis for research on and applications of male sterile C. oleifera plants, a new method for the selection of male sterile C. oleifera cultivars, and improvements in the yield and quality of C. oleifera. In this study, the development of anthers in C. oleifera was divided into 14 stages. Petalized anther abortion in male sterile plants was mainly initiated in the second stage (the stage of sporogenous cells). Either the petalized upper anther parts did not form pollen sacs, or the entire anthers did not form pollen sacs. The lower parts of some anthers could form deformed pollen sacs and develop, and these anthers could be roughly divided into two types: fully and partially petalized anthers. Abnormal callose and the premature degradation of the tapetum occurred in the pollen sacs formed by partially petalized anthers during the development process, resulting in the absence of inclusions in the pollen grains formed. Small quantities of mature pollen grains withered inward from the germinal furrows, exhibiting obvious abortion characteristics. The relative in vitro germination rate of the pollen produced by the partially petalized anthers of sterile plants was 11.20%, and the relative activity of triphenyltetrazolium chloride was 3.24%, while the fully petalized anthers did not generate pollen grains. Either the petalized anthers in male sterile plants did not produce pollen, or the vitality of the small amounts of pollen produced by sterile plants was very low compared with that of fertile plants. Such male sterile plants could be used to select correct clones and have good prospects for application in production.