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During this study, an indoor experiment was conducted to determine the effect of mixed seeding rates of legumes used as green manure on the substrate fertilizer, growth characteristics, and bioactive compounds of baby leaf vegetables. The mixed seeding treatment was designed for milkvetch (Astragalus sinicus L.), tatsoi (Barassica rapa L.), kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica L.), and spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) using five rates for each. Accordingly, a total of 15 treatments (3 baby leaf species × 5 mixed seeding rates) were constructed using a randomized complete block design with three replications for each treatment. During the baby leaf vegetable harvest, we evaluated the macronutrient levels (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) in the substrate as well as the growth parameters and carotenoid contents. The substrate in the treatment mixed with milkvetch showed significantly higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compared with those of tatsoi and kale sown alone (P ≤ 0.05). However, there were no significant differences in macronutrients observed in substrate-sown spinach with or without the milkvetch mixture. The growth and carotenoid levels of each baby leafy vegetable sown alone were significantly higher than those of each baby leafy vegetable sown with the mixed seeding treatment (P ≤ 0.05). Sowing the milkvetch–vegetable mixtures did not result in a significant increase in the growth and carotenoid levels of the three baby vegetables. The results showed that planting milkvetch with tatsoi and kale had a significant impact on substrate fertilization. However, regarding short-term vertical indoor farming, the growth and carotenoid responses of the three greens may be different. Nonetheless, we still believe that the combined interactions of legumes can provide long-term benefits by enhancing the biological functionality of the growing medium for balanced indoor agriculture production.

Open Access
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When natural days are short, photoperiodic lighting at the end or beginning of the day (day extension) or in the middle of the night (night break) promotes flowering of long-day plants. The objective of this study was to compare broad-spectrum warm-white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and red (R) + far-red (FR) LEDs at flowering regulation when delivered at different timings in the night period. We performed a greenhouse experiment on four long-day ornamentals [coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora) ‘Early Sunrise’, snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) ‘Liberty Classic Yellow’, petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Easy Wave Burgundy Star’, and petunia ‘Wave Purple Improved’]. We grew plants under a truncated 8-hour photoperiod with or without low-intensity (∼2 μmol·m−2·s−1) nighttime lighting from warm-white or R+FR LEDs. For each light quality, we delivered four timings: 1) 8 hours after dusk; 2) 8 hours before dawn; 3) 4 hours after dusk + 4 hours before dawn; and 4) 4-hour night break. The effectiveness of floral promotion was determined by time from the treatment onset to the first open flower. Coreopsis flowered similarly under all lighting treatments, irrespective of light quality and timing, but did not flower under the short-day treatment by the end of the experiment. At flowering, coreopsis was 18% to 19% shorter under white than R+FR LEDs. In contrast, snapdragon flowered 9 to 20 days later under white than R+FR LEDs, when delivered for 8 hours at night, but flowered similarly under these two lamp types as a 4-hour night break. Compared with the short-day treatment, white and R+FR LEDs promoted flowering of both petunia cultivars, although flowering generally occurred later under white than R+FR LEDs. Snapdragon and petunia ‘Easy Wave Burgundy Star’ developed 30% to 122% more lateral branches under white than R+FR LEDs, when delivered for 8 hours at night. The effectiveness of warm-white LEDs was generally unaffected by timing, although it was most promotive of flowering in snapdragon when delivered for 8 hours before dawn. For R+FR LEDs, 8-hour day-extension lighting was generally more effective than 4-hour night-break lighting, irrespective of timing. We conclude when delivered for 8 hours at night, warm-white LEDs are generally less effective than R+FR LEDs at promoting flowering of long-day ornamentals but similarly effective as 4-hour night-break lighting. The effectiveness of day-extension lighting is generally independent of timing, although for R+FR LEDs, 8 hours after-dusk and/or before-dawn lighting was generally more effective than 4-hour night-break lighting.

Open Access

This study investigated the activity of upper- and lower-extremity muscles for 15 agricultural tasks of agro-healing. For the development of an agro-healing program using farm resource types, 15 selected agro-healing activities (namely, digging, raking, fertilizing, planting transplants, tying plants to stakes, watering, harvesting, washing, cutting, cooking, collecting natural objects, decorating natural objects, interacting with dogs, walking dogs, and feeding fish) were extracted and performed in a total of 21 adults (average age: 42.29 ± 14.76 years) at D Care Farm in Cheongju, Korea, from June to July 2022. Before these activities, informed consent was obtained from participants and muscle activity of the upper and lower extremities was measured. Muscle activation during activity performance was measured using electromyography (EMG), and the rating of perceived exertion for each activity was investigated. Bipolar surface EMG electrodes were attached at 16 locations on the left and right upper-extremity muscles (anterior deltoid, biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris) and lower-extremity muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius). The results indicated that the activity of the lower-extremity muscles was higher than that of the upper-extremity muscles during 15 agricultural activities. During plant-mediated activity and animal-assisted activities, the rate of right muscle use was higher than that of left muscle use among the upper-extremity muscles, whereas the rate of right and left muscle use showed a similar tendency among the lower-extremity muscles. During plant-mediated activities, agricultural activities involving the use of heavy tools highly activated the right forearm muscle (flexor carpi ulnaris), whereas holding and interacting with animals highly activated the left forearm muscles (biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris). It is expected that the EMG data obtained in this study can be used as basic biomechanical data when designing an agro-healing program to improve physical function.

Open Access

Bacterial wilt of cucurbits, caused by Erwinia tracheiphila, is spread by spotted (Diabrotica undeimpunctata howardi) and striped (Acalymma vittatum) cucumber beetles and results in major losses for US cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae spp.) growers. Organic growers of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) lack reliable control measures against bacterial wilt. During previous field trials in Iowa, USA, a system called mesotunnels, which are 3.5-ft-tall barriers covered with a nylon mesh insect netting, resulted in a higher marketable yield of organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon than low tunnels or noncovered plots. However, satisfactory pollination and weed control are challenging in mesotunnels because the netting covers the crop for most or all of the growing season, and economic feasibility of these systems has not been determined. Consequently, two field trials conducted in Iowa from 2020 to 2022 evaluated strategies to ensure pollination under mesotunnels in commercial-scale plots, assess effectiveness of teff (Eragrostis tef) as a living mulch for weed control in mesotunnel systems, and compare the profitability of the treatment options for organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon. The treatments used during the pollination trial were as follows: full season, in which mesotunnels remained sealed all season and bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) were added at the start of bloom for pollination; open ends, wherein both ends of the tunnels were opened at the start of bloom then reclosed 2 weeks later; and on-off-on, in which nets were removed at the start of bloom and then reinstalled 2 weeks later. The full-season treatment had significantly higher marketable yield than the other treatments in two of three trial years. Plants with the full season and open ends treatments had a bacterial wilt incidence <2.5% across all three years and similar numbers of cucumber beetles, whereas plants with the on-off-on treatment had an average bacterial wilt incidence of 11.0% and significantly more cucumber beetles. The open ends treatment had fewer bee visits to ‘Athena’ muskmelon flowers than the other treatments. In the 2-year (2021–22) weed management trial, treatments applied to the furrow between plastic-mulched rows were as follows: landscape fabric; teff seeded at 4 lb/acre and mowed 3 weeks after seeding; teff seeded at 4 lb/acre and not mowed; a control with bare ground where weeds were mowed 3 weeks after transplanting; and a bare ground control with no mowing. The landscape fabric and mowed teff treatments had statistically similar marketable yield, and mowing appeared to minimize yield losses compared with nonmowed treatments. The landscape fabric had no weeds, followed by mowed teff, mowed bare ground, and nonmowed teff. Nonmowed bare ground had the highest weed biomass. The partial budget and cost-efficiency ratio analysis indicated that the full-season treatment was the most cost-efficient pollination option for mesotunnel systems. An economic analysis of the weed management strategies showed that using teff as a living mulch in the furrows between organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon rows, coupled with timely mowing to suppress its growth, can generate revenue comparable to that of landscape fabric. Our findings suggest that organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon growers in Iowa may gain the greatest yield and soil quality benefits when mesotunnels are kept closed for the entire season, bumble bees are used for pollination, and teff (mowed 3 weeks after seeding) is used to control weeds in the furrows. Further trials integrating these pollination and weed management strategies would help validate a comprehensive approach to organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon production under mesotunnels.

Open Access

We evaluated several horticultural cultivars and species of Monarda, a genus native to North America with a center of diversity in the Southeast and advertised as beneficial to wildlife, to assess landscape performance with respect to vegetative habit, flower production, and disease tolerance in Georgia Piedmont and montane habitats. We established two experimental sites: the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens (USDA Zone 8b) and the Georgia Mountain Education and Research Center in Blairsville (USDA Zone 7b). We then tracked plant performance over 2 years after establishment. Our study included 10 samples of Monarda, representing five cultivars and four species. Estimated height and width at flowering showed M. bradburiana, M. Sugar Buzz® Grape Gumball, and the M. punctata ecotypes were smaller than other tested taxa. M. fistulosa had the most flowers at the Blairsville site and equal flowering with M. punctata at the Athens location, but most taxa flowered for 2 to 3 months with ∼100 flowering stems per stand. All samples were susceptible to powdery mildew, but M. bradburiana displayed the highest level of tolerance. Otherwise, cultivars tended to be more tolerant to powdery mildew than species. The observed variations in horticultural characteristics and performance highlight the high value of this genus for Georgia landscapes.

Open Access

Labeling strategies are often discussed in the context of local food purchase. Substantial research has been undertaken to discern buyers’ preferences for different labeling strategies associated with a production practice or a geographic location. Some studies have also emphasized the substitution or complementarity effects that may occur across these different labels. Using a large choice experiment with 1820 respondents across six US southern states, this research evaluates buyers’ preferences for co-labeling strategies, focusing on the association of a production practice and certifications (USDA Organic and Certified Naturally Grown) alongside six different production locations, ranging from local to imported sources. We focus on pint baskets of cherry tomatoes, chosen due to their popularity among purchasers of fresh produce. Based on the results provided by a Bayesian Mixed Logit model, we derived the respondent-specific posterior distribution of the partworths associated with each production location and regressed each of those against demographic indicators. Our findings highlight that most buyers substitute between USDA Organic and Certified Naturally Grown (CNG), and a minority consistently opt for the same production practice option. In addition, we underscore that price, or an indication of origin predominantly guides nearly half of buyers’ choices. We find that the premium for CNG is slightly superior to the organic one. Last, older respondents and respondents with a higher degree of education value produce grown within their state over neighboring states and more distant origins.

Open Access

Traditional olive (Olea europaea) orchards have been grown for thousands of years and still occupy most of the world’s cultivated olive areas. To compete with olive oil produced in the higher-yielding intensive orchards, the oil from traditional orchards must be of high quality. We evaluated oil quality—potential and actual (under commercial conditions)—and tested the stages in the production chain that are likely to reduce oil quality in the traditional sector in the Middle East region. Our findings show a clear negative impact of growers’ traditional practices on both the chemical and sensory characteristics of olive oil. The oil originating from the commercial process had higher free fatty acid and lower polyphenol and carotenoid contents, lower stability, lower pungency, lower fruitiness, lower bitterness, and a higher prevalence of organoleptic defects than oil that originated from fruit picked from the same trees during the experimental procedure. The current common harvesting technique of pole beating significantly increased fruit injury and fruit with mold, leading to a reduction in oil polyphenols and an increase in free fatty acid levels compared with those resulting from manual picking. In addition, after harvest, storing the fruit for more than 48 hours in plastic bags dramatically reduced the oil quality. The traditional olive orchard could be a source of high-quality extra virgin olive oil. However, fruit handling—from the trees until the end of the oil extraction process—is performed incorrectly, thus adversely affecting the oil quality.

Open Access
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Strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) are being produced increasingly in indoor vertical farms, where the light quality of sole-source lighting is a primary factor that influences the outcomes of crop production. Far-red (FR) light (700–750 nm) has been shown to promote plant responses such as leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, and flowering in some long-day plant species. However, the impacts of including FR light in sole-source lighting on strawberries have not been fully understood. This study investigated the impacts of FR light on the growth and development of long-day strawberries ‘Albion’ and ‘Monterey’ in an indoor vertical farm. We hypothesized that the addition of FR light under a long photoperiod would promote leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, flowering, and fruit production in long-day strawberries. Bare-root strawberry plants were grown in a deep-water-culture hydroponic system at an air temperature of 22 °C and an 18-hour photoperiod using 90 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of blue (peak = 455 nm) + 250 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of red (peak = 660 nm) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with or without adding 50 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of FR (peak = 730 nm) LEDs. After 5 weeks of lighting treatments, additional FR light increased the leaf area and shoot dry mass of strawberry ‘Monterey’ by 74% and 73%, respectively, and the number of crowns per plant of strawberry ‘Albion’ by 33%. However, FR light did not influence flowering time in either cultivar. Adding FR light increased the number of fruit harvested per plant by 36%, the total fruit yield by 48%, and the total soluble solids of fruit by 12% in strawberry ‘Albion’, but not in ‘Monterey’. In both cultivars, FR light did not affect the individual fruit mass. Our results suggest that the addition of FR light in sole-source lighting can promote leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, fruit yield, and fruit quality in at least some long-day strawberry cultivars.

Open Access

Previous studies have demonstrated the beneficial impact of plants on the overall well-being of elderly individuals. However, there remains a gap in our understanding which specific plant species have a notable influence on the physical and mental health of the elderly population. Among the various woody ornamental plants used worldwide, crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) holds a growing significance in the natural environment. This study aimed to investigate the physiological parameters (such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and fingertip pulse) as well as psychological aspects (measured using positive and negative affect schedule scores and smile face scale) associated with crape myrtle observation activities. The finding revealed the following key points: 1) engaging in crape myrtle observation activities significantly enhanced the physical and mental well-being of elderly participants; 2) the impact of observing crape myrtle flowers differed notably from that of observing its leaves, with flower observation having a more positive effect on the physical and mental health of elderly individuals; and 3) the natural environment was found to exert an influence on the physical and mental health of elderly individuals through visual stimulation. Following the observation of crape myrtle, there was a significant decrease in the physiological indices of elderly individuals. Our findings offer valuable insights into the therapeutic benefits of crape myrtle observation activities and contributing evidence-based recommendations for future landscape design aimed at enhancing well-being.

Open Access