A Web-Based Mobile System for Promoting Agribusiness in Northern Nigeria

This research aimed at developing a web-based mobile system and figuring out a better understanding of how could “web-based mobile system supports farmers in Kebbi State”. Thus, by finding out the answers to the research questions, a conceptual framework of the entire system was implemented using Unified Modelling Language (UML). The work involved a review of existing research on web-based mobile technology for farmers in some countries and other geographical areas within Nigeria. This research explored how farmers in Northern Nigeria, especially in Kebbi state, make use of the web-based mobile system for agribusiness. Also, the benefits of using web-based mobile systems and the challenges farmers face using such systems were examined. Considering the dynamic nature of theory of information and communication technology; this research employed survey and focus group discussion (FGD) methods. Stratified, random, purposive, and convenience sampling techniques were adopted to select the sample. A questionnaire and FGD guide were used to collect data. The survey finds that most of the Kebbi state farms use their alternative medium to get relevant information for their agribusiness. Also, the research reveals that using a web-based mobile system can benefit farmers significantly. Finally, the study has successfully developed and implemented the proposed system using mobile technology in addition to the framework design.

Profitability and Budgeting of Kenaf Cultivation and Fiber Production in Kelantan Districts

The purpose of the analysis is estimation of viability and profitability of kenaf plant farming in Kelantan State. The monetary information was gathered through interviewing kenaf growers as well group discussion. In addition, the production statistics were collected from Kenaf factory administrative group. The monetary data were analyzed using the Precision financial Calculator. For kenaf production per hectare three scenarios of productivity were adopted, they were 15, 12 and ten; the research results exposed that, when kenaf productivity was 15 ton and the agronomist received financial supports from kenaf administration, the margin profit reached up to 37% which is almost dual profitability that is expected without government support. The financial analysis explains that, the adopted scenarios of the productivity are feasible when Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) was used as financial indicator. Nonetheless, the kenaf productivity of 15 ton is the superlative viable among the others and payback period is 5 years which equals to middle period time to return the invested amount back. The study concluded that for the farmer to increase the productivity of kenaf per hectare the well farming practices as well as continuously farmers financial support are highly needed.

Economic Efficiency of Cassava Production in Nimba County, Liberia: An Output-Oriented Approach

In Liberia, many of the agricultural households cultivate cassava for either sustenance purposes, or to generate farm income. Many of the concentrated cassava farmers reside in Nimba, a north-eastern County that borders two other economies: the Republics of Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea. With a high demand for cassava output and products in emerging Asian markets coupled with an objective of the Liberia agriculture policies to increase the competitiveness of valued agriculture crops; there is a need to examine the level of resource-use efficiency for many agriculture crops. However, there is a scarcity of information on the efficiency of many agriculture crops, including cassava. Hence the study applying an output-oriented method seeks to assess the economic efficiency of cassava farmers in Nimba County, Liberia. A multi-stage sampling technique was employed to generate a sample for the study. From 216 cassava farmers, data related to on-farm attributes, socio-economic and institutional factors were collected. The stochastic frontier models, using the Translog functional forms, of production and revenue, were used to determine the level of revenue efficiency and its determinants. The result showed that most of the cassava farmers are male (60%). Many of the farmers are either married, engaged or living together with a spouse (83%), with a mean household size of nine persons. Farmland is prevalently obtained by inheritance (95%), average farm size is 1.34 hectares, and most cassava farmers did not access agriculture credits (76%) and extension services (91%). The mean cassava output per hectare is 1,506.02 kg, which estimates average revenue of L$23,551.16 (Liberian dollars). Empirical results showed that the revenue efficiency of cassava farmers varies from 0.1% to 73.5%; with the mean revenue efficiency of 12.9%. This indicates that on average, there is a vast potential of 87.1% to increase the economic efficiency of cassava farmers in Nimba by improving technical and allocative efficiencies. For the significant determinants of revenue efficiency, age and group membership had negative effects on revenue efficiency of cassava production; while farming experience, access to extension, formal education, and average wage rate have positive effects. The study recommends the setting-up and incentivizing of farmer field schools for cassava farmers to primarily share their farming experiences with others and to learn robust cultivation techniques of sustainable agriculture. Also, farm managers and farmers should consider a fix wage rate in labor contracts for all stages of cassava farming.

Multilayer Thermal Screens for Greenhouse Insulation

Greenhouse cultivation is an energy-intensive process due to the high demands on cooling or heating according to external climatic conditions, which could be extreme in the summer or winter seasons. The thermal radiation rate inside a greenhouse depends mainly on the type of covering material and greenhouse construction. Using additional thermal screens under a greenhouse covering combined with a dehumidification system improves the insulation and could be cost-effective. Greenhouse covering material usually contains protective ultraviolet (UV) radiation additives to prevent the film wear, insect harm, and crop diseases. This paper investigates the overall heat transfer coefficient, or U-value, for greenhouse polyethylene covering contains UV-additives and glass covering with or without a thermal screen supplement. The hot-box method was employed to evaluate overall heat transfer coefficients experimentally as a function of the type and number of the thermal screens. The results show that the overall heat transfer coefficient decreases with increasing the number of thermal screens as a hyperbolic function. The overall heat transfer coefficient highly depends on the ability of the material to reflect thermal radiation. Using a greenhouse covering, i.e., polyethylene films or glass, in combination with high reflective thermal screens, i.e., containing about 98% of aluminum stripes or aluminum foil, the U-value reduces by 61%-89% in the first case, whereas by 70%-92% in the second case, depending on the number of the thermal screen. Using thermal screens made from low reflective materials may reduce the U-value by 30%-57%. The heat transfer coefficient is an indicator of the thermal insulation properties of the materials, which allows farmers to make decisions on the use of appropriate thermal screens depending on the external and internal climate conditions in a greenhouse.

Key Performance Indicators of Cold Supply Chain Practices in the Agriculture Sector: An Empirical Study on Egyptian Export Companies

Tracking and monitoring agricultural products, cold chain activities, and transportation in real-time can effectively ensure both the quality and safety of agricultural products, as well as reduce overall logistics costs. Effective supply chain practices are one of the main requirements for enhancing agricultural business in Egypt. Cold chain is among the best practices for the storage and transportation of perishable goods and has potential within the agricultural sector in Egypt. This practice has the scope of reducing the wastage of food and increasing the profitability with a reduction in costs. Even though it has several implementation challenges for the farmers, traders, and people involved in the entire supply chain, it has highlighted better benefits for all and for the export of goods for the economic progression for Egypt. The aim of this paper is to explore cold supply chain practices for the agriculture sector in Egypt, to enhance the export performance of fresh goods. In this context, this study attempts to explore those aspects of the performance of cold supply chain practices that can enhance the functioning of the agriculture sector in Egypt from the perspective of export companies (traders) and farmers. Based on the empirical results obtained by data collection from the farmers and traders, the study argues that there is a significant association between cold supply chain practices and enhancement of the agriculture value chain. The paper thus highlights the contribution of the study with final conclusions and limitations with scope for future research.

Behavioral Response of Bee Farmers to Climate Change in South East, Nigeria

The enigma climate change is no longer an illusion but a reality. In the recent years, the Nigeria climate has changed and the changes are shown by the changing patterns of rainfall, the sunshine, increasing level carbon and nitrous emission as well as deforestation. This study analyzed the behavioural response of bee keepers to variations in the climate and the adaptation techniques developed in response to the climate variation. Beekeeping is a viable economic activity for the alleviation of poverty as the products include honey, wax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, venom, queens, bees and their larvae and are all marketable. The study adopted the multistage sampling technique to select 120 beekeepers from the five states of Southeast Nigeria. Well-structured questionnaires and focus group discussions were adopted to collect the required data. Statistical tools like the Principal component analysis, data envelopment models, graphs, and charts were used for the data analysis. Changing patterns of rainfall and sunshine with the increasing rate of deforestation had a negative effect on the habitat of the bees. The bee keepers have adopted the Kenya Top bar and Langstroth hives and they establish the bee hives on fallow farmland close to the cultivated communal farms with more flowering crops.

Effect of Good Agriculture Management Practices and Constraints on Grape Farming: A Case Study in Mirbachakot, Kalakan and Shakardara Districts Kabul, Afghanistan

Skillful management is one of the most important success factors for today’s farms. When a farm is well managed, it can generate funds for its sustainability. Grape is one of the most diffused fruits in the world and one of the most important cash crops with high potential of production in Afghanistan as well. While there are several organizations intervening for improvement of this cash crop, the quality and quantity are still not satisfactory for producers and external markets. The situation has not changed over the years. Therefore, a survey was conducted in 2017 with 60 grape growers, supported by questionnaires in Mirbachakot, Kalakan and Shakardara districts of Kabul province. The purpose was to get an understanding of the current socio-demographic characteristics of farmers, management methods, constraints, farm size, yield and contribution of grape farming to household income. Findings indicate that grape farming was predominant 83.3% male, 16.6% female and small-scale farmers were the main grape producers, 60% < 1 ha of land under grape production. Likewise, 50% had more than > 10 years and 33.3% between 1-5 years’ experience in grape farming. The high level of illiteracy and diseases had significant digit effect on growth, yield and quality of grapes. The results showed that vineyard management operations to protect grapes from mechanical damage are very poor or completely absent. Comparing developed countries, table grape is one of the fruits with the highest input of technology, while in developing countries the cost of labor is low but the purchase of the equipment is very high due to financial situation. Hence the low quality and quantity of grape are influenced by poor management methods, such as non-availability of experts and lack of technical guidance in the study site. Thereby, the study suggested that improved agricultural extension services and managerial skills could contribute to addressing the problems.

Investigation of Boll Properties on Cotton Picker Machine Performance

Cotton, as a strategic crop, plays an important role in providing human food and clothing need, because of its oil, protein, and fiber. Iran has been one of the largest cotton producers in the world in the past, but unfortunately, for economic reasons, its production is reduced now. One of the ways to reduce the cost of cotton production is to expand the mechanization of cotton harvesting. Iranian farmers do not accept the function of cotton harvesters. One reason for this lack of acceptance of cotton harvesting machines is the number of field losses on these machines. So, the majority of cotton fields are harvested by hand. Although the correct setting of the harvesting machine is very important in the cotton losses, the morphological properties of the cotton plant also affect the performance of cotton harvesters. In this study, the effect of some cotton morphological properties such as the height of the cotton plant, number, and length of sympodial and monopodial branches, boll dimensions, boll weight, number of carpels and bracts angle were evaluated on the performance of cotton picker. In this research, the efficiency of John Deere 9920 spindle Cotton picker is investigated on five different Iranian cotton cultivars. The results indicate that there was a significant difference between the five cultivars in terms of machine harvest efficiency. Golestan cultivar showed the best cotton harvester performance with an average of 87.6% of total harvestable seed cotton and Khorshid cultivar had the least cotton harvester performance. The principal component analysis showed that, at 50.76% probability, the cotton picker efficiency is affected by the bracts angle positively and by boll dimensions, the number of carpels and the height of cotton plants negatively. The seed cotton remains (in the plant and on the ground) after harvester in PCA scatter plot were in the same zone with boll dimensions and several carpels.

Effect of Plant Nutrients on Anthocyanin Content and Yield Component of Black Glutinous Rice Plants

The cultivation of black glutinous rice rich in anthocyanins can provide great benefits to both farmers and consumers. Total anthocyanins content and yield component data of black glutinous rice cultivar (KHHK) grown with the addition of mineral elements (Ca, Mg, Cu, Cr, Fe and Se) under soilless conditions were studied. Ca application increased seed anthocyanins content by three-folds compared to controls. Cu application to rice plants obtained the highest number of grains panicle, panicle length and subsequently high panicle weight. Se application had the largest effect on leaf anthocyanins content, the number of tillers, number of panicles and 100-grain weight. These findings showed that the addition of mineral elements had a positive effect on increasing anthocyanins content in black rice plants and seeds as well as the heightened development of black glutinous rice plant growth.

Intelligent System and Renewable Energy: A Farming Platform in Precision Agriculture

This study presents a small-scale water pumping system utilizing a fuzzy logic inference system attached to a renewable energy source. The fuzzy logic controller was designed and simulated in MATLAB fuzzy logic toolbox to examine the properties and characteristics of the input and output variables. The result of the simulation was implemented in a microcontroller, together with sensors, modules, and photovoltaic cells. The study used a grand rapid variety of lettuce, organic substrates, and foliar for observation of the capability of the device to irrigate crops. Two plant boxes intended for manual and automated irrigation were prepared with each box having 48 heads of lettuce. The observation of the system took 22-31 days, which is one harvest period of the crop. Results showed a 22.55% increase in agricultural productivity compared to manual irrigation. Aside from reducing human effort, and time, the smart irrigation system could help lessen some of the shortcomings of manual irrigations. It could facilitate the economical utilization of water, reducing consumption by 25%. The use of renewable energy could also help farmers reduce the cost of production by minimizing the use of diesel and gasoline.

Low-Cost Monitoring System for Hydroponic Urban Vertical Farms

This paper presents the development of a low-cost monitoring system for a hydroponic urban vertical farm, enabling its automation and a quantitative assessment of the farm performance. Urban farming has seen increasing interest in the last decade thanks to the development of energy efficient and affordable LED lights; however, the optimal configuration of such systems (i.e. amount of nutrients, light-on time, ambient temperature etc.) is mostly based on the farmers’ experience and empirical guidelines. Moreover, even if simple, the maintenance of such systems is labor intensive as it requires water to be topped-up periodically, mixing of the nutrients etc. To unlock the full potential of urban farming, a quantitative understanding of the role that each variable plays in the growth of the plants is needed, together with a higher degree of automation. The low-cost monitoring system proposed in this paper is a step toward filling this knowledge and technological gap, as it enables collection of sensor data related to water and air temperature, water level, humidity, pressure, light intensity, pH and electric conductivity without requiring any human intervention. More sensors and actuators can also easily be added thanks to the modular design of the proposed platform. Data can be accessed remotely via a simple web interface. The proposed platform can be used both for quantitatively optimizing the setup of the farms and for automating some of the most labor-intensive maintenance activities. Moreover, such monitoring system can also potentially be used for high-level decision making, once enough data are collected.

Study of Polyphenol Profile and Antioxidant Capacity in Italian Ancient Apple Varieties by Liquid Chromatography

Safeguarding, studying and enhancing biodiversity play an important and indispensable role in re-launching agriculture. The ancient local varieties are therefore a precious resource for genetic and health improvement. In order to protect biodiversity through the recovery and valorization of autochthonous varieties, in this study we analyzed 12 samples of four ancient apple cultivars representative of Friuli Venezia Giulia, selected by local farmers who work on a project for the recovery of ancient apple cultivars. The aim of this study is to evaluate the polyphenolic profile and the antioxidant capacity that characterize the organoleptic and functional qualities of this fruit species, besides having beneficial properties for health. In particular, for each variety, the following compounds were analyzed, both in the skins and in the pulp: gallic acid, catechin, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, caffeic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, rutin, phlorizin, phloretin and quercetin to highlight any differences in the edible parts of the apple. The analysis of individual phenolic compounds was performed by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) coupled with a diode array UV detector (DAD), the antioxidant capacity was estimated using an in vitro essay based on a Free Radical Scavenging Method and the total phenolic compounds was determined using the Folin-Ciocalteau method. From the results, it is evident that the catechins are the most present polyphenols, reaching a value of 140-200 μg/g in the pulp and of 400-500 μg/g in the skin, with the prevalence of epicatechin. Catechins and phlorizin, a dihydrohalcone typical of apples, are always contained in larger quantities in the peel. Total phenolic compounds content was positively correlated with antioxidant activity in apple pulp (r2 = 0,850) and peel (r2 = 0,820). Comparing the results, differences between the varieties analyzed and between the edible parts (pulp and peel) of the apple were highlighted. In particular, apple peel is richer in polyphenolic compounds than pulp and flavonols are exclusively present in the peel. In conclusion, polyphenols, being antioxidant substances, have confirmed the benefits of fruit in the diet, especially as a prevention and treatment for degenerative diseases. They demonstrated to be also a good marker for the characterization of different apple cultivars. The importance of protecting biodiversity in agriculture was also highlighted through the exploitation of native products and ancient varieties of apples now forgotten.

Recent Advances in the Valorization of Goat Milk: Nutritional Properties and Production Sustainability

Goat dairy products are gaining popularity worldwide. In developing countries, but also in many marginal regions of the Mediterranean area, goats represent a great part of the economy and ensure food security. In fact, these small ruminants are able to convert efficiently poor weedy plants and small trees into traditional products of high nutritional quality, showing great resilience to different climatic and environmental conditions. In developed countries, goat milk is appreciated for the presence of health-promoting compounds, bioactive compounds such as conjugated linoleic acids, oligosaccharides, sphingolipids and polyammines. This paper focuses on the recent advances in literature on the nutritional properties of goat milk and on innovative techniques to improve its quality as to become a promising functional food. The environmental sustainability of different methodologies of production has also been examined. Goat milk is valued today as a food of high nutritional value and functional properties as well as small environmental footprint. It is widely consumed in many countries due to high nutritional value, lower allergenic potential, and better digestibility when compared to bovine milk, that makes this product suitable for infants, elderly or sensitive patients. The main differences in chemical composition between a cow and goat milk rely on fat globules that in goat milk are smaller and in fatty acids that present a smaller chain length, while protein, fat, and lactose concentration are comparable. Milk nutritional properties have demonstrated to be strongly influenced by animal diet, genotype, and welfare, but also by season and production systems. Furthermore, there is a growing interest in the dairy industry in goat milk for its relatively high concentration of prebiotics and a good amount of probiotics, which have recently gained importance for their therapeutic potential. Therefore, goat milk is studied as a promising matrix to develop innovative functional foods. In addition to the economic and nutritional value, goat milk is considered a sustainable product for its small environmental footprint, as they require relatively little water and land, and less medical treatments, compared to cow, these characteristics make its production naturally vocated to organic farming. Organic goat milk production has becoming more and more interesting both for farmers and consumers as it can answer to several concerns like environment protection, animal welfare and economical sustainment of rural populations living in marginal lands. These evidences make goat milk an ancient food with novel properties and advantages to be valorized and exploited.

Farmers’ Perception, Willingness and Capacity in Utilization of Household Sewage Sludge as Organic Resources for Peri-Urban Agriculture around Jos Nigeria

Peri-urban agriculture in Jos Nigeria serves as a major means of livelihood for both urban and peri-urban poor, and constitutes huge commercial inclination with a target market that has spanned beyond Plateau State. Yet, the sustainability of this sector is threatened by intensive application of urban refuse ash contaminated with heavy metals, as a result of the highly heterogeneous materials used in ash production. Hence, this research aimed to understand the current fertilizer employed by farmers, their perception and acceptability in utilization of household sewage sludge for agricultural purposes and their capacity in mitigating risks associated with such practice. Mixed methods approach was adopted, and data collection tools used include survey questionnaire, focus group discussion with farmers, participants and field observation. The study identified that farmers maintain a complex mixture of organic and chemical fertilizers, with mixture composition that is dependent on fertilizer availability and affordability. Also, farmers have decreased the rate of utilization of urban refuse ash due to labor and increased logistic cost and are keen to utilize household sewage sludge for soil fertility improvement but are mainly constrained by accessibility of this waste product. Nevertheless, farmers near to sewage disposal points have commenced utilization of household sewage sludge for improving soil fertility. Farmers were knowledgeable on composting but find their strategic method of dewatering and sun drying more convenient. Irrigation farmers were not enthusiastic for treatment, as they desired both water and sludge. Secondly, household sewage sludge observed in the field is heterogeneous due to nearness between its disposal point and that of urban refuse, which raises concern for possible cross-contamination of pollutants and also portrays lack of extension guidance as regards to treatment and management of household sewage sludge for agricultural purposes. Hence, farmers concerns need to be addressed, particularly in providing extension advice and establishment of decentralized household sewage sludge collection centers, for continuous availability of liquid and concentrated sludge. Urgent need is also required for the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase commitment towards empowering her subsidiaries for efficient discharge of corporate responsibilities.

Matching Farmer Competence and Farm Resources with the Transformation of Agri-Food Marketing Systems

The agri-food market transformation has implied market growth for the fruit industry in Thailand. This article focuses on analysis of farmer competence and farm resources which affect market strategies used by fruit farmers in Chanthaburi province of Thailand. The survey data were collected through the use of face-to-face interviews with structured questionnaires. This study identified 14 drivers related to farmer competence and farm resources of which some had significant effect on the decision to use either high-value markets or traditional markets. The results suggest that farmers who used high-value markets were better educated and they had longer experience and larger sized business. Identifying the important factors that match with the market transformation provides policy with opportunities to support the fruit farmers to increase their market power. Policies that promote business expansion of agricultural cooperatives and knowledge sharing among farmers are recommended to reduce limitations due to limited knowledge, low experience, and small business sizes.

Problems and Prospects of Agricultural Biotechnology in Nigeria’s Developing Economy

Science offers opportunities for revolutionizing human activities, enriched by input from scientific research and technology. Biotechnology is a major force for development in developing countries such as Nigeria. It is found to contribute to solving human problems like water and food insecurity that impede national development and threaten peace wherever it is applied. This review identified the problems of agricultural biotechnology in Nigeria. On the part of rural farmers, there is a lack of adequate knowledge or awareness of biotechnology despite the fact that they constitute the bulk of Nigerian farmers. On part of the government, the problems include: lack of adequate implementation of government policy on bio-safety and genetically modified products, inadequate funding of education as well as research and development of products related to biotechnology. Other problems include: inadequate infrastructures (including laboratory), poor funding and lack of national strategies needed for development and running of agricultural biotechnology. In spite of all the challenges associated with agricultural biotechnology, its prospects still remain great if Nigeria is to meet with the food needs of the country’s ever increasing population. The introduction of genetically engineered products will lead to the high productivity needed for commercialization and food security. Insect, virus and other related diseases resistant crops and livestock are another viable area of contribution of biotechnology to agricultural production. In conclusion, agricultural biotechnology will not only ensure food security, but, in addition, will ensure that the local farmers utilize appropriate technology needed for large production, leading to the prosperity of the farmers and national economic growth, provided government plays its role of adequate funding and good policy implementation.

Social Enterprise Concept in Sustaining Agro-Industry Development in Indonesia: Case Study of Yourgood Social Business

Fruters model is a concept of technopreneurship-based on empowerment, in which technology research results were designed to create high value-added products and implemented as a locomotive of collaborative empowerment; thereby, the impact was widely spread. This model still needs to be inventoried and validated concerning the influenced variables in the business growth process. Model validation accompanied by mapping was required to be applicable to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) agro-industry based on sustainable social business and existing real cases. This research explained the empowerment model of Yourgood, an SME, which emphasized on empowering the farmers/ breeders in farmers in rural areas, Cipageran, Cimahi, to housewives in urban areas, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. This research reviewed some works of literature discussing the agro-industrial development associated with the empowerment and social business process and gained a unique business model picture with the social business platform as well. Through the mapped business model, there were several advantages such as technology acquisition, independence, capital generation, good investment growth, strengthening of collaboration, and improvement of social impacts that can be replicated on other businesses. This research used analytical-descriptive research method consisting of qualitative analysis with design thinking approach and that of quantitative with the AHP (Analytical Hierarchy Process). Based on the results, the development of the enterprise’s process was highly affected by supplying farmers with the score of 0.248 out of 1, being the most valuable for the existence of the enterprise. It was followed by university (0.178), supplying farmers (0.153), business actors (0.128), government (0.100), distributor (0.092), techno-preneurship laboratory (0.069), banking (0.033), and Non-Government Organization (NGO) (0.031).

The Effects of Drought and Nitrogen on Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) Physiology and Yield

Legume crops are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen by the symbiotic relation with specific bacteria, which allows the use of the mineral nitrogen-fertilizer to be reduced, or even excluded, resulting in more profit for the farmers and less pollution for the environment. Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) is one of the most important legumes with its high content of both protein and oil. However, it is recommended to combine the two nitrogen sources under stress conditions in order to overcome its negative effects. Drought stress is one of the most important abiotic stresses that increasingly limits soybean yields. A precise rate of mineral nitrogen under drought conditions is not confirmed, as it depends on many factors; soybean yield-potential and soil-nitrogen content to name a few. An experiment was conducted during 2017 growing season in Debrecen, Hungary to investigate the effects of nitrogen source on the physiology and the yield of the soybean cultivar 'Boglár'. Three N-fertilizer rates including no N-fertilizer (0 N), 35 kg ha-1 of N-fertilizer (35 N) and 105 kg ha-1 of N-fertilizer (105 N) were applied under three different irrigation regimes; severe drought stress (SD), moderate drought stress (MD) and control with no drought stress (ND). Half of the seeds in each treatment were pre-inoculated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum inoculant. The overall results showed significant differences associated with fertilization and irrigation, but not with inoculation. Increasing N rate was mostly accompanied with increased chlorophyll content and leaf area index, whereas it positively affected the plant height only when the drought was waived off. Plant height was the lowest under severe drought, regardless of inoculation and N-fertilizer application and rate. Inoculation increased the yield when there was no drought, and a low rate of N-fertilizer increased the yield furthermore; however, the high rate of N-fertilizer decreased the yield to a level even less than the inoculated control. On the other hand, the yield of non-inoculated plants increased as the N-fertilizer rate increased. Under drought conditions, adding N-fertilizer increased the yield of the non-inoculated plants compared to their inoculated counterparts; moreover, the high rate of N-fertilizer resulted in the best yield. Regardless of inoculation, the mean yield of the three fertilization rates was better when the water amount increased. It was concluded that applying N-fertilizer to provide the nitrogen needed by soybean plants, with the absence of N2-fixation process, is very important. Moreover, adding relatively high rate of N-fertilizer is very important under severe drought stress to alleviate the drought negative effects. Further research to recommend the best N-fertilizer rate to inoculated soybean under drought stress conditions should be executed.

Sunflower Irrigation with Two Different Types of Soil Moisture Sensors

Irrigation is one of the most important cultivation practices for each crop, especially in areas where rainfall is enough to cover the crop water needs. In such areas, the farmers must irrigate in order to achieve high economical results. The precise irrigation scheduling contributes to irrigation water saving and thus a valuable natural resource is protected. Under this point of view, in the experimental field of the Laboratory of Agricultural Hydraulics of the University of Thessaly, a research was conducted during the growing season of 2012 in order to evaluate the growth, seed and oil production of sunflower as well as the water saving, by applying different methods of irrigation scheduling. Three treatments in four replications were organized. These were: a) surface drip irrigation where the irrigation scheduling based on the Penman-Monteith (PM) method (control); b) surface drip irrigation where the irrigation scheduling based on a soil moisture sensor (SMS); and c) surface drip irrigation, where the irrigation scheduling based on a soil potential sensor (WM).

Effects of Fermentation Techniques on the Quality of Cocoa Beans

Fermentation as an important operation in the processing of cocoa beans is now affected by the recent climate change across the globe. The major requirement for effective fermentation is the ability of the material used to retain sufficient heat for the required microbial activities. Apart from the effects of climate on the rate of heat retention, the materials used for fermentation plays an important role. Most Farmers still restrict fermentation activities to the use of traditional methods. Improving on cocoa fermentation in this era of climate change makes it necessary to work on other materials that can be suitable for cocoa fermentation. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the effects of fermentation techniques on the quality of cocoa beans. The materials used in this fermentation research were heap-leaves (traditional), stainless steel, plastic tin, plastic basket and wooden box. The period of fermentation varies from zero days to 10 days. Physical and chemical tests were carried out for variables in quality determination in the samples. The weight per bean varied from 1.0-1.2 g after drying across the samples and the major color of the dry beans observed was brown except with the samples from stainless steel. The moisture content varied from 5.5-7%. The mineral content and the heavy metals decreased with increase in the fermentation period. A wooden box can conclusively be used as an alternative to heap-leaves as there was no significant difference in the physical features of the samples fermented with the two methods. The use of a wooden box as an alternative for cocoa fermentation is therefore recommended for cocoa farmers.