Italian Journal of Agronomy <p>The<strong> Italian Journal of Agronomy </strong><em>(IJA)</em> is the official journal of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Italian Society for Agronomy</a>. It publishes quarterly original articles and reviews reporting experimental and theoretical contributions to agronomy and crop science, with main emphasis on original articles from Italy and countries having similar agricultural conditions. The journal deals with all aspects of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the interactions between cropping of sustainable development. Multidisciplinary articles that bridge agronomy with ecology, environmental and social sciences are also accepted.</p> PAGEPress Scientific Publications, Pavia, Italy en-US Italian Journal of Agronomy 1125-4718 <p>PAGEPress has chosen to apply the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License</a>&nbsp;(CC BY-NC 4.0) to all manuscripts to be published.&nbsp;<br><br>An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:<br><br>1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.<br>2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving.<br><br>Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms: 1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. 2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. 3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.</p> Potential allelopathic effects of rice plant aqueous extracts on germination and seedling growth of some rice field common weeds <p>Given the increasing emphasis on sustainable agriculture, and concerns about the adverse effects of extensive use of farm chemicals, research attention is now being focused on reducing the dependence upon synthetic herbicides, and finding alternative strategies for weed management. Allelopathic properties of crop plants may allow us to use lower amounts of herbicides with benefits for the environment and human health. Considering these aspects, the present study was conducted to investigate the allelopathic effects of six selected rice varieties (WITA-3, WITA-4, WITA-12, Woo-Co, Fukuhibiki and Kalizira) collected from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) on seed germination and seedling growth of five weed species; <em>Echinochloa crus-galli</em>, <em>Cyperus</em> <em>difformis</em>, <em>Cyperus iria</em>, <em>Fimbristylis milliacea</em> and weedy rice. The aqueous extracts of all the rice cultivars caused inhibitory effects on seed germination and seedling shoot-root length of all the weed species. However, the inhibitory effects of different rice varieties varied significantly based on the differences of weed species and weedy rice found to be the least affected compared to other weeds. WITA-12 resulted about 50% germination inhibition, 25% shoot length reduction and 23% root length reduction respectively compared to control. On the basis of average percent inhibition, rice varieties ranked in order; WITA-12&gt;WITA-4&gt;Fukuhibiki&gt;Kalizira&gt;Woo-Co&gt;WITA-3. Our results suggested that there is a possibility of developing a new ecological weed management strategy using rice cultivars with higher allelopathic potentials. This means breeding of rice cultivars with higher allelopathic potential may provide natural and sustainable weed management options for rice growers.</p> Md. Amirul Alam M. A. Hakim Abdul Shukor Juraimi M. Y. Rafii M. M. Hasan Farzad Aslani ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-03-27 2018-03-27 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1066 Effect of organic amendments on nitrate leaching mitigation in a sandy loam soil of Shkodra district, Albania European lacustrine systems are frequently exposed to nitrate (NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>) pollution causing eutrophication processes. An example of these lakes is Shkodra Lake, a large, shallow lake shared by Albania and Montenegro, in the Balkans Peninsula. Shkodra Lake is a natural sink that collects NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> from agricultural activities, widely diffused in the surrounding area. The additions of wheat straw and biochar have been suggested to increase soil NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> retention of agricultural lands. To better understand the role of these two organic soil amendments in mitigating NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> leaching from arable lands, a pot experiment using a representative sandy loam soil of the Skodra Lake basin was performed. More specifically, a greenhouse experiment with <em>Lolium multiflorum</em> L. and <em>Zea mays</em> L., was carried out for three months, to evaluate the concentrations of NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N in leachate and the cumulative leaching losses of NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N, after wheat straw (10 Mg ha<sup>–1</sup>) and biochar (10 Mg ha<sup>–1</sup>) soil addition, under the same rate of NPK fertiliser (300 kg ha<sup>–1</sup>). The effect of the two organic amendments on nitrate retention, was evaluated according to two methods: i) Soil NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N leaching with distilled water; and ii) Soil NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N extraction with 2M KCl. The leached NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N and the <em>Potentially Leachable</em> NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N (2<em>M</em> KCl extraction) were respectively determined. N uptake by plants, as well as the Nitrogen Use Efficiency were also calculated. A retention effect on nitrate was found in <em>Lolium multiflorum</em> L. and wheat straw treatments compared to control, by reducing leached NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N almost to 35%. In SBFL (soil+biochar+fertiliser+<em>Lolium</em>) treatment, biochar effectively reduced the total amount of nitrate in leachate of 27% and 26% compared to SFL (soil+fertiliser+<em>Lolium</em>) and SSFL (soil+straw+fertiliser+<em>Lolium</em>) treatments, respectively. The <em>potentially leachable</em> NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N was two to four times higher than the leached NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N. The amount of <em>potentially leachable</em> NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N per hectare ranged from 220 in SL (soil+<em>Lolium</em>) treatment, to 500 kg ha<sup>–1</sup> in SFL. N plant uptake values ranged from 18.16 mg kg–1 in the non- fertilised treatment to 58.06 mg kg–1 soil in SSFM (soil+straw+fertiliser+maize) treatment. The NUE showed a similar trend (from 0 in the non-fertilised treatment to 47.9 % in SSFM). Results indicated a mitigating action of biochar on leaching of NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N (leached up to 100 kg ha<sup>–1</sup>), despite the retention effect of the two different amendments applied. Erdona Demiraj Angela Libutti Jamarbër Malltezi Evan Rroço Ferdi Brahushi Massimo Monteleone Sulejman Sulçe ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-03-06 2018-03-06 13 1 93 102 10.4081/ija.2018.1136 Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from soil: the effect of organic matter and fertilisation method Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere derived from the use of fertilisers is a serious issue for the sustainability of agricultural systems, also considering that the growing global demand for food requires an increasingly productive agriculture. Emissions dynamics are very variable and are determined by many factors and their reciprocal interactions. Among driving factors, soil type (mineral, organic and microbiological composition), fertilisation method, climate, and the cropping system. In the present experiment, the combined effect of soil organic matter (SOM) and fertilisation method on the emissions of GHGs and ammonia (NH<sub>3</sub>) was investigated. Liquid fraction of digestate from pig slurries, compost from organic fraction of municipal solid wastes, and urea were applied on bare soil with two levels of organic matter (OM1: 1.3% and OM2: 4.3%). Emissions were directly monitored by a static chamber system and a portable gas analyser. Results show that soil organic matter as well as the composition of the fertilisers affect greenhouse gasses emissions. Emissions of methane (CH<sub>4</sub>) produced by digestate and compost during experimental period were higher in correspondence of lower organic matter content (0.58 – 0.49 kg CH<sub>4</sub> C/ha/ day and 0.37 – 0.32 kg CH<sub>4</sub> C/ha/day for digestate and compost respectively), contrary to what was observed for urea. For all fertilisers, carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) and nitrous oxide (N<sub>2</sub>O) emissions were higher in correspondence of higher organic matter level. In particular, CO<sub>2</sub> emissions were 11.05%, 67.48% and 82.84% higher in OM2 than OM1 for digestate, urea and compost respectively. Likewise, N<sub>2</sub>O emissions were 87.45%, 68.97% and 92.11% higher in OM2 than OM1 for digestate, urea and compost respectively. The obtained results show that the content of organic matter in soils plays a key role on the emissions of GHGs, generally enhancing the levels of gas emissions. Leonardo Verdi Marco Mancini Mirjana Ljubojevic Simone Orlandini Anna Dalla Marta ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-28 2018-02-28 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1124 Allelopathic effects of Cynara cardunculus L. leaf aqueous extracts on seed germination of some Mediterranean weed species It is known that the presence of weeds causes serious losses to the agricultural production, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. The major problem in modern agriculture is the environmental impact of synthetic herbicides and the increase in herbicide-resistant weed species. Allelopathic compounds can be used to develop a sustainable weed management system based on natural products. The objective of this study was to evaluate the allelopathic potential of leaf aqueous extracts (40 and 80%) obtained from <em>Cynara cardunculus</em> L. plant species on seed germination and mean germination time of six common weeds in Mediterranean agroecosystems: <em>Amaranthus retroflexus</em> L., <em>Diplotaxis erucoides</em> (L.) DC., <em>Portulaca oleracea</em> L., <em>Lavatera arborea</em> L., <em>Brassica campestris</em> L. and <em>Solanum nigrum</em> L. Effects varied with the weed species and the concentrations of the extracts. On average, the aqueous leaf extracts significantly reduced the final percentage of seed germination compared to the control for <em>A. retroflexus</em> (-58.1%), <em>D. erucoides</em> (-43.9%) and <em>P. oleracea</em> (-42.5%). The rate of germination decreased with increasing extract concentration. In <em>C. cardunculus</em> L. var. <em>sylvestris</em> the autoallelopathic activity also was demonstrated. These results are very promising in order to produce a bioherbicide based on <em>C. cardunculus</em> allelochemicals. Aurelio Scavo Alessia Restuccia Gaetano Pandino Andrea Onofri Giovanni Mauromicale ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-27 2018-02-27 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1021 Field bean for forage and grain in short-season rainfed Mediterranean conditions The research was carried out to evaluate the growth rate, the evolution of the nutrient characteristics, and the best stage to obtain the highest yield of nutrients from field bean (<em>Vicia faba</em> var. <em>minor</em> Beck) sown in spring for forage and seed. The best models for quanti-qualitative parameter estimation were curvilinear, such as the one proposed by Hoerl with type y = A <em>x</em><sup>B</sup> <em>e</em><sup>C<em>x</em></sup>, and linear, using the sum of the growing degree days (GDD) as the climatic variable. The lengths of both the whole biological cycle and the individual phases of the field bean cycle were related to the amount of GDD of the growing environment and were not affected by the cultivation year. Forage dry matter and nutrient yield of the field bean followed a curvilinear model, while the main quality characteristics followed a linear model over the measured GDD. The highest nutrient and forage yields were not reached at the same time. The highest crude protein, total digestible nutrients and forage DM yields were obtained, at approximately 1230, 1290 and 1360 GDD respectively, when the plants were at stages from the pods being visible in the middle of inflorescence to the end of the pod development. The varieties used in this study presented a similar precocity but a very different productivity. Italian varieties, of which Scuro di Torrelama was the best, produced more than the French variety. With the most productive variety, almost 7 t/ha of forage DM, almost 1.2 t/ha of CP and more than 1.3 t/ha of TDN were obtained. At the GDD of maximum forage production, the CP concentration of the field bean varied from 16 to 18%, EE from 0.6 to 0.7%, NDF from 56 to 58%, RFV from 83 to 94%, TDN from 41 to 48%, and NEL from 1.0 to 1.2 Mcal kg<sup>-1</sup>. The effects of advanced or delayed harvests, compared to those carried out at the maximum yield stage, are discussed. Grain yield, which reached a maximum of 1.9 t/ha DM, 0.56 t CP/ha and 1.5 t TDN/ha, was mainly limited by a reduced seed filling stage. Marco Mariotti Victoria Andreuccetti Iduna Arduini Sara Minieri Silvia Pampana ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-19 2018-02-19 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1112 Effects of paclobutrazol’s pretreatment on cold tolerance induction in soybean seedling (Glycine max L.) Paclobutrazol is one of the growth regulators in plants. It is from the Triazoles group which can protect plants from all kinds of tension. In order to investigate the effect of cold stress and Paclobutrazol on physiological characteristics of soybean seedling (cv. Williams), a factorial experiment was conducted base on completely randomized design with three replications. The first factor involved applying cold tension at 5ºC in four intervals times (0, 8, 16 and 24 hours). The second factor involved pre-treatment of Paclobutrazol in four concentrations (0, 100, 500 and 1000 μM). The results showed a significant increase in shoot’s dry weight by 100 μM Paclobutrazol application compared to Non-Paclobutrazol in eight hours of cold tension. The highest amount of chlorophyll <em>a</em> and relative water content was shown by 100 and 500 μM Paclobutrazol application, respectively. The increase in cold tension time to 24 hours caused an increase in ion leakage and led to an increase in protein content, catalase and peroxidase antioxidant enzymes. The results of this study demonstrate that cold tension can cause reduction in shoot’s dry matter and change the physiological characteristics of soybean but application of 100 and 500 μM of Paclobutrazol can partly induce tolerance to cold stress. Mahmood Attarzadeh Hamidreza Balouchi Mohammad Reza Baziar ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-19 2018-02-19 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1034 Studies on Sedum taxa found in Sicily (Italy) for Mediterranean extensive green roofs One type of green roof whose function is ecological and environmental rather than aesthetic is the extensive green roof. Many studies have shown that <em>Sedum</em> performs very well compared to other hardy species in substrates of less than 10 cm. It seems that Sedum species are able to survive in very thin substrates; they tolerate extreme temperatures and sudden variations in temperatures, high levels of solar radiation, strong winds, poor substrate fertility and extreme drought. In particular, this paper looks at the potential of a number of species from the Sicilian <em>taxa</em> of the genus <em>Sedum</em> (<em>Crassulaceae</em>), which are considered to be those xerophytes most suited for use in extensive green roof systems for Mediterranean areas. Each <em>taxon</em> was subject to <em>in situ</em> and <em>ex situ</em> observations to gain phenological and ecological data, information on its vegetative propagation capacity and its plant ground cover capacity. The results of this study have led to greater understanding of Sicilian pluriennal <em>Sedum</em> genus entities of potential use in green roof systems in the Mediterranean. The taxa respond particularly well to agamic propagation, showing characteristics suited to nursery production of green roof systems, with the exception of <em>S. amplexicaule </em>subsp<em>. tenuifolium</em>. Growth indices (GI) and plant development (Ground Cover) demonstrated the capacity of a number of <em>Sedum taxa</em> to form a uniform green mantle over time. <em>S. sediforme</em> and <em>S. album</em> subsp. <em>album</em>. showed interesting results, for because of their ability to colonize the substrate, and they could be fundamental in determining the plant structure of the green systems. However, there are also other plants, such as <em>S. amplexicaule </em>var<em>. tenuifolium</em>, and, to a lesser extent, <em>S. dasyphyllum </em>var<em>. dasyphyllum</em> and <em>S. ochroleucum</em>, which are able to contribute to floral diversification and lead to greater biodiversity in the system. These <em>taxa</em> could be used when creating associations of <em>Sedum</em> at lower percentages compared to the structuring species (≤ 20%). Teresa Tuttolomondo Giancarlo Fascella Mario Licata Rosario Schicchi Maria Cristina Gennaro Salvatore La Bella Claudio Leto Simona Aprile ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-01-22 2018-01-22 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1077 Intercropping cover crops with a poplar short rotation coppice: effects on nutrient uptake and biomass production The risks of soil erosion and nutrient leaching can be considered appreciable in short rotation coppices especially in the first growth phases because of the absence of any plant cover. The temporary intercropping with legumes or grasses used as cover crops can help to overcome these environmental issues. The present research work aims to evaluate the effects of the introduction of cover crops in a short rotation poplar (<em>Populus deltoides</em> W. Bartram ex Marshall) with two-year harvest cycle. The plantation was located in a Typic Xerofluvent, silty-loam soil of the coastal Central Italy. Two different species of cover crops, <em>Trifolium subterraneum</em> L. (TS) and <em>Lolium perenne</em> L. (LP), were compared along with an untreated control, colonized by spontaneous vegetation (CO). Several plant and soil parameters were evaluated: the above ground biomass and nutrient accumulation for the three different soil cover types, the nitrate and water content in two soil layers (0.00-0.30 and 0.30-0.60 m), the poplar yield and nutrient content in branches and leaves. TS returned to the soil about 70 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> of nitrogen at the end of its biological cycle, thanks to the high N content (over 2%) and to the noticeable amount of dry matter produced (3.46 t ha<sup>-1</sup> of dry matter). This value was considerably higher than those of the LP (23 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> of N) or CO (10 kg ha<sup>-1</sup>). The different amount of nitrogen returned to the soil affected both nitrate concentration in topsoil (0.00-0.30 m) and accumulation of nitrogen in poplar organs. Concerning phosphorous, the differences among treatments were less evident and the amount of P returned to the soil ranged from 2 (CO) to 10 (TS) kg ha<sup>-1</sup>. However, the effect of soil cover type on P uptake in poplar was still appreciable. Generally, the soil water content was slightly affected by the soil cover types. Indeed, the differences between the cover crops and the control became significant only in the shallowest soil layer and over the summer season. In the first year, LP induced a significant decrease in poplar yield (10.1 t ha<sup>-1</sup> of dry matter) in comparison with TS (14.7 t ha<sup>-1</sup>) and CO (13.4 t ha<sup>-1</sup>), whereas in the second year there were no significant differences among treatments due to the weak regrowth of cover crops. These results show how to make it feasible a long lasting coexistence between cover crops and SRC, a clever design of agro-forestry systems is therefore needed. Nicola Silvestri Vittoria Giannini Daniele Antichi ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-01-19 2018-01-19 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.934 Morphological and biochemical changes in response to salinity in sunflower (Helianthus annus L.) cultivars This study was conducted to evaluate the alterations of some morphological and biochemical parameters of sunflower cultivars ('08-TR-003', 'TR-3080' and 'TARSAN-1018') under salt stress. For this aim, the seedling of sunflower cultivars was irrigated with tap water as a control, and with salinized water with 50, 150 and 250 mM NaCl for 30 days under controlled conditions. Salinity caused an apparent reduction in morphological parameters (plant height, leaf area, fresh weight, dry matter and water content) in all cultivars. Salt stress significantly (P&lt;0.01) reduced the activity of glutathione reductase (GR) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities in all sunflower cultivars expect for superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. According to our results, SOD seems to play a key role in the antioxidative process in salt treated sunflower plants. Proline and MDA contents were significantly (P&lt;0.05) increased under salt stress in all cultivars. Among the cultivars, 'TR-3080' had greater values in terms of morphological (plant height, leaf area, fresh weight, water content) and biochemical (GR, APX and SOD (secondly) activities and proline contents) parameters. In the light of these findings, cv. 'TR-3080' seems to be less affected by salt stress. Mehdi Taher Ramazan Beyaz Marieh Javani Mehtap Gürsoy Mustafa Yıldız ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-01-18 2018-01-18 13 1 10.4081/ija.2018.1096 Assessment of grain protein composition in old and modern Italian durum wheat genotypes The effect of durum wheat breeding on technological quality was mainly investigated in relation to allelic polymorphism, in particular for glutenins, while fewer information are available on the changes in grain protein proportion. In the present investigation, an old and a modern group of durum wheat genotypes, grown in Mediterranean environment, were evaluated for grain protein composition, according to Osborne extraction procedure. In modern genotypes, a higher relative content of soluble glutenin was observed which might contribute to their better technological performance. Moreover, a slight decrease both in the amount of gliadin fraction, mainly responsible for gluten related disorders, and in the monomeric to polymeric protein ratio was observed in the modern durum wheat varieties. Among the genotypes investigated, Svevo and Saragolla, showed the lowest gliadin and the highest glutenin content, while the old genotypes Cappelli showed an opposite behaviour. Michele A. De Santis Marcella M. Giuliani Luigia Giuzio Pasquale De Vita Zina Flagella ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-01-18 2018-01-18 13 1 40 43 10.4081/ija.2018.908