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> Effect of high planting density and foliar fungicide application on the grain maize and silage and methane yield <p>The research investigated ways to enhance maize yield in intensive maize cropping system by evaluating the effect of high planting densities combined with foliar fungicide treatments. The considered assessments were fungal leaf disease, biomass and grain yield and methane production through anaerobic fermentation.</p> <p>The experiment was conducted in the years 2012 and 2013. The treatments compared at each location were factorial combinations of two plant densities and three fungicide applications. A standard planting density (StD, 7.5 plants&nbsp;m<sup>‑2</sup>on a 0.75 m inter-row spacing), was compared with the high density (HiD, 10 plants&nbsp;m<sup>‑2 </sup>onnarrow 0.5 m inter-row spacing). Two fungicides, pyraclostrobin at 0.2 kg AI ha<sup>‑1</sup>and a mixture of pyraclostrobin and epoxiconazole at 0.2 and 0.075 kg AI ha<sup>­‑1</sup>respectively, were applied at the tassel emergence stage and compared with an untreated treatment.</p> <p>The HiD system positively increased the silage maize yield (+16%), grain (+17%) and methane yield per hectare (+19%) in comparison to the StD. The fungicide application significantly restrained foliar disease symptoms only in 2012. Fungicide did not affect plant silage composition (protein, starch or fiber content) and methane yield, conversely it significantly increased grain yield for both planting density systems (+5%).</p> <p>The overall boost in yield obtained by combining both strategies in an intensive system, HiD combined with the fungicide, was +24% for methane and +21% for grain yield compared to StD without fungicide application. This work proved that an intensive high planting system with up to 10 plants m<sup>‑2</sup>, supported by leaf fungicide treatments,can lead to a real yield enhancement of both maize grain and silage.</p> Giulio Testa Amedeo Reyneri Massimo Blandino ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-06-06 2018-06-06 10.4081/ija.2018.1216 Exploring the potential of wild perennial grasses as a biomass source in semi-arid Mediterranean environments <p>In Mediterranean environments, few perennial grass species are available for cultivation in rainfed systems and marginal lands, where plants with excellent adaptation are required. The aim of the present work was to determine the potentiality of five native Mediterranean perennial grasses for lignocellulosic biomass production. Wild accessions of three hemicryptophytes (<em>Ampelodesmos mauritanicus</em>, <em>Hyparrhenia hirta</em>, and <em>Piptatherum miliaceum</em>) and two geophytes (<em>Saccharum spontaneum</em> ssp. <em>aegyptiacum</em> and <em>Sorghum halepense</em>) were collected at three Mediterranean sites (Sicily, Sardinia and Majorca), and their morphological, physiological, productivity and quality traits were evaluated in the field. The species differed in height, with <em>S. spontaneum</em> and <em>A. mauritanicus</em> being the tallest. The leaf mass ratio ranged from 0.23 to 1.0 g g<sup>–1</sup> among species. Maximum net photosynthesis was measured in the C<sub>4</sub> species <em>S. spontaneum</em> and <em>S. halepense</em> (26.6 and 23.8 mmol CO<sub>2</sub> m<sup>–2</sup> s<sup>–1</sup>, respectively). A. mauritanicus showed the lowest transpiration rate and the highest instantaneous water use efficiency (2.7 mmol H2O m<sup>–2</sup> s<sup>–1</sup> and 6.9 mmol CO<sub>2</sub> mmol H<sub>2</sub>O<sup>–1</sup>, respectively). <em>S. spontaneum</em> was the most productive species, yielding more than 18 Mg DM ha<sup>–1</sup> as a three-year average. The highest content of acid detergent lignin was found in <em>P. miliaceum</em>, while A. mauritanicus was the species richest in hemicellulose and cellulose and poorest in ash. <em>S. spontaneum</em> showed the highest moisture content at harvest. Overall, the studied species showed interesting morphological, physiological, productive and qualitative traits. Nevertheless, additional research is necessary to investigate their long-term performance under different management strategies.</p> Javier Gulias Rita Melis Danilo Scordia Josep Cifre Giorgio Testa Salvatore L. Cosentino Claudio Porqueddu ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-23 2018-05-23 103 111 10.4081/ija.2018.937 Assessment of agro-ecological service crop managements combined with organic fertilisation strategies in organic melon crop <p>In organic horticultural systems, cover crops could provide several ecological services, therefore, they can be defined <em>agroecological service crops</em> (ASCs). The objective of this two-year research was to study the suitability on melon production of different ASC termination strategies, in combination with organic fertilisers application. In a split-block design, the main-plot was the ASC management, comparing: i) green manure, in which the vetch was chopped and plowed into the soil; and ii) roller-crimper (RC), in which the vetch was flattened by a roller-crimper; with iii) fallow control, without vetch. The subplot consisted of offfarm organic inputs: i) commercial humified fertiliser; ii) anaerobic digestate fertiliser; iii) composted municipal solid wastes; which were compared to iv) unfertilised control (N0). At vetch termination, above soil biomass and nitrogen (N) content were determined. At harvesting, crop yield performance and quality, N status and N efficiency were investigated. Also, main soil characteristics were assessed at the end of the trial. Among the ASC managements, the slightly reduced yield in the RC plots particularly in combination with N0 might have been the result of less N supplied by the vetch during the melon cycle. Anyway, no negative effects were observed for yield quality. The use of the RC showed a great potential in enhancing soil fertility. Our study suggests the suitability in organic farming of properly matching management of ASC and fertilisation strategies on melon crop.</p> Mariangela Diacono Corrado Ciaccia Stefano Canali Angelo Fiore Francesco Montemurro ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-15 2018-05-15 172 182 10.4081/ija.2018.951 Effect of salinity on Echinochloa crus-galli germination as affected by herbicide resistance <p>Salinity is one of the major abiotic stresses that may affect yield and quality of crops. Salinization, in combination with the presence of aggressive weeds, such as barnyard grass (<em>Echinochloa</em> spp.), can be considered one of the factors responsible for reducing yield in rice fields. The aims of the study were to evaluate the salt effect on germination and first seedling growth of six different Italian common barnyard grass (<em>E. crus-galli</em>) populations (three sensitive and three resistant to ALS-inhibitor herbicides) and to verify the presence of differences in salt response between populations sensitive and resistant to the ALS-inhibitor herbicides. Germination tests were conducted under nine different NaCl concentrations (from 0 mM to 400 mM). Significant differences in germination capacity were found between sensitive and resistant populations from 0 mM to 250 mM NaCl; in particular, germination capacity of the sensitive populations was higher (up to 90%) than that of the resistant ones (about 70%). The increase in salinity over 250 mM reduced progressively the germination capacity: from 300 mM onwards, no significant differences were found between sensitive and resistant populations and the germination resulted inhibited for two of them (one sensitive and one resistant). Speed of germination and root and shoot length of seedlings were also inversely related to salt concentration. Time required for achieving 50% of final germination capacity was extended from about three days at 0 mM NaCl up to about 10-12 days at 400 mM NaCl. Root length and shoot length ranged from 9.88 cm and 6.16 cm, at 0 mM NaCl, to 0.36 cm and 0.41 cm, at 400 mM NaCl. According to the results, there is no a clear evidence that response to saline conditions was related to resistance towards ALS-inhibitor herbicides, as in some cases significant differences were found between populations showing a similar herbicide sensitivity. Responses of barnyard grass to salinity are may play a role in the importance of this weed in future scenarios of salt intrusion: for example, a lower speed of germination at increasing salt levels could suggest a delayed emergence of this weed during crop establishment and first growth. To evaluate the real consequences in terms of competitions towards the crop, future studies are needed for assessing the response to salinity of the main rice varieties cultivated in the environment in which the <em>E. crus-galli</em> populations tested in this study were collected.</p> Francesca Serra Silvia Fogliatto Francesco Vidotto ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-04-27 2018-04-27 10.4081/ija.2018.1046 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 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 percentage 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 2018-03-27 134 140 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 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 10.4081/ija.2018.1124 Allelopathic effects of Cynara cardunculus L. leaf aqueous extracts on seed germination of some Mediterranean weed species <p>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.</p> Aurelio Scavo Alessia Restuccia Gaetano Pandino Andrea Onofri Giovanni Mauromicale ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-27 2018-02-27 119 125 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 10.4081/ija.2018.1112 Effects of paclobutrazol’s pre-treatment on cold tolerance induction in soybean seedling (Glycine max L.) <p>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 randomised design with three replications. The first factor involved applying cold tension at 5°C in four intervals times (0, 8, 16 and 24 h). 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 a and relative water content was shown by 100 and 500 μM paclobutrazol application, respectively. The increase in cold tension time to 24 h 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.</p> Mahmood Attarzadeh Hamidreza Balouchi Mohammad Reza Baziar ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-02-19 2018-02-19 155 162 10.4081/ija.2018.1034