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 systems and sustainable development. Multidisciplinary articles that bridge agronomy with ecology, environmental and social sciences are also welcome.</p> PAGEPress Scientific Publications, Pavia, Italy en-US Italian Journal of Agronomy 1125-4718 <p><strong>PAGEPress</strong> has chosen to apply the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong>Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License</strong></a>&nbsp;(CC BY-NC 4.0) to all manuscripts to be published.<br><br> An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:</p> <ol> <li>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.</li> <li>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.</li> </ol> <p>Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:</p> <ol> <li>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.</li> <li>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.</li> <li>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.</li> </ol> Ornamental plants for floating treatment wetlands: preliminary results <p>Floating treatment wetlands (FTWs) represent a novel ecotechnology for the treatment of different types of wastewaters in natural or artificial water bodies, through the use of traditional rooted emergent macrophyte species supported by floating rafts. Although many studies have reported the treatment performances of FTWs, showing an excellent aptitude for removing nutrients, heavy metals as well as suspended solids, the investigation of vegetation has not received much attention up to now, especially for herbaceous ornamental plant species that could form an interesting opportunity to improve water quality and the esthetic-ornamental value of urban water bodies. For this reason, a pilot scale FTW was installed in Northern Italy to assess the growth performances of eleven wetland species having ornamental features: <em>Canna indica</em> L., <em>Pontederia cordata</em> L., <em>Thalia dealbata</em> Fraser ex Roscoe, <em>Acorus calamus</em> L., <em>Juncus effusus</em> L., <em>Iris laevigata</em> L., <em>Mentha aquatica</em> L., <em>Oenanthe javanica (Blume)</em> DC., <em>Caltha palustris</em> L., <em>Sparganium erectum</em> L. and <em>Zantedeschia aetiopica</em> (L.) Srengel. For these species, a suitability index was elaborated that considers plant survivability, above-mat biomass production, nitrogen uptake, root length and root-shoot ratio. On this basis, the results obtained clearly indicated that <em>C. indica</em>,<em> P. cordata </em>and<em> T. dealbata</em> were the most suitable species for FTW due to their high vigor and colonization of the floating mats (1638.9 g m<sup>–2</sup>, 483.4 g m<sup>–2</sup>, 566.1 g m<sup>–2</sup> of above-mat dry biomass, respectively; 38.8 cm, 62.0 cm, 43.8 cm root length, respectively; 0.8, 0.9, 1.2 root-shoot ratio, respectively), survival (100%), nitrogen uptake (15.1 g m<sup>–2</sup>, 15.0 g m<sup>–2</sup>, 15.7 g m<sup>–2</sup> respectively). On the contrary, <em>A. calamus</em>,<em> S. erectum </em>and<em> Z. aetiopica</em> did not present adequate features for use in FTWs.</p> Alberto Barco Maurizio Borin Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-19 2020-05-19 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1602 The The response of soil physicochemical properties to tillage and soil fertility resources in Central Highlands of Kenya <p>To attain agricultural sustainability, use of soil resources and tillage requires equal consideration for chemical and physical components of soil fertility. We assessed responses of selected soil physical and chemical properties to tillage and soil fertility amending resources. The study was carried out in Meru South and Kandara sub-counties located in the Central Highlands of Kenya for four cropping seasons. The experimental design was split-plot with tillage as the main factor - conventional (D<sub>15</sub>) - and minimum (D<sub>0</sub>) tillage and soil fertility resources (SFR) as sub-factors - mineral fertilizer (F), crop residues + fertilizer (RF), residues + fertilizer + animal manure (RFM), residues + <em>Tithonia diversifolia</em> + manure (RTiM), residues + <em>Tithonia diversifolia</em> + phosphate rock (Minjingu) (RTiP), residues + manure + legume intercrop (RML) and control (no input). Compared with control, aggregate stability was significantly higher on average under SFRs with sole organics by 19% in Meru South. Total N and available P were higher under integration of fertilizer and organics in both sites. Calcium increased under sole organic or integration with fertilizer in Meru South and under sole organics in Kandara. Magnesium significantly increased under all SFRs compared with control in Kandara. Soil organic carbon significantly (P=0.02) increased under D<sub>0</sub> by 6% compared to D<sub>15</sub> in 0-5 cm depth in Kandara. Application of RTiM had the highest SOC in all depths’ at Meru South. SOC significantly increased under RTiP and RML by 11% in 0-5 cm depth and under RML by 13% in 5-10 cm depth at Kandara. Mineral-N (NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N and NH<sub>4</sub><sup>+</sup>-N) was higher under D<sub>0</sub> at planting compared with D<sub>15</sub> in Meru South. In Kandara, NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N and NH<sub>4</sub><sup>+</sup>-N were significantly higher by 17% and 30%, respectively under D<sub>0</sub> compared with D<sub>15</sub> at planting during SR16 season. Higher mineral N was recorded under F application on the 30<sup>th</sup> and 45<sup>th</sup> days in both sites. The highest mineral-N content was on the 45<sup>th</sup> day after planting during SR16 season and on the 30<sup>th</sup> day during LR17 season at Meru South. In Kandara, NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>-N and NH<sub>4</sub><sup>+</sup>-N were highest on the 45<sup>th</sup> day and 30<sup>th</sup> day, respectively, during SR16 season. During LR17 season, mineral-N was highest on the 30<sup>th</sup> day in Kandara. The study highlights that minimal soil disturbance and organic inputs use or integration with fertilizers are feasible alternatives for improving soil fertility in the Nitisols of Central Highlands of Kenya.</p> Milka N. Kiboi Felix K. Ngetich Anne Muriuki Noah Adamtey Daniel Mugendi Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-19 2020-05-19 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1381 Exogenously applied growth promoters modulate the antioxidant enzyme system to improve the cotton productivity under water stress conditions <p>Great climatic inconsistency and increased frequent occurrences of severe conditions results in plants being exposed to water stress at various growth stages, thus adversely affecting the productivity. This investigation was planned to minimize the water stress induced-losses to cotton plants with the exogenous application of growth promoters i.e. distilled water, salicylic acid (0.5 mM), jasmonic acid (50 μM) and moringa leaf extract (MLE30) including control (un sprayed). Cotton plants were exposed to water stress with the application of irrigation water at 10 (well watered) and 30 day intervals (severe water stress). Results indicated that water stress severely reduced the cotton productivity. It was observed that exogenous application of salicylic acid and moringa leaf extract improved the productivity both under well watered and water stress conditions as compared to other treatments. However, exogenous application of salicylic acid had greater influence on the studied parameters than MLE, although the insignificant differences were documented in most of the traits. Exogenous application of salicylic acid reduced the cell injury percentage, improved the cell membrane thermostability and produced significantly higher content of leaf protein, superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD) and catalase (CAT) that modulated the negative influence of water stress on yield contributing attributes and produced maximum seed cotton yield. These results indicate that exogenous application of SA and MLE helped the cotton plants to become more tolerant to water stress-induced losses by adjusting the membrane characteristics and improving their antioxidant defense mechanism.</p> Nazim Hussain Azra Yasmeen Muhammad Ahsan Afzal Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-19 2020-05-19 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1537 Carbon input management in temperate rice paddies: implications for methane emissions and crop response <p>Agriculture contributes to over 20% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions and irrigated paddy fields account for 5–10% of CH4 emissions. Main organic input providing methanogenesis substrate is straw. We hypothesized that removing rice straw can mitigate CH4 emissions, and that replacing its carbon (C) input with raw or solid digestate can be a valuable alternative both for crop, soil and emission responses. A mesocosm study was setup to follow crop growth, changes in soil pore water chemistry (dissolved Fe(II) and dissolved Organic C), and CH4 emissions over one cropping season on soil treated with the combination of two straw managements (removal or incorporation) and three fertilizations (mineral, raw digestate, solid digestate). Soils not receiving straw on average emitted 38 % less than soils after straw incorporation, while the two organic fertilizers did not increase emissions with respect to mineral N application. Furthermore, straw incorporation induced a yield depression independently from the fertilization strategy, probably as a result of N immobilization, especially in early stages. This was evidenced by early SPAD observations and flag leaf length, and both grain and straw final production. Moreover, the two organic fertilizers were not fully able to sustain crop N requirements with respect to the mineral fertilizer. Straw management was therefore decisive for determining both rice yield and CH4 emissions, while the impact of fertilization treatments was crucial only for crop productivity.</p> Chiara Bertora Barbara Moretti Matteo Peyron Simone Pelissetti Cristina Lerda Daniel Said-Pullicino Marco Milan Silvia Fogliatto Francesco Vidotto Luisella Celi Dario Sacco Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-14 2020-05-14 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1607 Camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz) under low-input management systems in northern Italy: yields, chemical characterization and environmental sustainability <p>Camelina can be considered a valuable crop for bio-based products and biofuels, but, to date, there are still many uninvestigated aspects concerning the optimization of its agricultural management and its environmental impact. Consequently, a low-input camelina cultivation has been realized, in northern Italy environment, through a 4-year camelina-wheat rotation in open field. In these conditions, camelina was grown as winter crop. Camelina reached, over the years, a variable (CV=28%) mean seed yield of 0.82 Mg ha<sup>-1</sup>. This notwithstanding, the oil content - 39.17% (CV=3%) - and its related quality were rather stable, reaching an oil yield of 320 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acid. The low input cultivation system here adopted implied an energy ratio (output energy/input energy) of 4 and a 30% decrease in Global Warming Potential per hectare, compared to the standard value reported by the European Renewable Energy Directive for sunflower, reducing, at the same time, other relevant environmental burdens. However, due to its relatively low oil production, the full use of all camelina co-products should be considered in order to fulfill the sustainability requirements for European jet fuel production. In fact, stability of yields and quality of oil, oilcake and straws makes low-input camelina eligible for many other novel green chemistry applications.</p> Roberto Matteo Lorenzo D’Avino Lenin Javier Ramirez-Cando Eleonora Pagnotta Luciana G. Angelini Paolo Spugnoli Silvia Tavarini Luisa Ugolini Lara Foschi Luca Lazzeri Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-14 2020-05-14 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1519 Mechanical and chemical weeding effects on the weed structure in durum wheat <p>A three-year field experiment was performed to study weed infestation of durum wheat at the stage of emergence and full maturity. Two weeding systems (WS) were used in the post-harvest period: i) mechanical weeding (MW); and ii) chemical weeding (CW). In the MW system, soil underwent shallow ploughing at a depth of 10-12 cm and double harrowing (after ploughing and 3 weeks later), whereas glyphosate only was used in the CW system. In the springtime, in both MW and CW systems, a tillage set consisting in a cultivator, a string roller and harrowing was used. Overall, the number of weeds m2, the number of weed species and the value of weed diversity indices were always higher in MW than in the CW systems in each study year at both the emergence and full maturity stage of durum wheat. The study demonstrated that at the stage of durum wheat emergence, more weeds per m2 occurred in the MW than in the CW system in each study year. Moreover, the MW systems was characterized by a higher number of weed species as well as by a higher value of weed diversity index compared to the CW system.</p> Andrzej Wozniak Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-14 2020-05-14 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1559 Post-harvest residues of narrow-leafed lupin/oat mixtures as a source of biological nitrogen for hybrid winter rye <p>Post-harvest residues of narrow-leafed lupin/oat mixtures are a valuable source of biological nitrogen for the following crop plants, including winter cereals. Hybrid winter rye, which is increasingly popular in Germany and Poland, positively responds to cultivation at good sites. The objective of the research was to determine the effect of the biomass of the post-harvest residues of narrow-leafed lupin, oat and their mixtures on yield performance and amount of nitrogen accumulated in hybrid winter rye grain. The following two factors were examined in an experiment: factor I - forecrop mixtures: narrow-leafed lupin - pure stand 100%, oat - pure stand 100%, narrow-leafed lupin 75% + oat 25%, narrowleafed lupin 50% + oat 50%, narrow-leafed lupin 25% + oat 75%; factor II - forecrop harvest date: the stage of narrow-leafed lupin flowering, the stage of narrow-leafed lupin flat green pod. The results demonstrated that oat and narrow-leafed lupin/oat mixtures containing 25 + 75% and 50 + 50% of the respective components and harvested at the stage of narrow-leafed lupin flat green pod supplied the greatest amount of post-harvest residue biomass, and narrow-leafed lupin harvested at the aforementioned stage accumulated the most nitrogen. Hybrid winter rye following the forecrop of narrow-leafed lupin/oat mixture containing 50 + 50% of the respective components and harvested at the stage of narrowleafed lupin flat green pod produced the highest grain yield.</p> Anna Płaza Barbara Gąsiorowska Emilia Rzążewska Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-05-14 2020-05-14 15 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1503 Editorial <p>The Italian Society of Agronomy (SIA) has changed the Editor in Chief and the Editorial board of the Italian Journal of Agronomy (IJA). The new Editorial board is being integrated with new expertise and includes three Associate editors: Michael D. Casler from USDA-ARS, USA, Davide Cammarano from Purdue University, USA and Michele Rinaldi from Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Italy, the former co-editor. The Editorial board is redeveloping the Journal with a more pro-active publishing policy, that is consistent to the changing editorial demand of agronomy scientists worldwide. The international scientific publishing industry is facing a sharp transition, pulled by the increasing demand of rapid publication in the <em>publish-or-perish </em>or<em> highly-cited</em> paradigm and pushed towards full open access publishing by research funders and end-users. Minimizing the time between manuscript submission and paper publication is threatening the quality of the peer-review process, which is constrained by time pressure on highly qualified scientists, who end up being overloaded with reviews and editorial duties. The open access scientific journal industry is struggling between increasing the impact factor/cite score of the journals and maximizing the number of published articles, which is directly proportional to the publisher’s business. This is generating an increasing number of open access scientific publications worldwide: +75% between 2008-10 and 2015-17 in the ‘<em>Agronomy and crop science</em>’ subject category (Source: Scopus) while the non-open access publications in the same domain and time span increased by only +27%. This situation and the evolution of long term open-theme research funding schemes into short-term projectified finalized research funding programs are deeply influencing the topics of research in Agronomy. Long term agronomic facilities and field scale research are becoming rare and are often being replaced by short-term easily-published studies. However, international scientific exchanges are facilitating the development of permanent regional and global networks of researchers (<em>e.g</em>. AgMip, Global Research Alliance) that are developing unprecedented long-term research efforts on global issues around agronomy, involving hundreds of post-docs and young researchers worldwide. In this developing context, the Italian Journal of Agronomy, own by the Italian Society of Agronomy, a non-profit scientific organization, is developing a new editorial policy to contribute to the progress of agronomic science through an open-access, low-cost and authoritative scientific literature space, with particular attention to young scientists. There are number of reasons why an agronomy scientist should publish an article in the Italian Journal of Agronomy, including: i) to get a rapid and careful peer review assessment of the submissions by an authoritative editorial board with specific expertise in Agronomy and receive careful support on how to address major revisions when required; ii) to ensure maximum visibility for published articles through the open access system; iii) to contribute to the agronomic scientific literature through an open access Scopus/WOS scientific Journal owned by a non-profit scientific society at a fair price; iv) to compete for the SIA grants and prizes for best articles or best reviewers of the year. The new editorial policy of IJA includes a more pro-active publishing strategy aiming at widening the arena of international scientists contributing to the journal’s scope, including invited papers and special conditions for the publication of special issues on cutting-edge agronomy topics, promotion of the journal during scientific conferences and events, rewarding of the best articles and peer-reviewers contributing to the journal’s development. IJA is solely focused on the free diffusion of agroecosystem science, not on any other business: we trust that authors and readers will appreciate that IJA’s editorial board members work toward this mission without compensation and that the article fee is necessary only to cover the publisher’s net costs. We are very grateful to the past and new Editorial board and all peer reviewers for their invaluable contribution to the development of our Journal.</p> <p><em>Michele Perniola, President of the Italian Society of Agronomy </em><br><em>Pier Paolo Roggero, Editor in Chief</em><br><em>Michael D. Casler, Associate Editor</em><br><em>Davide Cammarano, Associate Editor</em><br><em>Michele Rinaldi, Associate Editor</em></p> Michele Perniola Pier Paolo Roggero Michael D. Casler Davide Cammarano Michele Rinaldi Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-03-19 2020-03-19 15 2 1 2 10.4081/ija.2020.1624 Adaptation patterns of sixteen alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars across contrasting environments of Algeria and implications for the crop improvement <p>The additive main effects and multiplicative interaction analysis was applied to assess the genotype × environment interaction (GEI) effects and stability for 4-year dry matter yield (DMY) of 16 alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cultivars of diversified geographic origin grown in four Algerian environments given by the combination of two water managements (rainfed and irrigated) and two evaluation sites, viz. the sub-humid location of Alger and the semi-arid, salinity-affected site of Hmadna. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant variation among cultivars and environments (P&lt;0.001). The GEI was significant (P&lt;0.001) and the environment main effect had greater influence than the genotype effect on long-term yield according to ANOVA. Rainfed conditions had 41.6% and 48.5% lower yield than the irrigated ones in Alger and Hmadna, respectively. Alfalfa cropping in the semiarid location caused lower DMY than in the sub-humid one (– 38.0% under irrigated and –45.2% under rainfed conditions) and a slightly lower persistence over the 4-year period. Outstanding environment-specific cultivar responses were observed, fully justifying the large GEI effects, although the Italian cultivar Sicilian ecotype had remarkable yield stability and good mean yield. The American variety Ameristand 801S and the Moroccan landrace Erfoud 1 were the most salt-tolerant cultivars. The evaluated germplasm, and particularly some exotic cultivars, could be used as parents to breed new varieties more adapted to drought and salinity in the Mediterranean basin.</p> Chahira Achir Paolo Annicchiarico Luciano Pecetti Houssem-Eddine Khelifi Mahfoud M’Hammedi-Bouzina Aissa Abdelguerfi Meriem Laouar Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-03-12 2020-03-12 15 2 57 62 10.4081/ija.2020.1578 Factors causing yield gap in rape seed production in the eastern of Mazandaran province, Iran <p>The reduction of yield gap and achievement yield potential of oil plants make a significant contribution to yield increases and oil production in developing countries. This research was carried out to investigate the factors causing yield gap associated with rape seed crop management in the Neka region, east of the Mazandaran province, Iran, through a field study during 2015-2016 and 2016- 2017. Boundary line analysis (BLA) was only applied to crop management practices/inputs, <em>e.g.</em> sowing date and rate, fertilizer applications, etc. Boundary lines were fitted to the edge of the data cloud of crop yield versus management variables in data. The average yield in 100 farms was 2051 kg/ha. According to findings of BLA, an average yield, based on the optimum level of the 14 studied variables, was 3032 kg/ha with a 981 kg/ha yield gap per hectare. The average relative yield and relative yield gap for the 14 investigated variables were 68.35% and 31.65%, respectively. Therefore, it can be concluded that the use of the boundary line analysis in yield gap studies can clearly show the yield responses to management factors and calculate the possible potentials. Thus, cultivation practice management of the studied variables in farmers’ fields can lead to increased yield and reduced yield gap.</p> Esmail Nezamzade Afshin Soltani Salman Dastan Hossein Ajamnoroozi Copyright (c) 2020 the Author(s) 2020-03-12 2020-03-12 15 2 10 19 10.4081/ija.2020.1280