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See detailImpact of spatio-temporal shade dynamics on wheat growth and yield, perspectives for temperate agroforestry
Artru, Sidonie ULg; Garré, Sarah ULg; Dupraz, Christian et al

in European Journal of Agronomy (2017)

A stumbling block to the adoption of silvoarable agroforestry systems is the lack of quantitative knowledge on the performance of different crops when competing for resources with trees. In North-Western ... [more ▼]

A stumbling block to the adoption of silvoarable agroforestry systems is the lack of quantitative knowledge on the performance of different crops when competing for resources with trees. In North-Western Europe, light is likely to be the principal limiting resource for understorey crops, and most agronomic studies show a systematic reduction of final yield as shade increases. However the intensity of the crop response depends on both the environmental conditions and the shade characteristics. This study addressed the issue by monitoring winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) growth, productivity and quality under artificial shade provided by military camouflage shade-netting, and using the Hi-sAFe model to relate the artificial shade conditions to those applying in agroforestry systems. The field experiment was carried out over two consecutive years (2013–14 and 2014–15) on the experimental farm of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Belgium. The shade structures recreated two shade conditions: periodic shade (PS) and continuous shade (CS), with the former using overlapping military camouflage netting to provide discontinuous light through the day, and the latter using conventional shade cloth. The experiment simulated shading from a canopy of late-flushing hybrid walnut leaves above winter wheat. Shading was imposed 16 (2013–14) and 10 (2014–15) days before flowering and retained until harvest. The crop experienced full light conditions until the maximum leaf area index stage (LAImax) had been reached. In both years, LAI followed the same dynamics between the different treatments, but in 2013–2014 an attack of the take-all disease (Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici) reduced yields overall and prevented significant treatment effects. In season 2014–15 the decrease in global radiation reaching the crop during a period of 66 days (CS: – 61% and PS: – 43%) significantly affected final yield (CS: – 45% and PS: – 25%), mainly through a reduction of the average grain weight and the number of grain per m2. Grain protein content increased by up to 45% under the CS treatment in 2015. Nevertheless, at the plot scale, protein yield (t/ha) did not compensate for the final grain yield decrease. The Hi-sAFe model was used to simulate an agroforestry plot with two lines of walnut trees running either north-south or east-west. The levels of artificial shade levels applied in this experiment were compared to those predicted beneath trees growing with similar climatic conditions in Belgium. The levels used in the CS treatment are only likely to occur real agroforestry conditions on 10% of the cropped area until the trees are 30 years old and only with east-west tree row orientation. [less ▲]

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See detailMulti-model simulation of soil temperature, soil water content and biomass in Euro-Mediterranean grasslands: Uncertainties and ensemble performance
Sándor, R.; Barcza, Z.; Acutis, M. et al

in European Journal of Agronomy (2016)

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See detailDo floral resources influence pollination rates and subsequent fruit set in pear (Pyrus communis L.) and apple (Malus x domestica Borkh) cultivars ?
Quinet, Muriel; Warzée, Martin; Vanderplanck, Maryse ULg et al

in European Journal of Agronomy (2016), 77

Pear and apple are among the main fruit crops worldwide. These species can be planted in mixed orchards,and they both depend on insect pollination for fruit set. As pollinating insects are attracted by ... [more ▼]

Pear and apple are among the main fruit crops worldwide. These species can be planted in mixed orchards,and they both depend on insect pollination for fruit set. As pollinating insects are attracted by the floralresources, we investigated nectar and pollen production and chemical composition in four pear (‘Con-corde’, ‘Conférence’, ‘Doyenné du Comice’, ‘Triomphe de Vienne’) and five apple (‘Braeburn’, ‘GoldenReinders’, ‘Jonagored’, ‘Pinova’, ‘Wellant’) cultivars commonly grown in Belgium. We also investigatedwhether insect flower visitation rate and pollination efficiency are linked to floral resource quantityand quality. The pear cultivars flowered one week before the apple cultivars in early spring, and theirflowers were about six times less visited by insects. The visitors foraged more on the pollen of the peartrees and the nectar of the apple trees. [less ▲]

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See detailClimatic risk assessment to improve nitrogen fertilisation recommendations : A strategic crop model-based approach
Dumont, Benjamin ULg; Basso, Bruno; Bodson, Bernard ULg et al

in European Journal of Agronomy (2015), 65(10-17),

Within the context of nitrogen (N) management, since 1950, with the rapid intensification of agriculture, farmers have often applied much larger fertiliser quantities than what was required to reach the ... [more ▼]

Within the context of nitrogen (N) management, since 1950, with the rapid intensification of agriculture, farmers have often applied much larger fertiliser quantities than what was required to reach the yield potential. However, to prevent pollution of surface and groundwater induced by nitrates, The European Community launched The European Nitrates Directive 91/6/76/EEC. In 2002, in Wallonia (Belgium), the Nitrates Directive has been transposed under the Sustainable Nitrogen Management in Agriculture Program (PGDA), with the aim of maintaining productivity and revenue for the country’s farmers, while reducing the environmental impact of excessive N application. A feasible approach for addressing climatic uncertainty lies in the use of crop models such as the one commonly known as STICS (simulateur multidisciplinaire pour les cultures standard). These models allow the impact on crops of the interaction between cropping systems and climatic records to be assessed. Comprehensive historical climatic records are rare, however, and therefore the yield distribution values obtained using such an approach can be discontinuous. In order to obtain better and more detailed yield distribution information, the use of a high number of stochastically generated climate time series was proposed, relying on the LARS-Weather Generator. The study focused on the interactions between varying N practices and climatic conditions. Historically and currently, Belgian farmers apply 180 kg N ha−1, split into three equal fractions applied at the tillering, stem elongation and flag-leaf stages. This study analysed the effectiveness of this treatment in detail, comparing it to similar practices where only the N rates applied at the flag-leaf stage were modified. Three types of farmer decision-making were analysed. The first related to the choice of N strategy for maximising yield, the second to obtaining the highest net revenue, and the third to reduce the environmental impact of potential N leaching, which carries the likelihood of taxation if inappropriate N rates are applied. The results showed reduced discontinuity in the yield distribution values thus obtained. In general, the modulation of N levels to accord with current farmer practices showed considerable asymmetry. In other words, these practices maximised the probability of achieving yields that were at least superior to the mean of the distribution values, thus reducing risk for the farmers. The practice based on applying the highest amounts (60–60–100 kg N ha−1) produced the best yield distribution results. When simple economical criteria were computed, the 60–60–80 kg N ha−1 protocol was found to be optimal for 80–90% of the time. There were no statistical differences, however, between this practice and Belgian farmers’ current practice. When the taxation linked to a high level of potentially leachable N remaining in the soil after harvest was considered, this methodology clearly showed that, in 3 years out of 4, 30 kg N ha−1 could systematically be saved in comparison with the usual practice. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrating the impact of wheat fungal diseases in the Belgian crop yield forecasting system (B-CYFS)
El Jarroudi, Moussa ULg

in European Journal of Agronomy (2012), 40

Field experiments were conducted over four growing seasons to assess the relationship between fungal disease attacks and wheat grain yield in the agrometeorological part of the Belgian crop yield ... [more ▼]

Field experiments were conducted over four growing seasons to assess the relationship between fungal disease attacks and wheat grain yield in the agrometeorological part of the Belgian crop yield forecasting system (i.e., Belgian crop growth monitoring system, B-CGMS) by recalibrating the lifespan of wheat leaves (SPAN parameter). The results from 133 experimental fields in Belgium (the Wallonia region) and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg were analyzed in terms of site factors such as cultivar, previous crop, sowing date and geographical area. A significant relationship was found between green leaf area (GLA) duration expressing the infection pressure (parameter m; using a modified Gompertz model and calculated from observed GLA) and final grain yield (R2 = 0.79; P < 0.001). Based on this relationship and by recalibrating the B-CGMS in terms of its SPAN parameter, there was a significant improvement in estimating final grain yield. From a R2 of 0.11 when the B-CGMS was run with the default SPAN value, the relationship between observed and simulated yields was strengthened, with a R2 of 0.47 and 0.57, respectively, when a linear or quadratic relationship was considered between m and SPAN. Although, from a practical point of view, the m value has to be estimated annually for each spatial grid or group of grids on the basis of field or possibly remotely sensed data, and although estimating this parameter is possible only late in the season, these encouraging results illustrate the potential of integrating pest and disease impact in the B-CGMS. [less ▲]

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