Abstract MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are essential nonprotein-coding genes. In a range of organisms, miRNAs has been reported to play an essential role in regulating gene expressions at post-transcriptional level. They participate in most of the stress responsive processes in plants. Drought is an ultimate abiotic stress that affects the crop production. Therefore understanding drought stress responses are essential to improve the production of agricultural crops. Throughout evolution, plants have developed their own defense systems to cope with the adversities of environmental stresses. Among defensive mechanisms include the regulations of gene expression by miRNAs. Drought stress regulates the expression of some of the functionally conserved miRNAs in different plants. The given properties of miRNAs provide an insight to genetic alterations and enhancing drought resistance in cereal crops. The current review gives a summary to regulatory mechanisms in plants as well as miRNAs response to drought stresses in cereal crops. Some possible approaches and guidelines for the exploitation of drought stress miRNA responses to improve cereal crops are also described.
Colored shading nets have been increasingly studied in semi-arid crop production systems, primarily because of their ability to reduce solar radiation with the attendant reductions in air, plant, and soil temperatures. However, there is a paucity of research concerning the impact of colored shading nets on various crops grown under semi-arid environments, particularly the sweet pepper (Capsicum annum) production system. This study aimed to investigate the effects of three colored shading net treatments (i.e., white, green, and black shading nets with 50% shading intensity and control with unshaded conditions) on the growth and instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) of sweet pepper. The results showed that all colored shading nets exhibited significantly lower daytime air temperatures and light intensity (22 to 28 °C and 9992 lx, respectively) compared with the control (32 to 37 °C and 24,973 lx, respectively). There were significant differences in sweet pepper growth performance among treatments, including plant height, shoot dry weight, leaf area, leaf chlorophyll content, and vitamin C in ripened fruit. The enhanced photosynthetic rates were observed in sweet pepper plants under the colored shading nets compared with control plants. WUE increased among the colored shading net treatments in the following order: control ≤ white < black < green. Overall, the application of green and black shading nets to sweet pepper production systems under semi-arid environments significantly enhanced plant growth responses and WUE.
The most recent platform for protected horticultural crop production, with the shortest history to date, is located entirely indoors, lacking even the benefit of free, natural sunlight. Although this may not sound offhand like a good idea for commercial specialty-crop production, the concept of indoor controlled-environment plant growth started originally for the benefit of researchers—to systematically investigate effects of specific environmental factors on plant growth and development in isolation from environmental factors varying in uncontrolled ways that would confound or change experimental findings. In addition to its value for basic and applied research, it soon was discovered that providing nonlimiting plant-growth environments greatly enhanced crop yield and enabled manipulation of plant development in ways that were never previously possible. As supporting technology for indoor crop production has improved in capability and efficiency, energy requirements have declined substantially for growing crops through entire production cycles in completely controlled environments, and this combination has spawned a new sector of the controlled-environment crop-production industry. This article chronicles the evolution of events, enabling technologies, and entrepreneurial efforts that have brought local, year-round indoor crop production to the forefront of public visibility and the threshold of profitability for a growing number of specialty crops in locations with seasonal climates.
In this article is considered the role of legumes in improving the ecological state of the soil and the problem of developing energy-efficient, inexpensive, biologically and environmentally clean production technologies for crop production. The use of valuable chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to obtain high yields from crops increases the pollution of the environment, ie soil, air and groundwater, the products contain nitrates, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, residues harmful to human health.
Mixed farming systems are still prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. In these systems, the recycling of nutrients through crop-livestock integration (CLI) practices is crucial for the sustainability of soil fertility and crop production. The objective of this study was to analyze nutrient (N, P, K) flows and balances of mixed farming systems to assess CLI contribution to the performance of those systems. We hypothesized that more intensive farms had a better nutrient balance at the farm level, and that improved biomass management methods improved their nutrient balance. Nine farms in the Madagascar highlands were selected, some corresponding to poor traditional farms with only draft cattle; some small or medium-sized, more intensive farms with a dairy herd; and some of the latter with some improvement to management methods of livestock effluents (manure composting, liquid manure collection). The nutrient balance of the farming systems was determined, and performance indicators were calculated at both farming, livestock, and CLI levels. Results showed that nutrient recycling through CLI is significant in the functioning of the systems studied, contributing primarily to circulating nutrient flows (up to 76%) and leading to greater efficiency and productivity. Nutrient flows resulting from these practices mainly concerned animal feeding (higher than 60% of nutrient flows), even if manure management was central for crop fertilization and that manure remained a desired animal product of these types of farms (up to 100% of animal products). Large negative balances of N and K (up to 80% of inputs) were observed in traditional livestock systems with draft cattle. They were smaller (39–68%) in more intensive dairy farms. Composting of manure did not decrease negative balances, whereas their magnitude was significantly reduced by the collection of liquid manure (19% for N; 42% for K). Better management of biomass at the farm level, in particular the collection of liquid manure, seemed to substantially reduce nutrient losses in MFS.