Modern greenhouses are intensive farming systems designed to achieve high efficiency and productivity. Plants are produced year-round in greenhouses by maintaining the environment at or near optimum levels regardless of extreme weather conditions. Many scientific discoveries and technological advancements that happened in the past two centuries paved the way for current state-of-the-art greenhouses. These include, but are not limited to, advancements in climate-specific structural designs and glazing materials, and temperature control, artificial lighting, and hydroponic production systems. Greenhouse structures can be broadly grouped into four distinct designs, including tall Venlo greenhouses of the Netherlands, passive solar greenhouses of China, low-cost Parral greenhouses of the Mediterranean region, and gutter-connected polyethylene houses of India and African countries. These designs were developed to suit local climatic conditions and maximize the return on investment. Although glass and rigid plastic options are available for glazing, the development of low-cost and lightweight plastic glazing materials (e.g., polyethylene) enabled widespread growth of the greenhouse industry in the developing world. For temperate regions, supplemental lighting technology is crucial for year-round production. This heavily relies on advancements in electro-lighting during the 19th and 20th centuries. The development of hydroponic production systems for the controlled delivery of nutrients further enhanced crop productivity. This article addresses important historical events, scientific discoveries, and technological improvements related to advancements in these areas.
A robust body of evidence has demonstrated that the lunar cycle plays an important role in the reproduction of fish living in natural environments. However, little is known about the influence of the moon on tilapia reproductive activity in intensive fish farming systems. This study aims to evaluate the influence of the lunar cycle on the reproductive performance of tilapias in an intensive outdoor tropical production system in Latin America. Records of two tilapia strains (Nile tilapia [ Oreochromis niloticus; n = 75] and Red tilapia [ Oreochromis spp.; n = 1335]) reared in concrete tanks in a commercial fish farm were analyzed. Over a 3-year period, 60,136 captures were made in intervals of 12 to 14 days and 6,600 females were manually spawned. The number of females spawned and the volume of eggs collected from each tank ( n = 9) were recorded. Data was analyzed by the general linear model and means were compared by least squares means method. A very slight or no variation was observed when the lunar cycle was split into two halves (crescent and waning). The proportions of females spawned and the volume of eggs per spawned female and per female in the tank varied considerably across the eight periods of the lunar cycle, with greater values in the waning than in the crescent phase. A significantly greater proportion of tilapia spawned and yielded more eggs around the full moon than around the new moon and remaining days of the lunar cycle. The moon cycle affected the reproductive activity of tilapia, which were more reproductively active around the full moon and most of the waning phase.
Milk fat depression (MFD) syndrome, a consistent decrease in milk fat content, is related to important changes in fatty acid composition due to feed imbalances and the consequent ruminal metabolism alteration. Milk produced in two different farming systems was compared: Holstein Friesian fed with unified in intensive production and Podolica raised on a pasture in an extensive system. Milk chemical characteristics and fatty acid composition were determined comparing milk with a normal fat level (>3.8%) to milk with a low fat level (<3.2%) in each breeding system. Holstein Friesian milk showed the decrease in trans-11 and increase in trans-10 C18:1 (shift from trans-11 to trans-10 C18:1) in low fat with respect to normal fat milk with a consequent decrease in the trans-11/trans-10 C18:1 ratio. Even conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), C18:2 cis-9, trans-11, was lower while CLA trans-10, cis-12 was higher in low fat milk than in normal fat milk from Holstein Friesian. These changes, that are indicators of MFD syndrome, were not found in Podolica milk between fat levels. Holstein Friesian milk showed less short-chain fatty acids (9.48 % vs. 11.05%, p < 0.001), trans vaccenic acid (C18:1 trans-11, 0.51% vs. 3.39%, p < 0.001), rumenic acid (CLA C18:2 cis-9, trans-11, 0.32% vs. 1.45%, p < 0.001) and total CLA (0.53% vs. 1.91%, p < 0.001) contents than Podolica milk. Further losses of these human healthy nutrients in low fat Friesian milk reduced the nutritional quality of the milk, while the milk from animals raised on the pasture was of better quality even when the level of fat was low.
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.
The aim of the study was to compare the effect of conventional, simplified, and organic farming systems on changes in the content of soil organic carbon, organic matter fractions, total nitrogen, and the enzymatic activity. The research was conducted from 2016–2018 on arable land in the south-eastern part of Poland. The selected soils were cultivated in conventional tillage (C_Ts), simplified tillage (S_Ts), and organic farming (O_Fs) systems. The analyses were performed in soil from the soil surface layers (up to 25 cm depth) of the experimental plots. The highest mean contents of soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, and organic matter fractions were determined in soils subjected to the simplified tillage system throughout the experimental period. During the study period, organic carbon concentration on surface soil layers under simplified tillage systems was 31 and 127% higher than the soil under conventional tillage systems and organic farming systems, respectively. Also, the total nitrogen concentration in those soils was more than 40% and 120% higher than conventional tillage systems and organic farming systems, respectively. Moreover, these soils were characterised by a progressive decline in SOC and Nt resources over the study years. There was no significant effect of the analysed tillage systems on the C:N ratio. The tillage systems induced significant differences in the activity of the analysed soil enzymes, i.e., dehydrogenase (DH) and catalase (CAT). The highest DH activity throughout the experiment was recorded in the O_Fs soils, and the mean value of this parameter was in the range of 6.01–6.11 μmol TPF·kg−1·h−1. There were no significant differences in the CAT values between the variants of the experiment. The results confirm that, regardless of other treatments, such as the use of organic fertilisers, tillage has a negative impact on the content of SOC and organic matter fractions in the O_Fs system. All simplifications in tillage reducing the interference with the soil surface layer and the use of organic fertilisers contribute to improvement of soil properties and enhancement of biological activity, which helps to maintain its productivity and fertility.
Lately, the Hill Pond Rice System (HPRS) is being promoted as a form of alternative farming systems in selected northern provinces of Thailand, in which the land conversion is designed to maximize rainwater harvesting in farmland consisting of forest trees, water reservoirs, paddy fields, and high-value crop cultivation to serve environmental and livelihood needs. This study employed the double-hurdle model and the tobit technique to investigate the farm-level factors associated with land conversion from maize monocropping to the HPRS using primary data collected from 253 households in Nan, Chiang Mai, Tak, and Lampang Provinces. It was found that education, farming knowledge, understanding benefits of the HPRS, access to water sources, access to advis, and workforce sharing raised the likelihood and extent of farmland conversion into the HPRS. In contrast, perceived complexity of the HPRS, experiences with negative shocks, and land tenure security lowered the likelihood and extent of land conversion. The findings suggest that on-farm collective action should be promoted to mitigate labor constraints in implementation and that access to equipment should be enhanced through HPRS advisors’ visits.
For almost a decade, edible insects have become promoted on a wider basis as one way to combat world hunger and malnourishment, although attempts to do so have a longer history. Contemporary researchers and consumers, particularly those without an entomophagous background, have been rising safety and sustainability concerns. The present contribution seeks a substantiated answer to the question posed above. The possible answer consists of different factors that have been taken into consideration. First, the species and its life cycle. It is mandatory to realize that what is labeled as “edible insects” stands for more than 2,140 animal species, not counting other edible, non-crustacean arthropods. Their life cycles are as diverse as the ecological niches these animals can fill and last between some days to several years and many of them may—or may not—be reproduced in the different farming systems. Second, the level of knowledge concerning the food use of a given species is important, be it traditional, newly created by research, or a combination of both. Third, the existence of a traditional method of making the use of the insect safe and sustainable, ideally from both the traditional and the modern points of view. Fourth, the degree of effectiveness of these measures despite globalization changes in the food-supplying network. Fifth, farming conditions, particularly housing, feeding (type, composition, and contaminants), animal health and animal welfare. Sixth, processing, transport, and storage conditions of both traditional and novel insect-based foodstuffs, and seventh, consumer awareness and acceptance of these products. These main variables create a complex web of possibilities, just as with other foodstuffs that are either harvested from the wild or farmed. In this way, food safety may be reached when proper hygiene protocols are observed (which usually include heating steps) and the animals do not contain chemical residues or environment contaminants. A varying degree of sustainability can be achieved if the aforementioned variables are heeded. Hence, the question if insects can be safe and sustainable can be answered with “jein,” a German portmanteau word joining “yes” (“ja”) and “no” (“nein”).