The sustainable intensification of agriculture involves providing sufficient food and other ecosystem services without going beyond the limits of the earth’s system. Here a project management approach is suggested to help guide agricultural policy to deliver these objectives. The first step is to agree measurable outcomes, integrating formal policy goals with the often much less formal and much more diverse goals of individual farmers. The second step is to assess current performance. Ideally, this will involve the use of farm-scale metrics that can feed into process models that address social and environmental domains as well as production issues that can be benchmarked and upscaled to landscape and country. Some policy goals can be delivered by supporting ad hoc interventions, while others require the redesign of the farming system. A pipeline of research, knowledge and capacity building is needed to ensure the continuous increase in farm performance. System models can help prioritise policy interventions. Formal optimization of land use is only appropriate if the policy goals are clear, and the constraints understood. In practice, the best approach may depend on the scale of action that is required, and on the amount of resource and infrastructure available to generate, implement and manage policy.
The degree-day method is widely used to determine energy consumption but cannot be directly applied to poultry buildings without improvements in its accuracy. This study was designed to optimize the degree-day calculation and proposes a solar-air degree-day method, which can be used to calculate the cooling and heating degree-days and the annual cooling and heating loads under different climate conditions for poultry buildings. In this paper, the solar-air degree-day method was proposed, which considers the effects of solar radiation with different wall orientations and surface colors. Five Chinese cities, Harbin, Beijing, Chongqing, Kunming and Guangzhou, were selected to represent different climate zones to determine the solar-air degree-days. The heating and cooling energy requirements for different climates were compared by DeST (Designer’s Simulation Toolkit) simulation and the solar-air degree-day method. Approaches to decrease energy consumption were developed. The results showed that the maximum relative error was less than 10%, and the new method was not significantly different from the DeST simulation (P>0.05). The accuracy of calculating energy requirements was improved by the solar-air degree-day method in the different climate zones. Orientation and surface color effects on energy consumption need to be considered, and external walls of different orientations should have different surface colors.
As a consequence of contamination of soil with heavy metals, cadmium accumulation in grain is of great concern worldwide, but especially in southern China. It is important to evaluate the Cd accumulation potential of grain before or when examining and approving new cultivars. An evaluation method and criteria for verifying Cd accumulation potential in rice are proposed, and the Cd accumulation potential of 56 mid-season indica hybrids collected from the provincial cultivar trials in 2016 were investigated. Genotype, environment and their interactions strongly affected the variation in grain Cd accumulation. Two hybrids were identified as slightly Cd accumulating. Hybrids with slight Cd accumulation potential would be suitable for safe grain production on polluted land (total Cd under 2.0 mg·kg-1) in Hunan Province (China) and should be considered for new cultivar evaluation and approval. This evaluation method and criterion could be applied for certifying Cd accumulation potential of rice cultivars.
Agroecosystems in water-limited contexts— Mediterranean, semi-arid and arid climatic zones—are too frequently degraded systems that will not provide the needed ecosystem services to ensure a future of sustainable agricultural production. The processes that have created this situation continue and are being accelerated by anthropogenic climate change. Increasing arboreal vegetation in these areas through agroforestry is an important strategy to conserve and improve their agroecosystems. Actinorhizal trees and shrubs in the Casurinaceae have a unique set of adaptations for heat and water stress, and/or infertile to hostile soils. Central Anatolia, Turkey is particularly at risk of increasing aridity and further degradation. Therefore, species of Allocasuarina and Casuarina have been evaluated for their potential use in agroecosystem improvement in semi-arid areas with a focus on Central Anatolia. Based on a semiquantitative environmental tolerance index and reported plant stature, eight species were identified as being of high (A. verticillata and C. pauper) to moderate (A. acutivalvis, A. decaisneana, A. dielsiana, A. huegeliana, C. cristata and C. obesa) priority for assessment, with none of these species having been adequately evaluated for agroforestry deployment in semi-arid agroecosystems in any context.
Phyllanthus hainanensis is a shrub that has been used in traditional herbal medicine. It has great pharmaceutical potential for treating diseases such as cancer and diabetes. As a prerequisite for propagation of this species on a large scale, hairy roots in P. hainanensis were induced using Rhizobium rhizogenes and various factors affecting hairy root induction and growth evaluated. Seven factors were tested: (1) type of explant, (2) type of culture medium, (3) duration of pre-culture, (4) R. rhizogenes inoculum cell density, (5) duration of infection, (6) acetosyringone concentration in the culture medium, and (7) duration of incubation. The optimal protocol for hairy root induction and growth was: young shoots, pre-cultured in Y1 for 2 d, inoculated with R. rhizogenes broth with an OD600 of 0.6 for 20 min, and incubated for 3 d. Putative transgenic hairy roots were initially identified by morphology and then confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. Successful and optimal production of hairy roots is a critical prerequisite for industrial scale clonal propagation of P. hainanensis. Being able to cultivate the plant on a large scale will provide rapid and ready supply of the plant materials that can be used in herbal medicine and in scientific and industrial exploitation.
Penthorum chinense Pursh (PCP) is a popular traditional medicinal plant in China, widely used for the treatment of a variety of liver diseases. Although it has been long recognized that the main active elements of PCP are contained in ethyl acetate fraction (EAF), little is known so far in terms of the relative effectiveness of EAF derived from the stems versus leaves of this plant. In the current study, we prepared EAF by reflux extraction and sequential extraction from the stems (SEAF) and leaves (LEAF) of PCP and tested their hepatoprotective efficacies. The extract rates and flavonoid contents of LEAF were higher than those of SEAF. EAFs (>50 μg·mL−1) prevented lipid accumulation in cells and protected against lipotoxicity injury when the concentration exceeded 25 μg·mL−1. More than 95% free radicals released by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) were eliminated by 25 μg·mL−1 SEAF and 50 μg·mL−1 LEAF, respectively. Further, EAFs (25 μg·mL−1) also showed protective antioxidant effects, with the activity of LEAF being significantly higher than that of SEAF. EAFs (10 mg·mL−1) also showed similar unspecific bacteriostatic activity. In comparison with SEAF, LEAF contained more flavonoids and had a higher anti-oxidation capability and for these reasons we suggest it should be better for clinical use.