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A combined approach of geostatistics and geographical clustering for delineating homogeneous zones in a durum wheat field in organic farming, M., Diacono, D. De Benedetto, A. Castrignanò, P. Rubino, C. Vitti, H.M. Abdelrahman, and D. Sollitto , Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences , (2013) AbstractWebsite

Agricultural practices need to be adapted to variable field conditions to increase farmers' profitability and environmental protection, so contributing to sustainability of farm management. This study proposes a combined approach of multivariate geostatistics and non-parametric clustering to delineate homogeneous zones that could be potentially managed with the same strategy. In a durum wheat field of Southern Italy, in organic farming, some soil physical and chemical properties (electrical conductivity; pH; exchangeable bases; total nitrogen; total organic carbon; available phosphorous), elevation and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index were determined and interpolated by using geostatistics.
The clustering approach, applied to the (co)kriged estimates of the variables, produced the delineation of four sub-field zones. A significant relation between soil fertility and yield was not found in such zones. Despite this, the proposed approach has the potential to be used in future applications of precision agriculture. Further work could focus on site-specific nitrogen fertilization with suited machinery.

Influence of crop rotation, tillage and fertilization on chemical and spectroscopic characteristics of humic acids, Mastro, Francesco De, Cocozza Claudio, Traversa Andreina, Savy Davide, Abdelrahman Hamada M., and Brunetti Gennaro , Plos One, Volume 14(6):e0219099, (2019) AbstractWebsite

The changes in soil organic matter composition induced by anthropogenic factors is a topic of great interest for the soil scientists. The objective of this work was to identify possible structural changes in humic molecules caused by a 2-year rotation of durum wheat with faba bean, lasted for a decade, and conducted with different agricultural practices in a Mediterranean soil.
Humic acids (HA) were extracted at three depths (0-30, 30-60 and 60-90 cm) from a Mediterranean soil subjected to different tillage (no tillage, minimum tillage and conventional tillage), crops (faba bean and wheat), and fertilization. The changes in HA quality were assessed by several chemical (ash, yield and elemental analysis) and spectroscopic techniques (solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, Fourier transform infrared and fluorescence).
The results suggest that the different agronomic practices strongly affected the quality of HA. Smaller but more aromatic molecules were observed with depth, while the fertilization induced the formation of simpler and less aromatic molecules due to the enhanced decomposition processes. Under no tillage, more stable humic molecules were observed due to the less soil aeration, while under conventional tillage larger and more aromatic molecules were obtained. Compared to wheat, more aromatic and more oxidized but less complex molecules were observed after faba bean crop.
The inorganic fertilization accelerates the decomposition of organic substances rather than their stabilization. At the end of each crop cycle, humic matter of different quality was isolated and this confirms the importance of the rotation practice to guarantee a diversification of the soil organic matter with time. Finally, no tillage induces the formation of more stable humic matter.

Herbal plants- and rice straw-derived biochars reduced metal mobilization in fishpond sediments and improved their potential as fertilizers, Mehmood, Sajid, Ahmed Waqas, Alatalo Juha M., Mahmood Mohsin, Imtiaz Muhammad, Ditta Allah, Ali Esmat F., Abdelrahman Hamada, Slaný Michal, Antoniadis Vasileios, et al. , Science of The Total Environment, 2022, Volume 826, p.154043, (2022) AbstractWebsite

Fishpond sediments are rich in organic carbon and nutrients; thus, they can be used as potential fertilizers and soil conditioners. However, sediments can be contaminated with toxic elements (TEs), which have to be immobilized to allow sediment reutilization. Addition of biochars (BCs) to contaminated sediments may enhance their nutrient content and stabilize TEs, which valorize its reutilization. Consequently, this study evaluated the performance of BCs derived from Taraxacum mongolicum Hand-Mazz (TMBC), Tribulus terrestris (TTBC), and rice straw (RSBC) for Cu, Cr, and Zn stabilization and for the enhancement of nutrient content in the fishpond sediments from San Jiang (SJ) and Tan Niu (TN), China. All BCs, particularly TMBC, reduced significantly the average concentrations of Cr, Cu, and Zn in the overlying water (up to 51% for Cr, 71% for Cu, and 68% for Zn) and in the sediments pore water (up to 77% for Cr, 76% for Cu, and 50% for Zn), and also reduced metal leachability (up to 47% for Cr, 60% for Cu, and 62% for Zn), as compared to the control. The acid soluble fraction accounted for the highest portion of the total content of Cr (43–44%), Cu (38–43%), and Zn (42–45%), followed by the reducible, oxidizable, and the residual fraction; this indicates the high potential risk. As compared with the control, TMBC was more effective in reducing the average concentrations of the acid soluble Cr (15–22%), Cu (35–53%), and Zn (21–39%). Added BCs altered the metals acid soluble fraction by shifting it to the oxidizable and residual fractions. Moreover, TMBC improved the macronutrient status in both sediments. This work provides a pathway for TEs remediation of sediments and gives novel insights into the utilization of BC-treated fishpond sediments as fertilizers for crop production.

Posidonia-based Compost as a Peat Substitute for Lettuce Transplant Production, Mininni, C., Santamaria P., Abdelrahman H. M., Cocozza C., Miano T., Montesano F. F., and Parente A. , HortScience, Volume 47, Issue 10, p.1438-1444, (2012) AbstractWebsite

Posidonia [Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile] is a marine phanerogam endemic of the Mediterranean Sea that grows all along the coast forming extensive underwater meadows. Senescent posidonia leaves, together with fibers (residues of rhizomes and decomposed leaves), periodically accumulate along Mediterranean beaches, covering vast areas of coast. Removal and disposal of these large volumes of plant biomasses represent a high cost for local administrations. Therefore, in this experiment, beached residues of posidonia were composted with olive pruning and green wastes with the objective to assess the efficacy of posidonia-based compost (63% on a volume basis) as a peat replacement. The compost was then mixed with a peat-based commercial substrate at rates of 0% (C0, pure peat-based commercial substrate tested as control), 25% (C25), 50% (C50), 75% (C75), and 100% (C100, pure posidonia-based compost) v/v. Mixtures were used as growing media to produce lettuce seedlings for transplant. Two lettuce cultivars (8511RZ and Satine) were tested. Main physical and chemical properties of the five growing media, shoot and root fresh and dry weight, leaf area, root morphology, and elemental leaf tissue composition were studied. Growing media containing posidonia-based compost, C25 and C50 in particular, showed good physical properties. Increasing compost proportions in the mixtures resulted in enhanced: 1) availability of macro- and micronutrients in the growing media; and 2) overall growth parameters of lettuce seedlings, in particular for the cultivar Satine. In conclusion, posidonia-based compost shows a considerable potential as a peat substitute in horticultural substrates; posidonia residues are a low-cost renewable material. In growing media for lettuce seedlings production, posidonia-based compost could be used as a complement to peat at a rate of 25% or 50% to obtain optimal physical properties and to limit the negative effects of high B content, which are typical of posidonia residues.

Effetti Della Sostituzione Della Torba Con Compost Di Posidonia Sulla Produzione Di Piantine Di Lattuga, Mininni, C., Montesano F., Abdelrahman H. M., Cocozza C., Miano T., Santamaria P., and Parente A. , the XXIX convegno nazionale, "relazione suolo-pianta e qualita' delle produzioni, Foggia, Italy, p.61, (2011)