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[en] Full text: In 2019, 3780 samples were analysed for stable isotopes and 300 samples were measured for fallout radionuclides respectively in the SWMCN Laboratory. Most analyses were carried out for supporting Research and Development activities at the SWMCNL focused on the design of affordable isotope and nuclear techniques to improve soil and water management in climate-smart agriculture. Analytical support has also been given to the Insect Pest Control Laboratory with about 180 samples analysed. (author)
[en] Salinity is considered as a major abiotic stress for plants as it challenges plant growth and productivity severely. Plants have developed plenty of biochemical, physiological and metabolic strategies to deal with salt stress at multiple levels. A better understanding of these contrivances is an important step towards achieving the goal of sustainable development of agriculture. This review aims to provide a brief overview of our current understanding of plant salt-tolerance mechanisms from five aspects: specialized salt glands, ion homeostasis and osmotic adjustment, antioxidant defense system, hormonal regulation and modifications in membrane composition. Finally, we highlight unsolved issues that remain to be addressed in future studies. (author)
[en] On 23-24 May 2019, the SWMCNL in collaboration with the Belgian Ministry of Defense and Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) successfully performed a first testing of an SWMCNL developed ITtool, the Decision Support System for Nuclear Emergencies Affecting Food and Agriculture (DSS4NAFA). The IT-tool was designed to strengthen Member State abilities to respond to nuclear emergencies affecting food and agriculture through optimized data management and data visualization. This testing was organized under a PUI Project titled “Global Networking for Improved Radiological and Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response in Food and Agriculture”. The emergency response exercise simulated a radionuclide contamination event and involved 22 civil protection personnel from the Federal Public Service (Ministry of the Interior), as well as six local coordinators from the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK-CEN), the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) and Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).
[en] Soil-borne plant diseases caused by root-knot nematodes and root rotting fungi are a serious threat to modern agriculture. In Pakistan, no extensive research work has been done on crop losses estimation by these pathogens and pests. During the present study, survey of diseased agricultural fields, at different locations in Lower Sindh and Hub, Balochistan was carried out in different seasons to determine the losses caused by soil-borne root-rotting fungi and root-knot nematodes in some economic crops like chili (Capsicum annuum L.), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), egg-plant (Solanum melongena L.), melon (Cucumis melo L.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and watermelon(Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf.). The most common root rot pathogens found in all the areas visited were Macrophomina phaseolina, Rhizoctonia solani and species of Fusarium viz., Fusarium oxysporum and F. solani. Two species of root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita and M. javanica were also found causing root- knot disease. Loss to chili crop was found upto 36-56% when infected with F. solani and R. solani combined with root knot nematodes. Whereas loss to melon crop was found 30-60% due to F.solani in different areas of Thatta. Association of Fusarium spp., with root knot nematodes was found causing 50-85% loss to tomato crop. Charcoal rot caused by M. phaseolina was found to be an important disease of sunflower and cotton. Variations in losses due to these pathogens depended upon combination of pathogens and soil types. (author)
[en] Silica Nanoparticles (SiNPs), due to its tunable properties and composition, meets the needs in specified applications. Rice Husk (RH), an agricultural waste, abundant in amorphous silica has its extensive application in various industrial products. However, the presence of impurities in RHs makes the extraction process difficult and optimum experimental conditions are needed to achieve maximum yield with specific properties for its specified applications. In this work, Rice Husk Ash (RHA) is prepared from RH by acid leaching followed by silica gel extraction from RHA via controlled pyrolysis at three temperatures (700°C, 750°C and 800°C). Pyrolyzed RHA is then dried and pulverized to get SiNPs. Characterization of SiNPs is done using UV-Vis Spectroscopy, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). UV-Vis Spectroscopy and XRD analysis shows that the SiNPs extracted from RHA at 750°C exhibited the highest peak at 260 nm and 2θ=26° respectively and XRD and SEM analysis show that crystallite and particle size is in close agreement with each other. The optimum temperature being 750°C, silica gel formed at a pH 6 is more stable, transparent and thicker in comparison to the silica gel formed at varied pH. Moreover, the sodium silicate sample exhibits a bright green fluorescence and the intensity of fluorescence is higher for the sodium silicate prepared at 750°C range than at any other temperature. (author)
[en] Common agro-waste, potato peels were used to study the efficacy of adsorption of long-lived radioisotopes, 133Ba (T1/2 = 10.54 a) and 134Cs (T1/2 = 2.06 a) as a precursor of fission products 140Ba (T1/2 = 12.75 d) and 137Cs (T1/2 = 30.07 a). At optimized condition of pH = 3, high Kd value > 3 × 104 cm3 g-1 was observed for Ba, when 60 mg dried potato peel was used as sorbent-material for adsorption from a binary aqueous solution containing 133Ba and 134Cs. Cs showed low Kd values across the entire pH range. The bio-sorbent could effectively uptake ∼ 99% of 133Ba and ∼ 48% of 134Cs at the best condition. (author)
[en] For some years, it has become clear that climate change is having a major impact on water availability for agriculture and crop productivity. To improve the use of this resource in agriculture, it is essential to measure the water content of the soil. The Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensor (CRNS) has recently been used for measuring soil moisture content (SWC) in large areas and appears to become a credible and robust alternative to the other device.
[en] Climate change is one of the factors affecting and will continue to affect the attainment of most of the Sustainable Development Goals such as Goal 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 13 and 14 in developing countries such as Malawi and the Sub-Saharan Africa Region (SSA). Most of the SSA countries depend on agriculture and natural resources depended sectors for economic and social well being. The advent of climate change and its related impacts such as increased frequency of floods, droughts and dry spells present huge challenges for the economies and livelihoods of most SSA countries including Malawi. These climate change impacts on national development have been exacerbated by poverty, energy poverty and lack of different economic livelihood alternatives and options.
[en] Together with decontamination works performed in 51 towns and covering a 8953 km2 area, efforts in reconstruction, agriculture and industry have been made to reintegrate the Fukushima region to Japan in a social and economic way. Several research centers have opened to create the 'coast of innovation', a hub to boost new technologies in Japanese industry. The important decrease of the radioactivity is due to the radioactive decay of Cs134 (T=2.1 y) and Cs137 (T=30.1 y). Today Fukushima region has radioactivity rates equivalent to any urban areas: 0.12 μSv/h and for instance 0.10 μSv/h in London. This decrease has allowed the progressive reduction of the exclusion zone and the resumption of agricultural activities. Except wild berries, game and wild mushrooms, local products are no more a cause of concern. Despite efforts for greater transparency and public information, there is still a widespread suspicion in the public 9 years after the catastrophe. (A.C.)
[en] Soil quality constitutes a major factor for crops growth. This study aimed at determining the sustainable soil conservation practices that would increase maize growth as well as production and improve the soil moisture. Two experimental sites were chosen: Dan localized on Acrisol and Za- zounmè localized on ferralsol. Two cropping seasons were investigated: the long rain seasons of 2018 and 2019. The experimental design was split-plot with four replications. The main factor was tillage with three modalities: no-tillage (NT); ridging parallel to the slope (PR); Isohypse ridging (IR) and the second factor was mulching with four amounts: 0, 3, 5 and 7 t.ha-1. Tillage, mulch amount and their interaction significantly influenced the soil moisture, maize growth and yield over the two investigated cropping seasons at both sites whereby the highest values were obtained under IR for tillage, 7 t.ha-1 (for mulch amount) and IR7M (for the interaction tillage x mulch amount). Overall, IR significantly increased the maize growth speed by 8% at Dan and by 16% at Za-zounmè; the maize grain yield by 33% at Dan and by 30% at Za-zounmè and the soil water content by 24% at Dan and 20% at Za-zounmè, in comparison with No-Tillage. An increasing effect of mulch amount was also observed. As far as mulching is concerned, the highest values (in average of LR2018 and LR2019) of growth speed (3.77 cm.day-1 at Dan and 4.08 cm.day-1 at Za-zounmè); grain yield (3003.03 at Dan and 3471.09 kg.ha-1 at Za-zounmè) and soil water content (26.89 mm at Dan and 20.44 mm at Za-zounmè) were observed. This suggests that isohypse ridging associated with an appropriate amount of organic mulch could be an option to mitigate dry spells and drought and improve local farmers’ income in the area of low rainfall in sub- Sahara Africa.