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Environments, Volume 8, Issue 7 (July 2021) – 9 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In this study, agrivoltaics were integrated with rice paddies to increase the penetration of photovoltaics in Japan. As rice serves as a staple crop, different parameters were monitored and analyzed in the experimental area: meteorological analysis (solar radiation, shading rate and temperature); fertilizer application; quantitative and qualitative analysis (crop sampling and yield); correlation between shading and rice productivity; electricity generation analysis with agrivoltaics. View this paper
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Article
Solvent-Based Elimination of Organic Matter from Marine-Collected Plastics
Environments 2021, 8(7), 68; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070068 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 799
Abstract
The physical-chemical characterization of plastic litter from the marine environment requires the prior removal of the biofouling attached to their surface without causing any degradation in the polymer. The absence of a standardized protocol for digesting biofouling and organic matter of both macro [...] Read more.
The physical-chemical characterization of plastic litter from the marine environment requires the prior removal of the biofouling attached to their surface without causing any degradation in the polymer. The absence of a standardized protocol for digesting biofouling and organic matter of both macro and microplastic samples extracted from seawater has been the main motivation for this research work, which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of different solvents (hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, a commercial enzymatic detergent, and potassium hydroxide) for the digestion of organic matter and biofouling in different samples recovered from the Spanish Atlantic and Mediterranean coast. Moreover, the potential effect of those solvents on the physical-chemical structure of polymers, four virgin plastic reference materials (low-density polyethylene, polyamide, poly(ethylene terephthalate) and polystyrene) without any type of prior degradation has been characterized in terms of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and optical microscopy. Results indicate that the hydrogen peroxide at 15% concentration applied for one week at 40 °C is the most effective solvent for organic matter and biofouling removal, without causing any apparent damage on the structure of plastic samples analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Review
Assessing the Impacts of Hydropeaking on River Benthic Macroinvertebrates: A State-of-the-Art Methodological Overview
Environments 2021, 8(7), 67; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070067 - 18 Jul 2021
Viewed by 725
Abstract
As the global demand for renewable electricity grows, hydropower development of river basins increases across the world. Hydropeaking, i.e., streamflow alteration consisting of daily or subdaily rapid and marked discharge fluctuations, can affect river reaches below hydropower units. Environmental effects of hydropeaking include [...] Read more.
As the global demand for renewable electricity grows, hydropower development of river basins increases across the world. Hydropeaking, i.e., streamflow alteration consisting of daily or subdaily rapid and marked discharge fluctuations, can affect river reaches below hydropower units. Environmental effects of hydropeaking include geomorphological alterations and possible modifications of the freshwater biota. Among affected instream communities, benthic macroinvertebrates are receiving increasing attention and the related scientific research has experienced significant progress in the last decade. In this context, this paper aims to summarize state-of-the-art methods for the assessment of hydropeaking impacts on benthic macroinvertebrate communities. The present review could support the proper design of monitoring plans aimed at assessing the ecological impacts of hydropeaking and the effects of possible mitigation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring and Management of Inland Waters)
Review
The Dynamics of Tungsten in Soil: An Overview
Environments 2021, 8(7), 66; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070066 - 17 Jul 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
The increasing use of tungsten in the production of green energy in the aerospace and military industries, and in many other hi-tech applications, may increase the content of this element in soil. This overview examines some aspects of the behavior of tungsten in [...] Read more.
The increasing use of tungsten in the production of green energy in the aerospace and military industries, and in many other hi-tech applications, may increase the content of this element in soil. This overview examines some aspects of the behavior of tungsten in soil, such as the importance of characteristics of soils in relation to bioavailability processes, the chemical approaches to evaluate tungsten mobility in the soil environment and the importance of adsorption and desorption processes. Tungsten behavior depends on soil properties of which the most important is soil pH, which determines the solubility and polymerization of tungstate ions and the characteristics of the adsorbing soil surfaces. During the adsorption and desorption of tungsten, iron, and aluminum oxides, and hydroxides play a key role as they are the most important adsorbing surfaces for tungsten. The behavior of tungsten compounds in the soil determines the transfer of this element in plants and therefore in the food chain. Despite the growing importance of tungsten in everyday life, environmental regulations concerning soil do not take this element into consideration. The purpose of this review is also to provide some basic information that could be useful when considering tungsten in environmental legislation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Article
Analysis of the Rice Yield under an Agrivoltaic System: A Case Study in Japan
Environments 2021, 8(7), 65; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070065 - 10 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1144
Abstract
Agrivoltaic systems, comprising photovoltaic panels placed over agricultural crops, have recently gained increasing attention. Emerging interest in these systems led us to investigate their influence on rice crops. Various factors affecting rice crop yield, including fertilizer application, temperature, and solar radiation, were directly [...] Read more.
Agrivoltaic systems, comprising photovoltaic panels placed over agricultural crops, have recently gained increasing attention. Emerging interest in these systems led us to investigate their influence on rice crops. Various factors affecting rice crop yield, including fertilizer application, temperature, and solar radiation, were directly observed, and measured to evaluate changes associated with the shading rates of photovoltaic systems installed above rice crops. The results suggest that the allowable upper limit of the shading rate for agrivoltaic installations ranges from 27 to 39%, which sustains at least 80% of the rice yield, a condition set by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for these systems. If such systems are applied to rice paddies in Japan at 28% density, they could generate 284 million MWh/yr. This is equivalent to approximately 29% of the total Japanese electricity demand, based on 2018 calculations. This projection indicates the potential of agrivoltaic systems for efficient land use and sustainable energy generation. Full article
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Article
Case Study Comparing Effects of Microplastic Derived from Bottle Caps Collected in Two Cities on Triticum aestivum (Wheat)
Environments 2021, 8(7), 64; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070064 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 957
Abstract
As plastic has become an integral component of daily life, microplastic has become a ubiquitous, unavoidable constituent of nearly all ecosystems. Besides monitoring the amount and distribution of microplastic in the environment, it is necessary to understand the possible direct effects, especially toxicity [...] Read more.
As plastic has become an integral component of daily life, microplastic has become a ubiquitous, unavoidable constituent of nearly all ecosystems. Besides monitoring the amount and distribution of microplastic in the environment, it is necessary to understand the possible direct effects, especially toxicity and how it is affected by environmental factors where it is discarded. The present study investigated how microplastic derived from high-density polyethylene bottle caps collected in two climatically different cities, i.e., Singapore (tropical rainforest climate) and Lahti, Finland (continental climate), affected the essential agricultural grain crop, Triticum aestivum (L.). Wheat seedlings were exposed to microplastic derived from these collected bottle caps, as well as new and artificially aged caps, for seven days. Morphological parameters, such as root and shoot length and oxidative stress development, were measured. Exposure to microplastic derived from the caps resulted in reduced seedling root and shoot lengths compared to the controls, as well as enhanced lipid peroxidation and catalase activity. With all parameters tested, microplastic derived from Lahti bottle caps exhibited more severe effects than Singapore, which was similar to that elicited by new microplastic. The Singapore microplastic had possibly leached its toxic substances before collection due to accelerated degradation promoted by the prevailing warmer climate conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
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Article
Screening of Pioneer Metallophyte Plant Species with Phytoremediation Potential at a Severely Contaminated Hg and As Mining Site
Environments 2021, 8(7), 63; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070063 - 05 Jul 2021
Viewed by 738
Abstract
Phytoremediation of mine soils contaminated by potentially toxic elements (PTEs) requires the use of tolerant plants given the specific conditions of toxicity in the altered soil ecosystems. In this sense, a survey was conducted in an ancient Hg-mining area named “El Terronal” (Asturias, [...] Read more.
Phytoremediation of mine soils contaminated by potentially toxic elements (PTEs) requires the use of tolerant plants given the specific conditions of toxicity in the altered soil ecosystems. In this sense, a survey was conducted in an ancient Hg-mining area named “El Terronal” (Asturias, Spain) which is severely affected by PTE contamination (As, Hg, Pb) to obtain an inventory of the spontaneous natural vegetation. A detailed habitat classification was performed and a specific index of coverage was applied after a one-year quadrat study in various sampling stations; seven species were finally selected (Agrostis tenuis, Betula celtiberica, Calluna vulgaris, Dactylis glomerata, Plantago lanceolata, Salix atrocinerea and Trifolium repens). A total of 21 samples (3 per plant) of the soil–plant system were collected and analyzed for the available and total concentrations of contaminants in soil and plants (roots and aerial parts). Most of the studied plant species were classified as non-accumulating plants, with particular exceptions as Calluna vulgaris for Pb and Dactylis glomerata for As. Overall, the results revealed interest for phytoremediation treatments, especially phytostabilization, as most of the plants studied were classified as excluder metallophytes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Nutrient Dynamics and Plant Response)
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Article
Agrochemical Contamination of Honey and Bee Bread Collected in the Piedmont Region, Italy
Environments 2021, 8(7), 62; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070062 - 03 Jul 2021
Viewed by 759
Abstract
This study shows the results of a local biomonitoring plan developed by a regional beekeeping association, Aspromiele, in several areas of Piedmont (Italy), in order to understand the status of contamination from pesticides present in the environment and eventually to evaluate their impact [...] Read more.
This study shows the results of a local biomonitoring plan developed by a regional beekeeping association, Aspromiele, in several areas of Piedmont (Italy), in order to understand the status of contamination from pesticides present in the environment and eventually to evaluate their impact on apiculture. Glyphosate was the most abundant chemical found in the bee bread and honey samples. The other pesticides detected at lower concentrations and minor frequency were mandipropamid, tau-fluvalinate, metalaxil and spiroxamine. Even if in the present study the pesticides found in the bee bread and honey were limited to a few molecules, it is important to highlight that the presence of glyphosate could represent a hazard to bees. Honeybees are the main pollinators in agricultural ecosystems, and thus appropriate environmental management could lead to a reduction in the impact of these chemicals on bees and other beneficial insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Monitoring Networks)
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Article
Alternative Agri-Food Systems under a Market Agencements Approach: The Case of Multifunctional Farming Activity in a Peri-Urban Area
Environments 2021, 8(7), 61; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070061 - 24 Jun 2021
Viewed by 740
Abstract
(1) Background: A large body of literature is available on the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of alternative food systems, but not much of it is devoted to the dynamics underlying their design and implementation, more specifically the processes that make an alternative [...] Read more.
(1) Background: A large body of literature is available on the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of alternative food systems, but not much of it is devoted to the dynamics underlying their design and implementation, more specifically the processes that make an alternative food system successful or not in terms of its sustainability aims. This gap seems to be particularly critical in studies concerning alternative food systems in urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA). This paper explores how the design and implementation of multifunctional farming activity in a peri-urban area surrounding the city of Reggio Emilia in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy impact the achievement of its sustainability aims. (2) Methods: The environmental, social, and economic components of this project are explored in light of the sociology of market agencements. This method brings up the motivations of the human entities involved in the project, the role played by nonhuman entities, and the technical devices used for the fulfillment of the project’s aims. (3) Results: The alternative food system under study lacked a robust design phase and a shared definition of the project aims among all the stakeholders involved. This ended in a substantial mismatch between project aims and consumer expectations. (4) Conclusions: When a comprehensive design stage is neglected, the threefold aim concerning sustainability might not be achievable. In particular, the design of alternative food systems must take into account the social environment where it is intended to be put in place, especially in UPA, where consumers often live in suburban neighborhoods wherein the sense of community is not strong, thus preventing them from getting involved in a community-based project. In such cases, hybridization can play a role in the sustainability of alternative food networks, provided that some trade-offs occur among the different components of sustainability—some components of sustainability will be fully achieved, while others will not. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural-Urban Relations and Sustainable Food Systems)
Technical Note
Seasonal Spectral Separation of Western Snowberry and Wolfwillow in Grasslands with Field Spectroradiometer and Simulated Multispectral Bands
Environments 2021, 8(7), 60; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070060 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 838
Abstract
Woody plant encroachment (WPE), the expansion of native and non-native trees and shrubs into grasslands, has led to degradation worldwide. In the Canadian prairies, western snowberry and wolfwillow shrubs are common encroachers, whose cover is currently unknown. As the use of remote sensing [...] Read more.
Woody plant encroachment (WPE), the expansion of native and non-native trees and shrubs into grasslands, has led to degradation worldwide. In the Canadian prairies, western snowberry and wolfwillow shrubs are common encroachers, whose cover is currently unknown. As the use of remote sensing in grassland monitoring increases, opportunities to detect and map these woody species are enhanced. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify the optimal season for detection of the two shrubs, to determine the sensitive wavelengths and bands that allow for their separation, and to investigate differences in separability potential between a hyperspectral and broadband multispectral approach. We do this by using spring, summer, and fall field-based spectra of both shrubs for the calculation of spectral separability metrics and for the simulation of broadband spectra. Our results show that the summer offers higher discrimination between the two species, especially when using the red and blue spectral regions and to a lesser extent the green region. The fall season fails to provide significant spectral separation along the wavelength spectrum. Moreover, there is no significant difference in the results from the hyperspectral or broadband approach. Nevertheless, cross-validation with satellite imagery is needed to confirm the current results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geospatial Technology for Land Restoration and Planning)
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