Special Issue "Resource Conserving Agricultural Practices for Ecological Sustainability"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Systems and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India
Interests: land restoration; sustainable development goals; climate resilient agriculture; sustainable agriculture; agrobiodiversity; agricultural sustainability; indigenous and local knowledge (ILK)
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Pradeep Kumar Dubey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India
Interests: climate-resilient agriculture; adaptive agricultural practices; resource-conserving agronomic practices; crop diversification; agricultural biodiversity; traditional and agroecological knowledge
Prof. Dr. Eric C. Brevik
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Departments of Natural Sciences and Agriculture and Technical Studies, Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND 58601, USA
Interests: soil survey; soils and climate change; carbon sequestration by soils; soils and human health; electromagnetic induction techniques in soil
Dr. Rahul Datta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agrochemistry, Soil Science, Microbiology and Plant Nutrition, Faculty of AgriSciences, Mendel University in Brno, Zemedelska 1, 61300 Brno, Czech Republic
Interests: agrochemistry; soil science; microbiology; plant nutrition
Prof. Dr. Othmane Merah
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
1. Laboratoire de Chimie Agro-industrielle, LCA, Université de Toulouse, INRA, F 31030 Toulouse, France
2. Département génie Biologique, IUT A, Université Paul Sabatier, 31077 Toulouse, France
Interests: plant physiology; plant breeding; abiotic stress; bioactive accumulation; essential oils; biofertilizers; cereals; oilseed crop; legumes; vegetables
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Suresh Babu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Food Policy Research Institute, 1201 Eye St, NW, Washington, DC 20005-3915, USA
Interests: agroecology; decentralized programming; cost benefit analysis; dynamic management of resources; collective action; institutional analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Producing more food from finite and dwindling natural resources for an ever-increasing human population is a major sustainability challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. As a result, academic communities and policy makers across the world are looking for new avenues to sustainably produce more food to feed the rapidly growing human population while reducing pollution and resource wastage. However, the changing climatic condition is a growing impediment for sustainable food production as such changes not only result in reducing the availability of critical resources for food production but also the quality and quantity of agricultural produce. In this backdrop, the present Special Issue on “Resource-Conserving Agricultural Practices for Ecological Sustainability” aims to highlight the promising farm innovations, adaptive strategies, and efficient agronomic practices from diverse agroclimatic zones of the world for sustainable food production and resource conservation in agriculture. This will help in attaining global food, nutritional, and livelihood security and thereby meeting important United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 1, 2, 3, 13) and their set targets for the year 2030.

Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
Dr. Pradeep Kumar Dubey
Prof. Dr. Eric C. Brevik
Dr. Ing. Rahul Datta
Prof. Othmane Merah
Dr. Suresh Babu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • adaptive agronomic practices
  • agrobiodiversity
  • agroforestry
  • climate-resilient agriculture
  • crop diversification
  • ecological agriculture
  • farm innovations
  • food security
  • land use efficiency
  • micro-irrigation technology
  • modern mulching
  • natural resource management
  • nutrient use efficiency
  • nutritional security
  • organic farming
  • resilient crop varieties
  • resource-conserving technologies
  • soil biodiversity
  • soil carbon sequestration
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • water use efficiency

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Introducing Grasslands into Crop Rotations, a Way to Restore Microbiodiversity and Soil Functions
Agriculture 2021, 11(10), 909; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11100909 - 23 Sep 2021
Viewed by 404
Abstract
The aims of this study were to investigate (i) the influence of aging grassland in the recovery of soil state by the comparison of permanent grassland, two restored grasslands, two temporary grasslands, and a continuous crop in the same pedoclimatic conditions, (ii) the [...] Read more.
The aims of this study were to investigate (i) the influence of aging grassland in the recovery of soil state by the comparison of permanent grassland, two restored grasslands, two temporary grasslands, and a continuous crop in the same pedoclimatic conditions, (ii) the extent and the persistence of the potential changes following a grassland/or cropland phase. We hypothesized that the level of microbial communities and enzyme activities could achieve a profile close to that of permanent grassland after the introduction of grassland for a few years in crop rotations. Soil biophysicochemical properties were studied. Our results indicated that the abundance of microbial communities and enzyme activities were positively correlated to soil C and N contents and negatively correlated to soil pH. The changes in microbial abundance level were strongly linked to the changes in functional level when grasslands are introduced into crop rotations. We also showed that a continuous crop regime had a stronger legacy on the soil biota and functions. By contrast, the legacy of a grassland regime changed quickly when the grassland regime is interrupted by recent culture events. A grassland regime enabled the restoration of functions after more than five cumulative years in the grassland regime. Full article
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Article
Change of Plant Nutrients in Soil and Spring Barley Depending on the Field Pea Management as a Catch Crop
Agriculture 2021, 11(5), 394; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11050394 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 513
Abstract
Catch crop cultivation for green manure is considered to be a sustainable agricultural strategy whose main goal is to mitigate the negative effects of inappropriate plant sequent by increasing the soil biological activity, improving the nutrient content and reducing their loss from soil. [...] Read more.
Catch crop cultivation for green manure is considered to be a sustainable agricultural strategy whose main goal is to mitigate the negative effects of inappropriate plant sequent by increasing the soil biological activity, improving the nutrient content and reducing their loss from soil. Additionally, correct catch crop management is expected to improve the yield of consequent crops as well as their quality parameters. The effects of field pea when used as a catch crop, either incorporated in autumn or mulched and incorporated in spring vs. a control—without a catch crop on the soil chemical properties (total N, organic C, available forms of K and P) and the composition of spring barley grain and straw (total N, P, K, Ca) were studied for three years (2009 to 2011) in two-field, one-factor experiments, which were conducted on two different soil types (Luvisol and Phaeozem). The catch crop had no effect regarding the soil pH, soil organic C or total N content. In turn, applying a catch crop significantly affected the concentration of the available K (in both soils) and available P content (Phaeozem). The effect of a catch crop on the nutrients in the grain and straw of spring barley was associated with the soil type. In Luvisol, a catch crop, independent of its management, increased the total N and P in the grain and straw of spring barley. In Phaeozem, a catch crop that was incorporated in the autumn significantly increased the K content in grain. Full article
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Article
Seasonal Dynamics of Soil Moisture in an Integrated-Crop-Livestock-Forestry System in Central-West Brazil
Agriculture 2021, 11(3), 245; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11030245 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 659
Abstract
Integrated-crop-livestock-forestry (ICLF) systems are currently promoted as a measure for sustainable intensification of agricultural production. However, due to complex interactions among ICLF components, we are still lacking evidence about the system’s resilience regarding water availability, especially for regions characterized by pronounced wet and [...] Read more.
Integrated-crop-livestock-forestry (ICLF) systems are currently promoted as a measure for sustainable intensification of agricultural production. However, due to complex interactions among ICLF components, we are still lacking evidence about the system’s resilience regarding water availability, especially for regions characterized by pronounced wet and dry seasons and frequent droughts. For a mature ICLF system in the Cerrado biome of central-west Brazil comprising rows of eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus grandis x Eucalyptus urophylla, H13 clone) at a spacing of 22 m in combination with Brachiaria brizantha cv. BRS Piatã pasture we continuously measured soil moisture (SM) until 1 m depth and supported this data with measurements of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and aboveground green grass biomass (AGBM) across transects between the tree rows for almost two years. Across the seasons a distinct gradient was observed with SM being lower close to the tree rows than in the space between them. During winter SM decreased to critical values near the tree lines in the topsoil. During spring and summer, incident PAR was 72% and 86% lower close to the trees than at the center point. For autumn and winter PAR was more evenly distributed between the tree rows due to inclination with notably up to four times more radiation input near the tree lines compared to spring and summer. AGBM showed a clear distribution with maximum values in the center and about half of the biomass close to the tree rows. Our data suggest that, restrictions in AGBM accumulation shifted among seasons between water limitations in winter and light limitations during summer. Interestingly, SM changes during wetting and drying events were most pronounced in subsoils near the tree rows, while the topsoil showed much less fluctuations. The subsoil in central position showed the lowest SM dynamics in response to drought maintaining a relative high and constant SM content, therefore functioning as important water reservoirs likely improving the resilience of the system to drought stress. Results of this study could help to improve management and the design of ICLF systems in view of sustainability and resistance to (water) crises but should be further supported by in depth analysis of soil water dynamics as affected by climate gradients, soil types and different management practices. Full article
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Article
Efficacy of Heavy Use Area Protection (HUAP) Pads in Poultry Farm
Agriculture 2021, 11(2), 154; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11020154 - 13 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1013
Abstract
This research focuses on the efficiency of recommended heavy use area protection (HUAP) pads installed in poultry houses utilizing the Choptank River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is severely affected by crop agriculture and poultry feeding operations. Water [...] Read more.
This research focuses on the efficiency of recommended heavy use area protection (HUAP) pads installed in poultry houses utilizing the Choptank River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is severely affected by crop agriculture and poultry feeding operations. Water quality degradation along with scarcity of water is a significant concern in this area, suggesting a need for changes in both environmental and groundwater management practices. Our objective in this study was to compare the efficiency of HUAP in reducing litter spillage and nutrient runoff between two poultry houses, one of which was constructed in 2005 and the other in 2009. The poultry house constructed in 2005 did not have HUAP pads initially; they were built in 2006. The poultry house built in 2009 had the pads from the starting point. We collected soil and water samples each month and analyzed them for pH, electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate, nitrite, total nitrogen, phosphate, and other soil properties throughout the year. The pH of soil and water samples was in the range of 6.8–8.0 and 6.5–7.2, respectively. We collected six water samples in total in the ditch, from points at retention ponds near the farm ditch to sites in wooded areas on the farm. Water sample B (where ditch water meets retention pond water from the poultry farm) had the highest EC value and nitrate, nitrite, and total nitrogen concentrations compared with other water samples. The subsequent water samples downstream had reduced loads of nutrients. The study results suggest that there was a minimum carryover of nutrients from soil into the runoff water, storm ditches, and adjacent stream. There was also a minimal effect of house cleaning and storm events in raising the concentration of nutrients in soil and water samples at our study sites. The older poultry site had higher total nitrogen and phosphorous surrounding the pads, whereas no elevated levels of nutrients were identified at the newer site. The ability of HUAP pads to hold onto contaminates decreases with age and use. This study also shows that the impacts from poultry activities on surface and groundwater can be minimized by using management practices such as HUAP pads. These practices can reduce pollution in the farm, increase productivity, and save farmers and ranchers time and money in the long run. Full article
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Article
Monitoring and Modelling Analysis of Maize (Zea mays L.) Yield Gap in Smallholder Farming in Ghana
Agriculture 2020, 10(9), 420; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10090420 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1012
Abstract
Modelling and multiple linear regression were used to explore the reason for low maize yield in the Atebubu-Amantin and West Mamprusi Districts of Ghana, West Africa. The study evaluated maize yields on twenty farms against measures of soil fertility, agronomic attributes and soil [...] Read more.
Modelling and multiple linear regression were used to explore the reason for low maize yield in the Atebubu-Amantin and West Mamprusi Districts of Ghana, West Africa. The study evaluated maize yields on twenty farms against measures of soil fertility, agronomic attributes and soil water availability. Correlations between yield, soil fertility, rain, crop density, and weed biomass, were low, and no single factor could explain the low yields. A 50-year virtual experiment was then set up using the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) to explore the interactions between climate, crop management (sowing date and nitrogen fertilization) and rooting depth on grain yield and nitrate (NO3-N) dynamics. The analysis showed that a lack of optimal sowing dates that synchronize radiation, rainfall events and nitrogen (N) management with critical growth stages explained the low farm yields. Full article
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Article
Sustainable Management with Mycorrhizae and Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria for Enhanced Phosphorus Uptake in Calcareous Soils
Agriculture 2020, 10(8), 334; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10080334 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1693
Abstract
Low availability of phosphorus (P) in calcareous soils is a major problem for sustainable improvement in cereals crops yield. A higher amount of calcium in soils precipitates the P, thus making it immobile in soil. Inoculation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and phosphate [...] Read more.
Low availability of phosphorus (P) in calcareous soils is a major problem for sustainable improvement in cereals crops yield. A higher amount of calcium in soils precipitates the P, thus making it immobile in soil. Inoculation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) could be helpful in the sustainable management of immobile P in soil. However, their combined use in releasing P from rock phosphate (RP) in alkaline calcareous soils have been little investigated. In this regard, two successive field experiments were conducted to assess the interactive inoculation potential of AMF and PSB strain Bacillus sp. PIS7 with RP on the yield and P uptake of maize (Zea mays L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crops in alkaline calcareous soil. The first field experiment was conducted in a complete randomized block design with 10 treatments and three replications by inoculating maize seeds with AMF and Bacillus sp. PIS7 inoculum alone and in combination with RP. Their performance was compared with single super phosphate (SSP) inorganic fertilizer. Afterward, the residual effects of inoculated AMF and Bacillus sp. PIS7 were investigated on wheat as a subsequent crop. Maize and wheat yield parameters, P uptake, AMF root colonization, and PSB population was measured. The results of both trials indicated the beneficial effects of AMF and Bacillus sp. PIS7 with RP in increasing the plants grain yield and P uptake until the second season after inoculation, as compared to controls. Likewise, maize and wheat roots colonization, PSB population density, and post-harvest soil properties were also improved by the combined inoculation of AMF and Bacillus sp. PIS7 with RP. It is concluded that PSB solubilizes the unavailable forms of P in combination with RP fertilizers in soil, and AMF ultimately transfers it to plants for growth promotion. Moreover, the combined inoculation of AMF and PSB with ground RP had more potential to improve maize-wheat yields and P uptake comparable to those obtained by using expensive phosphatic fertilizers in P deficient calcareous pH soils. Full article
Article
Phosphorus Availability and Potential Environmental Risk Assessment in Alkaline Soils
Agriculture 2020, 10(5), 172; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10050172 - 14 May 2020
Viewed by 844
Abstract
Soil phosphorus (P) is an essential element that is often limiting in ecosystems. Excessive use of P fertilizers has led to P loss from soil and introduction into the environment. However, the behavior and potential risk assessment of P in alkaline soils is [...] Read more.
Soil phosphorus (P) is an essential element that is often limiting in ecosystems. Excessive use of P fertilizers has led to P loss from soil and introduction into the environment. However, the behavior and potential risk assessment of P in alkaline soils is not well studied. Therefore, soil sampling was performed in alkaline soils in the northern Nile Delta, Egypt. Three analytical procedures (i.e., Mehlich 3 (PM3), Olsen (POlsen), and Bray 1 (PBray) solutions) were used to evaluate P availability and potential environmental risk from P loss. Selected soil properties were determined using standard methods. Mean values of P extracted were in the order PM3 > Polsen > PBray, and were significantly correlated with each other. The PM3 was the highest in silt clay loam and lowest in sandy and loamy soils. To predict potential P loss from the soils, degree of P saturation (DPS), soil P storage capacity (SPSC), and P stability ratio (Psat) were calculated. Results showed the highest DPS was recorded in sandy textured soils, indicating that they have lower sorption capacity, whereas the SPSC was highest in silt clay textures; hence, it is likely they would act as a P sink. Psat was highest in sandy soils, which indicated a high risk for P leaching. Principal component analysis (PCA) performed on the data identified four principal components that described 83.8% of the variation between P and the studied soil parameters. The results indicated that silt was the critical soil characteristic associated with both P sorption and extractability in different textures of soil. The second component confirmed the positive association between the different soil P extraction methods (PM3, POlsen, and PBray). Full article
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Article
Monitoring Soil Enzymes Activity before and after Animal Manure Application
Agriculture 2020, 10(5), 166; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10050166 - 13 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1602
Abstract
Soil enzymes (urease, invertase, acid and alkaline phosphatase) activity in the rhizosphere of field-grown tomato plants were used to monitor the impact of soil amendments (SA) and SA mixed with biochar on soil microbial activity four months after addition of amendments. The soil [...] Read more.
Soil enzymes (urease, invertase, acid and alkaline phosphatase) activity in the rhizosphere of field-grown tomato plants were used to monitor the impact of soil amendments (SA) and SA mixed with biochar on soil microbial activity four months after addition of amendments. The soil treatments were sewage sludge (SS); horse manure (HM); chicken manure (CM); vermicompost (worm castings); commercial inorganic fertilizer; commercial organic fertilizer; and no-mulch (NM) native soil used for comparison purposes. Soil treatments also were mixed with 10% (w/w) biochar to investigate the impact of biochar on soil enzymes activity. The results showed a significant increase in soil urease and invertase activities after incorporation of SA to native soil. Vermicompost and HM were superior in increasing urease and invertase activity four months after their addition to native soil. Alkaline phosphatase activity fluctuated among the soil treatments, revealing some obstruction of its activity. SS amended with biochar increased acid phosphatase activity by 115% four months after SS addition. Other than alkaline phosphatase, organic manure enhanced soil biological activity (microbial biomass and release of enzymes), indicating that the use of manures, rather than inorganic fertilizers, in crop production is an affordable and sustainable agricultural production system. Full article
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