Special Issue "Soil and Water Management Challenges & Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture under Climate Change"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Air, Climate Change and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Gabrijel Ondrasek
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Soil Amelioration, Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: nanostructured aluminosilicates; composite materials; functional materials; ash matrices; adsorbents; drug carrier; drug delivery; bone tissue engineering; biosensors; biomarkers; ecoengineering; bioengineering; waste management; end-to-waste point; circular bioeconomy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Terrestrial agroecosystems are dominant food generators and pivotal utilizers of the most valuable Earth’s resources, notably quality waters and soils, which have been exposed to various anthropogenic pressures for decades, constraining agri-food production. Consequently, a majority of arable pedosphere constrains (salinity/alkalinity, acidity, nutrient deficiency, contamination), and specific management strategies for their amelioration (leaching, drainage, liming, fertilization, bioremediation) are closely linked to appropriate water management in the (sub)surface soil (root) zone. However, optimizing water relations in the arable pedosphere is becoming increasingly challenging due to global climate change and variability. Modern sustainable strategies and approaches to ameliorate suboptimal water conditions (mostly insufficient supply, but waterlogging periodically as well) should be directed toward more efficient management of natural resources given strong competition among related stakeholders in agroecosystems (farmers, urban population, energy-producers).     

For this Special Issue all manuscripts that contain novel science or management and represent a significant contribution within the scope will be considered for publication. All water, soil, land and other environmental resource management approaches, improvements or solutions relevant to agroecosystems and food production at (inter)national, regional or even global level, as well as specific case studies, are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Gabrijel Ondrasek
Guest Editor

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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 1900 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

  • agroecosystem
  • agroforestry
  • climate changes
  • conservation agriculture
  • drainage systems
  • draughts
  • footprints in agriculture
  • global warming
  • irrigation systems
  • phytonutrients management
  • precision agriculture
  • salinity
  • soil constrains
  • soil-plant water relations
  • water footprint
  • water (re)use
  • water scarcity
  • water stress
  • water use efficiency
  • waterlogging

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Keyline in Bean Crop (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) for Soil and Water Conservation
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9982; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13179982 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 452
Abstract
Soil erosion is a common problem worldwide, and in Durango, Mexico, it occurs in 77.4% of territory. Faced with this problem, the hydrological keyline design (HKD) is an alternative that helps to retain soil, increase infiltration, and keep the water uniformly in the [...] Read more.
Soil erosion is a common problem worldwide, and in Durango, Mexico, it occurs in 77.4% of territory. Faced with this problem, the hydrological keyline design (HKD) is an alternative that helps to retain soil, increase infiltration, and keep the water uniformly in the land in order to recover its fertility. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effect of HKD on moisture and soil conservation in a rainfed agricultural plot during the spring–summer 2018 cycle with a bean crop (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in the state of Durango, Mexico. Two treatments were established: control and HKD. The variables to measure the effect of the treatments were: soil water content, water erosion, bean yield, and yield components. The results indicated differences (p < 0.05) between treatments for the moisture and erosion variables; the HKD retained more water than the control by five percent, while sediment transport was lower in the HKD. No differences (p > 0.05) were found regarding bean yield and yield components. However, the yield was 126% higher than regional average in terms of rainfed bean production. Therefore, the implementation of the HKD had a positive impact by retaining soil and moisture. Full article
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Article
Benefits of Legume Species in an Agroforestry Production System of Yellow Pitahaya in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9261; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13169261 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
Agroforestry systems have become an alternative that promotes the conservation of natural resources and the sustainable production of fruit crops in the Ecuadorian Amazon. However, it is required to demonstrate the benefit of the companion species that make up these production systems. The [...] Read more.
Agroforestry systems have become an alternative that promotes the conservation of natural resources and the sustainable production of fruit crops in the Ecuadorian Amazon. However, it is required to demonstrate the benefit of the companion species that make up these production systems. The objective of this research was to determine how the legume species within an agroforestry system influence the yield of yellow dragon fruit (pitahaya), carbon sequestration and nutritional contribution. The experiment was carried out in Palora (province of Morona Santiago) and organized in a randomized complete block design with three replications. The treatments were two agroforestry arrangements and the monoculture as a control treatment. Erythrina poeppigiana, Gliricidia sepium and Flemingia macrophylla were used in the agroforestry arrangements for the contribution of biomass. Results showed that during the five years of study, pitahaya yield was influenced by the quality of the leaf litter (biomass) incorporated in to the fruit crop. Biomass from E. poeppigiana and F. macrophylla as companion crops contributed a greater amount of Ca and Mg, increased C sequestration and crop yield. The results suggest that the use of legume species in agroforestry systems positively affects pitahaya productivity, enabling sustainable agriculture in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Full article
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Article
Between Sand Dunes and Hamadas: Environmental Sustainability of the Thar Desert, West India
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3602; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13073602 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 491
Abstract
Extensive geographic areas of the world show a long-term atmospheric moisture deficit. Desertification of Rajasthan is concurrent with the strengthened weather extremality and mean annual air temperature (MAAT) rise over the western part of the Indian subcontinent. The present landscape aridification due to [...] Read more.
Extensive geographic areas of the world show a long-term atmospheric moisture deficit. Desertification of Rajasthan is concurrent with the strengthened weather extremality and mean annual air temperature (MAAT) rise over the western part of the Indian subcontinent. The present landscape aridification due to the precipitation decrease and reinforced windiness generates surface-cover dryness, aeolian erosion with a mass sediment transfer, salinity of excessively irrigated lands and groundwater depletion; altogether these pose major geo-environmental threats and settlement risks of the expanding Thar Desert. Livestock-overgrazing of sparse-vegetation contributes to ecological pressure to the fragile wasteland ecosystems with approximately three-quarters of the countryside affected to a certain extent by degradation and >50% exposed to wind erosion. Sand dune stabilisation by the drought-adapted tree plantation, the regional hydrology network regulation and the arid-land farming based on new xerophytic cultigens are the key land-use and mitigation strategies. Specific geomorphic palaeosettings predetermined patterned adaptive forms of the ancient desert inhabitation. Geo- and eco-tourism contributes to the arid-zone socioeconomic sustainability with regard to the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area. This study outlines the main effects of the current climate variations on the pristine and occupied lands of western Rajasthan, and the past and present relief transformations, and reviews the modern anthropogenic responses to desertification. Full article
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Article
Effect of Chia Seed Mucilage on the Rhizosphere Hydraulic Characteristics
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3303; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13063303 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 489
Abstract
The rhizosphere is one of the major components in the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum which controls the flow of water from the soil into roots. Plant roots release mucilage in the rhizosphere which is capable of altering the physio-chemical properties of this region. Here, we [...] Read more.
The rhizosphere is one of the major components in the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum which controls the flow of water from the soil into roots. Plant roots release mucilage in the rhizosphere which is capable of altering the physio-chemical properties of this region. Here, we showed how mucilage impacted on rhizosphere hydraulic properties, using simple experiments. An artificial rhizosphere, treated or not with mucilage, was placed in a soil sample and suction was applied to mimic the negative pressure in plant xylem. The measured water contents and matric potential were coupled with numerical models to estimate the water retention curve and hydraulic conductivity. A slower loss of water was observed in the treated scenario which resulted in an increase in water retention. Moreover, a slightly lower hydraulic conductivity was initially observed in the treated scenario (8.44 × 10−4 cm s−1) compared to the controlled one in saturated soil. Over soil drying, a relatively higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity was observed. In summary, we demonstrated that mucilage altered the rhizosphere hydraulic properties and enhanced the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. These findings improve our understanding of how plants capture more water, and postulate that mucilage secretion could be an optimal trait for plant survival during soil drying. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Role of Biochar in Regulating the Carbon, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen Cycles Exemplified by Soil Systems
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5612; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13105612 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 795
Abstract
Biochar is a carbon-rich material prepared from the pyrolysis of biomass under various conditions. Recently, biochar drew great attention due to its promising potential in climate change mitigation, soil amendment, and environmental control. Obviously, biochar can be a beneficial soil amendment in several [...] Read more.
Biochar is a carbon-rich material prepared from the pyrolysis of biomass under various conditions. Recently, biochar drew great attention due to its promising potential in climate change mitigation, soil amendment, and environmental control. Obviously, biochar can be a beneficial soil amendment in several ways including preventing nutrients loss due to leaching, increasing N and P mineralization, and enabling the microbial mediation of N2O and CO2 emissions. However, there are also conflicting reports on biochar effects, such as water logging and weathering induced change of surface properties that ultimately affects microbial growth and soil fertility. Despite the voluminous reports on soil and biochar properties, few studies have systematically addressed the effects of biochar on the sequestration of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soils. Information on microbially-mediated transformation of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) species in the soil environment remains relatively uncertain. A systematic documentation of how biochar influences the fate and transport of carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen in soil is crucial to promoting biochar applications toward environmental sustainability. This report first provides an overview on the adsorption of carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen species on biochar, particularly in soil systems. Then, the biochar-mediated transformation of organic species, and the transport of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soil systems are discussed. This review also reports on the weathering process of biochar and implications in the soil environment. Lastly, the current knowledge gaps and priority research directions for the biochar-amended systems in the future are assessed. This review focuses on literatures published in the past decade (2009–2021) on the adsorption, degradation, transport, weathering, and transformation of C, N, and P species in soil systems with respect to biochar applications. Full article
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Other

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Discussion
Paris Climate Agreement: Promoting Interdisciplinary Science and Stakeholders’ Approaches for Multi-Scale Implementation of Continental Carbon Sequestration
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6715; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12176715 - 19 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1652
Abstract
The Paris Climate Agreements and Sustainable Development Goals, signed by 197 countries, present agendas and address key issues for implementing multi-scale responses for sustainable development under climate change—an effort that must involve local, regional, national, and supra-national stakeholders. In that regard, Continental Carbon [...] Read more.
The Paris Climate Agreements and Sustainable Development Goals, signed by 197 countries, present agendas and address key issues for implementing multi-scale responses for sustainable development under climate change—an effort that must involve local, regional, national, and supra-national stakeholders. In that regard, Continental Carbon Sequestration (CoCS) and conservation of carbon sinks are recognized increasingly as having potentially important roles in mitigating climate change and adapting to it. Making that potential a reality will require indicators of success for various stakeholders from multidisciplinary backgrounds, plus promotion of long-term implementation of strategic action towards civil society (e.g., law and policy makers, economists, and farmers). To help meet those challenges, this discussion paper summarizes the state of the art and uncertainties regarding CoCS, taking an interdisciplinary, holistic approach toward understanding these complex issues. The first part of the paper discusses the carbon cycle’s bio-geophysical processes, while the second introduces the plurality of geographical scales to be addressed when dealing with landscape management for CoCS. The third part addresses systemic viability, vulnerability, and resilience in CoCS practices, before concluding with the need to develop inter-disciplinarity in sustainable science, participative research, and the societal implications of sustainable CoCS actions. Full article
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