Special Issue "Adaptation to Climate Change Through Sustainable and Integrated Crop-Soil-Water-Livestock Diversification: A Nexus Approach"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. M. Iftikhar Hussain
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Guest Editor
Plant Biology & Soil Science Department, University of Vigo, 36310-Vigo, Spain
Interests: plant ecophysiology, water use efficiency, carbon isotope discrimination; land degradation and marginal environmental study; screening, selection, and genotypic evaluation in the plant–soil–environment nexus through agronomic tools and physiological perspective; environmental sustainability; non-conventional water resources; crop diversification; plant abiotic stress study; bio-herbicide potential of natural compounds
Dr. Awais Shakoor
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Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Soil Sciences, University of Lleida, Avinguda Alcalde Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Spain
Interests: CO2 and non-CO2 (N2O and CH4) greenhouse gas emission and mitigation; Soil biogeochemistry; organic amendments, i.e., animal manure and biochar and GHG emissions; soil and crop modeling; soil nitrogen dynamics; soil organic matter decomposition; soil microbes and their interaction to the environment; environmental geochemistry; climate change/warming and mitigation
Prof. Dr. Sher Muhammad Shahzad
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Guest Editor
Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Sargodha 40100, Punjab, Pakistan
Interests: plant-microbes interactions, soil biology & biogeochemistry, recycling & management of organic waste, soil carbon sequestration, nutrients cycling in agro-ecosystem, biochar production and utilization. nutrient management in salt-affected soils
Dr. Taimoor Hassan Farooq
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Guest Editor
National Engineering Laboratory for Applied Technology of Forestry and Ecology in South China, College of Life Science and Technology, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004, Hunan, China
Interests: restoration ecology; plant–soil interactions; nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems; nutrient deficiency and stress; carbon and nitrogen isotpic composition; GHGs emissions; root and canopy development; soil conservation and biogeochemistry; environmental chemistry; carbon sequestration; soil microbial community composition; intergrated cropping systems; agroforestry and intercropping

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human population growth, rapid economic development, and accelerated climate change across the globe are necessitating smart agricultural and forestry practices, water saving technologies, different land uses, crop ideotypes, and high-yielding cultivars (HYCs) to enhance plant productivity. Sustainability is closely linked to resilience, i.e., the capacity of food systems over time to provide sufficient, adequate, and accessible food to all in the face of various and even unforeseen challenges. Food systems cannot be expected to be resilient to challenges such as climate change and COVID-19 if they are not sustainable. In this context, sustainable increases in agricultural production are needed to feed billions of people worldwide in the future. In this context, adopting integrated agricultural practices such as sustainable crop and livestock diversification,  water-saving technologies, different land uses, crop ideotypes, and high-yielding cultivars can minimize greenhouse gas emissions, food losses and wastes, improve crop productivity and global supply chain, and provide nutritive food to world communities suffering from hunger and malnutrition. In this Special Issue, the particular focus is integrated crop–livestock systems that possess multifaceted farming systems, in which different agricultural practices are combined for the sustainable management of available natural resources (plant–soil–water); to reduce climate change impact; to improve soil properties, crop productivity, and animal sector development; and increase farmer profit in an integrated way. Climate change poses considerable challenges for development, food security, and poverty alleviation.

Several sustainable agricultural and forestry practices should be adopted by growers to enhance the soil fertility and water use efficiency, increase resiliency to climate change, reduce marginal lands, and improve water resources to enhance crop productivity and yield stability. These milestones can be achieved through the provision of different integrated plant production packages and expanding their use to more marginalized farmers with a poor economic condition. In the livestock sector, sustainable production and development of the forage sector is crucial, requiring the upscaling of forags with good nutritive value. Several factors are responsible for poor livestock productivity, ncluding low-yielding forage genotypes with low quality and yield under marginal environment. To save fresh water resources, we must safely reuse non-conventional water (NCW) such as treated wastewater, low-quality saline water, and rain harvesting as vital alternate resources for the agriculture and forestry sectors. ICLS has been adopted in several countries but this concept still needs to be adopted in West Asia, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iberian Peninsula in fertile and marginal environments. The farmers in North Africa are particularly vulnerable to climate change perturbations, which include salinity and drought. This challenge requires adaptation of drought and salt t-olerant genotypes of various forage crops with high nutritive value. Among them, several forage crops, such as sorghum, pearl millet, and triticale, have been adapted by the local farmer community, the livelihood of which depends on agriculture, to saline and marginal environments. It was found that farmers should have to adopt salt-tolerant forage crops and use NCW and marginal lands to improve the agriculture and livestock sectors, which will significantly support the local economy, food security, and profit of the farmer. It will also help to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, aiming at the protection, restoration, and advancement of the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests, halting land degradation including desertification and losses of biodiversity, as well as responding to the urgent call to action to deal with climate change and its negative outcomes.

The aim of this Special Issue is to present original research articles and reviews on all aspects of integrated and sustainable agriculture through several technologies such as NCW, ICLS and HYC. For this Special Issue, we seek original work focused on addressing new research and development challenges, innovative techniques, HYC, ICLS, NCW, and integrated solutions for sustainable agriculture.

Dr. M. Iftikhar Hussain
Dr. Awais Shakoor
Prof. Dr. Sher Muhammad Shahzad
Dr. Taimoor Hassan Farooq
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • crop–livestock integration
  • agroforestry and intercropping
  • sustaiable production
  • forage crops
  • sorghum
  • pearl millet
  • triticale
  • safflower
  • dual-purpose crop
  • wastewater
  • non-conventional water resources

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Influence of Intraspecific Competition Stress on Soil Fungal Diversity and Composition in Relation to Tree Growth and Soil Fertility in Sub-Tropical Soils under Chinese Fir Monoculture
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10688; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su131910688 - 26 Sep 2021
Viewed by 454
Abstract
Soil microorganisms provide valuable ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling, soil remediation, and biotic and abiotic stress resistance. There is increasing interest in exploring total belowground biodiversity across ecological scales to understand better how different ecological aspects, such as stand density, soil properties, [...] Read more.
Soil microorganisms provide valuable ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling, soil remediation, and biotic and abiotic stress resistance. There is increasing interest in exploring total belowground biodiversity across ecological scales to understand better how different ecological aspects, such as stand density, soil properties, soil depth, and plant growth parameters, influence belowground communities. In various environments, microbial components of belowground communities, such as soil fungi, respond differently to soil features; however, little is known about their response to standing density and vertical soil profiles in a Chinese fir monoculture plantation. This research examined the assemblage of soil fungal communities in different density stands (high, intermediate, and low) and soil depth profiles (0–20 cm and 20–40 cm). This research also looked into the relationship between soil fungi and tree canopy characteristics (mean tilt angle of the leaf (MTA), leaf area index (LAI), and canopy openness index (DIFN)), and general growth parameters, such as diameter, height, and biomass. The results showed that low-density stand soil had higher fungal alpha diversity than intermediate- and high-density stand soils. Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Mucromycota, and Mortierellomycota were the most common phyla of the soil fungal communities, in that order. Saitozyma, Penicillium, Umbelopsis, and Talaromyces were the most abundant fungal genera. Stand density composition was the dominant factor in changing fungal community structure compared to soil properties and soil depth profiles. The most significant soil elements in soil fungal community alterations were macronutrients. In addition, the canopy openness index and fungal community structure have a positive association in the low-density stand. Soil biota is a nutrient cycling driver that can promote better plant growth in forest ecosystems by supporting nutrient cycling. Hence, this research will be critical in understanding soil fungal dynamics, improving stand growth and productivity, and improving soil quality in intensively managed Chinese fir plantations. Full article
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Article
Development and Characterization of Efficient K-Solubilizing Rhizobacteria and Mesorhizobial Inoculants for Chickpea
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10240; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su131810240 - 14 Sep 2021
Viewed by 452
Abstract
The use of mineral fertilizers has long been associated with the improved growth of crop plants as well as increased yield potential per unit area. However, the incessant practice of imbalanced fertilizers application has increased the economic and environmental costs for the agricultural [...] Read more.
The use of mineral fertilizers has long been associated with the improved growth of crop plants as well as increased yield potential per unit area. However, the incessant practice of imbalanced fertilizers application has increased the economic and environmental costs for the agricultural sector. The deficiency of potassium (K) has been identified as a primary crop production challenge in certain semi-arid regions where soil-K reserves are increasingly being depleted. This study aimed to isolate and characterize K-solubilizing bacterial strains from the rhizosphere and root nodules of chickpea. Initially, 50 rhizobacterial strains and 50 rhizobial strains were isolated using Aleksandrov’s medium. Each of these collections was narrowed down to 25 strains, following a rigorous qualitative screening based on different physiological, morphological and biochemical tests. From these, five strains each of rhizosphere and nodule origins were selected based on qualitative as well quantitative determination of various growth promoting traits. In addition to efficient potassium and phosphate solubilization, the selected strains displayed better growth conditions, as evident by glucose substrate use at 25 °C and pH 7. In this study, we found that strains SKB3 (rhizosphere) and JKR7 (rhizobia) were the most efficient K-solubilizers. Additionally, they possessed diverse plant growth promoting traits such as root colonization, the synthesis of siderophores, exopolysaccharides, chitinase activity, indole-acetic acid production and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid deaminase activity. Overall, our results suggest that the application of bacterial K-solubilizers could be employed as a useful K-supplement in K-limited agroecosystems. Moreover, the use of these K-solubilizers may help lead in alleviating the negative environmental impacts associated with chemical fertilizer. Full article
Article
Biomass Quantity and Quality from Different Year-Round Cereal–Legume Cropping Systems as Forage or Fodder for Livestock
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9414; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13169414 - 22 Aug 2021
Viewed by 663
Abstract
The quantity and quality of forage and fodder crops is the major drawback of the livestock sector in the country. There is a need to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of fodder through the adoption of specific sustainable fodder production [...] Read more.
The quantity and quality of forage and fodder crops is the major drawback of the livestock sector in the country. There is a need to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of fodder through the adoption of specific sustainable fodder production strategies. The field experiments were conducted during kharif (rainy, June–October), rabi (post-rainy, October–February), and summer (March–May) seasons of 2018–19 and 2019–20 to identify a sustainable fodder cropping system module in randomized complete block design with fifteen fodder cropping systems in three replications. The main objective of this research was to identify the most productive cereal–legume cropping system, both in terms of quantity and quality of biomass, to reduce the gap between supply and demand of quality livestock feed around the year. Among cropping systems, Bajra–Napier hybrid intercropped with lucerne, cowpea, and sesbania recorded significantly higher green fodder (163.6, 155.2, and 144.0 t/ha/year, respectively) and dry matter yields (32.1, 30.8, and 31.3 t/ha/year, respectively). Similarly, the same perennial systems also recorded higher quality yield and ash content. However, higher crude protein content was noticed in monocrop legumes, with the highest in sesbania (22.32%), while higher ether extractable fat was found in monocrop sesbania (3.78%). The monocrop oats recorded higher non-fiber carbohydrates (36.90%) while a monocrop of pearl millet recorded higher total carbohydrates (80.75%), however they were on par with other monocrop cereal cropping systems. Cultivation of legumes as a monocrop, and their inclusion as an intercrop with cereals resulted in lower fiber fractions and improved crude protein in intercropping systems. Furthermore, this improved the dry matter intake and digestibility of fodder. With higher sustainable yield index values and land-use efficiency, perennial intercropping systems were also found to be sustainable. Thus, cultivation of the Bajra–Napier hybrid with either lucerne, cowpea, or sesbania as an intercrop will help livestock farmers to achieve higher productivity in terms of quantity and quality, and forms a viable option for overcoming livestock feed scarcity. Full article
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Article
Can Different Salt Formulations Revert the Depressing Effect of Salinity on Maize by Modulating Plant Biochemical Attributes and Activating Stress Regulators through Improved N Supply?
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 8022; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13148022 - 19 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
Salinity is a major constraint in improving agricultural productivity due to its adverse impact on various physiological and biochemical attributes of plants, and its effect on reducing nitrogen (N) use efficiency due to ion toxicity. To understand the relationship between sodium chloride (NaCl) [...] Read more.
Salinity is a major constraint in improving agricultural productivity due to its adverse impact on various physiological and biochemical attributes of plants, and its effect on reducing nitrogen (N) use efficiency due to ion toxicity. To understand the relationship between sodium chloride (NaCl) and increased N application rates, a pot study was performed in which the ammonical (NH4+) form of N was applied as urea to maize crops at different rates (control, 160, 186, 240, 267, 293, and 320 kg N ha−1) using two salinity levels (control and 10 dS m−1 NaCl). The results indicate that all biochemical and physiological attributes of the maize plant improved with increased concentration of N up to 293 kg ha−1, compared to those in the control treatment. Similarly, the optimal N concentration regulated the activities of antioxidant enzymes, i.e., catalase activity (CAT), peroxidase activity (POD), and superoxide dismutases (SOD), and also increased the N use efficiencies of the maize crop up to 293 kg N ha−1. Overall, our results show that the optimum level of N (293 kg ha−1) improved the salinity tolerance in the maize plant by activating stress coping physiological and biochemical mechanisms. This may have been due to the major role of N in the metabolic activity of plants and N assimilation enzymes activity such as nitrate reductase (NR) and nitrite reductase (NiR). Full article
Article
Blood, Hair and Feces as an Indicator of Environmental Exposure of Sheep, Cow and Buffalo to Cobalt: A Health Risk Perspectives
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7873; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13147873 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 594
Abstract
Exposure to toxic metals (TMs) such as cobalt (Co) can cause lifelong carcinogenic disorders and mutagenic outcomes. TMs enter ground water and rivers from human activity, anthropogenic contamination, and the ecological environment. The present study was conducted to evaluate the influence of sewage [...] Read more.
Exposure to toxic metals (TMs) such as cobalt (Co) can cause lifelong carcinogenic disorders and mutagenic outcomes. TMs enter ground water and rivers from human activity, anthropogenic contamination, and the ecological environment. The present study was conducted to evaluate the influence of sewage water irrigation on cobalt (Co) toxicity and bioaccumulation in a soil-plant environment and to assess the health risk of grazing livestock via forage consumption. Cobalt is a very necessary element for the growth of plants and animals; however, higher concentrations have toxic impacts. Measurement of Co in plant, soil and water samples was conducted via wet digestion method using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The Co pollution severity was examined in soil, forage crops (Sorghum bicolor Kuntze, Sesbania bispinosa (Jacq.) W. Wight, Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers., Suaeda fruticosa (L.) Forssk. and Tribulus terrestris L.) in blood, hair and feces of sheep, cow and buffalo from district Toba-Tek-Singh, Punjab, Pakistan. Three sites were selected for investigation of Co level in soil and forage samples. Highest concentration of Co was 0.65 and 0.35 mg/kg occurring in S. bicolor at site I. The sheep blood, cow hair and sheep feces samples showed highest concentrations of 0.545, 0.549 and 0.548 mg/kg, respectively at site I and site II. Bioconcentration factor, pollution load index, enrichment factor and daily intake were found to be higher (0.667, 0.124, 0.12 and 0.0007 mg/kg) in soil, S. bicolor, S. fruticosa and in buffalo, respectively, at site I. It was concluded that forage species irrigated with wastewater are safe for consumption of livestock. However, though the general values were lower than the permissible maximum limit, it was observed that the bioaccumulation in the forage species was higher. Therefore, soil and food chain components should be avoided from trace metal contamination, and other means of nonconventional water resources should be employed for forages irrigation. Full article
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