Evaluate the Functional Value of Agroecosystem under Different Management Scenarios

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Agroecology Innovation: Achieving System Resilience".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 8320

Special Issue Editors

The State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China
Interests: interaction of soil C-N; conservation tillage; crop rotation; GHG; C sequestration
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Guest Editor
School of Geography and Resources, Guizhou Education University, Guizhou 550018, China
Interests: orchard groundcover management; conversion of cropland into grassland; soil C and N cycle
College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
Interests: intercropping; biochar; phosphorus dynamics; soil enzyme

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Guest Editor
College of Grassland Science, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao 266109, China
Interests: intercropping; forage cultivation; grass mixed-sowing; multi-forage planting mode

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agroecosystems are defined as communities of plants and animals interacting with their physical and chemical environments that have been modified by people to produce food, fibre, fuel and other products for human consumption and processing. A typical agroecosystem involves the agricultural system and the surrounding environment. Like any other ecosystem, an agroecosystem contains living (biotic, e.g., crops, grass/legume, cattle, insects, and microbes) and non-living (abiotic, e.g., climatic conditions, nutrients, water, and light) components. The interactions between the two components could be complex, sustainable agroecosystem provides several important benefits to farmers and to society, such as reducing soil and water erosion, providing high quality feed for livestock, securing soil fertility and biodiversity, facilitating soil carbon sequestration, enhancing agro-ecosystems productivity, sustainability, stability, and resistance.

Given the increasing pressure on soil health, food security, and environmental sustainability, developing strategies to maximise resource use efficiency and minimise any adverse impact on soils and/or the ecosystem is warranted. Thus, it is essential to unravel the mechanisms of agroecosystem sustainability to provide helpful information for future agriculture management to mitigate the threats of climate change, improve soil fertility, and ensure global food security.

In this Special Issue, we aim to exchange knowledge on any aspect of mechanisms and future directions of optimising agriculture management in the agroecosystem.

Dr. Yuan Li
Dr. Yangzhou Xiang
Dr. Jihui Tian
Dr. Fuhong Miao
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • agricultural sustainability
  • ecosystem productivity
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • resource use efficiency
  • soil quality

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 962 KiB  
Article
Quantifying the Flows of Nitrogen Fertilizer under Different Application Rates in a Soil–Forage Triticale–Dairy Cow System
by Yongliang You, Guibo Liu, Xianlong Yang, Zikui Wang, Yuan Li, Xingfa Lai and Yuying Shen
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3073; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123073 - 16 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1046
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) can enhance the biomass and feeding quality of forage crops and advance the growth of the herbivorous livestock industry. Investigating the N fertilizer dynamics in the soil–crop–livestock system is important for resource-use efficiency and environmental safety. By using the 15N-labeled [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) can enhance the biomass and feeding quality of forage crops and advance the growth of the herbivorous livestock industry. Investigating the N fertilizer dynamics in the soil–crop–livestock system is important for resource-use efficiency and environmental safety. By using the 15N-labeled technology and the in vitro incubation technique, an experiment was conducted in the North China Plain (NCP) in 2015–2016 to quantify the migration and distribution of N fertilizer in the soil–forage triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack)–dairy cow system. The results showed that 34.1–37.3% of the applied N fertilizer was absorbed by forage triticale, in which 35.9–39.6% N accumulated in the stems and 60.4–64.1% accumulated in the leaves. In addition, 36.3–39.1% of the applied N fertilizer remained in the 0–100 cm soil layer, in which 81.8–91.3% was distributed in the 0–40 cm soil layer. The remaining 24.6–26.8% of the applied N fertilizer was lost in various ways and 28.1–31.3% of the N fertilizer could be utilized by dairy cows. When N fertilizer was applied between 0–225 kg N ha−1, the increased application of N fertilizer improved the biomass yield from 14.0 to 17.5 t ha−1 and enhanced the N content of the forage triticale from 1.3% to 1.4%; however, it did not significantly affect the distribution rate of N fertilizer in the soil–forage triticale–dairy cow system. The optimum N fertilizer application rate for forage triticale is less than 225 kg N ha–1 to maintain high-efficient N use in the soil–crop–livestock system and reduce the environmental risks in the NCP. Our results quantified the N fertilizer dynamics in the soil–forage triticale–dairy cow system and provided a significant reference for guiding rational strategies of forage triticale cultivation. Full article
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0 pages, 1549 KiB  
Article
Effect of Intercropping on Fruit Yield and Financial Benefits of Rosa roxburghii Tratt Orchard in Southwest China
by Ying Liu, Yawen Zhang, Tianhao Xiao, Yuguo Wu, Yuan Li, Ji He, Yangzhou Xiang and Bin Yao
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2953; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122953 - 29 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 911
Abstract
The practice of intercropping in Rosa roxburghii Tratt orchards holds potential for enhancing fruit yield and financial benefits, yet remains insufficiently explored. To address this, we delved into the effects of intercropping on fruit yield and financial viability of R. roxburghii orchards in [...] Read more.
The practice of intercropping in Rosa roxburghii Tratt orchards holds potential for enhancing fruit yield and financial benefits, yet remains insufficiently explored. To address this, we delved into the effects of intercropping on fruit yield and financial viability of R. roxburghii orchards in Longli County, southern China. Orchards of varying ages (4 years old and 5 years old; 7 years old and 8 years old) were subjected to different treatments: (i) Zea mays and Capsicum annuum intercropping, and clean tillage for younger orchards, and (ii) Lolium perenne, natural grass, and clean tillage for older orchards. Each treatment was assessed for its impact on fruit yield and financial benefits. In younger orchards, intercropping with Z. mays and C. annuum did not significantly elevate fruit yield compared to clean tillage in the 4-year-old orchard; however, C. annuum intercropping significantly improved fruit yield in the 5-year-old orchard. Concurrently, intercropping significantly augmented the total financial benefit by 9234.35–10,486.25 CNY ha−1 (Z. mays) and 14,304.90–16,629.18 CNY ha−1 (C. annuum) compared to clean tillage. In older orchards, L. perenne intercropping significantly elevated fruit yield by 598.84–803.64 kg·ha−1, while natural grass reduced it by 394.61–986.24 kg·ha−1, compared to clean tillage. Additionally, L. perenne intercropping significantly boosted the total financial benefit by 8873.92–9956.56 CNY ha−1, whereas natural grass negatively impacted financial benefits by 78.42–2444.94 CNY ha−1 compared to clean tillage. Collectively, our results illustrate that judicious selection of intercrops, based on orchard age and conditions, can significantly enhance both fruit yield and financial advantages in R. roxburghii orchards. This study furnishes vital insights for orchard management and accentuates the prospective merits of intercropping in fruit production systems. Full article
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15 pages, 1925 KiB  
Article
The Responses of Stem and Leaf Functional Traits of Medicago sativa and Bromus inermis to Different Mixed Planting Patterns
by Fuhong Miao, Xiaoxu Yu, Xinkai Tang, Xindi Liu, Wei Tang, Yanhua Zhao, Chao Yang, Yufang Xu, Guofeng Yang and Juan Sun
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2733; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112733 - 30 Oct 2023
Viewed by 801
Abstract
This study investigated the differences in stem and leaf growth characteristics of Medicago sativa and Bromus inermis in the Jiaozhou region of China during 2019–2020 under three different planting modes of the two forages: monoculture, mixed species sowing in the same rows, and [...] Read more.
This study investigated the differences in stem and leaf growth characteristics of Medicago sativa and Bromus inermis in the Jiaozhou region of China during 2019–2020 under three different planting modes of the two forages: monoculture, mixed species sowing in the same rows, and mixed species sowing in alternating rows. No special management of the experimental plots was carried out in this study to simulate as much as possible the growth of forages in their natural state. The stem and leaf characteristics influencing the dry matter weight were calculated using grey correlation. These characteristics included leaf length, leaf width, leaf thickness, leaf area, leaf fresh weight, stem length, stem diameter, stem fresh weight, stem–leaf ratio, fresh matter yield, dry matter yield, and protein yield of M. sativa and B. inermis under different sowing methods in different years. The results showed that the weight pattern of the characteristics affecting the yield of M. sativa and B. inermis production was leaf area > stem diameter > leaf length > stem length > leaf width > leaf thickness, leaf area > leaf length > stem length > leaf width > leaf thickness > stem diameter. Considering all the growth factors, the production capacity was ranked as mixed sowing in alternating rows > mixed sowing in same rows > monoculture. Thus, the suitable mode for M. sativaB. inermis sowing was mixed sowing in alternating rows. Full article
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12 pages, 2498 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Tillage and Residue Retention Measures on Silage Maize Yield and Quality and Soil Phosphorus in Karst Areas
by Tao Wang, Wei Ren, Feng Yang, Lili Niu, Zhou Li and Mingjun Zhang
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2306; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092306 - 31 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 841
Abstract
Soil phosphorus (P) limitation in karst areas has severely constrained soil quality and land productivity. To enhance silage maize yield and quality and alleviate and/or balance the low phosphorus availability in the karst areas of China, the experiment investigated the effects of different [...] Read more.
Soil phosphorus (P) limitation in karst areas has severely constrained soil quality and land productivity. To enhance silage maize yield and quality and alleviate and/or balance the low phosphorus availability in the karst areas of China, the experiment investigated the effects of different tillage and residue retention practices on silage maize yield and quality and soil phosphorus in this region. The treatment set included: conventional tillage (CT), conventional tillage and root stubble retention (CTH), conventional tillage and mulch (CTM), conventional tillage and crushing and incorporation of hairy vetch by tillage (CTR), no tillage (NT), no tillage and root stubble retention (NTH), no tillage and mulch (NTM), and no tillage and living mulch (NTLM). The results showed that CTM, NTM, CTR, and NTLM significantly increased the height and LAI of silage maize compared with the CT, NT, and NTH treatments. CTM, CTR, and NTM significantly enhanced maize yield. Compared with conventional tillage, not tilling had a more pronounced improvement in silage quality, whereas residue retention hardly affected corn quality. In addition, although not tilling does not significantly increase acid phosphatase activity, it appeared to be advantageous in increasing soil microbial phosphorus and available phosphorus content when combined with cover crop measures. Ultimately, we concluded that NTM and NTLM are beneficial for silage maize yield and quality and soil phosphorus content in karst areas and verified the advantages of combining no tillage and residue retention practices for silage maize production and soil phosphorus improvement in the karst areas of China. Full article
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11 pages, 408 KiB  
Article
Screening Optimal Oat Varieties for Cultivation in Arid Areas in China: A Comprehensive Evaluation of Agronomic Traits
by Gang Wang, Huixin Xu, Hongyang Zhao, Yuguo Wu, Xi Gao, Zheng Chai, Yuqing Liang, Xiaoke Zhang, Rong Zheng, Qian Yang and Yuan Li
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2266; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092266 - 29 Aug 2023
Viewed by 848
Abstract
This study was undertaken to identify oat (Avena sativa L.) varieties optimal for cultivation in the Jiuquan region, China, in 2021. A selection of 27 domestic and international oat varieties were analyzed, considering ten key agronomic traits, including plant height, stem diameter, [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken to identify oat (Avena sativa L.) varieties optimal for cultivation in the Jiuquan region, China, in 2021. A selection of 27 domestic and international oat varieties were analyzed, considering ten key agronomic traits, including plant height, stem diameter, spike length, leaf width, and yield. Employing methods such as cluster analysis, principal component analysis, and grey correlation degree, a comprehensive evaluation was conducted. The principal component analysis distilled the ten indicators to three core components. The most influential factors in the first principal component were plant height, ear length, and hay yield, while leaf length and leaf area index were the highest contributors to the second component. The stem-to-leaf ratio emerged as the principal indicator in the third component. The cluster analysis resulted in the classification of the 27 oat varieties into 3 categories. Following a comprehensive evaluation through the grey correlation degree and principal component analysis methodologies, we found that the oat varieties Sweety 1, Fuyan 1, Dingyan 2, Baler, Quebec, and Longyan 2 received the highest scores. These varieties, hence, appear to be the most suitable for cultivation and promotion in the Jiuquan region. This study thus provides invaluable insights into oat cultivation practices, offering guidance for farmers, agricultural policymakers, and future research in the field. Full article
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12 pages, 3055 KiB  
Article
Root Architecture of Forage Species Varies with Intercropping Combinations
by Xindi Liu, Yu Jiao, Xiaoyu Zhao, Xiaoxu Yu, Qingping Zhang, Shuo Li, Lichao Ma, Wei Tang, Chao Yang, Guofeng Yang, Juan Sun and Fuhong Miao
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2223; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092223 - 25 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1096
Abstract
Belowground root systems under pasture intercropping exhibit complex interactions, and the root interactions of different intercropping combinations are still poorly understood. Therefore, in this work, two perennial and annual herbages were intercropped in pairs and evaluated at a ratio of 1:1. The root [...] Read more.
Belowground root systems under pasture intercropping exhibit complex interactions, and the root interactions of different intercropping combinations are still poorly understood. Therefore, in this work, two perennial and annual herbages were intercropped in pairs and evaluated at a ratio of 1:1. The root morphology and topological structure differed significantly with intercropping combinations. (1) Compared with other cropping patterns, the mean root diameter (RD) of intercropped alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) increased notably. The root surface area (RSA), root volume (RV), and mean RD increased significantly when oat (Avena sativa L.) was intercropped with alfalfa. Similarly, the RSA and RV increased in intercropped oat, intercropping relative to monocropping. (2) The forage topological index of the intercropping system was close to one, which was close to that of the herringbone branching. Additionally, the intercropping system had a lower intensity of underground root competition. The root system of the different forage intercropping combinations tended to transition to dichotomous branching. (3) The correlations between root parameters differed according to forage species. Therefore, different intercropping combinations had different belowground root levels of competitiveness and interactions, thereby changing the resource competition environment. Full article
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14 pages, 1039 KiB  
Article
Soil Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fractions and Response to Microorganisms and Mineral Elements in Zanthoxylum planispinum ‘Dintanensis’ Plantations at Different Altitudes
by Yingu Wu and Yanghua Yu
Agronomy 2023, 13(2), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13020558 - 15 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
The Carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fractions, mineral element concentrations, microbial density, and biomass in 0–10 and 10–20 cm soil fractions under Zanthoxylum planispinum ‘dintanensis’ plantations, were measured at altitudes of 531, 640, 780, 871, and 1097 m in the mountainous [...] Read more.
The Carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fractions, mineral element concentrations, microbial density, and biomass in 0–10 and 10–20 cm soil fractions under Zanthoxylum planispinum ‘dintanensis’ plantations, were measured at altitudes of 531, 640, 780, 871, and 1097 m in the mountainous karst areas of Guizhou Province, Southwest China, and the correlations between altitude and the soil variables were analyzed. The results showed that: (1) with the increase in altitude, there was no significant linear change in C fractions, total N, effective N, microorganism density, or mineral element concentration in each soil layer; however, ammonium-N and nitrate-N concentrations gradually decreased, and the P fraction was higher at the highest altitude; (2) soil C, N, and P fractions, concentrations of microorganisms and mineral elements at the same altitude showed a surface aggregation effect; (3) principal component analysis identified the main indicators affecting C, N and P fractions as total calcium, effective calcium, effective iron, total zinc, and bacteria; (4) correlation analysis showed that both total N and C fractions were positively correlated with effective N and P fractions and that mineral element concentrations were more closely correlated with C, N, and (especially) P fractions than with microorganism abundance. Overall, the effect of altitude on C, N, and P fractions showed that the correlation with soluble organic carbon was stronger than particulate organic carbon and easily oxidized carbon, inorganic N was closer correlated than organic N, and organic P was closer correlated than inorganic P. In conclusion, it shows that research focusing on soil N conservation, nutrient stoichiometry balance, and application of mineral-rich element fertilizers is important for Zanthoxylum planispinum ‘dintanensis’ plantation maintenance. Full article
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