Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Farming Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 57489

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Biobased Resources in the Bioeconomy (340b), Institute of Crop Science, University of Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Interests: agricultural production; agroecological intensification; biodiversity; bioeconomy; bioenergy; combustion; cropping systems; diversification; ecosystem services; perennial crops
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Graduate School, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
Interests: interests are the enhancement of the sustainability of animal production systems and the optimizing of natural resources’ use, while promoting the role of livestock on food security, rural development and environmental conservation.

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Guest Editor
College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha, Hunan 410128, China
Interests: bioeconomy; bioenergy; biofuel production; biomass conversion; biomass pretreatment; biomass production; biomass quality; crop science; energy crops; ethanol fermentation; gasification; green technology; hydrolysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to provide a platform for presenting and discussing new findings or approaches on relevant topics of social-ecologically more sustainable agricultural production. Making significant progress in developing and implementing more sustainable agricultural production is one of the most important challenges that humanity faces in climate change era farming and involves considering both economic and social–ecological aspects in the long term. Social-ecologically more sustainable agricultural production is intended to (i) meet the increasing demand for food, (ii) reduce environmental degradation, and (iii) improve many other ecosystem services, such as the provision of medicinal resources, climate regulation, air quality, disturbance modulation, nutrient cycling, pollination, nursery service, and aesthetic information.

The conventional view is that organic farming and regenerative agriculture, as opposed to conventional agricultural production, are in line with social–ecological principles. Individual processes and approaches may be social-ecologically more sustainable, but comparisons are inherently difficult with the manifold components in agricultural systems, which cannot be held constant to compare individual factors.

Many of the promising social-ecologically more sustainable agricultural practices of diverse origins, such as traditional agriculture and precision farming, are also being used around the world because of their comparative advantages, such as efficient use of environmental resources (circular economy), nutrient exchange, weed control, reduction of pathogens and pests, reduction or replacement of synthetic non-biobased pesticides, reduction of nitrate leaching, remediation of contaminated groundwater and soils, improvement of soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, increase in quantitative and qualitative yield of crops, and biodiversity conservation. Given the predominantly unpredictable dynamics of climate change and societal developments, social-ecologically more sustainable agricultural production therefore aims to continuously improve productivity, efficiency, stability, and flexibility while safeguarding the overall living conditions for humans and animals in the long term. The question is: How can this be realized? What are the opportunities? What are the obstacles, and how to overcome them?

We look forward to receiving your contributions on the broad topic of this Special Issue on “Social–Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production”. In addition to the usual article types, such as research article and review, many other article types are also accepted, such as communication, opinion, mini review, and technical note.

Dr. Moritz von Cossel
Dr. Joaquín Castro-Montoya
Dr. Yasir Iqbal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Agroecology
  • Bioeconomy
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Food Crops
  • Industrial Crops
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Sustainable Intensification

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Editorial

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5 pages, 240 KiB  
Editorial
Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production
by Moritz von Cossel, Joaquín Castro-Montoya and Yasir Iqbal
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2818; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112818 - 15 Nov 2023
Viewed by 734
Abstract
Planet Earth is facing numerous imminent challenges, from climate change to ecological dysfunction, which are largely attributed to anthropogenic activities [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

18 pages, 16314 KiB  
Article
Phytoremediation of Cadmium-, Lead-, and Nickel-Polluted Soils by Industrial Hemp
by Giorgio Testa, Sebastiano Andrea Corinzia, Salvatore Luciano Cosentino and Barbara Rachele Ciaramella
Agronomy 2023, 13(4), 995; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13040995 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1978
Abstract
The restoration of polluted soils is crucial for ecosystem recovery services. Evidently, phytoremediation is a biological and sustainable technique that includes the use of plants to remediate heavy-metal-contaminated land; the plants should be tolerant to the contamination and capable of uptake or immobilization [...] Read more.
The restoration of polluted soils is crucial for ecosystem recovery services. Evidently, phytoremediation is a biological and sustainable technique that includes the use of plants to remediate heavy-metal-contaminated land; the plants should be tolerant to the contamination and capable of uptake or immobilization of the heavy metals in the soil. Moreover, defining an economically efficient approach to the remediation of a contaminated area, with the possibility of further utilization of phytoremediation biomass, renders energy crops a great option for this technique. Energy crops, in fact, are known for their ability to grow with low agricultural input, and later, the biomass product can be used to produce biofuels, bioenergy, and bioproducts in a sustainable and renewable way, creating economic potential, especially when these crops are cultivated in marginal lands. The aim of this work is to test two monoecious industrial hemp varieties in different levels of Cd, Pb, and Ni in soil. Both varieties were tolerant to levels of Cd and Pb contamination that were higher than the limit for commercial and industrial use, while Ni showed a significant effect at all the tested concentrations. The variety Futura 75 performed better than Kc Dora in terms of productivity and tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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24 pages, 4655 KiB  
Article
Techno-Economic Assessment of an Office-Based Indoor Farming Unit
by Jedrzej Cichocki, Moritz von Cossel and Bastian Winkler
Agronomy 2022, 12(12), 3182; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12123182 - 15 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
Decentralized, smart indoor cultivation systems can produce herbs and vegetables for fresh and healthy daily nutrition of the urban population. This study assesses technical and resource requirements, productivity, and economic viability of the “Smart Office Farm” (SOF), based on a 5-week production cycle [...] Read more.
Decentralized, smart indoor cultivation systems can produce herbs and vegetables for fresh and healthy daily nutrition of the urban population. This study assesses technical and resource requirements, productivity, and economic viability of the “Smart Office Farm” (SOF), based on a 5-week production cycle of curled lettuce, lolo rosso, pak choi and basil at three photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) levels using a randomized block design. The total fresh matter yield of consumable biomass of all crops was 2.5 kg m−2 with operating expenses (without labor costs) of EUR 53.14 kg−1; more than twice as expensive compared to large-scale vertical farm and open-field cultivation. However, there is no need to add trade margins and transportation costs. The electricity supply to SOF is 73%, by far the largest contributor to operational costs of office-based crop production. Energetic optimizations such as a more homogeneous PPFD distribution at the plant level, as well as adaptation of light quality and quantity to crop needs can increase the economic viability of such small indoor farms. With reduced production costs, urban indoor growing systems such as SOF can become a viable option for supporting fresh and healthy daily nutrition in urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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13 pages, 1628 KiB  
Article
The True Costs and Benefits of Miscanthus Cultivation
by Moritz Wagner, Bastian Winkler, Jan Lask, Jan Weik, Andreas Kiesel, Mirjam Koch, John Clifton-Brown and Moritz von Cossel
Agronomy 2022, 12(12), 3071; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12123071 - 04 Dec 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1817
Abstract
Agroecosystems provide numerous ecosystem services (ESs) such as provisioning, regulating, habitat and cultural services. At the same time, the management of these agroecosystems can cause various negative impacts on the environment such as the generation of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the way humans [...] Read more.
Agroecosystems provide numerous ecosystem services (ESs) such as provisioning, regulating, habitat and cultural services. At the same time, the management of these agroecosystems can cause various negative impacts on the environment such as the generation of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the way humans manage agroecosystems often focuses only on the production of agricultural goods, which yield monetary benefits in the short term but do not include the positive and negative external effects on ESs. In order to enable a holistic assessment of the economic and environmental costs and benefits, the current study combines the production costs, the monetary value of the ESs provided and the monetization of the environmental impacts caused by the management of agroecosystems using the perennial crop miscanthus as an example. Depending on the scenario assessed, the cultivation of miscanthus leads to a net benefit of 140 to 3051 EUR ha−1 yr−1. The monetary value of the ESs provided by the miscanthus cultivation thereby considerably outweighs the internal and external costs. The approach applied allows for a holistic assessment of the benefits and costs of agroecosystems and thus enables management decisions that are not only based on the biomass yield but include the various interactions with the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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15 pages, 933 KiB  
Article
Sida hermaphrodita Cultivation on Light Soil—A Closer Look at Fertilization and Sowing Density
by Teodor Kitczak, Grzegorz Jarnuszewski, Elżbieta Łazar and Ryszard Malinowski
Agronomy 2022, 12(11), 2715; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12112715 - 02 Nov 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1369
Abstract
Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby is a promising perennial biomass crop to provide sustainable bioenergy via combustion. This study investigated cultivation practices for Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby on light soils in temperate climates. Therefore, two cultivation factors were varied over 8 years in a [...] Read more.
Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby is a promising perennial biomass crop to provide sustainable bioenergy via combustion. This study investigated cultivation practices for Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby on light soils in temperate climates. Therefore, two cultivation factors were varied over 8 years in a field trial: (i) fertilization with compost from urban green spaces (0, 10 and 20 t ha−1), and (ii) seeding amount (1, 2 and 3 kg ha−1). Compost fertilization and high seeding amount contributed to an increase in the number and height of Sida shoots while their thickness decreased. The applied compost fertilization increased the dry matter yield (DMY) of the plants by 24.9% and 50.7%, respectively, in all experimental years compared to the control. Compared to the lowest seeding rate, increasing the seeding rate to 2 and 3 kg ha−1 increased the DMY by 35.0% and 71.6%, respectively. Thus, the highest energy value of DMY of Sida hermaphrodita plants per unit area was also obtained for combining the highest organic compost fertilization and seeding strength. From this, it can be deduced that on light soils, it does not seem reasonable to choose a compost fertilizer rate below 20 kg ha−1 and a seeding amount below 3 kg ha−1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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16 pages, 1034 KiB  
Article
Assessing Ecosystem Services of Rice–Fish Co-Culture and Rice Monoculture in Thailand
by Noppol Arunrat and Sukanya Sereenonchai
Agronomy 2022, 12(5), 1241; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051241 - 23 May 2022
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3088
Abstract
Increasing production costs for rice monoculture and concerns about farming households’ food security have motivated farmers to adopt integrated rice–fish farming. To date, there has been little research that comparatively assesses the ecosystem services (ESVs) of both rice–fish co-culture and the rice monoculture [...] Read more.
Increasing production costs for rice monoculture and concerns about farming households’ food security have motivated farmers to adopt integrated rice–fish farming. To date, there has been little research that comparatively assesses the ecosystem services (ESVs) of both rice–fish co-culture and the rice monoculture system in Thailand. Therefore, this study aims to estimate the ESV values of these systems based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. A total of 19 rice–fish co-culture farms were investigated, covering three regions of Thailand (northern, northeastern, and central regions) and consisting of 13 sub-districts, 13 districts, and 11 provinces. For a fair comparison, 19 conventional rice farms were selected as comparison sites. Rice–fish co-culture had a higher net ESV value of 48,450,968.4 THB ha−1 year−1 than rice monoculture with a net ESV value of 42,422,598.5 THB ha−1 year−1. Rice–fish co-culture generated average economic values 25.40% higher than in rice monoculture farming. The most positive change in ESV was found in the regulation of temperature and humidity, with 3,160,862.9 THB ha−1 year−1. Moreover, agrotourism can generate revenue and increase the ESV in rice–fish co-culture. Our findings showed that rice–fish co-culture gives more economic and ecological benefits compared to the rice monoculture system. Further studies are recommended to explore and analyze the potential advantages of the rice–fish system in more detail. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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12 pages, 1868 KiB  
Article
Biomass Quality Variations over Different Harvesting Regimes and Dynamics of Heavy Metal Change in Miscanthus lutarioriparius around Dongting Lake
by Xionghui Liao, Yini Wu, Tongcheng Fu, Yasir Iqbal, Sai Yang, Meng Li, Zili Yi and Shuai Xue
Agronomy 2022, 12(5), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051188 - 15 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1719
Abstract
Miscanthus lutarioriparius has a growing area of 100,000 ha and an annual biomass production of 1 Mt around Dongting Lake. However, due to serious soil pollution, there is a concern that the M. lutarioriparius biomass could have high heavy metal (HM) concentrations. This [...] Read more.
Miscanthus lutarioriparius has a growing area of 100,000 ha and an annual biomass production of 1 Mt around Dongting Lake. However, due to serious soil pollution, there is a concern that the M. lutarioriparius biomass could have high heavy metal (HM) concentrations. This necessitates investigation of biomass quality to find the appropriate end use. Thus, this study aims to investigate the dynamics of HM elements in the M. lutarioriparius biomass and their impact on biomass quality across different growing areas and harvest times. We analyzed the HM concentrations in soil and biomass from 11 sites under different harvesting times (April, August and December). Results showed that Cd in soil samples was 9.43-fold higher than the national standards. The heavily polluted soil caused a high HM concentration in the biomass and the accumulation increased with the delayed harvest. The fresh young shoots in April met the food limitation for Cd and Cr, whereas Pb concentration was slightly higher than the threshold limit. The mature biomass from the southern part had higher Mn, Cd and Pb, but lower Cu, Zn and Cr concentrations than that from the eastern part. These results can provide guidance for guaranteeing the consistent quality of the M. lutarioriparius biomass for bio-based industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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19 pages, 5696 KiB  
Article
Spatiotemporal Changes in the Geographic Imbalances between Crop Production and Farmland-Water Resources in China
by Dajing Li, Hongqi Zhang and Erqi Xu
Agronomy 2022, 12(5), 1111; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051111 - 03 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Agricultural production is constrained by farmland and water resources, especially in China with limited per capita resources. Understanding of the geographic changes between national crop production and resource availability with the spatial shift of crop production has been limited in recent decades. To [...] Read more.
Agricultural production is constrained by farmland and water resources, especially in China with limited per capita resources. Understanding of the geographic changes between national crop production and resource availability with the spatial shift of crop production has been limited in recent decades. To solve this issue, we quantified the changes in geographic relationships between crop production and farmland-water resources in China from 1990 to 2015 by a spatial imbalance measurement model. Results found a clear spatial concentration trend of crop production in China, which increased the pressure on the limited farmland and water resources in the main production areas. The geographic imbalances between the total production of crops and farmland resources (∑SMI_PF) alleviated slightly, whereas that of water resources (∑SMI_PW) increased by 9.12%. The rice production moved toward the north of the country with less water but abundant farmland resources, which led to a decrease of 1.34% in ∑SMI_PF and an increase of 14.20% in ∑SMI_PW. The shift of wheat production to the south was conducive to alleviating the pressure on water resources, but the production concentration still increased the demand for farmland and water resources, resulting in an increase in ∑SMI_PF and ∑SMI_PW by 39.96% and 10.01%, respectively. Of the five crops, adjustments to the spatial distribution of corn production had the most significant effect on reducing pressure on farmland and water resources and ∑SMI_PF and ∑SMI_PW decreased by 11.23% and 1.43%, respectively. Our results provided a reference for adjustments in crop production distribution and for policy formulation to sustainably utilize farmland and water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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23 pages, 2524 KiB  
Article
Yield Performance of Woody Crops on Marginal Agricultural Land in Latvia, Spain and Ukraine
by Santa Celma, Marina Sanz, Pilar Ciria, Oksana Maliarenko, Oleh Prysiazhniuk, Mudrite Daugaviete, Dagnija Lazdina and Moritz von Cossel
Agronomy 2022, 12(4), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12040908 - 09 Apr 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2359
Abstract
Agricultural land abandonment due to biophysical and socioeconomic constraints is increasing across Europe. Meanwhile there is also an increase in bioenergy demand. This study assessed woody crop performance on several relevant types of marginal agricultural land in Europe, based on field experiments in [...] Read more.
Agricultural land abandonment due to biophysical and socioeconomic constraints is increasing across Europe. Meanwhile there is also an increase in bioenergy demand. This study assessed woody crop performance on several relevant types of marginal agricultural land in Europe, based on field experiments in Latvia, Spain and Ukraine. In Latvia, hybrid aspen was more productive than birch and alder species, and after eight years produced 4.8 Mg ha−1 y−1 on stony soil with sandy loam texture, when best clone and treatment combination was selected. In Spain, Siberian elm produced up to 7.1 Mg ha−1 y−1 on stony, sandy soil with low organic carbon content after three triennial rotations. In Ukraine, willow plantations produced a maximum of 10.8 Mg ha−1 y−1 on a soil with low soil organic carbon after second triennial rotation. The productivity was higher when management practices were optimized specifically to address the limiting factors of a site. Longer rotations and lower biomass yields compared to high-value land can be expected when woody crops are grown on similar marginal agricultural land shown in this study. Future studies should start here and investigate to what extent woody crops can contribute to rural development under these conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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16 pages, 1054 KiB  
Article
A Sampling Strategy to Develop a Primary Core Collection of Miscanthus spp. in China Based on Phenotypic Traits
by Shuling Liu, Cheng Zheng, Wei Xiang, Zili Yi and Liang Xiao
Agronomy 2022, 12(3), 678; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12030678 - 11 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1851
Abstract
Core collections can act as a genetic germplasm resource for biologists and breeders. Thirty-seven phenotypic traits from 471 Miscanthus accessions in China were used to design 203 sampling schemes to screen the genetic variations in different sampling strategies. The sampling was analyzed using [...] Read more.
Core collections can act as a genetic germplasm resource for biologists and breeders. Thirty-seven phenotypic traits from 471 Miscanthus accessions in China were used to design 203 sampling schemes to screen the genetic variations in different sampling strategies. The sampling was analyzed using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) and the Euclidean distance (Euclid). Several parameters including the variance of phenotypic value (VPV), Shannon–Weaver diversity index (H), coefficient of variation (CV), variance of phenotypic frequency (VPF), ratio of phenotype retained (RPR), the mean difference percentage (MD%) and the variance difference percentage of traits (VD%), the range coincidence rate (CR%) and the variable rate of quantitative traits (VR%) were used to evaluate the level of representation of the primary core collections developed by the different sampling schemes. Based on the optimal sampling strategies of prior selecting accessions, a primary core collection was constructed that maintained > 99.5% of the VPV and a CR% of 100%. This study indicates that the optimal sampling scheme consisted of prior and deviation sampling methods (PD) combined with a logarithmic proportional sampling strategy (LG) of 37.4% of the actual sampling ratio. Sampling before clustering can improve several parameters including the H, CV, RPR, VPF, and CR%. Sampling strategies including the genetic diversity index (G), logarithmic proportional (LG) and the square root proportional strategy (SG) can improve the H, whilst the constant strategy (C) can improve the RPR and VPF when the sampling scale was >30%. Furthermore, the proportional strategy (P) can improve the VPV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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19 pages, 8835 KiB  
Article
Wood-Ash Fertiliser and Distance from Drainage Ditch Affect the Succession and Biodiversity of Vascular Plant Species in Tree Plantings on Marginal Organic Soil
by Austra Zuševica, Santa Celma, Santa Neimane, Moritz von Cossel and Dagnija Lazdina
Agronomy 2022, 12(2), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12020421 - 08 Feb 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1977
Abstract
Cutaway peatland is a marginal land, which without further management is an unfavourable environment for plant growth due to low bearing capacity, high acidity and unbalanced nutrient composition of the soil. After wood-ash application, the soil becomes enriched with P and K, creating [...] Read more.
Cutaway peatland is a marginal land, which without further management is an unfavourable environment for plant growth due to low bearing capacity, high acidity and unbalanced nutrient composition of the soil. After wood-ash application, the soil becomes enriched with P and K, creating better conditions for tree growth. In addition to being economically viable, tree plantations ensure long-term carbon storage and promote habitat restoration. In a three-year term, we studied how distance from a drainage ditch and three different doses of wood-ash—5, 10, and 15 tons per hectare—affect the diversity of vascular plants in a tree plantation on a cutaway peatland. Plant species richness, vegetation cover and composition were positively affected by the distance from the drainage ditch and application with fertiliser, but in most cases, fertiliser dose had no significant effect. Both cover and species diversity were not affected by the planted tree species. In a tree plantation, herbaceous plants provide soil fertility by decay and recycling, and reduce mineral leaching in the long term. Since vascular plants play an important role in both the development of habitats and tree growth, it is important to know how multiple factors influence the development of vegetation in tree plantations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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24 pages, 1609 KiB  
Article
Farmers’ Perceptions, Insight Behavior and Communication Strategies for Rice Straw and Stubble Management in Thailand
by Sukanya Sereenonchai and Noppol Arunrat
Agronomy 2022, 12(1), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12010200 - 14 Jan 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3445
Abstract
The adoption of rice straw and stubble management approaches can be affected by various factors. To understand the psychological factors influencing Thai farmers’ adoption of rice straw and stubble management approaches, three integrated behavioral theories were employed: the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), [...] Read more.
The adoption of rice straw and stubble management approaches can be affected by various factors. To understand the psychological factors influencing Thai farmers’ adoption of rice straw and stubble management approaches, three integrated behavioral theories were employed: the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the Value-Belief-Norm (VBN) and the Health Belief Model (HBM). Then, a practical communication framework was synthesized and proposed to promote rice straw utilization for social-ecological benefits to achieve more sustainable agricultural production. Through a questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews with 240 local farmers, a statistical analysis was performed employing cross-tab, stepwise multiple linear regression, one-way ANOVA and descriptive content analysis using QDA lite miner software. The key results clearly showed that perceived pro-environmental personal norms, perceived cues to rice straw utilization, perceived behavioral control, perceived severity of rice straw burning, perceived ascription of responsibility, and the perceived benefits of rice straw utilization were significantly negatively influenced by burning, and that there was a significantly negative difference to non-burning approaches. Meanwhile, cost savings as perceived benefits of the current option of burning showed a significantly positive difference when compared with incorporation and free-duck grazing options. In communication strategies to promote rice straw utilization for achieving sustainable agriculture, key messages should highlight the clear steps of rice straw utilization, as well as the costs and benefits of each option in terms of economic, health, environmental and social perspectives. Moreover, messages designed to promote action knowledge and self-efficacy at the group level, to promote perceived responsibility via self-awareness and self-commitment, and convenient channels of communication to the farmers can help to achieve more effective non-burning rice straw and stubble management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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26 pages, 1151 KiB  
Article
Chinese Residents’ Perceived Ecosystem Services and Disservices Impacts Behavioral Intention for Urban Community Garden: An Extension of the Theory of Planned Behavior
by Can Wu, Xiaoma Li, Yuqing Tian, Ziniu Deng, Xiaoying Yu, Shenglan Wu, Di Shu, Yulin Peng, Feipeng Sheng and Dexin Gan
Agronomy 2022, 12(1), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12010193 - 13 Jan 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2782
Abstract
Urban community gardens (UCGs), greenspace cultivated and managed for vegetables by local communities, provide substantial ecosystem services (ES) and are warmly welcomed by residents. However, they also have many ecosystem disservices (EDS) and are almost always refused by the decision-makers of the government, [...] Read more.
Urban community gardens (UCGs), greenspace cultivated and managed for vegetables by local communities, provide substantial ecosystem services (ES) and are warmly welcomed by residents. However, they also have many ecosystem disservices (EDS) and are almost always refused by the decision-makers of the government, especially in China. Better understanding the residents’ perceived ES and EDS and the impact on the behavioral intention (BI) toward UCGs is of great value to solve the conflicts between residents and the government concerning UCGs and to develop sustainable UCGs. Following the theory of planned behavior (TPB), we measured perceived ES/EDS, attitudes (ATT), perceived behavioral control (PBC), subjective norm (SN), and BI of 1142 residents in Changsha, China, and investigated their direct and indirect causal relationships using structural equation modeling (SEM). The results showed that: (1) ATT, PBC, and SN significantly and positively impact the BI of UCGs and together explained 54% of the variation of BI. (2) The extended TPB model with additional components of perceived ED/EDS improved the explanatory ability of the model, explaining 65% of the variance of BI. Perceived ES and perceived EDS showed significant direct positive and negative impacts on UCGs, respectively. They also indirectly impacted BI by influencing ATT, PBC, and SN. The findings of this study can extend our understanding of residents’ attitudes, behavior, and driving mechanism toward UCGs, and can help decision makers to design better policies for UCG planning and management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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10 pages, 550 KiB  
Article
Role of Rhizosphere Soil Microbes in Adapting Ramie (Boehmeria nivea L.) Plants to Poor Soil Conditions through N-Fixing and P-Solubilization
by Shenglan Wu, Hongdong Jie and Yucheng Jie
Agronomy 2021, 11(11), 2096; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11112096 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1601
Abstract
The N-fixing and P-solubilization functions of soil microbes play a vital role in plant adaptation to nutrient-deficiency conditions. However, their exact roles toward the adaptation of ramie to poor soil conditions are still not clear. To fill this research gap, the N-fixing and [...] Read more.
The N-fixing and P-solubilization functions of soil microbes play a vital role in plant adaptation to nutrient-deficiency conditions. However, their exact roles toward the adaptation of ramie to poor soil conditions are still not clear. To fill this research gap, the N-fixing and P-solubilization efficiencies of soils derived from the rhizosphere of several ramie genotypes with different levels of poor soil tolerance were compared. Correlations between the N-fixing, P-solubilization efficiency, and the poor soil tolerable index were analyzed to quantify their contributions towards the adaptation of ramie plants to poor soil conditions. To explore how the microorganisms affected the potential of N-fixing/P-solubilization, the activities of the nutrients related the soil enzymes were also tested and compared. The results of this study confirm the existence of N-fixing and P-solubilization bacteria in the ramie rhizosphere of the soil. The number of N-fixing bacteria varied from 3010.00 to 46,150.00 c.f.u. per gram dry soil for the ramie treatment, while it was only 110.00 c.f.u. per gram dry soil for treatment without ramie cultivation. The average P-solubilization efficiency of ramie treatment was almost five times higher than that of the control soil (0.65 vs. 0.13 mg mL−1). The significant correlations between the poor soil tolerance index and the N-fixing bacteria number (r = 0.829)/nitrogenase activity (r = 0.899) suggest the significantly positive role of N-fixing function in the adaptation of ramie plants to poor soil. This is also true for P-solubilization, as indicated by the significant positively correlation coefficients between the ramie poor soil tolerance index and P-solubilization efficiency (0.919)/acid phosphatase activity (0.846). These characteristics would accelerate the application of “holobiont” breeding for improving ramie nutrient use efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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6 pages, 380 KiB  
Communication
Why Can Green Social Responsibility Drive Agricultural Technology Manufacturing Company to Do Good Things? A Novel Adoption Model of Environmental Strategy
by Stanley Y. B. Huang, Shih-Chin Lee and Yue-Shi Lee
Agronomy 2021, 11(8), 1673; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11081673 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2176
Abstract
The present research proposes the hierarchical linear modeling model (HLM) that describe how green social responsibility (GSR) predict the environmental strategy (ES) of agricultural technology manufacturing companies by the intermediary effects of the supervisor’s green promise (GP) based on symbolic context theory. This [...] Read more.
The present research proposes the hierarchical linear modeling model (HLM) that describe how green social responsibility (GSR) predict the environmental strategy (ES) of agricultural technology manufacturing companies by the intermediary effects of the supervisor’s green promise (GP) based on symbolic context theory. This study collected data with 150 supervisors from 50 different agricultural technology companies in Taiwan to analyze the HLM. The results suggest that vendors of agricultural technology companies should establish GSR to increase GP, which consequently can increase the companies’ adoption of the ES. It is now the first to establish a milestone, propose a novel adoption model—GP and its antecedents through the HLM to predict the adoption of ES. These findings can upgrade the related literature of agriculture and can provide the procedure in implementing ES in agricultural technology companies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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21 pages, 5106 KiB  
Article
Intercropping in Rice Farming under the System of Rice Intensification—An Agroecological Strategy for Weed Control, Better Yield, Increased Returns, and Social–Ecological Sustainability
by Tavseef Mairaj Shah, Sumbal Tasawwar, M. Anwar Bhat and Ralf Otterpohl
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 1010; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11051010 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 6513
Abstract
Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. In South Asia, rice farming systems provide food to the majority of the population, and agriculture is a primary source of livelihood. With the demand for nutritious food increasing, introducing [...] Read more.
Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. In South Asia, rice farming systems provide food to the majority of the population, and agriculture is a primary source of livelihood. With the demand for nutritious food increasing, introducing innovative strategies in farming systems is imperative. In this regard, intensification of rice farming is intricately linked with the challenges of water scarcity, soil degradation, and the vagaries of climate change. Agroecological farming systems like the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) have been proposed as water-saving and sustainable ways of food production. This study examines the effect of intercropping beans with rice under SRI management on the growth of weeds and on the different plant growth parameters. Intercropping led to a 65% decrease in weed infestation on average, which is important given that weed infestation is stated as a criticism of SRI in some circles and is a major factor in limiting yield in rice-producing regions. In addition to the water savings of about 40% due to the SRI methodology, the innovation led to an increase in rice yield by 33% and an increase in the net income of farmers by 57% compared to the conventional rice farming method. The results indicate that intercropping can be a positive addition to the rice farming system, hence contributing to social–ecological sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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14 pages, 1922 KiB  
Article
Deciphering Substrate-Specific Methane Yields of Perennial Herbaceous Wild Plant Species
by Moritz von Cossel, Lorena Agra Pereira and Iris Lewandowski
Agronomy 2021, 11(3), 451; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030451 - 28 Feb 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2139
Abstract
The global demand for plant biomass to provide bioenergy and heat is continuously increasing because of a growing interest among many industrialized and developing countries towards climate sound and renewable energy supply. The exacerbation of land-use conflicts proliferates social-ecological demands on future bioenergy [...] Read more.
The global demand for plant biomass to provide bioenergy and heat is continuously increasing because of a growing interest among many industrialized and developing countries towards climate sound and renewable energy supply. The exacerbation of land-use conflicts proliferates social-ecological demands on future bioenergy cropping systems. Perennial herbaceous wild plant mixtures (WPMs) represent an approach to providing social-ecologically more sustainably produced biogas substrate that has gained increasing public and political interest only in recent years. The focus of this study lies on three perennial wild plant species (WPS) that usually dominate the biomass yield performance of WPM cultivation. These WPS were compared with established biogas crops in terms of their substrate-specific methane yield (SMY) and lignocellulosic composition. The plant samples were investigated in a small-scale mesophilic discontinuous biogas batch test for determining the SMY. All WPS were found to have significantly lower SMY (241.5–248.5 lN kgVS−1) than maize (337.5 lN kgVS−1). This was attributed to higher contents of lignin (9.7–12.8% of dry matter) as well as lower contents of hemicellulose (9.9–11.5% of dry matter) in the WPS. Only minor, non-significant differences to cup plant and Virginia mallow were observed. Thus, when planning WPS as a diversification measure in biogas cropping systems, their lower SMY should be considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

15 pages, 3508 KiB  
Review
Vine and Wine Sustainability in a Cooperative Ecosystem—A Review
by Agostinha Marques and Carlos A. Teixeira
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2644; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102644 - 19 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1800
Abstract
The world is changing, and climate change has become a serious issue. Organizations, governments, companies, and consumers are becoming more conscious of this impact and are combining their forces to minimize it. Cooperatives have a business model that differs from those in the [...] Read more.
The world is changing, and climate change has become a serious issue. Organizations, governments, companies, and consumers are becoming more conscious of this impact and are combining their forces to minimize it. Cooperatives have a business model that differs from those in the private or public sector. They operate according to their own principles of cooperation, which makes it difficult to obtain results that are in harmony with the objectives of the organization and the cooperative members. However, they are also aware of climate change because their businesses are directly affected. Thus, in this review, we have tried to answer the following questions: What is necessary to meet the sustainability goals? Are wine cooperatives competitive in the context of the global market? How can we respond to the challenges of environmental sustainability while maintaining wine quality standards and economic profitability? What are the economic and social impacts of reducing the carbon footprint of cooperatives and their members? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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39 pages, 2297 KiB  
Review
A Critical Review on Lignocellulosic Biomass Yield Modeling and the Bioenergy Potential from Marginal Land
by Jan Haberzettl, Pia Hilgert and Moritz von Cossel
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2397; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11122397 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3556
Abstract
Lignocellulosic biomass from marginal land is needed for a social–ecologically sustainable bioeconomy transition. However, how much biomass can be expected? This study addresses this question by reviewing the limitations of current biomass yield modeling for lignocellulosic crops on marginal land and deriving recommendations [...] Read more.
Lignocellulosic biomass from marginal land is needed for a social–ecologically sustainable bioeconomy transition. However, how much biomass can be expected? This study addresses this question by reviewing the limitations of current biomass yield modeling for lignocellulosic crops on marginal land and deriving recommendations to overcome these limitations. It was found that on the input side of biomass yield models, geographically limited research and the lack of universally understood definitions impose challenges on data collection. The unrecognized complexity of marginal land, the use of generic crop growth models together with data from small-scale field trials and limited resolution further reduce the comparability of modeling results. On the output side of yield models, the resistance of modeled yields to future variations is highly limited by the missing incorporation of the risk of land use changes and climatic change. Moreover, several limitations come with the translation of modeled yields into bioenergy yields: the non-specification of conversion factors, a lack of conversion capacities, feedstock yield–quality tradeoffs, as well as slow progress in breeding and the difficulty of sustainability criteria integration into models. Intensified political support and enhancement of research on a broad range of issues might increase the consistency of future yield modeling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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31 pages, 1330 KiB  
Review
A Review of Industrial Crop Yield Performances on Unfavorable Soil Types
by Jana Reinhardt, Pia Hilgert and Moritz Von Cossel
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2382; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11122382 - 24 Nov 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2401
Abstract
Industrial crop cultivation on marginal agricultural land limits indirect land-use change effects that pose a threat to food security. This review compiles results from 91 published crop-specific field trial datasets spanning 12 relevant industrial crops and discusses their suitability for cultivation on unfavorable [...] Read more.
Industrial crop cultivation on marginal agricultural land limits indirect land-use change effects that pose a threat to food security. This review compiles results from 91 published crop-specific field trial datasets spanning 12 relevant industrial crops and discusses their suitability for cultivation on unfavorable soil types (USTs). It was shown that the perennial species Miscanthus (Miscanthus Andersson) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) performed well on USTs with both high clay and/or high sand contents. Information on stoniness (particles sizes > 2 mm), where mentioned, was limited. It was found to have only a small impact on biological yield potential, though it was not possible to assess the impact on mechanization as would be used at a commercial scale. For soils with extreme clay or sand contents, half of the crops showed moderate suitability. The large yield variations within and between crops revealed large knowledge gaps in the combined effects of crop type and agronomy on USTs. Therefore, more field trials are needed on diverse USTs in different climates with better equipment and more consistent measurements to improve the accuracy of potential yield predictions spatially and temporally. Additionally, larger trials are needed to optimize cultivation and harvesting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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32 pages, 1597 KiB  
Review
Mineral-Ecological Cropping Systems—A New Approach to Improve Ecosystem Services by Farming without Chemical Synthetic Plant Protection
by Beate Zimmermann, Ingrid Claß-Mahler, Moritz von Cossel, Iris Lewandowski, Jan Weik, Achim Spiller, Sina Nitzko, Christian Lippert, Tatjana Krimly, Isabell Pergner, Christian Zörb, Monika A. Wimmer, Markus Dier, Frank M. Schurr, Jörn Pagel, Adriana Riemenschneider, Hella Kehlenbeck, Til Feike, Bettina Klocke, Robin Lieb, Stefan Kühne, Sandra Krengel-Horney, Julia Gitzel, Abbas El-Hasan, Stefan Thomas, Martin Rieker, Karl Schmid, Thilo Streck, Joachim Ingwersen, Uwe Ludewig, Günter Neumann, Niels Maywald, Torsten Müller, Klára Bradáčová, Markus Göbel, Ellen Kandeler, Sven Marhan, Romina Schuster, Hans-W. Griepentrog, David Reiser, Alexander Stana, Simone Graeff-Hönninger, Sebastian Munz, Dina Otto, Roland Gerhards, Marcus Saile, Wilfried Hermann, Jürgen Schwarz, Markus Frank, Michael Kruse, Hans-Peter Piepho, Peter Rosenkranz, Klaus Wallner, Sabine Zikeli, Georg Petschenka, Nicole Schönleber, Ralf T. Vögele and Enno Bahrsadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Agronomy 2021, 11(9), 1710; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11091710 - 27 Aug 2021
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 5576
Abstract
The search for approaches to a holistic sustainable agriculture requires the development of new cropping systems that provide additional ecosystem services beyond biomass supply for food, feed, material, and energy use. The reduction of chemical synthetic plant protection products is a key instrument [...] Read more.
The search for approaches to a holistic sustainable agriculture requires the development of new cropping systems that provide additional ecosystem services beyond biomass supply for food, feed, material, and energy use. The reduction of chemical synthetic plant protection products is a key instrument to protect vulnerable natural resources such as groundwater and biodiversity. Together with an optimal use of mineral fertilizer, agroecological practices, and precision agriculture technologies, a complete elimination of chemical synthetic plant protection in mineral-ecological cropping systems (MECSs) may not only improve the environmental performance of agroecosystems, but also ensure their yield performance. Therefore, the development of MECSs aims to improve the overall ecosystem services of agricultural landscapes by (i) improving the provision of regulating ecosystem services compared to conventional cropping systems and (ii) improving the supply of provisioning ecosystem services compared to organic cropping systems. In the present review, all relevant research levels and aspects of this new farming concept are outlined and discussed based on a comprehensive literature review and the ongoing research project “Agriculture 4.0 without Chemical-Synthetic Plant Protection”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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16 pages, 3062 KiB  
Review
Biomass Yield of Selected Herbaceous and Woody Industrial Crops across Marginal Agricultural Sites with Shallow Soil
by Jana Reinhardt, Pia Hilgert and Moritz von Cossel
Agronomy 2021, 11(7), 1296; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071296 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2418
Abstract
Agricultural land in Europe is affected by low rooting depth (LRD) on 27.9 Mha. This marginal agricultural land can potentially be used to grow industrial crops without directly threatening food security or biodiversity conservation. However, little is known about the yield performance of [...] Read more.
Agricultural land in Europe is affected by low rooting depth (LRD) on 27.9 Mha. This marginal agricultural land can potentially be used to grow industrial crops without directly threatening food security or biodiversity conservation. However, little is known about the yield performance of industrial crops at LRD conditions. This study therefore compiles and discusses the meaningful data available in scientific literature. Twelve relevant industrial crops were identified for Europe. Currently, robust information on good growth suitability for LRD conditions is available for only one industrial crop, namely reed canary grass (RCG). Because this information was taken from field trial results from a single site, it remains unclear what role other growing conditions such as soil quality and climate play on both the yield level and the biomass quality of RCG under LRD conditions. These uncertainties about the quantitative as well as qualitative performance of industrial crop cultivation on marginal agricultural land characterized by LRD represent a major agronomic knowledge gap. Here, more knowledge needs to be compiled through both expanded crop science activities and improved international information exchange to make more optimal use of the large LRD areas available for the transition to a bioeconomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecologically More Sustainable Agricultural Production)
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