Special Issue "Organic Fertilization and Sustainable Soil Management Practices in Trees"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Soil".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2024 | Viewed by 489

Special Issue Editor

Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DIMITRA, Department of Soil Science of Athens, Institute of Soil and Water Resources, Lykovrysi, Greece
Interests: fertilization and soil fertillity; soil contamination; agricultural waste management
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on improving the sustainability of organic fertilization for tree crops by improving soil quality characteristics, as well as on soil management techniques that could promote the conservation of tree crop systems and thus contribute to the sustainability of natural resources. In the context of the variability of climate-related risks across productive regions, soil management strategies and processes need to be adjusted to ensure we are using the best available practices, policies, and tools, including financial instruments. Soil quality is an ideal indicator of sustainability in the overall functioning of an ecosystem, and organic matter plays a key role in determining soil quality, thus its preservation is critical. Soil quality is essential for carbon sequestration, leading to further positive effects such as soil protection from runoff on groundwater and aquatic bodies, the improvement of soil water content, a lower bulk density in surface soil, and reduced soil erosion. However, the limited implementation of practices to enhance soil organic carbon (e.g., the application of organic materials, reduced tillage, no tillage) has been recorded in many regions, particularly in those subjected to land degradation. Soil conservation practices, when combined with the reduced use of chemical fertilizers or organic inputs, cause a reduction in soil erosion and an increase in soil fertility.

Compared to chemical fertilizers, organic fertilization preserves soil quality since the addition of organic materials to the soil is of paramount importance for improving soil properties because it increases water infiltration in the soil, nutrients absorption by the crops, and C assimilation. Organic fertilization has been proposed as an alternative method of providing nutrients to crops in the context of organic and sustainable agriculture, with the objectives of reducing chemical fertilization rates, preserving the environment, improving soil fertility and the biodiversity of soil microbes, enhancing plant nutrition, and maintaining the productivity of tree crops while reducing production costs. Composts, vermicomposts, biochars, humic compounds, and microorganisms in biofertilizers are all examples of organic fertilizers. In recent years, the principles of sustainable development and the circular economy have incorporated the quality and health of soil fertilized with organic matter from treated wastes (e.g., originated from olive mill wastewater, manures) as well as the addition of crop residues and the introduction of cover crops. When such alternative techniques are combined with conservation tillage practices or even with conventional tillage practices, sustainable soil management can be achieved. Different fertilization regimes differentially impact tree yields, soil attributes, soil biodiversity, and the ecosystem functioning of soil microbial communities. Recent research confirms the viability of using multiple fertilizer mixes to enhance soil quality and productivity and reveals the fundamental role soil microbiological diversity plays in maintaining the economic viability of intensively farmed tree crops. The growth of beneficial soil microorganisms and the improvement of soil physical properties and fertility are two of the most significant advantages of organic fertilizers. However, one of the most significant disadvantages of organic fertilizer is its inability to directly satisfy the immediate nutritional requirements of tree crops, particularly those of nitrogen, due to its slow mineralization rates. To reduce the utilization rate of inorganic fertilizers and to clarify the complex ways in which shifts in fertilization practices may affect soil quality and nutrient dynamics, it is vital to employ sustainable soil management approaches and a variety of potentially available organic materials. The proposed approaches can be used as guidelines to assist stakeholders in sensitive areas in adapting to climate change and enhancing tree crop ecosystems.

The following are some topics which contributions are encouraged to focus on:

  • Benefits and drawbacks of inorganic fertilization and organic fertilization in tree crops and conventional and alternative soil management practices. Factors influencing the shift from conventional fertilization to organic fertilization. Combined fertilization as an alternative to conventional fertilization.  Regional and local socio-economic and biophysical features and policy opportunities and constraints.
  • Innovative or targeted organic fertilization strategies and soil management practices. Approaches and technologies. Innovative and alternative organic soil amendments utilized as biofertilizers in intensively managed tree crops in the context of fertilization practices, environmental change, and decision making.
  • Effects of organic and mineral fertilization on soil quality, tree yield, and nutrition. Synergies of organic fertilization with other sustainable agricultural practices. Organic and mineral fertilization interactions that substantially improve soil fertility and the growth and yield of commercially or ecologically important trees. Organic fertilizer sources that promote tree–soil–microbial interactions. The relationship between soil microorganisms and tree yield under distinct fertilization regimes.
  • Adoption of sustainable organic fertilization and soil management practices. Critical factors and future requirements. Technology transfer and research priorities for different regions. Agronomic, socio-economic, cultural, and policy conditions necessary for technology adoption by stakeholders. Proposals for appropriate local and regional policies. 

Dr. Victor Kavvadias
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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

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

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • organic fertilization
  • soil quality
  • soil management techniques
  • soil conservation practices

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Soil Quality Evaluation of Typical Vegetation and Their Response to Precipitation in Loess Hilly and Gully Areas
Forests 2023, 14(9), 1909; https://doi.org/10.3390/f14091909 - 19 Sep 2023
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The selection of suitable tree species and the reasonable allocation of planting areas are important measures for improving soil quality. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of typical vegetation type soil quality differences and their dominant factors in loess hilly–gully areas after [...] Read more.
The selection of suitable tree species and the reasonable allocation of planting areas are important measures for improving soil quality. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of typical vegetation type soil quality differences and their dominant factors in loess hilly–gully areas after returning farmland to the forest (grassland). The soil quality status and dominant factors of arbors, shrubs and grasslands in the study area were comprehensively analyzed using the soil quality index (SQI) and structural equation modeling (SEM). The results showed the following: (1) In the study area, the shrub forest had a high capacity for air permeability, water retention and nitrogen fixation. (2) The soil quality of the three vegetation types improved with increasing precipitation, and the soil quality indicator of shrubs was the highest, indicating a better soil quality improvement. However, the soil quality of the arbors and grasslands showed a greater percentage increase. In the precipitation range of 400–410 mm, the soil quality of shrub forests was significantly higher than that of arbors and grasslands. (3) Structural equation modeling analysis indicated that precipitation, vegetation and soil factors are closely related to soil quality. Further analysis showed that soil bulk density, porosity, capillary water-holding capacity, soil organic carbon and total phosphorus were the dominant factors affecting the soil quality in the study area. The purpose of this study was to evaluate quantitatively the soil quality after different vegetation types under different precipitation gradients, to clarify the variation trend of soil quality at different vegetation types with different precipitation gradients and to provide a scientific basis and data support for the quantitative evaluation of vegetation restoration and selection of tree species and vegetation configuration within different precipitation gradients in loess hilly and gully regions in the future. Full article
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