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Environments, Volume 2, Issue 3 (September 2015), Pages 280-434

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Alteration of Water Pollution Level with the Seasonal Changes in Mean Daily Discharge in Three Main Rivers around Dhaka City, Bangladesh
Environments 2015, 2(3), 280-294; doi:10.3390/environments2030280
Received: 30 March 2015 / Revised: 27 May 2015 / Accepted: 4 June 2015 / Published: 26 June 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (920 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A study based on the physicochemical parameters and dissolved metals levels from three main rivers around Dhaka City, Bangladesh, was conducted in order to determine the present pollution status and their alteration trends with the seasonal change of discharge amount. The water samples
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A study based on the physicochemical parameters and dissolved metals levels from three main rivers around Dhaka City, Bangladesh, was conducted in order to determine the present pollution status and their alteration trends with the seasonal change of discharge amount. The water samples were collected from the rivers Buriganga, Turag, and Shitalakkhya during both dry and monsoon seasons. Physicochemical analyses revealed that most of the water quality parameters exceeded the recommended levels set by the Department of Environment (DoE), Bangladesh, during both the dry and monsoon seasons. A very strong positive correlation was found between biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) in all sampling points. Both BOD and COD values had a strong negative correlation with dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Shitalakkhya River. Most of the dissolved metals concentrations in the water samples were similar. However, the concentrations of different physicochemical properties varied with the seasons. The dry season had significantly higher contamination loads, which were decreased during the monsoon season. Anthropogenic activities, as well as the variation in river water flow during different seasons were the main reasons for this high degree of water pollution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evidence and Lessons Learned from Long-Term On-Farm Research on Conservation Agriculture Systems in Communities in Malawi and Zimbabwe
Environments 2015, 2(3), 317-337; doi:10.3390/environments2030317
Received: 27 February 2015 / Revised: 4 June 2015 / Accepted: 16 June 2015 / Published: 30 June 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (891 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A long-term study was carried out in the Zidyana Extension Planning Area (EPA), Malawi and in the Zimuto Communal Area, Zimbabwe, to evaluate the effect of different conservation agriculture (CA) systems on crop productivity, soil quality and economic performance. Maize productivity results from
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A long-term study was carried out in the Zidyana Extension Planning Area (EPA), Malawi and in the Zimuto Communal Area, Zimbabwe, to evaluate the effect of different conservation agriculture (CA) systems on crop productivity, soil quality and economic performance. Maize productivity results from Zidyana showed that CA systems out-yielded the conventional system in seven out of nine cropping seasons. Labour savings relative to the conventional control ranged from 34–42 labour days ha−1 due to reduced time needed to make manual ridges and for weed control, leading to higher net benefits of 193–444 USD·ha−1. In Zimuto, yield benefits were apparent from the second season onwards and there was a much clearer trend of increased yields of CA over time. Greater net benefits (in USD·ha−1) were achieved on CA systems in Zimuto compared with conventional control treatments due to overall higher yields from CA systems. In Zimuto, both increased infiltration and a gradual increase in soil carbon were recorded, which may have contributed to the greater yield response of CA in this area. In Zidyana, yield increases were attributed primarily to enhanced water infiltration since no increases in soil carbon levels were measured. Farmers highlighted critical challenges to the adoption of CA. These will have to be addressed in future research and extension to provide effective solutions to farmers. Full article
Open AccessArticle Where to Target Conservation Agriculture for African Smallholders? How to Overcome Challenges Associated with its Implementation? Experience from Eastern and Southern Africa
Environments 2015, 2(3), 338-357; doi:10.3390/environments2030338
Received: 22 May 2015 / Revised: 13 June 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 6 July 2015
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (967 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since the paper by Giller et al. (2009), the debate surrounding the suitability of conservation agriculture (CA) for African smallholders has remained polarized between proponents and opponents. The debate also gave rise to a few studies that attempted to identify the “niche” where
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Since the paper by Giller et al. (2009), the debate surrounding the suitability of conservation agriculture (CA) for African smallholders has remained polarized between proponents and opponents. The debate also gave rise to a few studies that attempted to identify the “niche” where CA would fit in the region, but the insight offered by these studies has been limited. In this paper, we first analyze the rationale of adoption where it occurred globally to define “drivers” of adoption. Our analysis suggests that CA has first and foremost been adopted under the premises of being energy-saving (time and/or power), erosion-controlling, and water-use efficient, but rarely to increase yield. We then define the niche where CA fits, based on these drivers of adoption, as systems where (1) the energy available for crop establishment is limited and/or costly (including labor and draft power); (2) delayed planting results in a significant yield decline; (3) yield is limited or co-limited by water; and/or (4) severe erosion problems threaten the short- to medium-term productivity of farmland. In Eastern and Southern Africa, this niche appears rather large and likely to expand in the near future. When implemented within this niche, CA may still be limited by “performance challenges” that do not constitute drivers or barriers to adoption, but limitations to the performance of CA. We argue that most of these performance challenges can (and should) be addressed by agronomic and socio-economic research, and provide four examples where the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and its partners have been successfully alleviating four very different challenges through research and development (R&D) in Eastern and Southern Africa. Finally, we describe an iterative and multi-scale R&D approach currently used by CIMMYT in Eastern and Southern Africa to overcome challenges associated with the implementation of CA by African smallholders. This approach could also be useful for other complex combinations of technologies aiming at sustainable intensification. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effects of Conservation Agriculture and Fertilization on Soil Microbial Diversity and Activity
Environments 2015, 2(3), 358-384; doi:10.3390/environments2030358
Received: 30 March 2015 / Revised: 22 June 2015 / Accepted: 1 July 2015 / Published: 13 July 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2933 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Soil microbial communities perform critical functions in ecosystem processes. These functions can be used to assess the impact of agricultural practices on sustainable crop production. In this five-year study, the effect of various agricultural practices on soil microbial diversity and activity was investigated
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Soil microbial communities perform critical functions in ecosystem processes. These functions can be used to assess the impact of agricultural practices on sustainable crop production. In this five-year study, the effect of various agricultural practices on soil microbial diversity and activity was investigated in a summer rainfall area under South African dryland conditions. Microbial diversity and activity were measured in the 0–15 cm layer of a field trial consisting of two fertilizer levels, three cropping systems, and two tillage systems. Using the Shannon–Weaver and Evenness diversity indices, soil microbial species richness and abundance were measured. Microbial enzymatic activities: β-glucosidase, phosphatase and urease, were used to evaluate ecosystem functioning. Cluster analysis revealed a shift in soil microbial community diversity and activity over time. Microbial diversity and activity were higher under no-till than conventional tillage. Fertilizer levels seemed to play a minor role in determining microbial diversity and activity, whereas the cropping systems played a more important role in determining the activity of soil microbial communities. Conservation agriculture yielded the highest soil microbial diversity and activity in diversified cropping systems under no-till. Full article
Open AccessArticle Comparative Sorption of Methylene Blue onto Hydrophobic Clays
Environments 2015, 2(3), 388-398; doi:10.3390/environments2030388
Received: 28 May 2015 / Revised: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 28 July 2015 / Published: 5 August 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (798 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Chemical modifications of clay to remove methylene blue (MB) from aqueous solutions at room temperature were compared. Natural bentonite (NC) was modified by cation exchange with hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (HC), bencyltriethylammonium chloride (BC), and tetramethylammonium chloride (TC) to reverse the surface polarity of the
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Chemical modifications of clay to remove methylene blue (MB) from aqueous solutions at room temperature were compared. Natural bentonite (NC) was modified by cation exchange with hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (HC), bencyltriethylammonium chloride (BC), and tetramethylammonium chloride (TC) to reverse the surface polarity of the hydrophilic bentonite. The adsorption of MB was studied and fitted by the adsorption theories of Langmuir, Freundlich, Dubinin-Radushkevich, and Temkin. Equilibrium parameters were calculated, indicating that chemical modification did not improve the adsorption, due to the electrostatic adsorption mechanism. Specific surface area was determined, reporting the following trend: NC > TC > BC > HC. Isotherms show that TC is the best modified clay for the adsorption of MB with a capacity of 217 mg/g. Adsorbents were characterized by SEM and the determination of their point zero charge, indicating a charge reversal at pH 9.5 and a heterogeneous surface that is optimum for the adsorption of molecules and ions onto their surfaces. Full article
Open AccessArticle Mulching and Fertilization Effects on Weed Dynamics under Conservation Agriculture-Based Maize Cropping in Zimbabwe
Environments 2015, 2(3), 399-414; doi:10.3390/environments2030399
Received: 9 June 2015 / Revised: 10 August 2015 / Accepted: 11 August 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
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Abstract
A two-year study was conducted to assess how mulch influences weed dynamics following imposition of different fertilization treatments under three crop establishment options: (i) conventional; (ii) ripping; and (iii) basin, in a two-year maize-legume rotation. Eight treatments were imposed within each crop establishment
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A two-year study was conducted to assess how mulch influences weed dynamics following imposition of different fertilization treatments under three crop establishment options: (i) conventional; (ii) ripping; and (iii) basin, in a two-year maize-legume rotation. Eight treatments were imposed within each crop establishment option and received maize stover mulch applied at 0% or 30% cover before planting maize (Zea mays) or cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) as test crops. Maize received nitrogen (N) at 35, 90, or 120 kg·ha−1 and phosphorus (P) at 14 or 26 kg·ha−1 applied alone or in combination with 4 or 7 t cattle manure·ha−1, while cowpea received 8 or 17 N·kg·ha−1 and similar P rates to maize. Results indicated that both weed biomass and diversity were influenced more by fertilization than method of crop establishment. On treatments under high fertilizer application rates, or previously planted to cowpea weed biomass ranged between 220 and 400 g·m−2 under mulch and 370–510 g·m−2 (no mulch). Here species richness ranged between 7–16 and was dominated by dicotyledons. This was in contrast to biomass ranges of 75–200 g·m−2 in the low fertilized and control plots, where only one or two grass types dominated. Overall, weed densities were 6% to 51% higher under conventional tillage compared to the two conservation agriculture (CA) options, although the data indicated that mulch significantly (p < 0.05) depressed weed density by up to 70%. We concluded that mulching could be a potential mechanism for reducing weeding labor costs for smallholders and the general environmental and health concerns associated with the use of herbicides in CA systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle Using Landscape Metrics Analysis and Analytic Hierarchy Process to Assess Water Harvesting Potential Sites in Jordan
Environments 2015, 2(3), 415-434; doi:10.3390/environments2030415
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 14 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1059 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Jordan is characterized as a “water scarce” country. Therefore, conserving ecosystem services such as water regulation and soil retention is challenging. In Jordan, rainwater harvesting has been adapted to meet those challenges. However, the spatial composition and configuration features of a target landscape
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Jordan is characterized as a “water scarce” country. Therefore, conserving ecosystem services such as water regulation and soil retention is challenging. In Jordan, rainwater harvesting has been adapted to meet those challenges. However, the spatial composition and configuration features of a target landscape are rarely considered when selecting a rainwater-harvesting site. This study aimed to introduce landscape spatial features into the schemes for selecting a proper water-harvesting site. Landscape metrics analysis was used to quantify 10 metrics for three potential landscapes (i.e., Watershed 104 (WS 104), Watershed 59 (WS 59), and Watershed 108 (WS 108)) located in the Jordanian Badia region. Results of the metrics analysis showed that the three non–vegetative land cover types in the three landscapes were highly suitable for serving as rainwater harvesting sites. Furthermore, Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used to prioritize the fitness of the three target sites by comparing their landscape metrics. Results of AHP indicate that the non-vegetative land cover in the WS 104 landscape was the most suitable site for rainwater harvesting intervention, based on its dominance, connectivity, shape, and low degree of fragmentation. Our study advances the water harvesting network design by considering its landscape spatial pattern. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Background Conditions and Mining Pollution throughout History in the Río Tinto (SW Spain)
Environments 2015, 2(3), 295-316; doi:10.3390/environments2030295
Received: 19 April 2015 / Revised: 12 June 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 26 June 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2279 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Río Tinto drains the eastern part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB), an area with a huge amount of massive sulphide deposits that has been mined for the last 4500 years. This river presents extreme conditions, with very high concentrations in solution
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The Río Tinto drains the eastern part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB), an area with a huge amount of massive sulphide deposits that has been mined for the last 4500 years. This river presents extreme conditions, with very high concentrations in solution of metals and metalloids and low pH values. Mining activities in the upper part of the watershed of the Río Tinto have been documented since historical times and a huge amount of widespread acid-producing mine residues exist in this area. Nevertheless, there is no consensus among the scientific community as to whether the extreme conditions of the Río Tinto are the result of natural processes or the intense mining activity in the region. Here we show, using numerous geological, archaeological and historical records, that the present quality of the Río Tinto is the result of mining activities, especially during the period 1850–2001, while natural processes of formation of acid rock drainage can be considered negligible. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCorrection Correction: Elias, M.; et al. 2015. Land Conversion Dynamics in the Borana Rangelands of Southern Ethiopia: An Integrated Assessment Using Remote Sensing Techniques and Field Survey Data. Environments 2015, 2, 1–31
Environments 2015, 2(3), 385-387; doi:10.3390/environments2030385
Received: 27 July 2015 / Revised: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 27 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
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Abstract The authors wish to add the following amendments and corrections to their paper published in Environments [1].[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from 2014 Global Land Project (GLP) Asia Conference)

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