Special Issue "Sustainable Crop Production Intensification"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Professor Michele Pisante

Agronomy and Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, University of Teramo, Via R. Balzarini, 1 - 64100 Teramo, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable agriculture growth and natural resource management; crop production and protection; nutrient and water management; soil conservation and fertility; abiotic stress and agronomic techniques for accumulation of bioactive compounds by secondary metabolism of higher plants and the physiological mechanisms

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable agriculture integrates the concepts of continuing improvement in agriculture productivity, profitability, and competitiveness by sustainable management of natural resources. One the eve of declining natural resources, changing climate and increasing food demands, the shift from the existing intensive production system to a more sustainable system needs to be an evolving and continuing process. Intertwining challenges of climate change and competition for land, water and energy require attention in the following areas: bridging the gap between actual and potential productivity levels in the agriculture of developing countries; investing in agricultural innovation, broadly defined; and improving national and international research co-operation. For multi-objective optimization, a set of soil-crop-nutrient-water-landscape system management practices, known as Conservation Agriculture (CA), has the potential to achieve all of these goals. CA has the potential for managing decreasing soil productivity and improving the resource-use efficiency and the natural resources base. Hence, it adapts to and mitigates climate change and leads to a more efficient use of inputs to reduce production costs. The integrated approach to Sustainable Crop Production Intensification with adoption of Conservation Agriculture practices, represent a new conceptual issue on Ecosystem ‘Functions’ and ‘Services’ for the predominant sustainable farming systems.

Manuscripts (reviews, perspectives, or original articles) are invited, and may include, but are not limited to, these topics:

  • the major challenges and developments in sustainable agriculture research;

  • intensification crop production for sustainable agriculture;

  • develop environmentally and profitable food production systems;

  • ecological sustainability of farming systems;

  • innovations for improving efficiency and rationale use of natural resources;

  • technological options and new areas of research for Sustainable Crop Production Intensification;

  • Conservation Agriculture practices for Ecosystem ‘Functions’ and ‘Services’.

Prof. Dr. Michele Pisante
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 papers will be 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. Agriculture 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 550 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.

Keywords

  • Sustainable agriculture research
  • Crop Production Intensification
  • Improving efficiency use of natural resource
  • Adapting to climate change
  • Soil-crop-nutrient-water-landscape management
  • Conservation Agriculture
  • Ecosystem Functions and Services

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Living Mulch Performance in a Tropical Cotton System and Impact on Yield and Weed Control
Agriculture 2018, 8(2), 19; doi:10.3390/agriculture8020019
Received: 19 November 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is a major crop in the Vidarbha region of central India. The vertisol soils on which much of the cotton is grown have been severely degraded by the tropical climate, excessive tillage and depletion of organic matter. Living
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Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is a major crop in the Vidarbha region of central India. The vertisol soils on which much of the cotton is grown have been severely degraded by the tropical climate, excessive tillage and depletion of organic matter. Living mulches have the ability to mitigate these problems but they can cause crop losses through direct competition with the cotton crop and unreliable weed control. Field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at four locations in Vidarbha to study the potential for growing living mulches in mono-cropped cotton. Living mulch species evaluated included gliricidia [Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.], sesbania [Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.], sorghum sudan grass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench × Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench ssp. Drummondii (Nees ex Steud.) de Wet & Harlan] and sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.). Living mulch height was controlled through mowing and herbicides were not used. Living mulches generated 1 to 13 tons ha−1 of dry matter across sites and years. Weed cover was negatively correlated with both living mulch biomass and cover. Where living mulches were vigorous and established quickly, weed cover was as low as 7%, without the use of herbicides, or inter-row tillage. In a dry year, living mulch growth had a negative impact on cotton yield; however, in a year when soil moisture was not limiting, there was a positive relationship between cotton yield and living mulch biomass. Use of living mulches in cotton production in the Vidarbha region of India is feasible and can lead to both effective weed suppression and acceptable cotton yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessArticle Surfactin Protects Wheat against Zymoseptoria tritici and Activates Both Salicylic Acid- and Jasmonic Acid-Dependent Defense Responses
Agriculture 2018, 8(1), 11; doi:10.3390/agriculture8010011
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018
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Abstract
Natural elicitors induce plant resistance against a broad spectrum of diseases, and are currently among the most promising biocontrol tools. The present study focuses on the elicitor properties of the cyclic lipopeptide surfactin on wheat, in order to stimulate the defenses of this
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Natural elicitors induce plant resistance against a broad spectrum of diseases, and are currently among the most promising biocontrol tools. The present study focuses on the elicitor properties of the cyclic lipopeptide surfactin on wheat, in order to stimulate the defenses of this major crop against the challenging fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici. The protection efficacy of surfactin extracted from the strain Bacillus amyloliquefaciens S499 was investigated through greenhouse trials. Surfactin protected wheat by 70% against Z. tritici, similarly to the chemical reference elicitor Bion®50WG. In vitro biocidal assays revealed no antifungal activities of surfactin towards the pathogen. A biomolecular RT-qPCR based low-density microarray tool was used to study the relative expression of 23 wheat defense genes. Surfactin significantly induced wheat natural defenses by stimulating both salicylic acid- and jasmonic acid-dependent signaling pathways. Surfactin was successfully tested as an elicitor on the pathosystem wheat–Z. tritici. These results promote further sustainable agricultural practices and the reduction of chemical inputs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessArticle Impacts of Agro-Ecological Practices on Soil Losses and Cash Crop Yield
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 103; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120103
Received: 19 October 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 15 December 2017
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of agro-ecological practices on soil losses, by assessing experimental field topography changes and cauliflower crop yield after an artificial extreme rainfall event. Data were collected in an innovative experimental device in which different
[...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of agro-ecological practices on soil losses, by assessing experimental field topography changes and cauliflower crop yield after an artificial extreme rainfall event. Data were collected in an innovative experimental device in which different combined agronomic strategies were tested such as hydraulic arrangement, crop rotations and agro-ecological service crops (ASC) introduction. The collection of elevation data was carried out in kinematic way before rainfall, and in punctual surveys to evaluate the effects of artificial event on this parameter. Non-parametric tests were performed to evaluate differences between samples. High-resolution digital elevation models were generated from independent data using kriging, and elevation difference maps were produced. The results indicated that the data before and after the artificial rainfall were statistically different. The raised strips suffered soil loss showing that the strip with permanent intercropping was higher than that in the absence of ASC. A significant rise of elevation was registered in the furrowed strips after rainfall, and deposition of soil occurred at the lowest areas of the experimental field. Moreover, the study showed a relationship between cash crop yield and elevation: the areas with lower elevation (higher flooding) were characterized by the lowest yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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Open AccessArticle Low-Input Maize-Based Cropping Systems Implementing IWM Match Conventional Maize Monoculture Productivity and Weed Control
Agriculture 2017, 7(9), 74; doi:10.3390/agriculture7090074
Received: 13 July 2017 / Revised: 25 August 2017 / Accepted: 28 August 2017 / Published: 6 September 2017
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Abstract
Conventional Maize Monoculture (MM), a dominant Cropping System in South-Western France, is now questioned for environmental reasons (nitrate leaching, pesticide use and excessive irrigation). Three low-input Cropping Systems (CS) using diverse weeding strategies (MMLI, a Low-Input MM implementing ploughing, a combination
[...] Read more.
Conventional Maize Monoculture (MM), a dominant Cropping System in South-Western France, is now questioned for environmental reasons (nitrate leaching, pesticide use and excessive irrigation). Three low-input Cropping Systems (CS) using diverse weeding strategies (MMLI, a Low-Input MM implementing ploughing, a combination of on-row spraying and in-between row cultivation and cover crops; MMCT, Conservation Tillage MM implementing chemical control and cover crops; Maize-MSW, maize managed similar to MMLI but rotated with soybean & wheat) were compared to a reference system (MMConv, a conventional MM with tillage and a high quantity of inputs). Potential of Infestation of weeds (PI), weed biomass and crop production of these CS were compared during the first five years after their establishment. Yields were also assessed in weed-free zones hand-weeded weekly in 2014 and 2015. Weed communities did not drastically differ among CS. PI and weed biomass were higher in MMCT, especially for Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) P.Beauv. and were comparable between MMConv, MMLI and Maize-MSW. Analysis of covariance between CS and weed biomass did not reveal a significant interaction, suggesting that weed biomass affected yield similarly among the CS. Comparison between weedy and weed-free zones suggested that weeds present at maize maturity negatively affected yields to the same extent for all four CS, despite having different weed biomasses. Grain yields in MMConv (11.3 ± 1.1 t ha−1) and MMLI (10.6 ± 2.3 t ha−1) were similar and higher than in MMCT (8.2 ± 1.9 t ha−1. Similar yields, weed biomasses and PI suggest that MMLI and Maize-MSW are interesting alternatives to conventional MM in terms of weed control and maize productivity and should be transferred to farmers to test their feasibility under wider, farm-scale conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Crop Production Intensification)
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