Special Issue "Sustainable Agriculture"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Stephen J. Herbert

Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst,Amherst, MA 01003, USA
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Fax: +1 413 545 0260

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability of agriculture is essential for the continued viability of communities, nations and the future of the world community of nations. The current world population exceeds 7 billion and is climbing; today there are close to 2 billion who are malnourished and thousands die daily from lack of food and related diseases. By the end of the next decade the world agricultural productivity will be impacted by serious water shortages. Resulting world crop losses could be as high as the current crop yield of the U.S.A. To meet current and future food and fiber needs, agriculture must involve the integration of economic viability providing a secure living for farming families, environmental stewardship to ensure that future generations can farm, and build and sustain rural communities. New innovations in agriculture and food production and preservation are needed. The loss of agricultural land to urbanization, industry and energy production must be reduced and ways need to be found to reduce the impact or to integrate these threats with new agricultural systems. Current approaches used in agriculture for production of crops and animals will need to be examined for efficiencies in use of water, energy and other natural resources.

Prof. Dr. Stephen J. Herbert
Guest Editor

Submission

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. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as 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 refereed through a 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 quarterly 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 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • food production
  • farming
  • water
  • energy
  • arable land
  • crop production
  • animal production
  • urban agriculture
  • sustainability

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Role of Bioenergy in Enhancing Energy, Food and Ecosystem Sustainability Based on Societal Perceptions and Preferences in Asia
Agriculture 2016, 6(2), 19; doi:10.3390/agriculture6020019
Received: 6 April 2016 / Revised: 11 April 2016 / Accepted: 18 April 2016 / Published: 25 April 2016
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Abstract
This paper discussed the analysis of the survey on sustainability of bioenergy conducted in the Philippines, India and China. It acquired general perceptions of the people by asking them (a) specific questions about their level of familiarity with bioenergy; (b) relationship of their
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This paper discussed the analysis of the survey on sustainability of bioenergy conducted in the Philippines, India and China. It acquired general perceptions of the people by asking them (a) specific questions about their level of familiarity with bioenergy; (b) relationship of their work to bioenergy; and (c) their opinion on contribution of various feedstock on the economy and impact of bioenergy production on food security. In addition to these questions, we estimated preference weights of various feedstock based on the conjoint choices on bioenergy’s contribution to social stability, social welfare and ecological balance. The estimates revealed significant trade-offs not only among these three dimensions of sustainability but also the relative importance of energy security, food security and ecosystem capacity to other economic, social and environmental objectives. The types of first generation feedstock that are currently used for biofuel production in the respective countries and those that offer alternative household use are perceived as important to the economy and preferred bioenergy feedstock. Based on the results of the study, the preferred role of bioenergy for sustainable development reflects the social and economic concerns in the respective Asian countries, e.g., energy security in China, food security in India, and ecosystem degradation in the Philippines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability Assessment of Plant Protection Strategies in Swiss Winter Wheat and Potato Production
Agriculture 2016, 6(1), 3; doi:10.3390/agriculture6010003
Received: 7 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 December 2015 / Published: 11 January 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (655 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Production of arable crops in Switzerland is subsidized for services performed within the Proof of Ecological Performance (PEP) program, the crop protection part of which is based on IPM principles. Within PEP, chemical insect control must rely on those approved insecticides that are
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Production of arable crops in Switzerland is subsidized for services performed within the Proof of Ecological Performance (PEP) program, the crop protection part of which is based on IPM principles. Within PEP, chemical insect control must rely on those approved insecticides that are deemed harmless for beneficial arthropods. Approved insecticides potentially impacting beneficial arthropods may also be applied, but only if unavoidable and with an official permit. In order to assess the ecological and economic sustainability of this PEP program, a reference insecticide strategy illustrating the current PEP requirements was compared with other strategies. For this purpose, a sustainability assessment taking account of ecotoxicological risks and economic viability in addition to the preservation of beneficial arthropods was performed according to the SustainOS methodology. The results show that the one-off use of Audienz (spinosad) to control cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus)—a key pest in winter wheat—would significantly improve sustainability vis-à-vis the reference (Nomolt (teflubenzuron) plus Biscaya (thiacloprid)). However, in the case of the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), in potato crops, where Audienz is considered the reference, no alternative would exhibit better sustainability. Moreover, the study shows that strategies using Novodor (Bacillus thuringiensis) protect beneficial species well but have the drawbacks of increased yield risk and higher costs. The conclusions drawn from these analyses allow recommendations for modifications of the PEP requirements for these two pest insects. The SustainOS methodology, a multi-step process combining expert knowledge with quantitative assessments including a sensitivity analysis of key target parameters and a rule-based aggregation of assessment results, yielded valuable insights into the sustainability of different crop protection strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle Economic Analysis of Climate Change Best Management Practices in Vermont Agriculture
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 879-900; doi:10.3390/agriculture5030879
Received: 30 April 2015 / Revised: 2 September 2015 / Accepted: 15 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (236 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change impacts local agricultural systems in detectable and distinguishable ways from large-scale shifts in water, land, and weather patterns to regionally specific distributions of weeds, pests, and diseases. Best management practices for adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change include
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Climate change impacts local agricultural systems in detectable and distinguishable ways from large-scale shifts in water, land, and weather patterns to regionally specific distributions of weeds, pests, and diseases. Best management practices for adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change include modifications to farm production through adjusted intensity and product types and changing land use through crop siting and tillage practices. Farmer perceptions of risk and profitability of best management practices are key determinants of adoption, which traditional incentive programs like the Environmental Quality Incentive Program attempt to address by providing financial and technical support. To ensure that payments offered through these programs that maximize adoption, regional incentive payments must be based upon locally established costs. This paper focuses on the cost of implementing and maintaining climate change specific best management practices (CCBMPs) for twelve diverse farms in Vermont. Specifically, three CCBMPs for Vermont are examined: cover cropping, management intensive rotational grazing (MIRG), and riparian buffer strips. Results show the average cost for cover cropping is $129.24/acre, MIRG is $79.82/acre, and a tree based riparian buffer strip cost $807.33/acre. We conclude that existing incentive payments for cover cropping and MIRG are below costs, likely resulting in under-adoption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle Achieving Water and Food Security in 2050: Outlook, Policies, and Investments
Agriculture 2015, 5(2), 188-220; doi:10.3390/agriculture5020188
Received: 15 March 2015 / Revised: 7 April 2015 / Accepted: 11 April 2015 / Published: 22 April 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (287 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Food production in 2050 will be sufficient, globally, but many of the poor will remain food insecure. The primary cause of food insecurity will continue to be poverty, rather than inadequate food production. Thus, policies and investments that increase the incomes of the
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Food production in 2050 will be sufficient, globally, but many of the poor will remain food insecure. The primary cause of food insecurity will continue to be poverty, rather than inadequate food production. Thus, policies and investments that increase the incomes of the poor will remain the best ways to extend food security to all. Investments that promote growth in sustainable agriculture and provide non-farm employment opportunities in rural areas of lower income countries will be most helpful. There will be sufficient water, globally, to achieve food production goals and sustain rural and urban livelihoods, if we allocate and manage the resource wisely. Yet, water shortages will constrain agricultural production and limit incomes and livelihood opportunities in many areas. Policies and investments are needed to extend and ensure access to water for household use and agricultural production. Challenges requiring the attention of policy makers and investors include increasing urbanization and increasing demands for land and water resources. Policy makers must ensure that farmers retain access to the water they need for producing food and sustaining livelihoods, and they must create greater opportunities for women in agriculture. They must also motivate investments in new technologies that will enhance crop and livestock production, particularly for smallholders, and encourage the private sector to invest in activities that create employment opportunities in rural areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)

Review

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Open AccessReview Development of Bioelectrochemical Systems to Promote Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 367-388; doi:10.3390/agriculture5030367
Received: 6 May 2015 / Revised: 11 June 2015 / Accepted: 16 June 2015 / Published: 24 June 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2566 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are a newly emerged technology for energy-efficient water and wastewater treatment. Much effort as well as significant progress has been made in advancing this technology towards practical applications treating various types of waste. However, BES application for agriculture has not
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Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) are a newly emerged technology for energy-efficient water and wastewater treatment. Much effort as well as significant progress has been made in advancing this technology towards practical applications treating various types of waste. However, BES application for agriculture has not been well explored. Herein, studies of BES related to agriculture are reviewed and the potential applications of BES for promoting sustainable agriculture are discussed. BES may be applied to treat the waste/wastewater from agricultural production, minimizing contaminants, producing bioenergy, and recovering useful nutrients. BES can also be used to supply irrigation water via desalinating brackish water or producing reclaimed water from wastewater. The energy generated in BES can be used as a power source for wireless sensors monitoring the key parameters for agricultural activities. The importance of BES to sustainable agriculture should be recognized, and future development of this technology should identify proper application niches with technological advancement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessDiscussion Finding Ways to Improve Australia’s Food Security Situation
Agriculture 2015, 5(2), 286-312; doi:10.3390/agriculture5020286
Received: 27 February 2015 / Revised: 15 April 2015 / Accepted: 27 April 2015 / Published: 27 May 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (255 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although Australia exports more than half of its agricultural production, there are food security problems as the current food supply systems in Australia fail to deliver healthy diets to all Australians and fail to protect the natural resources on which they depend. In
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Although Australia exports more than half of its agricultural production, there are food security problems as the current food supply systems in Australia fail to deliver healthy diets to all Australians and fail to protect the natural resources on which they depend. In addition, the food systems create “collateral damage” to the natural environment including biodiversity loss. In coming decades, Australia’s food supply systems will be increasingly challenged by resource price inflation and falling yields due to climate change. Government and business are aiming to increase production and agricultural exports. This will increase pressure on agricultural resources and exacerbate “collateral” damage to the environment. The Australian public has an ongoing interest in issues associated with the food systems including the environment, education, health and sustainability. A health-giving diet is essential for a full life and over a life-time people need food security. Currently economy development and social planning is undertaken through the pragmatic application of a set of ideas, such as relying on markets and deregulation, collectively referred to as neoliberalism. This paper contends that the neoliberal approach is not solving the current and developing problems in food security and agriculture more generally and suggests that more emphasis should be given to alternatives approaches. Seven alternatives approaches are suggested that could be used to identify gaps and guide the creation of overarching goals in economic development and social planning to improve food security and secure the other material goods and social arrangements that all Australians require to live full lives. However, changing large systems such as those involved in food supply is difficult because vested interests in the existing arrangements make the current systems resilient to change. There are a range of leverage points that have differing abilities to change systems. The paper points out that goals and information flows are good leverage points and suggests establishing overarching goals for the systems relevant to food and restructuring the flow of information about these systems will help reform the food supply systems in Australia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)
Open AccessShort Communication The Next Generation Feedstock of Biofuel: Jatropha or Chlorella as Assessed by Their Life-Cycle Inventories
Agriculture 2014, 4(3), 217-230; doi:10.3390/agriculture4030217
Received: 19 May 2014 / Revised: 18 June 2014 / Accepted: 19 June 2014 / Published: 1 July 2014
PDF Full-text (230 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Promising energy crops such as Jatropha curcas Linnaeus (JCL), which are planted on marginal lands, or microalgae such as Chlorella, which are cultivated in ponds located on mudflats or deserts, have been regarded with high hopes to solve the shortage
[...] Read more.
Promising energy crops such as Jatropha curcas Linnaeus (JCL), which are planted on marginal lands, or microalgae such as Chlorella, which are cultivated in ponds located on mudflats or deserts, have been regarded with high hopes to solve the shortage of food crops and increase the amount of biodiesel (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, FAME) production. However, the annual yields of biomass and transport fuels (t/ha) of both are still unclear and often exaggerated in the literature. Large portions of JCL biomass, including tree trunks and leaves, can also be used to generate electricity along with FAME, which is produced from seed lipids. Meanwhile, lipid extracted algae (LEA) are composed of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids other than glycerides which are unable to be esterified to form FAME and much more abundant in the microalgae than oil cake in the oil crops. Therefore, it has been strongly suggested that not only transesterification or esterification but also Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process and bio-electricity generation should be considered as routes to produce biofuels. Otherwise, the yield of biofuel would be extremely low using either JCL or Chlorella as feedstock. The Life-Cycle Inventories (LCI) of the biofuel processes with whole biomass of JCL and Chlorella were compared based on their net energy ratio (NER) and CO2 emission saving (CES). It was shown that the technological improvement of irrigation, cultivation, and processing for either economic-crops or microalgae were all necessary to meet the requirements of commercial biofuel production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture)

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