Special Issue "Water Quality for Agriculture"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assist. Prof. Rabin Bhattarai

Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Water Quality, Erosion and Sediment Control, Non-point Source Pollution
Guest Editor
Dr. Paul C. Davidson

Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soil and water resources engineering, nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide transport in water, water quality, cover crops, vertical farming, hydroponics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable agriculture and water quality are inherently connected.  Appropriate agricultural management practices are essential for maintaining sufficient water quality and sustaining healthy ecosystems.  Fertilization of cropland in many parts of the world is critically necessary to produce enough food for an ever-growing population.  Excess nutrients from cropland and urban areas can enter the nearest water sources creating issues like algal blooms.  Agricultural pesticides may be transported from agricultural fields to surface or groundwater sources in areas of sufficient rainfall and specific soil types.  Microbial pathogens may be transported from livestock operations or wildlife populations through surface runoff and enter into our food supply chain. Salinity and heavy metals can be a challenge in many arid locations that rely on groundwater for irrigation purposes because of the negative impacts on crop yield.  This Special Issue is seeking high-quality research papers that detail original, innovative work in one of the above areas, or a closely related topic.

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

  • agriculture
  • environment
  • nutrient
  • water quality

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Toward Improved Adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the Lake Erie Basin: Perspectives from Resilience and Agricultural Innovation Literature
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7070054
Received: 6 May 2017 / Revised: 29 June 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 6 July 2017
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Abstract
Phosphorus (P) runoff from agricultural sources is a recognized environmental problem, particularly in regions draining into Lake Erie. This problem may well be exacerbated particularly through increased magnitude and frequency of extreme climatic events (e.g., excessive precipitation and droughts). On the physical sciences
[...] Read more.
Phosphorus (P) runoff from agricultural sources is a recognized environmental problem, particularly in regions draining into Lake Erie. This problem may well be exacerbated particularly through increased magnitude and frequency of extreme climatic events (e.g., excessive precipitation and droughts). On the physical sciences side, the recent extensive literature focuses on structural Best Management Practices (BMPs) which have the potential to mitigate both surface and sub-subsurface P losses. Modeling studies show that there is still a lack of adoption of these P-related voluntary BMPs by the farmers. At the same time, and while the social sciences side of the literature on structural BMPs adoption weakly affirms the latter, this paper argues that the literature on resilience and on agricultural innovation can better inform our understanding of the limited adoption of phosphorus related structural BMPs by farmers in the Lake Erie Basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Impact of Potentially Contaminated River Water on Agricultural Irrigated Soils in an Equatorial Climate
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7070052
Received: 6 April 2017 / Revised: 10 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 24 June 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1587 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Globally, it is estimated that 20 million hectares of arable land are irrigated with water that contains residual contributions from domestic liquids. This potentially poses risks to public health and ecosystems, especially due to heavy metals, which are considered dangerous because of their
[...] Read more.
Globally, it is estimated that 20 million hectares of arable land are irrigated with water that contains residual contributions from domestic liquids. This potentially poses risks to public health and ecosystems, especially due to heavy metals, which are considered dangerous because of their potential toxicity and persistence in the environment. The Villavicencio region (Colombia) is an equatorial area where rainfall (near 3000 mm/year) and temperature (average 25.6 °C) are high. Soil processes in tropical conditions are fast and react quickly to changing conditions. Soil properties from agricultural fields irrigated with river water polluted by a variety of sources were analysed and compared to non-irrigated control soils. In this study, no physico-chemical alterations were found that gave evidence of a change due to the constant use of river water that contained wastes. This fact may be associated with the climatic factors (temperature and precipitation), which contribute to fast degradation of organic matter and nutrient and contaminants (such as heavy metals) leaching, or to dilution of wastes by the river. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Modelling Nutrient Load Changes from Fertilizer Application Scenarios in Six Catchments around the Baltic Sea
Agriculture 2017, 7(5), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7050041
Received: 3 January 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
The main environmental stressor of the Baltic Sea is elevated riverine nutrient loads, mainly originating from diffuse agricultural sources. Agricultural practices, intensities, and nutrient losses vary across the Baltic Sea drainage basin (1.75 × 106 km2, 14 countries and 85
[...] Read more.
The main environmental stressor of the Baltic Sea is elevated riverine nutrient loads, mainly originating from diffuse agricultural sources. Agricultural practices, intensities, and nutrient losses vary across the Baltic Sea drainage basin (1.75 × 106 km2, 14 countries and 85 million inhabitants). Six “Soil and Water Assessment Tool” (SWAT) models were set up for catchments representing the major agricultural systems, and covering the different climate gradients in the Baltic Sea drainage basin. Four fertilizer application scenarios were run for each catchment to evaluate the sensitivity of changed fertilizer applications. Increasing sensitivity was found for catchments with an increasing proportion of agricultural land use and increased amounts of applied fertilizers. A change in chemical fertilizer use of ±20% was found to affect watershed NO3-N loads between zero effect and ±13%, while a change in manure application of ±20% affected watershed NO3-N loads between zero effect and −6% to +7%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Impact of Practice Change on Runoff Water Quality and Vegetable Yield—An On-Farm Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7030030
Received: 18 December 2016 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 11 March 2017 / Published: 16 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2862 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Intensive agricultural practices in farming systems in eastern Australia have been identified as a contributor to the poor runoff water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A field investigation was carried out to measure the off-farm water quality and productivity in a
[...] Read more.
Intensive agricultural practices in farming systems in eastern Australia have been identified as a contributor to the poor runoff water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A field investigation was carried out to measure the off-farm water quality and productivity in a coastal farming system in northeastern Australia. Two vegetable crops (capsicum and zucchini) were grown in summer 2010–2011 and winter 2011 respectively using four different management practices (Conventional—plastic mulch, bare inter-row conventional tillage and commercial fertilizer inputs; Improved—improved practice with plastic mulch, inter-row vegetative mulch, zonal tillage and reduced fertilizer rates; Trash mulch—improved practice with cane-trash or forage-sorghum mulch with reduced fertilizer rates, minimum or zero tillage; and Vegetable only—improved practice with Rhodes grass or forage-sorghum mulch, minimum or zero tillage, reduced fertilizer rates). Results suggest improved and trash mulch systems reduced sediment and nutrient loads by at least 50% compared to conventional systems. The residual nitrate nitrogen in soil accumulated at the end-of-break crop cycle was lost by deep drainage before the subsequent sugarcane crop could utilize it. These results suggest that future research into establishing the linkages between deep drainage, groundwater quality and lateral movement into adjacent streams is needed. The improvement in runoff water quality was accompanied by yield reductions of up to 55% in capsicum and 57% in zucchini under trash mulch systems, suggesting a commercially unacceptable trade-off between water quality and productivity for a practice change. The current study has shown that variations around improved practice (modified nutrient application strategies under plastic mulch, but with an inter-space mulch to minimize runoff and sediment loss) may be the most practical solution to improve water quality and maintain productivity. However, more work is required to optimize this approach and thus reduce the size of any potential productivity and profitability gap that would necessitate an expensive policy intervention to implement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Application of Increasing Concentrations of Contaminated Water on the Different Fractions of Cu and Co in Sandy Loam and Clay Loam Soils
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture6040064
Received: 26 September 2016 / Revised: 10 November 2016 / Accepted: 23 November 2016 / Published: 5 December 2016
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Abstract
This study aimed to establish the fate of copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) in sandy loam and clay loam soils that had been irrigated with increasing concentrations of contaminated water. A sequential extraction procedure was used to determine the fractions of Cu and
[...] Read more.
This study aimed to establish the fate of copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) in sandy loam and clay loam soils that had been irrigated with increasing concentrations of contaminated water. A sequential extraction procedure was used to determine the fractions of Cu and Co in these soils. The concentration of bioavailable Cu and Co on clay loam was 1.7 times that of sandy loam soil. Cu on sandy loam soil was largely in the organic > residual > exchangeable > water-soluble > carbonate fractions, whereas on clay loam soil the element was largely in organic > exchangeable > residual > carbonate > water-soluble fractions. Co was largely observed in the exchangeable, water-soluble, and carbonate fractions, but with no particular trend observed in both soil types. When crops are grown on sandy soils that have a low capacity to hold heavy metals, the resulting effect would be high uptake of the heavy metals in crop plants. Because the predominant forms of Cu and Co vary in soils, it is expected that the metals will behave differently in the soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Surface and Subsurface Transport of Nitrate Loss from the Selected Bioenergy Crop Fields: Systematic Review, Analysis and Future Directions
Agriculture 2017, 7(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7030027
Received: 2 January 2017 / Revised: 25 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2706 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Nitrate loss from bioenergy crop fields has attracted considerable attention during the last few years because of its potential negative impact on aquatic and human health. Both controllable and uncontrollable factors for nitrate loss have been the subject of several previous studies. Due
[...] Read more.
Nitrate loss from bioenergy crop fields has attracted considerable attention during the last few years because of its potential negative impact on aquatic and human health. Both controllable and uncontrollable factors for nitrate loss have been the subject of several previous studies. Due to differences in climate, biophysical dissimilarities and land management characteristics in different parts of the world the factors affecting nitrate loss are often inconsistent and hence difficult to generalize. Therefore, reanalyzing the experimental field or plot scale studies to understand the nitrate loss factors in crop fields is useful and necessary in developing management strategies for reducing nitrate loss. This research synthesized and investigated 36 peer reviewed scientific journal articles related to selected bioenergy crop fields that included: continuous corn, corn in rotation with soybean, switchgrass and Miscanthus to conduct a meta-analysis of the available research. In this study, factors such as drain tile spacing, tillage practices, type and timing of the fertilization rate, irrigation and various other factors, which are challenging to represent in regression equations, were also systematically analyzed. In addition, various other agronomic characteristics that are attributed too nitrate loss are caused by perennially planted bio energized crops such as Miscanthus and switchgrass. Results indicated that 49% of nitrate loss through surface runoff from corn fields is directly related to the annual precipitation and fertilization rate. Multiple linear regression equations were developed to estimate the annual subsurface nitrate loss for the continuous corn fields with a R2 value of 0.65, 0.58 and 0.26 for sandy loam, silty loam and clay loam, respectively. Our analysis resulted in the conclusion that corn has a 2 to 3 times higher nitrate loss in surface runoff compared to switchgrass. Likewise, continuous corn and corn in rotation with soybean contributed more than 9 times the subsurface loss of nitrate compared to the established subsurface loss attributed to the Miscanthus and switchgrass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Agriculture)
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