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Special Issue "Quantitative Methods for Environmental Assessment and Policy in Agriculture"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Federica De Leo

University of Salento
Website | E-Mail
Interests: footprints; agriculture; fisheries; environmental assessment
Guest Editor
Mr. Pier Paolo Miglietta

University of Salento
E-Mail
Interests: footprints, agri-food, water, environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Special Issue is linked with the University of Salento post-lauream program in “Land Sustainability and Eco-Management”.

Sustainability of agriculture is essential for the continued viability of communities, territories and the future of the world community. New innovations in agri-food production and land preservation are needed. Current approaches used in agriculture for production of crops and animals will need to be examined to assess efficiencies in use of water, energy and other natural resources.

There is an urgent need for modifications in agricultural management practices, so as to adapt to these changing socio-economic and climate conditions, and to improve natural resource efficiency, productivity, and security. The challenge is to find a balance between individual natural resource management needs, which vary from field to field and farmer to farmer, and natural resource management as a collective activity of society.

This Special Issue seeks to demonstrate the important role that life cycle and footprinting approaches can play for measuring sustainability. It is intended to provide a forum for scientific progress on the importance of quantitative methods tools for agricultural policy-makers in obtaining measures of productive performance and natural resource use patterns.

Dr. Federica De Le
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. Sustainability 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 1400 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 farm production
  • agricultural sustainability assessment and management
  • life cycle sustainability assessment
  • footprint assessment
  • resource use efficiency
  • agricultural economics
  • agri-food quality
  • agricultural landscape
  • agricultural sustainable policy
  • quantitative tools

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Tunisian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Traceability in the EEC Market: Tunisian/Italian (Coratina) EVOOs Blend as a Case Study
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1471; doi:10.3390/su9081471
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 14 August 2017 / Accepted: 16 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
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Abstract
In order to check the reliability of an NMR-based metabolomic approach to evaluating blend composition (and declaration), a series of 81 Italian/Tunisian blends samples at different percentage composition (from 10/90 to 90/10% Coratina/Tunisian oil by 10% increase step) were prepared starting from five
[...] Read more.
In order to check the reliability of an NMR-based metabolomic approach to evaluating blend composition (and declaration), a series of 81 Italian/Tunisian blends samples at different percentage composition (from 10/90 to 90/10% Coratina/Tunisian oil by 10% increase step) were prepared starting from five Coratina (Apulia) and five Tunisian extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) batches. Moreover, a series of nine binary mixtures blend oils were obtained, starting from the two batches’ oil sums. The models built showed the linear relationship between the NMR signals and the percentage composition of the blends. In particular, a high correlation with the percentage composition of blends was obtained from the partial least squares (PLS) regression model, when the two batches oil sums were used for the binary mixtures of blend samples. These proposed methods suggest that a multivariate analysis (MVA)-based NMR approach—in particular PLS regression (PLSR)—could be a very useful tool (including for trading purposes) to assess quantitative blend composition. This is important for the sustainability of the goods’ free movement, especially in the agrifood sector. This cornerstone policy of current common markets is also clearly linked to the availability of methods for certifying the origin of the foodstuffs and their use in the assembly of final product for the consumer. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Determination of the Suitability of Some American Grapevine Rootstocks as a New Edible Landscape Component of Vertical Gardens
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1275; doi:10.3390/su9071275
Received: 18 April 2017 / Revised: 13 July 2017 / Accepted: 13 July 2017 / Published: 19 July 2017
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Abstract
In this study, grapevine was used as the research material. This plant which epitomizes the opinion that vertical gardens can have a positive influence on human psychology with their beautiful view, e.g., the hanging gardens of Babylon about 2500 years ago. The study
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In this study, grapevine was used as the research material. This plant which epitomizes the opinion that vertical gardens can have a positive influence on human psychology with their beautiful view, e.g., the hanging gardens of Babylon about 2500 years ago. The study in question was conducted in 2016 at Bingol University, Faculty of Agriculture, the Department of Garden Plants research and application area. The offshoot growth was measured in a fertilizer experiment that formed the control, first application (200 g/100 L water, leaf) and second application (100 g/100 L water + 20% leaf + root). Moreover, the plant’s footprint in the vertical area was determined. The average offshoot growth of 1103 P American grapevine rootstock in the first and second applications was measured as 61.5 cm and 39.5 cm respectively, and it was 43.0 cm and 51.0 for C American grapevine rootstock. The average growth of 1103 P and 1616 C American grapevine in the control group was determined as 30.6 cm and 32.1 cm. The average growth of both American grapevine rootstocks used in the experiment was determined to be higher for the first and second applications than the controls. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Grey Water Footprint Assessment of Groundwater Chemical Pollution: Case Study in Salento (Southern Italy)
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 799; doi:10.3390/su9050799
Received: 5 April 2017 / Revised: 3 May 2017 / Accepted: 9 May 2017 / Published: 11 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1375 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The worsening of groundwater quality is a huge problem for some regions, especially where a karst aquifer system is the most important water resource because of the deficiency of a well-developed superficial water supply. In this study the chemical quality of a deep
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The worsening of groundwater quality is a huge problem for some regions, especially where a karst aquifer system is the most important water resource because of the deficiency of a well-developed superficial water supply. In this study the chemical quality of a deep aquifer of the Salento peninsula (Southern Italy), where a shallow aquifer and an extensive deep aquifer are exploited as a source of drinking water and irrigation water, was monitored. The indicator used to assess the sustainability of pollution produce by human activities is the “grey water footprint” (GWF) which measures the amount of water required to assimilate a polluting load produced from anthropic activity. The GWF, calculated for each chemical parameter, shows a widespread contamination by Mercury (Hg), Vanadium (V) and Ammonium (NH4+) with concentrations above the limits (Lgs. D. 31/2001). The high Mercury and Vanadium concentrations may thus be associated with anthropic pressures on the aquifer, while Ammonium derives mainly from fertilizers used in agriculture. The situation that emerged involves reflections on the continuous human pressure on natural resources. Therefore, the management of groundwater quality requires a multidisciplinary approach focused on identifying the measures necessary to protect our water resources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Redistributing Phosphorus in Animal Manure from a Livestock-Intensive Region to an Arable Region: Exploration of Environmental Consequences
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 595; doi:10.3390/su9040595
Received: 5 March 2017 / Revised: 6 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 April 2017 / Published: 12 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1936 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Specialized agricultural production between regions has led to large regional differences in soil phosphorus (P) over time. Redistribution of surplus manure P from high livestock density regions to regions with arable farming can improve agricultural P use efficiency. In this paper, the central
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Specialized agricultural production between regions has led to large regional differences in soil phosphorus (P) over time. Redistribution of surplus manure P from high livestock density regions to regions with arable farming can improve agricultural P use efficiency. In this paper, the central research question was whether more efficient P use through manure P redistribution comes at a price of increased environmental impacts when compared to a reference system. Secondly, we wanted to explore the influence on impacts of regions with different characteristics. For this purpose, a life cycle assessment was performed and two regions in Norway were used as a case study. Several technology options for redistribution were examined in a set of scenarios, including solid–liquid separation, with and without anaerobic digestion of manure before separation. The most promising scenario in terms of environmental impacts was anaerobic digestion with subsequent decanter centrifuge separation of the digestate. This scenario showed that redistribution can be done with net environmental impacts being similar to or lower than the reference situation, including transport. The findings emphasize the need to use explicit regional characteristics of the donor and recipient regions to study the impacts of geographical redistribution of surplus P in organic fertilizer residues. Full article
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Open AccessArticle An Ex-Post Evaluation of Agricultural Extension Programs for Reducing Fertilizer Input in Shaanxi, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 566; doi:10.3390/su9040566
Received: 13 February 2017 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 2 April 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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Abstract
It is difficult to control agricultural Non-point Source (NPS) pollution, caused by overusing of chemical fertilizer, through laws alone. An agricultural extension program is an alternative way to reduce fertilizer input. This paper estimates the average change in fertilizer use of farmers, which
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It is difficult to control agricultural Non-point Source (NPS) pollution, caused by overusing of chemical fertilizer, through laws alone. An agricultural extension program is an alternative way to reduce fertilizer input. This paper estimates the average change in fertilizer use of farmers, which is attributable to their participation in the agricultural extension program. The Inverse-Probability Weighted matching method is used to evaluate the average treatment effect for the farmers who engaged in the program and, to a limited extent, evaluate the impact of individual elements of the program. Surprisingly, we find that farmer-to-farmer training may have had a counterproductive effect while the posters may be the most effective program element in reducing fertilizer use in the context. Full article
Open AccessArticle Spatial and Temporal Variability of Soil Respiration between Soybean Crop Rows as Measured Continuously over a Growing Season
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 436; doi:10.3390/su9030436
Received: 25 December 2016 / Revised: 12 March 2017 / Accepted: 14 March 2017 / Published: 16 March 2017
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Abstract
An improved understanding of temporal and spatial variations in soil respiration is essential for measuring soil CO2 effluxes accurately. In this study, a field experiment was conducted to investigate the spatial and temporal variability of soil respiration between adjacent crop rows in
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An improved understanding of temporal and spatial variations in soil respiration is essential for measuring soil CO2 effluxes accurately. In this study, a field experiment was conducted to investigate the spatial and temporal variability of soil respiration between adjacent crop rows in a soybean (Glycine max L.) field. Soil CO2 concentration, water content, and temperature at a 7.5 cm depth were recorded continuously at 0 cm, 12 cm, 24 cm, and 35 cm from the plant row during the growing season. Root biomass at the corresponding locations was collected from the 0 to 10 cm and 10 to 20 cm soil layers at three growth stages. Seasonal CO2 efflux data showed that the minimum value appeared at the seeding stage, increased gradually, reached the maximum at the flowering and grain-filling stages, and then dropped steadily at the mature stage. Within a growth stage, CO2 effluxes related positively to soil temperature, but negatively to soil water content. In the early and vigorous growing stages of soybean crop, soil respiration showed apparent diurnal variations, and was most significant at the crop row location. Except for the seeding stage, CO2 effluxes at the crop row were larger than that of other locations, and effluxes at 35 cm from the row were representative of the mean CO2 efflux between adjacent rows. We concluded that the spatial heterogeneity of CO2 efflux between crop rows should be taken into consideration when measuring soil respiration in agricultural ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Determinants of Farmers’ Intention to Adopt Water Saving Measures: Evidence from Italy
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 77; doi:10.3390/su9010077
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 2 January 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2017 / Published: 8 January 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (876 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The present research is aimed at establishing how farmers can be encouraged to adopt irrigation water saving measures. By developing and implementing an extended version of the well-known Theory of Planned Behavior, we considered farmers’ propensity to adopt innovations and their water footprints.
[...] Read more.
The present research is aimed at establishing how farmers can be encouraged to adopt irrigation water saving measures. By developing and implementing an extended version of the well-known Theory of Planned Behavior, we considered farmers’ propensity to adopt innovations and their water footprints. In a sample of 150 Italian farmers, we found that favorable attitudes towards water saving measures, and the orientations of environmental associations and public bodies favorably influence farmers’ intentions to adopt water saving measures. Farmers’ innovativeness and water footprints also exert a significant influence on their adoption intentions. The paper also discusses the contribution of these results to the previous literature and highlights practical implications for policy makers interested in promoting the adoption of irrigation water saving measures. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Plant Pathology and Information Technology: Opportunity for Management of Disease Outbreak and Applications in Regulation Frameworks
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 831; doi:10.3390/su8080831
Received: 27 July 2016 / Revised: 13 August 2016 / Accepted: 18 August 2016 / Published: 22 August 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In many European rural areas, agriculture is not only an economic activity, but it is strictly linked to environmental and social characteristics of the area. Thus, sometimes, a pathogen can become a social threat, as in the case of Xylella fastidiosa and olive
[...] Read more.
In many European rural areas, agriculture is not only an economic activity, but it is strictly linked to environmental and social characteristics of the area. Thus, sometimes, a pathogen can become a social threat, as in the case of Xylella fastidiosa and olive trees (Olea europaea L.) in Salento. Fast and systemic response to threats represents the key to success in stopping pest invasions, and proves a great help in managing lots of data in a short time or coordinating large-scale monitoring coming from applying Information Technology tools. Regarding the field of applications, the advantages provided by new technologies are countless. However, is it the same in agriculture? Electronic identification tools can be applied for plant health management and certification. Treatments, agrochemical management or impact assessment may also be supported by dematerialization of data. Information Technology solution for urban forestry management or traceability of commodities belonging to “Food from Somewhere” regimes were analyzed and compared to protection from pests of a unique tree heritage such as olive trees in Salento. Full article

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