Special Issue "Advanced Research of Perennial Grasses: Resilient Crops in a Multifunctional Agriculture"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Danilo Scordia
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A), University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: biomass; bioenergy; biofuels; bioeconomy; climate change; global warming; perennial grasses; abiotic stress; plant agronomy; plant physiology; ecosystem services
Prof. Salvatore L. Cosentino
Website
Co-Guest Editor
University of Catania, Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente
Interests: Biomass; Bioenergy; Biofuels; Bioeconomy; Climate change; Global warming; Perennial grasses; Industrial Crops; Abiotic stress; Plant agronomy; Plant physiology; Ecosystem services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agriculture is facing a wide range of challenges, as climate change, rapid population growth and dietary habits, and emerging markets are steadily modifying traditional cropping systems.

In this context, the concept of multifunctional agriculture has emerged, as agriculture activity beyond its role of producing food/feed and fiber, may also have several other functions, such as renewable energy and fuel production, ecosystem services, and contributions to the socio-economic viability of rural areas. Grasses are the largest form of vascular, herbaceous plants of monocotyledonous type (Poaceae or Gramineae family), a valuable source of food, feed and energy for all sorts of wildlife, domesticated animals and humans, and are the most widespread plants on Earth. In addition to food and fodder, perennial grasses have been identified as the most resilient crops to various abiotic stresses for a number of different end-uses.

This Special Issue addresses advanced progress on perennial grasses as a source of food, feed, fiber, fuel and ecosystem services (erosion control, restoration of degraded lands, sequestration of atmospheric carbon, organic matter and nutrient retention, etc.), with the main emphasis on cultural practices to improve production under varying stress conditions. All types of articles, such as original research, opinions, and reviews are welcome. Replicated experiments, whether in open field or in controlled environments should be performed at least twice (at least two years or two locations) to account for environmental variations and/or genotype × environment interactions.

Dr. Danilo Scordia
Prof. Salvatore L. Cosentino
Guest Editors

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 1000 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

  • Abiotic stress
  • Agriculture
  • Biomass yield
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climate change
  • Degradation
  • Drought
  • Global warming
  • Heat
  • Marginal land
  • Salinity
  • Stress avoidance
  • Stress escape
  • Stress recovery
  • Stress resistance
  • Stress tolerance
  • Waterlogging
  • Advanced biofuel
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biochemical conversion
  • Bioethanol
  • Biogas
  • Biomethane
  • Biophysical constraint
  • Ecosystem services
  • Erosion
  • Feed
  • Fiber
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Organic matter
  • Pollution
  • Resilience
  • Restoration
  • Soil degradation
  • Sustainability
  • Thermochemical conversion

Published Papers (7 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Development of Legumes After Reseeding in Permanent Grassland, as Affected by Nitrogen Fertilizer Applications
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100207 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Legumes in grassland can increase locally grown protein in fodder while reducing the nitrogen (N)-fertilizer requirements. Although the benefits of forage legumes are known, there was a decline in their use in the past due to inexpensive N-fertilizer, soya products from abroad, and [...] Read more.
Legumes in grassland can increase locally grown protein in fodder while reducing the nitrogen (N)-fertilizer requirements. Although the benefits of forage legumes are known, there was a decline in their use in the past due to inexpensive N-fertilizer, soya products from abroad, and variable legume persistence. In recent years, mounting environmental concern has sparked new interest in legumes. To quantify the effect of legume reseeding and N-application on permanent grassland on crude protein (CP) and dry matter yield (DM), a multifactorial trial was set up. Factors considered were clover species (red clover, white clover), N-application rate (0–170 kg N ha−1), N-fertilizer type (mineral-N, organic-N), and cutting management (3, 5-cut). Legume percentages were scored, and DM- and CP-yield was measured for three years. Crude-protein gains after legume reseeding were considerable and between 2.5–3.4 after red clover and 0.4–1.7 t CP ha−1 3 years−1 after white clover-reseeding even when compared to the control-high-N treatment. Legume percentages were negatively correlated to N-rates down to rates as low as 42 or 85 kg N ha−1 for a three- or five-cut management, respectively. Nitrogen-applications increased the yield (DM, CP) of control plots, whereas for legume-reseeded plots yield remained unchanged or was reduced. Differences due to N-fertilizer type were small or non-existent. Reseeding of clover was shown to be a viable method to increase crude protein in permanent grassland for about three years (red clover) and possibly beyond (white clover). Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Interspecific Variations in the Growth, Water Relations and Photosynthetic Responses of Switchgrass Genotypes to Salinity Targets Salt Exclusion for Maximising Bioenergy Production
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090205 - 18 Sep 2019
Abstract
The expansion in the cultivation of bioenergy crops to saline lands is of importance for ensuring food security as long as high productivity is maintained. The potential of switchgrass to grow under saline conditions was examined in three genotypes from a early seedling [...] Read more.
The expansion in the cultivation of bioenergy crops to saline lands is of importance for ensuring food security as long as high productivity is maintained. The potential of switchgrass to grow under saline conditions was examined in three genotypes from a early seedling growth to full maturity at 50, 100, 200 and 300 mM of sodium chloride (NaCl). The carbon assimilation rates were generally lower and correlated to stomatal closure in plants exposed to salinity in all the tested genotypes. Based on the results of ion concentrations in different parts of the plant, switchgrass genotypes differed in their responses to NaCl. The Alamo genotype excluded salt from the roots, whereas Trailblazer and Kanlow accumulated it in the root, stem and leaf tissues. The increased leaf salt concentration was accompanied by a higher proline concentration in the 200 and 300 mM NaCl treatments toward the end of the experiment. Overall, Alamo showed the highest yields at all salinity levels, indicating that excluding salt from the roots may result in a better performance in terms of biomass production. The accumulation of salt observed in Kanlow and Trailblazer resulted in lower yields, even when other mechanisms, such as the production of salt glands, were observed, especially in Kanlow. These results suggest that the Alamo genotype has the ability to maintain high yields under saline conditions and that this characteristic could be further exploited for maximizing bioenergy production under saline conditions. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Performance of Mesotrophic Arrhenatheretum Grassland under Different Cutting Frequency Regimes for Biomass Production in Southwest Germany
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090199 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Biogas production is a key renewable energy pathway for a more sustainable future bioeconomy. However, there is a crucial trade-off between biomass productivity and social-ecological sustainability of available biogas cropping systems. Permanent grassland has been frequently promoted as a promising perennial cropping system [...] Read more.
Biogas production is a key renewable energy pathway for a more sustainable future bioeconomy. However, there is a crucial trade-off between biomass productivity and social-ecological sustainability of available biogas cropping systems. Permanent grassland has been frequently promoted as a promising perennial cropping system for biomass production. Three- and four-cut regimes are usually the highest-yielding and thus preferable for biogas production. A three-year field trial in southwest Germany investigated biomass yield and biochemical composition of mesotrophic Arrhenatheretum grassland under three cutting regimes (two-, three- and four-cut). For the three-cut regime, a preliminary biogas batch test was conducted. The three-cut regime had the highest annual accumulated dry matter yield (11.8–14.8 Mg ha−1), an average specific methane yield of 0.289 m3N kg−1 volatile solids−1 and an accumulated annual methane yield of 3167–3893 m³N ha−1. The four-cut regime performed least favorably due to a lower dry matter yield than the three-cut regime, the highest ash content and the highest nitrogen content. Thus, the three-cut regime promises the best yield performance, whereas the two-cut regime can potentially provide more ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation and wild-game protection. Consequently, the two-cut regime could help improve the social-ecological sustainability of biogas crop cultivation. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Harvest Time Determines Quality and Usability of Biomass from Lowland Hay Meadows
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090198 - 10 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Species-rich hay meadows are usually managed extensively to maintain their biodiversity, with the harvested biomass traditionally being fed to ruminants for milk or meat production. The quality of the biomass is, however, variable, difficult to predict and often does not fulfil today’s requirements. [...] Read more.
Species-rich hay meadows are usually managed extensively to maintain their biodiversity, with the harvested biomass traditionally being fed to ruminants for milk or meat production. The quality of the biomass is, however, variable, difficult to predict and often does not fulfil today’s requirements. This study established a field trial at two species-rich hay meadows to investigate the combined effect of fertilisation (none, phosphorus and potassium (PK), nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK)) and date of first cut (at different phenological stages) on biomass quality and quantity. In addition, the most suitable uses of the biomass were explored, including the alternatives biogas and combustion. After four years of the field trial, the stage of maturity at the time of first cut had a greater influence than extensive fertilisation on biomass quality. Dry matter yield (DMY) of the first cut was about 40%–60% of annual DMY (53.99 ± 12.51 dt ha−1 a−1) depending on site, fertilisation and harvest time. Fertilisation had a stronger effect than harvest time on DMY and annual methane yield. In most cases, there was no significant difference in chemical composition between biomass harvested at the end of the grass-flowering stage and at the seed-ripening stage. Thus, a late cut for hay proved to be the most flexible option. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessCommunication
Improving the Ecological Performance of Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter) through Intercropping with Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) and Yellow Melilot (Melilotus officinalis L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090194 - 06 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Miscanthus is a promising high-yielding and low-input perennial biomass crop. However, as miscanthus does not produce nectar, it provides less support for pollinators than other perennial biomass crops, such as cup plant, Virginia mallow, or wild plant mixtures. This study discusses whether miscanthus [...] Read more.
Miscanthus is a promising high-yielding and low-input perennial biomass crop. However, as miscanthus does not produce nectar, it provides less support for pollinators than other perennial biomass crops, such as cup plant, Virginia mallow, or wild plant mixtures. This study discusses whether miscanthus could be intercropped with flower-rich biennial wild plants to further enhance its ecological functioning. In 2017, a demonstration plot was established in southwest Germany with two miscanthus intercropping regimes: woad (WAM) and yellow melilot (YAM). Both woad and melilot reached full bloom in 2018, the second year of cultivation. The flowering period of woad started and ended earlier than that of melilot. Woad remained harvestable until spring 2019, whereas the aboveground melilot was destroyed by brown hare in autumn 2018. However, the shed seeds of melilot reemerged homogeneously in 2019. The miscanthus developed better in YAM than WAM. This was most likely due to (i) stronger competition for water, nutrients, and light in WAM and (ii) nitrogen fixation advantage in melilot. These results indicate that the ecological performance of miscanthus could be improved by intercropping with melilot. Thus, we propose to further investigate the effects of intercropping on both the productivity and quality of miscanthus biomass. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Harvest Timing and Soil Moisture Content on Compaction, Growth and Harvest Yield in a Miscanthus Cropping System
Agriculture 2018, 8(10), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8100148 - 22 Sep 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Harvesting Miscanthus × giganteus (J.M. Greef & Deuter ex Hodkinson & Renvoize) after shoot emergence is known to reduce yields in subsequent seasons. This research was conducted in Miscanthus to assess the effects on crop response and soil compaction of annually repeated traffic, [...] Read more.
Harvesting Miscanthus × giganteus (J.M. Greef & Deuter ex Hodkinson & Renvoize) after shoot emergence is known to reduce yields in subsequent seasons. This research was conducted in Miscanthus to assess the effects on crop response and soil compaction of annually repeated traffic, applied both before new growth in the rhizomes (early harvest) and after shoot emergence (late harvest), at two different soil moisture contents. While an annual early harvest, yields more than a late harvest, because damage to new shoots is avoided, soil compaction may be increased following repeated harvests. Five treatments were tested: (a) An untrafficked control, (b) early-traffic on soil with typical soil moisture content (SMC) (early-normal), (c) early-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (early-elevated), (d) late-traffic on soil with typical SMC (late-normal) and (e) late-traffic on soil with elevated SMC (late-wet). The experiment was conducted on a Gleysol in Co. Dublin, Ireland during 2010 and 2011. Crop response effects were assessed by measuring stem numbers, stem height, trafficked zone biomass yield (November) and overall stem yield (January). Compaction effects were assessed by measuring penetration resistance, bulk density and water infiltration rate. Trafficked zone biomass yield in the early-dry and early-wet treatments was, respectively, 18% and 23% lower than in the control, but was, respectively, 39% and 31% higher than in the late-dry treatment. Overall, stem yield was significantly lower in the late-normal and late-wet treatments (10.4 and 10.1 tdm ha−1 respectively) when compared with the control (12.4 tdm ha−1), but no significant difference was recorded in overall stem yield between both early-traffic treatments and the control. Penetration resistance values were significantly higher in all trafficked treatments when compared with the control at depths of 0.15 m (≥54–61%) and 0.30 m (≥27–57%) and were significantly higher in 2011 when compared with 2010 at depths of 0.15 and 0.30 m. Baler system traffic in Miscanthus significantly reduced yields and significantly increased compaction annually. Miscanthus harvested early, on a dry soil, yielded 1.1 tdm ha−1 more than when harvested late on a dry soil. The yield advantage increased to 1.3 tdm ha−1 when early harvesting on a soil with 40–43% moisture content was compared with late harvesting on a wetter soil (51–52% moisture content). In this study, the magnitude of yield losses from compaction or other causes in early harvests was substantially lower than the yield losses, which resulted from shoot damage in late harvests. It is likely in similar climates that the results of this study would also apply to other perennial crops growing in similar soil types. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Perennial Energy Grasses: Resilient Crops in a Changing European Agriculture
Agriculture 2019, 9(8), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9080169 - 01 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
This review describes the multiple utilization of perennial grasses as resilient crops for a multifunctional agriculture. Beyond its role of producing food, feed and fiber, the concept of multifunctional agriculture includes many other functions, such as ecosystem services, renewable energy production and a [...] Read more.
This review describes the multiple utilization of perennial grasses as resilient crops for a multifunctional agriculture. Beyond its role of producing food, feed and fiber, the concept of multifunctional agriculture includes many other functions, such as ecosystem services, renewable energy production and a contribution to the socio-economic viability of rural areas. Traditionally used for feed, some perennial grasses—known as perennial energy grasses (e.g., miscanthus—Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter, giant reed—Arundo donax L., switchgrass—Panicun virgatum L., reed canary grass—Phalaris arundinacea L.)—have been recommended as a biomass source for both energy and non-energy applications, and ecosystem services. Perennial grasses are lignocellulosic, low-cost feedstock, able to grow in variable environments including marginal lands. Due to their high yield, resilient traits, biomass composition, energy and environmental sustainability, perennial grasses are a candidate feedstock to foster the bio-based economy and adapt to a changing agriculture. However, perennial grasses for biomass production are largely undomesticated crops, or are at early stages of development. Hence, a great potential for improvements is expected, provided that research on breeding, agronomy, post-harvest logistic and bioconversion is undertaken in order to deliver resilient genotypes growing and performing well across a broad range of environmental conditions, climatic uncertainty, marginal land type and end-use destinations. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop