Special Issue "Cover Crops"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2019)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Roberto Mancinelli

Department of Agricultura and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable agriculture; agricultural ecology; cropping systems; fields agronomic management; conservation tillage; soil fertility
Guest Editor
Dr. Sara Marinari

Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest systems DIBAF, Tuscia University, Tuscia, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soil quality; soil use; soil management; soil functions; soil process
Guest Editor
Dr. Emanuele Radicetti

Department of Agricultura and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: conservation agriculture; crop rotation; weed species composition; nitrogen release; weed management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Across the globe, the simplification of cropping systems due to the inadequate use of agrochemicals and heavier mechanization has contributed to the increase of environmental issues. Therefore, there is a growing need for agricultural management that is more environmentally friendly and capable of striking a balance between human and agro-ecosystems needs. The recent interest in cover crop adoption is due to the increase of agrochemical costs and to the decline of soil fertility associated with various farming systems’ management. Indeed, the adoption of cover crops could be a suitable strategy for improving crop yield, soil organic matter, and microbial activity, and reducing soil erosion. Furthermore, cover crops could contribute to weed control, maintaining a balance in weed flora composition. Recently, researchers have also started paying attention to cover crop residue management after their suppression, in order to manage nutrient supply to the next main crop by organic residue mineralization.

The main objective of the Special Issue is the publication of original research, modeling approaches, and review papers addressing how cover crop management affects cropping systems across different environments, soils, and geographic locations. To achieve this goal, Agriculture is encouraging researchers to submit relevant articles to this Special Issue. Therefore, manuscripts evaluating how cover crops support sustainable agriculture, improving crop productivity, weed management, nutrient dynamic, soil physical, and biochemical properties, as well as carbon sequestration and management strategies, are welcome.

Prof. Roberto Mancinelli
Dr. Sara Marinari
Dr. Emanuele Radicetti
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 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 cropping systems
  • Soil characteristics and management
  • Biomass production
  • Crop yield
  • Nutrient dynamic
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Weed control

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Cover Crop Management Strategies in Nebraska, US
Agriculture 2019, 9(6), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9060124
Received: 24 April 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 7 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
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Abstract
Adoption of cover crops has the potential to increase agricultural sustainability in the US and beyond. In 2017, a survey was conducted with Nebraska stakeholders in an attempt to evaluate current cover crop management strategies adopted in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), [...] Read more.
Adoption of cover crops has the potential to increase agricultural sustainability in the US and beyond. In 2017, a survey was conducted with Nebraska stakeholders in an attempt to evaluate current cover crop management strategies adopted in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), field corn (Zea mays L.), and seed corn production. Eighty-two Nebraska stakeholders answered the survey, of which 80% identified themselves as growers. Eighty-seven percent of respondents manage cover crops, and the average cover crop ha planted on a per farm basis is 32%. The primary method of establishing cover crops following soybeans and field corn is drilling. In seed corn, interseeding is the main seeding strategy for cover crop establishment. Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) appeared as the most adopted cover crop species (either alone or in mixtures with radish [Raphanus sativus L.] or hairy vetch [Vicia villosa Roth]). Over 95% of respondents utilize herbicides for cover crop termination in the spring before crop planting. Glyphosate is used by 100% of survey respondents that use herbicides for cover crop termination. The major observed impacts of incorporating cover crops into a production system according to survey respondents are reduced soil erosion and weed suppression. According to 93% of respondents, cover crops improve weed control by suppressing winter and/or summer annual weed species. The biggest challenge reported by cover crop adopters is planting and establishing a decent stand before winter. According to the results of this survey, there are different management strategies, positive outcomes, and challenges that accompany cover crop adoption in Nebraska. These results will help growers, agronomists, and researchers better guide cover crop adoption, management, and future research and education needs in Nebraska and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Can Hairy Vetch Cover Crop Affects Arsenic Accumulation in Vegetable Crops?
Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050089
Received: 11 April 2019 / Revised: 24 April 2019 / Accepted: 27 April 2019 / Published: 29 April 2019
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Abstract
Agricultural practices greatly influence the bioavailability of heavy metals. Arsenic (As) is a heavy metal identified as a concern due to its potential impact on human health. Two-year field experiments were performed to evaluate the effect of cropping system on As accumulation in [...] Read more.
Agricultural practices greatly influence the bioavailability of heavy metals. Arsenic (As) is a heavy metal identified as a concern due to its potential impact on human health. Two-year field experiments were performed to evaluate the effect of cropping system on As accumulation in tomato, sweet pepper and zucchini. The treatments were: (i) conventional system based on common practices of the area; and (ii) alternative systems based on cultivation of hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.) in no-tillage before vegetable crops. Randomized block design with three replications was adopted. Soil and plant samples (fruits, leaves, stems and roots) were collected at crop harvesting. Plant samples were weighed and analyzed to evaluate As content. Soil chemical analyses were performed to evaluate the total organic carbon and nitrogen content. The As accumulation observed in plant samples of tomato, sweet pepper and zucchini resulted always low in the alternative system, except in fruits where As accumulation was similar between the systems. The increase of soil organic matter observed in alternative system probably caused a reduction of As accumulation into crop tissues. Therefore, hairy vetch cultivation in no-tillage could be a suitable strategy to reduce the As uptake of vegetable crops in geogenic contaminated soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
CO2 Flux and C Balance due to the Replacement of Bare Soil with Agro-Ecological Service Crops in Mediterranean Environment
Agriculture 2019, 9(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9040071
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2920 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intensive agriculture practices often results in decomposition of organic matter, thus causing soil CO2 emissions. Agro-ecological service crop could be profitably cultivated to improve soil characteristics and reduce CO2 emissions under Mediterranean environment. Two-year field trials were conducted in central Italy. [...] Read more.
Intensive agriculture practices often results in decomposition of organic matter, thus causing soil CO2 emissions. Agro-ecological service crop could be profitably cultivated to improve soil characteristics and reduce CO2 emissions under Mediterranean environment. Two-year field trials were conducted in central Italy. The treatments were three agro-ecological service crops (hairy vetch, oat, and oilseed rape) and a no-service cover. Plant development, soil characteristics, and CO2 emissions were measured. Oat and oilseed rape showed a rapid growth, while hairy vetch started to grow rapidly only after the cold period. Soil CO2 emissions trend was similar among the agro-ecological service crops and tended to decrease during the cold period, then gradually increased until April when warm temperatures were observed. The high soil CO2 emissions and respiration index observed in hairy vetch probably stimulated mineral nutrients, especially nitrogen, to become more available in the soil compared to oat and oilseed rape throughout the decomposition of soil organic matter. These results confirmed that the cultivation of agro-ecological service crops, especially hairy vetch, could represent a suitable strategy for enhancing carbon sequestration and lead to a mitigation of CO2 emissions during the fallow period and could thus contribute to the climate change mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cover Crops)
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