Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Farming Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 12390

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Guest Editor
Department of Plant and Environmental Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Interests: cropping systems; irrigation technology; water conservation
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Dear Colleagues,

The increasing trend in the world population that is projected to be approximately 10 billion people by 2050 is putting pressure on the limited soil and water resources and food production under a changing climate. Soil and water resources are being degraded through agricultural expansion and intensification by diverse natural and anthropogenic factors, which create a non-balanced system, decreasing system sustainability. To tackle these challenges, different strategies have been investigated and used by scientists and crop producers to improve soil and water management for resource conservation. Different practices are used to target crop selection to enhance abiotic and biotic stress tolerance, crop choice for increased resilience, smart agriculture, precision water management, no-till, and conservation tillage, efficient utilization of the available land resources to improve and increase crop productivity per unit inputs (e.g., water and crop nutrients) and promote agriculture sustainability and protect environmental quality, efficient use of surface and groundwater, protection of natural ecosystems, soil protection, erosion control associated with different tillage practices, reduce sediment transport and cover cropping.

Dr. Koffi Djaman
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • agricultural sustainability
  • crop evapotranspiration
  • precision agriculture
  • crop productivity
  • crop rotation
  • soil moisture sensors
  • conservation tillage
  • soil erosion
  • buffer strips
  • climate change

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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24 pages, 9402 KiB  
Article
Effect of Irrigation and Nitrogen Management on Potato Growth, Yield, and Water and Nitrogen Use Efficiencies
by Bhimsen Shrestha, Blair L. Stringam, Murali K. Darapuneni, Kevin A. Lombard, Soumaila Sanogo, Charles Higgins and Koffi Djaman
Agronomy 2024, 14(3), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14030560 - 10 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1286
Abstract
Irrigation and nitrogen management are crucial for sustainable potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production. A field experiment was conducted during the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons at Farmington, New Mexico, to evaluate the performance of two chip potato varieties (Lamoka and Waneta) under [...] Read more.
Irrigation and nitrogen management are crucial for sustainable potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production. A field experiment was conducted during the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons at Farmington, New Mexico, to evaluate the performance of two chip potato varieties (Lamoka and Waneta) under three irrigation regimes (full irrigation (FI), 20% deficit irrigation (DI) and 40% DI) and seven nitrogen fertilizer rates (0, 60, 115, 170, 220, 280, and 340 kg N/ha). The treatment combinations of irrigation regimes, nitrogen rates, and varieties were arranged in a split–split plot design with three replications as main plot, sub-plot, and sub-sub plot, respectively. The two-year results showed that irrigation regimes had the most significant effect on plant growth, physiology, and tuber yield of the potato varieties. For both Lamoka and Waneta, the plant height and canopy cover were lower under 40% DI than under 20% DI and FI treatments. The SPAD meter values were higher under 40% DI, followed by 20% DI and FI treatments, whereas the stomatal conductance was higher under FI, followed by 20% DI and 40% DI during both growing seasons. Regardless of nitrogen rates and variety, a 20% water-saving irrigation strategy reduced the total tuber yield by 4.5% and 22.1% in the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons, respectively, while the 40% water-saving irrigation strategy reduced total tuber yield by 36.8% and 58.2% in the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons, respectively, as compared to full irrigation. Shifting from full irrigation to 20% DI could save 711.2 to 1036.3 m3/ha of irrigation water. For Lamoka, the highest total tuber yield was obtained with 60 kg N/ha under 20% DI and 220 kg N/ha under FI in 2022 and 2023, respectively. For Waneta, the highest total tuber yield was obtained with 115 kg N/ha under 20% DI and 170 kg N/ha under FI in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Maximum water use efficiency (WUE) was obtained at 60 kg N/ha with 20% DI for both Lamoka and Waneta in 2022, while maximum WUE was obtained at 220 kg N/ha under FI for Lamoka and at 170 kg N/ha for Waneta in the 2023 season. The maximum nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) was achieved with 60 kg N/ha under 20% DI for both varieties during both growing seasons. Thus, for sustainable irrigation and nitrogen management, the application of a 20% deficit irrigation strategy with a lower nitrogen rate (60 to 170 kg N/ha) could be the best option to improve WUE and NUE with minimal tuber yield reduction. Our study suggested that 40% deficit irrigation would not be beneficial as compared to both full irrigation and 20% water-saving irrigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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15 pages, 2240 KiB  
Article
Bedrock Fragment Induced by Intensive Tillage Effect on Hydrological Properties and Erosion Processes under Different Rainfall Patterns
by Yong Wang, Zhouyao He, Yixiong Zhang, Gang Wang and Xiong Huang
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2794; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112794 - 11 Nov 2023
Viewed by 652
Abstract
To investigate the influence of bedrock fragmentation by intensive tillage on the hydrological characteristics and soil erosion processes on slopes, two experimental treatments (soil–bedrock mixtures, WB, and pure soil, CK) in steel tanks were subjected to simulated rainfall under five rainfall patterns (constant, [...] Read more.
To investigate the influence of bedrock fragmentation by intensive tillage on the hydrological characteristics and soil erosion processes on slopes, two experimental treatments (soil–bedrock mixtures, WB, and pure soil, CK) in steel tanks were subjected to simulated rainfall under five rainfall patterns (constant, increasing, decreasing, decreasing–increasing, and increasing–decreasing) with the same total rainfall of 90 mm. For each rainfall event, runoff and sediment concentration were sampled at regular intervals. The flow velocity (v), effective/critical shear stress (τ/τc), Darcy–Weisbach resistance coefficient (f), unit stream power (p), and soil erodibility factor (Kr) were calculated to analyze the differences in hydrodynamic characteristics between the WB and CK. Our experimental findings show that significant differences in runoff volume and sediment yield were observed among different rainfall patterns and stages. Bedrock fragmenting significantly promoted runoff and sediment production under different rainfall patterns, with runoff volume and sediment yield increasing by averages of 59.29% and 71.62%, respectively. An increasing trend in average contribution rate of bedrock to runoff volume and sediment yield was observed across three distinct intensities: 6.37% and 4.61% for 30 mm h−1, 12.53% and 7.53% for 90 mm h−1, as well as 14.79% and 36.98% for 150 mm h−1, respectively. The v and p values under various rainfall patterns exhibited an increasing trend from the upper to the bottom slope positions, whereas the f and τ values showed an opposite trend, regardless of the WB and CK. Compared with the CK, the v, f, and p values for the WB increased by 23.34% to 48.94%, 1.59% to 53.16%, and 3.86% to 27.86%, respectively, whereas the τ value decreased by 1.52% to 22.19% for varying-intensity rainfall patterns. Among the variable rainfall patterns, the WB significantly increased sediment yield and also had a promoting effect on runoff generation. However, the WB displayed better erosion resistance compared to the CK under constant rainfall patterns. Therefore, varied-intensity patterns had a profound impact on bedrock-induced runoff and sediment transport processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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13 pages, 2339 KiB  
Article
Effects of Subsoiling with Different Wing Mounting Heights on Soil Water Infiltration Using HYDRUS-2D Simulations
by Xuezhen Wang, Lingxin Geng, Hanmi Zhou, Yuxiang Huang and Jiangtao Ji
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2742; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112742 - 30 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
Subsoiling is an essential practice in conservation tillage technology. The amount of disturbed soil at various depths resulting from subsoilers with different parameters has an important effect on soil properties (e.g., bulk density and water infiltration). The information regarding the effects of subsoiling [...] Read more.
Subsoiling is an essential practice in conservation tillage technology. The amount of disturbed soil at various depths resulting from subsoilers with different parameters has an important effect on soil properties (e.g., bulk density and water infiltration). The information regarding the effects of subsoiling on the characteristics of soil water infiltration is essential for the design of subsoiling tools. In this study, the effects of the wing mounting height (h) (75–155 mm) of the subsoiler on soil disturbance and soil water infiltration were modelled using HYDRUS-2D and validated using field experiments. Results showed that reducing h values resulted in larger soil disturbance area ratios, soil water infiltration rates (f(t)), distances of vertical wetting front movement (DVWs), accumulative infiltrations (AINs), and soil moisture contents at depths of 10–30 cm. The relationships among characteristics of soil water infiltration, h and time (t), were developed. The stable infiltration rates (fs) varied quadratically with h and the corresponding coefficient of determination (R2) was 0.9869. The Horton model is more suitable for describing the relationship between f(t) and t under the tested soil conditions, as compared with the Kostiakov and Philip models. According to the results of soil water content at different depths from the HYDRUS simulations and field experiments, the developed soil water infiltration model had a good accuracy, as indicated by RMSEs of <0.05, R2 values of >0.95, and mean relative errors of <12%. The Above results indicated that increasing the hardpan disturbance by optimizing wing parameters of the subsoiler could improve soil water infiltration characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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16 pages, 3920 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Tillage Practices on Slope Erosion Characteristics of Peanut Field
by Xinlan Liang, Ke Song, Youheng Zhang, Hongliang Huang, Yong Wang and Ying Cao
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2612; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102612 - 13 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 719
Abstract
Under three rainfall intensities (60–90–120 mm/h) and four tillage practices (longitudinal ridge tillage, cross ridge tillage, flat tillage and hole sowing), field experiments was conducted during the podding stage of peanuts to investigate the changes in hydrodynamic parameters and the erosion response on [...] Read more.
Under three rainfall intensities (60–90–120 mm/h) and four tillage practices (longitudinal ridge tillage, cross ridge tillage, flat tillage and hole sowing), field experiments was conducted during the podding stage of peanuts to investigate the changes in hydrodynamic parameters and the erosion response on purple soil slope cropland in order to reveal the soil and water conservation benefits of different tillage practices. The results showed that: (1) The sediment yield of the four tillage practices was ranked in descending order: longitudinal ridge tillage, flat tillage, hole sowing, and cross ridge tillage. Under the same rainfall intensity, there were no significant differences in runoff among these four tillage practices (p > 0.05), whereas sediment yield varied significantly. (2) The average flow velocity, Reynolds number, and Froude number of each treatment were positively correlated with rainfall intensity, while the resistance coefficient was negatively correlated. Flat tillage and cross ridge tillage were intermediate. The Reynolds number and Froude number of each treatment did not exceed the critical value and were generally within the laminar flow range, except for the longitudinal ridge tillage treatment at 120 mm/h rainfall intensity. (3) The sediment yield intensity on the slope was negatively correlated with the resistance coefficient, following a power function. The runoff shear stress and runoff power on each treatment were both positively correlated with sediment yield intensity in a linear manner. Compared to longitudinal ridge tillage, the other three tillage practices showed much better soil and water conservation benefits. Among them, cross ridge tillage exhibited the best water storage and soil conservation effects. In terms of hydraulics, longitudinal ridge tillage and flat tillage increased the erosive force required for sediment initiation and suppressed erosion occurrence. The research results were of great significance in revealing the characteristics of runoff erosion in purple soil areas and controlling tillage practices for soil erosion in purple soil areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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19 pages, 6984 KiB  
Article
Accuracy of Estimated Crop Evapotranspiration Using Locally Developed Crop Coefficients against Satellite-Derived Crop Evapotranspiration in a Semiarid Climate
by Koffi Djaman, Ali T. Mohammed and Komlan Koudahe
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1937; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071937 - 22 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1499
Abstract
Actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) is measured or estimated using different methods, and its accuracy is critical for water management under precision agriculture. The objective of this study was to compare maize ETa estimated by the two-step approach using a locally developed crop coefficient [...] Read more.
Actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) is measured or estimated using different methods, and its accuracy is critical for water management under precision agriculture. The objective of this study was to compare maize ETa estimated by the two-step approach using a locally developed crop coefficient curve with satellite-retrieved evapotranspiration by six models incorporated in the OpenET to identify the best evapotranspiration estimation alternatives to the two-step approach for water management in northern New Mexico. Maize (Zea mays L.) was planted at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Farmington from 2017 to 2022 and uniformly managed across years. Water management in plants was based on maize’s actual evapotranspiration estimated as the product of the reference evapotranspiration and the local crop coefficient, which is described as a third-order polynomial function of the accumulated heat units by maize plants. For the same growing seasons, maize ETa was retrieved from satellite, and was estimated by six models listed within the OpenET from 2017 to 2022. The results show that maize daily ETa was consistently smaller when measured by SIMS and PT-JPL during maize initial and actively growing stages, while ETc(kc), SIMS and eeMETRIC showed similar maize daily ETa during maize full canopy development and mid-season, and which overcome the evapotranspiration estimated by DisALEXI, PT-JPL, geeSEBAL, and SSBop. ETc(kc) drastically dropped and became the lowest value among all ETa estimation models after the first fall snow or the first killing frost. Regarding the seasonal average, all six models included in OpenET showed smaller maize evapotranspiration. Maize seasonal evapotranspiration varied from 589.7 to 683.2 mm. eeMETRIC compares most similarly to the ETc(kc) model, followed by SIMS, with percent errors of 2.58 and 7.74% on a daily basis and 2.43 and 7.88% on a seasonal basis, with the lowest MBE and RMSE values, respectively, and could be used as an alternative for maize actual daily evapotranspiration for water management in northern New Mexico. The results of this study could be used by water managers and crop growers to improve water management in the Four Corners region, using eeMETRIC for crop water use to improve water management and conservation under sustainable agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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19 pages, 3536 KiB  
Article
Effects of the Changes of Particle Surface Electric Field and Interaction Force on the Reclaimed Soil Aggregate Structural Stability under the Application of Different Soil Conditioners
by Zhe Liu, Yang Zhang, Yingying Sun, Jichang Han, Feinan Hu, Junchao Li and Xuxiang Li
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1866; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071866 - 14 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 912
Abstract
Aggregate stability is a key factor in the evaluation of soil structure and erosion resistance, which is largely influenced by soil electric field and particle interaction. However, there are few studies on how different organic and inorganic soil conditioners change the surface electric [...] Read more.
Aggregate stability is a key factor in the evaluation of soil structure and erosion resistance, which is largely influenced by soil electric field and particle interaction. However, there are few studies on how different organic and inorganic soil conditioners change the surface electric field and interaction force of reclaimed soil to improve the aggregate stability. Therefore, a five-year field experiment was conducted to quantitatively study the effects of FeSO4 (TM), organic fertilizer (TO), fly ash (TF), maturing agent + organic fertilizer (TMO) and fly ash + organic fertilizer (TFO), compared with control (CK) treatment, on the reclaimed soil internal force and the aggregate crushing strength. The results showed that the reclaimed soil surface potential and electric field intensity increased after 5 years of application of organic and inorganic soil conditioners. Under the same electrolyte concentration and electric field conditions, the crushing strength of aggregates (<5 μm) treated with TFO, TMO, TO, TF and TM decreased by 43.70%, 35.51%, 25.97%, 8.28% and 5.49%, respectively, compared with the control treatment, and the combination of organic and inorganic treatment (TFO and TMO) had a better effect on improving the aggregate crushing resistance. With the application of soil conditioners, the reclaimed soil DLVO force and net resultant force gradually decreased, and the order of magnitude was TFO < TMO < TO < TF < TM < CK, indicating that the application of organic and inorganic soil conditioners enhanced the van der Waals attractive force and net attractive force between reclaimed soil particles, and reduced the net repulsive force between particles. The theoretical calculation results of the reclaimed soil internal force well explain the experimental results of aggregate stability against crushing, and the relationship between aggregate crushing strength and net resultant force is exponential (p < 0.01). Generally speaking, the soil conditioners increase the net attractive force between particles, reduce the possibility of violent crushing of aggregates due to the increase of electric field intensity and improve the aggregate structural stability, among which the combined application of organic and inorganic soil conditioners has a better improvement effect. The results of this study will lay a theoretical foundation for clarifying the improvement of different soil conditioners on the reclaimed soil structural stability and erosion resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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16 pages, 3370 KiB  
Article
Dynamic Change Patterns of Soil Surface Roughness and Influencing Factors under Different Tillage Conditions in Typical Mollisol Areas of Northeast China
by Shuang Zhou, Jianhua Ren, Qiang Chen and Zhuopeng Zhang
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1817; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071817 - 08 Jul 2023
Viewed by 839
Abstract
Soil surface roughness is an important factor affecting hydrology and soil erosion processes, and its development is influenced by precipitation, topography, and tillage practices. In this study, the typical mollisol area in northeast China was taken as the research object. Then, the variation [...] Read more.
Soil surface roughness is an important factor affecting hydrology and soil erosion processes, and its development is influenced by precipitation, topography, and tillage practices. In this study, the typical mollisol area in northeast China was taken as the research object. Then, the variation in soil surface roughness with time was analyzed under different terrains, as well as different tillage methods, and the effect of the precipitation condition on roughness was also discussed in detail. Through the design of field experiments, the height information of the soil surface was measured using a probe-type roughness plate. Two parameters, the root-mean-square height (RMSH) and the correlation length (CL), were selected to quantitatively characterize the soil surface roughness. In addition, the dynamic change patterns of surface roughness resulting from five tillage methods, including rotary tillage, combined tillage, no tillage, conventional tillage, and reduced tillage, under both sloping and flat land, were compared and analyzed throughout the soybean growing season, under the influence of rainfall. The results show that with the increase in rainfall, the RMSH of the soil surface, under different tillage methods, showed a trend of first decreasing, and then increasing. The results also showed that the RMSHs under rotary tillage, combined tillage, conventional tillage, and reduced tillage in flat land were greater than those in sloping land, and that the CLs of the soil surface under different tillage methods in flat land were smaller than those in sloping land. In addition, the degree of variation in the soil surface roughness was greater in flat land than that in sloping land under all tillage practices, indicating that this study is of great practical importance in the rational selection of tillage methods, and in the scientific quantification of soil erosion, which also show obvious significance for soil and water conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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Review

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19 pages, 371 KiB  
Review
Water Management for Sustainable Irrigation in Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Production: A Review
by Alfassassi Arouna, Israel K. Dzomeku, Abdul-Ganiyu Shaibu and Abdul Rahman Nurudeen
Agronomy 2023, 13(6), 1522; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13061522 - 31 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5098
Abstract
In the face of the negative impacts of climate change and the accelerated growth of the global population, precision irrigation is important to conserve water resources, improve rice productivity and promote overall efficient rice cultivation, as rice is a rather water-intensive crop than [...] Read more.
In the face of the negative impacts of climate change and the accelerated growth of the global population, precision irrigation is important to conserve water resources, improve rice productivity and promote overall efficient rice cultivation, as rice is a rather water-intensive crop than other crops. For several decades, various water conserving technologies have been studied in order to significantly increase water use efficiency (WUE). The objective of this paper is to review the main technologies and approaches for assessing the water requirements of rice crop in order to contribute to water saving in irrigated rice production, after clarifying the performance indicators of the irrigated systems. Several scientific articles from previous studies were consulted and analyzed. These studies showed that irrigation water conservation includes a wide range of practices, staring from the crop irrigation water requirements assessment to the implementation of the water saving practices on the field. In addition, irrigation water conservation technologies could be categorized into three groups, namely water-conserving irrigation systems, water-saving irrigation methods, and water-conserving agronomic practices. The influence of the individual and combined irrigation water use efficiency tools was highlighted. This paper will enable researchers to acquire knowledge on water-saving methods for estimating the rice crop water requirements and thus allow them to effectively contribute to improve the performance of irrigated rice cultivation systems using various water conservation technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effective Soil and Water Conservation Practices in Agriculture)
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