Special Issue "Increasing Temporal Diversity: Potential of Grassland Leys in Crop Rotations for Sustainable Agriculture"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 4732

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Crop Science and Plant Breeding, Grass and Forage Science/Organic Agriculture, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
Interests: grasslands; integrated production systems; dairy production; ecological intensification; grazing systems; nitrogen cycling
Dr. Carsten Malisch
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Crop Science and Plant Breeding, Grass and Forage Science/Organic Agriculture, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
Interests: multispecies mixtures; grasslands; plant specialized metabolized; dairy production; greenhouse gas emissions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The continuous monoculture cropping of crops such as grassland forages, wheat, maize, or other cereals is associated with several negative externalities, including greenhouse gas emissions, soil nutrient and organic matter depletion, weed invasion, and reduction in carbon stocks. Multi-species grassland leys provide significant benefits for sustainable forage production, due to improved niche exploitation and resource use efficiency. Compared to monocultures, these benefits can include yield increases, resilience and resistance towards environmental stresses, pest suppression, reduction of nitrogen fertilizer requirements, increased soil health, higher carbon sequestration rates, and increased animal health and productivity. When included in a crop rotation, these benefits provide legacy effects that include nitrogen provision and improved soil health for the following crop and a reduction in weed pressure. Hence, ley systems – especially when grazing occurs – can provide additional benefits compared to permanent grasslands while at the same time allowing for a much better control of species proportions, thus providing the ability to establish specifically designed mixtures for particular purposes and environmental or soil conditions. However, while the benefits of multispecies mixtures compared to grass monocultures regarding nitrogen fertilizer replacement and weed suppression potential has been shown to be effective across a wide range of conditions, other benefits and particularly the benefits for follow-on crops in crop rotations are less researched.

Hence, we invite you to submit papers on (but not limited to) the following topics: (1) Nitrogen transfers from grassland leys containing legumes to a follow on crop, (2) effect of grassland termination (timing of ploughing, conservation tillage vs ploughing etc) on the conservation of soil carbon and nitrogen stocks, (3) plant–soil interactions in grassland leys (e.g., improved rooting depths from macropores of grassland ley, change in microbial communities, etc.) and their impact on the agronomic potential of follow-on crops and the soil organic carbon stocks, (4) benefits from improved biodiversity, both intrinsic (e.g., higher micro-/macrofauna diversity due to habitat diversity/quality), and agronomic/environmental (e.g., weed suppression and weed seed predation, pollination services, pest control), and (5) modelling of diversity effects, whole-system analyses of crop rotations in mixed farming system approaches compared to monocropping and/or permanent grasslands and decision-supporting tools.

Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube
Dr. Carsten Malisch
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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. Agronomy 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 2000 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

  • Crop rotation Grassland ley
  • Multispecies mixtures
  • Diversity effects
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Mixed farming systems
  • Nitrogen transfer

Published Papers (5 papers)

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

Research

Article
Yields and Nitrogen Dynamics in Ley-Arable Systems—Comparing Different Approaches in the APSIM Model
Agronomy 2022, 12(3), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12030738 - 18 Mar 2022
Viewed by 695
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) dynamics in ley-arable cropping systems require better understanding in order to assess the potential of such systems to contribute to improved productivity and reduced nutrient losses in crop production. Large inputs of organic matter after termination of the ley phase result [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) dynamics in ley-arable cropping systems require better understanding in order to assess the potential of such systems to contribute to improved productivity and reduced nutrient losses in crop production. Large inputs of organic matter after termination of the ley phase result in increased mineralization and N availability to subsequent crops. The description and quantification of this residual N effect in ley-arable systems remains a major scientific challenge due to its variability and many influencing factors. Simulation modeling could contribute to improved understanding of N dynamics in ley-arable systems. The aim of this study was to evaluate the robustness of the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) to predict biomass yield, N yield, and N leaching of different forage maize systems in northwest Europe, while using two different approaches to predict the residual N effect. The evaluation was based on three field experiments covering plant phenology, biomass, N yield, and N leaching over several years. Model adjustments were necessary to describe mineralization of organic matter and release of N after ploughing of the grass leys. For this purpose, three scenarios were investigated by accounting for either (1) aboveground grass residues; (2) above- and belowground grass residues, both with the generic turnover approach in the model; or (3) N release depending on the carbon-to-N ratio of the residue compiled in a simple mineralization model (SMM). The results showed that APSIM-simulated biomass and N yield of maize were reasonable to poor across the different systems and sites, regardless of using the residue-related approach. The SMM performed more accurately compared to the generic turnover approach in predicting N leaching in a maize following a grass-clover ley. However, for all scenarios, APSIM had difficulties to predict a delay of N leaching observed in the experimental data after a pure ryegrass ley. In conclusion, the process description in APSIM related to organic matter mineralization in ley-arable systems under northwest European pedo-climatic conditions needs improved accounting of belowground grass residues, while the SMM is of added value to improve N mineralization patterns and leaching after a ley phase. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Integrating Crop-Livestock System Practices in Forage and Grain-Based Rotations in Northern Germany: Potentials for Soil Carbon Sequestration
Agronomy 2022, 12(2), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12020338 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 891
Abstract
Integrating leys, cover crops, and animal manures constitute promising avenues to reach annual soil organic carbon changes (ΔSOC) >0.4% in forage and grain-based crop rotations, rates required to offset the increasing C emissions from fossil fuels (“4 per mille” initiative). How these practices [...] Read more.
Integrating leys, cover crops, and animal manures constitute promising avenues to reach annual soil organic carbon changes (ΔSOC) >0.4% in forage and grain-based crop rotations, rates required to offset the increasing C emissions from fossil fuels (“4 per mille” initiative). How these practices and rotations perform in reaching this aim was object of analysis in this paper. Five cropping systems (CS), including three three-year forage and grain-based crop rotations containing annual grass-clover leys (FR and MR) or cover crops (GR), and two contrasting controls (continuous silage maize (CM), and permanent grassland (PG)) were compared for their impact on SOC stocks over eight years (2010–2018). The CS were unfertilized (N0) or fertilized using cattle slurry (N1) at a rate of 240 kg N ha−1 yr−1 applied in the non-leguminous crops. The ΔSOC of the top 30 cm soil layer and the annual carbon inputs (Cin) from slurry applications and plant residues were estimated, their relationship established, and the slurry-induced C retention coefficient was determined. The FR and MR SOC stocks remained stable at N1, while the GR and CM SOC decreased over time by tendency even at N1. Only the PG reached ΔSOC >0.4%. Differences in ΔSOC between CS and N rates were highly associated with the system-specific increase in belowground Cin, induced by slurry applications. Slurry-induced C retention coefficients differed strongly between CS: CM (3%) followed by GR (12%), and by FR and MR (20–15%), and lastly by PG (24%). Promoting belowground carbon inputs was identified as an efficient way to reach significant increases in ΔSOC. We conclude that a ley in only one out of three years is not sufficient to significantly increase SOC stocks in arable crop rotations of the study region. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Very Low Nitrogen Leaching in Grazed Ley-Arable-Systems in Northwest Europe
Agronomy 2021, 11(11), 2155; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11112155 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 698
Abstract
High input dairy farms that are located on sandy soils in northwest Europe are predisposed to substantial nitrate leaching during a surplus of winter precipitation. Leys within integrated crop-livestock systems play an important role in soil fertility, soil C sequestration and soil N [...] Read more.
High input dairy farms that are located on sandy soils in northwest Europe are predisposed to substantial nitrate leaching during a surplus of winter precipitation. Leys within integrated crop-livestock systems play an important role in soil fertility, soil C sequestration and soil N mineralization potentials. Therefore, leys are a feasible option that can be utilized to reduce local N losses to the environment, especially following maize grown for silage. We hypothesize that grass-clover leys ensure low nitrate leaching losses even when grazed intensively. The extent to which NO3-leaching occurred across seven different pasture management systems in terms of their sward composition, cutting, grazing, fertilization and combinations thereof was investigated in integrated animal-crop grazing systems over three winter periods (2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020). The observed grazed systems were comprised of cut-used- and grazed grass-clover swards (0, 1 and 2 years after establishment following cereals), a catch crop grazed late in the year as well as a cut-used permanent grassland for comparison. Overall, all treatments resulted in nitrate leaching losses that did not exceed the WHO-threshold (25 mg nitrate/L). The highest level of NO3-leaching was observed in the catch crop system and the lowest in cut-used permanent grassland, with NO3-N losses of 19.6 ± 5.3 and 2.1 ± 0.3 kg NO3-N ha−1 year−1. Annual herbage yields were in the range of 0.9 to 12.4 t DM ha−1 and nitrogen yields varied between 181 ± 51 and 228 ± 66 kg N ha−1 during the study period. The highest herbage-N-yields were observed from the 1- and 2-year-old grass-clover leys. The highest N-field-balance was observed for the grazed leys and the lowest for the cut-used permanent grassland. However, no correlation was found between the highly positive field-N-balance and the amount of NO3-leached. This indicates a high N carry-over from grass-clover swards to the subsequent cash crop unit instead of increasing the risk of groundwater contamination from grazed leys in integrated animal crop-systems and underlines the eco-efficiency of dairy farming based on grazed ley systems. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Nitrous Oxide Emission from Forage Plantain and Perennial Ryegrass Swards Is Affected by Belowground Resource Allocation Dynamics
Agronomy 2021, 11(10), 1936; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11101936 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 640
Abstract
Soil–plant interactions affecting nitrous oxide (N2O) are not well-understood, and experimental data are scarce. Therefore, a greenhouse experiment was conducted in a 3 × 3 full factorial design, comprising three mineral N fertilizer rates (0, 150 and 300 kg N ha [...] Read more.
Soil–plant interactions affecting nitrous oxide (N2O) are not well-understood, and experimental data are scarce. Therefore, a greenhouse experiment was conducted in a 3 × 3 full factorial design, comprising three mineral N fertilizer rates (0, 150 and 300 kg N ha−1) applied to monoculture swards and a binary mixture of Plantago lanceolata and Lolium perenne. The parameters measured included daily N2O emissions, aboveground (AG) and belowground biomass (BG), N and C yields, as well as leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) activity in the soil as an indicator for soil microbial activity. Nitrous oxide emission and LAP were measured using the static chamber method and fluorimetric microplate assays, respectively. Cumulative N2O emissions were about two times higher for P. lanceolata than L. perenne monoculture swards or the mixture (p < 0.05). The binary mixtures also showed the highest N use efficiency and LAP activity, which significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with the C concentration in the belowground biomass. Plantago lanceolata was generally ineffective at reducing N2O emissions, probably due to the young age of the swards. Among the biological factors, N2O emission was significantly associated with biomass productivity, belowground C yield, belowground N use efficiency and soil microbial activity. Thus, the results suggested belowground resource allocation dynamics as a possible means by which swards impacted N2O emission from the soils. However, a high N deposition might reduce the N2O mitigation potential of grasslands. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effects of Organic Energy Crop Rotations and Fertilisation with the Liquid Digestate Phase on Organic Carbon in the Topsoil
Agronomy 2021, 11(7), 1393; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071393 - 10 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
Combining organic farming and biogas production from agricultural feedstocks has been suggested as a way of achieving carbon (C) neutrality in Europe. However, as the long-term effects of C removal for methane production on soil organic carbon (SOC) are unclear, organic farmers in [...] Read more.
Combining organic farming and biogas production from agricultural feedstocks has been suggested as a way of achieving carbon (C) neutrality in Europe. However, as the long-term effects of C removal for methane production on soil organic carbon (SOC) are unclear, organic farmers in particular have questioned whether farm biogas production will have a positive effect on soil fertility. Eight years of data from an organic long-term field trial involving digestate fertilisation and various crop rotations (CRs) with differing proportions of clover-grass leys were used to calculate C inputs based on the CANDY model, and these modelled changes compared with measured changes in SOC content (SOCc) over the same period. Measured SOCc increased by nearly 20% over the eight years. Digestate fertilisation significantly increased SOCc. Fertilised plots with the highest proportion of clover-grass in the CR had the highest SOCc. The C inputs from clover-grass leys, even if they only made up 25% of the CR, were high enough to increase SOCc, even with the removal of all aboveground biomass and without fertilisation. Our results show that biogas production based on clover-grass leys could be an important part of sustainable farming, improving or maintaining SOCc and improving nutrient flows, particularly in organic farming, while simultaneously providing renewable energy. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop