Special Issue "Successfully Managing Interdependent Agricultural Landscapes — Processes, Structures and Mechanisms Sustaining the Entire System"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Lech Wojciech Szajdak
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Sciences, 60-809 Poznań, Poland
Interests: organic and mineral soils; bioactive compounds in agricultural soils of well known and unknown structure; phytohormones; amino acids; phenolic compounds; alkaloids; enzymes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agriculture should always supply sufficient nutrients that humans require to sustain healthy and productive lives. The priorities of high quality food production request a high standard of environmentally friendly crop farming. Therefore strategies are needed to manage the available resources so as to achieve economic and sustainable agricultural productivity to meet the needs of the farm household.

Climate change, biodiversity loss, agricultural landscape management, development of pathogens and diseases of cultivated plants, outbreaks of crop pests, soil and water pollution, phytotoxins accumulation and inhibition of the development of cultivated plants may significantly reduce the crop yields. Study on all topics related to sustainable agriculture, from understanding the processes and mechanism in agricultural landscape to developing cultivars and crops of high quality, is a priority.

This Special Issue will focus on “Successfully Managing Interdependent Agricultural Landscapes - Processes, Structures and Mechanisms Sustaining the Entire System”. I am open to novel research, reviews and opinion articles covering all aspects of sustainable agricultural productivity, high soil productivity, heterogeneous/homogeneous agricultural landscape management, biodiversity, biological insect control methods, secondary metabolites, soil and water pollution, biogeochemical barriers etc. Contributions on soil biota and biochemistry, change of microbiological and biochemical activity of the soil, deterioration of its chemical, biochemical and physical properties and, other approaches to improve the quality of food production will be welcomed.

Prof. Dr. Lech Wojciech Szajdak
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. 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 1800 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 agricultural productivity
  • high soil productivity
  • heterogeneous/homogeneous agricultural landscape management
  • biodiversity
  • biological insect control methods
  • secondary metabolites
  • soil and water pollution
  • biogeochemical barriers

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Enzymatic Activity as New Moorsh-Forming Process Indicators of Peatlands
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010113 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 328
Abstract
The aim of this study is to comprehensively assess the change in oxidoreductive enzyme activities, due to the potential in catalyzing oxidation and reduction reactions, as the basic processes on undrained and drained peat soils. On undrained peatlands, a significant decrease of enzyme [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to comprehensively assess the change in oxidoreductive enzyme activities, due to the potential in catalyzing oxidation and reduction reactions, as the basic processes on undrained and drained peat soils. On undrained peatlands, a significant decrease of enzyme activities was observed such as xanthine oxidase, urate oxidase, phenol oxidase, and peroxidase with an increase in depth. It was connected with significantly higher porosity values, hot water extractable organic carbon, and total organic nitrogen contents, ammonium and nitrate ions concentrations, and significantly lower ash and bulk density values in the upper layers. On drained peatlands, a significant increase of enzyme activities in depth was measured. Enzyme activities such as xanthine, urate, phenol oxidase, and peroxidase were documented to be effective as new indicators and tools for changes of the moorsh-forming process in association with the oscillation of the water table caused by the drainage of the peatlands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Amino Acids in Entomopathogenic Fungi Cultured In Vitro
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1899; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121899 - 01 Dec 2020
Viewed by 471
Abstract
The content of bounded amino acids in six entomopathogenic fungi was identified and determined. Analyzing the elements characterizing the pathogenicity of individual species of fungi based on infectivity criteria, ranges of infected hosts, and the ability to induce epizootics, these can be ranked [...] Read more.
The content of bounded amino acids in six entomopathogenic fungi was identified and determined. Analyzing the elements characterizing the pathogenicity of individual species of fungi based on infectivity criteria, ranges of infected hosts, and the ability to induce epizootics, these can be ranked in the following order: Isaria farinosa, Isaria tenuipes, Isaria fumosorose, Lecanicillium lecanii, Conidiobolus coronatus, Isaria coleopterorum. These fungi represent two types of Hyphomycetales-Paecilomyces Bainier and Verticillium Nees ex Fr. and one type of Entomophtorales-Conidiobolus Brefeld. Our study indicates that there are significant quantitative and qualitative differences of bounded amino acids in the entomopathogenic fungal strains contained in the mycelium between high and low pathogenicity strains. The richest composition of bounded amino acids has been shown in the mycelium of the Isaria farinosa strain, which is one of the most commonly presented pathogenic fungi in this group with a very wide range of infected hosts and is the most frequently recorded in nature as an important factor limiting the population of insects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Carbon Footprint and Life-Cycle Costs of Maize Production in Conventional and Non-Inversion Tillage Systems
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121877 - 27 Nov 2020
Viewed by 524
Abstract
Given the problem of climate change and the requirements laid down by the European Union in the field of gradual decarbonization of production, it is necessary to implement solutions of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into agricultural practice. This research paper aimed to [...] Read more.
Given the problem of climate change and the requirements laid down by the European Union in the field of gradual decarbonization of production, it is necessary to implement solutions of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into agricultural practice. This research paper aimed to evaluate the carbon footprint and life-cycle costs of grain maize production in various tillage systems. The material for the analyses was data from 2015–2017 collected on 15 farms located in the Wielkopolska region (Poland) and growing maize for grain in three tillage systems: conventional, reduced, and no-tillage. The life-cycle assessment and life-cycle costing methodologies were applied to assess the GHG emissions and costs associated with the grain maize production in the stages from “cradle-to-farm gate”, i.e., from obtaining raw materials and producing means for agricultural production, through the processes of maize cultivation to grain harvesting. The calculated values of the carbon footprint indicator for maize production in conventional, reduced, and no-tillage systems were 2347.4, 2353.4, and 1868.7 CO2 eq. ha−1, respectively. The largest source of GHG emissions was the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Non-inversion tillage with cover crops and leaving a large amount of crop residues in the field increased the sequestration of organic carbon and contributed to a significant reduction of the carbon footprint in maize production. The conventional tillage system demonstrated the highest overall life-cycle costs per hectare. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in the Occurrence of Late Spring Frost in Poland
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1835; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111835 - 22 Nov 2020
Viewed by 512
Abstract
Trends in the appearance of the last spring frost for three thresholds of minimum daily air temperature at the height of 2 m and near the ground were examined for six meteorological stations located in two agricultural regions in Poland. For most time [...] Read more.
Trends in the appearance of the last spring frost for three thresholds of minimum daily air temperature at the height of 2 m and near the ground were examined for six meteorological stations located in two agricultural regions in Poland. For most time series, the last spring frost, calculated as a consecutive day of the year, showed a statistically significant trend indicating its earlier appearance from 1.6 to about 3.5 days per decade. The date of the last spring frost was also calculated in relation to the ongoing growing season. In this case, few statistically significant changes in the dates of the last frosts were found. The probability of the last spring frost on a specific day of the calendar year and the day of the growing season was also examined for two periods: 1961–1990 and 1991–2020. For low probability levels corresponding to the early dates of the last spring frost, the last frost usually occurred much earlier (6–14 days) in 1991–2020. With the probability levels of 80–90% describing the late occurrence of the last frost with a frequency of once every 5–10 years, at some stations, the last spring frosts occurred at a similar time for both periods. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Annual Wildflower Strips as a Tool for Enhancing Functional Biodiversity in Rye Fields in an Organic Cultivation System
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1696; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111696 - 02 Nov 2020
Viewed by 864
Abstract
Ecological intensification of agriculture (e.g., with the use of wildflower strips) is being currently discussed as a mean for gaining high yields, preserving high biodiversity of farmland. The aim of this study was to assess the efficiency of annual wildflower strips (WFSs) established [...] Read more.
Ecological intensification of agriculture (e.g., with the use of wildflower strips) is being currently discussed as a mean for gaining high yields, preserving high biodiversity of farmland. The aim of this study was to assess the efficiency of annual wildflower strips (WFSs) established in rye field (RF) in (1) increasing species richness and abundance in terms of beneficial arthropod groups (carabids, ground spiders, plant spiders, butterflies, insect pollinators and plant-dwelling insect predators), (2) decreasing the abundance of insect pests, (3) decreasing damages of the crop, and (4) increasing the yield. The field survey was carried out in 2019, in two WFSs and in the adjacent crop field at the distances of 3, 9, 21 and 45 m. The study was not skewed by pesticide use as it was carried out on an organic farm. Mean “site” species numbers (α-diversity) and the abundance of most groups were found to be significantly higher in WFSs than in RF. A negative relationship was found in most groups between distance from WFSs and species numbers and abundance. The mean total abundance of all observed pest insects was positively related to distance from WFSs and increased by 83% at distances between 3 and 45 m from WFSs. There was a negative exponential relationship between aphid abundance and total predator abundance, which suggests a mechanism reducing aphid abundance resulting from high levels of predator abundance in the nearby WFSs. The study shows that annual WFSs can be an efficient measure for enhancing cropland biodiversity and should be taken into account in agri-environmental schemes in the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Severe Drought in the Spring of 2020 in Poland—More of the Same?
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1646; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111646 - 26 Oct 2020
Viewed by 635
Abstract
Two consecutive dry years, 2018 and 2019, a warm winter in 2019/20, and a very dry spring in 2020 led to the development of severe drought in Poland. In this paper, changes in the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) for the interval from 1971 [...] Read more.
Two consecutive dry years, 2018 and 2019, a warm winter in 2019/20, and a very dry spring in 2020 led to the development of severe drought in Poland. In this paper, changes in the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) for the interval from 1971 to the end of May 2020 are examined. The values of SPEI (based on 12, 24 and 30 month windows, i.e., SPEI 12, SPEI 24 and SPEI 30) were calculated with the help of the Penman–Monteith equation. Changes in soil moisture contents were also examined from January 2000 to May 2020, based on data from the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center, presenting increasing water shortages in a central belt of Poland. The study showed that the 2020 spring drought was among the most severe events in the analyzed period and presented decreasing trends of SPEI at most stations located in central Poland. This study also determined changes in soil moisture contents from January 2000 to May 2020 that indicate a decreasing tendency. Cumulative water shortages from year to year led to the development of severe drought in the spring of 2020, as reflected in very low SPEI values and low soil moisture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Level of Luvisols Biochemical Activity in Midfield Shelterbelt and Winter Triticale (xTriticosecale Wittm. ex A. Camus) Cultivation
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111644 - 26 Oct 2020
Viewed by 365
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the usage of Luvisols under the midfield shelterbelt and in the cultivation of winter triticale, together with the influence of physicochemical properties on enzymatic activity. Soil samples were collected in spring, summer, and autumn from the depth of [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the usage of Luvisols under the midfield shelterbelt and in the cultivation of winter triticale, together with the influence of physicochemical properties on enzymatic activity. Soil samples were collected in spring, summer, and autumn from the depth of 0–15 cm along the following measurement transect: midfield shelterbelt (S), the border between the shelterbelt and the triticale field (B), cultivated field at a distance of 50 m from point B (F50), and cultivated field at a distance of 100 m from point B (F100). The activities of dehydrogenase (DHA), acid phosphatase (PAC), and alkaline phosphatase (PAL) were determined, and a water retention curve (pF) was established. The pH, soil organic carbon (SOC) content, and total nitrogen (Ntotal) were also measured. The analysis of the activity results for DHA, PAC, and PAL showed that the triticale soil had a higher level of enzyme activity than the midfield shelterbelt soil during the entire growing season. The soil under the triticale cultivation was slightly acidic, and the shelterbelt soil was very acidic. It was observed that the timing of soil sampling had an impact on the activity of the studied enzymes. The highest levels of DHA, PAC, and PAL activity were found in summer. The midfield shelterbelt demonstrated greater water retention than the winter triticale. The SOC content and Ntotal were higher in the shelterbelt than in the winter triticale field. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Environmental Burdens of Winter Wheat Production in Different Agrotechnical Systems
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091303 - 02 Sep 2020
Viewed by 910
Abstract
In recent years, an increasing interest has been observed in the reduction in environmental threats posed by the food production chain beginning with agricultural production. The impact of agriculture on the environment varies depending on farming practices. The aim of the study was [...] Read more.
In recent years, an increasing interest has been observed in the reduction in environmental threats posed by the food production chain beginning with agricultural production. The impact of agriculture on the environment varies depending on farming practices. The aim of the study was to assess and compare the environmental effects of the life cycle of winter wheat cultivation in three soil tillage systems: conventional tillage, reduced tillage, and no-tillage. The study was conducted in 2015–2017 on 15 agricultural farms located in the Wielkopolska region, Poland. The “cradle-to-farm gate” life cycle of wheat production was analysed using life cycle assessment methodology. The values of impact category indicators, especially in the case of global warming potential, acidification potential, and eutrophication potential, depended mainly on mineral fertilization. Wheat production generated more adverse emissions with increased nitrogen fertilization both in reduced tillage and no-tillage systems on the studied farms, and consequently resulted in a more negative impact on the environment compared to wheat cultivated in the conventional tillage system. After nitrogen fertilization, use of fossil fuel, and phosphorus and potassium fertilization were the top contributors to environmental impacts of winter wheat production in different tillage systems. The pre-production phase associated with the agricultural means of production was dominant in determining the analysed environmental impacts, except for global warming potential and photochemical ozone creation potential, which depended mainly on the production phase on the farm. The other key environmental impacts that should be considered when it comes to improvements in the life cycle of wheat production were depletion of mineral resources and acidification. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Impact of Nitrogen Pollution in the Agricultural Landscape on Lichens: A Review of Their Responses at the Community, Species, Biont and Physiological Levels
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1852; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121852 - 25 Nov 2020
Viewed by 586
Abstract
Lichenized fungi are widely used as bioindicators owing to their sensitivity to various anthropogenic impacts. Increased nitrogen deposition affects the occurrence, abundance and distribution of lichens. The main sources of nitrogen in the agricultural landscape are ammonia (NH3) and the ammonium [...] Read more.
Lichenized fungi are widely used as bioindicators owing to their sensitivity to various anthropogenic impacts. Increased nitrogen deposition affects the occurrence, abundance and distribution of lichens. The main sources of nitrogen in the agricultural landscape are ammonia (NH3) and the ammonium cation (NH4+). Livestock farming and the use of organic and mineral fertilizers are primarily responsible for the emissions of these compounds. N in excess can negatively impact lichen biota and lead, for example, to species decline, impoverishment of lichen communities or unbalanced symbiosis. However, there is also evidence for certain opposite effects, in particular at medium N concentrations. Positive influences may be manifested, for example, by higher chlorophyll a concentrations, or by a greater lichen diversity being supported by the coexistence of lichens with different trophic requirements. Indicator values of lichens in relation to N input are exhibited, for example, by some biont markers (the contents of ergosterol and chlorophyll a), particular species, such as Xanthoriaparietina, or trophic functional groups (oligotrophilous and nitrophilous lichens). Gaps identified in the current knowledge are discussed. Full article
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