Environmental Ecological Remediation and Farming Sustainability—Volume II

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 September 2024 | Viewed by 7900

Special Issue Editors

College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, 1 Weigang Street, Nanjing 210095, China
Interests: farmland protection and improvement; efficient release mechanism of phosphorus; microbial mineral/metal soil interaction; biomineralization process; the development of high efficient phosphate fertilizer; heavy metal soil remediation; resource utilization of phosphorus-containing solid waste
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Farmland Conservation and Pollution Prevention, School of Resources and Environment, Anhui Agricultural University, 130 Changjiangxilu Street, Hefei 230036, China
Interests: soil science; farmland conservation and pollution prevention; phosphorus efficient utilization and water environment protection; applied microbiology; phosphate-solubilizing fungi; heavy metal remediation; bioremediation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Environmental Ecological Remediation and Planning, School of Environmental and Biological Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing 210094, China
Interests: agricultural soil improvement; biochar; heavy metal stress; soil environmental chemistry; environmental contamination and remediation; agricultural solid waste resource utilization; environmental bioremediation; soil science and soil reclamation; soil amendments; soil and groundwater remediation techniques; risk assessment of contaminated sites; ecological planning; agricultural landscape planning
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental pollution caused by anthropogenic substances or the uncontrolled utilization of natural resources has been a global problem threatening agricultural ecology and food security. Maintaining a healthy agricultural ecosystem is critical to ensuring a healthy future. The substantial efforts have become a hotspot in the research of mitigating or remediating environmental pollutions, especially in agricultural research.

To date, multiple innovative technologies of environmental mitigation/remediation, including physical/chemical remediation, multiple-compound adsorbent, and bioremediation technology, have been developed and validated to better protect soil, water, and atmosphere environments. Additionally, macro-environmental and ecological planning increasingly play an important role in guiding environmental restoration. However, a range of research gaps have not been filled. Therefore, it is urgent to combine the latest environmental pollution problems with advanced remediation technology, to develop new technologies to protect the environment.

This Special Issue focuses on the current situation of environmental ecological remediation and farming sustainability and helps to mitigate environmental pollution from the micro and macro levels.

New research articles, reviews, and case reports are welcome in this issue. Manuscripts dealing with new approaches to applying novel remediation technology, remediation mechanisms and influencing factors, risk assessment, and management are also welcome.

We encourage prospective authors to submit related distinguished research manuscripts focused on (but not limited to) the following topics: 

  • Material development for soil remediation;
  • Water pollution remediation improvement technologies;
  • Bioremediation technology application;
  • Urban and rural ecological sustainability strategy;
  • Farmland conservation and P comprehensive utilization;
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem service;
  • Soil fertility and solid waste utilization;
  • Carbon and nitrogen cycles and climate change.

Dr. Zhen Li
Dr. Da Tian
Dr. Haoming Chen
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 2600 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

  • soil contamination groundwater contamination
  • green and sustainable remediation
  • environment pollution control
  • heavy metals
  • organic pollutants
  • emerging contaminants
  • biochar
  • remediation of cultivated land pollution
  • crop growth safety
  • P comprehensive utilization
  • reuse of agricultural waste
  • sustainable agricultural development
  • ecological and landscape planning
  • human settlements

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

22 pages, 3266 KiB  
Article
Ecofriendly Application of Calabrese Broccoli Stalk Waste as a Biosorbent for the Removal of Pb(II) Ions from Aqueous Media
by María Dolores Granado-Castro, María Dolores Galindo-Riaño, Jesús Gestoso-Rojas, Lorena Sánchez-Ponce, María José Casanueva-Marenco and Margarita Díaz-de-Alba
Agronomy 2024, 14(3), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14030554 - 08 Mar 2024
Viewed by 635
Abstract
A new biosorbent obtained from Calabrese broccoli stalks has been prepared, characterised and used as an effective, low-cost and ecofriendly biomass to remove Pb(II) from aqueous solutions, without any complicated pretreatment. Structural and morphological characterisation were performed by TGA/DGT, FTIR and SEM/EDX; the [...] Read more.
A new biosorbent obtained from Calabrese broccoli stalks has been prepared, characterised and used as an effective, low-cost and ecofriendly biomass to remove Pb(II) from aqueous solutions, without any complicated pretreatment. Structural and morphological characterisation were performed by TGA/DGT, FTIR and SEM/EDX; the main components are hemicellulose, starches, pectin, cellulose, lignin and phytochemicals, with important electron donor elements (such as S from glucosinolates of broccoli) involved in Pb(II) sorption. The biosorbent showed values of 0.52 and 0.65 g mL−1 for bulk and apparent densities, 20.6% porosity, a specific surface area of 15.3 m2 g−1, pHpzc 6.25, iodine capacity of 619 mg g−1 and a cation exchange capacity of 30.7 cmol kg−1. Very good sorption (88.3 ± 0.8%) occurred at pH 4.8 with a biomass dose of 10 g L−1 after 8 h. The Freundlich and Dubinin–Radushkevich isotherms and the pseudo-second-order kinetic models explained with good fits the favourable Pb(II) sorption on the heterogeneous surface of broccoli biomass. The maximum adsorption capacity was 586.7 mg g−1. The thermodynamic parameters evaluated showed the endothermic and spontaneous nature of the Pb(II) biosorption. The chemical mechanisms mainly involved complexation, ligand exchange and cation–π interaction, with possible precipitation. Full article
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11 pages, 1721 KiB  
Article
An Earthworm Peptide Alters Soil Nematode, Microbial, and Nutrient Dynamics: A Novel Mechanism of Soil Food Web Feedbacks
by Fei Yu, Yaocheng Qi, Yifeng Yan, Hao Xia, Qing Dong, Chaoqiang Jiang, Chaolong Zu and Jia Shen
Agronomy 2024, 14(3), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14030435 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 502
Abstract
Earthworms are soil macrofauna that control soil ecosystems by strongly influencing soil nematodes, microorganisms, and nutrient cycling, as well as soil environmental factors. We have discovered an earthworm cyclic peptide that disrupts nematode DNA, affecting its lifespan, reproduction, and feeding preferences. To investigate [...] Read more.
Earthworms are soil macrofauna that control soil ecosystems by strongly influencing soil nematodes, microorganisms, and nutrient cycling, as well as soil environmental factors. We have discovered an earthworm cyclic peptide that disrupts nematode DNA, affecting its lifespan, reproduction, and feeding preferences. To investigate the effects of this peptide on soil, it was added to soil, and changes in soil nematode, bacterial and fungal communities, soil nutrient contents, and basal respiration were measured on days 5 and 21. The results showed that the peptide reduced soil basal respiration on day 5 and soil NO3-N on day 21, decreased soil fungivores nematodes on day 5 and soil nematode abundance on day 21, and increased soil fungal community richness and diversity. It also altered the soil bacterial community structure between day 5 and the soil fungal community structure on days 5 and 21. The peptide regulates the soil environment by influencing the structure of soil bacterial and fungal communities through the soil nematode community, as demonstrated by partial least squares path modelling (PLS-PM) analyses. Earthworm cyclic peptides mediates tri-trophic interactions between earthworms, nematodes, microbes, and environmental factors, providing new insights into soil biota interactions and feedback in dynamic soil food webs. Full article
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12 pages, 1686 KiB  
Article
Remediation Efficiency and Soil Properties of TCE-Contaminated Soil Treated by Thermal Conduction Heating Coupled with Persulfate Oxidation
by Tingting Fan, Wenbo Shen, Da Ding, Xiang Wang, Yuanchao Zhao, Changlong Wei, Xin Song, Shengtian Zhang, Decheng Jin and Jinzhong Wan
Agronomy 2024, 14(2), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14020348 - 08 Feb 2024
Viewed by 560
Abstract
Less attention was paid to the remediation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contaminated soil treated by thermal conduction heating (TCH) coupled with chemical oxidization. In this study, the lab-scale remediation experiments of trichloroethylene (TCE)-contaminated soil by TCH and TCH coupled with persulfate (TCH [...] Read more.
Less attention was paid to the remediation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contaminated soil treated by thermal conduction heating (TCH) coupled with chemical oxidization. In this study, the lab-scale remediation experiments of trichloroethylene (TCE)-contaminated soil by TCH and TCH coupled with persulfate (TCH + PS) were performed to explore the influences of PS usage, temperature, reaction time, and the variation of soil properties. TCE was removed from contaminated soils using TCH with a temperature lower than boiling point, and the removal ratio of TCE reached 78.21% with a reaction time of 6h at 60 °C. In the TCH + PS treatments, the removal ratio increased to 87.60~99.50% when the PS dosage was increased from 7.0 mmol/kg to 17.5 mmol/kg at 60 °C. However, the usage efficiency of PS had no positive relationship with oxidant usage and temperature. The treatment with 14 mmol/kg PS after 3h at 50 °C had the highest PS usage ratio of 3.05. In addition, soil pH and soil organic matter (SOM) did not decrease significantly in the TCH-only treatment, while the content of SOM declined by almost 50% after the TCH + PS treatment. Overall, it was concluded that TCH + PS achieved higher removal efficiency, whereas TCH had less disturbance on soil pH and SOM. As such, the applicability of TCH-only or TCH + PS treatments is site-specific. Full article
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14 pages, 3321 KiB  
Article
Energy Sorghum Removal of Soil Cadmium in Chinese Subtropical Farmland: Effects of Variety and Cropping System
by Shuai Wang, Bo Li, Hanhua Zhu, Wenjuan Liao, Cong Wu, Quan Zhang, Kaizhao Tang and Haojie Cui
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2487; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102487 - 27 Sep 2023
Viewed by 607
Abstract
Planting energy sorghum to remove soil cadmium (Cd) has been selected as an effective phytoremediation method in subtropical farmland in China in recent years. Nevertheless, the effects of energy sorghum species and cropping systems on Cd removal by energy sorghum are still not [...] Read more.
Planting energy sorghum to remove soil cadmium (Cd) has been selected as an effective phytoremediation method in subtropical farmland in China in recent years. Nevertheless, the effects of energy sorghum species and cropping systems on Cd removal by energy sorghum are still not fully understood. In the present work, biomass sorghum (BS) and sweet sorghum (SS) were planted for screening varieties and comparing the applicability of cropping systems to remove Cd from contaminated soils through batch field experiments. The results indicated that BS had a higher plant height (4.70–75.63%), lower water content in the shoot (4.78–13.49%), greater dry biomass yield (13.21–125.16%), and stronger Cd removal (average 45.71%) compared with SS. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in the agronomic traits and Cd accumulation of energy sorghums with genetic regulation of varieties. Pearson correlation coefficients analysis and the structural equation model (SEM) showed that plant height was the crucial agronomic parameter affecting the dry biomass yield, and Cd concentration in the stem was the key factor for evaluating the Cd extraction ability of energy sorghums, which indirectly determined the removal of Cd by energy sorghum together. Furthermore, the regeneration cropping system was the most suitable because of the adaptation to climatic conditions of energy sorghums in subtropical regions of China, and its Cd removal efficiency increased by more than 49% compared with double cropping and single cropping systems, respectively. Our study provides valuable information for the phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated soil in Chinese subtropical farmland. Full article
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16 pages, 5075 KiB  
Article
Analysis of the Scale Effect and Temporal Stability of Groundwater in a Large Irrigation District in Northwest China
by Ziyi Zan, Weifeng Yue, Hangzheng Zhao, Changming Cao, Fengyan Wu, Peirong Lin and Jin Wu
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2172; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082172 - 18 Aug 2023
Viewed by 717
Abstract
The depth to groundwater table (DGT) and the stability sites of groundwater were closely related parameters in groundwater research. Controlling the DGT and identifying stability sites of DGT were of great significance to prevent soil salinization and improve groundwater monitoring. In this study, [...] Read more.
The depth to groundwater table (DGT) and the stability sites of groundwater were closely related parameters in groundwater research. Controlling the DGT and identifying stability sites of DGT were of great significance to prevent soil salinization and improve groundwater monitoring. In this study, using DGT data from the Hetao Irrigation District (HID) from 1991 to 2015, combined with spatial interpolation and coefficient-of-variation methods, this study explored the spatiotemporal variation characteristics and scale-effect problems of DGT from four hierarchical scales: the irrigation district, irrigation subdistrict, main canal, and branch canal. The Spearman correlation coefficient, average relative difference, and standard deviation were also used to further clarify the characteristics of groundwater time stability and its periodic variation rule. The results indicated that the spatiotemporal variation in DGT in the HID, and showed moderate variation characteristics, consistent with scale-effect features, which was deeply influenced by the regional climate and human activities. The DGT in the HID showed different temporal stabilities before and after 2000 caused by the application of Water-saving practices (WSPs). The stability sites were not entirely the same in different years or time periods, but they were all at the moderate DGT level in the HID. The results of this study can provide more insights for improving soil salinization and groundwater monitoring and provide more information for agricultural water-use efficiency and management. Full article
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15 pages, 11839 KiB  
Article
Plant Spacing Effects on Stem Development and Secondary Growth in Nicotiana tabacum
by Na Xu, Lin Meng, Fang Tang, Shasha Du, Yanli Xu, Shuai Kuang, Yuanda Lv, Wenjing Song, Yang Li, Weicong Qi and Yu Zhang
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2142; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082142 - 16 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1561
Abstract
Plant spacing usually refers to distances between plants within and between rows in the field. Different spacing in crop planting would generally influence the size, plant architecture, economic productivity, etc. The present research provided a time course monitoring of stem development in tobacco [...] Read more.
Plant spacing usually refers to distances between plants within and between rows in the field. Different spacing in crop planting would generally influence the size, plant architecture, economic productivity, etc. The present research provided a time course monitoring of stem development in tobacco with different plant spacing. The result showed that cambium activity, vascular bundle thickness, lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose content, as well as the macronutrient deposition in the stem varied because of the different plant spacing. Furthermore, the genes (NtHB8s and NtNST3s) coding the homologs of HB8 and NST3 transcription factors, which are involved in plant secondary growth, were cloned in tobacco. In the time course, they also indicated diverse expression patterns among altered plant-spacing treatments. Their transcriptomic activities were validated, and the motifs that might bind transcription factors in their promoter regions were predicted. Promoters of NtHB8s and NtNST3s genes were rich in light-response elements; as a result, light might be the main environmental factor in plant spacing to regulate stem secondary growth. Full article
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19 pages, 10754 KiB  
Article
Chemical Stoichiometry and Enzyme Activity Changes during Mixed Decomposition of Camellia sinensis Pruning Residues and Companion Tree Species Litter
by Hongjiu Zhao, Rui Yang, Congjun Yuan, Shaqian Liu, Chunlan Hou and Haodong Wang
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1717; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071717 - 27 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 969
Abstract
(1) Background: In managing ecological tea gardens, litter composed of pruned and fallen tea leaves from companion tree species is an important component of tea garden soil. The decomposition of litter plays a crucial role in regulating nutrient cycling in tea garden ecosystems. [...] Read more.
(1) Background: In managing ecological tea gardens, litter composed of pruned and fallen tea leaves from companion tree species is an important component of tea garden soil. The decomposition of litter plays a crucial role in regulating nutrient cycling in tea garden ecosystems. (2) Methods: This study employed the litterbag method to investigate chemical stoichiometry characteristics and enzyme activity changes during the decomposition process of pruned and fallen Camellia sinensis leaves from companion tree species in an ecological tea garden located in central Guizhou Province. (3) Results: With decomposition duration, the general trend of changes in the C/N and C/P ratios showed a decrease in the activity of UE (urease), AP (acid phosphatase), and PPO (polyphenol oxidase) followed by an increase, while CAT (catalase) and CEL (cellulase) activity decreased, then increased, and then decreased again. On the other hand, the N/P and the activity of SC (sucrase) first increased and then decreased. The C/N and the activities of UE, PPO, and AP generally reached their maximum values during the late decomposition stage (366–428 d), while the N/P and the CAT activity peaked during the mid-decomposition stage (305 d). In contrast, the activity of SC and CEL reached its maximum value during the early decomposition stage (123 d). The N/P ratios were significantly higher than those of the CS (C. sinensis) litter in the mixed treatment, while C/N and C/P ratios were significantly lower than those in the CS during decomposition for 184–366 days. The UE, CAT, AP, and SC activities of CBL (C. sinensis + B. luminifera) litter were significantly higher than those of the CS litter during decomposition. During the experiment, antagonistic effects were observed in the C/N and C/P ratios of the different litter types. Most mixed litter exhibited additive effects on enzyme activity, while a few showed nonadditive effects. For the nonadditive effects, most were antagonistic effects, mainly in the CPM (C. sinensis + C. glanduliferum) litter. A small portion, mainly observed in the CBL and CCG (C. sinensis + C. glanduliferum) litter, showed synergistic effects. (4) Conclusions: Selecting B. luminifera and C. glanduliferum to be part of the tree species composition in ecological tea gardens can produce positive mixed effects on enzyme activity during litter decomposition, increase nutrient return capacity, maintain tea garden fertility, and achieve the ecological development of tea gardens. Full article
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16 pages, 5774 KiB  
Article
Comparison of the Sorption of Cu(II) and Pb(II) by Bleached and Activated Biochars: Insight into Complexation and Cation–π Interaction
by Jing Zhao, Lin Wang and Gang Chu
Agronomy 2023, 13(5), 1282; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13051282 - 29 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1608
Abstract
Attention has been paid to the application of biochar in the remediation of heavy metal contamination in soils. In this study, two modification methods, bleaching and activation, were used to enhance the biochar sorption of Cu(II) and Pb(II). Multiple techniques, including XPS, FTIR [...] Read more.
Attention has been paid to the application of biochar in the remediation of heavy metal contamination in soils. In this study, two modification methods, bleaching and activation, were used to enhance the biochar sorption of Cu(II) and Pb(II). Multiple techniques, including XPS, FTIR and 13C NMR, were applied to investigate the properties of bleached and activated biochars. Combined with density functional theory (DFT) calculations, structural changes in the biochars and the main mechanism of Cu(II) and Pb(II) sorption were discussed after modification. The bleached biochar without non-condensed aromatic C possessed many oxygen-containing groups due to oxidation. In contrast, activation increased the specific surface area (SSA) and removed the carboxyl groups. Both modifications had an excellent effect on sorption by high-temperature biochars, especially the bleaching treatment. The bleached and activated biochars exhibited superior Pb(II) sorption compared with Cu(II) due to the larger electron cloud configuration of Pb(II). The significantly positive correlation of the Kd values with the COOH/C=O content indicated that the oxygen-containing groups were responsible for Cu(II) and Pb(II) sorption. The DFT calculation demonstrated a higher energy for the cation–π interaction than for the complexation for Cu(II) sorption, whereas the opposite case was observed for Pb(II) sorption. The complexation and cation–π interaction were the main mechanisms of Cu(II) and Pb(II) sorption. This study provides important guidance for the application of modified biochars in the sorption of heavy metals in the environment. Full article
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