Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 April 2024 | Viewed by 6751

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, School of Agriculture, Quinta da Sra. De Mércules, 6001-909 Castelo Branco, Portugal
Interests: soil science; fertilization and plant nutrition; sustainable management of phosphorus fertilizers and fertilization; biosolids and compost as fertilizers

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Guest Editor
Department of Agroforestry Sciences, Higher Technical School of Agricultural Engineering, University of Valladolid, Avenida de Madrid 44, 34004 Palencia, Spain
Interests: organic waste; recycling of nutrients

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The use of soil for agricultural production requires our best attention to prevent the degradation of its physical, chemical and biological properties. Better management practices should be assessed at an early stage in order to prevent soil degradation. This is especially relevant in the global scenario of climate change, in which the protection of soil health by stimulating its microbiome activity—promoted by enhancing the soil carbon pools—along with conservative agricultural practices, are factors that must be considered when planning soil use. Saving natural resources is another approach to increase the sustainability of agricultural production; therefore, the re-use, recovery and recycling of nutrients from organic residues as bio-based fertilizers are sustainable practices to close the anthropogenic cycle. Moreover, the increase in soil carbon stock by using organic amendments will contribute to the short carbon cycle, highlighting the role of soil as a carbon sink to mitigate global warming.

This Special Issue will focus on “Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility”. We welcome the latest research findings covering all related topics including: preventing soil degradation by erosion, compaction and contamination; improving soil fertility and health; the sustainability of soil fertilization; soil tillage; conservation agriculture; good management practices to prevent the environmental impacts of agricultural production; the application of bio-based fertilizers; the evaluation of soil management practices by risk assessment models and life cycle assessment; and novel soil analysis methodologies (e.g., spectroscopy) for the early assessment of soil productivity status.

Prof. Dr. Carmo Horta
Dr. María Cruz García González
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • bio-based fertilizers
  • carbon cycle
  • circular economy
  • conservation agriculture
  • novel laboratory methodologies for soil analysis
  • nutrient use efficiency
  • precision agriculture
  • risk assessment
  • soil erosion
  • soil health

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 5607 KiB  
Article
Short-Term Effects of Olive-Pomace-Based Conditioners on Soil Aggregation Stability
by Ana Caroline Royer, Tomás de Figueiredo, Felícia Fonseca, Marcos Lado and Zulimar Hernández
Agronomy 2024, 14(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14010005 - 19 Dec 2023
Viewed by 683
Abstract
Mediterranean agriculture asks for sustainable strategies to prevent actual soil organic matter decline rates. Composting agri-food by-products for application in farmland, besides contributing to a circular economy at regional or local scales, may improve soil resistance to physical degradation. Aggregate stability (AS) is [...] Read more.
Mediterranean agriculture asks for sustainable strategies to prevent actual soil organic matter decline rates. Composting agri-food by-products for application in farmland, besides contributing to a circular economy at regional or local scales, may improve soil resistance to physical degradation. Aggregate stability (AS) is a crucial property for building up such resistance. Olive pomace is an abundant by-product of the olive oil industry that may be valorized through composting. This study aimed to assess the influence on AS of olive-pomace-based composts (OPC) applied to a sandy loam Leptosol and a clay loam Fluvisol. To assess the effects of compost characteristics on AS, three OPCs resulting from different olive pomace proportions in the composting raw material (44, 31, and 25% by volume) were applied to aggregate samples in three doses (10, 20, and 40 t.ha−1, plus control) with fine and coarse grain sizes. Controlled laboratory conditions subjected samples to daily wetting-drying cycles during a 30-day experiment. AS was measured by wet sieving. OPC application significantly increased AS in the Leptosol amended with fine (+15% vs. control) and coarse (+19%) grain-size compost. In well-aggregated Fluvisol, amendment induced a significant increase in AS only in the compost coarse grain size (+12%). The application dose significantly affected AS, with 10 t.ha−1 being the best-performing dose. OPC applications in weakly aggregated soils are seemingly an encouraging soil management practice for improving soil resistance to physical degradation and reducing soil organic matter decline rates in Mediterranean farmland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility)
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17 pages, 2852 KiB  
Article
Effects on Soil Chemical Properties and Carbon Stock Two Years after Compost Application in a Hedgerow Olive Grove
by Carlos A. Alexandre, Rui Bajouco, Jacqueline D. S. Leal, José O. Peça and António B. Dias
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1933; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071933 - 21 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1120
Abstract
Soil amendments with composted organic materials are recommended to increase soil organic matter (SOM) and promote soil fertility. Growing areas of hedged olive groves in the southern Iberia peninsula generate huge amounts of olive leaves, and their potential as an organic soil amendment [...] Read more.
Soil amendments with composted organic materials are recommended to increase soil organic matter (SOM) and promote soil fertility. Growing areas of hedged olive groves in the southern Iberia peninsula generate huge amounts of olive leaves, and their potential as an organic soil amendment is not fully studied. An experimental field trial in a hedged olive grove (“Cobrançosa”) was set up near Portalegre, Portugal, to test a compost of olive leaves plus sheep manure (with a ratio of 2:1) when applied in a row at the soil’s surface. Nominal rates of zero, 2.5, and 5.0 kg m−2 (T0, T1, and T2, respectively) were applied in a complete randomized block setup (three treatments, three replicas, and nine plots), and soil properties of layers between 0–5, 5–15, and 15–30 cm were annually monitored. More expressive results occurred in the soil layer 0–5 cm, and with the dosage T2. After one year, there were significant increases in the total N, carbon of the particulate organic matter, permanganate oxidizable carbon (POX-C), extractable phosphorus, and zinc. After two years, there was 16% more soil organic carbon (SOC), an absolute increase of 0.5 in pHKCl, 1.9 times more extractable phosphorus, and ten times more zinc. The soil’s C-stock in the 0–30 cm layer, after two years of T1 and T2 dosages, was 0.11 and 0.35 kg m−2 (~3 and ~9%, respectively), which was higher than with T0. POX-C was the most sensitive SOM-related indicator, showing increases of up to 30 cm deep after one year. This compost improved soil fertility but should be monitored over longer periods of time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility)
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13 pages, 4570 KiB  
Article
Development of a Quality Index to Evaluate the Impact of Abiotic Stress in Saline Soils in the Geothermal Zone of Los Negritos, Michoacán, Mexico
by Yanely Bahena-Osorio, Marina Olivia Franco-Hernández, José J. Pueyo and María Soledad Vásquez-Murrieta
Agronomy 2023, 13(6), 1650; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13061650 - 20 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1066
Abstract
In recent years, salinity-induced soil quality impairment and the misuse of management practices have led to the reduced productivity of agroecosystems. This has prompted a search for simple and effective agricultural management strategies that improve the sustainability of agricultural production through soil quality [...] Read more.
In recent years, salinity-induced soil quality impairment and the misuse of management practices have led to the reduced productivity of agroecosystems. This has prompted a search for simple and effective agricultural management strategies that improve the sustainability of agricultural production through soil quality assessments. In this context, the objective of this study was to establish an integrated soil quality index (SQI) by assessing the influence of different types of abiotic stress in two different seasons, using physical, chemical and biological indicators at three sites in the geothermal zone of “Los Negritos”, Michoacán, Mexico. Thirty-nine indicators related to soil fertility attributes and C, N, P, and S cycling—identified as the total dataset (TDS)—were evaluated. Principal component analysis (PCA) and the Spearman correlation matrix (r2 ≥ 0.6) were used to calculate the SQI using an integrated quality index (IQI) equation, with the indicators total nitrogen (TN), cation exchange capacity (CEC), lithium (Li), and zinc (Zn) identified as the minimum dataset (MDS). Significantly higher SQI values related to the better performance of soil functions were detected during the rainy season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility)
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16 pages, 1142 KiB  
Article
Digestate Not Only Affects Nutrient Availability but Also Soil Quality Indicators
by Ana María García-López, Antonio Delgado, Ofélia Anjos and Carmo Horta
Agronomy 2023, 13(5), 1308; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13051308 - 06 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1754
Abstract
Digestate contains many essential nutrients for crops, including nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and it can alter the biogeochemical cycle of nutrients and soil functionality. This work aimed to assess the fertilizing effects of digestate on chemical and biological soil properties in a [...] Read more.
Digestate contains many essential nutrients for crops, including nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and it can alter the biogeochemical cycle of nutrients and soil functionality. This work aimed to assess the fertilizing effects of digestate on chemical and biological soil properties in a field experiment in eastern Portugal with two horticultural crops involving nine treatments: control without fertilization; mineral N fertilization with 85 kg ha−1; fertilization with digestate (DG) with increasing N rates (85, 170, 255, or 340 kg N ha−1); and fertilization with different combinations of digestate plus mineral N (DG at 85 or 170 kg N plus 60 kg mineral N ha–1 or DG at 170 kg N plus 25 kg mineral N ha–1). In addition to N, digestate supplied significant amounts of P, Ca, K, and Mg and significantly increased soil Olsen P, mineral N, and organic C. At high doses, it decreased phosphatase and β-glucosidase activities, as well as fungi and bacterial biomass, compared to the control or mineral N fertilization, and it also negatively affected soil P and C cycling capacity and microbial biomass. The organic to total N ratio and the N to P ratio in digestate are crucial properties for evaluating its agronomic management as fertilizer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility)
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15 pages, 467 KiB  
Article
A Composite Index Measuring Adoption of Conservation Agriculture among Maize and Soybean Farmers in Québec
by Guy Martial Takam Fongang, Jean-François Guay and Charles Séguin
Agronomy 2023, 13(3), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030777 - 07 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1304
Abstract
Conservation agriculture (CA) has appeared in America since 1970 as an alternative practice to conventional tillage to limit soil degradation. Despite its expansion around the world, socioeconomic analyses of its adoption, as well as its impact on agricultural yields, still suffer from imperfect [...] Read more.
Conservation agriculture (CA) has appeared in America since 1970 as an alternative practice to conventional tillage to limit soil degradation. Despite its expansion around the world, socioeconomic analyses of its adoption, as well as its impact on agricultural yields, still suffer from imperfect identification of CA adopters. The present study therefore proposes a new composite index for measuring the adoption of CA among maize and soybean farmers in the province of Québec, Canada. A model of partial adoption of CA both at parcel and farm levels is developed to build the composite index; and experts’ judgements and the Analytical Hierarchy Process are used for weight elicitation of principles of CA. Data from 144 maize and soybean farmers are also used to assess the level of adoption of CA in Québec. The new composite index improves on the measure of adoption of conservation agriculture, as it can be used to discriminate among farmers according to the level of adoption of principles of CA. Indeed, the new composite index shows that 77.08%, 21.53% and 1.39% of maize and soybean farmers, respectively, are partial adopters, full adopters and non-adopters of CA, whereas the traditional binary indicator indicates that 83.33% and 16.67% of maize and soybean farmers, respectively, are adopters and non-adopters of CA. The results also show that many maize and soybean farmers (38.89%) have shown a certain flexibility in the adoption of CA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Conservation Methods for Maintaining Farmlands' Fertility)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Effect of vermicompost on biochemical properties of soil and P uptake by wheat in soils under different tillage management.
Authors: Juan Nieto; Ana M García-López; Ramiro Recena; Antonio Delgado
Affiliation: Dpt. Agronomy, University of Seville, Ctra. Utrera km 1, Seville, Spain
Abstract: The use of vermicompost can improve soil fertility and increase crop yields. The aim of this work was to elucidate the effects of vermicompost used as fertilizer on P uptake by plants and changes in enzymatic activities and microbial profile. An experiment in a growing chamber involved wheat plants in two soils with different tillage (conventional tillage and no tillage) fertilized with doses of 10 and 20 mg P kg–1 as vermicompost, and positive control supplied with KH2PO4. Vermicompost had an effect on growth and yield similar to that of the mineral phosphorus. Vermicompost acts as a source of phosphorus, as demonstrated by the increase in total P uptake by plants. Besides the treatments fertilized with vermicompost increased the content of enzymes. The increase in bioavailable phosphorus in soil showed different behavior depending on tillage. Our results support the capacity that the application of vermicompost showed the best agronomic behavior in terms of wheat yield and biochemical properties of the soil.

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