Special Issue "Innovations towards Organic and Agro-Ecological Food and Farming Systems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gattinger
Website
Guest Editor
Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Chair in Organic Farming with focus on Sustainable Soil Use, Karl-Glöckner-Str. 21 C, 35394 Giessen, Germany and Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Kasseler Straße 1, D-60486 Frankfurt, Germany
Interests: farming systems research with particular focus on: 1) productivity and climate, 2) public goods: ecosystem services and animal welfare, 3) agro-ecological food and farming systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural intensification since the Second World War enabled a tremendous yield increase in all major crops and livestock products. This, however, was at the expense of a dependence on external inputs from fossil resources, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication of water bodies, as well as losses in biodiversity and soil degradation and many other problems. A promising option to combat these adverse effects is eco-functional intensification through organic farming. This approach is based on using internal natural resources and processes to secure agricultural productivity, while minimizing negative environmental impacts. As organic farming has been advanced mainly by pioneer farmers from bottom-up movements, not only technological but also social innovations are important drivers of success.

This Special Issue will focus on innovations and strategies to improve organic farming systems and other agro-ecological approaches which are not necessarily certified organic.

We welcome novel research, reviews and opinion pieces, management solutions, modelling, case-studies from the field, and policy positions covering innovative ideas that can help to move towards sustainable food and farming systems.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gattinger
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 1600 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

  • Organic farming
  • Agro-ecology
  • Eco-functional intensification
  • Farming systems
  • Food systems
  • Technological and social innovations
  • Ecosystem services

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Agroecological Practices and Agrobiodiversity: A Case Study on Organic Orange in Southern Italy
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020085 - 14 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The integration of Agroecological Service Crops (ASCs) into agroecosystems can provide several ecological services, such as nutrient cycling and disease and weed management. A two-year experiment on an organic orchard was carried out to compare barley (B) and horse bean (HB) ASCs with [...] Read more.
The integration of Agroecological Service Crops (ASCs) into agroecosystems can provide several ecological services, such as nutrient cycling and disease and weed management. A two-year experiment on an organic orchard was carried out to compare barley (B) and horse bean (HB) ASCs with a control without ASC (Cont) in combination with fertilizers. Their effects on soil fertility and weed- and soil-borne fungi communities were evaluated by direct measurements, visual estimation, and indicators computation. A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to identify latent patterns and redundancy among variables, whereas a correlation analysis was used to discriminate the compared systems within the PCA matrix. The empirical results of this study put in evidence the correlation among soil, weed, and fungal variables. A slight contribution of fertilizers on the system’s variability was observed, whereas a clear effect of ASCs was highlighted. The systems differed in weed communities, with the lowest density associated to B and the highest to Cont. B showed the highest fungal diversity, with changes in community compared to HB. HB showed a contribution on soil fertility, being associated to organic matter increase and N availability, and evidencing mixed impacts on soil quality and ecosystem functioning. Overall, the above-ground diversity and below-ground community results were inter-correlated. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Kura Clover Living Mulch: Spring Management Effects on Nitrogen
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020069 - 02 Feb 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Kura clover living mulch (KCLM) systems have the potential to provide ecosystem services in intensively managed cropping systems while supplying soil mineral nitrogen (N) to the growing cash crop. Living mulch management relies on strong spring suppression to reduce competition between vigorous kura [...] Read more.
Kura clover living mulch (KCLM) systems have the potential to provide ecosystem services in intensively managed cropping systems while supplying soil mineral nitrogen (N) to the growing cash crop. Living mulch management relies on strong spring suppression to reduce competition between vigorous kura clover and emerging row crop seedlings, but standard suppression management practices utilize widely different modes of action. The objective of this research was to gain insight into the impact of common KCLM management practices on early season N dynamics. Kura clover was mowed, and residue was either harvested or returned before rows were established via strip tillage or banded herbicide. Soil and gaseous N pools were monitored for 12 weeks post initial application of suppression management treatments. An enrichment factor (EF) approach was utilized to compare N pools under managed treatments relative to an unmanaged clover control. Strip tillage increased soil N by 300%, while banded herbicide row establishment increased soil N by 220% relative to the unmanaged control. Pre-plant clover harvest reduced short term soil NO3–N, but during later time intervals there was no relationship between residue management and soil N. We conclude that, for the dual goals of maintaining clover perenniality while providing greater soil N enrichment, strip tillage is superior to band herbicide for row establishment. Additionally, pre-plant clover harvest may open opportunities for dual harvests in a single growing season, increasing economic return while maintaining in-season N contributions from the living mulch. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Nitrogen and Sulfur Supply on the Potential of Acrylamide Formation in Organically and Conventionally Grown Winter Wheat
Agronomy 2018, 8(12), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8120284 - 27 Nov 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
In a two-year field trial, the effect of nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) fertilization was investigated on grain yield, grain quality parameters, formation of acrylamide (AA), and the precursor free asparagine (Asn) in organically and conventionally produced winter wheat cultivars. In both production [...] Read more.
In a two-year field trial, the effect of nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) fertilization was investigated on grain yield, grain quality parameters, formation of acrylamide (AA), and the precursor free asparagine (Asn) in organically and conventionally produced winter wheat cultivars. In both production systems, different types, amounts, and temporal distributions of N were tested. The the effect of S fertilizer types and amounts on free Asn was only tested in the conventional farming system. Within both cropping systems, grain yield and baking quality were significantly influenced by N treatment while the effect on free Asn was only minor. Especially within the organic farming system, increasing N fertilization levels did not increase free Asn significantly. A slight trend of increasing free Asn levels with an intensified N supply was observed, especially in the presence of crude protein contents of 14% or higher. However, only N amounts of 180 kg N ha−1 or higher increased the probability of high free Asn contents considerably, while N supply below that amount led to free Asn values similar to the unfertilized controls. The results indicated that good baking quality can be achieved without significantly increasing free Asn levels. In addition, cultivars affected the levels of free Asn significantly. Compared to cv. Bussard and Naturastar, cv. Capo exhibited the lowest AA formation potential at an N supply of 180 kg N ha−1 while simultaneously reaching a crude protein content > 15% (conventional) and > 12% (organic). Thus, it seems that cultivars differ in their ability to store and incorporate free Asn into proteins. Over all trials, a relation of free Asn and AA was shown by R2 = 0.77, while a relation of free Asn and protein was only R2 = 0.36. Thus, lowering free Asn by adjusting N treatments should not necessarily affect baking quality. S fertilization within conventional farming did not change the free Asn amount or crude protein significantly, probably due to the fact that soil was not sulfate-deficient. In summary, it was evident that free Asn amounts in wheat varied widely both within cultivars and between cropping systems. In order to clearly unravel genotypic differences and their interaction with environmental factors and especially N fertilization, further research is needed. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Reframing the Debate Surrounding the Yield Gap between Organic and Conventional Farming
Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020082 - 13 Feb 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
In this article, we review the literature regarding the yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture and then reflect on the corresponding debate on whether or not organic farming can feed the world. We analyze the current framework and highlight the need to [...] Read more.
In this article, we review the literature regarding the yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture and then reflect on the corresponding debate on whether or not organic farming can feed the world. We analyze the current framework and highlight the need to reframe the yield gap debate away from “Can organic feed the world?” towards the more pragmatic question, “How can organic agriculture contribute to feeding the world?”. Furthermore, we challenge the benchmarks that are used in present yield comparison studies, as they are based on fundamentally distinct paradigms of the respective farming methods, and then come up with a novel model to better understand the nature of yield gaps and the benchmarks that they are premised on. We thus conclude that, by establishing appropriate benchmarks, re-prioritizing research needs, and focusing on transforming natural resources rather than inputs, organic systems can raise their yields and play an ever-greater role in global sustainable agriculture and food production in the future. Full article
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