Special Issue "Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2016).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Yantai Gan
Website
Guest Editor
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Semiarid Prairie Agricultural, Research Centre, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, S9H 3X2, Canada
Interests: cropping systems; ecological assessment; intensified crop management; plant physiology; water physiology; carbon footprint
Prof. Dr. Paul C. Struik
Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Plant Sciences, Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Anna van Saksenlaan 51, 2593 HW Den Haag, The Netherlands
Interests: agricultural policy; arable farming; biodiversity; crop husbandry; crop production; plant production systems; seed production; agrobiodiversity; crop growth models; crop physiology; virtual plants; ecological modeling; photosynthesis; potatoes
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Global demand for food is projected to double by 2050. This is driven by the ever-growing demands of the world population’s need for fiber and energy. Yet, the land areas on the Earth that are suitable for farming are limited. It has been a real challenge to meet these demands, especially in populated regions and countries. Clearly, the way forward is to increase grain production on the existing farmland in a sustainable manner.

To meet the challenge, many advanced agronomic strategies and practices have been developed in recent years, such as the adoption of sustainable intensification of agricultural systems; the application of systems-design technologies in crop production; the improvement of resource-use efficiencies (i.e., land, water, nutrients, labor, and financial investment); the enhancement of profitability with reduced risk; and the minimization of potential negative impacts on the environment and communities.

This Special Issue is intended to provide opportunity for international scholars who are interested in publishing their latest scientific research in a timely manner on the subject of “Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security”. The Special Issue will focus on research topics in agronomy that are specifically linked with the issue of food security. Research articles or reviews reporting novel scientific findings concerning the improvement of farming systems, the increase of crop yields, the improvement of land utilization rate, the improvement of water and nutrient use efficiencies, the reduction of input cost, and the enhancement of environmental and ecological sustainability are most welcome. In addition, topics concerning policy design, incentives, and investment, as well as novel approaches for increasing food security in the value/supply chains, so as to help secure positive change within food security, are also welcomed.

Professor Yantai Gan
Prof. Dr. Paul C. Struik
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

  • intensified cropping systems
  • food security
  • drought stress; deficit irrigation; water use efficiency
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • carbon footprint
  • ecological assessment
  • environmental sustainability

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Soil Tillage Systems and Wheat Yield under Climate Change Scenarios
Agronomy 2016, 6(3), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy6030043 - 20 Sep 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
In this study, the effects of three different main preparatory tillage operations: ploughing at 0.4 m (P40) and 0.20 m (P20) depth and harrowing at 0.20 m depth (MT) were investigated. The tillage operations were carried out at two different times, as the [...] Read more.
In this study, the effects of three different main preparatory tillage operations: ploughing at 0.4 m (P40) and 0.20 m (P20) depth and harrowing at 0.20 m depth (MT) were investigated. The tillage operations were carried out at two different times, as the soil water content increased over time from rainfall: (low, 58% (LH) and high, 80% (HH) of field capacity). Results obtained from the soil monitoring carried out before and after tillage showed high values of soil strength in terms of Penetration resistance and shear strength particularly in deeper soil layers at lower water content. During tillage, fossil-fuel energy requirements for P40 LH and P20 LH were 25% and 35% higher, respectively, with respect to the HH treatments and tractor slip was very high (P40 LH = 32.4%) with respect to the P40 HH treatment (16%). Soil water content significantly influenced tractor performance during soil ploughing at 0.40 m depth but no effect was observed for the MT treatment. The highly significant linear relations between grain yield and soil penetration resistance highlight how soil strength may be good indicator of soil productivity. We conclude that ploughing soil to a 0.20 m depth or harrowing soil to a 0.20 m depth is suitable for this type of soil under climate change scenarios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Prairies Thrive Where Row Crops Drown: A Comparison of Yields in Upland and Lowland Topographies in the Upper Midwest US
Agronomy 2016, 6(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy6020032 - 13 May 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
Cellulosic biofuel production is expected to increase in the US, and the targeted establishment of biofuel agriculture in marginal lands would reduce competition between biofuels and food crops. While poorly drained, seasonally saturated lowland landscape positions are marginal for production of row crops [...] Read more.
Cellulosic biofuel production is expected to increase in the US, and the targeted establishment of biofuel agriculture in marginal lands would reduce competition between biofuels and food crops. While poorly drained, seasonally saturated lowland landscape positions are marginal for production of row crops and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), it is unclear whether species-diverse tallgrass prairie yield would suffer similarly in saturated lowlands. Prairie yields typically increase as graminoids become more dominant, but it is uncertain whether this trend is due to greater aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) or higher harvest efficiency in graminoids compared to forbs. Belowground biomass, a factor that is important to ecosystem service provisioning, is reduced when switchgrass is grown in saturated lowlands, but it is not known whether the same is true in species-diverse prairie. Our objectives were to assess the effect of topography on yields and live belowground biomass in row crops and prairie, and to determine the mechanisms by which relative graminoid abundance influences tallgrass prairie yield. We measured yield, harvest efficiency, and live belowground biomass in upland and lowland landscape positions within maize silage (Zea mays L.), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and restored tallgrass prairie. Maize and winter wheat yields were reduced by more than 60% in poorly drained lowlands relative to well-drained uplands, but diverse prairie yields were equivalent in both topographic settings. Prairie yields increased by approximately 45% as the relative abundance of graminoids increased from 5% to 95%. However, this trend was due to higher harvest efficiency of graminoids rather than greater ANPP compared to forbs. In both row crops and prairie, live belowground biomass was similar between upland and lowland locations, indicating consistent biomass nutrient sequestration potential and soil organic matter inputs between topographic positions. While poorly drained, lowland landscape positions are marginal lands for row crops, they appear prime for the cultivation of species-diverse tallgrass prairie for cellulosic biofuel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Agro-Morphological Evaluation of Rice (Oryza sativa L.) for Seasonal Adaptation in the Sahelian Environment
Agronomy 2016, 6(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy6010008 - 12 Feb 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the Sahel zone of West Africa that extends from Senegal to Chad, temperatures can vary from less than 15 °C to 25 °C from November to February. These low temperatures affect the growth, development and yield of rice plants, and therefore constitute [...] Read more.
In the Sahel zone of West Africa that extends from Senegal to Chad, temperatures can vary from less than 15 °C to 25 °C from November to February. These low temperatures affect the growth, development and yield of rice plants, and therefore constitute a major constraint to rice production in the Sahel. In order to identify rice varieties tolerant to cold stress at different developmental stages, a diverse set of 224 rice germplasm was evaluated for yield and yield-related traits in Ndiaye, Senegal, using three different sowing dates. The first sowing date (October 2010), was chosen so as to expose the rice plants to cold stress at the reproductive stage while the rice crop planted at the second sowing date (January 2011) experienced cold stress at the vegetative stage. The third sowing date (July 2011) was the normal planting date for irrigated rice in the Sahel and it served as the control date when the crop does not experience any cold stress throughout its growth cycle. Among the data collected, significant genetic variation was detected and genotype-by-environment interaction was also significant for the traits. At the vegetative stage, cold stress reduced tillering and plant vigor and delayed flowering but increased yield, whereas at the reproductive stage, aside from delaying flowering, cold stress also inhibited panicle exsertion and reduced panicle length, spikelet fertility, grain filling and strongly reduced yields. Principal Component Analysis and correlation analysis using agro-morphological traits helped to identify genotypes that were tolerant to cold stress at either the vegetative or the reproductive stage and the traits associated with high yield under cold stress at each of these stages. Our results can be used to develop cold tolerant rice varieties adapted to double cropping in the Sahelian zone of West Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Canadian Agriculture in Meeting Increased Global Protein Demand with Low Carbon Emitting Production
Agronomy 2015, 5(4), 569-586; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5040569 - 04 Dec 2015
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although the demand on agriculture to produce food could double by 2050, changing diets will expand the global demand for protein even faster. Canadian livestock producers will likely expand in response to this market opportunity. Because of the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [...] Read more.
Although the demand on agriculture to produce food could double by 2050, changing diets will expand the global demand for protein even faster. Canadian livestock producers will likely expand in response to this market opportunity. Because of the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from animal protein production, the portion of this protein demand that can be met by pulse crops must be considered. The protein basis for GHG emission intensity was assessed for 2006 using a multi-commodity GHG emissions inventory model. Because arable land is required for other agricultural products, protein production and GHG emissions were also assessed on the basis of the land use. GHG emissions per unit of protein are one or two orders of magnitude higher for protein from livestock, particularly ruminants, than for protein from pulses. The protein production from pulses was moderately higher per unit of land than the protein from livestock. This difference was greater when soybeans were the only pulse in the comparison. Protein from livestock, especially ruminants, resulted in much higher GHG emissions per unit of land than the protein from pulses. A shift towards more protein from pulses could assure a better global protein supply and reduce GHG emissions associated with that supply. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
The Response of Sorghum, Groundnut, Sesame, and Cowpea to Seed Priming and Fertilizer Micro-Dosing in South Kordofan State, Sudan
Agronomy 2015, 5(4), 476-490; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5040476 - 29 Sep 2015
Cited by 6
Abstract
This study was undertaken with the objective of evaluating micro-dosing of mineral fertilizer combined with seed priming in sorghum, groundnut, sesame, and cowpea. On-station and on-farm trials were conducted for two consecutive seasons (2009/2010 and 2010/2011) at Al-Tukma village (12°00′57.60′′ N and 29°46′12.15′′ [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken with the objective of evaluating micro-dosing of mineral fertilizer combined with seed priming in sorghum, groundnut, sesame, and cowpea. On-station and on-farm trials were conducted for two consecutive seasons (2009/2010 and 2010/2011) at Al-Tukma village (12°00′57.60′′ N and 29°46′12.15′′ E) in South Kordofan State, 15 km southeast of Dilling city. Heavy cracking clay soil is the dominant soil type in the region with low fertility. The experiments for each crop consisted of two priming levels (primed seeds vs. non-primed) and four micro-doses of NPK mineral fertilizer (0, 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 g per planting pocket or hole). On-farm trials in 15 fields consisted of control, seed priming, and seed priming + micro fertilizer (0.3 g/planting hole). Data collected included plant vigor, stand count, plant height, grain and straw yield, seed weight, and other relevant agronomic traits. This study shows that it is possible to increase productivity of sorghum, sesame, groundnut, and cowpea in the semi-arid cracking clay of South Kordofan State at a low cost and with a moderate risk for farmers through seed priming and micro-dosing of fertilizers. Seed priming combined with micro-dosing NPK mineral fertilizer of 0.9 g was the best treatment for plant establishment, seedling vigor, grain yield, and hay yield in sorghum and groundnut, whereas the combination of seed priming and 0.3 g micro-doing of fertilizer was the best in sesame. Seed priming and micro-dosing of fertilizer of 0.6 g was the best combination for cowpea. On-farm trial results indicated that priming alone and priming combined with fertilizer application significantly increased the yields of sorghum, groundnut, and cowpea over the control (P = 0.01). Of the crops tested, groundnut responded most favorably to micro-dosing and seed priming, with a value to cost ratio (VCR) of 26.6, while the highest VCR for sorghum, sesame, and cowpea was 12.5, 8.0 and 4.4, respectively. For the best productivity and profitability, we recommend using seed priming in combination with the micro-dosing of 0.9 g/hole of 15:15:15 NPK fertilizer for sorghum and groundnut, of 0.3 g/hole for sesame, and of 0.6 g/hole for cowpea grown in the semiarid South Kordofan State of Sudan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
Open AccessArticle
Response of Table Grape to Irrigation Water in the Aconcagua Valley, Chile
Agronomy 2015, 5(3), 405-417; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5030405 - 24 Aug 2015
Cited by 3
Abstract
The irrigation water available for agriculture will be scarce in the future due to increased competition for water with other sectors, and the issue may become more serious due to climate change. In Chile, the table grape is only cultivated under irrigation. A [...] Read more.
The irrigation water available for agriculture will be scarce in the future due to increased competition for water with other sectors, and the issue may become more serious due to climate change. In Chile, the table grape is only cultivated under irrigation. A five-year research program (2007–2012) was carried out in the Aconcagua Valley, the central area of grapes in Chile, to evaluate the response of table grape vines (Vitis vinifera L., cv Thompson Seedless) to different volumes of irrigation water. Four irrigation treatments were applied: 60, 88, 120 and 157% of crop evapotranspiration (ETc) during the first four years, and 40, 54, 92 and 108% of ETc in the last year. Irrigation over 90%–100% of ETc did not increase fruit yield, whereas the application of water below 90% ETc decreased exportable yield, berry size and pruning weight. For example, 60% ETc applied water reduced exportable yield by 20%, and only 40% of the berries were in the extra and large category size, while pruning weight was 30% lower in comparison to the treatment receiving more water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Cotton Water Use Efficiency under Two Different Deficit Irrigation Scheduling Methods
Agronomy 2015, 5(3), 363-373; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5030363 - 13 Aug 2015
Cited by 4
Abstract
Declines in Ogallala aquifer levels used for irrigation has prompted research to identify methods for optimizing water use efficiency (WUE) of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L). In this experiment, conducted at Lubbock, TX, USA in 2014, our objective was to test two canopy [...] Read more.
Declines in Ogallala aquifer levels used for irrigation has prompted research to identify methods for optimizing water use efficiency (WUE) of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L). In this experiment, conducted at Lubbock, TX, USA in 2014, our objective was to test two canopy temperature based stress indices, each at two different irrigation trigger set points: the Stress Time (ST) method with irrigation triggers set at 5.5 (ST_5.5) and 8.5 h (ST_8.5) and the Crop Water Stress Index (CWSI) method with irrigation triggers set at 0.3 (CWSI_0.3) and 0.6 (CWSI_0.6). When these irrigation triggers were exceeded on a given day, the crop was deficit irrigated with 5 mm of water via subsurface drip tape. Also included in the experimental design were a well-watered (WW) control irrigated at 110% of potential evapotranspiration and a dry land (DL) treatment that relied on rainfall only. Seasonal crop water use ranged from 353 to 625 mm across these six treatments. As expected, cotton lint yield increased with increasing crop water use but lint yield WUE displayed asignificant (p ≤ 0.05) peak near 3.6 to 3.7 kg ha−1 mm−1 for the ST_5.5 and CWSI_0.3 treatments, respectively. Our results suggest that WUE may be optimized in cotton with less water than that needed for maximum lint yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Response of Snap Bean Cultivars to Rhizobium Inoculation under Dryland Agriculture in Ethiopia
Agronomy 2015, 5(3), 291-308; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5030291 - 02 Jul 2015
Cited by 8
Abstract
High yield in snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production requires relatively high nitrogen (N) inputs. However, little information is available on whether the use of rhizobial inoculants for enhanced biological dinitrogen fixation can provide adequate N to support green pod yield. The [...] Read more.
High yield in snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) production requires relatively high nitrogen (N) inputs. However, little information is available on whether the use of rhizobial inoculants for enhanced biological dinitrogen fixation can provide adequate N to support green pod yield. The objectives of this study were to test the use of rhizobia inoculation as an alternative N source for snap bean production under rain fed conditions, and to identify suitable cultivars and appropriate agro-ecology for high pod yield and N2 fixation in Ethiopia. The study was conducted in 2011 and 2012 during the main rainy season at three locations. The treatments were factorial combinations of three N treatments (0 and 100 kg·N·ha−1, and Rhizobium etli (HB 429)) and eight snap bean cultivars. Rhizobial inoculation and applied N increased the total yield of snap bean pod by 18% and 42%, respectively. Cultivar Melkassa 1 was the most suitable for a reduced input production system due to its greatest N2 fixation and high pod yield. The greatest amount of fixed N was found at Debre Zeit location. We concluded that N2 fixation achieved through rhizobial inoculation can support the production of snap bean under rain fed conditions in Ethiopia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks of Different Hawaiian Sugarcane Cultivars
Agronomy 2015, 5(2), 239-261; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5020239 - 19 Jun 2015
Cited by 4
Abstract
Sugarcane has been widely used as a biofuel crop due to its high biological productivity, ease of conversion to ethanol, and its relatively high potential for greenhouse gas reduction and lower environmental impacts relative to other derived biofuels from traditional agronomic crops. In [...] Read more.
Sugarcane has been widely used as a biofuel crop due to its high biological productivity, ease of conversion to ethanol, and its relatively high potential for greenhouse gas reduction and lower environmental impacts relative to other derived biofuels from traditional agronomic crops. In this investigation, we studied four sugarcane cultivars (H-65-7052, H-78-3567, H-86-3792 and H-87-4319) grown on a Hawaiian commercial sugarcane plantation to determine their ability to store and accumulate soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) across a 24-month growth cycle on contrasting soil types. The main study objective establish baseline parameters for biofuel production life cycle analyses; sub-objectives included (1) determining which of four main sugarcane cultivars sequestered the most soil C and (2) assessing how soil C sequestration varies among two common Hawaiian soil series (Pulehu-sandy clay loam and Molokai-clay). Soil samples were collected at 20 cm increments to depths of up to 120 cm using hand augers at the three main growth stages (tillering, grand growth, and maturity) from two experimental plots at to observe total carbon (TC), total nitrogen (TN), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrates (NO−3) using laboratory flash combustion for TC and TN and solution filtering and analysis for DOC and NO−3. Aboveground plant biomass was collected and subsampled to determine lignin and C and N content. This study determined that there was an increase of TC with the advancement of growing stages in the studied four sugarcane cultivars at both soil types (increase in TC of 15–35 kg·m2). Nitrogen accumulation was more variable, and NO−3 (<5 ppm) were insignificant. The C and N accumulation varies in the whole profile based on the ability of the sugarcane cultivar’s roots to explore and grow in the different soil types. For the purpose of storing C in the soil, cultivar H-65-7052 (TC accumulation of ~30 kg·m−2) and H-86-3792 (25 kg·m−2) rather H-78-3567 (15 kg·m−2) and H-87-4319 (20 kg·m−2) appeared to produce more accumulated carbon in both soil types. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Long Term Application of Inorganic and Organic Fertilizers on Soil Organic Carbon and Physical Properties in Maize–Wheat Rotation
Agronomy 2015, 5(2), 220-238; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5020220 - 18 Jun 2015
Cited by 53
Abstract
Balanced and integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers may enhance the accumulation of soil organic matter and improves soil physical properties. A field experiment having randomized complete block design with four replications was conducted for 36 years at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), [...] Read more.
Balanced and integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers may enhance the accumulation of soil organic matter and improves soil physical properties. A field experiment having randomized complete block design with four replications was conducted for 36 years at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, India to assess the effects of inorganic fertilizers and farmyard manure (FYM) on soil organic carbon (SOC), soil physical properties and crop yields in a maize (Zea mays)–wheat (Triticum aestivum) rotation. Soil fertility management treatments included were non-treated control, 100% N, 50% NPK, 100% NP, 100% NPK, 150% NPK, 100% NPK + Zn, 100% NPK + W, 100% NPK (-S) and 100% NPK + FYM. Soil pH, bulk density (BD), electrical conductivity (EC), cation exchange capacity, aggregate mean weight diameter (MWD) and infiltration were measured 36 years after the initiation of experiment. Cumulative infiltration, infiltration rate and aggregate MWD were greater with integrated use of FYM along with 100% NPK compared to non-treated control. No significant differences were obtained among fertilizer treatments for BD and EC. The SOC pool was the lowest in control at 7.3 Mg ha−1 and increased to 11.6 Mg ha−1 with 100%NPK+FYM. Improved soil physical conditions and increase in SOC resulted in higher maize and wheat yields. Infiltration rate, aggregate MWD and crop yields were positively correlated with SOC. Continuous cropping and integrated use of organic and inorganic fertilizers increased soil C sequestration and crop yields. Balanced application of NPK fertilizers with FYM was best option for higher crop yields in maize–wheat rotation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Raising Crop Productivity in Africa through Intensification
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy7010022 - 08 Mar 2017
Cited by 33
Abstract
The population of Africa will double in the next 33 years to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Although roughly 60% of the continent’s population is engaged in agriculture, the produce from this sector cannot feed its citizens. Hence, in 2013 alone, Africa imported [...] Read more.
The population of Africa will double in the next 33 years to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Although roughly 60% of the continent’s population is engaged in agriculture, the produce from this sector cannot feed its citizens. Hence, in 2013 alone, Africa imported 56.5 million tons of wheat, maize, and soybean at the cost of 18.8 billion USD. Although crops cultivated in Africa play a vital role in their contribution to Food Security, they produce inferior yields compared to those in other parts of the world. For instance, the average cereal yield in Africa is only 1.6 t·ha−1 compared to the global 3.9 t·ha−1. Low productivity in Africa is also related to poor soil fertility and scarce moisture, as well as a variety of insect pests, diseases, and weeds. While moisture scarcity is responsible for up to 60% of yield losses in some African staple cereals, insect pests inflict annually substantial crop losses. In order to devise a strategy towards boosting crop productivity on the continent where food insecurity is most prevalent, these production constraints should be investigated and properly addressed. This review focuses on conventional (also known as genetic) intensification in which crop productivity is raised through breeding for cultivars with high yield-potential and those that thrive well under diverse and extreme environmental conditions. Improved crop varieties alone do not boost crop productivity unless supplemented with optimum soil, water, and plant management practices as well as the promotion of policies pertaining to inputs, credit, extension, and marketing. Studies in Kenya and Uganda have shown that the yield of cassava can be increased by 140% in farmers’ fields using improved varieties and management practices. In addition to traditional organic and inorganic fertilizers, biochar and African Dark Earths have been found to improve soil properties and to enhance productivity, although their availability and affordability to African farmers remains to be explored. The concept of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) has been successfully implemented in some African countries in the Great Lake Region. Other innovative technologies favorably accepted by farmers are the “Push-pull System” (an elegant method of controlling a devastating insect pest and a parasitic weed) and NERICA (New Rice for Africa, in which rice varieties with desirable nutritional and agronomic properties were developed by crossing Asian and African rice). This review calls for African governments and institutions not only to provide conducive environments but also to abide by the Maputo 2003 Declaration where they agreed to invest 10% of their national budget to agricultural research and development as the outcome has a positive impact on productivity and ultimately improves the livelihood of farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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Open AccessReview
A Review of Nutrient Management Studies Involving Finger Millet in the Semi-Arid Tropics of Asia and Africa
Agronomy 2015, 5(3), 262-290; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy5030262 - 30 Jun 2015
Cited by 26
Abstract
Finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) is a staple food crop grown by subsistence farmers in the semi-arid tropics of South Asia and Africa. It remains highly valued by traditional farmers as it is nutritious, drought tolerant, short duration, and requires low [...] Read more.
Finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) is a staple food crop grown by subsistence farmers in the semi-arid tropics of South Asia and Africa. It remains highly valued by traditional farmers as it is nutritious, drought tolerant, short duration, and requires low inputs. Its continued propagation may help vulnerable farmers mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, the land area cultivated with this crop has decreased, displaced by maize and rice. Reversing this trend will involve achieving higher yields, including through improvements in crop nutrition. The objective of this paper is to comprehensively review the literature concerning yield responses of finger millet to inorganic fertilizers (macronutrients and micronutrients), farmyard manure (FYM), green manures, organic by-products, and biofertilizers. The review also describes the impact of these inputs on soils, as well as the impact of diverse cropping systems and finger millet varieties, on nutrient responses. The review critically evaluates the benefits and challenges associated with integrated nutrient management, appreciating that most finger millet farmers are economically poor and primarily use farmyard manure. We conclude by identifying research gaps related to nutrient management in finger millet, and provide recommendations to increase the yield and sustainability of this crop as a guide for subsistence farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Agronomy with Impact for Food Security)
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