Special Issue "Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 April 2021) | Viewed by 11148

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Claudia Di Bene
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment (CREA-AA), 00184 Rome, Italy
Interests: carbon sink in agricultural soils; cropping systems diversification and simulation models; GHG emissions from agricultural soils; climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Roberta Farina
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment (CREA-AA), 00184 Rome, Italy
Interests: ecosystem models (RothC and EPIC); soil–crop management and climate change; soil C dynamics in Mediterranean semiarid areas
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Rosa Francaviglia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment - Via della Navicella, 2-4, 00184 Rome, Italy
Interests: carbon sink in agricultural soils; cropping systems diversification and simulation models; climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Soil and Water Department, Estación Experimental de Aula Dei (EEAD), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), 1005 Montañana Ave., 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: agronomy; soil sciences; crop diversification; climate change; soil fertility; soil organic carbon; conservation agriculture; no-tillage; greenhouse gas; ecosystem management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Conservation tillage, such as no-tillage (also named sod-seeding) and minimum tillage, refers to tillage systems that minimize mechanical operations, reducing soil disturbance and preserving more surface residues than conventional tillage. Conservation tillage can provide sensible economic advantages for farmers, associated with reductions in work time, machinery wear and tear, and energy use. Benefits for agricultural systems include soil protection from erosion, reduced soil compaction, enhanced storage of soil organic matter, and a general improvement of soil quality. In addition, tillage reduction commonly increases water holding capacity and infiltration rates, which is particularly relevant for areas where conservation tillage can perform best since water availability in the soil is limited by climatic constraints.
This Special Issue intends to cover the state-of-the-art and recent progress in different aspects related to the adoption of conservation tillage in a wide range of cropping systems across different agro-ecological strategies.
All types of contributions (original research, reviews, and meta-analysis) providing new insights on conservation agriculture are welcome. The Editors encourage submissions to evaluate the advantages of conservation tillage over conventional systems in terms of agronomic, economic, and environmental aspects.

Dr. Claudia Di Bene
Dr. Roberta Farina
Dr. Rosa Francaviglia
Dr. Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes
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 2000 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

  • tillage
  • cover crops
  • crop rotations
  • crop production
  • agricultural economics
  • soil organic carbon
  • soil quality
  • water quality
  • soil erosion
  • GHG emissions

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Tillage Intensity Influences Insect-Pest and Predator Dynamics of Wheat Crop Grown under Different Conservation Agriculture Practices in Rice-Wheat Cropping System of Indo-Gangetic Plain
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1087; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061087 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 841
Abstract
Tillage can alter the soil habitats wherein many insect pests and their natural enemies reside during at least part of their life cycle. To enhance crop productivity and reduce climate change effects, conservation agriculture (CA) with reduced-tillage or no-tillage practices have been advocated [...] Read more.
Tillage can alter the soil habitats wherein many insect pests and their natural enemies reside during at least part of their life cycle. To enhance crop productivity and reduce climate change effects, conservation agriculture (CA) with reduced-tillage or no-tillage practices have been advocated to farmers. However, information relating to the effect of CA on insect pests and their natural enemies is very scarce, at least in the Indo-Gangetic region. In this study, the effect of tillage on the abundance of, and damage by, major insect pests (foliar aphids, root aphids, termites, and pink stem borer) and their natural enemies in wheat managed under three tillage practices, i.e., zero-till (ZT), reduced tillage (RT), and conventional tillage (CT) with (protected) and without (unprotected) insecticide protection scenarios, was investigated. Foliar aphid and termite numbers were lowest in the ZT-protected system, and highest in the CT-unprotected system. Pink stem borer damage was significantly higher in the ZT-unprotected system, whereas the root aphid number was maximum in the RT-unprotected system. The natural enemies of these four major insect pests of wheat showed variable trends under the studied tillage systems. The abundance and damage of these major insect pests showed a positive correlation with the normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI) and canopy temperature. The dynamics of the insect pests and their predators were driven by soil habitat-related changes (direct) as well as crop growth-related effects (indirect). A fine-tuning of insect-pest management tactics based on these relations would enhance the success of CA systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effect of Long-Term Soil Management Practices on Tree Growth, Yield and Soil Biodiversity in a High-Density Olive Agro-Ecosystem
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061036 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 903
Abstract
Edaphic arthropod communities provide valuable information about the prevailing status of soil quality to improve the functionality and long-term sustainability of soil management. The study aimed at evaluating the effect of plant and grass cover on the functional biodiversity and soil characteristics in [...] Read more.
Edaphic arthropod communities provide valuable information about the prevailing status of soil quality to improve the functionality and long-term sustainability of soil management. The study aimed at evaluating the effect of plant and grass cover on the functional biodiversity and soil characteristics in a mature olive orchard (Olea europaea L.) managed for ten years by two conservation soil managements: natural grass cover (NC) and conservation tillage (CT). The trees under CT grew and yielded more than those under NC during the period of increasing yields (years 4–7) but not when they reached full production. Soil management did not affect the tree root density. Collecting samples underneath the canopy (UC) and in the inter-row space (IR), the edaphic environment was characterized by soil structure, hydrological properties, the concentration and storage of soil organic carbon pools and the distribution of microarthropod communities. The soil organic carbon pools (total and humified) were negatively affected by minimum tillage in IR, but not UC, without a loss in fruit and oil yield. The assemblages of microarthropods benefited, firstly, from the grass cover, secondly, from the canopy effect, and thirdly, from a soil structure ensuring a high air capacity and water storage. Feeding functional groups—hemiedaphic macrosaprophages, polyphages and predators—resulted in selecting the ecotonal microenvironment between the surface and edaphic habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Soil Productivity Degradation in a Long-Term Eroded Olive Orchard under Semiarid Mediterranean Conditions
Agronomy 2021, 11(4), 812; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11040812 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 846
Abstract
Olive groves are one of the most important agro-systems in the Mediterranean basin, and the Andalusia region produces the highest quantity of olive oil in Europe. The aim of this work was to evaluate the long-term (15 years) influence of two management practices [...] Read more.
Olive groves are one of the most important agro-systems in the Mediterranean basin, and the Andalusia region produces the highest quantity of olive oil in Europe. The aim of this work was to evaluate the long-term (15 years) influence of two management practices in olive orchards—conventional tillage (CT) and no tillage with bare soil and herbicide application (NT + H)—on soil physical properties, infiltration capacity, erosion rates, and soil productivity. In addition, the short-term (2 years) influence of no tillage with cover crop management (NT-CC) on these parameters was also assessed. In the study area, CT and NT + H management practices showed unsustainable erosion values, 9.82 and 13.88 Mg ha−1 year−1, respectively, while NT-CC inclusion decreased the erosion rates (2.06 Mg ha−1 year−1). The implementation of NT-CC not only reduced erosion rates but also caused a change in the trend of soil productivity loss observed under CT and NT + H. In this sense, NT-CC showed a positive influence on soil quality. However, tillage removal led to a significant reduction in the infiltration capacity of soils under NT + H and NT-CC, which will be a serious handicap for water storage in an environment with continuous processes of water deficit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effects of Management and Hillside Position on Soil Organic Carbon Stratification in Mediterranean Centenary Olive Grove
Agronomy 2021, 11(4), 650; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11040650 - 29 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
The short- and medium—long-term effects of management and hillside position on soil organic carbon (SOC) changes were studied in a centenary Mediterranean rainfed olive grove. One way to measure these changes is to analyze the soil quality, as it assesses soil degradation degree [...] Read more.
The short- and medium—long-term effects of management and hillside position on soil organic carbon (SOC) changes were studied in a centenary Mediterranean rainfed olive grove. One way to measure these changes is to analyze the soil quality, as it assesses soil degradation degree and attempts to identify management practices for sustainable soil use. In this context, the SOC stratification index (SR-COS) is one of the best indicators of soil quality to assess the degradation degree from SOC content without analyzing other soil properties. The SR-SOC was calculated in soil profiles (horizon-by-horizon) to identify the best soil management practices for sustainable use. The following time periods and soil management combinations were tested: (i) in the medium‒long-term (17 years) from conventional tillage (CT) to no-tillage (NT), (ii) in the short-term (2 years) from CT to no-tillage with cover crops (NT-CC), and (iii) the effect in the short-term (from CT to NT-CC) of different topographic positions along a hillside. The results indicate that the SR-SOC increased with depth for all management practices. The SR-SOC ranged from 1.21 to 1.73 in CT0, from 1.48 to 3.01 in CT1, from 1.15 to 2.48 in CT2, from 1.22 to 2.39 in NT-CC and from 0.98 to 4.16 in NT; therefore, the soil quality from the SR-SOC index was not directly linked to the increase or loss of SOC along the soil profile. This demonstrates the time-variability of SR-SOC and that NT improves soil quality in the long-term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Preliminary Effects of Crop Residue Management on Soil Quality and Crop Production under Different Soil Management Regimes in Corn-Wheat Rotation Systems
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 302; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020302 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1148
Abstract
Strategic management of crop residues is essential to enhance soil quality for sustainable agriculture. However, little is known about the specific amounts of crop residues needed to improve soil quality characteristics which are key to develop economic plans. In this study, we investigated [...] Read more.
Strategic management of crop residues is essential to enhance soil quality for sustainable agriculture. However, little is known about the specific amounts of crop residues needed to improve soil quality characteristics which are key to develop economic plans. In this study, we investigated the effects of applying crop residue at five rates, including 100% (R100), 75% (R75), 50% (R50), 25% (R25), and 0% (R0), on wheat yield and soil properties. Field experiments were conducted for two cropping seasons in a wheat-corn rotation under conventional (CT) and no-till (NT) systems to observe the first results obtained during short-term periods (one-year application). During the study, the wheat and corn fields were irrigated. Application of plant residue resulted in increased soil organic carbon (SOC) and available nutrients and improved soil physical properties, i.e., aggregates mean weight diameter in wet (MWDw) and dry (MWDd) conditions, water-stable aggregates (WSA), dry-stable aggregates, (DSA), soil water infiltration (SWI), soil available water (SAW), and yield of wheat and corn. The effects were stronger at higher residue application rates. In the CT system, compared to R0, R100 resulted in the highest increase equal to 38, 29, 23, 34, 35, 41, and 11% for SOC, MWDw, MWDd, WSA, DSA, SAW, and wheat grain yield, respectively. This was equivalent to 28, 19.5, 19, 37, 44, 52, and 6% for the NT system, respectively. Generally, the NT system resulted in a stratification of the soil properties within 0–10 cm compared to 10–20 cm soil depth, but a uniform distribution for both depths under CT system. Overall, these results show that crop residue application can improve soil quality and yield in cereal production systems under semi-arid conditions during the first year of application. It will be key to monitor these changes in along-term field studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A Strip-Till One-Pass System as a Component of Conservation Agriculture
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 2015; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10122015 - 21 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 961
Abstract
Conservation agriculture has three main pillars, i.e., minimum tillage, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation. Covering the soil surface with plant residues and minimum mechanical soil disturbance can all result from introducing a strip-till one-pass (ST-OP) system. The aim of this study was [...] Read more.
Conservation agriculture has three main pillars, i.e., minimum tillage, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation. Covering the soil surface with plant residues and minimum mechanical soil disturbance can all result from introducing a strip-till one-pass (ST-OP) system. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of the ST-OP technology on the management of plant residues, soil properties, inputs, and emissions related to crop cultivation. We compared the effect of a ST-OP system against conventional tillage (CT) using a plough, and against reduced, non-ploughing tillage (RT). Four field experiments were conducted for evaluating the covering of soil with plant residues of the previous crop, soil loss on a slope exposed to surface soil runoff, soil structure and aggregate stability, occurrence of soil organisms and glomalin content, soil moisture and soil water reserve during plant sowing, labour and fuel inputs, and CO2 emissions. After sowing plants using ST-OP, 62.7–82.0% of plant residues remained on the soil surface, depending on the previous crop and row spacing. As compared with CT, the ST-OP system increased the stability of soil aggregates of 0.25–2.0 mm diameter by 12.7%, glomalin content by 0.08 g·kg−1, weight of earthworms five-fold, bacteria and fungi counts, and moisture content in the soil; meanwhile, it decreased soil loss by 2.57–6.36 t·ha−1 year−1, labour input by 114–152 min·ha−1, fuel consumption by 35.9–45.8 l·ha−1, and CO2 emissions by 98.7–125.9 kg·ha−1. Significant favourable changes, as compared with reduced tillage (RT), were also found with respect to the stability index of aggregates of 2.0–10.0 mm diameter, the number and weight of earthworms, as well as bacteria and fungi counts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Linking Cover Crop Residue Quality and Tillage System to CO2-C Emission, Soil C and N Stocks and Crop Yield Based on a Long-Term Experiment
Agronomy 2020, 10(12), 1848; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10121848 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1043
Abstract
Cover crops (CC), particularly legumes, are key to promote soil carbon (C) sequestration in no-tillage. Nevertheless, the mechanisms regulating this process need further elucidation within a broad comprehensive framework. Therefore, we investigated effects of CC quality: black oat (Avena strigosa Schreb) (oat), [...] Read more.
Cover crops (CC), particularly legumes, are key to promote soil carbon (C) sequestration in no-tillage. Nevertheless, the mechanisms regulating this process need further elucidation within a broad comprehensive framework. Therefore, we investigated effects of CC quality: black oat (Avena strigosa Schreb) (oat), common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) (vetch), and oat + vetch on carbon dioxide-C (CO2-C) emission (124 days) under conventional- (CT), minimum- (MT) and no-tillage (NT) plots from a long-term experiment in Southern Brazil. Half-life time (t1/2) of CC residues and the apparent C balance (ACB) were obtained for CT and NT. We linked our data to long-term (22 years) soil C and nitrogen (N) stocks and crop yield data of our experimental field. Compared to CT, NT increased t1/2 of oat, oat + vetch and vetch by 3.9-, 3.1- and 3-fold, respectively; reduced CO2-C emissions in oat, oat + vetch and vetch by 500, 600 and 642 kg ha−1, respectively; and increased the ACB (influx) in oat + vetch (195%) and vetch (207%). For vetch, CO2-C emission in MT was 77% greater than NT. Legume CC should be preferentially combined with NT to reduce CO2-C emissions and avoid a flush of N into the soil. The legume based-NT system showed the greatest soil C and N sequestration rates, which were significantly and positively related to soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) and maize (Zea mays L.) yield. Soil C (0–90 cm depth) and N (0–100 cm depth) sequestration increments of 1 kg ha−1 corresponded to soybean yield increments of 1.2 and 7.4 kg ha−1, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Factors Controlling Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration of Highland Agricultural Areas in the Mae Chaem Basin, Northern Thailand
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020305 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1629
Abstract
Understanding the effect of the environment, crop types, and land management practices on the organic carbon sequestration of top soil is crucial for adopting management strategies in highland agricultural areas. The objectives of this study are: (1) to estimate top soil organic carbon [...] Read more.
Understanding the effect of the environment, crop types, and land management practices on the organic carbon sequestration of top soil is crucial for adopting management strategies in highland agricultural areas. The objectives of this study are: (1) to estimate top soil organic carbon density (SOCD) of different crop types and (2) to analyze the factors controlling top SOCD in highland agricultural areas. The top soil layers from 0 to 30 cm depths were collected from the Mae Chaem basin, Northern Thailand. The results showed that the highest top SOCD was found soil used for growing upland rice, which contained an average of 58.71 Mg C ha−1. A significant difference between the top SOCD was detected between areas where minimum tillage and conventional tillage of various crops, with average of values 59.17 and 41.33 Mg C ha−1, respectively, for areas growing strawberries; 61.14 and 37.58 Mg C ha−1, respectively, for cabbage, and 71.15 and 39.55 Mg C ha−1, respectively, for maize. At higher elevation, the top SOCD was high, which may be due to high clay content and low temperature. Increased use of chemical fertilizers lead to increases in top SOCD, resulting in increased crop yields. Elevation, bulk density, N and K2O fertilizers were the main factors controlling the top SOCD at all sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
The Effect of Various Tillage Systems on Productivity of Narrow-Leaved Lupin-Winter Wheat-Winter Triticale-Winter Barley Rotation
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020304 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1617
Abstract
Legumes are increasingly important crops in most European Union (EU) countries because of the growing demand for feed protein, and also because they have been shown to improve the characteristics of soil. The main part of the crop rotation is taken up by [...] Read more.
Legumes are increasingly important crops in most European Union (EU) countries because of the growing demand for feed protein, and also because they have been shown to improve the characteristics of soil. The main part of the crop rotation is taken up by cereals, but they are connected with undesirable side effects, such as the unilateral utilization of ingredients and the heightened risk of plant diseases, e.g., Fusarium. Simplification of farming methods has become increasingly popular as growers search for cheaper production technologies. However, the effects of long-term simplification in tillage practices on the production and economics of narrow-leafed lupine (NL) cultivation have not been studied. In 2012–2016, we carried out a field experiment in Poland with a one-factorial design with four replications. The aim of the experiment was to evaluate the productivity effect of conventional tillage (CT), reduced tillage (RT) and no-tillage (NT) on NL-winter wheat (WW)-winter triticale (WT)-winter barley (WB), rotation. Our results show that the productivity of this crop rotation was lower under RT and NT systems than under CT. From a practical point of view, the reduction of cultivation in rotation with 75% of cereals caused a decrease in yield in all species, which can result in resign of using the RT and NT in conditions of Albic Luvisols soil, as classified according to the World Reference Base (WRB). The highest incomes were found when the CT system was used with NL. Although income losses exceeded the value of savings in both minimalized soil tillage systems (RT and NT), all tillage systems of NL were profitable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage in Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop