Sustainable Cropping Systems and Biomasses for Energy and Biorefinery Applications

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 July 2024 | Viewed by 12284

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-2: Plant Sciences, 52425 Jülich, Germany
Interests: perennial energy crops; biomass production; bioenergy and biogenic energy sources; biogenic residues; soil fertility and amelioration; marginal soils; alternative fertilizers; recycling-/residues-derived fertilizers; plant-soil interactions; circular bioeconomy; nutrient loops and nutrient recycling for sustainable plant biomass production
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Biobased Resources in the Bioeconomy (340b), Institute of Crop Science, University of Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Interests: agricultural production; agroecological intensification; biodiversity; bioeconomy; bioenergy; combustion; cropping systems; diversification; ecosystem services; perennial crops
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, China
Interests: bioeconomy; bioenergy; biofuel production; biomass conversion; biomass pretreatment; biomass production; biomass quality; crop science; energy crops; ethanol fermentation; gasification; green technology; hydrolysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

An increase in both the global human population and diminishing land resources poses multiple challenges, such as meeting future demands of food, feed and biogenic raw material. In the competing uses of plant biomasses, the food vs. fuel conflict appears to be the most prominent mainly because it directly affects food security and social stability.

To tackle these challenges, alternative sustainable and socioecologically robust approaches need to be employed to guarantee a continuous biomass supply for the developing bioeconomy. Due to diminishing fertile land areas, marginal agricultural or contaminated lands or derelict soils are being discussed as potential alternatives for biomass production without any land-use conflicts with food crop cultivation or nature conservation. Moreover, such alternative production areas often promise to add ecological value through restoring or enhancing biodiversity (e.g., through degradation mitigation) while on the other hand comprising the risk of affecting biodiversity. The marginality relates to the poor attributes of these areas, such as adverse soil quality with regard to rooting depth, nutrients, carbon, pH and water retention, among other detrimental factors. Even though vast areas with marginal soil characteristics are available worldwide, these factors are bottlenecks for their use, supporting biobased solutions in the long term. To unlock the potential of these areas, and simultaneously sustain the productivity of agricultural soils, a holistic approach comprised of (i) adapted biomass plants, (ii) alternative and sustainable cropping systems and (iii) efficient fertilization strategies needs to be investigated and employed. This will provide great opportunities and new challenges. Among securing sustainable biomass feedstocks, promoting biodiversity is of the utmost importance to ensure we remain within planetary boundaries. Securing or promoting biodiversity may become crucial in terms of (indirect) land-use changes (iLUC/LUC) associated with biomass production, and this requires careful consideration when opening up and employing new areas for biomass production.

Additionally, to avoid the continuation of CO2-intensive production, as it is still common in most economies, alternative approaches may directly focus on bio-based solutions, offering new value chains in terms of sustainability. Therefore, smart bioenergy, material use and biorefinery value chains should be implemented to decarbonize the economy. In this context, high expectations are associated with lignocellulosic biomasses as a resource for energy, material applications and platform chemicals.

We cordially invite and welcome all kinds of articles (full research manuscripts, review/mini-review articles, opinion papers, technical notes and commentaries) including, but not limited to, the following research areas:

  1. Soil amelioration to maintain or increase agricultural productivity.
  2. Waste-/residues-/recycling-derived fertilizers to enhance crop production and long-term productivity.
  3. Agricultural residue and biomass utilization for bio-energy production and/or bio-refinery applications.
  4. Evaluation of various sustainable fertilizers on soil health and the following plant performance, composition and subsequent use of the plant biomasses.
  5. Sustainable biomass production and its use for bio-energy, such as biogas, heat and electricity generation, but also for gasification applications and other synthesis.
  6. Bio-refinery concepts dedicated to added-value product chains in biomass utilization, also considering or following circular bio-economy approaches.
    1. Therein, with particular emphasis on waste stream-based, multi-product and/or decentralized and/or modular bio-refinery concepts;
    2. Thermo-chemical and bio-chemical/biological conversion of biomass to produce advanced biofuels, biochemicals and biopolymers;
    3. Novel approaches and solutions for liquefaction and further processing of the biogenic products;
    4. Hydrolysis and fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol;
    5. Bio-oils production via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis.
  7. Biogas and/or green hydrogen production.
  8. Smart biomass production systems and concepts for urban areas.
  9. Algae production systems and aquaponic applications. 

Submitted contributions must imply a clear link to agronomy as a prerequisite for consideration for this Special Issue. We particularly welcome experimental studies; however, we also encourage studies comprising life-cycle assessments and socioeconomic evaluations on the outlined topics.

We are looking forward to receiving your valued contributions to our Special Issue of Agronomy, entitled “Sustainable Cropping Systems and Biomasses for Energy and Biorefinery Applications”. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Nicolai David Jablonowski
Dr. Moritz Von Cossel
Dr. Yasir Iqbal
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

  • residues-/waste-/recycling-derived fertilizers
  • soil improvement, soil conditioners (e.g. biochars, algae biomass, other organic residues)
  • waste stream-based, multi-product and/or decentralized and/or modular bio-refinery concepts
  • alternative crops and agronomic approaches
  • biodiversity and ecologically robust agronomic practices
  • nutrient recycling and alternative fertilizers
  • marginal soils, soil amelioration
  • biogenic fuels and biogas
  • biogenic residues
  • biogenic products and platform chemicals
  • thermochemical conversion of biomass
  • biomass to liquid (BtL) and bio based polymers
  • bio-oils production via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 4083 KiB  
Article
Screening of Miscanthus Genotypes for Sustainable Production of Microcrystalline Cellulose and Cellulose Nanocrystals
by Weiming Liu, Lanqing You, Sheng Wang, Jie Li, Zhiyong Chen, Buchun Si, Yasir Iqbal, Shuai Xue, Tongcheng Fu, Zili Yi and Meng Li
Agronomy 2024, 14(6), 1255; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14061255 - 11 Jun 2024
Viewed by 333
Abstract
Miscanthus spp. has been regarded as a promising industrial plant for the sustainable production of bio-based materials. To assess its potential for microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) and cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) production, 50 representative clones of M. sinensis and M. floridulus were selected from a [...] Read more.
Miscanthus spp. has been regarded as a promising industrial plant for the sustainable production of bio-based materials. To assess its potential for microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) and cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) production, 50 representative clones of M. sinensis and M. floridulus were selected from a nationwide collection showcasing the extensive diversity of germplasm resources. Descriptive analysis indicates that the dry biomass weight of M. floridulus is advantageous whereas M. sinensis demonstrates higher MCC and CNCs yields as well as a smaller CNCs particle size. Correlation analyses indicated that MCC yield is solely influenced by the cellulose content whereas the yield of CNCs is affected by both the cellulose content and CrI. Comparative analyses of the chemical composition, physical features (degree of polymerization, crystalline index, particle size distribution and zeta potential), and scanning electron microscopy indicated that the MCC and CNCs extracted from M. sinensis and M. floridulus exhibited remarkable stability and quality. Additionally, the CNCs derived from M. sinensis and M. floridulus exhibited a distinctive ball-shaped structure. Notably, machine learning has demonstrated its efficacy and effectiveness in the high-throughput screening of large populations of Miscanthus spp. for predicting the yield of MCC and CNCs. Our results have also laid the theoretical foundation for the exploration, cultivation, and genetic breeding of M. sinensis and M. floridulus germplasm resources with the purpose of MCC and CNCs preparation. Full article
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16 pages, 1666 KiB  
Article
Converting an Established Sida hermaphrodita Field into Arable Farming
by Nicolai David Jablonowski, Benedict Ohrem, Michael Gitzen and Tobias Kollmann
Agronomy 2024, 14(3), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14030411 - 20 Feb 2024
Viewed by 575
Abstract
The long-term performance of perennial energy crops and their elimination is important for long-term planning and use of agricultural land. In this study, the elimination of a six-year-old Sida hermaphrodita (hereafter referred to as Sida) stock for agricultural reclamation was investigated over [...] Read more.
The long-term performance of perennial energy crops and their elimination is important for long-term planning and use of agricultural land. In this study, the elimination of a six-year-old Sida hermaphrodita (hereafter referred to as Sida) stock for agricultural reclamation was investigated over three years. Crop rotation using maize, winter wheat, and sugar beet, a catch crop, as well as mechanical–chemical treatments were employed according to agricultural practices. After soil grubbing at the beginning of the experiment and prior to further treatments, on half of the former Sida planting area, visible Sida roots were manually removed in addition to determining their potential effect on total resprouting. Prior to each crop harvest, resprouted Sida plants were counted. At harvest, by the end of the first year, 476 versus 390 resprouted Sida plants were found in the investigated areas of 315 m2 each, where preceding manual root removal either took place or not, respectively. This accounted for 76% and 62% of the initial Sida planted. In the second year, the overall number of resprouted Sida declined significantly, accounting for 15 and 11 plants (i.e., 2.4% and 1.8% of initially planted), and in the third year, only two and four residual plants (i.e., 0.3% and 0.6%) were found, representing an almost 100% Sida elimination rate. We conclude that additional root removal did not result in a significant difference in Sida regrowth compared to the mechanical–chemical treatments only. No impediments to harvesting and no loss of yield in any crops were observed due to resprouted Sida in the existing field crops. No Sida plants were found outside the initial field, indicating a low dispersion potential and invasiveness. The results show that successful recultivation of an established Sida stock is possible through common agricultural practices and that resprouting Sida plants did not negatively affect the subsequent crops. Full article
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13 pages, 3570 KiB  
Article
Polyploid Miscanthus Lutarioriparius: A Sustainable and Scalable Biomass Feedstock for Cellulose Nanocrystal Preparation in Biorefinery
by Sheng Wang, Zili Yi, Yasir Iqbal, Zhiyong Chen, Shuai Xue, Tongcheng Fu and Meng Li
Agronomy 2022, 12(5), 1057; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051057 - 28 Apr 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1735
Abstract
In this study, polyploid Miscanthus lutarioriparius (PML) was introduced as a new sustainable and scalable source for cellulose nanocrystal (CNC). The agronomic traits of PML were significantly different from Miscanthus × giganteus (MG), but their chemical components and physical features were similar. Notably, [...] Read more.
In this study, polyploid Miscanthus lutarioriparius (PML) was introduced as a new sustainable and scalable source for cellulose nanocrystal (CNC). The agronomic traits of PML were significantly different from Miscanthus × giganteus (MG), but their chemical components and physical features were similar. Notably, a remarkable co-extraction of hemicellulose, lignin and ash and non-crystalline cellulose was observed during crude cellulose isolation from PML than it from MG by modified alkaline peroxide pretreatment. In addition, subjecting crude cellulose of PML and MG biomass to sulfuric acid hydrolysis provided high-quality CNC. The analysis of particle size distribution, zeta potential, crystalline index, the degree of polymerization, SEM and yield potential suggested that the CNC extracted from PML showed higher stability, processability and productivity than that from MG. Therefore, it provides a new theoretical basis for the applications of CNC prepared by PML and MG. The results also revealed potential genetic approaches for Miscanthus spp. to enhance biomass and CNC yield. Full article
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Review

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26 pages, 1321 KiB  
Review
Hemp Agronomy: Current Advances, Questions, Challenges, and Opportunities
by John Sunoj Valiaparambil Sebastian, Xuejun Dong, Calvin Trostle, Hanh Pham, Madhumita V. Joshi, Russell W. Jessup, Mark D. Burow and Tony L. Provin
Agronomy 2023, 13(2), 475; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13020475 - 6 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 8327
Abstract
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa) has a long history of domestication due to its versatile use. Recently, different sectors in the economy are investigating hemp cultivation to increase agronomic production and to limit delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite the rapid growth of [...] Read more.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L. ssp. sativa) has a long history of domestication due to its versatile use. Recently, different sectors in the economy are investigating hemp cultivation to increase agronomic production and to limit delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite the rapid growth of hemp literature in recent years, it is still uncertain whether the knowledge gained from higher latitude regions is applicable to low latitude and tropical regions where hemp has not been grown traditionally. This review provides a comprehensive and updated survey of hemp agronomy, focusing on environmental and management factors influencing the growth and yield of hemp, methods of cannabinoids detection and quantification, and hemp breeding. This review suggests that some previous claims about hemp as a low input crop may not hold true in low-latitude regions. Additional research strategies, such as the integration of experimentation and modeling efforts, are encouraged to hasten new discoveries. Furthermore, to effectively increase the outputs of value products (cannabinoids, seeds, fiber and biomass, etc.) while limiting the THC level, new collaborations between hemp agronomists and economists may streamline the production process by increasing the efficiency of the total production system of hemp as a multifaceted crop. Full article
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