Special Issue "Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Irrigation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Bartolomeo Dichio
Website
Guest Editor
Department of European and Mediterranean Cultures: Architecture, Environment and Cultural Heritage (DiCEM), Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Via S. Rocco, 3-75100 Matera, Italy
Interests: fruit tree physiology; nursery techniques; landscape ecology; urban gardening
Prof. Dr. Adriano Sofo
Website
Guest Editor
Department of European and Mediterranean Cultures: Architecture, Environment and Cultural Heritage (DiCEM), Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Via S. Rocco, 3-75100 Matera, Italy
Interests: agricultural chemistry; soil/plant chemistry and biochemistry; soil microbiology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on "Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards", which is important for promoting a rapid exchange of research results, experience, and ideas within the scientific community and among professionals working in this stimulating and relevant research field, both from an agronomic and an economic perspective. Besides the specific scientific target, we would like to transfer updated and practically relevant results to farmers, SMEs, policy makers, and related end-users working on fruit production. To do this, we will try to select the most sound, innovative, and clear papers, ranging from irrigation techniques, to the key role of soil management for regulating plant-water status, to reaching food and economic themes. Research on the impact of water and soil management on climate-change mitigation, soil-nutrients optimization, and soil physico-chemical and biological fertility will be welcome. All these aspects should be taken into account for future orchard-management strategies, based on the principles of circular economy and aimed at ameliorating ecosystem services. Through an innovative multidisciplinary approach, region-specific water and land management practices for orchards will be proposed. On this basis, we feel confident that the contribution of many authors working on various aspects of water and soil resources in orchards will allow us to achieve all these aims. We hope to work with all of you on this exciting project!

Prof. Bartolomeo Dichio

Prof. Adriano Sofo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • drought
  • fruit trees
  • irrigation strategies
  • plant secondary metabolism
  • soil-plant-atmosphere
  • soil water retention
  • water transport
  • sustainable soil management
  • sustainable water management

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Root−to−Shoot Signaling and Leaf Water−Use Efficiency in Peach Trees under Localized Irrigation
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030437 - 23 Mar 2020
Abstract
Global climate change is affecting important natural resources including water. Increasing temperature will change rate of evaporation and transpiration, leading to variations in water availability, ground water recharge, and water consumption by plants. Thus, competition for water will be a major future challenge [...] Read more.
Global climate change is affecting important natural resources including water. Increasing temperature will change rate of evaporation and transpiration, leading to variations in water availability, ground water recharge, and water consumption by plants. Thus, competition for water will be a major future challenge for agriculture. Increasing water productivity at farm level is necessary to increase the efficiency of the irrigation system, plant water−use efficiency (WUE) and to optimize irrigation management. We test the hypothesis that in field−grown, drip−irrigated nectarine trees, the roots in the un−irrigated inter−row soil produce chemical signals that increase in summer to induce stomatal closure and so increase WUE. Concentrations of abscisic acid (ABA) were determined in leaf, root, and xylem sap of drip−irrigated (D) trees in which only about 25% of the soil volume was wetted and compared with those of trees irrigated using microjets (M) in which the whole soil volume was wetted. We also examined the effects of increased ABA on root−to−shoot dry matter ratio, the ratio ABA to indole−3−acetic acid (IAA), sap pH, and fruit and shoot growth. Both D and M trees were maintained at optimal water status as judged by pre−dawn leaf water potentials (about −0.3 MPa). There were no significant differences between treatments in mean fruit size (fruit diameter) or in tree yield (total fruit weight). However, shoot length was strongly reduced in D trees (to 75%) compared to M trees (100%). The concentrations of ABA in the inter−row roots of D trees were increased by 59% and that in the leaves by 13% compared to in the M trees. Despite the similar water status of D and M trees, a clear chemical signal was triggered in terms of a significant increase in the ABA/IAA ratio. This signal influenced leaf stomatal conductance which was 40% lower in D trees than in M trees. The associated responses in photosynthesis and transpiration raised the WUE of D trees by 7%–10% compared to M trees. This field study shows that in drip−irrigated trees, an ABA root−to−shoot signal issues from the inter−row roots growing in soil that dries out during a Mediterranean summer (hot, low rainfall). This ABA−induced WUE increase was achieved principally through reduced stomatal conductance and reduced transpiration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating the Soil Hydraulic Functions of Some Olive Orchards: Soil Management Implications for Water Saving in Soils of Salento Peninsula (Southern Italy)
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020177 - 26 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Saving water resources in agriculture is a topic of current research in Mediterranean environments, and rational soil management can allow such purposes. The Beerkan Estimation of Soil Transfer parameters (BEST) procedure was applied in five olive orchards of Salento peninsula (southern Italy) to [...] Read more.
Saving water resources in agriculture is a topic of current research in Mediterranean environments, and rational soil management can allow such purposes. The Beerkan Estimation of Soil Transfer parameters (BEST) procedure was applied in five olive orchards of Salento peninsula (southern Italy) to estimate the soil physical and hydraulic properties under alternative soil management (i.e., no-tillage (NT) and minimum tillage (MT)), and to quantify the impact of soil management on soil water conservation. Results highlighted the soundness of BEST predictions since they provided consistent results in terms of soil functions or capacitive-based soil indicators when (i) the entire data set was grouped by homogeneous classes of texture, bulk density, and capillarity of the soil, (ii) the predictions were compared with the corresponding water retention measures independently obtained in lab, and (iii) some correlations of literature were checked. BEST was applied to establish a comparison at Neviano (NE) and Sternatia (ST) sites. The two neighboring NT soils compared at NE showed substantial discrepancies in soil texture (i.e., sandy loam (NE-SL) or clay (NE-C)). This marked difference in soil texture could determine a worsening of the relative field capacity at the NE-SL site (relative field capacity, RFC < 0.6), as compared to NE-C where RFC was optimal. The current soil management determined a similar effect (RFC < 0.6) at Sternatia (ST-MT vs. ST-NT), but the worsening in soil properties, due to soil tillage, must be considered substantially transient, as progressive improvement is expected with the restoration of the soil structure. The results of this work suggest that strategic MT can be a viable solution to manage the soil of Salento olive orchards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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Open AccessArticle
Terrestrial and Remote Indexes to Assess Moderate Deficit Irrigation in Early-Maturing Nectarine Trees
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100630 - 11 Oct 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Monitoring plant water status is relevant for the sustainable management of irrigation under water deficit conditions. Two treatments were applied to an early-maturing nectarine orchard: control (well irrigated) and precise deficit irrigation (PDI, based on soil water content thresholds). Moderate water deficits generated [...] Read more.
Monitoring plant water status is relevant for the sustainable management of irrigation under water deficit conditions. Two treatments were applied to an early-maturing nectarine orchard: control (well irrigated) and precise deficit irrigation (PDI, based on soil water content thresholds). Moderate water deficits generated by PDI were assessed by comparing terrestrial: stem water potential (Ψstem) and gas exchange parameters, with remote: canopy temperature, normalized difference vegetation (NDVI), and soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI), plant water status indicators. The Ψstem was the only indicator that showed significant differences between treatments. NDVI and SAVI at the postharvest period were appropriate indexes for estimating winter pruning, although they did not serve well as plant stress indicator. Vapor pressure deficit along with Ψstem values were able to predict remote sensing data. Ψstem and canopy to air temperature difference values registered the highest signal intensity and NDVI the highest sensitivity for detecting water deficit situations. The results suggest that care should be taken when using instantaneous remote indicators to evaluate moderate water deficits in deciduous fruit trees; more severe/longer water stress conditions are probably needed. The proposed PDI strategy promoted water saving while maintaining yield, and could be considered a promising tool for semi-arid agrosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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Open AccessArticle
Interactive Effects of Water and Fertilizer on Yield, Soil Water and Nitrate Dynamics of Young Apple Tree in Semiarid Region of Northwest China
Agronomy 2019, 9(7), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9070360 - 08 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Exploring the interactive effect of water and fertilizer on yield, soil water and nitrate dynamics of young apple tree is of great importance to improve the management of irrigation and fertilization in the apple-growing region of semiarid northwest China. A two-year pot experiment [...] Read more.
Exploring the interactive effect of water and fertilizer on yield, soil water and nitrate dynamics of young apple tree is of great importance to improve the management of irrigation and fertilization in the apple-growing region of semiarid northwest China. A two-year pot experiment was conducted in a mobile rainproof shelter of the water-saving irrigation experimental station in Northwest A&F University, and the investigation evaluated the response of soil water and fertilizer migration, crop water productivity (CWP), irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), partial factor productivity (PFP) of young apple tree to different water and fertilizer regimes (four levels of soil water: 75%–85%, 65%–75%, 55%–65% and 45%–55% of field capacity, designated W1, W2, W3 and W4, respectively; three levels of N-P2O5-K2O fertilizer, 30-30-10, 20-20-10 and 10-10-10 g plant−1, designated F1, F2 and F3, respectively). Results showed that F1W1, F2W1 and F3W1 had the highest average soil water content at 0~90 cm compared with the other treatments. When fertilizer level was fixed, the average soil water content was gradually increased with increasing irrigation amount. For W1, W2, W3 and W4, high levels of water content were mainly distributed at 50~80 cm, 40~70 cm, 30~50 cm and 10~30 cm, respectively. There was no significant difference in soil water content at all fertilizer treatments. However, F1 and F2 significantly increased soil nitrate-N content by 146.3%~246.4% and 75.3%~151.5% compared with F3. The highest yield appeared at F1W1 treatment, but there was little difference between F1W1 and F2W2 treatment. F2W2 treatment decreased yield by 7.5%, but increased IWUE by 11.2% compared with F1W1 treatment. Meanwhile, the highest CWP appeared at F2W2 treatment in the two years. Thus, F2W2 treatment (soil moisture was controlled in 65–75% of field capacity, N-P2O5-K2O were controlled at 20-20-10 g·tree−1) reached the best water and fertilizer coupling mode and it was the optimum combinations of water and fertilizer saving. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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Open AccessArticle
Model Based Study of Crop Evapotranspiration under Canopy Shading
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060334 - 22 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
California has some of the key agricultural regions in the United States. One of these key regions, San Joaquin Valley, frequently experiences severe droughts leading to shortage of irrigation water. This has a significant impact on the agricultural based economy of the region. [...] Read more.
California has some of the key agricultural regions in the United States. One of these key regions, San Joaquin Valley, frequently experiences severe droughts leading to shortage of irrigation water. This has a significant impact on the agricultural based economy of the region. It is imperative to develop new strategies to reduce overall water consumption in agriculture without affecting crop yield. A large fraction of irrigation water is lost due to the evapotranspiration (ET) process in the crops and the soil. The classical Penman-Monteith model has been used in the present work to analyze the effect of different environmental variables and water saving strategies on the ET. Some of the scenarios considered show potential for significant water savings without much reduction in the amount of sunlight available to facilitate crop growth. The central idea considered in this study is the use of canopy shading to cover the crop field resulting in reduction in the ET. Among the strategies considered, the most promising strategy is to partially cover the crop field for a certain part of the day by employing a partially covering retractable canopy. Based on numerical calculations, total reduction in ET is calculated to be 37% from June to August for the partially covering retractable canopy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Soil Macrofauna: A key Factor for Increasing Soil Fertility and Promoting Sustainable Soil Use in Fruit Orchard Agrosystems
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 456; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040456 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
Soils and crops in orchard agrosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change and environmental stresses. In many orchard soils, soil biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are under threat from a range of natural and manmade drivers. In this scenario, sustainable soil [...] Read more.
Soils and crops in orchard agrosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change and environmental stresses. In many orchard soils, soil biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are under threat from a range of natural and manmade drivers. In this scenario, sustainable soil use aimed at increasing soil organic matter (SOM) and SOM-related benefits, in terms of soil quality and fertility, plays a crucial role. The role of soil macrofaunal organisms as colonizers, comminutors and engineers within soils, together with their interactions with microorganisms, can contribute to the long-term sustainability of orchard soils. Indeed, the continuous physical and chemical action of soil fauna significantly affects SOM levels. This review paper is focused on the most advanced and updated research on this argument. The analysis of the literature highlighted that a significant part of soil quality and fertility in sustainably-managed fruit orchard agrosystems is due to the action of soil macrofauna, together with its interaction with decomposing microorganisms. From the general analysis of the data obtained, it emerged that the role of soil macrofauna in orchards agrosystems should be seriously taken into account in land management strategies, focusing not exclusively on fruit yield and quality, but also on soil fertility restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Irrigation Strategies and Soil Management in Orchards)
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