Special Issue "Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andrea Peruzzi
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto, 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: agricultural machinery and farm mechanization; strategies and machines for tillage; planting; crop protection; weed control in sustainable farming systems (organic, integrated and conservative)
Dr. Christian Frasconi
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto, 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: farm machinery; non-chemical weed control; conservation agriculture; machinery for organic, integrated, and conservative management in agriculture
Dr. Daniele Antichi
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: cover crops and green manures; organic farming; sustainable agriculture; conservation agriculture; intercropping; agroforestry; soil fertility; integrated weed management; arable crop production
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable agriculture aims to achieve the goal of food security, also maximising the socio-economic benefits and minimizing environmental drawbacks. Farming systems mostly relying on ecological processes and reduced application of external inputs (fertilizers and pesticides), such as organic farming and integrated farming, can even contribute to the mitigation of global warming and of the desertification of soils. Conservation agriculture (CA) is also widely recognized as a farming system able to preserve soils from erosion and nutrient loss, increase soil organic matter and carbon sink capacity, and improve biological and physical fertility. Nevertheless, CA systems generally rely on the large use of agrochemicals (above all, herbicides and fertilizers) in order to sustain crop production, with negative consequences in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact. This also does not enable an easy transfer of CA techniques into organic and integrated farming systems, a combination that might enhance the environmental benefits of these farming systems.

In this regard, this Special Issue will deal with the "Smart Management of Conservative, Organic, and Integrated Agriculture". We invite experts and researchers to contribute with original researches, reviews, and opinion pieces covering all topics related to organic, integrated, and conservative farming systems. Authors are welcome to submit articles and reviews on the most important aspects of these innovative systems, such as performances of farm machinery and agro-ecological strategies aiming at sustaining crop production whilst reducing the need of agrochemicals.

Prof. Andrea Peruzzi
Dr. Christian Frasconi
Dr. Daniele Antichi
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 papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • organic agriculture
  • conservation agriculture
  • integrated farming
  • environmentally friendly agriculture
  • low-input agriculture
  • farm machinery for physical weed control
  • farm machinery for reduced tillage and direct planting

Published Papers (10 papers)

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

Research

Open AccessArticle
A Technical-Economic Comparison between Conventional Tillage and Conservative Techniques in Paddy-Rice Production Practice in Northern Italy
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120886 - 13 Dec 2019
Abstract
In this study a technical-economic comparison was conducted to compare three different agronomic practices applied to paddy rice cultivation areas in Italy: one based on conventional tillage (CT), and two adopting conservative agriculture approaches, namely minimum tillage (MT) and no-tillage (NT). Data about [...] Read more.
In this study a technical-economic comparison was conducted to compare three different agronomic practices applied to paddy rice cultivation areas in Italy: one based on conventional tillage (CT), and two adopting conservative agriculture approaches, namely minimum tillage (MT) and no-tillage (NT). Data about production inputs (seed, fertilizers, agrochemicals, fuel) and working time were measured for each technique during the whole production season in three experimental fields. The total production costs were computed by adding the mechanization costs, calculated through the ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers) EP (Engineering Practice) 496.3 methodology, and the production input costs. The results of the study highlighted a significant reduction of total costs obtained with both minimum (−16%) and no-tillage (−19%) compared to conventional tillage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Agronomic Performances of Organic Field Vegetables Managed with Conservation Agriculture Techniques: A Study from Central Italy
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 810; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120810 - 27 Nov 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Organic farming systems are considered not compatible with conservation tillage mainly because of the reliance of conservative systems on herbicides. In this three-year field experiment, we tested the performances of an innovative vegetable organic and conservative system (ORG+) combining the use of cover [...] Read more.
Organic farming systems are considered not compatible with conservation tillage mainly because of the reliance of conservative systems on herbicides. In this three-year field experiment, we tested the performances of an innovative vegetable organic and conservative system (ORG+) combining the use of cover crops (exploited as either living or dead mulch) and no-till techniques. This system was compared to “business-as-usual” organic farming (ORG) and integrated farming system (INT) based on the same crop sequence: savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda L. cv. Famosa), spring lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Justine), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill. Cv. Montebianco), and summer lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Ballerina RZ). The results of crop yield parameters and weed abundance contribute to spotlight potentialities and weaknesses of organic-conservative management of field vegetables. In particular, ORG+ caused significant yield depletion for all the crops and revealed suboptimal weed control and N availability. The agroecosystem services provided by the cover crops grown in the ORG+ as dead mulch or living mulch were affected by weather conditions and not always resulted in significant crop gain. Nevertheless, interesting results in terms of P availability and reduced N surplus encourage further development of the system targeting more sustainable organic vegetable production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Processing Tomato–Durum Wheat Rotation under Integrated, Organic and Mulch-Based No-Tillage Organic Systems: Yield, N Balance and N Loss
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 718; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110718 - 06 Nov 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
In a 4-year study, the biannual crop rotation processing tomato–durum wheat was applied to three cropping systems: (i) an innovative organic coupled with no-tillage (ORG+) where an autumn-sown cover crop was terminated by roller-crimping and then followed by the direct transplantation of processing [...] Read more.
In a 4-year study, the biannual crop rotation processing tomato–durum wheat was applied to three cropping systems: (i) an innovative organic coupled with no-tillage (ORG+) where an autumn-sown cover crop was terminated by roller-crimping and then followed by the direct transplantation of processing tomato onto the death-mulch cover; (ii) a traditional organic (ORG) with autumn-sown cover crop that was green manured and followed by processing tomato; and (iii) a conventional integrated low-input (INT) with bare soil during the fall–winter period prior to the processing tomato. N balance, yield and N leaching losses were determined. Innovative cropping techniques such as wheat–faba bean temporary intercropping and the direct transplantation of processing tomato into roll-crimped cover crop biomass were implemented in ORG+; the experiment was aimed at: (i) quantifying the N leaching losses; (ii) assessing the effect of N management on the yield and N utilization; and (iii) comparing the cropping system outputs (yield) in relation to extra-farm N sources (i.e., N coming from organic or synthetic fertilizers acquired from the market) and N losses. The effects of such innovations on important agroecological services such as yield and N recycling were assessed compared to those supplied by the other cropping systems. Independently from the soil management strategy (no till or inversion tillage), cover crops were found to be the key factor for increasing the internal N recycling of the agroecosystems and ORG+ needs a substantial improvement in terms of provisioning services (i.e., yield). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Management of High-Residue Cover Crops in a Conservation Tillage Organic Vegetable On-Farm Setting
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100640 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
A three year on-farm conservation-tillage experiment was initiated in fall of 2008 at Randle Farm LLC, located in Auburn, AL. Our objective was to evaluate and demonstrate implementation of tenable conservation vegetable production practices using high amounts of cover crop residues that reduce [...] Read more.
A three year on-farm conservation-tillage experiment was initiated in fall of 2008 at Randle Farm LLC, located in Auburn, AL. Our objective was to evaluate and demonstrate implementation of tenable conservation vegetable production practices using high amounts of cover crop residues that reduce soil erosion, improve soil productivity and quality, reduce energy costs, and promote farm profitability. Cereal rye, crimson clover, and a rye and crimson clover mixture were evaluated as cover crops; these were terminated using either a prototype two-stage roller/crimper alone or followed by an application of 2.5 L a.i. ha−1 45% cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum L.) oil (cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, eugenol acetate,)/45% clove oil (eugenol, acetyl eugenol, caryophyllene) mixture in the spring prior to crop establishment. A winter fallow conventional tillage system was included for comparison. Watermelons, cantaloupes, and okra then were transplanted into each cover crop and termination treatment combination in mid-May, utilizing a modified transplanter equipped with a custom fitted subsoiling shank and row cleaners to alleviate soil compaction and facilitate transplanting. In all years, all cover crop treatments exceeded 4000 kg ha−1 and in 2009 and 2011, exceeded 6000 kg ha−1. At 21 days after termination in 2010 when the slowest termination occurred, higher termination rates were obtained for cereal rye (95% to 96%) followed by lower termination rates for the clover/rye mixture (83% to 85%); the lowest termination rates were obtained for crimson clover (66% to 68%). Commercially available cinnamon/clove oil solution provided little cover crop termination above that provided by a roller crimper alone. Volumetric soil moisture content for rolled/crimped cover crops was consistently higher compared to the conventional system, indicating that flattened and desiccated cover crop residue provided water conservation. In 2010 and 2011, yields for cantaloupe, okra, and watermelons were consistently higher for the conventional system compared with no-till system with cover crops likely due to weed cultivation limitations and insect pressure. Future studies need to focus on weed control and integrated pest management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Leguminous Alley Cropping Improves the Production, Nutrition, and Yield of Forage Sorghum
Agronomy 2019, 9(10), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9100636 - 14 Oct 2019
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the growth, production, and leaf contents of macronutrients, as well as the yield of forage sorghum cultivated on the alleys of Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.) and Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit) in [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the growth, production, and leaf contents of macronutrients, as well as the yield of forage sorghum cultivated on the alleys of Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp.) and Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit) in the presence and absence of mineral fertilization. The experiment was conducted in two different periods: During the 2016/2017 double crop (cultivation carried out at the end of the crop cycle) and during the 2017/2018 crop (cultivation carried out at the beginning of the crop cycle). A randomized block design, in which the first factor refers to cultivation systems (single sorghum, sorghum cultivated in Gliricidia alleys, and sorghum cultivated in Leucaena alleys) and the second factor refers to mineral fertilization (presence and absence of fertilization), in a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement was used. The leguminous plants were cut, and the residues were deposited in the alleys. The cultivation in alleys without mineral fertilization increased total forage biomass when compared to the single crop cultivation. Cultivation in Leucaena alleys showed a higher leaf content of nitrogen (N) when compared to the single crop, both in the presence and absence of mineral fertilization. In the double crop, sorghum cultivated in Leucaena alleys without fertilization presented a higher forage yield (up to 67%) when compared to the single crop system. However, there was no difference in yield when mineral fertilization was applied to the treatments. Overall, the alley crops were able to increase the morphological (plant height (PH), stem diameter (SD), panicle diameter (PD), and panicle length (PL) and yield (leaf dry mass (LDM), stem dry mass (SDM), total green mass (TGM), and total dry mass TDM) variables of the crop, improving the productivity of forage sorghum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Agronomic Performance of Organic Processing Tomato as Affected by Different Cover Crop Residues Management
Agronomy 2019, 9(9), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9090504 - 01 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
No-till practices reduce soil erosion, conserve soil organic carbon, and enhance soil fertility. Yet, many factors could limit their adoption in organic farming. The present study investigated the effects of tillage and cover cropping on weed biomass, plant growth, yield, and fruit quality [...] Read more.
No-till practices reduce soil erosion, conserve soil organic carbon, and enhance soil fertility. Yet, many factors could limit their adoption in organic farming. The present study investigated the effects of tillage and cover cropping on weed biomass, plant growth, yield, and fruit quality of an organic processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicon L. var. Elba F1) over two seasons (2015–2017). We compared systems where processing tomato was transplanted on i) tilled soil following or not a winter cover crop (Trifolium squarrosum L.) and with/without a biodegradable plastic mulch; and ii) no-till where clover was used, after rolling and flaming, as dead mulch. Tomato in no-till suffered from high weed competition and low soil nitrogen availability leading to lower plant growth, N uptake, and yield components with respect to tilled systems. The total yield in no-till declined to 6.8 and 18.3 t ha−1 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, with at least a 65% decrease compared to tilled clover-based systems. No evidence of growth-limiting soil compaction was noticed but a slightly higher soil resistance was in the no-till topsoil. Tillage and cover crop residues did not significantly change tomato quality (pH, total soluble solids, firmness). The incorporation of clover as green manure was generally more advantageous over no-till. This was partly due to the low performance of the cover crop where improvement may limit the obstacles (i.e., N supply and weed infestation) and enable the implementation of no-till in organic vegetable systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Soil Cultivated with Vegetables in Crop Rotation under Integrated, Organic and Organic Conservation Management in a Mediterranean Environment
Agronomy 2019, 9(8), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9080446 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
A combination of organic and conservation approaches have not been widely tested, neither considering agronomic implications nor the impacts on the environment. Focussing on the effect of agricultural practices on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from soil, the hypothesis of this research is that [...] Read more.
A combination of organic and conservation approaches have not been widely tested, neither considering agronomic implications nor the impacts on the environment. Focussing on the effect of agricultural practices on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from soil, the hypothesis of this research is that the organic conservation system (ORG+) may reduce emissions of N2O, CH4 and CO2 from soil, compared to an integrated farming system (INT) and an organic (ORG) system in a two-year irrigated vegetable crop rotation set up in 2014, in a Mediterranean environment. The crop rotation included: Savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda L. cv. Famosa), spring lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Justine), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill. cv. Montebianco) and summer lettuce (L. sativa cv. Ballerina). Fluxes from soil of N2O, CH4 and CO2 were measured from October 2014 to July 2016 with the flow-through non-steady state chamber technique using a mobile instrument equipped with high precision analysers. Both cumulative and daily N2O emissions were mainly lower in ORG+ than in INT and ORG. All the cropping systems acted as a sink of CH4, with no significant differences among treatments. The ORG and ORG+ systems accounted for higher cumulative and daily CO2 emissions than INT, maybe due to the stimulating effect on soil respiration of organic material (fertilizers/plant biomass) supplied in ORG and ORG+. Overall, the integration of conservation and organic agriculture showed a tendency for higher CO2 emissions and lower N2O emissions than the other treatments, without any clear results on its potential for mitigating GHG emissions from soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Cover Crop Effectiveness Varies in Cover Crop-Based Rotational Tillage Organic Soybean Systems Depending on Species and Environment
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060319 - 18 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Organic farming relies heavily on tillage for weed management, however, intensive soil disturbance can have detrimental impacts on soil quality. Cover crop-based rotational tillage (CCBRT), a practice that reduces the need for tillage and cultivation through the creation of cover crop mulches, has [...] Read more.
Organic farming relies heavily on tillage for weed management, however, intensive soil disturbance can have detrimental impacts on soil quality. Cover crop-based rotational tillage (CCBRT), a practice that reduces the need for tillage and cultivation through the creation of cover crop mulches, has emerged as an alternative weed management practice in organic cropping systems. In this study, CCBRT systems using cereal rye and triticale grain species are evaluated with organic soybean directly seeded into a rolled cover crop. Cover crop biomass, weed biomass, and soybean yields were evaluated to assess the effects of cereal rye and winter triticale cover crops on weed suppression and yields. From 2016 to 2018, trials were conducted at six locations in Wisconsin, USA, and Southern France. While cover crop biomass did not differ among the cereal grain species tested, the use of cereal rye as the cover crop resulted in higher soybean yields (2.7 t ha−1 vs. 2.2 t ha−1) and greater weed suppression, both at soybean emergence (231 vs. 577 kg ha−1 of weed biomass) and just prior to soybean harvest (1178 vs. 1545 kg ha−1). On four out of six sites, cover crop biomass was lower than the reported optimal (<8000 kg ha−1) needed to suppress weeds throughout soybean season. Environmental conditions, in tandem with agronomic decisions (e.g., seeding dates, cultivar, planters, etc.), influenced the ability of the cover crop to suppress weeds regardless of the species used. In a changing climate, future research should focus on establishing flexible decision support tools based on multi-tactic cover crop management to ensure more consistent results with respect to cover crop growth, weed suppression, and crop yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Using Flaming as an Alternative Method to Vine Suckering
Agronomy 2019, 9(3), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9030147 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Suckering is the process of removing the suckers that grapevine trunks put out in the spring. Suckering by hand is costly and time consuming and requires constant bending down, getting up and making repetitive motions. The mechanical removal of suckers with rotating scourges [...] Read more.
Suckering is the process of removing the suckers that grapevine trunks put out in the spring. Suckering by hand is costly and time consuming and requires constant bending down, getting up and making repetitive motions. The mechanical removal of suckers with rotating scourges can damage the vine plants. Chemical suckering is a limiting factor for wine grape growers interested in sustainable and/or organic agriculture. The aim of this research was to test flaming as an alternative method to vine suckering. A three-year experiment was conducted on a 10-year-old Sangiovese vine (775 Paulsen rootstock). The treatments consisted of flame suckering at different phenological stages, hand-suckering and a no-suckered control. Data on the number of suckers, grape yield components, and grape composition were collected and analysed. The results showed that flaming significantly reduced the initial number of suckers. This effect on the suckers was highest when the main productive shoots of the vines were at the 18-19 BBCH growth stage. Flame-suckering did not affect grape yield components and grape composition. Future studies could investigate the simultaneous use of flaming for both suckering and weed control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Economic Evaluation of Biodegradable Plastic Films and Paper Mulches Used in Open-Air Grown Pepper (Capsicum annum L.) Crop
Agronomy 2019, 9(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9010036 - 16 Jan 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Black polyethylene (PE) is the most common mulching material used in horticultural crops in the world but its use represents a very serious environmental problem. Biodegradable films and paper mulches are available alternatives but farmers are reluctant to adopt them because of their [...] Read more.
Black polyethylene (PE) is the most common mulching material used in horticultural crops in the world but its use represents a very serious environmental problem. Biodegradable films and paper mulches are available alternatives but farmers are reluctant to adopt them because of their high market prices. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the economic profitability of eight biodegradable mulching materials available for open-air pepper production. The economic evaluation is based on a four-year trial located in a semi-arid region of Spain. Three scenarios of PE waste management are examined: (i) absence of residues management, (ii) landfill accumulation, and (iii) total recycling. The inclusion of the costs of waste management and recycling under the current Spanish legislation only reduced the final net margin by 0.2%. The results show that an increase in subsidy rates of up to 50.1% on the market price would allow all biodegradable films to be economic alternatives to PE. The study supports the mandatory measures for the farmers to assume the costs of waste management and recycling. Despite savings in field conditioning costs, high market prices of biodegradable materials and papers are not compensated by the current level of subsidies, hampering their adoption in the fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Management of Conservative, Organic and Integrated Agriculture)
Back to TopTop