Agro-Ecology for Grassland-Based Farming Systems

A topical collection in Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This collection belongs to the section "Grassland and Pasture Science".

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Collection Editor
Grassland Ecosystem Research Unit (UREP), French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
Interests: agricultural and environmental climatology; biogeochemical fluxes; hydro-meteorology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

At the heart of the international debate on the transformation of agri-food systems, agro-ecology attempts to adapt solutions (e.g., the configuration of integrated crop–livestock systems) to local ecological contexts. The application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of agro-ecosystems can improve sustainable agriculture through a better use of existing resources and technologies by finding synergies between plants, soil, climate and management practices. This Special Issue aims to exhibit that changes in the agronomic rationale are possible in the reinvention of farming systems using agro-ecological engineering approaches combining several methods of knowledge production, including analytical (decontextualised) methods such as experimentation and on-farm observations, and holistic (contextualised) methods based on participatory approaches with stakeholders.

Contributions that correspond to the scope of the Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Resilience and regeneration ability of functionally diverse vegetation;
  • Management of natural resources such as soil, water, atmosphere and energy;
  • Maintenance of the ecological harmony of agricultural production;
  • Complementarity effects of plant species diversity (including catch crops) on production;
  • Resource capture strategies of plants (low-input farming and the role of mycorrhizal fungi);
  • Environmental footprint of farming systems;
  • Role of surrounding landscape structures (e.g., hedges, grass strips and ditches).

Methodological contributions, case studies and modelling advances are welcomed, with the aim to (i) highlight the role of plant functional diversity in agroecosystem performance, (ii) assess the complementarity of grasslands with other surfaces to secure agricultural systems, (iii) analyse the links between practices, principles and properties, and (iv) to illustrate and redesign paths in line with agro-ecological trajectories.

Dr. Gianni Bellocchi
Collection Editor

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Keywords

  • agricultural production
  • complementarity effects
  • environmental footprint
  • functional diversity
  • grassland–livestock systems
  • landscape structures
  • low-input farming
  • natural resources
  • resilience and regeneration
  • role of mycorrhizas

Published Papers (5 papers)

2023

Jump to: 2022

11 pages, 952 KiB  
Article
Preliminary Evaluation of Four Legume and Grass Species to Compose Roadside Revegetation in Piauí, Brazil
by Andressa Ribeiro, Ricardo Loiola Edvan, Layne da Silva Vieira, Keurin Terezinha Bezerra Roder, Dhiéssica Morgana Alves Barros, André Pereira Batista, Rodolfo Molinário de Souza, Vanessa Paraguai, Emídio Neves de Moraes and Antonio Carlos Ferraz Filho
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2283; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092283 - 30 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1071
Abstract
A trial was conducted to investigate the growth and production characteristics of four plant species, marking the initiation of research on roadside revegetation processes in the southern region of Piauí state, Brazil. The trial was conducted in greenhouse conditions to evaluate the response [...] Read more.
A trial was conducted to investigate the growth and production characteristics of four plant species, marking the initiation of research on roadside revegetation processes in the southern region of Piauí state, Brazil. The trial was conducted in greenhouse conditions to evaluate the response of the species—two native legumes (Arachis pintoi and Stylosanthes macrocephala) and two grasses (Brachiaria humidicula—non-native and Paspalum notatum—native)—under different fertilization and irrigation treatments. Data were collected in two harvest operations, measuring the following variables: total plant height, population density per pot, number of live leaves, plant moisture content, total forage biomass, and root biomass. The results suggested that fertilization and irrigation caused no significant effect on the major species development characteristics that allay with the highway agency interests. Arachis pintoi showed the best results with the lowest height (24.1 cm in Experiment 1 and 19.2 cm in Experiment 2) and the greatest total forage biomass yield (6.4 g plant−1 in Experiment 1 and 4.1 g plant−1 in Experiment 2). Thus, we recommend that the results found in this study should be extended to field experiments and long-term research. Because our study did not explore mixed-species designs, adopting such evaluation could offer advantages in achieving more comprehensive and resilient revegetation outcomes and help decision-making regarding target species to compose the roadside revegetation operations. Full article
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16 pages, 6222 KiB  
Article
Enhanced Primary Productivity in Fenced Desert Grasslands of China through Mowing and Vegetation Cover Interaction
by Xu Luo, Jianping Li, Yingzhong Xie, Yutao Wang, Jianfei Yu and Xiaoqian Liang
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2029; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082029 - 31 Jul 2023
Viewed by 755
Abstract
To enable grasslands to serve a larger ecological and service role against the backdrop of climate change and human activity, management is essential following long-term fencing. Using desert grassland that had been fenced for 20 years, we conducted experiments on different mowing frequencies [...] Read more.
To enable grasslands to serve a larger ecological and service role against the backdrop of climate change and human activity, management is essential following long-term fencing. Using desert grassland that had been fenced for 20 years, we conducted experiments on different mowing frequencies (once, twice, and three times a year) and different amounts of vegetation coverage (mowing removal, mowing, and in situ mulch; and mowing, in situ mulch, and additional coverage) and control (no mowing, no removal, and no cover). In 2021 and mid-August 2022, the aboveground biomass, species diversity, and vegetation cover of each species were assessed, and the impacts of species complementarity and competition on the productivity of the fenced grassland were examined. Our findings revealed several significant outcomes: (1) Two and three times of mowing per year promoted growth and development of annual or biennial plants and increased species diversity of the community. (2) The interaction impact of mowing and covering two and three times a year was the most important, as it encouraged compensatory development of plants, particularly the dominant species, and increased aboveground biomass of the fenced grassland (p < 0.05). (3) The number of complementary species groups was c. 11% lower for mowing and covering than for mowing removal, indicating that the interspecific relationship for the mowing and covering interaction was dominated by competition, which was more beneficial to the increase in community productivity. (4) Lespedeza potaninii Vass. (which dominated the semi-shrubs) and Agropyron mongolicum Keng (which dominated the tufted grasses) exhibited compensatory growth, which alleviated the change of mowing disturbance and precipitation fluctuation on the productivity of this grassland ecosystem. (5) Adding vegetation cover after mowing positively influenced community production but did not significantly impact litter decomposition. Our research provides data support for the sustainable development of long-term fenced desert grasslands. Full article
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2022

Jump to: 2023

20 pages, 839 KiB  
Article
Impacts of Biochar on Trifolium incarnatum and Lolium multiflorum: Soil Nutrient Retention and Loss in Sandy Loam Amended with Dairy Manure
by Cosette B. Taggart, James P. Muir, Jeff A. Brady, Eunsung Kan, Adam B. Mitchell and Olabiyi Obayomi
Agronomy 2023, 13(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13010026 - 22 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1676
Abstract
Biochar has many potential benefits in agroecosystems such as increasing productivity of crops and modifying soil nutrient content. Biochar is sourced from many waste materials which could easily and sustainably remedy current challenges in concentrated agricultural operations that use manure-based fertilizers. However, relatively [...] Read more.
Biochar has many potential benefits in agroecosystems such as increasing productivity of crops and modifying soil nutrient content. Biochar is sourced from many waste materials which could easily and sustainably remedy current challenges in concentrated agricultural operations that use manure-based fertilizers. However, relatively little is known about its effects on forage species in conjunction with manure or biochar enriched with manure effluent. Our objective was to look at the effect of biochar and dairy effluent soil amendments on a forage legume and a grass. In this study, sandy loam soil was amended with a variety of biochar (BC) in a greenhouse setting. Factors included (1) BC type; (2) BC loading percentage; (3) effluent saturation of BC; and (4) forage inclusion. The study was repeated twice: once with Trifolium incarnatum and once with Lolium multiflorum. Plant material was assayed for biomass (BM) and C and N content. Soil was assayed for nutrient content and micronutrients. Data were not normally distributed and were consequently analyzed for variance using non-parametric methods in R. Overall, T. incarnatum showed a very strong negative (p ≤ 0.05) impact associated with increasing loading percentages of blend and manure BC on herbage BM, while effluent saturation showed no effect (p > 0.05). In contrast, L. multiflorum showed a strong (p ≤ 0.05) positive impact of increasing loading percentages of saturated wood, blend, and manure BC on herbage BM. BC impact on soil nutrients and forage varied greatly depending on type of BC, loading percentage, and forage species included. Results indicated the importance of BC properties and rates, as well as forage species for nutrient tolerances when choosing a BC amendment and loading rate. Full article
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22 pages, 2816 KiB  
Article
Simulation of Multi-Species Plant Communities in Perturbed and Nutrient-Limited Grasslands: Development of the Growth Model ModVege
by Francesca Piseddu, Raphaël Martin, Ermes Movedi, Frédérique Louault, Roberto Confalonieri and Gianni Bellocchi
Agronomy 2022, 12(10), 2468; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12102468 - 11 Oct 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1820
Abstract
Simulating the dynamics of plant species or types in grassland communities remains an open area of research for which the Community Simulation Model (CoSMo) offers novel approaches. The grassland model ModVege was first parameterised based on a functional vegetation typology, in which types [...] Read more.
Simulating the dynamics of plant species or types in grassland communities remains an open area of research for which the Community Simulation Model (CoSMo) offers novel approaches. The grassland model ModVege was first parameterised based on a functional vegetation typology, in which types “A” and “B” include fast-growing grass species with a phenology-dependent nutrient-capture strategy inherent to fertile grasslands, while the nutrient conservation strategy and late flowering characterise the other types as “b”. ModVege was then coupled to the CoSMo rule set to dynamically simulate the relative abundance of plant functional types or individual species, assessed across fertilised and unfertilised, abandoned and mown conditions in a grassland site of the Massif Central of France. While for the simulation of aboveground biomass, model performance is not unambiguously linked to explicit consideration of plant diversity, the simulation of relative abundance for the whole community is satisfactory (relative root mean square error of ~13–25% when simulating functional types and ~28–52% when simulating species). This study extends previous studies by coupling CoSMo, for the first time, to a grassland-specific model and applying it to conditions (long-term observations, extended number of plant species, absence of fertilisation, frequent mowing and abandonment) never investigated before. Full article
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14 pages, 3789 KiB  
Article
Effects of Microbial Fertilizer on Soil Fertility and Alfalfa Rhizosphere Microbiota in Alpine Grassland
by Yangan Zhao, Guangxin Lu, Xin Jin, Yingcheng Wang, Kun Ma, Haijuan Zhang, Huilin Yan and Xueli Zhou
Agronomy 2022, 12(7), 1722; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12071722 - 21 Jul 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2406
Abstract
Chemical fertilizers are gradually being replaced with new biological fertilizers, which can improve the soil and soil microorganisms. In this experiment, leguminous forage (Medicago sativa cv. Beilin 201) was used as the research object. By measuring alfalfa root systems and soil properties [...] Read more.
Chemical fertilizers are gradually being replaced with new biological fertilizers, which can improve the soil and soil microorganisms. In this experiment, leguminous forage (Medicago sativa cv. Beilin 201) was used as the research object. By measuring alfalfa root systems and soil properties and using high-throughput sequencing technology, we investigated the effect of biological (rhizobial) fertilizer at different concentrations on soil fertility and alfalfa rhizosphere microbiota in alpine grasslands. The results demonstrated that the treatment with biofertilizer significantly reduced total nitrogen (TN) and total organic carbon (TOC) content in soils, increased root densities, and significantly increased the number of root nodules in alfalfa. There were differences in the response of rhizosphere microorganisms to different concentrations of biofertilizer, and the treatment with biofertilizer led to pronounced changes in the microbial community structure. The abundance of beneficial bacteria such as Rhizobium, Arthrobacter, and Pseudomonas was significantly increased. The Pearson correlation analysis showed that soil moisture and soil conductivity were significantly positively correlated with the observed richness of rhizosphere microbiota (p < 0.05). Meanwhile, Actinobacteria showed a significantly positive correlation with nitrate, TOC, and TN (p < 0.01). These results indicated that biofertilizers enhanced soil fertility and altered the rhizosphere microbiota of alfalfa in alpine grassland. Full article
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