Special Issue "Analyses and Design of Fruit-Tree Based Agroforestry Systems"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 February 2022) | Viewed by 1372
Interests: agriculture; plants; agroforestry; agronomy; agroecology; sustainable agriculture; organic farming; photosynthesis; crop; plant biology; horticulture
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: plant biology; plant environmental stress physiology; climate change; plant protection; fruit-trees; agroforestry; agroecology; organic farming; system design
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Agroforestry is the simultaneous cultivation of trees and other crops/livestock on the same land. Fruit trees are high-value crops that represent the most used trees in agroforestry systems worldwide. In areas of the world with industrialized agriculture, however, fruit trees are mostly cultivated in monospecific orchards. This specialization is advantageous in terms of mechanization and ease of application of chemicals but has drawbacks such as soil erosion and pollution, reduced soil fertility, low resilience, and increased dependence on external inputs. Specialization also causes loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. There is a need for designing new fruit tree-based agroforestry systems that combine the best of both worlds, maintaining high yield and mechanization while reducing the need for external inputs and promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services, thus reducing economic and environmental costs. This can be achieved by exploiting the synergies between fruit trees and other crop/livestock species that can be combined with trees.
For example, compared to fertilization with chemical inputs, the use of ground covers can reduce soil erosion and increase fertility and biodiversity, allowing grazing and fertilizing by livestock instead of mowing or tilling, thus reducing costs and pollution while generating additional yield and profit. Some crops thrive under the partial shade generated by fruit trees, especially useful in the face of global warming (i.e., climate change adaptation). Fruit trees themselves can benefit from the partial shade of overstory trees: this is well established for tropical crops such as cocoa and coffee, but can be significant also in temperature climates, especially in a climate warming scenario. Winter crops have plenty of light available under deciduous fruit trees, and all crops benefit from tree litter as fertilizer. Increased diversity of agroforestry systems can be functional in reducing the need for pest control in addition to providing other ecosystem services. Increasing yield per unit of land with agroforestry reduces the amount of agricultural land required, with obvious benefits, including reduced emissions due to land use change. Agroforestry practices usually increase soil carbon storage, further contributing to climate change mitigation. While these positive interactions have an increasingly recognized potential to improve farm productivity, resilience, and sustainability, much research is needed to determine the best species combinations and to solve problems arising from the complexity of agroforestry systems. This complexity, especially considering the long crop cycle of trees, requires long and large-scale experimentation. Crop modeling is therefore particularly helpful in screening out possible designs. However, agroforestry modeling is still in its infancy, and models developed for monoculture have not been sufficiently tested under agroforestry conditions, leaving much research to be done. Trees, crops, and livestock genotypes need to be specifically developed for agroforestry systems as current breeds and cultivars have been selected for specialized systems, which have different requirements. For instance, selection for shade tolerance in crops or for livestock breeds that do not damage trees is virtually nonexistent and could improve the performance of new agroforestry systems.
With this Special Issue, we aim to gather details of current research that analyzes, or could aid, the design of fruit tree-based agroforestry systems (including olive orchards and vineyards), covering all aspects from analyses of current modern or remnant traditional systems to developments involving useful fundamental or applied knowledge, and from modeling to field experimentation. Although contributions from temperate climates are encouraged, results from other climates are also welcome if they bring new knowledge applicable to the analyses and design of fruit tree-based agroforestry systems in temperate climates
Dr. Adolfo Rosati
Dr. Pierre-Eric Lauri
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- Fruit tree