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Interdisciplinary Research on Soil Sustainable Management in Different Agroecosystems: Management of Agriculture–Ecology–Land-Management-Planning Interactions

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Soil Conservation and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2025 | Viewed by 5014

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Soil and Crop Management, Lithuanian Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry, Instituto al. 1, LT-58344 Akademija, Kėdainiai Distr., Lithuania
Interests: soil cover genesis and structure of natural and agroecosystems; research on soil formation and soil geography; soil profile diagnostics and classification; soil profile morphology and its anthropogenic transformation; development of ecological compensation functions of natural framework in agro-ecosystems; and physical and chemical properties of soil profiles
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Guest Editor
Chemical Research Laboratory, Lithuanian Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry, Instituto al. 1, LT-58344 Akademija, Kėdainiai Distr., Lithuania
Interests: application of modern analytical and bioanalytical methods to investigate the variation in organic matter and its chemical properties; humus fractional composition of the mineral and organic soils as influenced by different agricultural use; management practices, and climate conditions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soil organic matter (SOM) is one of the most important soil components; it ensures the optimal physical and chemical properties of the soil and its high agro-ecological potential. Soil organic matter is a source of soil organic carbon (SOC) and is one of the main factors determining soil productivity. Managing SOC quantity and quality, and, at the same time, soil productivity, is a complex process that requires the ability to coordinate the main soil functions: food and other biomass production; a habitat for biodiversity; an ecological environment; the accumulation, transformation, and transportation of organic and mineral substances; an environment for preserving the history of landscape development; a physical and cultural heritage asset; and a background for economic activity. At the same time, this requires the balancing of agricultural, environmental, social, and economic interests. The question of how to achieve this in order to ensure the sustainability of the environment and the functionality of the created agricultural landscape (agroecosystems) can only be answered through interdisciplinary research, which includes the assessment of the environmental impact of agriculture, environmental protection, land management, and territorial planning measures.

The aim of this Special Issue is to reveal how knowledge from different approaches and scientific fields can contribute to the formation of sustainable agroecosystems and the harmonisation of the interests of different social groups to create ecologically sustainable agriculture.

Suggest themes:

  • The effects of different agrosystems on the physical and chemical properties of soil;
  • The effect of tillage on SOM sustainability and SOC content;
  • The management of mineralisation and humification processes in mineral and organic soils;
  • The planning of ecological landuses by developing ecological compensation functions in the natural framework in different agroecosystems;
  • Applications of land management and spatial planning principles for the development of sustainable agroecosystems;
  • Mapping and modern methods for assessing SOC and soil health;
  • Research on the multifunctionality of bioproduction in agriculture and the development of circular chains.

Dr. Jonas Volungevičius
Dr. Kristina Amalevičiūtė-Volungė
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2400 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

  • tillage
  • agroecology
  • soil organic matter
  • agrosystem
  • agroecosystem
  • sustainable soil management
  • landscape
  • spatial planning
  • humification
  • mineralisation
  • natural framework
  • ecological uses
  • land management
  • circular chains of energy

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 2713 KiB  
Article
Contributions of Different Perennial Grass Species and Their Roots’ Characteristics to Soil Organic Carbon Accumulation
by Aida Skersiene, Alvyra Slepetiene, Vaclovas Stukonis and Egle Norkeviciene
Sustainability 2024, 16(14), 6037; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16146037 - 15 Jul 2024
Viewed by 276
Abstract
Growing perennial grasses is often cited as one of the possible and most affordable solutions for mitigating climate change. This practice is also recommended for sustainable soil management in agriculture. Our experiment involved timothy grass (Phleum pratense L.), red clover (Trifolium [...] Read more.
Growing perennial grasses is often cited as one of the possible and most affordable solutions for mitigating climate change. This practice is also recommended for sustainable soil management in agriculture. Our experiment involved timothy grass (Phleum pratense L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and their mixture; tall oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius L.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), and their mixture, with the aim of diversifying the annual rotation; and periodical, twice-per-season cultivated plots in the same area (the bare soil fallow). Soil samples were collected in late October after plant vegetation’s first, second, and third growth years from three field replicates at the soil layers 0–0.1 m, 0.1–0.2 m, and 0.2–0.3 m and plant roots—at the beginning of November in the second cultivation year. After three years, the SOC content increased in all the study areas occupied by plants, regardless of their species composition, while it decreased in fallow plots. Grass roots were characterized by the highest C/N ratio (38.2 and 45.5). The roots of the red clover–timothy grass mixture also reached a C/N ratio greater than 30. Based on our research, choosing a combination of at least two plants, such as legumes and grasses, is possibly more effective for enriching the soil with carbon compounds in a short period. Full article
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15 pages, 3162 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Management Practices to Prevent Soil Degradation Threats on Lithuanian Acid Soils
by Ieva Mockeviciene, Danute Karcauskiene, Monika Vilkiene, Regina Repsiene, Virginijus Feiza and Otilija Budryte
Sustainability 2024, 16(14), 5869; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16145869 - 10 Jul 2024
Viewed by 338
Abstract
An assessment of soil characteristics pertaining to their suitability for agricultural use in general is necessary to reverse the declining trend of soil quality and to ensure sustainable agriculture. The aim of this study was to determine the soil resistance (SRI) and degradation [...] Read more.
An assessment of soil characteristics pertaining to their suitability for agricultural use in general is necessary to reverse the declining trend of soil quality and to ensure sustainable agriculture. The aim of this study was to determine the soil resistance (SRI) and degradation indices (SDI) under different agrotechniques and to find out whether management-induced changes are large enough to reduce soil degradation. The study was based on the comparison of physicochemical data of 3 long-term experiments conducted in the western part of Lithuania. Changes in soil properties over the past 20 years (1999–2019) have been determined. The most commonly used measures in Lithuania, such as soil liming, manuring, residue maintenance, and tillage, were selected for the analysis. The analysis carried out showed that the soil, which was fertilized with manure, had a higher value of soil quality parameters compared to natural Retisol: organic matter (by 0.53 percentage points), total nitrogen (by 0.04 percentage points), and the available amounts of phosphorus (by 69 mg/kg) and potassium (by 6.6 mg/kg). The assessment of the relative annual change in SOC content revealed that long-term soil manuring has significant SOC sequestration capability. Among the soil management techniques examined, it appeared that the greatest relative annual change (0.47 g kg−1yr−1) in SOC content was noted in manured soil. The results indicate that the higher degradation, and resistance values were observed in acid soil (pH 4.2), where liming was applied, indicating greater sensitivity to degradation. Based on analyzed indices, the agricultural practices ranked as: manuring > residue management > reduced tillage > liming. The lowest SRI values were obtained for low level of nutrients (from −0.11 to 0.89), organic carbon (from −0.72 to −0.49), and pH (from −0.25 to –0.1), indicating that these properties are more sensitive to applied agricultural practices compared to others. All these findings provide information for promoting better soil management, soil protection, land use planning, and the planning of remedial measures, especially in the most afflicted areas. Full article
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20 pages, 8445 KiB  
Article
Advancements in Soil Organic Carbon Mapping and Interpolation Techniques: A Case Study from Lithuania’s Moraine Plains
by Jonas Volungevicius, Renaldas Žydelis and Kristina Amaleviciute-Volunge
Sustainability 2024, 16(12), 5157; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16125157 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 433
Abstract
Monitoring soil organic carbon (SOC) is essential for assessing the sustainability of soil usage. This study explores the spatial variability and mapping of SOC in Lithuania’s Nevėžis Plain using various interpolation methods, with an emphasis on understanding the impacts of soil typological units, [...] Read more.
Monitoring soil organic carbon (SOC) is essential for assessing the sustainability of soil usage. This study explores the spatial variability and mapping of SOC in Lithuania’s Nevėžis Plain using various interpolation methods, with an emphasis on understanding the impacts of soil typological units, moisture regimes, and erosion on SOC distribution. A total of 275 soil samples were collected from agricultural croplands at depths of 0–10 cm, supplemented by 38 samples from previous studies. The SOC map was created based on the contours of the Lithuanian soil geodatabase. Statistical analysis revealed that the distribution of SOC in the studied area was significantly influenced by soil moisture and the degree of erosion. Based on these findings, SOC mapping was conducted according to the contours of Lithuanian soils. Comparing the interpolation methods that were analyzed, it was found that the kriging, RBF, and EBK methods fail to adequately capture the minimum and maximum values of SOC, while the IDW fails to adequately capture only the minimum values. In summary, the integrated geographical approach is complex but applicable to SOC mapping. This method facilitates the creation of adaptable SOC maps that are both geographically and pedologically informed. Key principles to apply this approach for future research and practical application should include establishing a statistically reliable data foundation, categorizing samples based on contrasting soil moisture regime, degrees of erosion, and land use patterns, and developing contouring principles along with a criteria algorithm that enables accurate spatial interpolation of average SOC values. Full article
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13 pages, 2298 KiB  
Article
The Action of Environmental Factors on Carbon Dioxide Efflux per Growing Season and Non-Growing Season
by Mykola Kochiieru, Agnė Veršulienė, Virginijus Feiza, Dalia Feizienė, Kateryna Shatkovska and Irena Deveikytė
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4391; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114391 - 22 May 2024
Viewed by 538
Abstract
The intensity of carbon dioxide can vary depending on land management practices, temperature of the soil, and soil moisture. The soil CO2 efflux per non-growing season was 61% lower than per growing season. The CO2 efflux, averaged across data, tended to [...] Read more.
The intensity of carbon dioxide can vary depending on land management practices, temperature of the soil, and soil moisture. The soil CO2 efflux per non-growing season was 61% lower than per growing season. The CO2 efflux, averaged across data, tended to decrease in the following orders: grassland > forest > no-tillage > reduced tillage > conventional tillage (per non-growing season and measurement period) and grassland > forest > no-tillage > conventional tillage > reduced tillage (per growing season). Soil temperature averaged; in the natural land uses, it was 18% lower than in the anthropogenic land uses. Soil temperature averaged; in the non-growing season, it was 55% lower than under the growing season. The temperature (up to 25 °C) increased the soil CO2 efflux per measurement period. By increasing the temperature in the soil, the soil efflux decreased in natural land use under growing season, but in anthropogenic land use, it increased per measurement period. The volumetric water content averaged; in the non-growing season, it was 3% lower than under the growing season. The volumetric water content had a positive effect on CO2 efflux, but when the water content was higher than 15% in anthropogenic land use, and 20% in natural land use per growing season, the relationships were negative. Full article
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18 pages, 3876 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Cropping Systems and Tillage Intensity on Soil CO2 Exchange Rate
by Agnė Buivydienė, Irena Deveikytė, Agnė Veršulienė and Virginijus Feiza
Sustainability 2024, 16(9), 3591; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16093591 - 25 Apr 2024
Viewed by 847
Abstract
In order to control the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, it is necessary to select the appropriate crop rotation and tillage intensity depending on the soil type and climatic conditions. However, their implementation in agricultural management methods has been insufficient until [...] Read more.
In order to control the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, it is necessary to select the appropriate crop rotation and tillage intensity depending on the soil type and climatic conditions. However, their implementation in agricultural management methods has been insufficient until now. The main objective of this study was to investigate the changes and dependences in soil net CO2 exchange rate (NCER) and main physico-chemical parameters under different tillage (conventional (CT) and no tillage (NT)) and crop rotation systems. Cropping systems significantly affected the amount of nutrients, but did not affect pH and organic carbon; otherwise, tillage vs. cropping systems had no significant effects on the soil chemical parameters analyzed. The data revealed that in NT treatments, the NCER was 28% higher than in CT. Different crop rotations also revealed a significant effect on NCER from the soil. Carbon dioxide fluxes increased in cropping systems where a higher share of catch crops were included. In NT systems, a comparatively higher soil moisture content was registered. In addition, the rotations with catch crops produced a higher (by 1–3%) soil moisture content. The temperature of the soil surface was not significantly affected by tillage or cropping systems; nevertheless, a trend towards higher soil surface temperatures in CT was determined, which might be affected by enhanced air circulation in the pores. Soil NCER increase correlated negatively with higher soil surface moisture content, while its relationship was positive with soil surface temperature increase. In general, soil surface temperature and moisture were the most significant factors in explaining the fluctuation in NCER from Cambisols in Lithuania under moderate climatic conditions. Full article
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15 pages, 4489 KiB  
Article
Influence of the Long-Term Application of Management Practices (Tillage, Cover Crop and Glyphosate) on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Physical Properties
by Modupe Olufemi Doyeni, Skaidre Suproniene, Agne Versuliene, Loreta Meskauskiene and Grazina Kadziene
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2859; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072859 - 29 Mar 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 904
Abstract
Soil treatments have a significant influence on the agricultural and environmental productivity of agricultural practices. Arable lands are one of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that are influenced by the chemical and physical properties of the soil and are an essential [...] Read more.
Soil treatments have a significant influence on the agricultural and environmental productivity of agricultural practices. Arable lands are one of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that are influenced by the chemical and physical properties of the soil and are an essential contributor to climate change. We aim to evaluate the long-term management of agricultural practices, such as different tillage systems, cover crops, and glyphosate, on GHG emissions and soil physical properties. The field trial involved three tillage systems (conventional tillage (CT), reduced tillage (RT), and no-tillage (NT)), along with variations in cover cropping (with and without cover crops) and glyphosate application (with and without glyphosate). These treatments were implemented during the cultivation of oilseed rape in 2022 as part of a cropping sequence consisting of five crops: winter wheat; winter oilseed rape; spring wheat; spring barley; and field pea. Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O)) were directly measured using a closed static chamber system. Through the examination of these management techniques, the soil’s physical properties over the studied period were assessed for their impact on GHG fluxes. The findings of the study reveal that N2O emissions were relatively low during the first month of measurement, with significant differences (p < 0.05) observed in the interaction between cover crop and glyphosate treatments. Additionally, N2O emissions were notably elevated in the reduced (0.079 µg m−2 h−1) and conventional tillage (0.097 µg m−2 h−1) treatments at the second month of measurement. Regarding CH4, increased emissions were observed in the reduced tillage and cover crop treatments. CO2 emissions exhibited variability across all of the investigated treatments. Notably, GHG fluxes spiked at the second measurement, signifying the maximum uptake of nutrients by the main plants during the growth phase. Greenhouse gas emissions leveled off across all of the treatments following the harvest, marking the end of the cultivation period. The influence of the deployed techniques varied across the determined physical parameters of the soil. The incorporation of cover crops contributed to improved water content and, further, to electrical conductivity. Glyphosate use showed no direct impact on physical properties of the soil while the different tillage treatments had varying effects on the distribution of the physical properties of the soil with respect to the degree of disturbance or tillage-induced changes. Additionally, GHG emissions were strongly correlated with precipitation at one week and two weeks before sampling, except for CO2, which showed a weaker correlation at two weeks before GHG sampling. The findings indicate that reduced and conventional tillage methods might adversely affect greenhouse gas emissions and plant functionality, particularly concerning nutrient release and uptake, especially in temperate climate conditions. Full article
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17 pages, 3918 KiB  
Article
Contribution of the Soil Macro- and Microstructure to Organic Matter Stabilisation in Natural and Post-Mining/Industrial Soils under Temperate Climatic Conditions
by Messias de Carvalho, Krystyna Ciarkowska and Leszek Wojnar
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2747; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072747 - 26 Mar 2024
Viewed by 438
Abstract
The soil organic matter (SOM) content and stability in natural gypsum soils and mining/industrial soils were compared to check the effects of selected soil properties (mainly macro- and microstructure) on SOM stability and determine whether the old brownfield soils regardless of being highly [...] Read more.
The soil organic matter (SOM) content and stability in natural gypsum soils and mining/industrial soils were compared to check the effects of selected soil properties (mainly macro- and microstructure) on SOM stability and determine whether the old brownfield soils regardless of being highly polluted with trace metals could store high amounts of SOM. The mining/industrial soils were 50–400 years old and so had been left sufficiently long for full self-restoration. Despite having very different origins, both natural and brownfield soils stored similar amounts of SOM and had similar pH values, calcium carbonate contents, and textures but differed in SOM stabilisation, which was expressed by higher C/N ratios, lower aggregate water resistance index, lower dehydrogenase activity, and greater areas of undecomposed or slightly decomposed plant residues in mining/industrial soils compared to gypsum ones. However, the differences diminished with time, and in the oldest (150–400 years) brownfield soils, these parameters were similar to those in natural soils. Multiple regression analysis indicated that under the study conditions, SOM amounts, besides CaCO3 contents and dehydrogenase activity were also strongly affected by porosity and microaggregation. In the research we showed the role of degraded soils in the sustainable use of the environment. Full article
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13 pages, 4227 KiB  
Article
The Effects of the Interaction of Pesticides with Humin Fraction as Influencing the Sustainable Development of Agroecosystems
by Lilla Mielnik, Jerzy Weber, Aleksandra Ukalska-Jaruga, Romualda Bejger, Maria Jerzykiewicz, Andrzej Kocowicz, Irmina Ćwieląg-Piasecka, Elżbieta Jamroz, Magdalena Debicka and Jakub Bekier
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 1983; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16051983 - 28 Feb 2024
Viewed by 679
Abstract
Humin (HUM) is the most stable fraction of the soil organic matter, whose properties determine the soil health and sustainable development of agroecosystems. The aim of the paper was to determine changes in the properties of the HUM after interaction with selected pesticides, [...] Read more.
Humin (HUM) is the most stable fraction of the soil organic matter, whose properties determine the soil health and sustainable development of agroecosystems. The aim of the paper was to determine changes in the properties of the HUM after interaction with selected pesticides, which can be visualized using photoluminescence methods. The HUM was isolated from the mollic horizon of Phaeozems arable soils derived from different parent materials in Poland. The isolated and purified HUM were saturated in a batch experiment with selected herbicides and insecticides, then analyzed for chemical composition and spectroscopic properties: Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, fluorescence, and delayed luminescence. The research showed that the interaction of the HUM with selected pesticides caused significant changes in the elemental composition of the HUM; however, no changes in their aromaticity/aliphaticity were found. The impact of pesticides was also marked by a reduction in the concentration of radicals, fluorescence and delayed luminescence intensity and properties. Changes in spectroscopic characteristics and their relationship with soil organic matter (SOM) structure properties require further research so that their results can be used in the management of agroecosystems in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Full article
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