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Special Issue "Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Katharina Helming

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability assessment; multifunctional land use; soil conservation; landscape synthesis
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Thomas Koellner

Faculty Biology, Chemistry und Geosciences GEO II, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
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Interests: ecosystem services
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Bernd Hansjürgens

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Economics, Leipzig, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: economics of ecosystem services
Guest Editor
Dr. Katrin Daedlow

1. Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany
2. Division Agriculture and Food Policy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability assessment; soil resource management; social-ecological systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role of soil functions for achieving Sustainable Development Goals are multiple. A productivity function is essential for food and biomass provision in support of food security (SDG 2) and energy security (SDG 7); soil carbon sequestration, which is paramount for climate action (SDG 13); and water purification and retention, nutrient and matter cycling, and the habitat function are essential for maintaining ecosystem services (SDG 15). While these soil functions emerge from interactive soil processes, it is soil management that intervenes with soil processes and, thus, determines the functional performance of soils, relative to their geo-biophysical potentials. The key for sustainable soil management is to stimulate soil processes, such that antagonistic effects between functions are minimized and their performances are optimized. In addition to improved soil process knowledge, this requires profound interdisciplinary methods, built on systemic perspectives for the assessment and governance of sustainable soil management. What are the impacts of soil management practices on sustainability targets in specific geophysical and socio-economic contexts? What methodological approaches, indicators and metrics are suitable to assess, inter alia, resource efficiencies, ecosystem services, cost-benefit-rations, and risks to human health? What are the opportunities and risks of current and future soil management technologies with regards to sustainability targets? How can different spatio-temporal settings and spill-over effects be addressed? How can institutional compositions and governance instruments be improved to enable decision makers to take action on sustainable soil management? How can soil management impacts be valued in light of varying normative perspectives and ethical concepts? What roles do stakeholders and their perceptions play for impact valuing of soil management decision making?

This Special Issue welcomes original contributions dealing with methodological improvements and applications for impact assessment and governance of soil management systems from the perspective of sustainable developments. Thematic contributions may include: Farmer perceptions on soil management, metrics and indicators for assessing resource efficiency of soil management, relation between soil functions and ecosystem services, ethical considerations of sustainable soil management, institutional issues, governance instruments and policy analysis.

Prof. Dr. Katharina Helming
Prof. Dr. Thomas Koellner
Prof. Dr. Bernd Hansjürgens
Dr. Katrin Daedlow
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. Sustainability 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 1400 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

  • Sustainability assessment
  • governance
  • soil management
  • soil functions
  • ecosystem services
  • resource efficiency
  • SDGs
  • indicators

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4432; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124432
Received: 5 November 2018 / Accepted: 7 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
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Abstract
The globally increasing demand for food, fiber, and bio-based products interferes with the ability of arable soils to perform their multiple functions and support sustainable development. Sustainable soil management under high production conditions means that soil functions contribute to ecosystem services and biodiversity,
[...] Read more.
The globally increasing demand for food, fiber, and bio-based products interferes with the ability of arable soils to perform their multiple functions and support sustainable development. Sustainable soil management under high production conditions means that soil functions contribute to ecosystem services and biodiversity, natural and economic resources are utilized efficiently, farming remains profitable, and production conditions adhere to ethical and health standards. Research in support of sustainable soil management requires an interdisciplinary approach to three interconnected challenges: (i) understanding the impacts of soil management on soil processes and soil functions; (ii) assessing the sustainability impacts of soil management, taking into account the heterogeneity of geophysical and socioeconomic conditions; and (iii) having a systemic understanding of the driving forces and constraints of farmers’ decision-making on soil management and how governance instruments may, interacting with other driving forces, steer sustainable soil management. The intention of this special issue is to take stock of an emerging interdisciplinary research field addressing the three challenges of sustainable soil management in various geographic settings. In this editorial, we summarize the contributions to the special issue and place them in the context of the state of the art. We conclude with an outline of future research needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Assessing Impacts of Soil Management Measures on Ecosystem Services
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4416; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124416
Received: 17 September 2018 / Revised: 9 November 2018 / Accepted: 19 November 2018 / Published: 26 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (7449 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Only a few studies have quantified and measured ecosystem services (ES) specifically related to soil. To address this gap, we have developed and applied a methodology to assess changes in ecosystem services, based on measured or estimated soil property changes that were stimulated
[...] Read more.
Only a few studies have quantified and measured ecosystem services (ES) specifically related to soil. To address this gap, we have developed and applied a methodology to assess changes in ecosystem services, based on measured or estimated soil property changes that were stimulated by soil management measures (e.g., mulching, terracing, no-till). We applied the ES assessment methodology in 16 case study sites across Europe representing a high diversity of soil threats and land use systems. Various prevention and remediation measures were trialled, and the changes in manageable soil and other natural capital properties were measured and quantified. An Excel tool facilitated data collection, calculation of changes in ecosystem services, and visualization of measured short-term changes and estimated long-term changes at plot level and for the wider area. With this methodology, we were able to successfully collect and compare data on the impact of land management on 15 different ecosystem services from 26 different measures. Overall, the results are positive in terms of the impacts of the trialled measures on ecosystem services, with 18 out of 26 measures having no decrease in any service at the plot level. Although methodological challenges remain, the ES assessment was shown to be a comprehensive evaluation of the impacts of the trialled measures, and also served as an input to a stakeholder valuation of ecosystem services at local and sub-national levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Justifying Soil Protection and Sustainable Soil Management: Creation-Ethical, Legal and Economic Considerations
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3807; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103807
Received: 21 August 2018 / Revised: 8 October 2018 / Accepted: 17 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (218 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fertile soils form an important basis for survival for humans, but also for animals, plants and ecosystems, on which all terrestrial organisms rely. Soil is not only of central importance to the global provision of food and in the fight against hunger; climate,
[...] Read more.
Fertile soils form an important basis for survival for humans, but also for animals, plants and ecosystems, on which all terrestrial organisms rely. Soil is not only of central importance to the global provision of food and in the fight against hunger; climate, biological diversity and water bodies are also highly dependent on soil quality. Soil conservation is therefore a decisive factor in the survival of humanity. Pope Francis also emphasized this in his encyclical “Laudato si’”. However, increasing pressure is being exerted on soils, which poses an enormous challenge to the international community and thus also to the church. Against this background, in this article, which is based on a Memorandum of the German Bishops’ Working Group on Ecological Issues, arguments and justifications for soil protection and sustainable soil management are developed from different angles—from a creation-ethical, a legal, and an economic perspective. All three perspectives point in the same direction, namely that in the use of soils public interests that serve the society and the environment should be given priority over private interests. These arguments may serve as an important reference point in political and societal debates about soils, and may support strategies for sustainable soil management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
Open AccessArticle Applying Soil Health Indicators to Encourage Sustainable Soil Use: The Transition from Scientific Study to Practical Application
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3021; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093021
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
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Abstract
The sustainable management of land for agricultural production has at its core a healthy soil, because this reduces the quantity of external inputs, reduces losses of nutrients to the environment, maximises the number of days when the soil can be worked, and has
[...] Read more.
The sustainable management of land for agricultural production has at its core a healthy soil, because this reduces the quantity of external inputs, reduces losses of nutrients to the environment, maximises the number of days when the soil can be worked, and has a pore structure that maximises both the retention of water in dry weather and drainage of water in wet weather. Soil health encompasses the physical, chemical, and biological features, but the use of biological indicators is the least well advanced. Sustainability also implies the balanced provision of ecosystem services, which can be more difficult to measure than single indicators. We describe how the key components of the soil food web contribute to a healthy soil and give an overview of the increasing number of scientific studies that have examined the use of biological indicators. A case study is made of the ecosystem service of water infiltration, which is quite an undertaking to measure directly, but which can be inferred from earthworm abundance and biodiversity which is relatively easy to measure. This highlights the difficulty of putting any monitoring scheme into practice and we finish by providing the considerations in starting a new soil health monitoring service in the UK and in maintaining biological monitoring in The Netherlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle The ‘Invisible’ Subsoil: An Exploratory View of Societal Acceptance of Subsoil Management in Germany
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3006; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093006
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (552 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Subsoil, commonly defined as horizons below the working depth of 30 cm, has traditionally received little explicit attention in policy discussions on soils. Recently, however, there has been growing recognition among scientists of the issues of subsoil (re-)compaction and of the role of
[...] Read more.
Subsoil, commonly defined as horizons below the working depth of 30 cm, has traditionally received little explicit attention in policy discussions on soils. Recently, however, there has been growing recognition among scientists of the issues of subsoil (re-)compaction and of the role of subsoil as a resource that can offer valuable nutrients and water for plants. Subsoil management could provide an option to sustainably maintain yields in the context of climate change and resource scarcity, and it is a central question in addressing subsoil compaction. Yet how socially acceptable are different methods for subsoil management? Drawing on in-depth interviews with farmers and stakeholders in Germany, we show that biophysical conditions, the timing of operations, economic considerations, and awareness of subsoil functions are key factors in the acceptance of management methods. Views towards methods involving mechanical intervention are more diverse and in some cases more critical because the benefits are not always certain, the costs can outweigh the benefits, and/or because they entail risks for soil structure and functions. Alfalfa cultivation is seen to be beneficial for yields without risks for soil structure and functions; however, economic barriers limit its uptake. Awareness of multiple subsoil functions is associated with more critical views of mechanical interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle A Multi-Data Approach for Spatial Risk Assessment of Topsoil Compaction on Arable Sites
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2915; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082915
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 8 July 2018 / Accepted: 8 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4542 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Soil compaction is a human-induced threat which negatively affects soil functions and is highly dependent on site-specific soil conditions and land use patterns. Proper management techniques are indispensable for sustainable soil protection to ensure its function in the long term. A number of
[...] Read more.
Soil compaction is a human-induced threat which negatively affects soil functions and is highly dependent on site-specific soil conditions and land use patterns. Proper management techniques are indispensable for sustainable soil protection to ensure its function in the long term. A number of concepts exist to develop risk maps on the basis of soil inherent susceptibility to compaction at a given soil moisture level (mostly field capacity). However, the real soil conditions, e.g., current soil moisture content at the time of field work and the real machinery load, are not taken into account. To bridge this gap, we present a multi-data approach for qualitative risk assessment, which combines spatially and temporally explicit data on soil, soil moisture, and land use information. The contributing components integrate daily probability distribution, including inter- and intra-annual variations in land use and weather. We combined soil susceptibility to compaction and field work for the federal state of Lower Saxony per half-months and identified three clusters with more or less compaction risk for Lower Saxony. In spring, mainly manure spreading to maize and in autumn harvesting of maize and sugar beets are contributing to the yearly probability of compaction risk in top soils. With the presented approach risk areas can be identified. For the evaluation of the current compaction risks, farm specifications on machinery and timing of field work must also be taken into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Identifying Gaps between the Legislative Tools of Soil Protection in the EU Member States for a Common European Soil Protection Legislation
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2886; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082886
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 25 June 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (317 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To ensure an adequate level of protection in the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC) adopted the Soil Thematic Strategy in 2006, including a proposal for a Soil Framework Directive (the Directive). However, a minority of Member States (United Kingdom, Germany, France,
[...] Read more.
To ensure an adequate level of protection in the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC) adopted the Soil Thematic Strategy in 2006, including a proposal for a Soil Framework Directive (the Directive). However, a minority of Member States (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Austria, and The Netherlands) could not agree on the text of the proposed Directive. Consequently, the EC decided to withdraw the proposal in 2014. In the more than 10 years that have passed since the initial proposal, a great number of new evidences on soil degradation and its negative consequences, have proved the necessity of a common European soil protection Directive. This study is aimed at specifying the possible obstacles, differences, and gaps in legislature and administration in the countries that formed the blocking minority, which resulted in the refusal of the Directive. The individual legislations of the opposing countries on the matter, were summarized and compared with the goals set by the Directive, in three highlighted aspects: (1) soil-dependent threats, (2) contamination, and (3) sealing. We designed a simple schematic evaluation system to show the basic levels of differences and similarities. We found that the legislative regulations concerning soil-dependent degradation and contamination issues in the above countries were generally well defined, complementary, and thorough. A common European legislation can be based on harmonised approaches between them, focusing on technical implementations. In the aspect of sealing we found recommendations, principles, and good practices rather than binding regulations in the scrutinised countries. Soil sealing is an issue where the proposed Directive’s measures, could have exceeded those of the Member States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
Open AccessArticle Arable Land Tenancy and Soil Quality in Germany: Contesting Theory with Empirics
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2880; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082880
Received: 2 June 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 1 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4293 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Soils are under increasing utilization pressure, and soil governance is an important element to maintain soil functions and prevent the degradation of soil quality. However, scientific studies about soil governance are rare. In this paper, we focus on the governance mechanism of land
[...] Read more.
Soils are under increasing utilization pressure, and soil governance is an important element to maintain soil functions and prevent the degradation of soil quality. However, scientific studies about soil governance are rare. In this paper, we focus on the governance mechanism of land rent. Here, a major theoretical assumption is that landowners have higher incentives to maintain soil quality than leaseholders. By using data for German arable land at the county level, we contrast theoretical assumptions about the relationships between landowners, leaseholders and soil quality with empirical evidence based on correlations between arable land rent prices, rent proportions and yield potential. The main finding is that the empirical data contradict the theoretical assumptions to a large degree, i.e., no clear relationship could be discerned between the three parameters of arable land soil quality, rent price and rent proportion. We discuss possible explanations for the revealed contradictions based on the state of research and highlight the need for future research to better understand the potential of arable land tenancy as a governance mechanism for sustainable soil management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Institutional Economics of Agricultural Soil Ecosystem Services
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2447; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072447
Received: 14 June 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 11 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract
Who owns the soils? What seems to be a straightforward legal issue actually opens up a debate about the ecosystem services that can be derived from soils and the distribution of benefits and responsibilities for sustaining functioning and healthy soils. In particular, agricultural
[...] Read more.
Who owns the soils? What seems to be a straightforward legal issue actually opens up a debate about the ecosystem services that can be derived from soils and the distribution of benefits and responsibilities for sustaining functioning and healthy soils. In particular, agricultural land use may be constrained by a lack of properly defined property rights. Using the new institutional economics perspective, we show that multifunctionality of soils and an attribute-based property rights perspective substantiate the intuition that land property implies special obligations towards the common good. The concept of ecosystem services can illustrate the variety of beneficiaries of multifaceted soil ecosystem services. This allows identification of reasons for unsustainable soil management that result from imperfections in the definition of property rights. We suggest implications for improved governance of agricultural soils using two case studies in the EU context: the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the use of planning instruments to steer agricultural soil use in Germany. Thus, we contribute to achieving the societal goals of more sustainable land use by detecting causes of shortcomings in current land regulation and by suggesting governance approaches to support a more sustainable management of agricultural soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Title “Organic Fertilizers” in Vietnam’s Markets: Nutrient Composition and Efficacy of Their Application
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2437; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072437
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3000 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic fertilizers have recently been gaining popularity; however, their governance is not completely assessed in developing countries. This study investigated the nutrient composition of so-called organic fertilizers in Vietnam’s markets and issues related to their production, and evaluated their potential to contaminate the
[...] Read more.
Organic fertilizers have recently been gaining popularity; however, their governance is not completely assessed in developing countries. This study investigated the nutrient composition of so-called organic fertilizers in Vietnam’s markets and issues related to their production, and evaluated their potential to contaminate the groundwater. We analyzed the physicochemical properties of 12 domestic and four imported products of the fertilizers, and conducted a cultivation experiment in sandy soil with the fertilizer applied at a rate of 200 mg N kg−1 soil using an automatic watering apparatus in a greenhouse. We further studied the production of an “organic fertilizer” from coffee by-products. The nutrient content greatly varied among domestic products, whereas they were quite similar among imported products. The product packaging of the collected samples lacked information regarding raw materials. Two thirds of the domestic products contained over 30% of the total N in the inorganic form, implying that the N content dramatically increased in the fertilizers rather than in their supposed raw materials. The stages involved in the production were composting, the addition of extra soil as a bulking agent, and the mixing-in of chemical substances to increase the nutrient content before packing. The remarkably high ratio of inorganic N to total N was attributed to excessive N leaching from soil by the application of domestic fertilizers. These results suggested the need for quality criteria guidelines for organic fertilizers in Vietnam that underline not only nutrient levels, but also the control of raw materials and production process of compost, because they are closely related to nutrient uptake and the leaching loss of nutrients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessFeature PaperCommunication Exploratory Analysis of the Productivity of Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua) Orchards Conducted under Dry-Farming Conditions
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2250; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072250
Received: 29 May 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2626 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Southern Portugal (Algarve), the occurrence of extreme climatic events has become more limiting to agriculture and forestry productivity. Severe or moderate drought during spring, summer, and autumn is common, with major implications on yield, farmers income, and on a long-term basis, land
[...] Read more.
In Southern Portugal (Algarve), the occurrence of extreme climatic events has become more limiting to agriculture and forestry productivity. Severe or moderate drought during spring, summer, and autumn is common, with major implications on yield, farmers income, and on a long-term basis, land use. Facing this scenario, farmers rely on certain crops in order to obtain a complementary revenue, as an alternative to more intensive and high-demanding farming. One of these crops is carob tree, a multipurpose and industrial fruit tree species very well adapted to dry-farming conditions and very important to the sustainability of these fragile agroecosystems. The aim of this study is to analyse the fruit productivity during 30 years in two mature carob tree orchards grown in two contrasting soils: a fertile, calcareous soil and in a non-fertile soil. Based on this exploratory analysis, the gross income of farmers obtained from fruit selling in the regional market is discussed. Moreover, the possibility of using tree carbon sequestration as an ecosystem service shall be considered as a novel alternative in these depreciated agroecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Soil Fertility Management by Transition Matrices and Crop Rotation: On Spatial and Dynamic Aspects in Programming of Ecosystem Services
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2213; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072213
Received: 14 May 2018 / Revised: 21 June 2018 / Accepted: 26 June 2018 / Published: 28 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1172 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper deals with crop rotation as a method to improve soil fertility and control pests from an economic point of view. It outlines a new framework for modelling of more sustainable decision-making of farmers under the auspices of ecosystem services. It is
[...] Read more.
This paper deals with crop rotation as a method to improve soil fertility and control pests from an economic point of view. It outlines a new framework for modelling of more sustainable decision-making of farmers under the auspices of ecosystem services. It is intended for practical application in extension and farmer communication to show values of rotations referring to natural capital. In the past farmers created complex rotations to benefit from ecological processes which enabled them to control natural pests (at least partly), to build soil fertility on recycling of organics (humus formation), and to promote pollination (including wild bees and other insects) and water retention (diverse water requests of different crops). Farmers which were accommodating cropping orders in small parcels of fields used long lists of crop sequences and offered mixed farming systems: this was a major feature of agriculture. Cropping orders evolved from necessity and were followed as rules. Today we are faced with large fields and monoculture, instead, and ecosystem services are diminished. Usually, attempts to recognize economic pay-offs from rotation through modelling are meagre because of complexity. We address the issue of complexity by suggesting a new flexible type of modelling crop rotations (dynamic optimization) which condenses ecological information into matrices. A newly-hosted transfer matrix shall delineate the impacts of cropping patterns in period t to fertility of land in t + 1. Categorizing different states of nature (which have to be brought in line with farmers’ knowledge of externalities), it can be implemented in models on rotation decision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Land Use, Soil Protection and Phosphorus Management from a Cross-National Perspective
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1988; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061988
Received: 4 May 2018 / Revised: 7 June 2018 / Accepted: 10 June 2018 / Published: 13 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (305 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The scarcity of phosphorus (P) is a global concern that is not restricted to western industrialized nations. Until now, most countries in the world are highly dependent on importing mineral P fertilizers for agriculture. The industrialized nation of Germany, the emerging economy of
[...] Read more.
The scarcity of phosphorus (P) is a global concern that is not restricted to western industrialized nations. Until now, most countries in the world are highly dependent on importing mineral P fertilizers for agriculture. The industrialized nation of Germany, the emerging economy of Costa Rica, and the developing country of Nicaragua are examined with regard to their legislation in the field of environmental protection and agriculture, in particular with regard to soil protection and fertilizer law. Based on the structure of agriculture in each country, control weaknesses in legislation in the individual countries, which is largely determined by command-and-control law, are identified and compared. It becomes clear that soil protection in all three countries has not yet been adequately standardised in law and at the same time the efficient use of organic or recycled P fertilizers instead of (finite) mineral P fertilizers is inadequately regulated. In particular, frugality, i.e., the strategy of lower (and not only more efficient) consumption of P fertilizers, has so far played no regulatory role in land-use governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Benefits of Conservation Agriculture on Soil Functions in Arable Production Systems in Europe
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 794; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030794
Received: 4 December 2017 / Revised: 8 March 2018 / Accepted: 10 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1134 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Conventional farming (CONV) is the norm in European farming, causing adverse effects on some of the five major soil functions, viz. primary productivity, carbon sequestration and regulation, nutrient cycling and provision, water regulation and purification, and habitat for functional and intrinsic biodiversity. Conservation
[...] Read more.
Conventional farming (CONV) is the norm in European farming, causing adverse effects on some of the five major soil functions, viz. primary productivity, carbon sequestration and regulation, nutrient cycling and provision, water regulation and purification, and habitat for functional and intrinsic biodiversity. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an alternative to enhance soil functions. However, there is no analysis of CA benefits on the five soil functions as most studies addressed individual soil functions. The objective was to compare effects of CA and CONV practices on the five soil functions in four major environmental zones (Atlantic North, Pannonian, Continental and Mediterranean North) in Europe by applying expert scoring based on synthesis of existing literature. In each environmental zone, a team of experts scored the five soil functions due to CA and CONV treatments and median scores indicated the overall effects on five soil functions. Across the environmental zones, CONV had overall negative effects on soil functions with a median score of 0.50 whereas CA had overall positive effects with median score ranging from 0.80 to 0.83. The study proposes the need for field-based investigations, policies and subsidy support to benefit from CA adoption to enhance the five soil functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Model Prediction of Secondary Soil Salinization in the Keriya Oasis, Northwest China
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030656
Received: 8 November 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (17274 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Significant anthropogenic and biophysical changes have caused fluctuations in the soil salinization area of the Keriya Oasis in China. The Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) sustainability framework and Bayesian networks (BNs) were used to integrate information from anthropogenic and natural systems to model the trend of
[...] Read more.
Significant anthropogenic and biophysical changes have caused fluctuations in the soil salinization area of the Keriya Oasis in China. The Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) sustainability framework and Bayesian networks (BNs) were used to integrate information from anthropogenic and natural systems to model the trend of secondary soil salinization. The developed model predicted that light salinization (vegetation coverage of around 15–20%, soil salt 5–10 g/kg) of the ecotone will increase in the near term but decelerate slightly in the future, and that farmland salinization will decrease in the near term. This trend is expected to accelerate in the future. Both trends are attributed to decreased water logging, increased groundwater exploitation, and decreased ratio of evaporation/precipitation. In contrast, severe salinization (vegetation coverage of around 2%, soil salt ≥20 g/kg) of the ecotone will increase in the near term. This trend will accelerate in the future because decreased river flow will reduce the flushing of severely salinized soil crust. Anthropogenic factors have negative impacts and natural causes have positive impacts on light salinization of ecotones. In situations involving severe farmland salinization, anthropogenic factors have persistent negative impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessArticle Potential for Conservation Agriculture in the Dry Marginal Zone of Central Syria: A Preliminary Assessment
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020518
Received: 9 December 2017 / Revised: 28 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper reports on early soil related outcomes from conservation agriculture (CA) benchmark sites located within the marginal rainfed environment of agro-ecological zone 4 (annual rainfall: 200–250 mm) in pre-conflict central Syria. The outcomes reported are specifically those that relate to beneficial soil
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This paper reports on early soil related outcomes from conservation agriculture (CA) benchmark sites located within the marginal rainfed environment of agro-ecological zone 4 (annual rainfall: 200–250 mm) in pre-conflict central Syria. The outcomes reported are specifically those that relate to beneficial soil quality and water retention attributes relative to conventional tillage-based soil management practices applied to the fodder barley–livestock system, the dominant system in the zone. On-farm operational research was established to examine the impact of a barley (Hordeum vulgare) and vetch (Vicia sativa) rotation intercropped with atriplex (Atriplex halimus) and salsola (Salsola collina), under CA and conventional tillage agriculture, on the soil quality parameters and crop productivity. Preliminary results showed that CA had a positive effect on the soil quality parameters and crop performance. The soil moisture and hydraulic conductivity were higher under CA (p < 0.05), combined with improved productivity (grain and above-ground biomass) under specific crop mixes. The results suggest that despite the marginal nature of the zone, the use of CA is a viable option for the future of farmers’ livelihoods within similar localities and agro-climates, given the benefits for soil moisture and grain and straw productivity. In addition, it is likely to positively impact those in marginal environments where both pastoralism and agro-pastoralism production systems co-exist and compete for crop biomass as a main source of livestock feed. The increase in grain and straw yields vis-à-vis improvements in biophysical parameters in the CA system relative to tillage agriculture does suggest, however, that the competition with livestock for biomass is likely to reduce over time, and farmers would be able to return increased levels of straw (as stubble and residue) as mulch, given improved biomass yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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Open AccessReview Leverage Points for Governing Agricultural Soils: A Review of Empirical Studies of European Farmers’ Decision-Making
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3179; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093179
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
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Abstract
What drives farmers’ decision-making? To inform effective, efficient, and legitimate governance of agricultural soils, it is important to understand the behaviour of those who manage the fields. This article contributes to the assessment and development of innovative soil governance instruments by outlining a
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What drives farmers’ decision-making? To inform effective, efficient, and legitimate governance of agricultural soils, it is important to understand the behaviour of those who manage the fields. This article contributes to the assessment and development of innovative soil governance instruments by outlining a comprehensive understanding of the determinants of farmers’ behaviour and decision-making. Our analysis synthesises empirical literature from different disciplines spanning the last four decades on various farm-level decision-making problems. Based on a conceptual framework that links objective characteristics of the farm and the farmer with behavioural characteristics, social-institutional environment, economic constraints, and decision characteristics, empirical findings from 87 European studies are presented and discussed. We point out that economic constraints and incentives are very important, but that other factors also have significant effects, in particular pro-environmental attitudes, goodness of fit, and past experience. Conversely, we find mixed results for demographic factors and symbolic capital. A number of potentially highly relevant yet understudied factors for soil governance are identified, including adoption of technologies, advisory services, bureaucratic load, risk aversion and social capital, social norms, and peer orientation. Our results emphasise the importance of a broad behavioural perspective to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and legitimacy of soil governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Governance of Sustainable Soil Management)
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