Special Issue "Sustainable Soil Health Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Zakaria Solaiman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Interests: biochar; compost; soil health; mycorrhizal symbiosis; soil contaminants; medicinal plants; agronomy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the opening of a new Special Issue focused on sustainable soil health management for quality crop production and environmental sustainability. Sustainable soil health management includes the application of inorganic and organic soil amendments, biostimulants, microbial inoculants, and environment-friendly agricultural practices. Besides covering these sustainable management practices, other areas that will be covered include the use of new crops such as medicinal plants, soil contaminants management, soil water management for dried environments, management of biodiversity, and economic assessment. Papers will be selected for this Special Issue subject to a rigorous peer-review procedure with the aim of the rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Therefore, this Special Issue will publish papers highlighting the significance of agricultural practices, including inputs for sustainable management of soil health, crop productivity, and conservation of the environment. This Special Issue invites papers from researchers and academics of any discipline of agriculture and environment that focus on soil health management for sustainable crop production and environment.

Dr. Zakaria Solaiman
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Biostimulants
  • Fertilizer inputs
  • Microbial inoculants
  • Soil contaminants
  • Organic amendments

Published Papers (23 papers)

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Research

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Article
Forage Species Identity Shapes Soil Biota in a Temperate Agroecosystem
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105689 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 263
Abstract
Increasing plant diversity in the perennial phase of pasture-crop rotations is predicted to positively affect belowground productivity and microbial communities and, in turn, augment belowground agroecosystem services including soil health and carbon storage. Using two grass and one legume forage species grown as [...] Read more.
Increasing plant diversity in the perennial phase of pasture-crop rotations is predicted to positively affect belowground productivity and microbial communities and, in turn, augment belowground agroecosystem services including soil health and carbon storage. Using two grass and one legume forage species grown as monocultures and combined in four intercropped combinations, we evaluated how species identity and richness influence belowground productivity, soil microbial communities, and soil C pools. Though grass-legume intercrops demonstrated higher aboveground productivity than component species grown in monoculture, higher species richness was not associated with increased productivity belowground. Root biomass was greatest in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) monoculture, and intercrops including this species. Species identity was similarly associated with soil microbial community attributes. Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) monoculture exhibited lower total microbial abundance and lower bacterial abundance than grass-legume intercrops. Bacterial abundance was also lower in orchardgrass compared to white clover (Trifolium repens L.) monoculture. A common indictor of soil function, the fungal:bacterial ratio, was higher in grass-only than clover-only stands. The prevalence of species-specific impacts on roots and microbial communities in this study suggests that species identity may have a stronger influence than species richness on belowground agroecosystem services from perennial forages in temperate regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Analysis of Heavy Metal Content in Soil and Plants in the Dumping Ground of Magnesite Mining Factory Jelšava-Lubeník (Slovakia)
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4508; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084508 - 18 Apr 2021
Viewed by 338
Abstract
A high content of heavy metals in the soil and plants of a magnesite mining area might cause serious damage to the environment and can be a threat to the health of the surrounding population. This paper presents the results of research that [...] Read more.
A high content of heavy metals in the soil and plants of a magnesite mining area might cause serious damage to the environment and can be a threat to the health of the surrounding population. This paper presents the results of research that focused on analyzing the heavy metal content in soil and plants in the dumping grounds of the magnesite mining factory Jelšava-Lubeník (Slovakia). The analysis focused on the content of heavy metals in soil (X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, atomic absorption spectrometry), in plants (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry), and pH (1M KCl solution). The results showed that the soil in the study area was slightly acidic to strongly alkaline and the content of Cr, As, Mn, and Mg exceeded by several times the limit values for the Slovak Republic. The results of the hierarchical cluster analysis and the correlation analysis show that the grouped metals come from the same sources of pollution. The content of heavy metals in plants was high and the highest concentration was found in the roots of Elytrigia repens > Agrostis stolonifera > Phragmites australis and flowers of Phragmites australis. The findings confirmed the suitability of the used plants in the process of phytoextraction and phytostabilization. The acquired knowledge can help in planning and realization remediation measures and improve the state of the environment in areas exposed to magnesite mining. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Corn Stover Removal Responses on Soil Test P and K Levels in Coastal Plain Ultisols
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4401; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084401 - 15 Apr 2021
Viewed by 314
Abstract
Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is used as a biofuel feedstock in the U.S. Selection of stover harvest rates for soils is problematic, however, because excessive stover removal may have consequences on plant available P and K concentrations. Our objective was to [...] Read more.
Corn (Zea mays L.) stover is used as a biofuel feedstock in the U.S. Selection of stover harvest rates for soils is problematic, however, because excessive stover removal may have consequences on plant available P and K concentrations. Our objective was to quantify stover harvest impacts on topsoil P and K contents in the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain Ultisols. Five stover harvest rates (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100% by wt) were removed for five years from replicated plots. Grain and stover mass with P and K concentration data were used to calculate nutrient removal. Mehlich 1 (M1)-extractable P and K concentrations were used to monitor changes within the soils. Grain alone removed 13–15 kg ha−1 P and 15–18 kg ha−1 K each year, resulting in a cumulative removal of 70 and 85 kg ha−1 or 77 and 37% of the P and K fertilizer application, respectively. Harvesting stover increased nutrient removal such that when combined with grain removed, a cumulative total of 95% of the applied P and 126% of fertilizer K were taken away. This caused M1 P and K levels to decline significantly in the first year and even with annual fertilization to remain relatively static thereafter. For these Ultisols, we conclude that P and K fertilizer recommendations should be fine-tuned for P and K removed with grain and stover harvesting and that stover harvest of >50% by weight will significantly decrease soil test M1 P and K contents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Influence of Treated Wastewater Irrigation on Soil Nutritional-Chemical Attributes Using Soil Quality Index
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1952; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041952 - 11 Feb 2021
Viewed by 473
Abstract
Dwindling water resources have drawn global attention to the reuse of treated wastewater (TWW) for irrigation. However, the impact of continuous TWW applications on soil quality and the proper quantification and monitoring frameworks have not been well-understood. This study aims to provides an [...] Read more.
Dwindling water resources have drawn global attention to the reuse of treated wastewater (TWW) for irrigation. However, the impact of continuous TWW applications on soil quality and the proper quantification and monitoring frameworks have not been well-understood. This study aims to provides an insight into the impact of flood irrigation of urban TWW on soil nutritional-chemical attributes and the potential application of multiple soil quality indices for a corn cropping system. To achieve that goal, we pursued the Total Data Set (TDS) and Minimum Data Set (MDS) approaches, as well as the Integrated Quality Index (IQI) and Nemoro Quality Index (NQI) models. A total of 17 soil nutritional-chemical indicators (0–50 cm depths) were determined for the soils irrigated with TWW (five sites) and well water (one site as control) in West Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran. Results revealed a significant difference in the majority of soil nutritional-chemical attributes, IQI-TDS, NQI-TDS, IQI-MDS, NQI-MDS, and corn yield between the TWW-irrigated and well-irrigated soils. Irrigation with TWW resulted in a significant increase in the amount of organic matter and cation exchange capacity by 9–17% and 17–26%, respectively, macronutrients (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) by 22–164%, and the majority of trace metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, and Cu) by 17–175%, suggesting an improvement in soil nutrients and an increase in productivity. Comparing to the soil in control sites, the TWW irrigation caused a notable increase in the values of IQI-TDS, NQI-TDS, IQI-MDS, and NQI-MDS models ranging 14.6–29.5%, 19.1–25.5%, 21.7–33.3%, and 18.4–23.7%, respectively. This implies that soil quality was ameliorated to a significant extent with TWW irrigation. These improvements resulted in a remarkable increase in corn yield ranging from 12.5% to 28.1%. The regression equations revealed that up to 78%, 47%, 72%, and 36% of the variance in the IQI-TDS, NQI-TDS, IQI-MDS, and NQI-MDS models, respectively, could be captured by corn yield. The results of the regression and correlation analyses showed that the IQI-MDS model was more accurate than the other models in assessing soil quality and predicting crop yield. These findings may be an effective and practical tool for policy making, implementation, and management of soil irrigated with TWW. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Dynamics of Soil Organic Carbon and Labile Carbon Fractions in Soil Aggregates Affected by Different Tillage Managements
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1541; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031541 - 01 Feb 2021
Viewed by 674
Abstract
Our study aimed to provide a scientific basis for an appropriate tillage management of wheat-maize rotation system, which is beneficial to the sustainable development of agriculture in the fluvo-aquic soil areas in China. Four tillage treatments were investigated after maize harvest, including rotary [...] Read more.
Our study aimed to provide a scientific basis for an appropriate tillage management of wheat-maize rotation system, which is beneficial to the sustainable development of agriculture in the fluvo-aquic soil areas in China. Four tillage treatments were investigated after maize harvest, including rotary tillage with straw returning (RT), deep ploughing with straw returning (DP), subsoiling with straw returning (SS), and no tillage with straw mulching (NT). We evaluated soil organic carbon (SOC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), and particulate organic carbon (POC) in bulk soil and soil aggregates with five particle sizes (>5 mm, 5–2 mm, 2–1 mm, 1–0.25 mm, and <0.25 mm) under different tillage managements. Results showed that compared with RT treatment, NT treatment not only increased soil aggregate stability, but also enhanced SOC, DOC, and POC contents, especially those in large size macroaggregates. DP treatment also showed positive effects on soil aggregate stability and labile carbon fractions (DOC and POXC). Consequently, we suggest that no tillage or deep ploughing, rather than rotary tillage, could be better tillage management considering carbon storage. Meanwhile, we implied that mass fractal dimension (Dm) and POXC could be effective indicators of soil quality, as affected by tillage managements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Nutrient Enriched Municipal Solid Waste Compost Increases Yield, Nutrient Content and Balance in Rice
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031047 - 20 Jan 2021
Viewed by 405
Abstract
Globally a huge amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) is being produced which is very difficult to dispose. Composting of MSW is one of the options of solid waste recycling, but its use by the farmers is limited because of its low nutrient [...] Read more.
Globally a huge amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) is being produced which is very difficult to dispose. Composting of MSW is one of the options of solid waste recycling, but its use by the farmers is limited because of its low nutrient status. This study has considered some organic amendments to increase nutrient status of MSW compost for its potential use as an organic fertilizer in rice cultivation. We prepared three types of amended compost by mixing 20% mustard oil cake (MOC) and 30% poultry manure (PM) or cow dung (CD) or sugarcane press mud (SPM) with 50% MSW compost. The inoculum of Trichoderma viride was used to accelerate the composting process. The use of different amendments improved the nutrient level of MSW compost. A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the performances of amended MSW composts alone and in combination with chemical fertilizers on yield, nutrient content and balance in rice (var. BRRI dhan28). The experiment was conducted in 2018 at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) farm, Mymensingh having silt loam texture, pH in water of 6.7 and 2.79% organic matter; the soil was Aeric Haplaquept under the order Inceptisols. There were 10 treatments consisting of chemical fertilizers (urea, triple superphosphate, muriate of potash, gypsum and zinc sulphate) and four types of MSW compost (three amended and one unamended). Based on the results of yield and N, P, K and S concentration of rice grain, the treatment containing 50% fertilizers +10 t ha−1 of amended compost (MSW + MOC + SPM in a ratio of 5:2:3) performed the best. There were apparent negative balances for N (11–45 kg ha−1) and K (6–48 kg ha−1), and positive balances for P (8–71 kg ha−1) and S (4–46 kg ha−1) in soils, across the treatments. Results of this study have significant value in fertilizer management strategies for rice cultivation in sub-tropical countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Assessing the Effects of Nitrification Inhibitor DMPP on Acidification and Inorganic N Leaching Loss from Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) Cultivated Soils with Increasing Urea–N Rates
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 994; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020994 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 469
Abstract
The effects of nitrification inhibitor in tea gardens with different urea–N rates have rarely been assessed. For eight months, a glasshouse experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of a nitrification inhibitor (3, 4–dimethylpyrazole phosphate, DMPP) on the changes of soil pH and [...] Read more.
The effects of nitrification inhibitor in tea gardens with different urea–N rates have rarely been assessed. For eight months, a glasshouse experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of a nitrification inhibitor (3, 4–dimethylpyrazole phosphate, DMPP) on the changes of soil pH and inorganic N loss. Urea (0, 300, 500, and 800 kg N ha−1) with or without DMPP (1% of urea–N applied) were added to pots that hosted six plants that were three years old. Next, three leaching events were conducted with 600 mL of water after 7, 35, and 71 days of intervention while soil samples were collected to determine pH and inorganic N. Averaged across sampling dates, urea–N application at an increasing rate reduced soil pH with the lowest values at 800 kg urea–N ha−1. Adding DMPP increased soil pH up to a rate of 500 kg ha−1. Irrespective of the addition of DMPP, gradient urea–N application increased the leaching loss of inorganic N. On overage, DMPP increased soil pH and decreased leaching losses of total inorganic N, suggesting a higher soil N retention. Therefore, we believe that this increase in soil pH is associated with a relatively lower proton release from the reduced nitrification in the DMPP–receiving pots. This nitrification reduction also contributed to the N loss reduction (NO3–N). Altogether, our results suggest that DMPP can reduce N leaching loss while maintaining the pH of tea–cultivated soils. Therefore, DMPP application has a significant potential for the sustainable N management of tea gardens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Production of Organic Fertilizers from Rocket Seed (Eruca Sativa L.), Chicken Peat and Moringa Oleifera Leaves for Growing Linseed under Water Deficit Stress
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010059 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
Linseed is an important industrial crop cultivated for its edible seeds and fiber linen. Organic fertilizers have beneficial effects on soil properties and quality of crops. Therefore, we conducted two field experiments during 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 to determine the effect of organic fertilizers [...] Read more.
Linseed is an important industrial crop cultivated for its edible seeds and fiber linen. Organic fertilizers have beneficial effects on soil properties and quality of crops. Therefore, we conducted two field experiments during 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 to determine the effect of organic fertilizers on soil fertility, yield and fiber quality of linseed varieties Roshni, BL1 and Chandni under low soil moisture conditions. We prepared organic fertilizers from seed cake of Eruca sativa, leaves of Moringa oleifera and chicken peat in various combinations by composting method. The various formulations of organic fertilizers included OF1(1 kg seed cake of Eruca sativa), OF2 (1 kg seed cake of Eruca sativa + 1 kg chicken peat), OF3 (1 kg seed cake of Eruca sativa + 0.5 kg chicken peat + 0.25 kg Moringa oliefera leaves) and OF4 (1 kg seed cake of Eruca sativa + 0.250 kg chicken peat + 0.5 kg Moringa oliefera leaves). Compositional analysis of organic fertilizers indicated that OF3 and OF4 had higher and may potentially sufficient quantities of NPK and organic matter. Both of these fertilizers significantly improved soil total N, available P, K, Zn and Fe contents. Growth response of linseed varieties to organic fertilizers was evaluated under water deficit stress (40% field capacity of soil) at tillering stage for one month. Water stress had significantly adverse effects on plant height, production of tillers per plant, leaf relative water content (LRWC), number of capsules per plant, thousand seed weight, total seed yield, straw yield, fiber length and fiber weight of linseed varieties. However, the application of OF3 and OF4 significantly enhanced plant height, tillers production, LRWC, seed yield, straw yield, fiber length and fiber weight under water deficit stress. Water deficit stress also resulted in a significant increase in the content of phenolics of both the leaves and roots. For each measured quality parameter of linseed varieties, organic fertilizer treatments resulted in higher values than untreated and irrigated control. We concluded that organic fertilizers particularly OF3 and OF4 significantly improved soil fertility and minimized negative effect of water deficit stress on plant height, tillers production, LRWC, seed yield, straw yield, fiber length and fiber weight of linseed varieties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Soil Organic Carbon and Labile Carbon Pools Attributed by Tillage, Crop Residue and Crop Rotation Management in Sweet Sorghum Cropping System
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9782; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229782 - 23 Nov 2020
Viewed by 510
Abstract
Labile organic carbon (LOC) fractions are considered as sensitive indicators of change in soil quality and can serve as proxies for soil organic carbon (SOC). Although the impact of tillage, crop rotation and crop residue management on soil quality is well known, less [...] Read more.
Labile organic carbon (LOC) fractions are considered as sensitive indicators of change in soil quality and can serve as proxies for soil organic carbon (SOC). Although the impact of tillage, crop rotation and crop residue management on soil quality is well known, less is known about LOC and SOC dynamics in the sweet sorghum production systems in South Africa. This short-term study tested two tillage levels: no-till and conventional-tillage, two crop rotations: sweet-sorghum/winter grazing vetch/sweet sorghum and sweet-sorghum/winter fallow/sweet sorghum rotations and three crop residue retention levels: 30%, 15% and 0%. Tillage was the main factor to influence SOC and LOC fractions under the sweet sorghum cropping system in South Africa. NT increased SOC and all LOC fractions compared to CT, which concurs with previous findings. Cold water extractable organic carbon (CWEOC) and hot water extractable organic carbon (HWEOC) were found to be more sensitive to tillage and strongly positively correlated to SOC. An increase in residue retention led to an increase in microbial biomass carbon (MBC). This study concludes that CWEOC and HWEOC can serve as sensitive early indicators of change in soil quality and are an ideal proxy for SOC in the sweet-sorghum cropping system in South Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Formulation of Biochar-Based Phosphorus Fertilizer and Its Impact on Both Soil Properties and Chickpea Growth Performance
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9528; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229528 - 16 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
There is no alternative to phosphorus (P) in agriculture as it is second most important plant nutrient after nitrogen. Mineral P fertilizers are derived from rock phosphate (RP) which is finite, non-renewable and geographically restricted to a few countries, thus its shortage likely [...] Read more.
There is no alternative to phosphorus (P) in agriculture as it is second most important plant nutrient after nitrogen. Mineral P fertilizers are derived from rock phosphate (RP) which is finite, non-renewable and geographically restricted to a few countries, thus its shortage likely affects agriculture in near future as the world population is growing at a greater pace. This could increase P inputs in agriculture in order to meet rising food demands which may result in the depletion of RP reserves. Furthermore, P losses from farmlands in case of mineral P fertilizers also demands the sustainable use of P not only because of its finite resources but also the environmental concerns associated with P fertilization such as eutrophication. The present study was designed to formulate biochar-based P fertilizer that would help in the sustainable use of P fertilizer. Biochar(s) were prepared using wheat straw at 350–400 °C pyrolytic temperature followed by enrichment with Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) taking into account all possible combination of DAP to biochar on the w/w basis (0:100, 25:75, 50:50, 75:25 and 100:0). Enrichment was carried out using two different methods i.e., phosphorus enriched biochar (PEB1) by hot method and cold method (PEB2). An incubation experiment was performed to assess the impact of each biochar on selected properties of soil. The treatments were organized in factorial arrangement under complete randomized design (CRD) with three replications. Both the amendments were applied at rate of 1% of dry soil on a w/w basis. A significant increase in soil extractable P and total nitrogen (N) was recorded for the ratio 50:50 as compared to control as well of rest of treatments. Similarly, high organic contents were found for both PEB1 and PEB2 at the ratio 50:50. An incubation experiment was followed by pot trial using 50:50 for both PEB1 and PEB2 and split doses of recommended P were applied (0%, 25%, 50% and 100%) with a control under CRD with three replications using chickpea as test crop. Both PEB1 and PEB2 with 50% P have significantly improved crop growth, yield, nodulation, and plant physiological and chemical parameters as compared to a recommended dose of P alone. The result may imply that the integration of P-enriched biochar and chemical fertilizer could be an effective approach to improve chickpea production and soil properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Humic Acid Mitigates the Negative Effects of High Rates of Biochar Application on Microbial Activity
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9524; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229524 - 16 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 791
Abstract
Objective: Biochar and a commercial humic acid-rich product, Humac (modified leonardite), represent soil amendments with the broad and beneficial effects on various soil properties. Their combination has been scarcely tested so far, although the positive impact of their interaction might be desirable. Materials [...] Read more.
Objective: Biochar and a commercial humic acid-rich product, Humac (modified leonardite), represent soil amendments with the broad and beneficial effects on various soil properties. Their combination has been scarcely tested so far, although the positive impact of their interaction might be desirable. Materials and Methods: The dehydrogenase activity (DHA), microbial biomass carbon (Cmic), soil respiration (basal and substrate-induced), enzyme activities, total carbon (Ctot), and both shoot and root biomass yield were measured and compared in the short-term pot experiment with the lettuce seedlings. The following treatments were tested: the unamended soil (control), the Humac-amended soil (0.8 g·kg−1), the biochar-amended soil (low biochar 32 g·kg−1, high biochar 80 g·kg−1), and the soil-amended with biochar + Humac. Results: The effect of both amendments on the soil pH was insignificant. The highest average values of Ctot and Cmic were detected in high biochar treatment and the highest average values of basal and substrate-induced respiration (glucose, glucosamine, alanine) were detected in the low biochar treatment. The phosphatase activity and fresh and dry lettuce aboveground biomass were the highest in the low biochar + Humac treatment. Conclusions: Even though the combination of both biochar + Humac decreased the microbial activities in the amended soil (Cmic, DHA, enzymes, substrate-induced respiration) at the low biochar dose, they mitigated the detrimental effect of the high biochar dose on respiration (all the types) and the enzyme (phosphatase, arylsulphatase) activities. In contrast to the previously published research in this issue, the effects could not be attributed to the change of the soil pH. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
N-(n-Butyl) Thiophosphoric Triamide (NBPT)-Coated Urea (NCU) Improved Maize Growth and Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) in Highly Weathered Tropical Soil
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8780; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218780 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 629
Abstract
Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is commonly used to supply sufficient N for plant uptake, for which urea is one of the highly preferred synthetic N fertilizers due to its high N content. Unfortunately, N provided by urea is rapidly lost upon urea application to [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is commonly used to supply sufficient N for plant uptake, for which urea is one of the highly preferred synthetic N fertilizers due to its high N content. Unfortunately, N provided by urea is rapidly lost upon urea application to soils through ammonia volatilization, leaching, and denitrification. Thus, treatment of urea with urease inhibitor (N-(n-Butyl) Thiophosphoric Triamide (NBPT)) is among the solutions to slow down urea hydrolysis, therefore reducing loss of NH3 and saving N available for plant uptake and growth. A field study was carried out to evaluate the effects of NBPT-coated urea (NCU) at varying rates on growth, yield, and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of maize in tropical soil. The experiment was conducted at Field 15, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia, and maize (Zea mays var. Thai Super Sweet) was used as the test crop. The results showed that all maize grown in soils applied with urea coated with NBPT (NCU) (T2, T3, T4, and T5) had significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher chlorophyll content compared to the control (T0 and T1). The surface leaf area of maize grown in NCU-treated soils at 120 kg N h−1 (T3) was recorded as the highest. NCU at and 96 kg N ha−1 (T3 and T4) were relatively effective in increasing maize plant dry weight, yield, and N uptake. Improvement of NUE by 45% over urea was recorded in the treatment of NCU at 96 kg N ha−1. NBPT-coated urea (NCU) at 96 kg N ha−1 had potential to increase the growth, yield, nitrogen uptake, and NUE of maize by increasing the availability of N for plant growth and development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Identifying Seasonal Accumulation of Soil Salinity with Three-Dimensional Mapping—A Case Study in Cold and Semiarid Irrigated Fields
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6645; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166645 - 17 Aug 2020
Viewed by 573
Abstract
Soil salinity is an active and complex part of soil property in arid and semiarid irrigation areas that restricts the sustainability of agriculture production. Knowledge of seasonal distributions and migration of soil salinity is important for the management of agriculture. In this study, [...] Read more.
Soil salinity is an active and complex part of soil property in arid and semiarid irrigation areas that restricts the sustainability of agriculture production. Knowledge of seasonal distributions and migration of soil salinity is important for the management of agriculture. In this study, three-dimensional (3-D) geostatistical methods were used to construct seasonal 3-D spatial distribution maps of soil salinity, and then the quantitative analysis methods were used to study the seasonal accumulation patterns of soil salinity for the 0–150 cm soil depth in cold and semiarid irrigated rice fields. The results revealed that there were different spatial distribution and migration patterns of soil salinity in autumn 2015, spring 2016, autumn 2016, and spring 2017. The migration of soil salinity had a dispersion trend from autumn to spring, and the area of non-saline soil increased. Whereas there was an accumulation trend from spring to autumn, and the area of non-saline soil decreased. There were about 10–20% of the study area had experienced transitional changes of different soil salinity levels in different seasons. The correlation coefficient showed that there were significant positive correlations among the five depth increments (30 cm) in different seasons, and the correlations of soil salinity were higher in adjacent layers than in nonadjacent layers. The ECe values were higher in the topsoil (0–30 cm) and deeper subsoil (120–150 cm), indicating that soil soluble salts accumulated in the soil surface due to evaporation and accumulated in the bottom due to leaching and drainage. Microtopography was the major factor influencing spatial distribution of soil salinity in different seasons. The ECe values were generally higher in the swales or in areas with rather poor drainage, whereas the values were lower in relatively higher-lying slopes or that were well-drained. The results provide theoretical basis and reference for studying the variation of seasonal soil salinity in irrigated fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Drought Stress Alleviation by ACC Deaminase Producing Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Enterobacter cloacae, with and without Timber Waste Biochar in Maize
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6286; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156286 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 877
Abstract
The high consumption of water in industries, domestic areas and increasing earth temperature are major hurdles for the optimization of maize yield. Being the third most widely cultivated cereal crop, improvement in maize yield is a big challenge under the limited availability of [...] Read more.
The high consumption of water in industries, domestic areas and increasing earth temperature are major hurdles for the optimization of maize yield. Being the third most widely cultivated cereal crop, improvement in maize yield is a big challenge under the limited availability of irrigation. As the water requirement for maize cultivation is high, it is time to introduce technologies that can mitigate drought stress and are environmentally friendly. The inoculation of rhizobacteria with ‘1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase’ (ACCD) can play an imperative role in that regard by decreasing stress ethylene in plants. Biochar (BC) can also alleviate drought stress. Therefore, a field study was conducted, to examine the single and combined application of drought-tolerant plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs) Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Enterobacter cloacae, with 15 Mg ha−1 of timber waste biochar (TWBC) at normal irrigation = 16 irrigations, mild drought = 14 irrigations and severe drought = 12 irrigation for maize cultivation. A significant improvement in shoot dry weight (28%), 1000-grains weight (19%), grain yield (27%), concentrations of N (43%), P (92%) and K (71%) in grains, rate of photosynthesis (33%), transpiration rate (55%), stomatal conductance (104%), chlorophyll A (33%), chlorophyll B (62%) and total chlorophyll (45%) of maize was noted under drought stress where E. cloacae + TWBC was applied. Likewise, the application of A. xylosoxidans + TWBC also significantly enhanced the plant height (24%) and cob length (9%) of maize under drought stress. In conclusion, E. cloacae is more effective than A. xylosoxidans, with 15 Mg ha−1 TWBC to increase maize yield under drought stress, due to the potential of higher ‘1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate’ (ACC)-deaminase synthesis, better nutrient solubilization and indole acetic acid (IAA) production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Anthropogenic and Inherent Effects on Soil Organic Carbon across the U.S
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5695; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145695 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Soil organic carbon (SOC) influences several soil functions, making it one of the most important soil health indicators. Its quantity is determined by anthropogenic and inherent factors that must be understood to improve SOC management and interpretation. Topsoil (≤15 cm) SOC response to [...] Read more.
Soil organic carbon (SOC) influences several soil functions, making it one of the most important soil health indicators. Its quantity is determined by anthropogenic and inherent factors that must be understood to improve SOC management and interpretation. Topsoil (≤15 cm) SOC response to tillage depth and intensity, cover crops, stover removal, manure addition, and various cropping systems was assessed using 7610 observations from eight U.S. regions. Overall, including cover crops, reducing tillage depth and intensity increased SOC. The positive effects of cover crops were more noticeable in South Central, Northwest, and Midwest regions. Removing high rates (>65%) of crop residue decreased SOC in Midwestern and Southeastern soils. Depending on region, applying manure increased SOC by 21 to 41%, compared to non-manured soils. Diversified cropping systems (e.g., those utilizing small mixed vegetables, perennials, or dairy-based systems) had the highest topsoil SOC content, while more intensive annual row crops and large-scale single vegetable production systems, had the lowest. Among inherent factors, SOC increased as precipitation increased, but decreased as mean annual temperature increased. Texture influenced SOC, showing higher values in fine-texture than coarse-texture soils. Finally, this assessment confirmed that SOC can be a sensitive soil health indicator for evaluating conservation practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Effect of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Soil CO2 Emission Depends on Crop Rotation Strategy
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5271; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135271 - 29 Jun 2020
Viewed by 556
Abstract
Developing environmentally friendly and sustainable nitrogen (N) fertilizer management strategies is crucial in mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from soil. How N fertilizer management practices influence soil CO2 emission rates under different crop rotations remains unclear. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Developing environmentally friendly and sustainable nitrogen (N) fertilizer management strategies is crucial in mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from soil. How N fertilizer management practices influence soil CO2 emission rates under different crop rotations remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the impact on soil CO2 emission and soil physicochemical properties of three N fertilizer treatments including traditional rate (TF), optimized rate (0.8TF), and no fertilizer (NF) under three different crop rotation treatments: wheat-fallow (WF), wheat-soybean (WS), and wheat-maize (WM) over two years in a field experiment in northwest China. The rates were 5.51, 5.60, and 5.97 μmol·m−2·s−1 of mean soil CO2 emission under the TF, 0.8TF, and NF treatments, respectively. Mean soil CO2 emission rates were 21.33 and 26.99% higher under the WM rotation compared with the WF and WS rotations, respectively. The WS rotation showed higher soil nutrient content and lower soil CO2 emissions, and reduced fertilizer application. Importantly, soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration in the topsoil can be maximized by including either a summer legume or a summer maize crop in winter wheat rotations, and by applying N fertilizer at the optimal rate. This may be particularly beneficial in the dryland cropping systems of northern China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Short-Term Effects of Eco-Friendly Fertilizers on a Soil Bacterial Community in the Topsoil and Rhizosphere of an Irrigated Agroecosystem
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4803; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124803 - 12 Jun 2020
Viewed by 691
Abstract
Fertilizer application to arable soils could be effective for soil nutrients. However, there are many negative effects in croplands with long-term chemical fertilizer application. Whether eco-friendly fertilizer addition could enhance soil quality and soil microbial activity has been investigated before; however, how top- [...] Read more.
Fertilizer application to arable soils could be effective for soil nutrients. However, there are many negative effects in croplands with long-term chemical fertilizer application. Whether eco-friendly fertilizer addition could enhance soil quality and soil microbial activity has been investigated before; however, how top- and rhizosphere soil bacterial communities respond to their short-term effects is not well known. Here, we used Illumina MiSeq sequencing to determine the changes of bacterial community structure in both topsoil and rhizoshpere after one month of the addition of three different eco-friendly fertilizers—biochar (B), microbial fertilizer (MF), fertilizer synergist (FS) and selected soil base fertilizer (CK) as a control, in an irrigated agroecosystem of cabbage crop (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata L.). The results show that three different eco-friendly fertilizers significantly enhanced cabbage growth. The Shannon and Ace indexes of the bacterial community significantly decreased under the FS treatment in both soils, but the total abundance of bacteria was maximal under the FS treatment in the topsoil and the MF treatment in the rhizosphere. The addition of the three fertilizers led to significant differences in the relative abundance of bacteria community at the phylum level, such as Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Rokubacteria and Planctomycetes in the topsoil, and Chloroflexi, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Rokubacteria in the rhizosphere. The same phylum showed the inconsistent changes under different fertilizer treatments in both topsoil and rhizosphere. The dominant genera, i.e., Nitrosospira and Massilia in the topsoil, and Flavobacterium, Nitrosospira and Pseudomonas in the rhizosphere, were much higher under the FS treatment than others. Redundancy analysis showed that total nitrogen and available phosphorus were the key factors that shaped the bacterial community in this ecosystem. These results highlighted that the short-term addition of eco-friendly fertilizer had an improvement effect on the quality of both topsoil and rhizosphere in croplands with long-term chemical fertilizer application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Deforestation and Subsequent Cultivation of Nutrient Poor Soils of Miombo Woodlands of Tanzania: Long Term Effect on Maize Yield and Soil Nutrients
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4113; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104113 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 614
Abstract
The miombo woodlands of Tanzania have continued to be subjected to deforestation due to mainly agricultural expansion. Knowledge of long-term productivity of the subsequent land use can help to evaluate the sustainability of the existing land management systems. We used both socioeconomic and [...] Read more.
The miombo woodlands of Tanzania have continued to be subjected to deforestation due to mainly agricultural expansion. Knowledge of long-term productivity of the subsequent land use can help to evaluate the sustainability of the existing land management systems. We used both socioeconomic and soil survey data to assess maize yield and selected soil properties, respectively, with an increasing cultivation period since conversion from miombo woodland. Data on maize production was collected from 121 households in three villages, while soil sampling was undertaken on 15 plots in one of the study villages. Soil samples were taken from miombo woodland and from croplands with cultivation periods varying from two to 52 years. Samples were taken at 0–10 cm and 10–20 cm depths and analyzed for the major plant nutrients. According to the results of the socioeconomic data analysis, continued cultivation of former miombo woodlands does not have a significant effect on maize yield. The results of the soil analysis also showed that the major plant nutrients on farmlands in both soil layers did not show a significant change from the adjacent miombo woodland and did not decline with increasing cultivation period. This indicates that the current farming system can maintain the levels of the major plant nutrients and thus soil productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Testing of Commercial Inoculants to Enhance P Uptake and Grain Yield of Promiscuous Soybean in Kenya
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3803; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093803 - 07 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 702
Abstract
The aim of this study was to assess the potential of commercial mycorrhizal inoculants and a rhizobial inoculant to improve soybean yield in Kenya. A promiscuous soybean variety was grown in a greenhouse pot study with two representative soils amended with either water-soluble [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to assess the potential of commercial mycorrhizal inoculants and a rhizobial inoculant to improve soybean yield in Kenya. A promiscuous soybean variety was grown in a greenhouse pot study with two representative soils amended with either water-soluble mineral P or rock P to assess product performance. The performance of selected mycorrhizal inoculants combined with a rhizobial inoculant (Legumefix) was then assessed with farmer groups in three agroecological zones using a small-plot, randomized complete block design to assess soybean root colonization by mycorrhiza, nodulation, and plant biomass production in comparison to rhizobial inoculant alone or with water-soluble mineral P. Greenhouse results showed highly significant root colonization by commercial mycorrhizal inoculant alone (p < 0.001) and in interaction with soil type (p < 0.0001) and P source (p < 0.0001). However, no significant effect was shown in plant P uptake, biomass production, or leaf chlorophyll index. In field conditions, the effects of mycorrhizal and rhizobial inoculants in combination or alone were highly context-specific and may induce either a significant increase or decrease in root mycorrhizal colonization and nodule formation. Mycorrhizal and rhizobial inoculants in combination or alone had limited effect on plant P uptake, biomass production, leaf chlorophyll index, and grain yield. Though some mycorrhizal inoculants induced significant root colonization by mycorrhizal inoculants, this did not lead to higher soybean yield, even in soils with limited P content. Our results are further evidence that inoculant type, soil type, and P source are critical factors to evaluate commercial inoculants on a context-specific basis. However, our results highlight the need for the identification of additional targeting criteria, as inoculant type, soil type, and P source alone were not enough to be predictive of the response. Without the identification of predictive criteria for improved targeting, the economic use of such inoculants will remain elusive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Article
Soil Quality and Its Potential Indicators under Different Land Use Systems in the Shivaliks of Indian Punjab
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3490; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083490 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
The present study assessed the overall state of the soil based on the most sensitive soil attributes under different land uses—i.e., rainfed agriculture, mixed forest, afforestation and non-arable lands—in the lower Shivaliks of Indian Punjab. The soil parameters—i.e., erosion ratio, bulk density and [...] Read more.
The present study assessed the overall state of the soil based on the most sensitive soil attributes under different land uses—i.e., rainfed agriculture, mixed forest, afforestation and non-arable lands—in the lower Shivaliks of Indian Punjab. The soil parameters—i.e., erosion ratio, bulk density and water retention characteristics—and fertility parameters were integrated under different land uses to identify potential soil quality indicators.The overall state of the soil, based on a weighted average of primary soil functions under different land uses through fuzzy modeling, was deemed best for agricultural land use (0.515), followed by forests (0.465) and non-arable lands (0.456), and deemed worst under afforestation (0.428). Among the different land use systems, principal component analysis (PCA) clearly separated the agriculture and forest samples from afforestation and non-arable lands samples. The contribution of potential indicators such as erosion ratio (ER), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) toward the soil quality index (SQI) was substantial. The order of contribution of the selected indicators to the SQI was 53.5%, 34.3% and 19.9% for ER, P and K, respectively. These indicators are most influential for studying real time soil health and ecological processes in the future, under various land use systems in degraded agroecosystems like the Shivaliks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Nanobiotechnology for Agriculture: Smart Technology for Combating Nutrient Deficiencies with Nanotoxicity Challenges
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1781; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041781 - 07 Feb 2021
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Nanobiotechnology in agriculture is a driver for modern-day smart, efficient agricultural practices. Nanoparticles have been shown to stimulate plant growth and disease resistance. The goal of sustainable farming can be accomplished by developing and sustainably exploiting the fruits of nanobiotechnology to balance the [...] Read more.
Nanobiotechnology in agriculture is a driver for modern-day smart, efficient agricultural practices. Nanoparticles have been shown to stimulate plant growth and disease resistance. The goal of sustainable farming can be accomplished by developing and sustainably exploiting the fruits of nanobiotechnology to balance the advantages nanotechnology provides in tackling environmental challenges. This review aims to advance our understanding of nanobiotechnology in relevant areas, encourage interactions within the research community for broader application, and benefit society through innovation to realize sustainable agricultural practices. This review critically evaluates what is and is not known in the domain of nano-enabled agriculture. It provides a holistic view of the role of nanobiotechnology in multiple facets of agriculture, from the synthesis of nanoparticles to controlled and targeted delivery, uptake, translocation, recognition, interaction with plant cells, and the toxicity potential of nanoparticle complexes when presented to plant cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Review
Integrated Use of Local and Technical Soil Quality Indicators and Participatory Techniques to Select Them. A Review of Bibliography and Analysis of Research Strategies and Outcomes
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010087 - 23 Dec 2020
Viewed by 473
Abstract
Climate change has strong impacts on soil conservation and agricultural productivity, with severe consequences on smallholders in developing countries, but virtually no research has been carried out so far on this issue. Therefore, it is necessary to foster the implementation of participatory projects [...] Read more.
Climate change has strong impacts on soil conservation and agricultural productivity, with severe consequences on smallholders in developing countries, but virtually no research has been carried out so far on this issue. Therefore, it is necessary to foster the implementation of participatory projects to help communities deal with new difficulties. Sustainable soil management can reduce and even reverse land degradation, helping farmers to adapt to climate change effects. Progress toward sustainability cannot be implemented in small rural communities regardless of local knowledge, which can be addressed using participatory techniques. To this purpose the choice and use of indicators is essential to carry out correct assessments of soil vulnerability integrating local and technical knowledge. The purpose of this review was to study how the problem of building a set of integrated indicators to assess soil quality has been addressed so far and which participatory techniques have been more successfully employed, analyzing studies carried out in rural communities of developing countries. We found out that there is a lack of participated studies dealing with environmental issues. Those that do so address them only indirectly, being centered on present agricultural problems. The studies rarely feature a collaboration with social science experts, consequently the use of participatory techniques lacks protocols and a standardized nomenclature to help in the transfer and generalization of experiences. Women are rarely involved and nearly exclusively in African countries: this could be related to social and cultural conditions, but needs more attention. Different aspects need to be improved to help the implementation of a successful approach in future projects. This review provides a tool to facilitate future interdisciplinary research on integration of local and scientific knowledge and will help to devise more successful strategies to tackle the challenges posed by climate change to smallholders in developing countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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Review
Soil Health and Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4859; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124859 - 15 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2456
Abstract
A healthy soil acts as a dynamic living system that delivers multiple ecosystem services, such as sustaining water quality and plant productivity, controlling soil nutrient recycling decomposition, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Soil health is closely associated with sustainable agriculture, because [...] Read more.
A healthy soil acts as a dynamic living system that delivers multiple ecosystem services, such as sustaining water quality and plant productivity, controlling soil nutrient recycling decomposition, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Soil health is closely associated with sustainable agriculture, because soil microorganism diversity and activity are the main components of soil health. Agricultural sustainability is defined as the ability of a crop production system to continuously produce food without environmental degradation. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), cyanobacteria, and beneficial nematodes enhance water use efficiency and nutrient availability to plants, phytohormones production, soil nutrient cycling, and plant resistance to environmental stresses. Farming practices have shown that organic farming and tillage improve soil health by increasing the abundance, diversity, and activity of microorganisms. Conservation tillage can potentially increase grower’s profitability by reducing inputs and labor costs as compared to conventional tillage while organic farming might add extra management costs due to high labor demands for weeding and pest control, and for fertilizer inputs (particularly N-based), which typically have less consistent uniformity and stability than synthetic fertilizers. This review will discuss the external factors controlling the abundance of rhizosphere microbiota and the impact of crop management practices on soil health and their role in sustainable crop production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil Health Management)
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