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Special Issue "Sustainable Agroforestry Systems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2019) | Viewed by 23239

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sarah Lovell
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Crop Sciences,University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,IL 61801, USA
Interests: agroforestry; multifunctional landscapes; sustainable agriculture
Dr. Michael A. Gold
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Interests: agroforestry products; specialty crops; consumer research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agroforestry combines agriculure and forestry through the integration of perennial woody plants with crops and/or livestock. Practices including riparian forest buffers, windbreaks, and forest farming have been implemented around the globe for many years, but recent interest has turned to the role they might play in improving the health of the broader agricultural landscape and its communities. This Special Issue provides a collection of studies in which agroforestry offers a unique solution for sustainable land use. Papers will address a variety of contemporary topics related to sustainable agroforestry systems including perennial polycultures, biodiversity conservation, landscape design, land access, and policy implications. This collection draws from disciplines that are not typically associated with agroforestry, but that offer unique perspectives. Papers selected for this Special Issue will be subjected to rigorous peer review with the aim to broadly disseminate the theory, research results, and applications of agroforestry to audiences in multiple disciplines.

Dr. Sarah Lovell
Dr. Michael A. Gold
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 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

  • agroecology
  • sustainable agriculture
  • multifunctional landscapes
  • riparian buffers
  • alley cropping
  • forest farming

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Evaluating Sustainability in Traditional Silvopastoral Systems (caívas): Looking Beyond the Impact of Animals on Biodiversity
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3098; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113098 - 01 Jun 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1821
Abstract
Caívas are traditional silvopastoral systems that occur in the Araucaria Forest biome, Southern Brazil, in which animal production and erva-mate extraction are integrated. Participatory research was conducted in caívas in the Northern Plateau, Santa Catarina State, to identify strategies to intensify pasture use [...] Read more.
Caívas are traditional silvopastoral systems that occur in the Araucaria Forest biome, Southern Brazil, in which animal production and erva-mate extraction are integrated. Participatory research was conducted in caívas in the Northern Plateau, Santa Catarina State, to identify strategies to intensify pasture use and increase animal productivity. To better understand the outcomes of these strategies, a sustainability assessment was conducted in properties that participated in the research (improved caívas; IC) and those that did not (traditional caívas; TC). The Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) tool 2.0.0 for smallholders was chosen as it evaluates the productive unit as a whole using environmental, social, economic, and governance indicators and is tailored for small-scale production. All evaluated indicators showed higher scores for IC properties in relation to TC. In general, the SAFA analysis showed that when evaluated as productive systems, TCs are a strategic option for rural development, as 65% of their indicators were evaluated as good. With the support of rural outreach and research and the adoption of appropriate technologies, this percentage increased to 86% in ICs. These results confirm that with adequate support caívas can significantly contribute to the development of more sustainable livestock farming in Southern Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Crop Diseases and Mycotoxin Accumulation in Temperate Agroforestry Systems
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2925; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102925 - 23 May 2019
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2768
Abstract
Background: Temperate agroforestry is regarded as a sustainable alternative to monoculture agriculture due to enhanced provisioning of ecosystem services. Plant health and food safety are crucial requirements for sustainable agriculture; however, studies of fungal diseases and mycotoxin contamination of crops grown under temperate [...] Read more.
Background: Temperate agroforestry is regarded as a sustainable alternative to monoculture agriculture due to enhanced provisioning of ecosystem services. Plant health and food safety are crucial requirements for sustainable agriculture; however, studies of fungal diseases and mycotoxin contamination of crops grown under temperate agroforestry are lacking. This study therefore aimed to compare fungal colonization and mycotoxin contamination of crops grown in temperate agroforestry against conventional monoculture. Methods: The biomass of plant pathogenic fungi in oilseed rape plants and barley and wheat grain harvested in 2016 to 2018 at four paired agroforestry and monoculture sites was quantified using species-specific real-time PCR. Mycotoxin content of barley and wheat grain was determined by HPLC-MS/MS. Results: The colonization of oilseed rape plants with the vascular pathogen Verticillium longisporum and wheat grain with the head blight pathogen Fusarium tricinctum was lower in agroforestry than in conventional monoculture. Mycotoxin content of barley and wheat grain did not differ between agroforestry and monoculture systems and did not exceed the legal limits of the EU. Remarkably, fumonisin B1 was detected in wheat grains at two sites in two years, yet the low levels found do not raise food safety concerns. No differences were found between the two production systems with regard to infection of wheat and barley grain with five Fusarium species (F. avenaceum, F. culmorum, F. graminearum, F. poae, and F. proliferatum) and oilseed rape with fungal pathogens Leptosphaeria biglobosa, Leptosphaeria maculans, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Conclusions: Temperate agroforestry does not negatively affect the infection of wheat, barley and oilseed rape with major fungal pathogens though it may suppress the infection of oilseed rape with V. longisporum and wheat grain with F. tricinctum. Furthermore, temperate agroforestry does not increase mycotoxin contamination of barley and wheat. Therefore, temperate agroforestry does not negatively affect food safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Agroforestry and Biodiversity
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2879; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102879 - 21 May 2019
Cited by 51 | Viewed by 4208
Abstract
Declining biodiversity (BD) is aecting food security, agricultural sustainability,
and environmental quality. Agroforestry (AF) is recognized as a possible partial solution for
BD conservation and improvement. This manuscript uses published peer-reviewed manuscripts,
reviews, meta-analysis, and federal and state agency documents to evaluate relationships [...] Read more.
Declining biodiversity (BD) is aecting food security, agricultural sustainability,
and environmental quality. Agroforestry (AF) is recognized as a possible partial solution for
BD conservation and improvement. This manuscript uses published peer-reviewed manuscripts,
reviews, meta-analysis, and federal and state agency documents to evaluate relationships between
AF and BD and how AF can be used to conserve BD. The review revealed that floral, faunal, and soil
microbial diversity were significantly greater in AF as compared to monocropping, adjacent crop
lands, and within crop alleys and some forests. Among the soil organisms, arbuscular mycorrhizae
fungi (AMF), bacteria, and enzyme activities were significantly greater in AF than crop and livestock
practices. Agroforestry also creates spatially concentrated high-density BD near trees due to favorable
soil-plant-water-microclimate conditions. The greater BD was attributed to heterogeneous vegetation,
organic carbon, microclimate, soil conditions, and spatial distribution of trees. Dierences in BD
between AF and other management types diminished with time. Evenly distributed leaves, litter,
roots, dead/live biological material, and microclimate improve soil and microclimate in adjacent
crop and pasture areas as the system matures. Results of the study prove that integration of AF
can improve BD in agricultural lands. Selection of site suitable tree/shrub/grass-crop combinations
can be used to help address soil nutrient deficiencies or environmental conditions. Future studies
with standardized management protocols may be needed for all regions to further strengthen these
findings and to develop AF establishment criteria for BD conservation and agricultural sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Comparative Analysis of Perennial and Annual Phaseolus Seed Nutrient Concentrations
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2787; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102787 - 15 May 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1808
Abstract
Long-term agricultural sustainability is dependent in part on our capacity to provide productive, nutritious crops that minimize the negative impacts of agriculture on the landscape. Perennial grains within an agroforestry context offers one solution: These plants produce large root systems that reduce soil [...] Read more.
Long-term agricultural sustainability is dependent in part on our capacity to provide productive, nutritious crops that minimize the negative impacts of agriculture on the landscape. Perennial grains within an agroforestry context offers one solution: These plants produce large root systems that reduce soil erosion and simultaneously have the potential to produce nutrients to combat malnutrition. However, nutrient compositions of wild, perennial, herbaceous species, such as those related to the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) are not well known. In this study, seed ion and amino acid concentrations of perennial and annual Phaseolus species were quantified using ionomics and mass spectrometry. No statistical difference was observed for Zn, toxic ions (e.g., As) or essential amino acid concentrations (except threonine) between perennial and annual Phaseolus species. However, differences were observed for some nutritionally important ions. For example, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, and P concentrations were higher in annual species; further, ion and amino acid concentrations appear to be largely independent of each other. These results suggest variability in ion and amino acid concentrations exist in Phaseolus. As new crop candidates are considered for ecological services, nutritional quality should be optimized to maximize nutrient output of sustainable food crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Mountain Farming Systems’ Exposure and Sensitivity to Climate Change and Variability: Agroforestry and Conventional Agriculture Systems Compared in Ecuador’s Indigenous Territory of Kayambi People
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2623; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092623 - 07 May 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3027
Abstract
Smallholder farming is considered one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change, variability, and extremes, especially in the developing world. This high vulnerability is due to the socioeconomic limitations and high environmental sensitivity which affect the biophysical and socioeconomic [...] Read more.
Smallholder farming is considered one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change, variability, and extremes, especially in the developing world. This high vulnerability is due to the socioeconomic limitations and high environmental sensitivity which affect the biophysical and socioeconomic components of their farming systems. Therefore, systems’ functionality and farmers’ livelihoods will also be affected, with significant implications for global food security, land-use/land-cover change processes and agrobiodiversity conservation. Thus, less vulnerable and more resilient smallholder farming systems constitute an important requisite for sustainable land management and to safeguard the livelihoods of millions of rural and urban households. This study compares a comprehensive socioeconomic and environmental dataset collected in 2015–2016 based on household interviews of 30 farmers of highland agroforestry systems and 30 farmers of conventional agriculture systems, to determine which system provides better opportunities to reduce exposure and sensitivity. A modified Climate Change Questionnaire Version 2 of the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) was applied to collect the data. The interview data are based on the perceptions of Kayambi indigenous farmers about the levels of exposure and sensitivity of their farming systems during the last decade. Descriptive statistics were applied to analyze the data from the 60 farms. Results indicate that both agroforesters and conventional farmers clearly perceived increases in temperature and reductions in precipitation for the last decade, and expected this trend to continue in the next decade. Furthermore, conventional farmers perceived greater exposure to droughts (20%), solar radiation (43%), and pests, weeds and disease outbreaks (40%) than agroforesters. Additionally, results emphasize the better ability of agroforestry systems to reduce exposure and sensitivity to climate change and variability. These findings support the well-known assumptions about the key role played by agroforestry systems for climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially in developing countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Multi-Party Agroforestry: Emergent Approaches to Trees and Tenure on Farms in the Midwest USA
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2449; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082449 - 25 Apr 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2166
Abstract
Agroforestry represents a solution to land degradation by agriculture, but social barriers to wider application of agroforestry persist. More than half of all cropland in the USA is leased rather than owner-operated, and the short terms of most leases preclude agroforestry. Given insufficient [...] Read more.
Agroforestry represents a solution to land degradation by agriculture, but social barriers to wider application of agroforestry persist. More than half of all cropland in the USA is leased rather than owner-operated, and the short terms of most leases preclude agroforestry. Given insufficient research on tenure models appropriate for agroforestry in the USA, the primary objective of this study was to identify examples of farmers practicing agroforestry on land they do not own. We conducted interviews with these farmers, and, in several cases, with landowners, in order to document their tenure arrangements. In some cases, additional parties also played a role, such as farmland investors, a farmer operating an integrated enterprise, and non-profit organizations or public agencies. Our findings include eleven case studies involving diverse entities and forms of cooperation in multi-party agroforestry (MA). MA generally emerged from shared objectives and intensive planning. MA appears to be adaptable to private, investor, institutional, and public landowners, as well as beginning farmers and others seeking land access without ownership. We identify limitations and strategies for further research and development of MA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Article
Hi-sAFe: A 3D Agroforestry Model for Integrating Dynamic Tree–Crop Interactions
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082293 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 4433
Abstract
Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees with crops and/or livestock, can lead to multiple economic and ecological benefits compared to trees and crops/livestock grown separately. Field experimentation has been the primary approach to understanding the tree–crop interactions inherent in agroforestry. However, the number [...] Read more.
Agroforestry, the intentional integration of trees with crops and/or livestock, can lead to multiple economic and ecological benefits compared to trees and crops/livestock grown separately. Field experimentation has been the primary approach to understanding the tree–crop interactions inherent in agroforestry. However, the number of field experiments has been limited by slow tree maturation and difficulty in obtaining consistent funding. Models have the potential to overcome these hurdles and rapidly advance understanding of agroforestry systems. Hi-sAFe is a mechanistic, biophysical model designed to explore the interactions within agroforestry systems that mix trees with crops. The model couples the pre-existing STICS crop model to a new tree model that includes several plasticity mechanisms responsive to tree–tree and tree–crop competition for light, water, and nitrogen. Monoculture crop and tree systems can also be simulated, enabling calculation of the land equivalent ratio. The model’s 3D and spatially explicit form is key for accurately representing many competition and facilitation processes. Hi-sAFe is a novel tool for exploring agroforestry designs (e.g., tree spacing, crop type, tree row orientation), management strategies (e.g., thinning, branch pruning, root pruning, fertilization, irrigation), and responses to environmental variation (e.g., latitude, climate change, soil depth, soil structure and fertility, fluctuating water table). By improving our understanding of the complex interactions within agroforestry systems, Hi-sAFe can ultimately facilitate adoption of agroforestry as a sustainable land-use practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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Review

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Review
Germplasm Development of Underutilized Temperate U.S. Tree Crops
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1546; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061546 - 14 Mar 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2306
Abstract
In the Midwest U.S. dominated corn-soybean landscape, agroforestry systems can be particularly valuable for increasing the provisioning and regulatory capacity of the agricultural landscape. However, these systems have not yet been broadly integrated into the landscape of this region since they are mostly [...] Read more.
In the Midwest U.S. dominated corn-soybean landscape, agroforestry systems can be particularly valuable for increasing the provisioning and regulatory capacity of the agricultural landscape. However, these systems have not yet been broadly integrated into the landscape of this region since they are mostly relegated to marginal lands. A growing body of literature suggests a path to increase the adoption of agroforestry in the Midwest U.S. lies in the incorporation of low-input food-producing tree species that provide economic incentives for farmers. Studies of the system-level integration of such approaches have proceeded by using the currently available cultivars and breeding selections of various tree nut and fruit species. While existing varieties and breeding selections provide the opportunity for initial system development and integration, their broad adaptability to the Midwest U.S. and its marginal land-types is unexplored. Thus, a second tier of research includes the genetic improvement and adaptation of tree crop selections to their respective target environments throughout the Midwest U.S. Fortunately, select tree crops of interest are amendable to systematic breeding and have wild relatives that are endemic across the region. In this paper, we discuss the value of these wild relatives for broadening the adaption of cultivated tree crop selections by using the hazelnut as an example species. We present a framework using geospatial tools to define and prioritize target environments for breeding and, in turn, exploiting wild relative germplasm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry Systems)
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