Special Issue "Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Atanu Mukherjee
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sustainable Living Department, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, IA 52557, USA
Interests: sustainable agriculture; biochar; soil chemistry; greenhouse gas emissions; soil health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Conventional agricultural management practices often times adversely impact soil health, water quality, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, sustainable, and organic agricultural practices are being implemented in order to sustain soil health, water, and air quality. Efforts are currently underway on practices such as no-tillage (NT), reduced tillage, cover cropping, composting, biochar addition, diversified crop rotation, and organic managements without usage of synthetic chemicals (fertilizer, herbicide) to improve environmental quality, sustain crop yield, and food security. A number of past studies indicate that soil health can be enhanced by sustainable, and organic management practices, however, data on water quality, and GHG emissions, especially under long-term studies, and in comparison to conventional managements are scarce. The special issue of “Sustainability” aims to seek research, and review papers that demonstrate environmental (soil, water, air) impacts of various on-farm, and in-field sustainable in contrast to conventional management strategies across the globe.

Dr. Atanu Mukherjee
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable agriculture
  • organic farming
  • biochar
  • no-tillage (NT)
  • reduced tillage
  • cover crop
  • soil health
  • water quality
  • greenhouse gas (GHG) emission
  • food security

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Organic and Conventional Management on the Nutritional Level of Vegetables
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8965; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218965 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 527
Abstract
The nutrient concentration of fruits and vegetables in the U.S.A. has declined in the past 50–70 years. Crop management practices utilizing on-farm inputs are thought to increase crop nutritional quality, but few studies have evaluated this under long-term side-by-side trials. An experiment was [...] Read more.
The nutrient concentration of fruits and vegetables in the U.S.A. has declined in the past 50–70 years. Crop management practices utilizing on-farm inputs are thought to increase crop nutritional quality, but few studies have evaluated this under long-term side-by-side trials. An experiment was conducted from 2004 to 2005 at Rodale Institute’s long-term Farming Systems Trial to investigate the nutritional quality of vegetables under organic manure (MNR) and conventional (CNV) farming systems, with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) treatment. AMF reduced the vitamin C content in carrots in both systems in 2004, but the reduction was 87% in CNV and 28% in MNR. AMF also reduced antioxidants in carrots in both CNV and MNR. This trend was likely due to the suppression of native AMF colonization by the non-native AMF inoculum used. Between 2004 and 2005, MNR increased the vitamin C in green peppers by 50% while CNV decreased the vitamin C in red peppers by 48%. Tomatoes under MNR had a 40% greater vitamin C content compared to CNV in 2005. The vegetable yield declined between 2004 and 2005, except for tomato, where the yield increased by 51% and 44% under CNV and MNR, respectively. In general, MNR tended to increase the nutrient concentration of vegetables compared with CNV, while the AMF effects were inconclusive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Bacterivorous Nematodes Correlate with Soil Fertility and Improved Crop Production in an Organic Minimum Tillage System
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176730 - 19 Aug 2020
Viewed by 549
Abstract
Reduced nutrient mineralization rates under minimum tillage are usually compensated by mineral fertilizer application. These, however, cannot be applied in organic farming systems. We hypothesized that an organic minimum tillage system based on frequent cover cropping and application of dead mulch would improve [...] Read more.
Reduced nutrient mineralization rates under minimum tillage are usually compensated by mineral fertilizer application. These, however, cannot be applied in organic farming systems. We hypothesized that an organic minimum tillage system based on frequent cover cropping and application of dead mulch would improve soil fertility and compensate for the potential negative effects of minimum tillage. Two long-term field experiments were set up in 2010 and 2011 to compare plowing versus minimum tillage including the application of transferred mulch. A second factor, the application of compost versus mineral potassium and phosphorus, was also compared. In 2019, soils were analyzed for soil pH, organic carbon, macro- and micronutrients, microbial biomass, microbial activity, and total nematode abundance. In addition, performance of pea in the same soils was determined under greenhouse conditions. Across both experiments, macronutrients (+52%), micronutrients (+11%), microbial biomass (+51%), microbial activity (+86%), and bacterivorous nematodes (+112%) increased in minimum tillage compared to the plow-based system. In the greenhouse, pea biomass was 45% higher in the soil that had been subjected to minimum tillage compared to the plow. In conclusion, soil fertility can be improved in organic minimum tillage systems, which include intensive cover cropping and the application of dead mulch, over plow-based systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Substrate Properties and Fertilizer Rates on Yield Responses of Lettuce in a Vertical Growth System
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6465; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166465 - 11 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 565
Abstract
The increased demand for food and the challenge for space for agriculture production in urban centers have made the vertical growth system an interesting trend. Agriculture is no longer only the horizontal, traditional, and soil grown method. Urban agriculture has created ways for [...] Read more.
The increased demand for food and the challenge for space for agriculture production in urban centers have made the vertical growth system an interesting trend. Agriculture is no longer only the horizontal, traditional, and soil grown method. Urban agriculture has created ways for inner city growers to be able to farm in a restricted space. Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops, especially leafy vegetables such as lettuce, in vertically stacked layers, as this results in significantly higher plant population per unit area. Two research trials were conducted in the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019 to determine the effect of substrate properties and fertilizers on lettuce yield to optimize the urban production of lettuce. Three substrates (P3 + CF7 = Perlite 30%: Coco fiber 70%, PB7 + C3 = Pine Bark 70%: Compost 30%, and PB9 + C1 = Pine Bark 90%: Compost 10%) along with full and half rates of a fertilizer blend (VertiGro Organics fermented molasses, Ohrstrom’s Maxicrop liquid seaweed, and organic mineral blend) were evaluated on fresh and dried weight yield of lettuce. Substrate physical properties (air space, water holding capacity, total porosity, and bulk density) and substrate volumetric water content were also determined. ‘Nevada’ and ‘Optima’ lettuce varieties showed similar yield responses (fresh and dried weight) to substrate and fertilizer rates in both trials. In the fall 2018 trial, the highest fresh weight was observed in substrate PB7 + C3 with half fertilizer rate, with a mean plant weight of 41.13 g and 49.75 g for ‘Optima’ and ‘Nevada’, respectively. The least mean fresh weight was observed in half fertilizer rate of substrate P3 + CF7. For the spring 2019 trial, PB7 + C3 in half fertilizer strength gave the highest fresh weight for ‘Optima’ and ‘Nevada’ (45.64 g and 41.13 g, respectively). These values were statistically comparable to all other treatments except for substrate P3 + CF7 in full and half fertilizer which gave the least mean fresh weight. Volumetric water content in substrates P3 + CF7 recorded the highest average, while PB7 + C3 gave the least. Higher water holding capacity, total porosity, and lower airspace were observed in substrate P3 + CF7. Higher airspace was observed in PB9 + C1 but was comparable to PB7 + C3. PB7 + C3 gave the highest bulk density in both trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating Bat Activity in Various Agricultural Landscapes in Northeastern United States
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1959; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051959 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 830
Abstract
Bats are estimated to provide between $3.7 and $53 billion annually in ecosystem services in the U.S.A. Determining how bats use land for foraging is important in planning agricultural landscapes to increase their presence and role in insect pest control. A research project [...] Read more.
Bats are estimated to provide between $3.7 and $53 billion annually in ecosystem services in the U.S.A. Determining how bats use land for foraging is important in planning agricultural landscapes to increase their presence and role in insect pest control. A research project was established in 2016 and 2017 to determine bat populations and activity differences between different land use management systems. Bat activity was monitored in 10 conventionally and organically managed systems in the presence of, and at a distance from the tree line. Two acoustic monitoring devices were used to record ultrasonic echolocation calls of bats. Organic systems without tree line had 67% and 45% greater bat passes than conventional systems without tree line as detected by the two devices. However, the conventional system with tree line had 61% and 59% greater bat passes than organic systems, attributed to known roosting sites in the area. Mean bat passes of 73.4 and 30 were recorded respectively at 15 m and 46 m from the tree line, suggesting that bats prefer to forage near tree lines likely to have greater access to roosting, food security, and habitation. This study confirms the importance of tree lines in impacting bat activity in conformity with past studies that reported similar results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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Open AccessArticle
Maize (Zea mays) Response to Anthill Soil (Termitaria), Manure and NPK Fertilization Rate under Conventional and Reduced Tillage Cropping Systems
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 928; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030928 - 27 Jan 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
Soil fertility management has been described by many scholars as fundamental and a major hindrance to food production amongst smallholder farmers in the developing world. To counteract this challenge, some farmers have been reported to use anthill soil as analternative fertilizer to improve [...] Read more.
Soil fertility management has been described by many scholars as fundamental and a major hindrance to food production amongst smallholder farmers in the developing world. To counteract this challenge, some farmers have been reported to use anthill soil as analternative fertilizer to improve soil fertility for supporting crop growth. Against this background, a study was undertaken with the aim of ascertaining the effect of anthill soil application alone, cattle manure, and/or their combination with commercially available NPK fertilizer on the growth and yield parameters of three maize varieties under field conditions involving conventional (CONV) and conservation agriculture (CA) tillage systems. Results revealed that anthill soil alone (5000 kg/ha) or in combination with either manure (10,000 kg/ha) or half rate of commercially available fertilizer (NPKS: 10% N, 20% P2O5, 10% K2O, 6% S at 100 kg/ha) competed favourably in terms of response to growth parameters. Furthermore, pH and P levels changed significantly (p < 0.05) at harvest. We conclude that resource-constrained smallholder farmers in less developed countries utilizing anthill soil for fertility improvement purposes should judiciously apply it in CA planting basin structures compared with conventional methods, which appeared to be less effective and leads to sub-optimal yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Soil Erosion on Biodiversity Conservation in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Southeastern Nigeria
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7192; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247192 - 16 Dec 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 715
Abstract
The impact of soil erosion on the conservation of biodiversity in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Southeastern Nigeria was examined. Data were obtained through focus group discussions and plant species enumeration. Diversity indices of plant species were derived from quadrat analysis using Shannon Wiener’s [...] Read more.
The impact of soil erosion on the conservation of biodiversity in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Southeastern Nigeria was examined. Data were obtained through focus group discussions and plant species enumeration. Diversity indices of plant species were derived from quadrat analysis using Shannon Wiener’s diversity index. Eighteen soil samples were collected from agricultural erosion sites in the study area and analysed in the laboratory. The results obtained were analysed using principal component analysis (PCA). The rotated component matrix of the soil properties, as well as plant and animal diversity indices from the PCA isolated three components that together explained 93.821% of the observed variation. The results show that bush clearing in the form of slash and burn, uncoordinated bush burning and harvesting of plant species are the activities that cause soil erosion in the study area. Agro-forestry, bush fallowing, reforestation and legislation on indiscriminate harvesting of plant species were recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impacts under Sustainable Conservation Management)
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