Special Issue "Sustainable Productive Systems – Assessing the Past, Envisioning the Future"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Luis Loures
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
VALORIZA—Research Center for Endogenous Resource Valorization—Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre
Interests: landscape architecture; agronomy; environment; urban planning; higher education; practice-based research
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

These days, the intensive increase in agricultural production, has been either considered a source of richness and a serious problem to landscape sustainability. In this scenario, it must be noted that, although productive systems play a very important role in modern society, especially in low-density areas where they function as elements of attraction, the generally negative environmental consequences of such land uses on other economic and ecological functions, require special attention in order to be considered as sustainable. The new environmental paradigms, associated with the globalization of production and progressive climate change will certainly intensify the entropy and the instability in most of the existing productive systems. In this regard, this Special Issue aims to highlight a body of knowledge related to the discussion of the opportunities and challenges associated to the development of new sustainable productive systems.

Additionally, the fact that agricultural development, from crops to animal production, has caused serious problems in terms of environmental and landscape degradation, highlights the positive impact that sustainable productive systems might have in the future of agriculture, constituting not only a way to consolidate emerging productive subsystems, with the potential to be a major driving force of the agricultural sector, but also to face the new challenges to come.

In this regard, in addition to the aforementioned subjects, the envisioned Special Issue intends to cover a wide range of topics related to the sustainability of different but complementary productive systems, assessing the impact of contemporary agricultural systems and landscape management strategies both on food production, ecosystem sustainability, biodiversity, landscape design, among others.

Papers submitted to this Special Issue will undertake an impartial peer-review process with the aim of rapid and broad dissemination of research findings and results.

Dr. Luis Loures
Guest Editor

 

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 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

  • agro-ecology
  • sustainable agriculture
  • forestry
  • climate change
  • soil and water conservation
  • animal production
  • biodiversity
  • precision agriculture
  • land use dynamics
  • landscape design
  • GIS

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Seasonal and Interannual Fluctuation of the Microbial Soil Community in a Maize Field under Long-Term Conservation Agriculture Management
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 778; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050778 - 09 May 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
Soil’s microbiological settlement in a Zea mays parcel under long-term agricultural practices aiming to minimize the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity was analyzed by culture-dependent and culture-independent processes. Of the different processes, morphological-type differentiation of cultured microflora produced the [...] Read more.
Soil’s microbiological settlement in a Zea mays parcel under long-term agricultural practices aiming to minimize the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity was analyzed by culture-dependent and culture-independent processes. Of the different processes, morphological-type differentiation of cultured microflora produced the best results and, while Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-agarose electrophoresis has also provided us with reliable ones, soil PCR-DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) did not, which may occur because of the dependence of the method on the practice. Over a three-year period, this soil seemed very stable as its C/N ratio remained roughly constant and available for microbial growth. Because no soil overturning occurred, we were able to maintain most of the cultured microbial population whose fluctuations depended only on edaphoclimatic conditions. The number of cultured bacteria, molds, total microorganisms, and the biodiversity indices were usually lower in the driest season (fall) than in the rest of the year, except for Acinetobacter and Stenotrophomonas, which showed the opposite behavior. Coincident with the rise in temperature during the summer, the relative abundance of Gram+ bacteria increased, mostly reflecting an increase in the spore-forming bacteria Streptomyces and Bacillus. Despite these variations, the evenness index and the quantity of distinct microbiological life remained practically unaltered, recovering their maximum levels when the proper edaphoclimatic conditions were present, which indicates the long-term stability of the microbial community in this soil. The performed study put forward important insights for assessing the sustainability of maize production under long-term conservation agriculture management systems, highlighting that adequate management might prevent the degradation of soil quality, thus contributing to promote sustainable agriculture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Sodium Exchange Capacity in Rainfed and Irrigated Soils in the Mediterranean Basin Using GIS
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9030405 - 09 Mar 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
The soil exchange complex consists of colloidal materials on which ion exchange phenomena occur allowing it to attract, retain, and exchange elements that have opposite electric charges. Since their mineral constituents (clay) and organic components (humus) are mainly of a negative nature retained [...] Read more.
The soil exchange complex consists of colloidal materials on which ion exchange phenomena occur allowing it to attract, retain, and exchange elements that have opposite electric charges. Since their mineral constituents (clay) and organic components (humus) are mainly of a negative nature retained or exchanged ion are predominantly cations. Historically, failing to monitor parameters like the exchange sodium percentage (ESP) has led to the permanent deterioration of soils which have become completely unproductive, largely reducing the sustainability of the agricultural systems. This study assesses how the sodium exchange capacity in irrigated soils differs from the rainfed ones through a sample survey that was carried out in the 15,031 ha of the Caia Irrigation Perimeter and adjacent areas, located in the municipalities of Elvas and Campo Maior, Portalegre District, Portugal where 14,280 georeferenced samples were collected from the top soil layer (0–20 cm), which were mixed 10 at a time so that each composite sample representing 11.1 ha. Then the samples were analyzed regarding the most relevant parameters for characterizing the soil exchange complex including the concentrations of exchanged bases and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). The results were arranged in a georeferenced grid with 1451 entries. Using classical statistical analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, it was possible to relate the individual soil samples analyzed with the cultural system practiced (irrigated or rainfed) and the present soil group which permitted us to analyze the influence of the cultural system in the soil exchange complex. The distribution chart of the exchange sodium and CEC were created. The obtained results confirm a general decrease of CEC values and an increase of the exchangeable sodium content of irrigated explored soils when compared to the rainfed ones, putting forward noteworthy ideas not only regarding the necessary changes towards the sustainability of these irrigated agricultural landscapes, but also considering the impact of these productive techniques on different agricultural systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) in Southern Europe—An Iberian Case Study. The Eurocity Elvas-Badajoz
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9030360 - 01 Mar 2017
Cited by 24
Abstract
The experiences of cross-border cooperation (CBC), undertaken not only in Europe but throughout the world, have enabled areas to gain greater importance in recent decades at an international level, showing potential for integrative functions and joint development as exemplified by several CBC projects. [...] Read more.
The experiences of cross-border cooperation (CBC), undertaken not only in Europe but throughout the world, have enabled areas to gain greater importance in recent decades at an international level, showing potential for integrative functions and joint development as exemplified by several CBC projects. The present paper assesses the impact of CBC projects by analyzing a protocol established in 2013 between the cities of Elvas and Badajoz, which induced the creation of the Eurocity Elvas-Badajoz. The paper kicks off with a critical review on territorial factors for success in CBC areas, considering the analysis of several case studies throughout Europe. The lessons learned, taken from the analyzed case studies, and the identified territorial success factors were used as assessment points for the investigation of the target study area, the Eurocity ElvasBadajoz. The investigation explores public participation perceptions towards the identification of what changes with respect to standards of life with the CBC project, providing the current state of affairs and identifying where to place efforts in order to reach sustainable development for the region. While being a transition area, it presents several opportunities for growth. These opportunities have not yet been object of analysis and debate with respect to lasting, sustainable successful growth. The present research enables the identification of several territorial factors for success in the study area, such as the connectivity/movement between cities and strong political commitment. From the identified critical factors, it was possible to highlight the importance of public transportation as a priority for achieving success in this CBC project. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Quantitative Method for Long-Term Water Erosion Impacts on Productivity with a Lack of Field Experiments: A Case Study in Huaihe Watershed, China
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8070675 - 19 Jul 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Water erosion causes reduced farmland productivity, and with a longer period of cultivation, agricultural productivity becomes increasingly vulnerable. The vulnerability of farmland productivity needs assessment due to long-term water erosion. The key to quantitative assessment is to propose a quantitative method with water [...] Read more.
Water erosion causes reduced farmland productivity, and with a longer period of cultivation, agricultural productivity becomes increasingly vulnerable. The vulnerability of farmland productivity needs assessment due to long-term water erosion. The key to quantitative assessment is to propose a quantitative method with water loss scenarios to calculate productivity losses due to long-term water erosion. This study uses the agricultural policy environmental extender (APEX) model and the global hydrological watershed unit and selects the Huaihe River watershed as a case study to describe the methodology. An erosion-variable control method considering soil and water conservation measure scenarios was used to study the relationship between long-term erosion and productivity losses and to fit with 3D surface (to come up with three elements, which are time, the cumulative amount of water erosion and productivity losses) to measure long-term water erosion. Results showed that: (1) the 3D surfaces fit significantly well; fitting by the 3D surface can more accurately reflect the impact of long-term water erosion on productivity than fitting by the 2D curve (to come up with two elements, which are water erosion and productivity losses); (2) the cumulative loss surface can reflect differences in productivity loss caused by long-term water erosion. Full article
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