Special Issue "Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Carlos M. Correia
Website
Guest Editor
Departamento de Biologia e Ambiente, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal
Interests: abiotic stresses; crop yield; plant ecophysiology; plant resistance; sustainability of crop production

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Crop plants are frequently exposed to environmental stresses, such as low water availability, salinity, high/low temperatures, high irradiance, hypoxia/anoxia, hail, atmospheric pollutants, and mineral deficiency/toxicity, which influence their yield and quality. As these impacts will be potentiated in the future in many areas of the world by global change and reduced availability of fertile land, sustainable environmentally and economically agronomic practices to boost the resilience of crops are a priority in order to ensure food security for a continuously growing human population. This Special Issue seeks to assemble contributions (research papers and a reduced number of reviews) that advance our knowledge about innovative cropping practices against those threats. Examples include but are not limited to choice of species, cultivars and scion cultivar and rootstock combination, sowing and planting periods, plant density, pruning and training systems, and row orientation, use of protective nets, and the adequate management of irrigation, fertilization (soil and foliar sprays), and soil (no-tillage, cover crops, mulch, and biochar, zeolites, wood ash, municipal solid waste, and lime amendments), as well the application of plant protectors and enhancers of plant resistance, including different types of minerals and organic substances. We strongly encourage submission of manuscripts based on interdisciplinary studies with a solution-oriented approach.

Prof. Dr. Carlos M. Correia
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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

  • abiotic stresses
  • agronomic practices
  • crop quality
  • crop yield
  • food security
  • global change
  • plant ecophysiology
  • plant resistance
  • resiliency
  • sustainability of crop production

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Developing a Sustainable Management Strategy for Quantitative Estimation of Optimum Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendation Rates for Maize in Northeast China
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2607; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072607 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
Excessive application of chemical fertilizers has caused a series of environmental problems, including environmental pollution. Quantitative estimation of a sustainable fertilizer recommendation rate is paramount for formulating fertilizer management strategies to improve productivity of low-yield regions and to prevent environmental damage. In this [...] Read more.
Excessive application of chemical fertilizers has caused a series of environmental problems, including environmental pollution. Quantitative estimation of a sustainable fertilizer recommendation rate is paramount for formulating fertilizer management strategies to improve productivity of low-yield regions and to prevent environmental damage. In this study, the database was drawn from 31 experimental sites in the main maize production region of Northeast China, during the period 2009 to 2013, to study the relationships between yield factors and nitrogen application rates, and to explore sustainable nitrogen (N) fertilizer recommendation rates based on analysis using the fertilizer response model. The fertilizer response model method is a technique that can provide effective performance predictions for the estimation of the optimum crop balanced fertilizer rates in varied agricultural regions. Results revealed that the average grain yield in treatment of N180 (the amount of nitrogen application rate was 90 kg ha −1) was highest, and the yield increase rate ranged from 4.77% to 58.53%, with an average of 25.89%. The sequence of grain yields in each treatment receiving N fertilizer management from high to low was: N180 > N270 > N90 in all the regions. The agronomic efficiency for applied N in N90, N180, N270 treatments was 11.8, 10.8, and 4.6 kg kg −1, respectively. The average optimum N fertilizer recommendation rate in Liaoning province was 180.4 kg ha −1, and the predicted optimum yield ranged between 7908.7 and 12,153.9 kg ha −1, with an average of 9699.1 kg ha −1. The mean optimum N fertilizer recommendation rate in western (WL), central and southern (SCL), eastern (EL), and northern (NL) of Liaoning province were 184.2, 177.2, 163.5, and 192.5 kg ha −1, and the average predicted optimum yields were 8785.3, 10,630.3, 9347, and 9942.4 kg ha −1. This study analyzed the spatial distribution of optimum fertilizer recommendation rates and the corresponding theoretical yield based on a large database, which helped to develop effective and environment-friendly N management strategies for sustainable production systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses)
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Open AccessArticle
Simulating and Predicting Crop Yield and Soil Fertility under Climate Change with Fertilizer Management in Northeast China Based on the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer Model
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2194; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062194 - 12 Mar 2020
Abstract
The risks of climate change and soil degradation for the agricultural environment and crop production are increasingly prominent. Based on the limitations of land resources, it is important to explore a sustainable and effective fertilization strategy to reduce risks and ensure there is [...] Read more.
The risks of climate change and soil degradation for the agricultural environment and crop production are increasingly prominent. Based on the limitations of land resources, it is important to explore a sustainable and effective fertilization strategy to reduce risks and ensure there is a high yield of grain and sustainable development of agriculture. Soil fertility underpins cultivated land, which is the most important resource of agricultural production, and is also the key for maintaining agricultural sustainability. The central elements of soil fertility are soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil nitrogen (SN). This study applied the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer-Cropping System Model (DSSAT-CSM) and the CENTURY-based soil module to simulate the trends of crop yields, SN storages and SOC storages until the end of this century under different climate change circumstances, based on a 36-year long-term experiment established at Shenyang site, China. Four fertilizer practices were applied: control (CK), combined chemical fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), NPK with manure (MNPK), and NPK fertilizers plus a high application rate of manure (hMNPK). The outcomes indicated that the DSSAT model can fully simulate the yields of maize and soybean as well as the dynamic stocks of the SN and SOC. Three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 8.5) for future development were chosen from the fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Moreover, a baseline was installed. Crop yields, SN, and SOC storages from 2016 to 2100 were estimated under four climate scenarios (RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 8.5, and Baseline). The RCP scenarios in some treatments reduced SN and SOC stocks and maize yield, and had no effect on soybean yield. However, the application of NPK with manure could improve crop yields, while it increased SN and SOC storages substantially. To some extent, the negative effects of climate scenarios could be mitigated by applying manure. In the RCP 4.5, maize yields of NPK, MNPK, and hMNPK treatments declined by 14.8%, 7.7%, and 6.2%, respectively, compared with that of NPK under Baseline. The NPK fertilizers plus manure treatments could cut the reduction of maize yield caused by climate change in half. Additionally, the SOC storage and SN of chemical fertilizers plus manure treatments under RCP scenarios increased by 20.2%–33.5% and 13.7%–21.7% compared with that of NPK under baseline, respectively. It was concluded that a rational combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer applications is a sustainable and effective agricultural measure to maintain food security and relieve environmental stresses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparison of Active Nitrogen Loss in Four Pathways on a Sloped Peanut Field with Red Soil in China under Conventional Fertilization Conditions
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6219; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226219 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Active nitrogen loss mainly includes ammonia (NH3) volatilization, nitrous oxide (N2O) emission, NO3-N and NH4+-N deep leakage (N leaching), and NO3-N and NH4+-N surface runoff (N runoff), [...] Read more.
Active nitrogen loss mainly includes ammonia (NH3) volatilization, nitrous oxide (N2O) emission, NO3-N and NH4+-N deep leakage (N leaching), and NO3-N and NH4+-N surface runoff (N runoff), resulting in serious environmental problems. To analyze the characteristics of active nitrogen loss in the four pathways on sloped farmland under conventional fertilization, six lysimeters with a slope of 8° were used. Losses due to NH3 volatilization, N2O emission, N leaching, and N runoff were investigated after urea application on a peanut field with red soil in China during the growing season from 2017–2018. Results reveal that at conventional nitrogen levels of 150 and 172 kg hm−2, the total active nitrogen loss caused by fertilization accounting for the total nitrogen applied was 5.57% and 14.21%, respectively, with the N2O emission coefficients of 0.18% and 0.10%, respectively; the NH3 volatilization coefficients of 2.24% and 0.31%, respectively; the N leakage loss rates of 3.07% and 10.50%, respectively; and the N runoff loss rates of 0.08% and 3.30%, respectively. The dry year was dominated by leaching and NH3 volatilization, while the wet year was dominated by leaching and runoff; the base fertilizer period was dominated by leakage, while the topdressing period was dominated by leakage and runoff, which suggests that the loss of active nitrogen in the soil-peanut system on a sloped red soil was mainly affected by rainfall and fertilization methods. Taken together, reasonable fertilization management and soil and water conservation measures appear to be effective in minimizing the loss of active nitrogen from nitrogen fertilizer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses)
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Phosphorus Use Efficiency and Optimizing Phosphorus Application Rates for Maize in the Northeast Plain of China for Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4799; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174799 - 03 Sep 2019
Abstract
Optimizing the phosphorus (P) application rate can increase grain yield while reducing both cost and environmental impact. However, optimal P rates vary substantially when different targets such as maximum yield or maximum economic benefit are considered. The present study used field experiment conducted [...] Read more.
Optimizing the phosphorus (P) application rate can increase grain yield while reducing both cost and environmental impact. However, optimal P rates vary substantially when different targets such as maximum yield or maximum economic benefit are considered. The present study used field experiment conducted at 36 experiments sites for maize to determine the impact of P application levels on grain yield, plant P uptake, and P agronomy efficiency (AEP), P-derived yield benefits and private profitability, and to evaluated the agronomically (AOPR), privately (POPR), and economically (EOPR) optimal P rate at a regional scale. Four treatments were compared: No P fertilizer (P0); P rate of 45–60 kg ha−1 (LP); P rate of 90–120 kg ha−1 (MP); P rate of 135–180 kg ha−1 (HP). P application more effectively increased grain yield, reaching a peak at MP treatment. The plant P uptake in HP treatment was 37.4% higher than that in P0. The relationship between P uptake by plants (y) and P application rate (x) can be described by the equation y = −0.0003x2 + 0.1266x + 31.1 (R2 = 0.309, p < 0.01). Furthermore, grain yield (y) and plant P uptake (x) across all treatments also showed a significant polynomial function (R2 = 0.787–0.846). The MP treatment led to highest improvements in P agronomic efficiency (AEP), P-derived yield benefits (BY) and private profitability (BP) compared with those in other treatments. In addition, the average agronomically (AOPR), privately (POPR), and economically optimal P rate (EOPR) in 36 experimental sites were suggested as 127.9 kg ha−1, 110.8 kg ha−1, and 114.4 kg ha−1, which ranged from 80.6 to 211.3 kg ha−1, 78.2 to 181.8 kg ha−1, and 82.6 to 151.6 kg ha−1, respectively. Economically optimal P application (EOPR) can be recommended, because EOPR significantly reduced P application compared with AOPR, and average economically optimal yield was slightly higher compared with the average yield in the MP treatment. This study was conducive in providing a more productive, use-effective, profitable, environment-friendly P fertilizer management strategy for supporting maximized production potential and environment sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Tackling Salinity in Sustainable Agriculture—What Developing Countries May Learn from Approaches of the Developed World
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4558; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174558 - 22 Aug 2019
Abstract
Soil salinity is a common problem of the developing world as well as the developed world. However, the pace to reduce salinity is much slower in the developing world. The application of short-term approaches with an unsustainable supply of funds are the major [...] Read more.
Soil salinity is a common problem of the developing world as well as the developed world. However, the pace to reduce salinity is much slower in the developing world. The application of short-term approaches with an unsustainable supply of funds are the major reasons of low success. In contrast, the developed world has focused on long-term and sustainable techniques, and considerable funds per unit area have been allocated to reduce soil salinity. Here, we review the existing approaches in both worlds. Approaches like engineering and nutrient use were proven to be unsustainable, while limited breeding and biosaline approaches had little success in the developing countries. In contrast, advanced breeding and genetics tools were implemented in the developed countries to improve the salinity tolerance of different crops with more success. Resultantly, developed countries not only reduced the area for soil salinity at a higher rate, but more sustainable and cheaper ways to resolve the issue were implemented at the farmers’ field. Similarly, plant microbial approaches and the application of fertigation through drip irrigation have great potential for both worlds, and farmer participatory approaches are required to obtain fruitful outcomes. In this regard, a challenging issue is the transition of sustainable approaches from developed countries to developing ones, and possible methods for this are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cropping Practices to Counteract Environmental Stresses)
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