Special Issue "Impact of Farmland Abandonment on Water Resources and Soil Conservation"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Noemí Lana-Renault Website E-Mail
Universidad de La Rioja, Departamento de Ciencias Humanas, Logrono, Spain
Interests: catchment hydrology; soil erosion and sediment transfer; farmland abandonment; mountain areas; natural resources
Guest Editor
Dr. Estela Nadal Romero Website E-Mail
Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Geografía y Ordenación del Territorio, Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: catchment hydrology; soil erosion and sediment yield; geomorphological dynamics; global change; badlands, afforestation; Mediterranean area
Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erik Cammeraat E-Mail
Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Guest Editor
Dr. José Ángel Llorente E-Mail
Universidad de La Rioja, Departamento de Ciencias Humanas, Logrono, Spain

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Farmland abandonment is one of the major land use changes in many rural territories, especially in mountainous regions. Without intervention (passive land management), farmland abandonment leads to an expansion of shrubs and forest on formerly cultivated hillslopes and grazing areas. In some cases, extensive afforestation programs have been undertaken by forest services to improve the use of abandoned land as a resource and to control hydrological and soil erosion processes. In other cases, shrub clearing in selected abandoned land has been conducted in order to generate pastures and reduce wildfire risk.

All these land use changes affect the hydrological and geomorphological dynamics of slopes and channels, with important implications for water resources and soil conservation. In some regions, this is particularly critical since abandoned areas are usually located in the uplands, which are the main sources of water for the lowlands, where the demands are concentrated. However, the heterogeneity of abandoned scenarios makes the assessment of farmland abandonment on water resources and soil conservation challenging.

In this Special Issue we would like to invite papers that look into the hydrological and geomorphological consequences of farmland abandonment in one (or several) of these abandoned scenarios. This topic can be studied at different spatial scales (plot, catchment, regional), and they are all welcome. Our final purpose is to help water and land managers to select the most sustainable strategy (in terms of water resources and soil conservation) for the land management of marginal rural areas.

Dr. Noemí Lana-Renault
Dr. Estela Nadal Romero
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erik Cammeraat
Dr. José Ángel Llorente
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • land use change
  • farmland abandonment
  • mountain area
  • water resources
  • soil conservation
  • land management

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Investigation on Farmland Abandonment of Terraced Slopes Using Multitemporal Data Sources Comparison and Its Implication on Hydro-Geomorphological Processes
Water 2019, 11(8), 1552; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081552 - 26 Jul 2019
Abstract
This paper presents a quantitative multi-temporal analysis performed in a GIS environment and based on different spatial information sources. The research is aimed at investigating the land use transformations that occurred in a small coastal terraced basin of Eastern Liguria from the early [...] Read more.
This paper presents a quantitative multi-temporal analysis performed in a GIS environment and based on different spatial information sources. The research is aimed at investigating the land use transformations that occurred in a small coastal terraced basin of Eastern Liguria from the early 1950s to 2011. The degree of abandonment of cultivated terraced slopes together with its influence on the distribution, abundance, and magnitude of rainfall-induced shallow landslides were accurately analysed. The analysis showed that a large portion of terraced area (77.4%) has been abandoned over approximately sixty years. This land use transformation has played a crucial role in influencing the hydro-geomorphological processes triggered by a very intense rainstorm that occurred in 2011. The outcomes of the analysis revealed that terraces abandoned for a short time showed the highest landslide susceptibility and that slope failures affecting cultivated zones were characterized by a lower magnitude than those which occurred on abandoned terraced slopes. Furthermore, this study highlights the usefulness of cadastral data in understanding the impact of rainfall-induced landslides due to both a high spatial and thematic accuracy. The obtained results represent a solid basis for the investigation of erosion and the shallow landslide susceptibility of terraced slopes by means of a simulation of land use change scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Runoff and Solute Outputs under Different Land Uses: Long-Term Results from a Mediterranean Mountain Experimental Station
Water 2019, 11(5), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050976 - 09 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Water availability and quality in Mediterranean environments are largely related to the spatial organisation of land uses in mountain areas, where most water resources are generated. However, there is scant data available on the potential effects of land use changes on surface water [...] Read more.
Water availability and quality in Mediterranean environments are largely related to the spatial organisation of land uses in mountain areas, where most water resources are generated. However, there is scant data available on the potential effects of land use changes on surface water chemistry in the Mediterranean mountain region. In order to address this gap in the research, this study investigates the effects of various mountain Mediterranean land covers/land uses on runoff water yielded and water chemistry (solute concentrations and loads) using data from the Aísa Valley Experimental Station (Central Pyrenees) for a long-term period (1991–2011). Nine land covers have been reproduced in closed plots, including dense shrub cover, grazing meadows, cereal, fallow land, abandoned field, shifting agriculture (active and abandoned) and 2 burned plots (one burned in 1991 and the second one burned twice in 1993 and 2001). Results show that all solute concentrations differed among land uses, with agricultural activity producing significantly higher solute loads and concentrations than the other types. Two groups have been identified: (i) the lowest solute concentrations and the smallest quantities of solute loads are recorded in the dense shrub cover, the plot burned once (at present well colonized with shrubs), meadows and abandoned field plots; (ii) the plot burned twice registered moderate values and the highest solute concentrations and loads are found in cereal, fallow land and shifting agriculture plots. Water chemistry is clearly dominated by Ca2+ and HCO3 concentrations, whereas other solutes are exported in very low quantities due to the poor nutrient content of the soil. These results complete the information published previously on soil erosion under different land uses in this experimental station and help to explain the evolution of land cover as a consequence of shifting agriculture, cereal farming on steep slopes and the use of recurrent fires to favour seasonal grazing. They also suggest that promoting the development of grazing and cutting meadows is a good strategy to reduce not only soil erosion but also the loss of nutrients. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Farmland Abandonment on Water Resources and Soil Conservation in Citrus Plantations in Eastern Spain
Water 2019, 11(4), 824; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040824 - 19 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Due to the reduction in the prices of oranges on the market and social changes such as the ageing of the population, traditional orange plantation abandonment in the Mediterranean is taking place. Previous research on land abandonment impact on soil and water resources [...] Read more.
Due to the reduction in the prices of oranges on the market and social changes such as the ageing of the population, traditional orange plantation abandonment in the Mediterranean is taking place. Previous research on land abandonment impact on soil and water resources has focused on rainfed agriculture abandonment, but there is no research on irrigated land abandonment. In the Valencia Region—the largest producer of oranges in Europe—abandonment is resulting in a quick vegetation recovery and changes in soil properties, and then in water erosion. Therefore, we performed rainfall simulation experiments (0.28 m2; 38.8 mm h−1) to determine the soil losses in naveline orange plantations with different ages of abandonment (1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years of abandonment) which will allow for an understanding of the temporal changes in soil and water losses after abandonment. Moreover, these results were also compared with an active plantation (0). The results show that the soils of the active orange plantations have higher runoff discharges and higher erosion rates due to the use of herbicides than the plots after abandonment. Once the soil is abandoned for one year, the plant recovery reaches 33% of the cover and the erosion rate drops one order of magnitude. This is related to the delay in the runoff generation and the increase in infiltration rates. After 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years, the soil reduced bulk density, increase in organic matter, plant cover, and soil erosion rates were found negligible. We conclude that the abandonment of orange plantations reduces soil and water losses and can serve as a nature-based solution to restore the soil services, goods, and resources. The reduction in the soil losses was exponential (from 607.4 g m−2 in the active plot to 7.1 g m−2 in the 10-year abandoned one) but the water losses were linear (from 77.2 in active plantations till 12.8% in the 10-year abandoned ones). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Different Land Uses (Abandoned Farmland, Intensive Agriculture and Forest) on Soil Hydrological Properties in Southern Spain
Water 2019, 11(3), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030503 - 11 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
A detailed knowledge of soil water repellency (SWR) and water infiltration capacity of soils under different land uses is of fundamental importance in Mediterranean areas, since these areas are prone to soil degradation risks (e.g., erosion, runoff of polluting compounds) as a response [...] Read more.
A detailed knowledge of soil water repellency (SWR) and water infiltration capacity of soils under different land uses is of fundamental importance in Mediterranean areas, since these areas are prone to soil degradation risks (e.g., erosion, runoff of polluting compounds) as a response to different hydrological processes. The present study evaluates the effects of land uses on SWR and soil hydraulic conductivity (SHC) by direct measurements at the plot scale in three areas representing (1) intensive agricultural use, (2) abandoned farmland, and (3) a forest ecosystem in Southern Spain under Mediterranean climatic conditions. The physico-chemical properties and water content of the experimental soils were also measured. Significant SWR and SHC differences were found among the analyzed land uses. Forest soils showed high SWR and low SHC, while the reverse effects (that is, low SWR and high SHC) were detected in soils subjected to intensive agriculture. Organic matter and bulk density were important soil properties influencing SWR and SHC. The study, demonstrating how land uses can have important effects on the hydrological characteristics of soils, give land managers insights into the choice of the most suitable land use planning strategies in view of facing the high runoff and erosion rates typical of the Mediterranean areas. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Propects of alternative land management on fire-prone sites in NW Portugal under global change
Authors: A.V. Pastor; JP Nunes, R.; Ciampalini, M.; Koopmans, J.; Baartman, S.; Follain, Y.; LeBissonnais, D. Raclot.

Title: How agricultural terraces modify connectivity and how is reversed the effect with their degradation
Authors: A. Calvo-Cases; A. Calsamiglia; J. Fortesa; J. Garcia-Comendador; J.A. López-Tarazón; J. Estrany.

Title: Soil quality changes from cultivation to abandoned and afforested ecogeomorphologic conditions in mediterranean mountains (southern spain): implications in the context of global change
Authors: José A. Sillero; Paloma Hueso-González; Juan F. Martínez-Murillo; José D. Ruiz-Sinoga.

Title: Dynamics of runoff and soil erosion on abandoned steep vineyards in the Mosel area, Germany.
Authors: 
Manuel Seeger, Thomas Iserloh, Johannes B. Ries

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