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Special Issue "Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Manuel López-Vicente

Experimental Station of Aula Dei, EEAD-CSIC, Department of Soil and Water, Zaragoza, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soil moisture; soil erosion; hydrological connectivity; numerical simulation; nutrient delivery; cover crops; woody crops; conservation policies; forest plantations; global change
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gao-Lin Wu

State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Water and Soil Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences / Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi P.R.China
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soil moisture; vegetation restoration; soil erosion; plant and soil interaction; soil and water conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The conservation of soil and water resources is a key aspect for the economic and environmental sustainability of all types of agricultural and forestry systems. Soil erosion is one of the main threats to soil and water conservation, and numerous studies deal with this topic using field and modelling approaches. Cover crops in woody crops, such as vineyards, olive, almond and citrus groves, and reduced tillage in cereal fields provide environmental-friendly alternatives to conventional tillage for land management. Hydrologic and geomorphic studies in natural forestry areas and forest plantations are necessary to assess the impact of natural- and human-induced heterogeneities, such as climate variability, vegetation reconstruction, abandoned fields and timber activities, and thus to propose best management practices. Furthermore, multi-temporal and inter-disciplinary studies can help to investigate the medium- and long-term consequences of good and bad management practices on soil and water conservation.

This Special Issue aims at collecting original and quantitative studies dealing with any technique of soil and water conservation. Studies done under any type of climatic (arid, Mediterranean, temperate, tropical and cold) and topographic conditions, land use and management practices are welcome, particularly manuscripts where conservation policies are evaluated.

Dr. Manuel López-Vicente
Prof. Dr. Gao-Lin Wu
Guest Editors

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. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • Soil erosion
  • Cover crop
  • Reduced tillage
  • Vegetation reconstruction
  • Timber activities
  • Land abandonment
  • Conservation policies
  • Modelling approaches
  • Long-term evaluation

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Soil Water Dynamics in a Rainfed Mediterranean Agricultural System
Water 2019, 11(4), 799; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040799
Received: 1 March 2019 / Revised: 12 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
Rainfed Mediterranean agriculture is characterized by low water input and by soil water content below its field capacity during most of the year. However, erratic rainfall distribution can lead to deep drainage. The understanding of soil-water dynamics is essential to prevent collateral impacts [...] Read more.
Rainfed Mediterranean agriculture is characterized by low water input and by soil water content below its field capacity during most of the year. However, erratic rainfall distribution can lead to deep drainage. The understanding of soil-water dynamics is essential to prevent collateral impacts in subsuperficial waters by leached pollutants and to implement suitable soil management (e.g., agronomic measures to avoid nitrate leaching). Soil water dynamics during two fallow years and three barley crop seasons was evaluated using the Leaching estimation and chemistry model in a semiarid Mediterranean agricultural system. Model calibration was carried out using soil moisture data from disturbed soil samples and from capacitance probes installed at three depths. Drainage of water from the plots occurred in the fall and winter periods. The yearly low drainage values obtained (<15 mm) indicate that the estimated annual nitrate leaching is also small, regardless of the nature of the fertilizer applied (slurries or minerals). In fallow periods, there is a water recharge in the soil, which does not occur under barley cropping. However, annual fallow included in a winter cereal rotation, high nitrate residual soil concentrations (~80 mg NO3-N L−1) and a period with substantial autumn-winter rains (70–90 mm) can enhance nitrate leaching, despite the semiarid climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
A Bibliometric Analysis of Soil and Water Conservation in the Loess Tableland-Gully Region of China
Water 2019, 11(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010020
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 22 December 2018
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Abstract
The tableland-gully region is one of the main topographic-ecological units in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), and the soil in this region suffers from serious water erosion. In recent years, much work has been conducted to control soil erosion in this area. This [...] Read more.
The tableland-gully region is one of the main topographic-ecological units in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), and the soil in this region suffers from serious water erosion. In recent years, much work has been conducted to control soil erosion in this area. This paper summarized the development of soil and water conservation researches in the CLP from the bibliometric perspective based on the Science Citation Index (SCI) and Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases. The quantity of SCI literatures has increased rapidly since 2007, with an average annual growth rate of 21.4%, and the quantity of CNKI literatures in the last decade accounted for 62% of the past 30 years. The development trends showed that early SCI research was related to loess geology in the context of ecological remediation, while the CNKI literature focused on agricultural production under comprehensive management. Over time, the research themes of the two databases gradually became unified, i.e., the management of sloping farmland and the improvement of agricultural productivity. Subsequently, the themes gradually extended to the disposition of comprehensive control measures for soil erosion and the environmental effect of agro-fruit ecosystems. The highly cited papers mainly focused on soil reservoir reconstruction, soil erosion factors, and environmental effects of vegetation restoration. Two aspects need further study, including (i) the effect of soil erosion control under different ecological remediation patterns; and, (ii) the ecosystem maintenance mechanism and regulation approaches that are based on the sustainable utilization of soil and water resources in the tableland-gully region of the Loess Plateau. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Identifying the Key Information and Land Management Plans for Water Conservation under Dry Weather Conditions in the Border Areas of the Syr Darya River in Kazakhstan
Water 2018, 10(12), 1754; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10121754
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 15 November 2018 / Accepted: 21 November 2018 / Published: 29 November 2018
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Abstract
Due to an increase in poorly planned anthropogenic activities, the water quality of several Asian big rivers is highly being affected. Although the assessment of heavy metal contents is vital to develop and design sustainable water management plans, several areas in Central Asia [...] Read more.
Due to an increase in poorly planned anthropogenic activities, the water quality of several Asian big rivers is highly being affected. Although the assessment of heavy metal contents is vital to develop and design sustainable water management plans, several areas in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan do not have recent studies available that evaluate this situation. One representative example of this lack of information is the Syr Darya River. Thus, this study carried out the first approach to a water quality assessment in Kazakhstan’s Syr Darya River, where a massive expansion of irrigation canals, pastures in middle- and lower-reaches and an increase in industrialization and population have lowered its potential water capacity. To achieve this goal, various physicochemical parameters were analyzed for forty-three water samples along the river under dry weather conditions at 25 cm water depth. The obtained results were analyzed using standard methods (e.g., Multi N/C 2100 S analyzer or an atomic absorption spectrometer) and evaluated by multivariate techniques (cluster analysis (CA), principal component analysis (PCA), and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NDMS)) and a heavy metal pollution index (HPI). In the CA, five cluster groups were obtained. It is important to remark that the first cluster consists of the highest number of water sampling points (8). The last cluster is made up of only one point, which shows the highest difference against the other sites in our model. The NDMS also confirmed that some specific points along the river are different. Five components were extracted from the PCA: (1) COD (chemical oxygen demand), Zn, Cu, Pb, Ni and Mn; (2) Cu, Cd, Ni and Co; (3) T (water temperature), pH and DO (dissolved oxygen); (4) T and Fe; and (5) COD and OC (organic carbon). The HPI showed very high values (279.9), which were locally confirmed in some hotspots close to the Aral Sea, industrialized areas and agricultural fields. Therefore, our results demonstrate that, under dry weather conditions, surface water resources could be mismanaged in the Syr Darya River in Kazakhstan in specific areas. For the future, considering the important role that agriculture and pasture play in the Kazakh economy, we insist upon the importance of applying water quality control measures applying nature-based solutions and efficient management plans. Moreover, we confirmed the necessity to conduct further research related to sampling under other weather situations such as wet and cold conditions, different river water depths and other locations considering specific land uses, for example, grazing, mining, railways or industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Afforestation on Soil Bulk Density and pH in the Loess Plateau, China
Water 2018, 10(12), 1710; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10121710
Received: 28 October 2018 / Revised: 14 November 2018 / Accepted: 15 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
Sustainable land management requires a clear understanding of the changes in soil quality. In exploring whether afforestation has the potential to improve the soil quality in China’s Loess Plateau, soil bulk density (ρs) and pH were compared under five treatments: [...] Read more.
Sustainable land management requires a clear understanding of the changes in soil quality. In exploring whether afforestation has the potential to improve the soil quality in China’s Loess Plateau, soil bulk density ( ρ s ) and pH were compared under five treatments: three forested treatments (16-and 40-year-old apricot stands, and 40-year-old poplar stands), and individual abandoned and cultivated treatments, serving as the controls. Bulk density across the 0–1.0 m soil profile under the 16-year-old apricot treatment (1.12 Mg m−3) and 40-year-old poplar treatment (1.16 Mg m−3) were significantly smaller than their counterparts under the cultivated (1.20 Mg m−3) and abandoned treatments (1.23 Mg m−3). Soil pH of the cultivated treatment (8.46) was significantly lower than that of the abandoned treatment (8.51) or than that of any forested treatment. The ρ s and pH were both affected by stand age, with the ρ s and pH of the 40-year-old apricot treatment being 0.10 Mg m−3 and 0.05 units greater, respectively, than those of the 16-year-old apricot treatment. Treatment and soil depth appeared to interact to influence the ρ s , but this same interaction did not influence the soil pH. This study suggested that afforestation species and stand age should be taken into consideration to harvest maximum benefits from the afforestation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Soil Water Depletion in Planted Alfalfa Pastures in an Alpine Pastoral Area
Water 2018, 10(11), 1538; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10111538
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 23 October 2018 / Accepted: 23 October 2018 / Published: 29 October 2018
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Abstract
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has strong stress resistance, high nutritional value, good palatability for cattle, high yield and a drought tolerance mechanism, but long-term planting leads to soil desiccation. This research was carried out to examine the soil water conditions of alfalfa [...] Read more.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has strong stress resistance, high nutritional value, good palatability for cattle, high yield and a drought tolerance mechanism, but long-term planting leads to soil desiccation. This research was carried out to examine the soil water conditions of alfalfa pastures with different planted ages, and determine the optimum time for alfalfa rotation in a plateau area of a sub-alpine monsoon climate. Soil water depletion, soil compaction and vegetation characteristics of alfalfa pastures of different ages (i.e., two, four and seven years) were assayed and compared with those of a cornfield which served as the control crop. Three 20 × 20 m plots and five random quadrats per plot were established at each field. Soil water contents at 0–400 cm depth and plant biomass were compared among different vegetation types, soil transects and planting years. The results showed that at the 250–400 cm depth, the soil water storage of the four- and seven-year-old alfalfa pastures was much lower than in the two-year-old alfalfa pasture and in the cornfield. Moreover, the degree of soil water storage deficit of the four- and seven-year-old alfalfa pastures was much higher than in the other fields. Soil compaction of alfalfa pastures increased with increasing planting age and reached a peak value in the seven-year-old alfalfa pasture. The highest above-ground biomass was observed in the four-year-old alpine alfalfa pasture. Thus, the best cultivation period for alfalfa pastures was four years from the perspective of higher yield and lower soil water consumption in pastoral sub-alpine areas. This study provided a basis for sustainable alfalfa pasture cultivation, timely harvest, rotation and water management measures to be implemented in alpine grazing lands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Soil and Water Conservation in Rainfed Vineyards with Common Sainfoin and Spontaneous Vegetation under Different Ground Conditions
Water 2018, 10(8), 1058; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081058
Received: 2 July 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (5348 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Soil erosion seriously affects vineyards. In this study, the influence of two vegetation covers on topsoil moisture and the effect of different physiographic conditions on runoff and sediment yields were evaluated in a rainfed vineyard formed by four fields (NE Spain) during 15 [...] Read more.
Soil erosion seriously affects vineyards. In this study, the influence of two vegetation covers on topsoil moisture and the effect of different physiographic conditions on runoff and sediment yields were evaluated in a rainfed vineyard formed by four fields (NE Spain) during 15 months. One field had spontaneous vegetation in the inter-row areas, and three fields had a cover crop of common sainfoin. Moisture conditions were dry and stable in the vineyards’ rows, wet and very variable in the inter-row areas and wet and very stable in the corridors. Topsoil moisture in the areas with common sainfoin was much higher than in the rows (62–70%), whereas this difference was lower with spontaneous vegetation (40%). Two runoff and sediment traps (STs) were installed in two ephemeral gullies, and 26 time-integrated surveys (TIS) were done. The mean runoff yields were 9.8 and 13.5 L TIS−1 in ST2 and ST3. Rainfall depth (12 mm) and erosivity (5.2 MJ mm ha−1 h−1) thresholds for runoff initiation were assessed. The mean turbidity was 333 (ST2) and 19 (ST3) g L−1. Changes in the canopy covers (grapevines and vegetation covers), topography and rainfall parameters explained the runoff and sediment dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil and Water Conservation in Agricultural and Forestry Systems)
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Graphical abstract

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