Special Issue "Tradeoffs among Food Production, Forests, and Water Resources in Tropical Agricultural Frontiers"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Michael T. Coe
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. The Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA 02540-1644, USA
2. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Brasília DF71503-505, Brazil
Interests: Amazon; Cerrado; tropical hydrology; climate; land use/land cover change; deforestation; agricultural intensification; numerical modeling
Dr. Marcia N. Macedo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. The Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA 02540-1644, USA
2. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Brasília DF71503-505, Brazil
Interests: Amazon; Cerrado; tropical streams; deforestation; reservoirs; land-use change; ecohydrology; riparian zones; remote sensing
Dr. Michael Lathuillière
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
SEI Stockholm, Linnégatan 87D, Box 24218, 10451 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: ecohydrology; water footprint; land use change; tropical hydrology; Amazon; Cerrado

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, agricultural frontiers have expanded rapidly in the tropics, where the large pool of available arable land has allowed for the rapid growth of internationally traded commodities to meet increasing global food demands. This rapid deforestation and agricultural expansion has had significant impacts on the hydrologic cycle and associated eco-hydrological systems. Understanding of the scope of these changes requires interdisciplinary analysis from both biophysical and economic perspectives. For example, river discharge could increase as a fraction of precipitation at local scales, but decrease if diminished water vapor transfers to the atmosphere affect regional rainfall regimes. These effects can be viewed from the perspective of water users (e.g., up- and downstream), as well as local producers or distant consumers of agricultural exports. This Special Issue focuses on changes in the hydrological cycle due to land cover and land use change for tropical agriculture, as observed across multiple scales—whether from farm to river basin, or from production to consumption centers across international boundaries.

We welcome submissions that explore both biophysical changes to the water cycle described through field measurements or hydrologic modeling, but also invite research focused on impact assessment of water use for products through production system modeling. Topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Empirical studies (e.g., paired catchments);
  • River basin, biome or continental scale hydrologic modeling;
  • Implications for water availability across scales (e.g., up- or downstream, inside or outside of the basin or biome);
  • Production and consumption center effects on hydrology through (e.g., life cycle assessments, water footprint, water productivity).

Dr. Michael T. Coe
Dr. Marcia N. Macedo
Dr. Michael Lathuillière
Guest Editors

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. Water 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 2000 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

  • Tropical hydrology
  • Land use and land cover change
  • Case studies
  • Water availability
  • Impact assessments
  • Water productivity/use
  • Agricultural production
  • Ecohydrology

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Land Use Change Influences Ecosystem Function in Headwater Streams of the Lowland Amazon Basin
Water 2021, 13(12), 1667; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13121667 - 15 Jun 2021
Viewed by 720
Abstract
Intensive agriculture alters headwater streams, but our understanding of its effects is limited in tropical regions where rates of agricultural expansion and intensification are currently greatest. Riparian forest protections are an important conservation tool, but whether they provide adequate protection of stream function [...] Read more.
Intensive agriculture alters headwater streams, but our understanding of its effects is limited in tropical regions where rates of agricultural expansion and intensification are currently greatest. Riparian forest protections are an important conservation tool, but whether they provide adequate protection of stream function in these areas of rapid tropical agricultural development has not been well studied. To address these gaps, we conducted a study in the lowland Brazilian Amazon, an area undergoing rapid cropland expansion, to assess the effects of land use change on organic matter dynamics (OM), ecosystem metabolism, and nutrient concentrations and uptake (nitrate and phosphate) in 11 first order streams draining forested (n = 4) or cropland (n = 7) watersheds with intact riparian forests. We found that streams had similar terrestrial litter inputs, but OM biomass was lower in cropland streams. Gross primary productivity was low and not different between land uses, but ecosystem respiration and net ecosystem production showed greater seasonality in cropland streams. Although we found no difference in stream concentrations of dissolved nutrients, phosphate uptake exceeded nitrate uptake in all streams and was higher in cropland than forested streams. This indicates that streams will be more retentive of phosphorus than nitrogen and that if fertilizer nitrogen reaches streams, it will be exported in stream networks. Overall, we found relatively subtle differences in stream function, indicating that riparian buffers have thus far provided protection against major functional shifts seen in other systems. However, the changes we did observe were linked to watershed scale shifts in hydrology, water temperature, and light availability resulting from watershed deforestation. This has implications for the conservation of tens of thousands of stream kilometers across the expanding Amazon cropland region. Full article
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Article
Water Appropriation on the Agricultural Frontier in Western Bahia and Its Contribution to Streamflow Reduction: Revisiting the Debate in the Brazilian Cerrado
Water 2021, 13(8), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081054 - 12 Apr 2021
Viewed by 744
Abstract
Over the last three decades, almost half of the Brazilian tropical savanna (Cerrado biome) has been converted into cropland and planted pastures. This study aims to understand the implications of the expansion of the agricultural frontier for water resources in western Bahia state. [...] Read more.
Over the last three decades, almost half of the Brazilian tropical savanna (Cerrado biome) has been converted into cropland and planted pastures. This study aims to understand the implications of the expansion of the agricultural frontier for water resources in western Bahia state. We use an interdisciplinary approach that combines quantitative and qualitative data (spatial and hydrological analysis, interviews) to tie together land use changes in the Corrente basin, the streamflow and precipitation time series in the Pratudão River sub-basin (part of the Corrente basin), and the perceptions of soybean farmers and smallholder communities about the transformations of the hydrological cycle over the last few years. We observed an almost 10-fold increase in agricultural surface area in the Corrente River basin over the last three decades (1986–2018), going on from 57,090 ha to 565,084 ha, while center-pivot irrigated areas increased from 240 ha to 43,631 ha. Over this period, the streamflow has reduced by 38% in the Pratudão River. Our hydrological analyses, based on the Mann-Kendall test, of seven fluviometric stations and 14 pluviometry stations showed a statistically significant streamflow trend in the Pratudão River sub-basin for both minimum and mean streamflow series (p ≤0.05). Surface runoff coefficient, which relates streamflow and precipitation annual data coefficient, decreased from around 0.4 in the late 1990s to less than 0.2 in 2015. In addition, most precipitation time series analysis (number of annual rainy days) showed no statistically significant trend (p > 0.05). Our results indicate that agricultural changes rather than climate change may be the main driver of downward streamflow trends in the Pratudão River sub-basin that is part of Corrente River basin. Full article
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Article
India’s Commitments to Increase Tree and Forest Cover: Consequences for Water Supply and Agriculture Production within the Central Indian Highlands
Water 2021, 13(7), 959; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13070959 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 923
Abstract
As part of its nationally determined contributions as well as national forest policy goals, India plans to boost tree cover to 33% of its land area. Land currently under other uses will require tree-plantations or reforestation to achieve this goal. This paper examines [...] Read more.
As part of its nationally determined contributions as well as national forest policy goals, India plans to boost tree cover to 33% of its land area. Land currently under other uses will require tree-plantations or reforestation to achieve this goal. This paper examines the effects of converting cropland to tree or forest cover in the Central India Highlands (CIH). The paper examines the impact of increased forest cover on groundwater infiltration and recharge, which are essential for sustainable Rabi (winter, non-monsoon) season irrigation and agricultural production. Field measurements of saturated hydraulic conductivity (Kfs) linked to hydrological modeling estimate increased forest cover impact on the CIH hydrology. Kfs tests in 118 sites demonstrate a significant land cover effect, with forest cover having a higher Kfs of 20.2 mm h−1 than croplands (6.7 mm h−1). The spatial processes in hydrology (SPHY) model simulated forest cover from 2% to 75% and showed that each basin reacts differently, depending on the amount of agriculture under paddy. Paddy agriculture can compensate for low infiltration through increased depression storage, allowing for continuous infiltration and groundwater recharge. Expanding forest cover to 33% in the CIH would reduce groundwater recharge by 7.94 mm (−1%) when converting the average cropland and increase it by 15.38 mm (3%) if reforestation is conducted on non-paddy agriculture. Intermediate forest cover shows however shows potential for increase in net benefits. Full article
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Article
Mapping Center Pivot Irrigation Systems in the Southern Amazon from Sentinel-2 Images
Water 2021, 13(3), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030298 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 543
Abstract
Irrigation systems play an important role in agriculture. Center pivot irrigation systems are popular in many countries as they are labor-saving and water consumption efficient. Monitoring the distribution of center pivot irrigation systems can provide important information for agricultural production, water consumption and [...] Read more.
Irrigation systems play an important role in agriculture. Center pivot irrigation systems are popular in many countries as they are labor-saving and water consumption efficient. Monitoring the distribution of center pivot irrigation systems can provide important information for agricultural production, water consumption and land use. Deep learning has become an effective method for image classification and object detection. In this paper, a new method to detect the precise shape of center pivot irrigation systems is proposed. The proposed method combines a lightweight real-time object detection network (PVANET) based on deep learning, an image classification model (GoogLeNet) and accurate shape detection (Hough transform) to detect and accurately delineate center pivot irrigation systems and their associated circular shape. PVANET is lightweight and fast and GoogLeNet can reduce the false detections associated with PVANET, while Hough transform can accurately detect the shape of center pivot irrigation systems. Experiments with Sentinel-2 images in Mato Grosso achieved a precision of 95% and a recall of 95.5%, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed method. Finally, with the accurate shape of center pivot irrigation systems detected, the area of irrigation in the region was estimated. Full article
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Article
Streams with Riparian Forest Buffers versus Impoundments Differ in Discharge and DOM Characteristics for Pasture Catchments in Southern Amazonia
Water 2019, 11(2), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020390 - 23 Feb 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1841
Abstract
Forest to pasture land use change following deforestation in Southern Amazonia can result in changes to stream water quality. However, some pasture streams have riparian forest buffers, while others are dammed for farm ponds. Stream corridor management can have differential effects on hydrology [...] Read more.
Forest to pasture land use change following deforestation in Southern Amazonia can result in changes to stream water quality. However, some pasture streams have riparian forest buffers, while others are dammed for farm ponds. Stream corridor management can have differential effects on hydrology and dissolved organic matter (DOM) characteristics. We examined rainfall-runoff patterns and DOM characteristics in a pasture catchment with a forested riparian buffer, and an adjacent catchment with an impoundment. Total streamflow was 1.5 times higher with the riparian buffer, whereas stormflow represented 20% of total discharge for the dammed stream versus 13% with buffer. Stream corridor management was also the primary factor related to DOM characteristics. In the impounded catchment, DOM was found to be less structurally complex, with lower molecular weight compounds, a lesser degree of humification, and a larger proportion of protein-like DOM. In the catchment with a forested buffer, DOM was dominated by humic-like components, with fluorescence characteristics indicative of DOM derived from humified soil organic matter under native vegetation. Our results suggest that differences in stream corridor management can have important implications for carbon cycling in headwater pasture catchments, and that such changes may have the potential to influence water quality downstream in the Amazon basin. Full article
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Review

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Review
Agricultural Impacts on Hydrobiogeochemical Cycling in the Amazon: Is There Any Solution?
Water 2020, 12(3), 763; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030763 - 10 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1575
Abstract
Expansion of agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon has been driven not just by demands from traditional, rural producers, but also large agriculture and cattle producers, both of whom have put considerable pressure on remaining forests and their watersheds. Monitoring of these watersheds has [...] Read more.
Expansion of agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon has been driven not just by demands from traditional, rural producers, but also large agriculture and cattle producers, both of whom have put considerable pressure on remaining forests and their watersheds. Monitoring of these watersheds has been a focus of intensive study for the past 20 years and although this work has greatly increased our understanding, considerable gaps still remain in our ability to provide adequate recommendations for land management and associated public policies. In this study we present a summary of findings from these previous results. For small properties, the use of fire to prepare land for cultivation remains controversial, while in large properties, forest conversion to pasture and/or crop production has had a meaningful and adverse effect on water quality. Riparian forest conservation can make a significant difference in reducing impacts of land-use change. Secondary vegetation can also play an important role in mitigating these impacts. New types of sustainable agricultural production systems, together with incentives such as payments for ecosystem service can also contribute. Continued monitoring of these changes, together with robust sustainable development plans, can help to preserve forest while still addressing the social and economic needs of Amazonian riverine inhabitants. Full article
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