Conservation Agricultural Practices for Improving Crop Production and Quality

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Innovative Cropping Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 7484

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation-State Research Institute, Department of Forage Crop Production, Czartoryskich 8, 24-100 Puławy, Poland
Interests: plant production; abiotic stress; plant physiology; weed control; biodiversity; organic farming; legumes; cover crops
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Guest Editor
Department of Crop Production, College of Natural Sciences, Poland University of Rzeszow, Rzeszów, Poland
Interests: legumes; sustainable agriculture; abiotic stress; plant physiology; plant fertilization; plant product quality
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Soil Science, Environmental Chemistry and Hydrology, College of Natural Sciences, University of Rzeszów, 35-601 Rzeszów, Poland
Interests: soil and plant health under different tillage practices and waste utilization
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past four decades, intensive, high-efficiency technologies based on the heavy use of industrial inputs have been introduced in the agricultural sector. This is primarily due to the desire for profit, but also due to increasing pressure on agriculture to be able to support world population growth with an adequate food supply. In crop production, conventional management of agroecosystems often leads to a reduction in soil quality and alters the soil processes involved in providing many ecosystem services. Intensive tillage, combined with high mineral fertilization, increases the mineralization of organic carbon in the soil, thereby contributing to an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Conservation agriculture (CA) may be the answer to these threats. CA is a crop and soil management practice for sustainable agriculture, defined by three related principles: minimum tillage and soil disturbance, permanent organic soil cover, and diversified crop rotations. Adherence to these principles improves soil quality, optimizes yields, and reduces production costs. Conservation practices help minimize soil erosion, directly increase CO2 sequestration in the soil due to increased organic matter, improve the efficiency of water capture and use, stimulate internal C and N cycling, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. CA's success is driven by component technologies such as water, weed, and nutrient management strategies to support crops under reduced tillage conditions.

Our aim is to present agricultural practices that combine high production of quality raw materials with the provision of environmental services.

Both original research and review articles are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Mariola Staniak
Dr. Ewa Szpunar-Krok
Dr. Małgorzata Szostek
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • conservation agriculture
  • farming systems
  • reduced tillage
  • crop rotation
  • intercropping
  • cover crops
  • crop residue management
  • water management
  • soil organic matter management
  • weed management
  • yield and crop quality

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

10 pages, 1879 KiB  
Article
Inconsistent Yield Response of Forage Sorghum to Tillage and Row Arrangement
by Christine C. Nieman, Jose G. Franco and Randy L. Raper
Agronomy 2024, 14(7), 1510; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14071510 - 12 Jul 2024
Viewed by 213
Abstract
Forage sorghum is an alternative source for biofuel feedstock production and may also provide forage for livestock operations. Introducing biofuel feedstock as a dual-use forage to livestock operations has the potential to increase the adoption of biofuel feedstock production. However, additional technical agronomic [...] Read more.
Forage sorghum is an alternative source for biofuel feedstock production and may also provide forage for livestock operations. Introducing biofuel feedstock as a dual-use forage to livestock operations has the potential to increase the adoption of biofuel feedstock production. However, additional technical agronomic information focusing on tillage, row arrangement, and harvest date for forage sorghum planted into pasturelands intended for dual use is needed. Three tillage treatments, disking and rototilling (RT), chisel plow (CP), and no tillage (NT), and two row arrangement treatments, single-row planting with 76.2 cm rows and twin rows of 17.8 cm on 76.2 cm centers, were tested for effects on forage sorghum yield in a 3-cut system. This study tested two sites in Booneville, AR, from 2010 to 2012. Several interactions with year were detected, likely due to large precipitation differences within and among years. The year greatly affected the yield, with greater (p < 0.05) yields in year 1 compared to years 2 and 3 in both locations. No till resulted in lower yields in some years and harvest dates, though no clear trend was detected among tillage treatments over years. Twin rows generally did not improve yield, except for the third harvest date at one location. No strong trends for tillage or row arrangement effects were observed in this study. Inconsistencies may have resulted from the strong influence of year or interactions of multiple factors, which may challenge producers interested in utilizing forage sorghum for biofuels and livestock feed. Full article
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11 pages, 655 KiB  
Article
Short Crop Rotation under No-Till Improves Crop Productivity and Soil Quality in Salt Affected Areas
by Aziz Nurbekov, Muhammadjon Kosimov, Makhmud Shaumarov, Botir Khaitov, Dilrabo Qodirova, Husniddin Mardonov and Zulfiya Yuldasheva
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 2974; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13122974 - 1 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1071
Abstract
Soil productivity and crop yield were examined in response to legume-based short crop rotation under conventional (CT) and no-till (NT) tillage practices in saline meadow-alluvial soils of the arid region in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Compared with the CT treatment, crop yield was consistently higher [...] Read more.
Soil productivity and crop yield were examined in response to legume-based short crop rotation under conventional (CT) and no-till (NT) tillage practices in saline meadow-alluvial soils of the arid region in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Compared with the CT treatment, crop yield was consistently higher under NT, i.e., winter wheat 9.63%, millet 9.9%, chickpea 3.8%, and maize 10.7% at the first experiment cycle during 2019–2021. A further crop productivity increase was observed at the second experiment cycle during 2021–2023 under NT when compared to CT, i.e., winter wheat 17.7%, millet 31.2%, chickpea 19.6%, and maize 19.1%. An increase in total phyto residue by 20.9% and root residue by 25% under NT compared to CT contributed to the improvement in soil structure and played a vital role in the sustained improvement of crop yields. In turn, the increased residue retention under NT facilitated soil porosity, structural stability, and water retention, thereby improving soil quality and organic matter content. Soil salinity more significantly decreased under NT than in CT, reducing salinity buildup by 18.9% at the 0–25 cm and 32.9% at the 75–100 cm soil profiles compared to CT. The total forms N and P were significantly increased under NT when compared to CT, while the efficiency of the applied crop rotation was essential. This study showed the essential role of the NT method with legume-based intensive cropping in the maintenance of soil health and crop yield, thereby touching on recent advances in agro-biotechnology and the sustainable land management of drylands. Full article
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20 pages, 3306 KiB  
Article
Impact of Rice–Wheat Straw Incorporation and Varying Nitrogen Fertilizer Rates on Soil Physicochemical Properties and Wheat Grain Yield
by Gabriel Hopla Akwakwa and Wang Xiaoyan
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2363; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092363 - 12 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1516
Abstract
Straw return (SR) is crucial for the comprehensive and efficient utilization of resources within agroecosystems; however, its impact on soils and wheat grain yield in the Jianghan Plain of the Yangtze River Basin, Hubei Province of China, is not fully known. Therefore, the [...] Read more.
Straw return (SR) is crucial for the comprehensive and efficient utilization of resources within agroecosystems; however, its impact on soils and wheat grain yield in the Jianghan Plain of the Yangtze River Basin, Hubei Province of China, is not fully known. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to assess the impact of returning rice–wheat straw, along with different nitrogen (N) fertilizer applications, on soil physicochemical properties and wheat grain yield. The Yangmai 23 wheat variety was cultivated in the Experimental Farms of Yangtze University in the Yangtze River Basin, with three rates of rice SR (0, 50 and 100%) and four N fertilizer rates (0, 33.3, 70 and 100%) with 180 kg/ha urea. The integrated use of SR- and N-fertilizer rates significantly altered soil nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium, phosphorus, potassium, pH and moisture within the 20 cm depth before the seeding, jointing and maturation stages of the wheat. The grain yields of 6408 ± 110 − 8290.00 ± 298 and 4726 ± 62 − 6758.00 ± 196 kg/ha were obtained in the 2021–2022 and 2022–2023 seasons, respectively. The studied soil physicochemical properties either before seeding, or at the jointing and maturation stages had a significant effect on final grain yield. These results underscore the combined effect of SR- and N-fertilizer application to improve wheat productivity in the Yangtze River Basin. However, further studies are ongoing to assess the impact of these treatments on the soil microbial community, as well as on wheat grain quality. Full article
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16 pages, 3970 KiB  
Article
Finnish Farmers Feel They Have Succeeded in Adopting Cover Crops but Need Down-to-Earth Support from Research
by Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio, Lauri Jauhiainen and Hannu Känkänen
Agronomy 2023, 13(9), 2326; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13092326 - 5 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1027
Abstract
In Finland, there is an ongoing adoption and learning process considering the cultivation of cover crops (CCs). The primary aim is to claim the benefits of CCs for agricultural production and ecosystems, which are both appreciated by Finnish farmers. A farmer survey with [...] Read more.
In Finland, there is an ongoing adoption and learning process considering the cultivation of cover crops (CCs). The primary aim is to claim the benefits of CCs for agricultural production and ecosystems, which are both appreciated by Finnish farmers. A farmer survey with 1130 respondents was carried out to build an up-to-date understanding of how farmers have succeeded with CCs and whether they intend to continue with the use of CCs and to collect farmers’ views on knowledge gaps that should be filled by research or better knowledge sharing. The studied groups were farmers who had selected CCs as a registered measure in 2020 to receive agricultural payments. Data came from the Finnish Food Authority. Organic farmers were slightly more positive: they have had longer experience with CCs, but organic production is also more dependent on the ecosystem services provided by CCs. A high share of respondents agreed that their experiences with CCs have improved over time and were confident that CCs had become a permanent element of their production systems. Most of the farmers also agreed that the area under CCs would expand significantly in Finland and considered the cultivation of CCs as an effective measure to improve soil conditions. They often considered that challenges in adopting CCs were exaggerated and disagreed that bad experiences prevented them from expanding or continuing the use of CCs. The agricultural payment available for Finnish farmers to support the cultivation of CCs is quite reasonable (EUR 97 + EUR 50 per hectare) to compensate for any economic risks of CCs. Free word answers from the farmers highlighted research needs (in descending order) in the following areas: crop protection, sowing practices, the use of diverse CCs and their mixtures, and impacts on yield and profitability. Many of these are universal, i.e., have been reported elsewhere. Younger farmers (≤50 years) highlighted profitability, which is, in many European countries, a key barrier to the deployment of CCs. Farmers from the east and north regions, where the growing season is short, highlighted alternative CC choices as a knowledge gap. Full article
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30 pages, 3402 KiB  
Article
Conservation Tillage and Weed Management Influencing Weed Dynamics, Crop Performance, Soil Properties, and Profitability in a Rice–Wheat–Greengram System in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain
by Bushra Ahmed Alhammad, Dhirendra Kumar Roy, Shivani Ranjan, Smruti Ranjan Padhan, Sumit Sow, Dibyajyoti Nath, Mahmoud F. Seleiman and Harun Gitari
Agronomy 2023, 13(7), 1953; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13071953 - 24 Jul 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2902
Abstract
A three-year field experiment was carried out to assess the efficacy of various tillage and residue management practices, as well as weed management approaches, in a rice–wheat–green gram rotation. The treatments included: conventional till transplanted rice–conventional till wheat–fallow (T1); conventional till [...] Read more.
A three-year field experiment was carried out to assess the efficacy of various tillage and residue management practices, as well as weed management approaches, in a rice–wheat–green gram rotation. The treatments included: conventional till transplanted rice–conventional till wheat–fallow (T1); conventional till transplanted rice–zero-till wheat–zero-till green gram (T2); conventional till direct-seeded rice—conventional-till wheat—zero-till green gram (T3); zero-till direct-seeded rice—zero-till wheat—zero-till green gram (T4); zero-till direct-seeded rice + residue zero-till wheat + residue zero-till green gram (T5). In weed management, three treatments are as follows: recommended herbicides (W1); integrated weed management (W2); and unweeded (W3). The integrated weed management treatment had the lowest weed biomass, which was 44.3, 45.3, and 33.7% lower than the treatment W3 at 30 and 60 days after sowing and harvest, respectively. T1 grain and straw yielded more than T2 in the early years than in subsequent years. The conventional till transplanted rice–zero-till wheat–zero-till green gram system produced 33.6, 37.6, and 27.7% greater net returns than the zero-till direct-seeded rice—zero-till wheat—zero-till greengram system, respectively. Conventional till transplanted rice–conventional till wheat–fallow had the biggest reduction (0.41%) in soil organic carbon from the initial value. The findings of the study demonstrated that adopting the transplanting method for rice, followed by zero tillage for wheat and green gram, enhanced productivity and profitability, while simultaneously preserving soil health. Full article
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