Topic Editors

Dr. Rossella Albrizio
Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Systems in the Mediterranean, National Research Council, Piazzale Enrico Fermi 1, 80055 Portici, NA, Italy
Prof. Dr. Anna Maria Stellacci
Department of Soil, Plant and Food Sciences, University of Bari “A. Moro”, 70125 Bari, Italy
Dr. Vito Cantore
Institute of Sciences of Food Production, National Research Council (CNR-ISPA), Via Amendola, 122/O, 70125 Bari, Italy
Prof. Dr. Mladen Todorovic
CIHEAM–Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Via Ceglie 9, 70010 Valenzano, Bari, Italy

Eco-Sustainable Innovative Approaches for Water-Soil-Nutrient-Crop Management

Abstract submission deadline
closed (5 December 2021)
Manuscript submission deadline
30 September 2022
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Topic Information

Dear Colleagues,

An integrated and appropriate management of water, soil, nutrients, and crops is a fundamental aspect of agronomy, and it is essential for sustainable agricultural production. Today, it is of particular importance as resources are shrinking and degraded, while demand for food is increasing due to uncapped population growth. In this context, the agricultural sector requires innovative and eco-sustainable management solutions to optimize the use of resources and preserve ecosystem services. This is crucial for both agricultural production at local and global level and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), since the water–soil–nutrient–crop continuum is among the most fragile and most relevant constituents of ecosystems and their functioning. This Special Issue (SI) aims to present the results of the most innovative research on the water–soil–nutrient–crop continuum and best practices, strategies, and advancement for eco-efficient resource use in agriculture. Hence, the SI intends to offer a broad overview of the latest achievements focusing on (i) smart management strategies and tools to promote eco-sustainable crop cultivation under various pedoclimatic conditions, (ii) innovative options for sustainable and integrated water–soil–nutrient–crop management at plot/farm scale, (iii) novel approaches for water–soil–nutrient–crop management, and the (iv) integration of the latest IT technologies with remote/proximal sensing and field data to optimize crop response to specific growing conditions. All types of manuscripts (original research, reviews, short communications) are welcome.

Dr. Rossella Albrizio
Prof. Dr. Anna Maria Stellacci
Dr. Vito Cantore
Prof. Dr. Mladen Todorovic
Topic Editors

Keywords

  • water–soil–nutrient–crop continuum
  • eco-efficient resource use
  • best practices
  • sustainable management
  • smart agriculture
  • remote and proximal sensing

Participating Journals

Journal Name Impact Factor CiteScore Launched Year First Decision (median) APC
Agronomy
agronomy
3.949 3.9 2011 18.7 Days 2000 CHF Submit
Water
water
3.530 4.8 2009 17.8 Days 2200 CHF Submit

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Published Papers (13 papers)

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Article
The Effect of Mulch Materials on Selected Soil Properties, Yield and Grape Quality in Vineyards under Central European Conditions
Agronomy 2022, 12(8), 1862; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12081862 - 07 Aug 2022
Abstract
The results of this study provide overall information on the verification of the effect of applying two different mulching materials of an organic origin to the soil surface in the area between rows of grape vines in vineyards on selected physical and chemical [...] Read more.
The results of this study provide overall information on the verification of the effect of applying two different mulching materials of an organic origin to the soil surface in the area between rows of grape vines in vineyards on selected physical and chemical properties of the soil and, at the same time, on the yield and quality parameters of the grape vines (Vitis vinifera L.). During the period under study, 2018–2020, the effect of shredded cereal straw (CS) and compost from garden waste (CO) was investigated. The control variant (CWC) was left without any cover and was regularly cultivated with a coulter cultivator to a depth of 60 mm. During the experiments, meteorological data were monitored and recorded along with soil temperature and soil moisture for each variant. The results show that the lowest temperature was measured for the straw cover variant (11.10–11.87 °C), while the highest soil temperature was measured for compost (11.93–13.16 °C). Under the straw, the moisture level in the soil was higher compared to the other variants, and there was a gradual increase (of 3%) in soil bulk density values compared to the baseline. By contrast, the compost variant showed a decrease (of 1%) in bulk density values. The differences in nutrient content were slight among the variants. The only statistically significant difference was identified for the compost variant with respect to the content of total nitrogen and phosphorus. Further results demonstrated a positive effect of both mulch material variants on grape yield, which was 6–19% higher in the variants with a cover layer. In addition, the use of mulch also had a positive effect on grape quality. For example, the sugar content—one of the main quality parameters—increased by 1–7% due to the mulch layer. Based on these results, the use of mulching materials can be recommended for areas with low total rainfall during the growing season, as well as when growing varieties with irregular yields and uneven grape quality. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of Single-Cropping under Reduced Water Supply in Strawberry Cultivation
Agronomy 2022, 12(6), 1396; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12061396 - 10 Jun 2022
Abstract
Genotype, environment, and cultivation system strongly influence strawberry yield and quality. Specifically, the growth of strawberry plants is dependent on the water supply. Nevertheless, the abuse of water in agriculture is necessitating the choice of the lowest water-consumptive plants. The following study showed [...] Read more.
Genotype, environment, and cultivation system strongly influence strawberry yield and quality. Specifically, the growth of strawberry plants is dependent on the water supply. Nevertheless, the abuse of water in agriculture is necessitating the choice of the lowest water-consumptive plants. The following study showed the performance of ‘Romina’, ‘Sibilla’, and ‘Cristina’ cultivars, grown in open-field conditions, and treated with three doses of water (W): 100% local standard regime, and 20% (W80) and 40% (W60) reductions. The average amount of water administered for W100, W80, and W60 was 1120 m3 ha−1, 891 m3 ha−1, and 666 m3 ha−1, respectively. The water treatment at W60 negatively affected the plant growth and yield, resulting in reduced plant height, leaf number, leaf length and width, and a minor yield. Instead, fruit quality showed higher values of total soluble solids and titratable acidity. Conversely, plants watered with W80 showed results similar to the control (W100) in terms of development and yield. In conclusion, it is possible to assume that a reduction of water is desirable, guaranteeing economic and environmental gains for farmers. Full article
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Article
Effects of Different Irrigation Modes on the Growth, Physiology, Farmland Microclimate Characteristics, and Yield of Cotton in an Oasis
Water 2022, 14(10), 1579; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14101579 - 15 May 2022
Abstract
In order to determine the effects of different water-saving irrigation techniques on physiological growth, farmland microclimate, and yield of cotton (Gossypium Spp.), a two-year field experiment was carried out in an oasis area of Northwest China, and three irrigation methods were [...] Read more.
In order to determine the effects of different water-saving irrigation techniques on physiological growth, farmland microclimate, and yield of cotton (Gossypium Spp.), a two-year field experiment was carried out in an oasis area of Northwest China, and three irrigation methods were tested, including on-film irrigation (T1), under-film drip irrigation (T2), and automatic irrigation (T3). The results showed that the relative humidity, plant height, leaf area, stem thick, and photosynthetic index with the T3 treatment were significantly higher than those with T2 and T1. The air and soil temperature with T3 (except seedling stage) were considerably lower than those with T2 and T1. According to the fitting and statistical analysis of each index and yield, except for air and soil temperature, the other indices were positively correlated with yield. Based on the analysis of each index, the T3 treatment had the most significant regulatory effect on cotton’s physiological growth and farmland microclimate. Compared with T1, the irrigation amounts of T2 and T3 decreased by 16.43% and 25.90%, but the yield increased by 38.96% and 46.28%, respectively. The automatic irrigation strategy showed significant advantages in water saving and yield increase, which could provide some reference for cotton drip irrigation in similarly arid areas. Full article
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Review
Research Progress on Water–Fertilizer Coupling and Crop Quality Improvement and Its Implication for the Karst Rock Desertification Control
Agronomy 2022, 12(4), 903; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12040903 - 09 Apr 2022
Abstract
An important problem currently faced by karst rocky desertification management is the degradation of vegetation fruits, which encourages the search for a solution for the sustainable growth of vegetation. Water and fertilizer are key factors affecting crop quality (the formation of soluble solids, [...] Read more.
An important problem currently faced by karst rocky desertification management is the degradation of vegetation fruits, which encourages the search for a solution for the sustainable growth of vegetation. Water and fertilizer are key factors affecting crop quality (the formation of soluble solids, protein, amino acids, soluble sugar content, etc.). A comprehensive review of research related to water–fertilizer coupling and crop quality improvement may be beneficial for rocky desertification control. This study analyzed 427 related papers, and the results showed that: (1) the number of published papers showed an “S” curve growth trend over time, indicating that research in the field of water–fertilizer coupling has entered a mature stage after rapid growth, yet it is still in the initial stage in karst areas; (2) the research was mainly theoretical, but also included technology research and development, model construction, demonstration and extension, and monitoring and evaluation; (3) except for research related to greenhouse facilities, the research areas are mainly located in arid and semi-arid regions. The study further revealed (4) the frontier theory of water–fertilizer coupling and crop quality research. Finally, it was found that the theoretical and technical studies related to water–fertilizer coupling and crop quality improvement in karst areas are insufficient. Whether the existing theories and techniques are applicable to karst areas needs further verification. In addition to the areas of selecting germplasm with high water/fertilizer utilization efficiency and tolerance to rocky desertification, further improvement in the dynamic model of water–fertilizer coupling and the construction of a more applicable water–fertilizer coupling model could also be future research hotspots. Full article
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Review
Agri-Environmental Indicators: A Selected Review to Support Impact Assessment of New EU Green Deal Policies
Agronomy 2022, 12(4), 798; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12040798 - 26 Mar 2022
Cited by 1
Abstract
Every intervention of planning, implementation, and monitoring of agricultural and agri-environmental policies requires assessment tools that should have the characteristics of relevance, completeness, interpretability, data quality, efficiency, and overlapping. Despite the extensive selection of bibliographies and numerous projects designed to develop agri-environmental indicators [...] Read more.
Every intervention of planning, implementation, and monitoring of agricultural and agri-environmental policies requires assessment tools that should have the characteristics of relevance, completeness, interpretability, data quality, efficiency, and overlapping. Despite the extensive selection of bibliographies and numerous projects designed to develop agri-environmental indicators necessary for assessing the sustainability of new policies, it is difficult to have an integrated and updated set of indicators available, which can be an effective and practical application tool to assists policymakers, researchers, and actors in policy design, monitoring and impact assessment. Particularly, such a need is pressing to face the new environmental challenges imposed by the upcoming European Union Green Deal on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2023. This study, therefore, aims to fill this gap by proposing a selection methodology and different pools of agri-environmental indicators differentiated based on a scale approach (crop-farm-district-region). Furthermore, we have attempted to apply our approach by quantifying selected indicators for a specific evaluation necessity, represented in this case by an assessment of the environmental impact of land use change induced by CAP greening requirements in the Northern Italy context. Results of this validation show original crops’ impacts comparison, but also highlight great knowledge gaps in the available literature. Full article
Article
Optimized Border Irrigation Improved Nitrogen Accumulation, Translocation of Winter Wheat and Reduce Soil Nitrate Nitrogen Residue
Agronomy 2022, 12(2), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12020433 - 09 Feb 2022
Cited by 1
Abstract
We aimed to optimize field border length in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain of China (HPC) to reduce soil inorganic nitrogen residues and increase nitrogen absorption and utilization by wheat plants using a traditional border irrigation system. In a two-year experiment (2017–2019) conducted in the [...] Read more.
We aimed to optimize field border length in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain of China (HPC) to reduce soil inorganic nitrogen residues and increase nitrogen absorption and utilization by wheat plants using a traditional border irrigation system. In a two-year experiment (2017–2019) conducted in the HPC, four border lengths were tested: 20 m (L20), 30 m (L30), 40 m (L40), and 50 m (L50). Supplementary irrigation was implemented during jointing and anthesis stages, and control fields received treatment without irrigation. The results showed that, compared with irrigation of other border lengths, L40 irrigation significantly increased nitrogen transport in stems and leaves. In addition, L40 irrigation had the highest rate of grain nitrogen accumulation after anthesis. The risk of nitrate leaching to deep layers increased with increasing border length; however, L40 irrigation improved the plants’ capacity to absorb soil nitrogen, and the soil inorganic nitrogen residue was significantly lower than that with irrigation of other border lengths. Therefore, the grain yield and nitrogen fertilizer utilization under L40 irrigation were significantly higher than those under irrigation of other border lengths, and L40 was considered as the best border irrigation length. Full article
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Article
Water Quality Characteristics and Source Analysis of Pollutants in the Maotiao River Basin (SW China)
Water 2022, 14(3), 301; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030301 - 20 Jan 2022
Abstract
Rivers are an important mediator between human activities and the natural environment. They provide multiple functions, including irrigation, transportation, food supply, recreation, and water supply. Therefore, evaluations of water quality and pollution sources are of great significance for ecological restoration and management of [...] Read more.
Rivers are an important mediator between human activities and the natural environment. They provide multiple functions, including irrigation, transportation, food supply, recreation, and water supply. Therefore, evaluations of water quality and pollution sources are of great significance for ecological restoration and management of rivers. In this study, the improved “vušekriterijumska optimizacija i kompromisno rješenje” (VIKOR in Serbian; in English: Multicriteria Optimization and Compromise Solution), and a geodetector were used to analyze the water quality characteristics and pollution sources of the Maotiao River Basin (Gizhou province, SW China). The results showed that the water quality of the Maotiao River Basin deteriorated significantly during the summer drought period, as was evident in the reservoirs and lakes. It improved in the wet season (i.e., during the summer period) due to runoff dilution. Water quality decreased along the river’s course, from upstream to downstream sections. The results of the geographic detector analysis showed that agricultural areas were the primary factor affecting the spatial distribution of water quality in the river basin. In July, August, and November 2020, the influence of agricultural land was 0.72, 0.60, or 0.80, respectively, and the interactions among urban, industrial, agricultural, and forested areas explained 99.2%, 83.2%, or 99.9% of the spatial differentiation of water quality, respectively. Due to the influence of spatial scale, settlements have a small influence on the spatial distribution of water quality. Their impact factors were 0.38, −0.24, and −0.05, respectively. Notably, the negative relationship of water quality and forested areas reflects that topography, types of landscapes, and soil thickness have considerable influences on the Maotiao River Basin’s water quality. Based on the findings, we infer that good farmland water conservancy projects and comprehensive management of different types of landscapes, such as forests, agriculture, and urban area and water bodies, are of great significance for improving water quality. Full article
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Article
Planting Period Effects on Wheat Productivity and Water Footprints: Insights through Adaptive Trials and APSIM Simulations
Agronomy 2022, 12(1), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12010226 - 17 Jan 2022
Cited by 1
Abstract
Scarcity of fresh water and climate change are the two main threats for wheat production in South Asia. Tweaking wheat planting period could be an effective cost-smart strategy to mitigate these stresses. To evaluate the performance of three leading wheat varieties under different [...] Read more.
Scarcity of fresh water and climate change are the two main threats for wheat production in South Asia. Tweaking wheat planting period could be an effective cost-smart strategy to mitigate these stresses. To evaluate the performance of three leading wheat varieties under different planting periods in pragmatic on-farm environments, trials were carried out during 2019–2020 and 2020–2021. Further, to have greater insights on long-term temporal scale, 22 years (2000 to 2021) of crop simulation data were analyzed to identify the optimum planting period of wheat for higher yield and water productivity using the APSIM cropping systems simulation model. The result showed that first fortnight of November (PD1)-sown crop resulted in higher grain yield and more irrigation water use efficiency. Wheat sown during PD1 and in the second fortnight of November (PD2) had 20–25% lower blue water requirement than the second fortnight of December (PD4) crop in the long run. To produce one tonne of wheat grain required an additional 20, 60 and 83 m3 irrigation water when the crop was sown at PD1, PD2, PD3 (first fortnight of December) and PD4, respectively. It was observed that PD4 reduced wheat yields by 20–22% compared to sowing on PD1 and PD2 and every 15 days’ delay in wheat planting after 15 November reduced the length of the crop growing season by 4–5 days. Hence, the early wheat planting is proven superior in harnessing maximum yield with minimum burden on blue water resources. Full article
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Article
Effects of Nitrogen Rates on the Productivity and Nutritive Value of Forage Grass Grown under Extreme Climatic Conditions
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2572; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11122572 - 17 Dec 2021
Abstract
This vegetative experiment was carried out at the greenhouse of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy Open Access Joint Research Centre of Agriculture and Forestry (Lithuania) in 2020–2021. The aim of these studies was to determine the effect of different nitrogen rates on the [...] Read more.
This vegetative experiment was carried out at the greenhouse of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy Open Access Joint Research Centre of Agriculture and Forestry (Lithuania) in 2020–2021. The aim of these studies was to determine the effect of different nitrogen rates on the productivity and nutritional quality of forage grasses (a mixture of red clover and timothy) under the most common extremes of climate change, i.e., soil moisture deficiency and surplus. Under drought and waterlogging stresses, fertilization of the red clover and timothy mixture with high N rates was ineffective. The clover and timothy mixture recovery after drought took 21 days. The aboveground dry biomass of the clover and timothy mixture grown under drought conditions was significantly lower by 36.3 to 47.2% compared to that formed under optimum soil moisture and waterlogging conditions. The root biomass of forage grass mixtures was lowest under drought conditions when fertilized at the highest N rate (N25+120). The aboveground biomass of clover grown under different soil moisture conditions depended on the number of plants (r2 = 0.78, p < 0.01) and assimilating leaf area (r2 = 0.83, p < 0.01), and that of timothy on the number of vegetative tillers (r2 = 0.46, p < 0.05). Under drought simulation conditions, increasing the N rate increased the crude protein and crude fibre contents in the aboveground biomass of the clover and timothy mixture, while the crude ash content decreased. Full article
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Article
Moringa oleifera Leaf Extract Enhanced Growth, Yield, and Silybin Content While Mitigating Salt-Induced Adverse Effects on the Growth of Silybum marianum
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2500; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11122500 - 09 Dec 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Silybin A and B are two major hepatoprotective flavonolignans produced predominantly in Silybum marianum fruits. Similar to other plant secondary metabolites, silybin production is enhanced by biotic or abiotic stresses under the expanse of plant growth and yield. In this study, a novel [...] Read more.
Silybin A and B are two major hepatoprotective flavonolignans produced predominantly in Silybum marianum fruits. Similar to other plant secondary metabolites, silybin production is enhanced by biotic or abiotic stresses under the expanse of plant growth and yield. In this study, a novel strategy for enhancing silybin production was investigated by applying a natural plant growth enhancer, moringa leaf extract (MLE), to the S. marianum plants cultivated under salinity abiotic stress. The experiment was conducted using a split-plot design with salinity as the main factor and MLE concentrations as the sub-factor. The individual and combined effects of salinity and MLE on the growth, yield, and silybin content of S. marianum were recorded. The MLE at concentrations of 5 g/L or 10 g/L was applied as foliar spray to S. marianum plants, which were irrigated with either tap water or saline (2000 ppm or 4000 ppm). Our results revealed that 10 g/L MLE effectively enhances the growth, yield, and silybin (A + B) content in S. marianum plants not exposed to salinity stress. On the other hand, for plants that were exposed to 4000 ppm salinity, the application of MLE was able to alleviate the salinity-induced adverse effects on some of the plant growth parameters but did not significantly increase their silybin (A + B) compositions. The current study also indicated that the increase in silybin contents was accompanied by the upregulation of the chalcone synthase 1 and 3 genes, which have been implicated in the synthesis of silybin. Full article
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Article
Temporal and Spatial Distribution and Fluorescence Spectra of Dissolved Organic Matter in Plateau Lakes: A Case Study of Qinghai Lake
Water 2021, 13(24), 3481; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243481 - 07 Dec 2021
Abstract
Dissolved organic matter (DOM) has a great impact on the main pollution indicators of lakes (such as chemical oxygen demand, COD). Therefore, DOM is the research basis for understanding the meaning of the water environment and the laws of the migration and transformation [...] Read more.
Dissolved organic matter (DOM) has a great impact on the main pollution indicators of lakes (such as chemical oxygen demand, COD). Therefore, DOM is the research basis for understanding the meaning of the water environment and the laws of the migration and transformation of pollutants. Qinghai Lake is one of the world’s typical inland plateau lake wetlands. It plays important roles in improving and regulating the climate and in promoting a virtuous regional ecological cycle. In recent years, with the acceleration of urbanization and the rapid development of tourism, under the background of climate change, and with grassland degradation and precipitation change, the whole basin of Qinghai Lake has been facing great ecological pressure. In order to comprehensively explore the water environment of Qinghai Lake and to protect the sustainable development of the basin, a systematic study was carried out on the whole basin of Qinghai Lake. The results show the following: (1) from 2010 to 2020, the annual average value of CODCr in Qinghai Lake fluctuated in the range from class III to class V according to the surface water environmental quality standard, showing first a downward trend and then an upward trend. (2) The concentration of CDOM in Qinghai Lake had obvious temporal and spatial changes. (3) The spatial distribution of the total fluorescence intensity of FDOM in water was also different in different seasons. However, in the three surveys, the area with the highest total fluorescence intensity of FDOM in the water body appeared near Erlangjian in the south of Qinghai Province, indicating that anthropogenic sources are the main controlling factors of dissolved organic matter in the lake. Full article
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Article
Sustainability Estimation of Oat:Pea Intercrops from the Agricultural Life Cycle Assessment Perspective
Agronomy 2021, 11(12), 2433; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11122433 - 29 Nov 2021
Abstract
Winter cereal:legume intercropping is considered a sustainable arable farming system not only in temperate regions but also in Mediterranean environments. Previous studies have shown that with suitable crop stand composition, high grain yield can be achieved. In this study, a life cycle assessment [...] Read more.
Winter cereal:legume intercropping is considered a sustainable arable farming system not only in temperate regions but also in Mediterranean environments. Previous studies have shown that with suitable crop stand composition, high grain yield can be achieved. In this study, a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the influence of sowing ratio and nitrogen (N) fertilization on grain nitrogen yield of oat (Avena sativa L.) and pea (Pisum sativum L.) in intercrops was performed to find the optimal design to achieve low environmental impact. This study compared the environmental impact of oat:pea intercrops using agricultural LCA. Monocrops of oat and pea and substitutive intercrops, which were fertilized with different levels of N, were compared. The system boundaries included all the processes from cradle to farm gate. Mass-based (grain N yield) and area-based (land demand for generating the same grain N yield) functional units were used. The results covered the impact categories related to the agricultural LCAs. The ReCiPe 2016 Midpoint and Endpoint characterization model was used for the data expression. According to the results, an unfertilized combination of oat and pea (50%:50%) had the lowest environmental impact in comparison with the other 14 assessed variants and selected impact categories. In the assessed framework, pea monocrops or intensively fertilized oat monocrops can also be considered as alternatives with relatively low impact on the environment. However, an appropriate grain N yield must be reached to balance the environmental impact resulting from the fertilizer inputs. The production and use of fertilizers had the greatest impact on the environment within the impact categories climate change, eutrophication, and ecotoxicity. The results indicated that high fertilizer inputs did not necessarily cause the highest environmental impact. In this respect, the achieved grain N yield level, the choice of allocation approach, the functional unit, and the data expression approach played dominant roles. Full article
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Article
Coupling Remote Sensing Data and AquaCrop Model for Simulation of Winter Wheat Growth under Rainfed and Irrigated Conditions in a Mediterranean Environment
Agronomy 2021, 11(11), 2265; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11112265 - 09 Nov 2021
Abstract
The coupling of remote sensing technology and crop growth models represents a promising approach to support crop yield prediction and irrigation management. In this study, five vegetation indices were derived from the Copernicus-Sentinel 2 satellite to investigate their performance monitoring winter wheat growth [...] Read more.
The coupling of remote sensing technology and crop growth models represents a promising approach to support crop yield prediction and irrigation management. In this study, five vegetation indices were derived from the Copernicus-Sentinel 2 satellite to investigate their performance monitoring winter wheat growth in a Mediterranean environment in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Among those indices, the fraction of canopy cover was integrated into the AquaCrop model to simulate biomass and yield of wheat grown under rainfed conditions and fully irrigated regimes. The experiment was conducted during three consecutive growing seasons (from 2017 to 2019), characterized by different precipitation patterns. The AquaCrop model was calibrated and validated for different water regimes, and its performance was tested when coupled with remote sensing canopy cover. The results showed a good fit between measured canopy cover and Leaf Area Index (LAI) data and those derived from Sentinel 2 images. The R2 coefficient was 0.79 for canopy cover and 0.77 for LAI. Moreover, the regressions were fitted to relate biomass with Sentinel 2 vegetation indices. In descending order of R2, the indices were ranked: Fractional Vegetation Cover (FVC), LAI, the fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (fAPAR), the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI). Notably, FVC and LAI were highly correlated with biomass. The results of the AquaCrop calibration showed that the modeling efficiency values, NSE, were 0.99 for well-watered treatments and 0.95 for rainfed conditions, confirming the goodness of fit between measured and simulated values. The validation results confirmed that the simulated yield varied from 2.59 to 5.36 t ha−1, while the measured yield varied from 3.08 to 5.63 t ha−1 for full irrigation and rainfed treatments. After integrating the canopy cover into AquaCrop, the % of deviation of simulated and measured variables was reduced. The Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) for yield ranged between 0.08 and 0.69 t ha−1 before coupling and between 0.04 and 0.42 t ha−1 after integration. This result confirmed that the presented integration framework represents a promising method to improve the prediction of wheat crop growth in Mediterranean areas. Further studies are needed before being applied on a larger scale. 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: Coupling remote sensing data and AquaCrop model for simulation of winter wheat growth under rainfed and irrigated conditions in a Mediterranean environment
Authors: Marie Therese Abi Saab 1; Razane El Alam 2; Ihab Jomaa 3; Sleiman Skaf 3; Salim Fahed 1; Rossella Albrizio 4; Mladen Todorovic 2
Affiliation: 1 Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, P.O. Box 90-1965, Fanar, Lebanon 2 CIHEAM – Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Via Ceglie 9, 70010, Valenzano (BA), Italy; 3 Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, P.O. Box 287, Tal Amara, Lebanon;
Abstract: The coupling of remote sensing technology and crop growth models represents a promising approach to support crop yield prediction and irrigation management. In this study, five vegetation indices were derived from the Copernicus-Sentinel 2 satellite to investigate their performance for monitoring winter wheat growth in a Mediterranean environment, in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Among those indices, the fraction of canopy cover was integrated into AquaCrop model to simulate biomass and yield of wheat grown under rainfed conditions and fully irrigated regimes.. The experiment was conducted during three consecutive growing seasons (from 2017 to 2019) characterized by different precipitation patterns. AquaCrop model was calibrated and validated for different water regimes and its performance was tested when coupled with remote sensing canopy cover. The results showed a good fit between measured canopy cover and LAI data, and those derived from Sentinel 2 images. The R2 coefficient was of 0.79 for canopy cover and 0.77 for LAI. Moreover, the regressions were fitted to relate biomass with Sentinel 2 vegetation indices. In descending order of R2, the indices were ranked CC, LAI, fAPAR, NDVI and EVI. Particularly, CC and LAI were highly correlated with biomass. The results of AquaCrop calibration showed that the modeling efficiency values, NSE, were respectively 0.99 for well-watered treatments and 0.95 for rainfed conditions confirming the goodness of fit between measured and simulated values. The validation results confirmed that the simulated yield varied from 2.59 to 5.36 t ha−1, while the measured yield varied from 3.08 to 5.63 t ha−1 for full irrigation and rainfed treatments. After integrating the canopy cover into AquaCrop, the percentage of deviation of simulated and measured variables was reduced. The RMSE for yield was ranging between 0.08 and 0.69 t ha-1 before coupling, and between 0.04 and 0.42 t ha-1 after integration. This result confirmed that the integration framework is very effective tool, which needs further development and improvement before being applied on a larger scale in the Mediterranean areas

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