Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment (AGR ECOSYST ENVIRON )

Publisher: Elsevier


Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment deals with the interface between agriculture and the environment. Preference is given to papers that develop and apply interdisciplinarity, bridge scientific disciplines, integrate scientific analyses derived from different perspectives of agroecosystem sustainability, and are put in as wide an international or comparative context as possible. It is addressed to scientists in agriculture, food production, agroforestry, ecology, environment, earth and resource management, and administrators and policy-makers in these fields. The journal regularly covers topics such as: ecology of agricultural production methods; influence of agricultural production methods on the environment, including soil, water and air quality, and use of energy and non-renewable resources; agroecosystem management, functioning, health, and complexity, including agro-biodiversity and response of multi-species ecosystems to environmental stress; the effect of pollutants on agriculture; agro-landscape values and changes, landscape indicators and sustainable land use; farming system changes and dynamics; integrated pest management and crop protection; and problems of agroecosystems from a biological, physical, economic, and socio-cultural standpoint. Types of papers The Journal publishes original scientific papers, short communications, review articles, book reviews, special issues containing selected and edited papers dealing with a specific theme or based on a conference or workshop, and occasional editorials and commentaries at the discretion of the Editors-in-Chief. A section of this journal is now published as the companion journal Applied Soil Ecology.

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  • Website
    Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment website
  • Other titles
    Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, Agriculture, ecosystems, and environment
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  • Material type
    Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

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    • Pre-print can not be deposited for The Lancet
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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ammonia emission from urea application negatively affects both environmental quality and human health, and so it is desirable to minimize nitrogen loss by ammonia volatilization and to improve nitrogen use efficiency. This field study aimed to assess the effects of recently introduced urease (N-(2- nitrophenyl) phosphoric triamide, 2-NPT) and nitrification inhibitors (mixture of dicyandiamide and 1H- 1,2,4-triazol) on NH3 emissions following urea application as compared to calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) in Northern Germany. The measurements were carried out in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) in the years 2011–2013 covering in total 12 urea application dates. Urea was applied as unamended granulated urea, or combined with urease or nitrification inhibitor or with both inhibitors. Fertilizers were applied in multi-plot field trials with four replications and ammonia losses were measured simultaneously by a combination of a calibrated dynamic chamber and passive samplers. Application date strongly affected relative NH3 loss (% of applied N) due to seasonal variation of soil moisture, temperature, and rainfall. Initial soil moisture showed a strong effect on NH3 emission. Averaged over the three vegetation periods, relative NH3 losses from unamended urea amounted to 8%, with mean emissions of 5%, 4%, and 17% for split N applications in March, April, and early June, respectively. Compared with treatment without urease inhibitor, the urease inhibitor addition reduced emissions by 26–83%, resulting in emissions similar to that from CAN. Analyzing the total data set, no significant effect of the nitrification inhibitor on NH3 emission was observed while at specific applications significantly higher as well as lower emissions compared to unamended urea were detected. The results highlight that NH3 emissions after field application of urea are highly variable under north German climate conditions and simple emission factors should be reevaluated. Urease inhibitor and appropriate application timing are effective measures to reduce NH3 emission from field applied urea.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 12/2014; 197:184-194.
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    ABSTRACT: Within the European Union, national approaches of a ‘High Nature Value (HNV) farmland’ indicator have been developed to inform about the potential of agricultural landscapes to maintain biodiversity. We assessed how bird species abundance, richness and community composition, particularly of specialist species, were associated with the German HNV farmland indicator as an area-based aggregate and with its particular components which were semi-natural landscape elements and agricultural patches with characteristic plant species mapped in representative sample plots. The aggregated HNV indicator score showed a weak but positive relationship with generalist bird species only, while specialist species were associated with individual HNV farmland features characterizing wet grasslands and open farmland. Bird community analysis revealed three groups of HNV farmland features representative of particular landscape types: (1) complex landscapes with vertical woody structures such as hedgerows or small woodlands, (2) wet grasslands and (3) open agricultural land of low land-use intensity. Large portions of unexplained variance, however, indicated that the small-scaled HNV farmland features recorded without considering the landscape context may not have fully captured all important drivers of bird diversity in agricultural landscapes. To achieve a better representation of habitat requirements particularly of specialist bird species we propose surveying HNV farmland in a landscape context and calculating landscape-specific scores for highly structured, wetland-dominated and open landscapes of low land-use intensity. As compared to the aggregated indicator, the small-scale HNV farmland survey data would more efficiently enfold its potential for tailoring conservation schemes specifically to a given landscape type and its associated bird species.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 09/2014; 194:58–64.
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    ABSTRACT: We assessed the pollinator community of two cultivars of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, Duke and Bluecrop), and determined the importance of different pollinators to overall crop yield by measuring pollination deficits. The importance of distance to putative wild pollinator habitat (natural field edges) for pollinator abundance within fields and crop yield was also considered. Managed honey bees made 70% of flower visits (85% to Duke, 49% to Bluecrop). Wild bumble bees made half of the visits to Bluecrop. Though bumble bees were observed less frequently as distance from the natural edge increased, there was no effect of distance on levels of crop pollination. Pollination deficits were less pronounced in Duke than Bluecrop, with maximum (hand) pollination leading to a 12% (Duke) to 23% (Bluecrop) increase in yield. Exclusion of pollinators reduced yield by 50–80% compared to ambient pollination. For both cultivars, pollination deficits declined most strongly with either increasing bumble bee visits or increasing total visits (honey bees and bumble bees combined), and in no case were deficit levels significantly reduced by honey bees alone. This study supports a growing body of literature that suggests managed honey bees alone cannot reduce deficits, and that wild pollinators are needed to maximize yields in pollinator-dependent agricultural systems.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 08/2014; 197:255–263.
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    ABSTRACT: Soil CO2 emission (FCO2) is a main contributor of atmospheric carbon transfer and is the subject of research aimed at developing effective methods for characterizing and mitigating CO2 emissions. The FCO2 is related to various soil properties including porosity, density and moisture, which are in turn related to gas transfer, O2 uptake and CO2 release, as well as mineralogical components (particularly iron oxides, which are closely associated with aggregation and protection of soil organic matter). As estimated by diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS), soil iron oxides such as hematite (Hm) and goethite (Gt) can be useful in determining FCO2. The main objective of this experiment was to assess the usefulness of the mineralogical properties Hm, Gt, and iron oxides extracted by dithionite–citrate–bicarbonate (Fed) to estimate the FCO2 in a sugarcane area under green harvest in southeastern Brazil. The experiment was conducted using an irregular 50 m × 50 m grid containing 89 sampling points 0.50–10 m apart to assess the soil properties. The FCO2 at each sampling point was measured at the beginning of crop growth and 54 days after planting with the use of two portable LI-COR LI-8100 Soil CO2 Flux Systems. The soil properties studied were found to be spatially dependent and exhibited well-defined anisotropy (particularly the mineralogical properties Hm, Gt and Fed). The first two components of a principal component analysis (PC1 and PC2) jointly accounted for 73.4% of the overall result variability with PC1 essentially related to the physical and mineralogical properties of the soil. Based on a multiple linear regression analysis, free water porosity (FWP) and Hm accounted for 71% of the FCO2 variability. Our results indicate that soil preparation and management practices in mechanically harvested sugarcane affect some factors inherent in the soil forming processes, including physical and mineralogical properties, which in turn affect FCO2. These results affirm the potential of DRS as an auxiliary tool for determination of properties that are typically associated with FCO2. In addition, the ensuing method allows for large-area FCO2 mapping to developing greenhouse gas emission inventories for agricultural soils.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 07/2014; 192:152-162.
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    ABSTRACT: Intense use of antibiotics in agricultural production may lead to the contamination of surface and groundwater by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the present study, the survival and leaching of E. coli and tetracycline-resistant bacteria were monitored at two well-structured agricultural fields. Non-spiked pig slurry was injected in accordance with agricultural practice in the area. In both fields, the concentration of E. coli and tetracycline-resistant bacteria in the injected part of the plough layer decreased to the detection limit within 46–49 days. At Silstrup, the decay was initiated with a lag phase and a decimal reduction time of 16 days for E. coli and 18 days for tetracycline-resistant bacteria. At Estrup, the decay was immediate and the decimal reduction time was 22 days for E. coli and 26 days for tetracycline-resistant bacteria. Despite the two fields being prone to rapid preferential transport through macropores, it was found that faecal bacteria were only leached to drainage water at Estrup. Here E. coli and tetracycline-resistant bacteria were detected at concentrations up to 3 and 130 CFU mL�1 respectively. A PCA plot revealed that leaching of faecal bacteria was negatively correlated to soil water content and number of days after slurry application. At Silstrup, the drainage system remained hydraulically inactive until two months after the second slurry application and resulted in undetectable leaching to the aquatic environment. There were indications that factors such as slurry properties, agricultural practices, crop cover and hydrological setting influenced leaching. The degree by which these factors influence leaching from agricultural fields is currently not well understood and highlights the need for field-scale studies to increase understanding of faecal bacteria leaching.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 06/2014; 195:10-17.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes the determinants of farmer adoption of conservation farming practices using panel data from two rounds of the Rural Incomes and Livelihoods Surveys that were implemented in 2004 and 2008. Conservation farming (CF) has been actively promoted in seven of Zambia's nine provinces since the 1980s. CF has the technical potential to contribute to food security and adaptation to climate change; however, rigorous analyses of the determinants of adoption/dis-adoption of these practices, are still scarce. This paper fills this gap by combining rich panel data with historical rainfall data to understand the determinants of adoption and intensity of two CF practices: minimum soil disturbance and crop rotations. Controlling for the confounding effects of household level unobservables, we find that extension services and rainfall variability are the strongest determinants of adoption, suggesting that farmers use these practices as an adaptation strategy to mitigate the negative effects of variable and delayed rainfall. Furthermore, our findings highlight the role of agro-ecological and socio-economic constraints in explaining adoption, as well as the potential role and effectiveness of interventions to support it. Eastern province shows a significantly different trend in terms of both adoption and the intensity of adoption, indicating that the long-established CF activities in the province have had some impact – though high dis-adoption rates are observed even in this province.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 04/2014; Volume 187:72-86.
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    ABSTRACT: Increasing the productivity of rice-wheat cropping systems is critical for meeting food demand in rapidly growing South Asia. But this must be done with increasingly scarce water resources, bringing greater attention to Resource Conservation Technologies (RCTs) such as zero tillage, laser land leveling and furrow bed planting. While the impacts of RCTs on yields are easy to measure and explain, impacts on water savings are not well understood beyond the field scale because of the complex movement of water. This paper uses both physical measurements and farmer survey data from the rice-wheat cropping system of Punjab, Pakistan to explain the main drivers of RCT adoption and their impacts on land and water productivity and water savings across scales. The primary drivers for RCT adoption (zero tillage wheat and laser land leveling) were reduced costs of production and labor requirements, reduced field scale irrigation water application, and higher yield. While the large proportion of farmers benefitting from RCTs explains overall increases in RCT adoption, a considerable proportion (30% of zero tillage adopters for wheat cultivation) reported yield loss, highlighting the need for further technological refinement and enhancing farmers' ability to implement RCT. The study also indicates that the field scale reduction in irrigation application did not always translate into real water savings or reductions in water use at farm, cropping system and catchment scales, especially in areas where deep percolation from the root zone could be reused as groundwater irrigation. Finally, the evidence shows that medium and large farmers tended to use the field scale irrigation savings to increase their cropped area. This finding suggests that without regulations and policies to regulate the use of "saved" water, adoption of RCTs can result in overall increased water use with implications for the long-term sustainability of irrigated agriculture.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 04/2014; 187:106-115.
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    ABSTRACT: Scattered trees occurring throughout farmland matrix are prominent features of many human-dominated landscapes around the world, especially in livestock grazing systems. They are keystone structures that may play important roles in maintaining ecosystem functions, services, and farmland biodiversity. However, scattered trees in agricultural landscapes are declining worldwide due to intensive land use. They are often perceived by farmers as having negative impacts on agricultural production. Large-scale assessments in different biomes of agricultural yield in scattered tree ecosystems remain rare. Filling this knowledge gap may help improve decision-making regarding the value of scattered trees in agricultural landscapes. Using meta-analysis, we found that, across four tree functional groups (deciduous, Eucalyptus, N2-fixing, evergreen oak), mature scattered trees do not compromise pasture yield. The sign and magnitude of scattered tree effects on pasture yield did vary, however, among tree functional groups and according to precipitation levels. Our study suggests that, as drought pressure increases abiotic stress, tree facilitation by N2-fixing trees, and competition by Eucalyptus, will become the more common interactions between scattered trees and pasture. Management options exist to conserve and restore scattered trees in agricultural landscapes, but new policies are required to support their widespread adoption by farmers.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 03/2014; 165:74–79.

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