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    About

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Elsevier

1982-

ISSN: 0167-8809 (1873-2305)
Agriculture, Multidisciplinary - Ecology - Environmental Sciences - Animal Science and Zoology - Agronomy and Crop Science - Ecology

Recent articles

1 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32453085
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): P. Gaüzère, L. Barbaro, F. Calatayud, K. Princé, V. Devictor, L. Raison, C. Sirami, G. Balent
Abstract

Rural landscapes of western Europe have considerably changed in the last decades under the combined pressure of climate and land use changes, leading to a dramatic decline of farmland biodiversity, including common farmland birds. The respective roles of climate and land use and cover changes in driving bird population trends are primarily assessed at national or continental levels. Yet, it is often challenging to integrate their intertwined effects at such large scales due to the lack of data on fine-scale land cover changes. Here, we used a long-term bird monitoring scheme, combined with a land cover survey, conducted during 30 years (1981–2011) across 780 sites in a 20,000 ha study area in south-western France, dominated by low-intensity farming systems. We tested the direct effect of temporal changes in climate and land use on the dynamics of two community-level metrics: the bird Community Thermal Index (CTI) and bird Community Generalization Index (CGI). We used a novel method to assess the contribution of species-specific dynamics to CTI and CGI trends. We observed a significant increase in CTI and a significant decrease in CGI between 1981 and 2011, i.e., bird communities now have higher thermal preferences and are more specialized than 30 years ago. Bird CTI and CGI changes were both related to local climate- and land use-related drivers, especially mean temperature increase and hedgerow loss. Trends in CTI and CGI were primarily driven by the loss of cold-dwelling and generalist species, and secondly by a gain in hot-dwelling specialists. Our long-term study brings new empirical evidence that the effects of climate and land cover changes on bird communities are intrinsically intertwined, and need to be considered together to monitor and predict the future of farmland biodiversity. It also suggests that low-input, diversified agriculture combined with the maintenance of semi-natural habitat cover can contribute to the conservation of both specialist and generalist bird communities in agricultural landscapes experiencing rapid climate change.
2 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32500347
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): M. Cecilia Sagario, Víctor R. Cueto, Agustín Zarco, Rodrigo Pol, Luis Marone
Abstract

Numerical responses of animals to habitat perturbation often seem inconsistent, spreading skepticism about the predictive capacity of applied ecology. Domestic grazing changes several habitat variables that can affect seed-eating birds. Birds, in turn, show adaptations (e.g. in their feeding behavior) that could allow them to overcome habitat perturbations. Here we modelled habitat variables (e.g. cover of different plants, panicles, soil seed bank) in grazed and ungrazed (or lightly grazed) habitats of the central Monte desert, Argentina, to detect those affected by grazing activity. There was no effect of grazing on shrub and tree cover, but grazing reduced the abundance mostly of large grass seeds but also of small grass and forb seeds. Then, we used model’s outputs and knowledge of feeding preferences of the five most common seed-eating passerines in the Monte to make species-specific predictions: changes in abundance of grass seed specialists (Saltatricula multicolor, Microspingus torquatus and Porphyrospiza carbonaria) due to grazing activity should be consistent and should depend on large grass seeds (i.e. preferred seeds), whereas changes in abundance of more generalist species (Zonotrichia capensis and Diuca diuca) should be less consistent and explained also by the abundance of other seeds. The abundance of large grass seeds was sufficient to predict the abundances of S. multicolor, M. torquatus and P. carbonaria. The best model for predicting the abundance of Z. capensis included large grass seeds as well as small grass or forb seeds. No model including the abundance of seeds predicted the abundance of D. diuca. Therefore, feeding behavior explained the abundance of four out of the five bird species. A review of the literature showed that feeding behavior is also a good predictor of habitat use in other desert grasslands. Conservative range management should consider, and even manipulate, the level of the seeds preferred by wildlife. Grazed grasslands should be rested from grazing on a rotational basis so that grasses, especially those whose seeds are preferred by birds, can seed.

Graphical abstract

Unveiling the mechanisms that act as causal links between habitat alteration and bird abundance conciliates results often interpreted as unpredictable or irreproducible.





3 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32500348
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Gail MacInnis, Jessica R.K. Forrest
Abstract

The distance travelled by pollinators between successive flower visits can affect the quality of pollen transferred among plants. In cropping environments, especially monoculture systems, pollinators that travel between plants or rows may increase cross-pollination and consequently crop yield. However, the most commonly utilized crop pollinator, Apis mellifera L., tends to forage consecutively on nearest-neighbouring plants within rows. The level of cross-pollination can be further restricted in crops that are propagated by cloning. When a clonal variety is planted over large areas, the potential for outcrossed pollen deposition could be limited, regardless of pollinator flight distances. To investigate how pollinator movement and varietal diversity interact to affect crop pollination, we conducted an experiment with wild and honey bees in single- and multiple-variety strawberry fields. We hypothesized that the amount of cross-pollination provided by wild bees in multiple-variety strawberry fields would be greater than in single-variety fields, and greater than that provided by honey bees in either field type. We found that, indeed, flowers visited by wild bees produced larger strawberries than those visited by honey bees in multiple-variety plots, but only in the more self-incompatible of the two strawberry varieties tested. Strawberries resulting from honey bee pollination were of similar size regardless of the number of varieties planted in the field. Our results show that certain multiple-variety strawberry fields can benefit from the irregular foraging patterns of some solitary bee species, leading to increased cross-pollination and crop yield. Strawberry growers could take advantage of this effect by planting multiple varieties in close proximity and by supporting wild bee populations on farms.
4 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32556781
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Ashley E. Larsen, D. Nakoa Farrant, Andrew J. MacDonald
Abstract

The consequences of agricultural pesticide use for ecological and environmental health are partially determined by the overlap of pesticide use, in space and time, with ecologically important regions. Yet, data limitations have largely inhibited understanding of where and when such overlap occurs. Combining detailed pesticide use data from the diverse agricultural regions of California with species richness data for several taxa including birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, we evaluate the location and persistence of pesticide use hotspots, and where and when they align with ecologically important areas. Hotspots of pesticide use were generally located in agricultural valleys, as anticipated, yet were surprisingly ephemeral. Between 0–5 % of species richness hotspots intersected annual pesticide use hotspots depending on the focal taxa. The level of overlap also varied over the growing season, peaking for most taxa in May through July. Considering the spatial and temporal heterogeneity in both pesticide use and biodiversity is important to focus monitoring and mitigation efforts to reduce the ecological impacts of pesticide use when and where they occur.
5 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32556782
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): William Perrin, Marco Moretti, Alan Vergnes, Daniel Borcard, Pierre Jay-Robert
Abstract

Given the impact of livestock on ecosystems worldwide, it is necessary to understand the effects of grazing practices on biodiversity in order to improve the sustainability of pasture management practices. In a pasture, spatio-temporal variability in livestock activity results in a heterogeneous distribution of defoliation, trampling and excreta. To date, fine-scale analyses of grazing intensity have been rare, and the geographical extent of the studies often limited. In this study, we addressed this gap by analysing the influence of contrasting intra-pasture grazing intensity on the structure and composition of dung beetle assemblages. To do this, we studied a three-level grazing intensity gradient in two distinct bioclimatic contexts, a Mediterranean steppe and the Alps, which also allowed us to determine if dung beetle responses to grazing intensity are related to bioclimatic conditions. The observed dung beetle responses showed an imprint of the bioclimatic context and the local pasture conditions, and species composition and relative abundance showed strong variations along the grazing intensity gradient in both study areas. Species assemblages from the most and least grazed parts of pastures differed strongly. By altering habitat conditions, changing dung availability and modifying competitive interactions, fine-scale heterogeneity in grazing intensity led to substantial variations in the abundance of dung beetle nesting guilds. In both study areas an increase in grazing intensity was detrimental to the largest species and the soil-digging species (which bury dung in underground nests), whereas dung-dwelling species (which reproduce inside dung pads) were favoured. We discuss the combined use of nesting guilds and body mass as potential features to generalize the application of dung beetles as indicators of grazing practices.
6 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32556783
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Maxime Burst, Sandrine Chauchard, Etienne Dambrine, Jean-Luc Dupouey, Bernard Amiaud
Abstract

Soil properties vary spatially according to land use; both because land users have selected specific soil properties for specific land uses, and land uses modify the soil properties. However, permanent environment factors and land-use effects are unlikely to display the exact same spatial patterns. Study of the spatial and historical patterns of distribution of soil properties could help to separate between these two causes. In this aim, we studied 22 forest-grassland interfaces with controlled historical configurations in northeast France. In each land use (forest and grassland), three distances to the edge (edge, periphery and core) and two land-use histories (ancient and recent) were studied.
Along forest-grassland interfaces, forests were usually located slightly upslope of grasslands, and mainly because this non-random topographic position the topsoil texture was significantly more silty in forests, and clayey in grasslands. After statistically controlling for the effects of topography and soil texture, we observed two main gradients of variation in soil properties according to the distance-to-edge (acidity in forest and nutrient content in grassland). In forest, pH and Ca dropped from the edges to the peripheries (15 m distance), while in grassland, C, N, P and Na sharply increased from the edges to the cores (25 m distance). These results demonstrate, through the edge effect, the strong influence of the land use on a part of soil properties. Furthermore, less than two centuries after grassland afforestation or deforestation, we observed that soil properties in recent forests and recent grasslands were respectively closer to their current land use than to their former land use. These results demonstrate a rapid change in soil properties after land-use change. However, recent forests and recent grasslands kept a legacy of soil texture from their former land use, respectively. Recent grasslands also kept a lower soil density, N and Na content compared to ancient grasslands.
Hence, this study of forest-grassland interfaces show strong and short-scale relationships between land use and soil properties and suggest that they express both original choices of land users for specific soil properties and land-use after-effects. The non-random topographic position of the forest-grassland interfaces indicates a conscious choice of this positioning by the land users, for agronomic reasons. Beyond that, land use, through vegetation composition and management practices, also has a strong impact on soil properties. The fact that land-use changes affect most soil properties after only a few decades confirms the existence of land-use effects over time.
7 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32601216
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Katrin Heinsoo, Marek Sammul, Toomas Kukk, Tiiu Kull, Indrek Melts
Abstract

Semi-natural grasslands (SNG) are ecosystems whose characteristics can only be maintained by continuous human husbandry. Extensive management without ploughing, sowing or fertilising is advocated to ensure the durability of the various ecosystem services provided by these plant communities. As a semi-natural grassland rich in plant species, the Laelatu wooded meadow in western Estonia has been the subject of numerous studies. A fertilisation experiment conducted between 1961 and 1981 and the later annual observations in some areas of the meadow have provided longitudinal data for evaluating the impact of fertilisation and monitoring recovery time following the application of mineral nutrients. The characteristics under investigation were plant biomass, divided by functional groups (grasses, sedges & rushes, legumes and other herbaceous species) and species richness. Fertilisation caused a more than fourfold increase in biomass, which persisted over the following 10 years after the end of experiment. However, differences in biomass could no longer be detected during the later years of observation. On fertilised plots, ratios of forbs and sedges & rushes biomasses decreased from the second treatment year and were replaced mainly by legumes and/or grasses. In some of those plots, the higher ratio of legumes was noticeable even 35 years after the last fertilisation. Similarly, the number of plant species has not yet reached the level of the control plots. On that basis, intensification of SNG management cannot be advocated for conventional agricultural or bioeconomy purposes.

Graphical abstract






8 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32601217
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Kun Liu, Ting Liang, Weiya Qiang, Guozhen Du, Jerry M. Baskin, Carol C. Baskin, Haiyan Bu, Hui Yang, Sa Xiao
Abstract

Various plant successional gradients on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau are created by overgrazing of rangelands and by abandonment of cultivated land. A key point for restoration of these grasslands is the germinability of seeds that are sown in the field. Thus, information on how germination strategies change during succession will be helpful in restoring the grasslands in different successional stages. We sampled subalpine meadows abandoned from agriculture for 1, 5 and 15 years and an undisturbed (climax) meadow. Seed germination of species of communities in different successional stages and the climax were tested in the laboratory under different conditions. Change in germination strategy from the pioneer stage to climax was analyzed at the community level. Our results indicated that 1) at the community level, germination of species in the pioneer stage of succession (SS) is significantly different with that of those in the later SS; 2) species in the pioneer SS germinated better at 10-25℃ than those in the later (5 and 15 years) stages and in the climax; 3) the optimal temperature range for germination for the 1-year-old and climax communities (15-25℃) is wider than that of the 5- and 15-year-old communities (20-25℃); 4) germination of species in the 5- and 15-year-old communities had a significant positive response to alternating temperature and wet-cold storage but the 1-year-old and climax communities did not; 5) the SS has different effects on the diversity index for a single germination trait (FDrao), depending on the kind of trait, however, the diversity for the suite of seed germination traits (FRic) tends to decrease with progression of succession; 6) both species richness and phylogenetic diversity increase with progression of succession. Thus, the seed germination strategy changed with the progression of succession, and it was correlated with changes in vegetation density and height along the successional gradient. This research can give us some guidelines for grassland restoration by adding seeds.
9 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32601218
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Jingfu Wang, Jingan Chen, Zuxue Jin, Jianyang Guo, Haiquan Yang, Yan Zeng, Yong Liu
Abstract

The loss of phosphorus(P) and nitrogen from agricultural non-point source(ANPS) is one of the main causes of eutrophication in rivers, lakes and reservoirs in the Karst region, southern China. The lakeside buffer zone has proven to be effective in reducing the input of ANPS pollutants. However, the interception efficiency of natural soil for P and ammonia nitrogen is insufficient to control ANPS pollution. In this study, natural zeolite(NZ), aluminium modified clay(AMC) and lanthanum modified bentonite(LaMB) were used to amend the natural soil collected in the lakeside zone of Kelan Reservoir, Guangxi, China. An experimental study was conducted to examine the dissolved inorganic P(DIP) and ammonia nitrogen removal efficiency and fixation mechanism of three amended soils under simulation conditions. The results showed that natural soil had a high fraction of clay and silt (particle size<20μm; 75.2 %), and had a high removal rate of>95 % for the DIP at the beginning of the experiment. With the intermittent input of farmland drainage, the P removal rate of natural soil from runoff decreased gradually. Compared with the control group, P removal rates of AMC- and LaMB amended soils remained at a high level within 46 days, with means of 93.6 % and 93.9 %. However, NZ amended soil has a weak interception capacity of runoff P pollutant. The chemical sequential extraction showed that AMC increased soil P capacity by forming NaOH-P and NaHCO3-P, while LaMB by forming NaOH-P, NaHCO3-P and Residual-P. In addition, LaMB amended soil can simultaneously remove ammonia from farmland runoff, with the removal rate of 89.3 %. AMC- and LaMB amended soils are proved to be potential and effective technologies for ANPS pollution control. This study provide an important basis for the treatment of ANPS pollutants and the construction of lakeside buffer zone in eutrophic watershed.
10 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32601219
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Michelle Keller-Pearson, Yang Liu, Annika Peterson, Kaley Pederson, Luke Willems, Jean-Michel Ané, Erin M. Silva
Abstract

To meet the high demand for organic produce, farmers must select crop cultivars that perform well under the low-input conditions of organic production systems. Most cultivars grown on organic farms are genotypes selected through conventional breeding programs, which may impact responsiveness to microbial symbionts. The use of biological inputs such as mycorrhizal inoculants offers the promise of improving yield, quality, and stress-responsiveness of crops, but evidence of efficacy in the field remains elusive. Moreover, interspecific and intraspecific variability may impact the ability of mycorrhizal inoculants to provide benefits. This work evaluated four cultivars (two heirlooms and two hybrids) of carrots and their propensities to benefit from inoculation with isolates of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in organic field conditions with and without late-season water restriction. Inoculants included geographically-distinct isolates from four species (Funneliformis mosseae, Rhizophagus clarus, Rhizophagus intraradices, and Septoglomus deserticola). Heirloom cultivars demonstrated a higher propensity to benefit compared to hybrid cultivars from inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. We observed benefits and costs with respect to yield associated with inoculation within four experiments over twoditions. Breeding histories of plant genotypes likely contribute to their mycorrhizal responsiveness.
11 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32636881
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Ricardo Pita, Rui Morgado, Francisco Moreira, António Mira, Pedro Beja
Abstract

There is increasing interest in understanding how to retain wildlife in agricultural landscapes, thereby contributing to global biodiversity conservation efforts. Here we investigate the drivers of European badger (Meles meles) occurrence in Mediterranean farmland. The badger is a generalist mammalian carnivore usually associated to native woodland and shrubland, so we hypothesised that its occurrence in Mediterranean farmland should be favoured by substitute habitats such as forestry plantations, and negatively affected by areas more heavily used by humans such as paved roads. The study was conducted in SW Portugal, where we surveyed for badgers presence signs (latrines, footprints, setts) along transects located at 60 3.14-km2 circles scattered through the landscape, each of which surveyed in spring (March-May), summer (July-August) and autumn (September-October). Occupancy-detection models were used to quantify the effect of environmental variables on badger occupancy probability, while controlling for imperfect detection. Badger detection probability was positively affected by the density of dirt roads, possibly reflecting a preference of badgers to mark along those structures. According to predictions, badger occupancy significantly increased with the amount of forestry plantations and arboreal hedgerows, while decreasing with increasing paved road density. Taken together, our results indicate that badger conservation in Mediterranean farmland under agricultural intensification should require the protection of areas with low paved road density, and the retention of wood cover, even where these are highly-modified habitats such as forest plantations and arboreal hedgerows.

Graphical abstract






12 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32636882
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Robert J Orpet, Vincent P Jones, Elizabeth H Beers, John P Reganold, Jessica R Goldberger, David W Crowder
Abstract

Organic farming can improve soil quality and provide effective pest control with reduced inputs compared to conventional farming. Although organic and conventional farming are often viewed as dichotomous, they may overlap in pest management and soil quality goals and outcomes. Here, we assessed similarities and differences between conventional and organic apple orchards in Washington State by quantifying pesticide program risk to natural enemies, soil quality, leaf nitrogen, and abundance of woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) and its natural enemies. We also interviewed orchard owners, managers, and consultants to learn about their practices and opinions of conventional and organic management for aphids and soil quality. Organic orchards used more insecticide applications than conventional orchards, but the insecticides used were rated as less harmful to natural enemies. Conventional and organic orchards had similar soil quality, pest abundance, and natural enemy abundance. Woolly apple aphid abundance was not correlated to soil, plant, or natural enemy measurements. Interviews revealed that management goals were similar in both systems. Overall, our results suggest that both conventional and organic styles of farming are heterogenous. For example, conventional farmers may simply follow recommendations for inputs of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides or go further by using some organic or integrated practices; at the same time, organic farmers can vary in their use of organically certified pesticide sprays and ecologically based management tactics. Our study suggests that integrated management strategies that use a mix of appropriate tactics may be more important than being strictly conventional or organic to achieve superior soil and pest management outcomes.

Graphical abstract











13 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32636883
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Gabriel Marcacci, Jérémy Gremion, Julien Mazenauer, Tolera Sori, Fanuel Kebede, Mihret Ewnetu, Philippe Christe, Raphaël Arlettaz, Alain Jacot
Abstract

While the Western World is facing an inexorable decline of its farmland biodiversity following continuous intensification of production modes, agricultural landscapes in Africa are still largely dominated by small-scale subsistence farming operated by smallholders, mostly harbouring high biodiversity. However, as most African countries are confronted to an unprecedented population growth and a rapid economic development, efforts to intensify food production are widespread, with concomitant potentially negative effects on biodiversity. We conducted a study in a highly contrasted agricultural landscape of the Ethiopian highlands comprising two distinct farming systems: large-scale farming relying on modern, combine machinery and technology (e.g. enhanced crop varieties, application of herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers) vs small-scale traditional farming. Our objective was to disentangle the effects upon avian biodiversity of the operating farming system and the extent of semi-natural habitat features in the wider landscape. We performed a model selection approach to assess habitat selection by the overall bird community as well as the wintering, endemic and open habitat species, respectively. Our results show that habitat preferences of birds in the Ethiopian highlands were mainly driven by the amount of semi-natural habitats within the landscape, with varying effects depending on the farming system itself. While large-scale farming had overall more negative effects on birds, some typical open habitat species were mostly restricted to these wide-open landscapes. Our findings thereby suggest that both farming systems could coexist as long as semi-natural habitats are preserved and agricultural management maintained in its current practices. We emphasize the urgent need to conduct further studies integrating the socio-economic aspects in order to better predict future impacts of agricultural intensification processes on African farmland biodiversity.
14 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32636884
Publication date: 15 February 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 289
Author(s): Hongliang Wang, Weitong Long, Dave Chadwick, Gerard L Velthof, Oene Oenema, Wenqi Ma, Junjun Wang, Wei Qin, Yong Hou, Fusuo Zhang
Abstract

Inappropriate management of pig manure contributes considerably to pollution of waterbodies by nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and to air pollution by ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions. Dietary manipulation is recognized as a possible pollution mitigation measure, but it may affect pig growth and thereby production costs. Here we present a global meta-analysis of the effects of dietary manipulation on nutrient (N and P) excretion, gaseous (NH3 and H2S) emissions from manure, and growth performance of pigs, using data from 245 published studies. Four groups of dietary manipulation were distinguished, namely i) lowering dietary crude protein (CP) content, (ii) supplementing exogenous enzymes, (iii) supplementing fermented feed ingredients, and (iv) supplementing other additives (e.g. fermentable carbohydrates, acidifying agent/salts and probiotics) in feed. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of dietary manipulations was evaluated, expressed as US $ per kg N excretion abated. Results show that lowering CP content significantly reduced both total N excretion (28.5%) and NH3 emissions (34.4%). Addition of protease reduced N excretion (18.2%) but did not affect NH3 emissions. Supplementing other additives simultaneously reduced NH3 emissions (21.5%) and H2S emissions (23.2%). Adding phytase to feed significantly decreased total P excretion by 31.4%. Diets with fermented feed ingredients tended to decrease N excretion and emissions, but this effect was not statistically significant. All dietary manipulations significantly improved the growth performance regarding the weight gain and feed efficiency, except for lowering CP content. But lowering dietary CP content within a moderate level in combination with adding additional amino acids did not impair pig growth. The cost-effectiveness analysis indicated that various diary manipulation measures were economically beneficial to farmers through improved feed-to-meat conversion efficiency. Our results can support to the design of proper dietary formulations so as to simultaneously reduce N and P excretion and associated emissions, meanwhile enhance the growth performance of pigs with lower economic cost.
15 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32636885
Publication date: Available online 18 November 2019

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Author(s): Leonardo Fabio Rivera-Pedroza, Federico Escobar, Stacy M. Philpott, Inge Armbrecht
16 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32677062
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Thijs P.M. Fijen, Jeroen A. Scheper, Cassandra Vogel, Jasper van Ruijven, David Kleijn
Abstract

Ecological intensification of farming proposes that more effective use of ecosystem services can, in part, replace external inputs allowing farmers to maintain high crop yields while reducing adverse effects on the environment. However, uptake of ecological intensification among farmers is currently hampered by a lack of realistic studies on the agronomic benefits of enhancing ecosystem services vis-à-vis the benefits of conventional external inputs. Here, we use a full-factorial field experiment to test the relative and interactive effects of fertilisation, irrigation and pollination on crop yield of three parental crop lines of leek (Allium porrum) hybrid seed production. In a commercial leek seed production field, we assessed the agronomic performance of plants receiving conventional or 50 % reduced external inputs and that were either continuously accessible to pollinators or only 50 % of the time. For all crop lines, we found that reducing insect pollination had at least two times stronger effects on crop yield than similar reductions in fertilisation or irrigation. Surprisingly, reducing fertiliser inputs by half did not negatively affect crop yield (one line) or even increased crop yield (two lines), suggesting that in this system fertiliser is an over-applied agricultural input. Reducing irrigation did not affect crop yield in two lines but reduced crop yield in the third line. However, there were strong indications that this negative effect of reduced irrigation was due to reduced attractiveness for pollinators. Effects of fertilisation, irrigation and pollination on crop yield were additive, with the exception of pollination effects being influenced by fertilisation level in one of the lines. Under real-world conditions, reductions in insect pollination consistently reduced hybrid leek crop yield while reductions in external inputs did not. This suggests that in this cropping system insect pollination is the weakest link in the agricultural production process. Our findings help explain why the relation between agricultural intensification and yield growth disappears with the dependence of crops on insect pollination. For insect-depended crops, protection or promotion of pollinators in agricultural landscapes is essential for maintaining high yields.
17 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32752696
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Zhipeng Sha, Xin Ma, Jingxia Wang, Tiantian Lv, Qianqian Li, Tom Misselbrook, Xuejun Liu
Abstract

Nitrogen (N) fertilizer stabilizers (including urease inhibitors (UI), nitrification inhibitors (NI) and double inhibitors (DI)) are promising tools to mitigate N pollution from agricultural production. For a better understanding of how N stabilizers impact on the fate of fertilizer-N, we conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of data from experiments that used the 15N as a tracer to investigate the effects of N stabilizers on fertilizer-N recovery in the soil-crop system. We combined this with boosted regression tree (BRT) model analysis to further interpret the contribution of soil properties and experimental conditions. The dataset consisted of 72 papers (227 observations). Our results suggest that UI, NI and DI significantly enhanced the fertilizer-N uptake by the crop by 24.1, 10.5 and 47.6 %, respectively, the fertilizer-N retention in the soil by 5.8 % (UI) and 15.0 % (NI), and the fertilizer-N recovery in soil-crop system by 16.4, 10.2 and 27.5 %, respectively. On the contrary, the fertilizer-N loss is reduced by 32.9, 14.5 and 37.6 % for UI, NI and DI, respectively. Soil pH, organic matter content, inhibitor compound and nitrogen application rate were the most important explanatory variables for the impact of UI and NI amendments on fertilizer-N recovery. These findings have major implications for N stabilizer application strategies in agricultural systems, where an important consideration is the mitigation of potentially detrimental environmental consequences.

Graphical abstract






18 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32752697
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Noemí Mateo-Marín, Dolores Quílez, Mónica Guillén, Ramón Isla
Abstract

Stabilised nitrogen (N) fertilisers with nitrification and urease inhibitors have been proposed to abate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agrosystems. Nevertheless, differences in their application and in the management of water and nitrogen rates make it difficult to evaluate their actual utility. The aim of this study was to analyse the possibility for GHG emissions reduction in a 3-year rotation (maize-maize-wheat) by substituting the traditional split-urea application to maize by a single side-dress application of stabilised urea fertiliser. The experiment was performed in 24 drainage lysimeters in two contrasting soil types (Shallow and Deep) under efficient irrigation practices and adjusted N rates under Mediterranean conditions. Nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) were measured using static closed unvented chambers, and the soil mineral N was monitored through periodic soil samplings. CH4 emissions were generally negligible with occasional tendency the soil acting as a sink more than as a net source. Direct N2O emissions during the whole rotation showed lower values when a nitrification inhibitor (3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate) was added than with conventional urea (Deep soil: 73% lower, p < 0.05; Shallow soil: 60% lower, ns). Urease inhibitors (N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide and monocarbamide dihydrogen sulphate) could not abate direct N2O emissions, and their effect depended on the soil type. However, all stabilised fertilisers mitigated N2O emissions in Deep soil when scaled by grain yield (average 54%). Indirect N2O emissions associated with nitrate leaching were not affected by the treatments but contributed more to total N2O emissions in Shallow soil (12%) than in Deep soil (6%). These results suggest that adequate use of nitrification inhibitors could have environmental benefits without lessening agronomic production.
19 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32752698
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Mohamed A.B. Abdallah, Ricardo Mata-González, Jay S. Noller, Carlos G. Ochoa
Abstract

The encroachment of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) trees represents a substantial problem in Oregon rangelands because of the displacement of understory vegetation of importance to wildlife and livestock. Therefore, the control of this species is a common ecological restoration practice. However, western juniper control may also affect the carbon sequestration capacity for an area, although this effect is not well understood. Our study site was a paired watershed in central Oregon where western juniper trees were cut in one watershed (treated, 116 ha) and were left intact in another (untreated, 96 ha). Thirteen years after control, we quantified aboveground carbon stocks for western juniper trees, shrubs, grasses, and litter in both the treated and untreated watersheds. We also quantified belowground carbon stocks (roots and soil) in both watersheds at two soil depths (0−25 cm and 25−50 cm). Aboveground carbon stocks were 5.8 times greater in the untreated than in the treated watershed. On the other hand, root carbon stocks were 2.6 times greater in the treated than in the untreated watershed. Soil carbon stocks at both 0−25 cm and 25−50 cm depth were not affected by juniper control. Overall, total ecosystem carbon stocks (average 137.6 Mg C ha−1) were not different between watersheds. Most carbon resided belowground (soil 0−50 cm and roots); 84% and 97% of the total ecosystem carbon, respectively, was found in the untreated and treated watershed. Juniper control represents benefits such as habitat restoration for native wildlife, increased forage for livestock, and restoration of hydrological functions. Our study provides basis to suggest that the benefits of juniper control can be attained without substantially affecting the potential for ecosystem carbon sequestration.
20 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32789358
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Martin Šálek, Radovan Václav, František Sedláček
Abstract

Agricultural intensification has led to landscape simplification partially due to massive reduction in the area of biodiversity-rich non-cropped habitats. Power lines and their associated infrastructure occurring in homogeneous farmland have recently been suggested to provide suitable habitat resources for some animals. This is the first study to investigate the importance of high-voltage power pylons in providing habitats of uncropped patches for small mammal communities in the agricultural landscape. We found that the abundance and species richness of small mammals during the winter was significantly higher in uncropped habitat patches under power pylons compared to the surrounding farmland. We suggest that power line infrastructure in the agricultural landscape may represent a crucial, though overlooked, refuge for small mammals by providing them with persistent habitat for wintering and spring dispersal.
21 show abstract
0167-8809 * 1873-2305 * 32789359
Publication date: 1 March 2020

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 290
Author(s): Jocelyn Fonderflick, Aurélien Besnard, Marie-Claire Chardès, Laura Lanuzel, Caroline Thill, Philippe Pointereau
Abstract

Populations of segetal species are facing sharp declines in Europe due to agricultural intensification. To better conserve them, it is important to assess the effect of intensification in extensive mixed crop-livestock systems, which are considered hotspots for segetal species. The aim of this study was to evaluate how certain key farming practices and land-use intensity affect the composition, species richness and abundance of segetal species, taking into account spatial heterogeneity within the studied fields. To do this, we sampled 94 winter cereal fields - 41 farmed organically and 53 farmed conventionally - along a gradient of land-use intensity. At field scale, we found that both the species richness and the abundance of segetal taxa decreased with an increase in land-use intensity. The results also showed significant differences in segetal taxa composition, species richness and abundance between the edges and the inner-fields location and these differences significantly increased with land-use intensity. The species richness and abundance of both common and threatened segetal taxa were significantly higher at the edges of fields than within them. Herbicide treatments had a significant negative impact on segetal taxa species richness and abundance, while mechanical weeding had a positive impact on abundance. Nitrogen inputs had a significant detrimental effect only on the abundance of common segetal taxa. Crop seed origin and the ratio of cereal crops in the rotational cycle had no effect on segetal taxa species richness and abundance. Despite these impacts, we found that segetal species richness and abundance were better explained by farm identity (random factor) than by current management (fixed factors). Variation in segetal species richness and abundance between fields of the same farm and between farms reflect the long-term effects of farming practices and the history of seed transfer between farms more than by current management practices. In our study area, the production of cereals is destined for the consumption of the farm's sheep and the fact the cereals are not marketed makes it possible to tolerate the presence of segetal species in higher proportions than in intensive farming systems.

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