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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering

  • Cover Illustration

    2020, Vol.7  No.1

    The cover image shows a beautiful agricultural landscape and a village, which has already embraced the concepts of green development and rural revitalization. The objective of Agriculture Green Development (AGD) is to coordinate “green” with “development”, and realize the transformation of traditional agriculture with high resource-environmental costs towards a green agriculture and countryside with high-quality, high-yield and high-efficiency farming, sus [Detail] ...

    Table of Contents

ISSN 2095-7505 (Print)
ISSN 2095-977X (Online)
CN 10-1204/S
Postal Subscription Code 80-906

Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering has been added to Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) on September 12, 2016.

This journal is a member of, and subscribes to the principles of, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

, Volume 7 Issue 1

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EDITORIAL
REVIEW
Agriculture Green Development: a model for China and the world
Jianbo SHEN, Qichao ZHU, Xiaoqiang JIAO, Hao YING, Hongliang WANG, Xin WEN, Wen XU, Tingyu LI, Wenfeng CONG, Xuejun LIU, Yong HOU, Zhenling CUI, Oene OENEMA, William J. DAVIES, Fusuo ZHANG
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 5-13.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019300
Abstract   HTML   PDF (486KB)

Realizing sustainable development has become a global priority. This holds, in particular, for agriculture. Recently, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Nineteenth National People’s Congress has delivered a national strategy for sustainable development in China—realizing green development. The overall objective of Agriculture Green Development (AGD) is to coordinate “green” with “development” to realize the transformation of current agriculture with high resource consumption and high environmental costs into a green agriculture and countryside with high productivity, high resource use efficiency and low environmental impact. This is a formidable task, requiring joint efforts of government, farmers, industry, educators and researchers. The innovative concept for AGD will focus on reconstructing the whole crop-animal production and food production-consumption system, with the emphasis on high thresholds for environmental standards and food quality as well as enhanced human well-being. This paper addresses the significance, challenges, framework, pathways and potential solutions for realizing AGD in China, and highlights the potential changes that will lead to a more sustainable agriculture in the future. Proposals include interdisciplinary innovations, whole food chain improvement and regional solutions. The implementation of AGD in China will provide important implications for the countries in developmental transition, and contribute to global sustainable development.

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Producing more with less: reducing environmental impacts through an integrated soil-crop system management approach
Zhenling CUI, Zhengxia DOU, Hao YING, Fusuo ZHANG
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 14-20.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019295
Abstract   HTML   PDF (163KB)

Balancing crop productivity with resource use efficiency and beneficial environmental consequences is essential for sustainable agricultural development worldwide. Various strategies and approaches have been proposed and debated, but turning the concept into management practices in the field with measurable outcomes over several scales remains a challenge. An innovative approach, Integrated Soil-Crop System Management (ISSM), for producing more grain with greater nutrient use efficiencies and less environmental pollution is presented. The ISSM approach has been used in China, in field experiments as well as in thousands of farmer fields, to substantially increase the yields of maize, rice and wheat while simultaneously increasing nitrogen use efficiency and reducing environmental footprints. The scientific principle, implementation strategy and procedures of ISSM are discussed and examples of its demonstrated successes at local and regional levels across China are given. Perspectives for further development of ISSM and expanding its potential impact are also proposed and discussed.

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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Methodological considerations for redesigning sustainable cropping systems: the value of data-mining large and detailed farm data sets at the cropping system level
Nicolas MUNIER-JOLAIN, Martin LECHENET
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 21-27.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019292
Abstract   HTML   PDF (361KB)

Redesigning cropping and farming systems to enhance their sustainability is mainly addressed in scientific studies using experimental and modeling approaches. Large data sets collected from real farms allow for the development of innovative methods to produce generic knowledge. Data mining methods allow for the diversity of systems to be considered holistically and can take into account the diversity of production contexts to produce site-specific results. Based on the very few known studies using such methods to analyze the crop management strategies affecting pesticide use and their effect on farm performance, we advocate further investment in the development of large data sets that can support future research programs on farming system design.

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REVIEW
Can crop science really help us to produce more better-quality food while reducing the world-wide environmental footprint of agriculture?
William J. DAVIES, Susan E. WARD, Alan WILSON
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 28-44.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019299
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This paper reviews recent developments in crop science that can be the basis of a revolution in the global food system but it is also emphasized that such a revolution requires more than changes in food production and supply. We must more effectively feed a growing global population with a healthy diet while also defining and delivering the kinds of sustainable food systems that will minimise damage to our planet. There are exciting new developments in crop production biology but much existing crop science can be exploited to increase yields with the aid of a knowledge exchange (KE) framework requiring the use of new technology now available to most people across the globe. We discuss novel approaches at both the plant and the crop level that will enhance nutrient and water productivity and we also outline ways in which energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced and labor shortages combatted. Exploitation of new biology and new engineering opportunities will require development of public-private partnerships and collaborations across the disciplines to allow us to move effectively from discovery science to practical application. It is also important that consumers contribute to the debate over proposed changes to food and farming and so effective KE mechanisms are required between all relevant communities.

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Strategies to reduce nutrient pollution from manure management in China
David R. CHADWICK, John R. WILLIAMS, Yuelai LU, Lin MA, Zhaohai BAI, Yong HOU, Xinping CHEN, Thomas H. MISSELBROOK
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 45-55.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019293
Abstract   HTML   PDF (459KB)

As the demand for livestock products continues to increase in China, so too does the challenge of managing increasing quantities of manure. Urgent action is needed to control point source (housing, storage and processing) and diffuse (field application) pollution and improve the utilization of manure nutrients and organic matter. Here, we review strategies to improve management at each stage of the manure management chain and at different scales. Many strategies require infrastructure investment, e.g., for containment of all manure fractions. Engineering solutions are needed to develop advanced composting systems with lower environmental footprints and design more efficient nutrient stripping technologies. At the field-scale, there is an urgent need to develop a manure nutrient recommendation system that accounts for the range of manure types, cropping systems, soils and climates throughout China. At the regional scale, coordinated planning is necessary to promote recoupling of livestock and cropping systems, and reduce nutrient accumulation in regions with little available landbank, while minimizing the risk of pollution swapping from one region to another. A range of stakeholders are needed to support the step change and innovation required to improve manure management, reduce reliance on inorganic fertilizers, and generate new business opportunities.

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Development and challenges of green food in China
Mahmood ul HASSAN, Xin WEN, Jiuliang XU, Jiahui ZHONG, Xuexian LI
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 56-66.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019296
Abstract   HTML   PDF (656KB)

Green food in China refers to a wide array of primary and processed agricultural products that are safe, nutritious and of high quality for human consumption. Green food has been certified and produced following the principle of sustainability since the 1990s, making historic achievements in providing quality food, protecting the environment, increasing farmer income, and nurturing agricultural brands over the past 30 years in China. Today, the green food industry enters a steady-growth stage in terms of cultivation area, product number and sales. This article summarizes the history of the development of green food in China and current achievements, analyze major challenges that may hamper further development of the industry, and propose strategies to address these challenges, i.e., optimization of the food supply chain, deep food processing, and utilization of food wastes.

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A green eco-environment for sustainable development: framework and action
Xuejun LIU, Wen XU, Zhipeng SHA, Yangyang ZHANG, Zhang WEN, Jingxia WANG, Fusuo ZHANG, Keith GOULDING
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 67-74.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019297
Abstract   HTML   PDF (948KB)

Following its 40-year reform and ‘Open Door’ policy, China has recently proposed a new approach to green development and rural revitalization—the idea of Agriculture Green Development (AGD), with the key feature of creating a green eco-environment. In this mini-review we introduce the definition, theory, framework and major components of a green eco-environment as a key part of the AGD. We define a green eco-environment as including four key elements or measures: (1) a green eco-environmental indicator system; (2) environmental monitoring and warning networks; (3) emission standards and environmental thresholds for key pollutants; (4) emission controls and pollution remediation technologies. We have used Quzhou County (a typical county in the center of the North China Plain) as an example to show how detailed air, water and soil monitoring networks, as well as improved farmer practices and pollution control measures (especially ammonia emission mitigation and PM2.5 pollution reduction), can begin to create a green eco-environment in China and that AGD is possible. We conclude by stressing the need to improve the framework and practice for a green eco-environment, especially the importance of linking proposals and practices for a green eco-environment with the United Nations high priority Sustainable Development Goals.

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Mitigating nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils by precision management
Robert M. REES, Juliette MAIRE, Anna FLORENCE, Nicholas COWAN, Ute SKIBA, Tony van der WEERDEN, Xiaotang JU
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 75-80.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019294
Abstract   HTML   PDF (727KB)

Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions make up a significant part of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. There is an urgent need to identify new approaches to the mitigation of these emissions with emerging technology. In this short review four approaches to precision managements of agricultural systems are described based on examples of work being undertaken in the UK and New Zealand. They offer the opportunity for N2O mitigation without any reduction in productivity. These approaches depend upon new sensor technology, modeling and spatial information with which to make management decisions and interventions that can both improve agricultural productivity and environmental protection.

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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Towards the sustainable intensification of agriculture—a systems approach to policy formulation
Leslie G. FIRBANK
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 81-89.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019291
Abstract   HTML   PDF (473KB)

The sustainable intensification of agriculture involves providing sufficient food and other ecosystem services without going beyond the limits of the earth’s system. Here a project management approach is suggested to help guide agricultural policy to deliver these objectives. The first step is to agree measurable outcomes, integrating formal policy goals with the often much less formal and much more diverse goals of individual farmers. The second step is to assess current performance. Ideally, this will involve the use of farm-scale metrics that can feed into process models that address social and environmental domains as well as production issues that can be benchmarked and upscaled to landscape and country. Some policy goals can be delivered by supporting ad hoc interventions, while others require the redesign of the farming system. A pipeline of research, knowledge and capacity building is needed to ensure the continuous increase in farm performance. System models can help prioritise policy interventions. Formal optimization of land use is only appropriate if the policy goals are clear, and the constraints understood. In practice, the best approach may depend on the scale of action that is required, and on the amount of resource and infrastructure available to generate, implement and manage policy.

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REVIEW
Policy options for Agriculture Green Development by farmers in China
Laurence E. D. SMITH
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 90-97.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019290
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Farmers are the key agents who manage land and water. Agriculture Green Development (AGD) requires a transformation in farming from high resource consumption and environmental cost to sustainable intensification with high productivity, high resource use efficiency and low environmental risk. This paper analyzes the public policy challenge of AGD and makes the case for a location-sensitive policy mix made up of regulation, advice provision, voluntarism and targeted incentives. The public agricultural extension service in China is a key resource, but one that requires reorientation and reform with the aim of better balancing high farm productivity with environmental protection.

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Agriculture Green Development in China and the UK: common objectives and converging policy pathways
Yuelai LU, David NORSE, David POWLSON
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 98-105.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019298
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This paper has three aims. First, to examine how the negative environmental consequences of intensive agriculture have driven China and the UK to shift away from narrowly focused farm output policies and adopt more holistic green development pathways. Second, to explore the policy objectives they have in common. Third, to assess the numerous opportunities for joint research and knowledge sharing through the Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network and other existing institutional mechanisms. The intensification of agricultural production in the UK started several decades earlier than in China as did the negative environmental consequences of the farm practices. However, their strategies and policies for sustainable intensification and green development have much in common. These are set out in two main documents: the Chinese State Council guidelines for green agriculture and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 25 Year Environment Plan. There are substantial mutual advantages from greater collaboration on problem identification and monitoring; the development of appropriate technological and management responses and the formulation of sound policies. To achieve this potential, it is recommended that further thought be given to how best to bring together all of the key stakeholders along the whole food chain.

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COMMENTS
The urgency of Agriculture Green Development
Guido SCHMIDT-TRAUB
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 108-109.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019313
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Toward Agriculture Green Development
Oene OENEMA
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 110-111.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019314
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Creating a new university-education system to promote Agriculture Green Development
Fusuo ZHANG, Weichun DONG, Jianqiang LI
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 114-116.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019319
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PERSPECTIVE
Opinion: Agriculture Green Development
John R. PORTER
Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. . 2020, 7 (1): 117-119.  https://doi.org/10.15302/J-FASE-2019315
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