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    William J. DAVIES
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● The urgent need to address increasing worldwide food and climate insecurity.

    ● Potential conflicts between these aims.

    ● Environmental challenges require a revolution in global farming practices.

    ● Growing concerns over diet-related health problems.

    ● New plant science to reduce global food insecurity.

    In many countries, political and environmental pressures are currently combining to generate a perfect storm of circumstances that is reducing food availability, increasing food costs and thereby reducing the availability of food to many. The UK is currently considering new national food and land management policies, and attention is also being given to legislation to address diet-related health issues. Many now argue for a revolution in UK farming practices to reduce their impact on the natural environment. The UK is not alone in facing these and other challenges. Both the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the effects of climate change on food production are issues receiving worldwide attention. Regenerative agricultural practices can result in greater C capture, reduced GHG emissions, enhanced soil quality and enhanced biodiversity. However, it is questioned if such farming systems will be productive enough to feed a growing population with the food required for social and health benefits. To fully exploit the impact of new plant science in farmer fields, it is imperative to effectively link science to farming practices and conduct a broader conversation around the food revolution with social scientists and with the general public.

    Haixing ZHANG, Yuan FENG, Yanxiang JIA, Pengqi LIU, Yong HOU, Jianbo SHEN, Qichao ZHU, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● A target-threshold indicator evaluation system is proposed to measure China’s agriculture transformation.

    ● Evaluation based on a development score showed China is currently at a medium level in the Agriculture Green Development initiative.

    ● There was a trend for increasing development scores for 2010–2020 compared to 1997–2010.

    ● Trade-offs between eco-environmental factors and socioeconomic/food production factors were found to be the major barriers to the transformation.

    ● More effort is needed to address the insufficient and uneven development to provide coordinated improvement.

    China has initiated a green transformation plan in 2015, which was soon applied to agriculture, known as the Agriculture Green Development (AGD) initiative, with the goals of achieving food security, high resource use efficiency, and an ecofriendly environment. To assess the agricultural transformation from 1997 to 2020, this paper proposes a national-scale indicator system consisting three dimensions (socioeconomic, food production and eco-environmental) and ten sub-dimensions to quantify the AGD score. This study showed that AGD score in China was at a moderate level during 1997–2010, scoring 40 out of 100. During this stage, decreased scores in the sub-dimensions of resource consumption, environmental quality, and environmental cost have offset the improvement in the socioeconomic dimension, resulting in fluctuated scores around 40. In the second stage (2011–2020), China’s AGD score improved but still at moderate level, scoring an average of 46.3, with each dimension increasing by 5.3%–25.0%. These results indicate that China has made progress in the agricultural transformation, transitioning from conceptualization to actions through the implementation of various policies and projects. However, the study emphasizes the need for more effort to address the insufficient and unbalanced development, along with the growing eco-environmental challenges, especially the trade-offs among dimensions.

    Lihua MA, Shiyang LI, Linfa FANG, Xuanjing CHEN, Ran XIAO, Xiaoxuan SU, Zhaolei LI, Zhaohai BAI, Lin MA, Prakash LAKSHMANAN, Xinping CHEN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● Cash crops and livestock production in Yangtze River Basin has grown rapidly.

    ● The agricultural inputs discharge multiple pollutants loads on water bodies in the YRB.

    ● Multiple pollutants impact on efficient utilization of nitrogen and phosphorus in agriculture.

    ● An explicitly multi-pollutant approach accounting for interactions is need.

    The rapid increase in the proportion of cash crops and livestock production in the Yangtze River Basin has led to commensurate increases in fertilizer and pesticide inputs. Excessive application of chemical fertilizer, organophosphorus pesticides and inappropriate disposal of agricultural waste induced water pollution and potentially threaten Agriculture Green Development (AGD). To ensure food security and the food supply capacity of the Yangtze River Basin, it is important to balance green and development, while ensuring the quality of water bodies. Multiple pollutants affect the transfer, adsorption, photolysis and degradation of each other throughout the soil-plant-water system. This paper considers the impact of multi-pollutants on the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles especially for crops, which are related to achieving food security and AGD. It presents prospective on theory, modeling and multi-pollutant control in the Yangtze River Basin for AGD that are of potential value for other developing regions.

    Samuel J. CUSWORTH, William J. DAVIES, Martin R. MCAINSH, Carly J. STEVENS, Weilu WANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● Macro-, micro- and nanoplastic pollution in agricultural soils threaten long-term crop production and environmental health in China.

    ● Resolving the existing issues with plasticulture in China requires holistic solutions that target plastic production, use and waste management.

    ● Mechanisms for change must focus on education, incentivization and the development of infrastructure to positively reinforce the procurement, management and disposal of agriplastics.

    ● The sustainable intensification of plasticulture in Chinese agricultural production systems is key to achieving long-term food and eco-security in China.

    Plastic pollution is global concern, affecting most aspects of global food production systems. Plasticulture, a practice used in agriculture to improve crop quality and quantity, among other factors, is a significant source of plastic pollution. This review examines the extent of plasticulture in China, the implications of the practice across decades of use and the legislative instruments used to resolve those issues. It briefly assesses the effectiveness of these policies and proposes possible future innovations to promote increases in long-term food and eco-security, where sustainable plasticulture is a key agent for change. While plasticulture has increased agricultural productivity in growth-limiting conditions, plastic pollution in agricultural soils has become acute in China. Consequently, plastic pollution is having deleterious effects on soil health and in turn, crop productivity in China. Plastic pollution in agriculture is a multifaceted issue and so proposed solutions should be informed by this complexity. Current measures do not reflect a holistic approach to solving this socioecological challenge and adopt a top-down approach, with little or no supportive mechanisms. Future recommendations need to consider the particular set of conditions that influence the production, use and end-of-life management of agriplastics, specific to the environmental, economic and social conditions in each location.

    Weili ZHANG, Renlian ZHANG, Hongjie JI, Anja SEVERIN, Zhaojun LI
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    Enhancement of farming management relies heavily on enhancing farmer knowledge. In the past, both the direct learning approach and the personnel extension system for improving fertilization practices of smallholders has proven insufficiently effective. Therefore, this article proposes an interactive knowledge learning approach using artificial intelligence as a promising alternative. The system consists of two parts. The first is a dialog interface that accepts information from farmers about their current farming practices. The second part is an intelligent decision system, which categorizes the information provided by farmers in two categories. The first consists of on-farm constraints, such as fertilizer resources, split application times and seasons. The second comprises knowledge-based practices by farmers, such as nutrient in- and output balance, ratios of different nutrients and the ratios of each split nutrient amount to the total nutrient input. The interactive knowledge learning approach aims to identify and rectify incorrect practices in the knowledge-based category while considering the farmer’s available finance, labor, and fertilizer resources. Investigations show that the interactive knowledge learning approach can make a strong contribution to prevention of the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, and mitigating agricultural non-point source pollution.

    Demeku MESFIN, Engdawork ASSEFA, Belay SIMANE
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● Soil properties varied within coefficients of variation ranging from 7% to 169%.

    ● High variation in available phosphorus was caused by different management practices.

    ● Midland plains are dominated by Vertisol and Nitosols more suitable for agriculture.

    ● Lowland and mountainous highland area of the watershed are neither fertile nor suitable for agriculture.

    ● Lime application and organic fertilizer are fundamental to reversing soil acidity.

    Awareness of how soil properties vary over agroecosystems (AES) is essential for understanding soil potentials and improving site-specific agricultural management strategies for a sustainable ecosystem. This study examined the characteristics of soil quality attributes and implications for agriculture in the Choke Mountain watershed in Ethiopia. Forty-seven composite soil samples (0–20 cm deep) were collected from lowland and valley fragmented (AES 1), midland plain with black soil (AES 2), midland plain with brown soil (AES 3), sloppy midland land (AES 4), and hilly and mountainous highlands (AES 5). Ten of 15 soil quality properties were significant (P < 0.05 or 0.01), including silt, exchangeable bases, cation exchange capacity, percent base saturation, pH, organic matter, total nitrogen and available phosphorous (P) across the five AES. However, all properties were variable with coefficients of variation from 7% (total porosity) to 169% (available P) across the AES. Although AES 2 and 3 are affected by waterlogging and acidity, these two have better prospects for agriculture, but AES 1, 4, and 5 are unsuitable for agriculture because of soil erosion. Therefore, appropriate and applicable soil management strategies, particularly lime application and organic fertilizer, are fundamental to reversing soil acidity and improving soil fertility.

    Ziqi WANG, Guotao SUN, Jiamin WANG, Gongshe YANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering,

    ● Research on heavy metal passivation and nitrogen emissions is necessary for the pig industry.

    ● Mechanism of heavy metal passivation and nitrogen retention by different additives was introduced.

    ● Development and prospect of metal passivation, nitrogen preservation technology were discussed.

    The widespread use of feed additives in intensive and large-scale pig farming has resulted in high levels of heavy metals in pig manure. The long-term application of organic fertilizers containing high levels of heavy metals leads to the accumulation of heavy metals in the soil, which not only causes heavy metal pollution in the soil, and also affect food safety and endanger human health. Composting is an economical and effective technical measures to achieve environmentally-sustainable treatment of pig manure and is a practical method to reduce the problem of heavy metals and to improve the resource value of pig manure. The composting process is accompanied by high temperatures and the production and emission of gases, and also lead to changes in the nitrogen content of the compost and provide opportunity for heavy metal passivation additives. This paper summarizes the forms and types of heavy metals present in pig manure and reviews the progress of research as well as the techniques and problems of in the composting process, and provides recommendations for research on heavy metal passivation and nitrogen retention in pig manure composting.