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    Monica K. KANSIIME, Idah MUGAMBI, Harrison RWARE, Christine ALOKIT, Caroline ALIAMO, Feng ZHANG, Jakob LATZKO, Puyun YANG, Daniel KARANJA, Dannie ROMNEY
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 642-654.

    ● Seventy-eight percent of farmers accessed extension and advisory services from electronic sources dominated by radio.

    ● Low digital literacy and high cost of internet and digital devices were key barriers to digital extension and advisory services use.

    ● Farmers need information to make decisions, e.g., fertilizers, seeds or pesticides to use.

    ● Integrating digital and face-to-face methods can enhance inclusive scaling of extension activities.

    An assessment of the challenges and capacity gaps in smallholder access to digital extension and advisory services (EAS) was made by surveying 197 female and 239 male farmers in Kenya and Uganda. Non-digital extension approaches remain dominant but at least 78% of farmers accessed EAS from electronic sources dominated by radio. This is attributed to the fact that ownership of radios was more widespread than of other digital devices. Challenges that particularly limit the use of digital services included low digital literacy and prohibitive cost of internet and mobile devices. Female and elderly farmers were more likely to report these challenges than their counterparts. Logistic regression model results show that ownership of digital devices, participation in post-production activities, and access to extension were enablers of digital EAS use. Farmers mentioned gaps in obtaining information on crop pest/disease diagnosis and management, fertilizer application, pesticide safety and quality seed. Given the diversity in smallholder technological capabilities and information needs, the recommendations made include integration of digital communication within multimode advisory services that use different but linked communication channels, continued farmer digital innovation capacity enhancement, and participatory design approaches that deliver relevant and actionable information for inclusive scaling of extension activities.

    Xiaoxia GUO, Chong WANG, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 511-522.

    ● A five-step process for quantifying smallholder farming system sustainability is proposed.

    ● Definition of system boundary, functional unit, and indicators depends on research issues.

    ● Weighting, conversion, and aggregation methods tightly relates to the validity of assessment results.

    Smallholder farming systems are important for global food security, but these faces multiple environmental challenges hindering sustainable development. Although sustainable smallholder agriculture issues have been widely discussed and addressed by scientists globally, harmonized approaches in evaluating sustainability are still lacking. This paper proposes a five-step process for constructing a sustainability assessment method for smallholder farming systems, namely definition of system boundary, indicator selection, indicator weighting, indicator conversion, and indicator aggregation. The paper summarizes the state-of-art progresses in agricultural sustainability assessment at different stages, and systematically discussed the benefits and limitations of weighting and aggregation methods. Overall, this evaluation process should be useful by providing rational and comprehensive results for quantifying the sustainability of smallholder farming systems, and will contribute to practice by providing decision-makers with directions for improving sustainable strategies.

    Chenqiao ZHU, Peng CHEN, Junli YE, Hang LI, Yue HUANG, Xiaoming YANG, Chuanwu CHEN, Chenglei ZHANG, Yuantao XU, Xiaoli WANG, Xiang YAN, Guangzhou DENG, Xiaolin JIANG, Nan WANG, Hongxing WANG, Quan SUN, Yun LIU, Di FENG, Min YU, Xietian SONG, Zongzhou XIE, Yunliu ZENG, Lijun CHAI, Qiang XU, Chongling DENG, Yunjiang CHENG, Xiuxin DENG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 627-641.

    Fortunella genus consists of two populations: cultivated kumquat and wild Hong Kong kumquat.

    ● Artificial selection might involve in the origin of cultivated Fortunella species.

    ● A hypothesis for the differentiation and speciation of Fortunella species is proposed.

    Kumquat (Fortunella spp.) is a fruit and ornamental crop worldwide due to the palatable taste and high ornamental value of its fruit. Although Fortunella is classified into the economically important true citrus fruit tree group together with Citrus and Poncirus, few studies have been focused on its evolutionary scenario. In this study, analysis of five chloroplast loci and 47 nuclear microsatellites (nSSR) loci from 38 kumquat and 10 citrus accessions revealed the independent phylogeny of Fortunella among citrus taxa, and that Fortunella mainly comprises two populations: CUL, cultivated Fortunella spp. (F. margarita, F. crassifolia and F. japonica); and HK, wild Hong Kong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii). Genomic analysis based on whole-genome SNPs indicated that the allele frequency of both pupations deviated from the neutral selection model, suggesting directional selection was a force driving their evolutions. CUL exhibited lower genomic diversity and higher linkage strength than HK, suggesting artificial selection involved in its origin. A high level of genetic differentiation (Fst = 0.364) was detected and obviously asynchronous demographic changes were observed between CUL and HK. Based on these results, a new hypothesis for the speciation of Fortunella is proposed.

    Yajuan LI, Qianni HUANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 536-546.

    ● A systematical technology diffusion mode that can simultaneously achieve smallholders’ technology adoption to different scales was discovered.

    ● Collaborative, tree-shaped and jump-start modes are the main forms to promote technology diffusion.

    ● The combination of three modes above facilitates technology diffusion to different scales.

    ● The STB-based technology diffusion empowered smallholders through technology adoption.

    ● Trust is the key to promoting technology dependence and adoption among smallholders.

    Understanding the impact of agricultural socialized services on smallholder adoption of green production technologies and their mechanisms of action is of great importance for sustainability of farming systems. Currently, there were numerous related studies, but it is still unclear how to gradually achieve the diffusion of technological innovations on pilot sites to a regional level. To answer this question, this paper presents the pathways and mechanisms of green production technologies diffusion by comparing international typical service organizations or modes such as agricultural technology extension service centers (ATESC), farmer field schools (FFS), participatory technology innovation (PTI) and integrated colearning approach (ICLA), while taking Wangzhuang Science and Technology Backyard (WZ STB) in Quzhou, Hebei Province, China as an example. This research had three key outcomes. (1) The combination of collaborative, tree-shaped and jump-start diffusion modes promotes the diffusion of participatory technology innovation to different scales, such as farmers, villages and counties. (2) The three diffusion modes combine and expand the advantages of existing international modes. The collaborative diffusion mode not only provides full scope for the advantages of PTI, but also provides smallholders with service supply for the whole production period. The tree-shaped diffusion mode combines the advantages of FFS from point technology innovation to village diffusion, while achieving a full range of technical service support. The jump-start diffusion mode cannot only achieve large-scale technology diffusion like ATESC and ICLA, but also empower smallholders through adaptive technology innovation. (3) Trust is the key to promoting smallholder reliance on the science and technology provided by STB and to promote their adoption of green production technologies. Accordingly, the following policy recommendations were proposed: strengthen the combination of top-down and bottom-up technology innovation and diffusion models, establish an effective service communication platform and evaluation mechanism, and strengthen the linkage mechanism between socialized services providers and smallholders, which will provide a realistic basis for the national policy of targeted socialized services provision and promote smallholder adoption of green production technologies.

    Jie YAN, Yize LIU, Rui ZHANG, Chenhui CUI, Yingying ZHENG, Minghao ZHUANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 547-557.

    ● County-level sustainability assessment of maize production is presented.

    ● County-level improvement potential exhibits a large spatial heterogeneity.

    ● Promoting technical innovations can facilitate China’s agricultural transition.

    Agricultural production by smallholders is crucial for ensuring food provision in China. However, smallholders face a series of challenges on their farms including high-to-excess resource inputs, low use efficiency, as well as negative environmental impacts, which may be unfavorable for sustainable agriculture production. This study developed a county-level sustainability assessment of maize production in Hebei, China, by applying multiple data sources in combination with emergy, carbon footprint, nitrogen footprint and cost-benefit analyses. Scenario analysis was applied to explore the localized implementation strategies to achieve the sustainable farming system. The results show that the average emergy sustainability index (ESI) of maize at 2.31 is relatively low. The average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reactive nitrogen (Nr) losses are 0.15 g·kcal−1 CO2-eq and 3.75 mg·kcal−1 N, respectively. The average cost and net income are 12,700 and 4340 CNY·ha−1, respectively. These results indicate a great potential to improve the environmental-economic sustainability of the maize production system of smallholders. In addition, the environmental and economic indicators calculated from the maize production show a substantial spatial heterogeneity among counties, indicating a requirement for different optimization strategies to improve the environment-economy sustainability at a finer scale. Based on the multiple scenario analysis, optimal strategies targeting each county are proposed. By adopting the optimal strategies, the average ESI and net income could increase by 32% and 83%, respectively, and the average GHG emissions and Nr losses reduce by 33% and 35%, respectively. These findings provide an important reference for adopting different strategies to achieve environment-economy sustainability for smallholders production systems with diverse landscapes in North China and propose a transition pathway toward achieving agriculture sustainability for smallholders worldwide.

    Jinghan LI, Cees LEEUWIS, Nico HEERINK, Weifeng ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 558-576.

    ● Agricultural innovation is a coevolution process of hardware, software and orgware.

    ● Innovation intermediaries is important for the coevolution process of agricultural innovation.

    ● The roles of STBs have evolved from a knowledge broker to a broader innovation intermediary at the village level.

    ● Facilitating orgware is more effective than enabling software in promoting farmers’ adoption of improved tillage practice.

    ● Collaboration between individual STBs is needed to support the coevolution process of innovation at a larger scale.

    Agricultural innovation can be described as a coevolutionary process of technological innovation, symbolic change, and social or institutional innovation, which relies on the interactions and collaboration between multiple stakeholders. This view emphasizes the significance of innovation intermediaries in supporting the coevolution process of innovation. Many studies have provided evidence on how innovation intermediaries play roles in supporting the coevolution innovation process at a broader innovation system level. However, little emphasis has been given to the role of innovation intermediaries in supporting the coevolution process of innovation at the community level in rural China. To address this research gap, this paper offers a case study of a novel type of innovation support intervention designed to promote technical change at the community level, the Science and Technology Backyard (STB). The paper focuses on the efforts of a specific STB in Wangzhuang village to promote innovation in tillage methods in wheat production. The aims was to examine the role of this newly emerging innovation support intervention in supporting the coevolution process of innovation at the community level, and compare the outcome of the coevolution process in the village with an STB to that in villages without an STB. Innovation journey analysis is applied to understand the evolved intermediation roles in the innovation process, and multivariate regression analysis is employed to assess the outcome of the coevolution process in villages with and without an STB. The findings suggest that the roles of STBs have evolved from knowledge brokers to systemic innovation intermediaries that facilitate the coevolution process of innovation inside an STB village. It has led to a higher adoption rate of improved technology, a better enabling environment for learning, and more effective institutional support in STB villages than in non-STB villages. However, the effect of support provided by a single STB on the coevolution process outside the community was limited. This finding points to a need for collaboration mechanisms and for connecting single STBs to support the coevolution process of innovation at a larger scale.

    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 61-72.

    ● Promotion of local sustainable innovation developed by forest farmers.

    ● Focusing on bending of branches to increase coffee production in a pine-based agroforestry system.

    ● Using a combination of concepts of perceived characteristics of innovation.

    ● Techno-social, economic and ecological benefits are the key features.

    ● Local techniques may be prospective for developing sustainable agroforestry innovation.

    Adopting community-based innovations in agroforestry is key to enhancing livelihoods in forest farmer communities. This research aimed to explore the perceived advantages of the forest farmer technique of coffee branch bending to overcome the light limitations under the shade of a pine forest. The concepts of perceived characteristics of innovation were used to explore the advantages of this technique. Using a case study of an exclusive forest farmer clique in UB (University of Brawijaya) Forest in Indonesia, it was found that the local technique had high perceived relative advantages. Compared to the others, the bending technique increases coffee production and is easy to do. It was also found to be superior to reducing production costs and is perceived as more environmentally friendly, promoting it as a valuable sustainable practice. Technical experts need to validate it and may embrace it as a co-innovation for the available external agroforestry recommendations. Its adaptability to the local socio-ecological context and techno-economical constraints makes it a prospective innovation to be extended through social forestry programs.

    Lianhai WU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 210-225.

    ● Either increasing C input to or reducing C release from soils can enhance soil C sequestration.

    ● Afforestation and reforestation have great potential in improving soil C sequestration.

    ● Long-term observations about the impacts of biochar on soil C sequestration are necessary.

    Climate change vigorously threats human livelihoods, places and biodiversity. To lock atmospheric CO2 up through biological, chemical and physical processes is one of the pathways to mitigate climate change. Agricultural soils have a significant carbon sink capacity. Soil carbon sequestration (SCS) can be accelerated through appropriate changes in land use and agricultural practices. There have been various meta-analyses performed by combining data sets to interpret the influences of some methods on SCS rates or stocks. The objectives of this study were: (1) to update SCS capacity with different land-based techniques based on the latest publications, and (2) to discuss complexity to assess the impacts of the techniques on soil carbon accumulation. This review shows that afforestation and reforestation are slow processes but have great potential for improving SCS. Among agricultural practices, adding organic matter is an efficient way to sequester carbon in soils. Any practice that helps plant increase C fixation can increase soil carbon stock by increasing residues, dead root material and root exudates. Among the improved livestock grazing management practices, reseeding grasses seems to have the highest SCS rate.

    Ting MENG, Shenggen FAN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 4-15.

    ● The goals of Chinese food and agriculture have shifted from grain self-sufficiency to diversified goals, including protecting natural resources, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving food safety and nutrition.

    ● Addressing the challenges and achieving future goals requires a systems approach to transforming the Chinese food and agriculture sector.

    ● The nexus of food, nutrition and the environment is at the core of food systems.

    ● Pathways are proposed, which include repositioning subsidies/supports, promoting multiple benefit technologies, reorienting investment and finance, guiding consumer behavior, and catalyzing global cooperation.

    After decades of development, China has made significant progress in ensuring national food security. However, the country currently faces multiple challenges, including the double burden of malnutrition, i.e., micronutrient deficiencies and overweight/obesity, climate change, resource stress and environmental degradation, and an increasingly complex global market. This paper reviews past developments in food and agriculture, and offers initial insights into transforming the Chinese food system for achieving multiple national development goals using a systems approach. Strategies and solutions from China can also inform the design and implementation of food system transformation in other emerging economies.

    Hao FAN, Jingjing WANG, Xiaotong LU, Shenggen FAN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 83-94.

    ● Investigate the actual situation of food waste at university canteens in Beijing, China.

    ● Analyze the influential factors of student food-waste behavior in university canteens.

    ● Construct the theoretical model of the factors influencing food waste behavior based on the theory of planned behavior.

    ● Measure the path coefficients of psychological factors, individual characteristics, and dining factors to food waste behavior.

    ● Suggest some measures to reduce and prevent food waste at university canteens.

    Food waste is a major social problem that contributes to the overutilization of natural resources, affecting economic progress and environmental protection. Food waste occurs throughout the whole process of the food supply chain, especially during the consumption stage. As a special group of consumers, the emerging adults at university may have unique food consumption patterns and their food waste behavior in university canteens deserves more attention. To understand the influential factors of the food-waste behavior of students in university canteens, a field survey was conducted at China Agricultural University canteen with 705 respondents. Based on the theory of planned behavior, this paper examines the influencing factors of student food-waste behavior from three dimensions: sociopsychological factors, individual characteristics and dining factors. The results indicate that the percentage of students who waste food is relatively low, at roughly 27%. Perceived behavior control, gender, monthly living expenses, BMI, mealtime, meal expectations and food portion were significantly correlated with student food-waste behavior, among which perceived behavior control had the most prominent correlation, followed by food portion. Behavioral intention, household location and palatability were not significantly correlated with student food-waste behavior. Therefore, it is necessary to promote publicity and education on reducing food waste on campus, reinforce the administration of the department of support service, and optimize the food portion in the canteen.

    Ning WANG, Fengxin WANG, Clinton C. SHOCK, Lei GAO, Chaobiao MENG, Zejun HUANG, Jianyu ZHAO
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 614-626.

    ● A moderate irrigation threshold of −25 kPa gave the greatest actual yield.

    ● Nitrogen rates of 80−160 kg·ha−1 reduced lodging risk without yield decrease.

    ● Planting density of 30 plants·m−2 provided both high yield and lodging resistance.

    ● A lower-stem lodging index was best for prediction of quinoa lodging risk.

    Lodging is a major yield-limiting factor of quinoa production. In 2018 and 2019, the orthogonal field experiments were conducted to investigate the responses of quinoa lodging risk and yield to irrigation threshold (soil matric potential of −15, −25 and −55 kPa), nitrogen rate (80, 160 and 240 kg·ha−1) and planting density (20, 30 and 40 plants m−2). Results showed that high irrigation thresholds and nitrogen rates significantly (P < 0.05) increased plant height and fresh weight per plant, and high planting densities reduced stem diameter and strength, all of those led to significantly ( P < 0.05) high lodging risks. The −15 and −55 kPa treatments gave the lowest actual yield ( P < 0.05) in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Higher lodging rate with a nitrogen rate of 240 kg·ha−1 resulted in a lower actual yield than 80 and 160 kg·ha−1 in both years. Planting density of 30 plants m−2 gave a significantly (P < 0.05) greater estimated yield than 20 plants m−2 and had a lower lodging rate than 40 plants m−2, resulting in the maximum actual yield among planting densities. In conclusion, a moderate irrigation threshold of −25 kPa, a nitrogen rate of 80−160 kg·ha−1 and an intermediate planting density of 30 plants m−2 were determined to be best for quinoa cultivation in North-western China. In addition, the lower-stem lodging index (quarter plant height) could evaluate lodging risk more accurately than middle-stem (half plant height) or upper-stem (three quarters plant height) lodging indexes.

    Ranran ZHOU, Jing TIAN, Zhengling CUI, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 198-209.

    ● The contribution of fungal necromass C to SOC increased with aggregate sizes.

    ● Bacterial necromass had a higher proportion to SOC in silt and clay.

    ● Cropland management increased microbial necromass in macro- and microaggregates.

    ● Greater fungal necromass increases were found in macroaggregates under manure input and no or reduced tillage.

    ● Cover crops increased bacterial necromass in small macroaggregates.

    The interactions of soil microorganisms and structure regulate the degradation and stabilization processes of soil organic carbon (SOC). Microbial necromass is a persistent component of SOC, and its magnitude of accumulation dependent on management and aggregate sizes. A meta-analysis of 121 paired measurements was conducted to evaluate the management effects on contributions of microbial necromass to SOC depending on aggregate fractions. Results showed that the contribution of fungal necromass to SOC increased with aggregate sizes, while bacterial necromass had a higher proportion in silt and clay. Cropland management increased total and fungal necromass in large macroaggregates (47.1% and 45.6%), small macroaggregates (44.0% and 44.2%), and microaggregates (38.9% and 37.6%). Cropland management increased bacterial necromass independent of aggregate fraction sizes. Greater fungal necromass was increased in macroaggregates in response to manure (26.6% to 28.5%) and no or reduced tillage (68.0% to 73.5%). Cover crops increased bacterial necromass by 25.1% in small macroaggregates. Stimulation of microbial necromass was proportional to the increases of SOC within soil aggregates, and the correlation was higher in macroaggregates. Increasing microbial necromass accumulation in macroaggregates can, therefore, be considered as a central component of management strategies that aim to accelerate C sequestration in agricultural soils.

    Philippe YAMEOGO, Saturnin ZIGANI, Xiaoqiang JIAO, Hongyan ZHANG, Junling ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 588-601.

    ● Constraints in cultivation and production of pearl millet in West Africa are summarized.

    ● Production systems and fertilization methods in pearl millet production are highlighted.

    ● Sustainable production needs integrated cropping systems and fertilizer use efficiency.

    ● A holistic approach is required to establish a strong collaboration among rural actors.

    West African countries are among the larger global millet producers but have low yields mainly due to the low quality of their marginal soils. The objectives of this work were to analyze the benefits and constraints of pearl millet production, to summarize the impact of different cropping systems and fertilization modes while proposing a holistic approach for sustainable production. The major constraints on millet yields are low rates or absence of fertilizers, unsuitable cropping systems, and the proliferation of pests and diseases. Intercropping with cowpea is a widely used cropping system in addition to crop rotation, monocropping and agroforestry systems. Microdosing is the best fertilization mode for West African smallholders. It is concluded that integrated systems (breeding new cultivars, intercropping and microdosing) in tied ridges or infiltration pit practices, sustained by the implementation of innovative approaches such as the ‘Science and Technology Backyards’ from China are a promising approach for increasing pearl millet production. In addition, policies such as land protection of the farmers and subsidies of inputs from the government and the effective involvement of farmers and extension officers are necessary in sustaining millet production in West Africa.

    Ying GONG, Langqin YU, Lei ZHAO
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 523-535.

    ● Agricultural intensification reduced the complexity and connectance of soil food webs.

    ● Agricultural intensification impaired the robustness of pollination networks.

    ● High connectance in co-occurrence networks indicates efficient nutrient utilization.

    Complex network theory has been increasingly used in various research areas, including agroecosystems. This paper summarizes the basic concepts and approaches commonly used in complex network theory, and then reviews recent studies on the applications in agroecosystems of three types of common ecological networks, i.e., food webs, pollination networks and microbial co-occurrence networks. In general, agricultural intensification is considered to be a key driver of the change of agroecosystems. It causes the simplification of landscape, leads to the loss of biocontrol through cascading effect in food webs, and also reduces the complexity and connectance of soil food webs. For pollination networks, agricultural intensification impaired the robustness by reducing specialization and enhancing generality. The microbial co-occurrence networks with high connectance and low modularity generally corresponded to high efficiency in utilization of nutrients, and high resistance to crop pathogens. This review aims to show the readers the advances of ecological networks in agroecosystems and inspire the researchers to conduct their studies in a new network perspective.

    Shenggen FAN, Ting MENG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 1-3.
    Jan Adriaan REIJNEVELD, Martijn Jasper van OOSTRUM, Karst Michiel BROLSMA, Oene OENEMA
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 248-261.

    ● Establishment of a rapid tool for monitoring soil carbon sequestration in farmer fields.

    ● Novel linkage of multiconstituent soil analyses with a carbon mineralization model.

    ● Extensive calibration and validation of the results of the near-infrared spectroscopy NIRS analyses.

    ● Soil bulk density derived from NIRS analyses and pedotransfer functions.

    In 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved, including SDG13, which addresses actions to increase carbon capture (CO2-C storage) for climate change mitigation. However, no analytical procedures have been defined for quantifying soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration. This paper presents a rapid tool for guiding farmers and for monitoring SOC sequestration in farmer fields. The tool consists of multiconstituent soil analyses through near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and an SOC mineralization model. The tool provides forecasts of SOC sequestration over time. Soil analyses by NIRS have been calibrated and validated for farmer fields in European countries, China, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Results indicate a high accuracy of determination for SOC (R2≥ 0.93), and for inorganic C, soil texture, and soil bulk density. Permanganate oxidizable soil C is used as proxy for active SOC, to detect early management-induced changes in SOC contents, and is also quantified by NIRS (R2 = 0.92). A pedotransfer function is used to convert the results of the soil analyses to SOC sequestration in kg·ha−1 C as well as CO2. In conclusion, the tool allows fast, quantitative, and action-driven monitoring of SOC sequestration in farmer fields, and thereby is an essential tool for monitoring progress of SDG13.

    Yunyi ZHOU, Ziqi CHEN, Kevin Z. CHEN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 16-30.

    ● Food systems in East and Southeast Asia are vulnerable to global warming.

    ● Regional governments strive for adaption, mitigation and financing for climate resilience.

    ● Vulnerabilities of food system actors and activities exacerbate the challenges faced.

    ● Agriculture-specific goals, climate-smart agriculture and market integration are key to building climate resilience.

    Food system resilience to climate change is uniquely imperative for bringing Sustainable Development Goals within reach and leaving no one behind. Food systems in East and Southeast Asia are interacting with planetary boundaries and are adversely affected by extreme weather-related events. A practical question for East and Southeast Asian stakeholders is how to foster climate-resilient food systems in the face of lingering food system vulnerabilities and policy gaps. This paper reviews food system vulnerabilities and policy responses to climate change. In the policy-based review, this paper compares the economy-wide and agriculture-specific targets of low-carbon development across East and Southeast Asia. With China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations as case studies, multilevel policies in building and financing climate-resilient food systems are further synthesized. The findings confirm significant differences in agriculture-specific emission goals and public financing supports across East and Southeast Asian nations. With an objective to break practical barriers and finance climate-resilient food systems for the future, this paper recommends defining agriculture-specific greenhouse gas emission goals, reorienting the public finance scheme and enhancing mechanisms for the synergy of public and private resources.

    Zhiping ZHU, Yue WANG, Ting YAN, Zherui ZHANG, Shunli WANG, Hongmin DONG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 226-233.

    ● Livestock is major greenhouse gas source in agriculture in China.

    ● Greenhouse gas emissions in livestock shows an upward trend during 1994 to 2014.

    ● Main mitigation options are improving productivity, feed quality and manure recycling.

    ● Strengthening monitoring and standards is necessary for capacity building.

    Animal husbandry is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture. Mitigating the emissions from the livestock sector is vital for green development of agriculture in China. Based on National Communication on Climate Change of United Nations, this study aims to investigate the characteristics of GHG emissions of animal husbandry during 1994 to 2014, introduce major emission reduction technologies and their effectiveness, and investigate options for emission reduction for the livestock sector in China. It proposes that control of pollution and carbon emissions can be realized through increased animal productivity, improved feed quality and recycling of animal manure. This paper thus concludes with suggestions of green and low-carbon development of animal husbandry, including the research and development of new technology for emission reduction and carbon sequestration of the livestock sector, enhancement of monitoring and evaluation, and establishment of emission reduction and carbon sequestration standards.

    Jinyang WANG, Pinshang XU, Haiyan LIN, Shumin GUO, Zhaoqiang HAN, Jianwen ZOU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 155-166.

    ● Gaseous N emissions from orchards, vegetables and tea plantations (OVT) are reviewed.

    ● Gaseous N emissions from OVT are greater in China than the rest of the world.

    ● OVT are hotspots for gaseous N emissions from the agricultural sector in China.

    Nitrogen fertilizer application has accelerated the agricultural soil N cycle while ensuring food security. Gaseous reactive N emissions from orchards, vegetables and tea plantations (OVT) are less understood than those from cereal crops. This paper presents a compilation of data on soil ammonia, nitrous oxide, and nitric oxide emissions from 1454 OVT systems at 184 unique experimental locations worldwide aiming to investigate their emission characteristics, emission factors (EF), and contribution to total farmland emissions. NH3 and N2O emissions from orchards and N2O and NO emissions from vegetable production were significantly higher in China than in the rest of the world, regardless of fertilizer application, while N2O emissions from tea plantations were lower than for vegetables. The EF of NH3 for vegetables was close to the global mean value with urea application but significantly higher than that of orchards. The EF of N2O in orchards and vegetables was comparable to the global median value, while in tea plantations, the value was 2.3 times higher than the global median value. Current estimates suggest that direct emissions of NH3, N2O, and NO from OVT systems are equivalent to approximately a quarter, two thirds and a half of the total farmland in China, respectively. Future research needs to strengthen observational field studies in establishing standard sampling methods for gaseous N emissions and implementing knowledge-based management measures to help achieve the green development of agriculture.

    Haoyue YANG, Ting MENG, Wojciech J. FLORKOWSKI
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 31-47.

    ● Farmer adoption of organic fertilizer and biopesticides was found to be positively correlated.

    ● The technical environment had a significant positive impact on farmers’ adoption of organic fertilizers and biopesticides.

    ● Technology training and local accessibility to new agricultural technologies enhanced both the adoption of organic fertilizers and biopesticides.

    ● Exchanging information about production techniques with others generally increased the likelihood of adopting organic fertilizers by 6%.

    Excessive application of mineral fertilizers and synthetic pesticides poses a substantial threat to the soil and water environment and food security. Organic fertilizer and biopesticides have gradually become essential technology for reducing mineral fertilizer and pesticide inputs. In the process, the technical environment is critical for promoting farmer behavior related to the adoption of organic fertilizer and biopesticides. This paper analyzes the influence of the technical environment on farmer behavior related to the adoption of organic fertilizer and biopesticides based on a survey of 1282 farmers in Heilongjiang Province, China, using the bivariate probit model. The results indicate that (1) farmer behavior related to the adoption applying organic fertilizer and biopesticides were positively correlated; (2) the technical environment had a significant positive impact on farmer behavior related to the adoption of organic fertilizer and biopesticides; and (3) the technical environment had a heterogeneous effect across different groups of farmers. This research provides insights useful for promoting organic fertilizer and biopesticides to farmers. It can be helpful to bundle relevant environmental technologies, conduct technology training for farmers and strengthen the construction of rural information networks.

    Leli ZHANG, Reaihan E, Mahmoud M. ALI, Hongjian LIN, Shuai ZHANG, Shuqin JIN, Zhiping ZHU, Jianjun HU, Yiqing YAO, Yong SUN, Shuiping YAN, Zhidan LIU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(3): 341-362.

    ● Carbon reduction potential of manure treatment technologies was summarized.

    ● Accounting methodologies of carbon emission and footprint of manure were analyzed.

    ● The quote of carbon trading market at home and abroad was analyzed.

    ● Some points for the boost of potential of manure carbon trading were advised.

    The rapid growth of the livestock and poultry production in China has led to a rise in manure generation, which contributes to the emissions of GHGs (greenhouse gases including CH4, N2O and CO2) and other harmful gases (NH3, H2S). Reducing and managing carbon emissions has become a critical global environmental imperative due to the adverse impacts of GHGs. Unlike previous reviews that focused on resource recovery, this work provides an unique insight of transformation from resource-oriented manure treatment to integration of resource recovery with pollution reduction, carbon accounting and trading, focusing on the sustainable development of manure management system. Considering the importance of accounting methodologies for carbon emission and trading system toward carbon neutrality society, suggestions and strategies including attaching high importance to the development of more accuracy accounting methodologies and more practical GHG emission reduction methodologies are given in this paper. This work directs the establishment of carbon reduction methodologies and the formulation of governmental policies for livestock and poultry manure management system in China.

    Yu GUO, Ran LI, Peng NING, Xiaoqiang JIAO
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 577-587.

    ● Farmer–scientist collaboration for improved farming was achieved.

    ● Wheat and maize yields of STB farmers improved by 13%.

    ● NUE increased 20% for wheat and maize production.

    ● GHG emissions and EEF decreased by 23% and 52%, respectively.

    Feeding a large and growing population with scientifically sustainable food production is a major challenge globally, especially in smallholder-based agricultural production. Scientists have conducted a considerable theoretical research and technological innovation to synergistically achieve increased food production and reduced environmental impact. However, the potential and feasibility of synergistic smallholder-led agricultural production to achieve increased food production and environmental friendliness is not yet clear. Exploring the potential and feasibility of smallholders to synergistically achieve these two goals, this research collected survey data from 162 farmers implementing standard farming practices and 112 farmers engaged in Science and Technology Backyard (STB) in Quzhou County, Hebei Province, China. Grain yield, nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and emergy ecological footprint (EEF) of the wheat-maize cropping system dominated by smallholders were analyzed. The results showed smallholders in the STB group improved wheat and maize yields by about 13% and NUE by 20%, respectively. Also, a reduction of 23% in GHG emissions and 52% in EEF were simultaneously achieved in the wheat-maize cropping system. Compared with standard farming practices, 75 kg·ha−1 nitrogen-based fertilizer was saved in the STB farmers. In summary, this study shifts the main perspective of research from scientists to smallholder, and uses a combination of greenhouse gas emission calculations, EEF and material flow analyses to demonstrate from multiple perspectives that agricultural systems under the leadership of smallholders can synergistically achieve high crop yields and low resource use and environmental impacts. The results of this study also show that the smallholder-led scientist-farmer collaborative model established by STB can fully exploit the initiative and potential, and that this collaborative model can be a successful strategy for smallholders as operators to achieve food security at low environmental impacts. The results of this study can provide useful evidence for a sustainable shift toward more sustainable agricultural production systems.

    Xinpeng JIN, Xiangwen FAN, Yuanchao HU, Zhaohai BAI, Lin MA
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 167-182.

    ● A provincial stage-specific greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting model for the Chinese food system was developed.

    ● From 1992 to 2017, the net GHG emission from the Chinese food system increased by 38% from 785 to 1080 Tg CO2-eq.

    ● In 2017, top GHG emission regions were located in the central and southern China, the North China Plain and Northeast China, while GHG sink regions were Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang.

    ● Total GHG emission from the Chinese food system could be reduced to 355 Tg CO2-eq in a low-carbon scenario, with enhancing mitigation technologies, transforming diet and its related conditions and increasing agricultural activities contributing 60%, 25% and 15% of the GHG reductions, respectively.

    In China, there has been insufficient study of whole food system greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, which limits the development of mitigation strategies and may preclude the achievement of carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals. The paper presents the development of a carbon extension of NUFER (NUtrient flows in Food chain, Environment and Resources use model), a food system GHG emission accounting model that covers land use and land-use change, agricultural production, and post-production subsectors. The spatiotemporal characteristics of GHG emissions were investigated for the Chinese food system (CFS) from 1992 to 2017, with a focus on GHG emissions from the entire system. The potential to achieve a low-carbon food system in China was explored. The net GHG emissions from the CFS increased from 785 Tg CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) in 1992 to 1080 Tg CO2-eq in 2017. Agricultural activities accounted for more than half of the total emissions during the study period, while agricultural energy was the largest contributor to the GHG increase. In 2017, highest emitting regions were located in central and southern China (Guangdong and Hunan), the North China Plain (Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu) and Northeast China (Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia) and contributed to over half of the total GHG emissions. Meanwhile, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet are shown as carbon sink areas. It was found that food-system GHG emissions could be reduced to 355 Tg CO2-eq, where enhancing endpoint mitigation technologies, transforming social-economic and diet conditions, and increasing agricultural productivities can contribute to 60%, 25% and 15%, respectively. Synergistic mitigation effects were found to exist in agricultural activities.

    Yingchen XU, Patrick S. WARD
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 95-108.

    ● Consumer preference for environmentally-friendly beverage packaging was investigated.

    ● Consumers are willing to pay a premium for post-consumer recycled materials.

    ● Environmental information and green identity labels have synergistic effect on consumer willingness to pay.

    ● Product unit size seems irrelevant in most consumer decisions.

    This study examined whether urban Chinese consumers with stronger environmental values have higher valuations for plastic beverage bottles that are made of post-consumer recycled material (rPET) or that come in large sizes that use plastic more efficiently. It also assesses the effectiveness of environmental information provision and green identity labeling in increasing consumer willingness to pay for environmentally-friendly packaging. The results suggest that urban Chinese consumers are willing to pay a premium for rPET bottles, indicating that there is a potential market for rPET food and beverage packaging in China that calls for manufacturing guidelines, safety standards, or regulations. Providing environmental information and attaching green identity labels increases consumer valuations of rPET bottles, with their joint use exerting the largest effect. Pro-environmental consumers are more responsive to environmental information and green identity labeling and thus are willing to pay a higher premium for rPET bottles. However, in terms of choosing large bottles as a means to reduce plastic use in product packaging, consumers were found to be indifferent about plastic bottle sizes even after receiving environmental information. It is suggested that the inconvenience of carrying or storing large bottles might have offset their perceived environmental benefits.

    Donghao XU, Jiangzhou ZHANG, Yajuan LI, Shiyang LI, Siyang REN, Yuan FENG, Qichao ZHU, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 48-60.

    ● Large farms had the highest average yield and the least yield variation.

    ● Greater plant density and optimized nutrient input occurred on large farms.

    ● Substituting organic N for mineral fertilizers prevented soil acidification.

    ● Large-scale farming had lower soil acidification but higher risk of P losses.

    ● Large-scale farming benefits sustainable soil management and banana production.

    Large-scale farming by agricultural land transfers has been increasingly promoted in recent years, but the possible impacts on crop production, especially cash crops, and soil acidification remain unclear. This study obtained data for 110 banana plantations in Long’an County, China, and categorized them into small (< 0.67 ha), medium (0.67−6.7 ha), and large (> 6.7 ha) to determine banana cultivation, nutrient management, and soil acidification rates on farms of the three sizes. Banana yield per unit area significantly increased with increased farm size, and large farms had the highest average yield (48.9 t·ha−1) with the least variation. Despite a significant increase in organic fertilizer and base cation inputs, nitrogen (N) surplus did not differ significantly with increasing farm size. With large farms, actual soil acidification rate was significantly lower by 19.1 to 24.0 keq·ha−1·yr−1; however, potential soil acidification rate increased with increased overuse of phosphorus. Overall, larger banana plantations used fewer mineral N fertilizers reducing the rate of soil acidification and increasing the H+ buffering provided by organic fertilizers. It is concluded that larger farms deliver the dual benefits of higher, less variable banana yield and mitigation of soil acidification by substituting organic N for mineral N fertilizers, supporting sustainable soil management and food production.

    Yifeng ZHANG, Chunfang YANG, Bright OBUOBI, Martin Kobby GRANT
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 135-148.

    ● The choice of a modern agriculture project was found to be rational for professional farmers to reduce interference from non-market factors. The success of this project is due to its capacity to successfully fill the structural hole in the market transaction network.

    ● Professional farmers were shown to start their businesses by occupying the ‘self-benefit’ or ‘mutual-benefit’ structural hole of the market transaction network in economically developed areas.

    ● Professional farmers were found to occupy the organizational-governance structural hole of the rural social relationship network and the ‘mutual-benefit’ structural hole of the market network to start their businesses in traditional agricultural areas.

    A comparative multi-case analysis of professional farmer entrepreneurship cases in China was performed by applying the structural hole theory. The results confirmed four views. (1) Choosing the modern agriculture project entrepreneurship is rational for professional farmers, who return from urban, to reduce the interference from non-market factors. The success of this project stems from its ability to successfully occupy the structural hole of the market trading network. (2) In economically developed areas, professional farmers start their businesses and reduce transaction costs with factors by occupying ‘self-benefit’ or ‘mutual-benefit’ structural holes in market networks. (3) In traditional agricultural areas, for reducing factor transaction costs, professional farmers occupy the organizational-governance structural hole of rural social relationship networks and the mutual-benefit structural hole of market networks to start their businesses. (4) The embedding order of these two structural holes will change depending on the differences in the local resource endowment. This article proposes some suggestions to encourage professional farmers to develop featured agricultural projects, build a close benefit-linked mechanism with smallholders through the provision of socialized services, and participate in the governance of rural communities.

    Tao WANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(4): 602-613.

    ● This review systematically raises the subject concept of alfalfa biology.

    ● The discipline of alfalfa biology has been divided into six major sections.

    ● The recent advances from the perspective of discipline system have been reviewed.

    Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is the main leguminous forage crop with great ecologic and economic value. The research of alfalfa in various fields has exploded, but has not been included in a systematic framework. This paper summarizes the status of global alfalfa research over the past 10 years, raise the subject concept of alfalfa biology, and review the recent advances from the perspective of discipline system as germplasm resources, multiomics and biotechnology, environmental biology, symbiotic nitrogen fixation, biological breeding and cultivation. This paper proposes the key unsolved scientific and technical issues in alfalfa biology, and hope to appeal the research interest of more plant scientists and to promote the development of alfalfa industry.

    Sarah BUCKINGHAM, Cairistiona F. E. TOPP, Pete SMITH, Vera EORY, David R. CHADWICK, Christina K. BAXTER, Joanna M. CLOY, Shaun CONNOLLY, Emily C. COOLEDGE, Nicholas J. COWAN, Julia DREWER, Colm DUFFY, Naomi J. FOX, Asma JEBARI, Becky JENKINS, Dominika J. KROL, Karina A. MARSDEN, Graham A. MCAULIFFE, Steven J. MORRISON, Vincent O'FLAHERTY, Rachael RAMSEY, Karl G. RICHARDS, Rainer ROEHE, Jo SMITH, Kate SMITH, Taro TAKAHASHI, Rachel E. THORMAN, John WILLIAMS, Jeremy WILTSHIRE, Robert M. REES
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(2): 268-280.

    ● An expert survey highlighted the most effective strategies for GHG and ammonia mitigation.

    ● Interventions considered to have the highest mitigation potential are discussed.

    ● Experts agreed that no single mitigation measure can uniquely deliver GHG and ammonia mitigation.

    ● Experts noted a need for further investment in research, knowledge exchange, education and to develop implementation pathways.

    ● There is a need for more data to better quantify mitigation potentials and implement effective management strategies.

    Agriculture is essential for providing food and maintaining food security while concurrently delivering multiple other ecosystem services. However, agricultural systems are generally a net source of greenhouse gases and ammonia. They, therefore, need to substantively contribute to climate change mitigation and net zero ambitions. It is widely acknowledged that there is a need to further reduce and mitigate emissions across sectors, including agriculture to address the climate emergency and emissions gap. This discussion paper outlines a collation of opinions from a range of experts within agricultural research and advisory roles following a greenhouse gas and ammonia emission mitigation workshop held in the UK in March 2022. The meeting identified the top mitigation priorities within the UK’s agricultural sector to achieve reductions in greenhouse gases and ammonia that are compatible with policy targets. In addition, experts provided an overview of what they believe are the key knowledge gaps, future opportunities and co-benefits to mitigation practices as well as indicating the potential barriers to uptake for mitigation scenarios discussed.

    Eugenio DÍAZ-BONILLA
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 109-123.

    ● The analysis of financing for the transformation of food systems requires first a consideration of costs.

    ● Costs are then compared to six main financial flows, two internal and four external to food systems.

    ● There are enough potential financial resources available to fund the transformation of food systems.

    ● To mobilize the existing and potential funds adequate macroeconomic and overall incentive frameworks are needed, plus a variety of specific interventions discussed in the paper.

    ● Developing countries need to establish national structures to design, finance and coordinate comprehensive national programs for their food systems.

    The paper provides a review of the work on financing the transformation of food systems done by the author and colleagues at IFPRI. The analysis discusses the objectives of that transformation (related to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement) and shows estimates of the costs involved. Then it presents an evaluation of the existing financial flows and their potential scaling up, using a broader view of six main flows involved: two that are internal to food systems (consumer expenditures on food and related items, which are the main source of revenue (as sales) for the variety of actors on the supply side of food systems); and four that are external (international development funds, public budgets, banking systems, and capital markets). The paper notes that although current funding does not reach the scale needed to finance the desired transformation of food systems, there are sufficient potential financial resources available in the aggregate to achieve such transformation. However, to mobilize the existing potential funds the paper discussed several things that need to be done, starting with an adequate macroeconomic and overall incentive framework to guide both the internal flows related to consumption and production decisions, as well as the four external ones. The paper also suggested other possible interventions to mobilize, reorient, and increase the financial flows to the desired objectives. It further noted that the costs and financing, which in the paper were discussed at the global level, must be estimated at the country level, as part of the design and implementation of adequate national plans for equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems.

    Maoran ZHU, Jian ZONG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2023, 10(1): 73-82.

    ● Shifting from the existing dietary patterns to the alternative recommended dietary pattern could enhance the sustainable development of environment and human health.

    ● Shifting to the Planet Healthy Pattern is more effective than the Chinese Dietary Pattern.

    ● Measures and efforts to induce balanced dietary behavior are necessary.

    With the rapid development of China’s economy, Chinese people tend to eat foods rich in fat, sugar and protein. This change in dietary pattern has brought double challenges to China’s sustainable development of environment and human health. So it has become urgent for the nation to shift to a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern. Based on the China Health and Nutrition Survey database, this study used K-means cluster analysis to classify China’s existing dietary patterns into quasi-southern, quasi-northern and quasi-western patterns. Two alternative recommended dietary patterns, Chinese dietary and planet health patterns, were selected to compare the effects of environment and health. The results show that a shift from the three existing dietary patterns to two alternative dietary patterns could enhance sustainable development of environment, especially for the quasi-western pattern shifting to the planet health pattern. Also, a shift would have of great benefits for human health, effectively reduce the relative risks of diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. The greatest benefits would come from shifting the quasi-western pattern benefits to one of the two alternative dietary patterns in terms of environment effects, and the quasi-southern pattern benefits most in terms of health effects. Shifting to the planet health pattern is more effective than the Chinese dietary pattern both in environment and human health. This paper provides policy recommendations to vigorously advocate dietary balance, scientifically promote dietary patterns, and change consumer dietary behavior.