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    Bing-Xin WANG, Anouschka R. HOF, Chun-Sen MA
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 4-18.

    ● An overview of impacts of climate change on wheat and rice crops.

    ● A review on impacts of climate change on insect pests and fungal pathogens of wheat and rice.

    ● A selection of adaptation strategies to mitigate impacts of climate change on crop production and pest and disease management.

    Ongoing climate change is expected to have impacts on crops, insect pests, and plant pathogens and poses considerable threats to sustainable food security. Existing reviews have summarized impacts of a changing climate on agriculture, but the majority of these are presented from an ecological point of view, and scant information is available on specific species in agricultural applications. This paper provides an overview of impacts of climate change on two staple crops, wheat and rice. First, the direct effects of climate change on crop growth, yield formation, and geographic distribution of wheat and rice are reviewed. Then, the effects of climate change on pests and pathogens related with wheat and rice, and their interactions with the crops are summarized. Finally, potential management strategies to mitigate the direct impacts of climate change on crops, and the indirect impacts on crops through pests and pathogens are outlined. The present overview aims to aid agriculture practitioners and researchers who are interested in wheat and rice to better understand climate change related impacts on the target species.

    Jingjing PENG, Olatunde OLADELE, Xiaotong SONG, Xiaotang JU, Zhongjun JIA, Hangwei HU, Xuejun LIU, Shuikuan BEI, Anhui GE, Limei ZHANG, Zhenling CUI
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 333-343.

    ● Matching nitrification inhibitors with soil properties and nitrifiers is vital to achieve a higher NUE.

    ● Enhancing BNF, DNRA and microbial N immobilization processes via soil amendments can greatly contribute to less chemical N fertilizer input.

    ● Plant-associated microbiomes are critical for plant nutrient uptake, growth and fitness.

    ● Coevolutionary trophic relationships among soil biota need to be considered for improving crop NUE.

    Soil microbiomes drive the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and regulate soil N supply and loss, thus, pivotal nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). Meanwhile, there is an increasing awareness that plant associated microbiomes and soil food web interactions is vital for modulating crop productivity and N uptake. The rapid advances in modern omics-based techniques and biotechnologies make it possible to manipulate soil-plant microbiomes for improving NUE and reducing N environmental impacts. This paper summarizes current progress in research on regulating soil microbial N cycle processes for NUE improvement, plant-microbe interactions benefiting plant N uptake, and the importance of soil microbiomes in promoting soil health and crop productivity. We also proposes a potential holistic (rhizosphere-root-phyllosphere) microbe-based approach to improve NUE and reduce dependence on mineral N fertilizer in agroecosystems, toward nature-based solution for nutrient management in intensive cropping systems.

    Hui LIU, Qian LIU, Xiuhua GAO, Xiangdong FU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 316-332.

    ● The Green Revolution broadened the trade-off between yield and nitrogen-use efficiency.

    ● Root developmental and metabolic adaptations to nitrogen availability.

    ● Mechanisms of nitrogen uptake and assimilation have been extensively studied.

    ● Modulating plant growth-metabolic coordination improves nitrogen-use efficiency in crops.

    The Green Revolution of the 1960s boosted crop yields in part through widespread production of semidwarf plant cultivars and extensive use of mineral fertilizers. The beneficial semidwarfism of cereal Green Revolution cultivars is due to the accumulation of plant growth-repressing DELLA proteins, which increases lodging resistance but requires a high-nitrogen fertilizer to obtain high yield. Given that environmentally degrading fertilizer use underpins current worldwide crop production, future agricultural sustainability needs a sustainable Green Revolution through reducing N fertilizer use while boosting grain yield above what is currently achievable. Despite a great deal of research efforts, only a few genes have been demonstrated to improve N-use efficiency in crops. The molecular mechanisms underlying the coordination between plant growth and N metabolism is still not fully understood, thus preventing significant improvement. Recent advances of how plants sense, capture and respond to varying N supply in model plants have shed light on how to improve sustainable productivity in agriculture. This review focuses on the current understanding of root developmental and metabolic adaptations to N availability, and discuss the potential approaches to improve N-use efficiency in high-yielding cereal crops.

    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 356-365.

    ● A composite N management index is proposed to measure agriculture sustainability.

    ● Nitrogen management has been moving towards sustainability targets globally.

    ● The improvement was achieved mainly by yield increase, while Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) stagnated.

    ● No country achieved both yield and NUE targets and spatial variation is large.

    ● Region-specific yield targets can be used to supplement the standard Sustainable Nitrogen Management Index (SNMI).

    To represent the sustainability of nitrogen management in the Sustainable Development Goals indicator framework, this paper proposes a sustainable nitrogen management index (SNMI). This index combines the performance in N crop yield and N use efficiency (NUE), thereby accounting for the need for both food production and environmental protection. Applying SNMI to countries around the world, the results showed improvement in the overall sustainability of crop N management over the past four decades, but this improvement has been mainly achieved by crop yield increase, while global NUE has improved only slightly. SNMI values vary largely among countries, and this variation has increased since the 1970s, implying different levels of success, even failure, in improving N management for countries around the world. In the standard SNMI assessment, the reference NUE was defined as 1.0 (considered an ideal NUE) and the reference yield was defined as 90 kg·ha−1·yr−1 N (considering a globally averaged yield target for meeting food demand in 2050). A sensitivity test that replaced the reference NUE of 1.0 with more realistic NUE targets of 0.8 or 0.9 showed overall reduction in SNMI values (i.e., improved performance), but little change in the ranking among countries. In another test that replaced the universal reference yield with region-specific attainable yield, SNMI values declined (i.e., improved performance) for most countries in Africa and West Asia, whereas they increased for many countries in Europe and South America. The index can be improved by further investigation of approaches for setting region-specific yield targets and high-quality data on crop yield potentials. Overall, SNMI offers promise for a simple and transparent approach to assess progress of countries toward sustainable N management with a single indicator.

    Qiulin WU, Juan ZENG, Kongming WU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 19-36.

    ● Crop pests are a major factor restricting agricultural production in China.

    ● The National Monitoring and Early Warning System (NMEWS) was established > 40 years ago.

    ● Application of NMEWS has increased national capability to tackle pests.

    The importance of food security, especially in combating the problem of acute hunger, has been underscored as a key component of sustainable development. Considering the major challenge of rapidly increasing demands for both food security and safety, the management and control of major pests is urged to secure supplies of major agricultural products. However, owing to global climate change, biological invasion (e.g., fall armyworm), decreasing agricultural biodiversity, and other factors, a wide range of crop pest outbreaks are becoming more frequent and serious, making China, one of the world’s largest country in terms of agricultural production, one of the primary victims of crop yield loss and the largest pesticide consumer in the world. Nevertheless, the use of science and technology in monitoring and early warning of major crop pests provides better pest management and acts as a fundamental part of an integrated plant protection strategy to achieve the goal of sustainable development of agriculture. This review summarizes the most fundamental information on pest monitoring and early warning in China by documenting the developmental history of research and application, Chinese laws and regulations related to plant protection, and the National Monitoring and Early Warning System, with the purpose of presenting the Chinese model as an example of how to promote regional management of crop pests, especially of cross border pests such as fall armyworm and locust, by international cooperation across pest-related countries.

    Qingdong ZENG, Jie ZHAO, Jianhui WU, Gangming ZHAN, Dejun HAN, Zhensheng KANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 37-51.

    • Stripe rust caused substantial yield losses in China.

    P. striiformis is highly variable and the change from avirulence to virulence.

    • Different comprehensive control strategies were adopted in different epidemic region.

    Stripe (yellow) rust caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici occurs in almost all wheat-producing regions of the world. Severe countrywide epidemics in China have caused substantial yield losses. Growing resistant cultivars is the best strategy to control this disease but the pathogen can overcome resistance in wheat cultivars. The high variation in the virulence of the pathogen combined with the large areas of susceptible wheat cultivars enables the pathogen population to increase rapidly and disperse over long distances under favorable environmental conditions, resulting in severe pandemics within cropping seasons. Current stripe rust control measures are based on many years of research including the underlying epidemiology regarding year-to-year survival of the pathogen, pathways of pathogen dispersal within seasons and years, the role of P. striiformis sexual hybridization, the use of resistance sources in breeding programs, and year-round surveillance of national wheat crops that are present in different parts of the country throughout the year. All these strategies depend on accurate prediction of epidemics, more precise use of fungicides to meet national requirements and better deployment of resistance genes. New ideas with potential application in sustainable protection of stripe rust include negative regulatory gene editing, resistance gene overexpression and biological control based on microbiomes.

    Guirong WANG, Yuanchao WANG, Guangfu YANG, Kongming WU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 1-3.
    Yongjia ZHONG, Lini LIANG, Ruineng XU, Hanyu XU, Lili SUN, Hong LIAO
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 344-355.

    ● Intercropping change soil bacterial communities in tea plantations.

    ● Intercropping increasing nitrogen cycling in the soils of tea plantations.

    Intercropping with eco-friendly crops is a well-known strategy for improving agriculture sustainability with benefits throughout the soil community, though the range of crop impacts on soil microbiota and extent of feedbacks to crops remain largely unclear. This study evaluated the impacts of different intercropping systems on soil bacterial community composition, diversity, and potential functions in tea gardens. Intercropping systems were found to be significantly influenced soil microbiota. Within the three tested intercropping systems (tea-soybean, tea-rapeseed and tea-soybean-rapeseed), the tea-soybean-rapeseed intercropping system had the most dramatic influence on soil microbiota, with increases in richness accompanied by shifts in the structure of tea garden soil bacterial networks. Specifically, relative abundance of potentially beneficial bacteria associated with essential mineral nutrient cycling increased significantly in the tea-soybean-rapeseed intercropping system. In addition, soil microbial functions related to nutrient cycling functions were significantly enhanced. This was in accordance with increasing relative abundance of nitrogen cycling bacteria, including Burkholderia spp. and Rhodanobacter spp. Based on these results, it is proposed that intercropping tea plantation with soybean and rapeseed may benefit soil microbiota, and thereby promises to be an important strategy for improving soil health in ecologically sound tea production systems.

    Xia LIANG, Helen SUTER, Shu Kee LAM, Charlie WALKER, Roya KHALIL, Deli CHEN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 366-372.

    ● There is huge potential for improvement of nitrogen management in Australia.

    ● N management should incorporate environmental, social and economic sustainability.

    ● Agronomic, ecological and socioeconomic approaches and efforts are needed.

    Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that supports life, but excess N in the human-environment system causes multiple adverse effects from the local to the global scale. Sustainable N management in agroecosystems, therefore, has become more and more critical to address the increasing concern over food security, environmental quality and climate change. Australia is facing a serious challenge for sustainable N management due to its emission-intensive lifestyle (high level of animal-source foods and fossil fuels consumption) and its diversity of agricultural production systems, from extensive rainfed grain systems with mining of soil N to intensive crop and animal production systems with excessive use of N. This paper reviews the major challenges and future opportunities for making Australian agrifood systems more sustainable, less polluting and more profitable.

    Wim DE VRIES, Xuejun LIU, Lixing YUAN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(3): 313-315.
    Caihua SHI, Linlin SHI, Qingjun WU, Shaoli WANG, Baoyun XU, Youjun ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 52-62.

    • Soil solarization achieved 100% control of Bradysia cellarum.

    • The initial growth of Chinese chive was lower in solarized than control plots, but 20 d after treatment plants in the solarized had recovered and leaf height and yield were equivalent among the treatments.

    • Soil microbial community diversity in the treatment group first decreased and then recovered gradually, and abundance of beneficial microorganisms increased significantly.

    Bradysia cellarum Frey (Diptera: Sciaridae) is an important subterranean pest and is especially damaging to Chinese chive. An effective and more environmentally safe method than pesticides is needed for its control. The efficacy of B. cellarum control, growth of Chinese chive and soil microbial diversity were investigated after uae of soil solarization to exterminate this insect pest. The results show that on the first day after soil solarization 100% control of B. cellarum was achieved. Growth of Chinese chive was lower in solarized plots than in control plots over the first 10 d after treatment. Chive growth in solarized plots increased subsequently to match that in the control plots. Moreover, the soil microbial community diversity in the treatment group decreased initially before gradually recovering. In addition, the abundance of beneficial microorganisms in the genus Bacillus and the phyla Proteobacteria, Chloroflexi and Firmicutes increased significantly. Soil solarization is therefore practical and worthy of promotion in Chinese chive-growing regions.

    Lei DENG, Zhouping SHANGGUAN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 501-511.

    ● Analyse the effects of ecological management measures undertaken so far.

    ● Point out the main problems that confront effective ecological management.

    ● Suggest some measures to guide ecological management and high-quality development.

    ● Develop some models to improve the quality of clear waters and green mountains.

    ● Provide scientific and technological support for green and eco-friendly development.

    The Loess Plateau is the core area in the Yellow River basin for implementing environmental protection and high-quality development strategies. A series of ecological projects has implemented aimed at soil and water conservation and ecological management on the Loess Plateau over the past 70 years. The effects of the ecological projects are apparent mainly through a marked increase in vegetation cover, controlled soil erosion and reduced flow of sediment into the Yellow River, continual optimization of the industrial structure and increased production from arable land, poverty alleviation and greater prosperity, and optimal allocation of space for biological organisms. Major problems have also been analyzed in ecological management including the fragile ecosystem of the region, maintaining the stability of vegetation, lower agricultural productivity and continued risk from natural disasters. Some suitable schemes and models have been developed for the coordinated development of the region through research and demonstration, striking the optimum balance between rural industry and ecology, and increased regional capacity to supply high-quality ecological products. Countermeasures to address the problems are suggested to guide ecological management and high-quality development in the future.

    Mingbo QU, Hans MERZENDORFER, Bernard MOUSSIAN, Qing YANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 82-97.

    •Wide use of botanical insecticides is limited by the availability of certain plants.

    •Studies are needed to improve RNAi efficiency and to assess their safety risk.

    •Microbial insecticides are promising, but they only control a narrow range of pests.

    •Multitarget approach should be a promising strategy in future pest control.

    •Nanoformulation could enhance stability and control the release of bioinsecticides.

    Bioinsecticides are naturally-occurring substances from different sources that control insect pests. Ideal bioinsecticides should have low toxicity to non-target organisms. They should also be easily degraded in sewage treatment works and natural environments, highly effective in small quantities and affect target pests only. Public concerns about possible side-effects of synthetic pesticides have accelerated bioinsecticide research and development. However, to develop bioinsecticides into mainstream products, their high production costs, short shelf-life and often uncertain modes of action need to be considered. This review summarizes current progress on bioinsecticides which are categorized as biochemical insecticides and their derivatives, plant-incorporated protectants, and microbial bioinsecticides. The current constraints that prevent bioinsecticides from being widely used are discussed and future research directions are proposed.

    Dipta DEY, Tanzila Ismail EMA, Partha BISWAS, Sharmin AKTAR, Shoeba ISLAM, Urmi Rahman RINIK, Mahmudul FIROZ, Shahlaa Zernaz AHMED, Salauddin AL AZAD, Ahsab RAHMAN, Sadia AFRIN, Rezwan Ahmed MAHEDI, Md. Nasir Uddin BADAL
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 603-622.

    • Identification of bacteriocin sources

    • Classification of bacteriocins

    • Antiviral pathways of bacteriocins

    The COVID-19 infections caused by SARS-CoV-2 have resulted in millions of people being infected and thousands of deaths globally since November 2019. To date, no unique therapeutic agent has been developed to slow the progression of this pandemic. Despite possessing antiviral traits the potential of bacteriocins to combat SARS-CoV-2 infection has not been fully investigated. This review summarizes the mechanisms by which bacteriocins can be manipulated and implemented as effective virus entry blockers with infection suppression potential properties to highly transmissible viruses through comprehensive immune modulations that are potentially effective against COVID-19. These antimicrobial peptides have been suggested as effective antiviral therapeutics and therapeutic supplements to prevent rapid virus transmission. This review also provides a new insight into the cellular and molecular alterations which have made SARS-CoV-2 self-modified with diversified infection patterns. In addition, the possible applications of antimicrobial peptides through both natural and induced mechanisms in infection prevention perspectives on changeable virulence cases are comprehensively analyzed. Specific attention is given to the antiviral mechanisms of the molecules along with their integrative use with synthetic biology and nanosensor technology for rapid detection. Novel bacteriocin based therapeutics with cutting-edge technologies might be potential substitutes for existing time-consuming and expensive approaches to fight this newly emerged global threat.

    Timothy S. GEORGE, Cathy HAWES, Tracy A. VALENTINE, Alison J. KARLEY, Pietro P. M. IANNETTA, Robin W. BROOKER
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 214-237.

    ● Diversification enhances nature-based contributions to cropping system functions.

    ● Soil management to improve production and ecosystem function has variable outcomes.

    ● Management of the production-system to use legacy nutrients will reduce inputs.

    ● Intercrops, companion crops and cover crops improve ecological sustainability.

    ● Sustainable interventions within value chains are essential to future-proof agriculture.

    To achieve the triple challenge of food security, reversing biodiversity declines plus mitigating and adapting to climate change, there is a drive to embed ecological principles into agricultural, value-chain practices and decision-making. By diversifying cropping systems at several scales there is potential to decrease reliance on inputs, provide resilience to abiotic and biotic stress, enhance plant, microbe and animal biodiversity, and mitigate against climate change. In this review we highlight the research performed in Scotland over the past 5 years into the impact of the use of ecological principles in agriculture on sustainability, resilience and provision of ecosystem functions. We demonstrate that diversification of the system can enhance ecosystem functions. Soil and plant management interventions, including nature-based solutions, can also enhance soil quality and utilization of legacy nutrients. Additionally, this is facilitated by greater reliance on soil biological processes and trophic interactions. We highlight the example of intercropping with legumes to deliver sustainability through ecological principles and use legumes as an exemplar of the innovation. We conclude that there are many effective interventions that can be made to deliver resilient, sustainable, and diverse agroecosystems for crop and food production, and these may be applicable in any agroecosystem.

    Cathryn A. O'SULLIVAN, Elliott G. DUNCAN, Margaret M. ROPER, Alan E. RICHARDSON, John A. KIRKEGAARD, Mark B. PEOPLES
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 177-186.

    ● First evidence of BNI capacity in canola.

    ● BNI level was higher in canola cv. Hyola 404RR than in B. humidicola, the BNI positive control.

    ● BNI in canola may explain increased N immobilization and mineralization rates following a canola crop which may have implications for N management in rotational farming systems that include canola.

    A range of plant species produce root exudates that inhibit ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms. This biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) capacity can decrease N loss and increase N uptake from the rhizosphere. This study sought evidence for the existence and magnitude of BNI capacity in canola ( Brassica napus). Seedlings of three canola cultivars, Brachiaria humidicola (BNI positive) and wheat ( Triticum aestivum) were grown in a hydroponic system. Root exudates were collected and their inhibition of the ammonia oxidizing bacterium, Nitrosospira multiformis, was tested. Subsequent pot experiments were used to test the inhibition of native nitrifying communities in soil. Root exudates from canola significantly reduced nitrification rates of both N. multiformis cultures and native soil microbial communities. The level of nitrification inhibition across the three cultivars was similar to the well-studied high-BNI species B. humidicola. BNI capacity of canola may have implications for the N dynamics in farming systems and the N uptake efficiency of crops in rotational farming systems. By reducing nitrification rates canola crops may decrease N losses, increase plant N uptake and encourage microbial N immobilization and subsequently increase the pool of organic N that is available for mineralization during the following cereal crops.

    Ian T. RILEY
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 0: 568-582.

    • Semi-arid ecosystems have been especially impacted by a long history of clearing, cropping and intensified grazing.

    • Selection of tree species for assessment for agroforestry needs to consider their utility and effectiveness in provision of ecosystem service, but also the wider consideration of preserving biodiversity.

    • Imperatives of agroecosystem services and biodiversity conservation (or restoration) will impact on species selection for agroforestry.

    • The potential of Allocasuarina and Casuarina for wider economic and ecosystem needs an endeavor to achieve demonstrable gains.

    Agroecosystems in water-limited contexts— Mediterranean, semi-arid and arid climatic zones—are too frequently degraded systems that will not provide the needed ecosystem services to ensure a future of sustainable agricultural production. The processes that have created this situation continue and are being accelerated by anthropogenic climate change. Increasing arboreal vegetation in these areas through agroforestry is an important strategy to conserve and improve their agroecosystems. Actinorhizal trees and shrubs in the Casurinaceae have a unique set of adaptations for heat and water stress, and/or infertile to hostile soils. Central Anatolia, Turkey is particularly at risk of increasing aridity and further degradation. Therefore, species of Allocasuarina and Casuarina have been evaluated for their potential use in agroecosystem improvement in semi-arid areas with a focus on Central Anatolia. Based on a semiquantitative environmental tolerance index and reported plant stature, eight species were identified as being of high (A. verticillata and C. pauper) to moderate (A. acutivalvis, A. decaisneana, A. dielsiana, A. huegeliana, C. cristata and C. obesa) priority for assessment, with none of these species having been adequately evaluated for agroforestry deployment in semi-arid agroecosystems in any context.

    Noreen ZAHRA, Muhammad FAROOQ, Kadambot H.M. SIDDIQUE
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 599-602.
    Gang HE, Zhaohui WANG, Jianbo SHEN, Zhenling CUI, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 491-500.

    ● Agriculture on Loess Plateau has transformed from food shortage to green development.

    ● Terracing and check-dams are the key engineering measures to increase crop yields.

    ● Agronomic measures and policy support greatly increased crop production.

    ● Increasing non-agricultural income is a key part of increasing farmers’ income.

    ● Grain for Green Program had an overwhelming advantage in protecting environment.

    Loess Plateau of China is a typical dryland agricultural area. Agriculture there has transformed from food shortage toward green development over the past seven decades, and has achieved world-renowned achievements. During 1950–1980, the population increased from 42 to 77 million, increasing grain production to meet food demand of rapid population growth was the greatest challenge. Engineering measures such as terracing and check-dam were the crucial strategies to increase crop production. From 1981 to 2000, most of agronomic measures played a key role in increasing crops yield, and a series of policy support has benefited millions of smallholders. As expected, these measures and policies greatly increased crop production and basically achieved food security; but, low per capita GDP (only about 620 USD in 2000) was still a big challenge. During 2001–2015, the increase in agricultural and non-agricultural income together supported the increase in farmer income to 5781 USD·yr–1. Intensive agriculture that relies heavily on chemicals increased crop productivity by 56%. Steadfast policy support such as “Grain for Green Program” had an overwhelming advantage in protecting the natural ecological environment. In the new era, the integration of science and technology innovations, policy support and positive societal factors will be the golden key to further improve food production, protect environment, and increase smallholder income.

    Ting LUO, Prakash LAKSHMANAN, Zhongfeng ZHOU, Yuchi DENG, Yan DENG, Linsheng YANG, Dongliang HUANG, Xiupeng SONG, Xihui LIU, Wen-Feng CONG, Jianming WU, Xinping CHEN, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 272-283.

    ● Cost escalation and declining profits evident in sugarcane production in China.

    ● Monoculture and fertilizer overuse causes poor soil health, crop productivity plateau.

    ● Matching crop nutrient demand and supply key to recovery of sugarcane soils.

    ● Inorganic inputs need to be replaced with organic sources to restore soil health and sustainability.

    ● Integrated multidisciplinary solution for sustainable sugarcane cropping system needed.

    Demand for sugar is projected to grow in China for the foreseeable future. However, sugarcane production is unlikely to increase due to increasing production cost and decreasing profit margin. The persisting sugarcane yield plateau and the current cropping system with fertilizer overuse, soil acidification and pests and diseases remain the major productivity constraints. Sugarcane agriculture supports the livelihood of about 28 million farmers in South China; hence, sustaining it is a socioeconomic imperative. More compellingly, to meet the ever-increasing Chinese market demand, annual sugar production must be increased from the current 10 Mt to 16 Mt by 2030 of which 80% to 90% comes from sugarcane. Therefore, increasing sugar yield and crop productivity in an environmentally sustainable way must be a priority. This review examines the current Chinese sugarcane production system and discuss options for its transition to a green, sustainable cropping system, which is vital for the long-term viability of the industry. This analysis shows that reducing chemical inputs, preventing soil degradation, improving soil health, managing water deficit, provision of clean planting material, and consolidation of small farm holdings are critical requirements to transform the current farming practices into an economically and environmentally sustainable sugarcane cropping system.

    Haijian HUANG, Junmin LI, Chuanxi ZHANG, Jianping CHEN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 98-109.

    • Research findings on the insect-virus interaction

    • Influences of immunity, feeding and microorganisms on virus transmission

    • Latest applications for virus control strategies

    About 80% of plant viruses are transmitted by specific insect vectors, especially hemipterans with piercing-sucking mouthparts. Many virus-transmitting insects are also important crop pests that cause considerable losses in crop production. This review summarizes the latest research findings on the interactions between plant viruses and insect vectors and analyzes the key factors affecting insect transmission of plant viruses from the perspectives of insect immunity, insect feeding, and insect symbiotic microorganisms. Additionally, by referring to the latest applications for blocking the transmission of animal viruses, potential control strategies to prevent the transmission of insect-vectored plant viruses using RNAi technology, gene editing technology, and CRISPR/Cas9+ gene-driven technology are discussed.

    John A. RAVEN
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 197-213.

    ● Aboveground to belowground energy transfer.

    ● Importance of symplasmic nature of sieve tubes.

    ● Hydraulic, electrical and chemical energy transfer.

    ● Decreased soil organic C storage over 8000 years.

    Interactions between above and below ground parts of plants can be considered under the (overlapping) categories of energy, material and information. Solar energy powers photosynthesis and transpiration by above ground structures, and drives most water uptake through roots and supplies energy as organic matter to below ground parts, including diazotrophic symbionts and mycorrhizas. Material transfer occurs as water and dissolved soil-derived elements transport up the xylem, and a small fraction of water moving up the xylem with dissolved organic carbon and other solutes down the phloem. The cytosolic nature of sieve tubes accounts for at least some of the cycling of K, Mg and P down the phloem. NO3 assimilation of above ground parts requires organic N transport down phloem with, in some cases, organic anions related to shoot acid-base regulation. Long-distance information transfer is related development, biotic and abiotic damage, and above and below ground resource excess and limitation. Information transfer can involve hydraulic, electrical and chemical signaling, with their varying speeds of transmission and information content. Interaction of above and below ground plant parts is an important component of the ecosystem service of storing atmospheric CO2 as organic C in soil, a process that has decreased since the origin of agriculture.

    Xiuwei GUO, Manoj Kumar SHUKLA, Di WU, Shichao CHEN, Donghao LI, Taisheng DU
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 525-544.

    • A relative yield of 70% was obtained under both border and drip irrigation.

    • Drip irrigation saved water and lowered yield variability compared to border irrigation.

    • Drip irrigation led to accumulation of soil nitrogen and phosphorus in the root zone.

    • Relative yield may increase 8% to 10% by optimizing field management.

    • Plant density, irrigation and nitrogen are major factors closing yield gap in NW China.

    Agriculture faces the dual challenges of food security and environmental sustainability. Here, we investigate current maize production at the field scale, analyze the yield gaps and impacting factors, and recommend measures for sustainably closing yield gaps. An experiment was conducted on a 3.9-ha maize seed production field in arid north-western China, managed with border and drip irrigation, respectively, in 2015 and 2016. The relative yield reached 70% in both years. However, drip irrigation saved 227 mm irrigation water during a drier growing season compared with traditional border irrigation, accounting for 44% of the maize evapotranspiration (ET). Yield variability under drip irrigation was 12.1%, lower than the 18.8% under border irrigation. Boundary line analysis indicates that a relative yield increase of 8% to 10% might be obtained by optimizing the yield-limiting factors. Plant density and soil available water content and available nitrogen were the three major factors involved. In conclusion, closing yield gaps with agricultural sustainability may be realized by optimizing agronomic, irrigation and fertilizer management, using water-saving irrigation methods and using site-specific management.

    Rachid RAZOUK, Abdellah KAJJI, Anas HAMDANI, Jamal CHARAFI, Lahcen HSSAINI, Said BOUDA
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2021, 8(4): 583-593.

    • Regulated deficit irrigation was assessed in almond, peach and plum over 3 years.

    • Fruit-growth slowdown stages are appropriate periods to apply deficit irrigation.

    • Peach yields were unaffected under a regulated deficit irrigation of 75% ETC.

    • Regulated deficit irrigation of 50% ETC maintained yields of almond and plum.

    • Fruit quality improved under regulated deficit irrigation.

    The effects of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on the performance of almond cv. Tuono, peach cv. JH-Hall and plum cv. Stanley were assessed on the Saiss Plain (NW, Morocco) over three consecutive growing seasons (2011–2013). Irrigation treatments consisted of a control, irrigation applied to fully satisfy crop water requirements (100% ETC), and two RDI treatments, irrigation applied to 75% ETC (RDI-75) and 50% ETC (RDI-50). These three treatments were applied during fruit-growth slowdown periods corresponding to Stages II and III in almond and Stage II in peach and plum. Yield and fruit quality traits were determined. The effect of RDI differed between species. Yield and fruit size were reduced significantly only in peach under RDI-50. Fruit quality improved in this species in the first year of the experiment, with an increase of sugar/acid ratio and polyphenol content. Plum quality also improved but the effects were significant only in the second and third years. Similar results were recorded in almond kernel, but their epidermal grooves were deeper under RDI-50, and this may have affected their commercial value. It is concluded that water can be saved during the fruit-growth slowdown period by up to 25% in peach and 50% in almond and plum with improvements in fruit quality without affecting total yield.

    Hans LAMBERS, Wen-Feng CONG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 170-176.

    ● For 8000 years, agricultural practices have affected atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    ● Paddy rice cultivation has impacted atmospheric CH4 concentration since 5000 years ago.

    ● Modern agricultural practices must include carbon storage and reduced emissions.

    ● Sustainable management in agriculture must be combined with decarbonizing the economy and reducing population growth.

    Since humans started practicing agriculture at the expense of natural forests, 8000 years ago, they have affected atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Their impact on atmospheric CH4 started about 5000 years ago, as result of the cultivation of paddy rice. A challenge of modern agricultural practices is to reverse the impact cropping has had on greenhouse gas emissions and the global climate. There is an increasing demand for agriculture to provide food security as well as a range of other ecosystem services. Depending on ecosystem management, different practices may involve trade-offs and synergies, and these must be considered to work toward desirable management systems. Solution toward food security should not only focus on agricultural management practices, but also on strategies to reduce food waste, more socially-just distribution of resources, changes in lifestyle including decarbonization of the economy, as well as reducing human population growth.

    Jingyuan XIA, Alexandre LATCHININSKY, Buyung HADI, Maged ELKAHKY
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 161-166.

    Plant pests and diseases have significant negative impacts on global food security, world trade and rural livelihoods. Climate change exacerbates these impacts in certain parts of the world. Overreliance on pesticides as the primary tool for plant pest management leads to problems such as pesticide resistance and pest resurgence. Environmental and food safety concerns are also associated with overuse of pesticides in crop production. There is clearly a need for a shift in pest management strategies and practices globally. Optimization of structures and functions in crop production agroecosystems through soil conservation practices and cropping diversification can improve pest regulation services provided in the systems. Prioritization of safer alternatives and practices in the IPM pyramid, such as resistant varieties and biopesticides, helps minimize the use of potentially risky agricultural inputs such as synthetic pesticides. Investment is needed to boost the development of innovative green technologies and practices. Production, distribution, use and regulatory capacities need to be strengthened to facilitate large-scale adoption of green technologies and practices. Finally, policy, financial and market instruments should be wielded to provide an enabling environment for the transformation to sustainable plant pest and disease management strategies and practices worldwide.

    Wen-Feng CONG, Hans LAMBERS, Fusuo ZHANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 167-169.
    Emily C. COOLEDGE, David R. CHADWICK, Lydia M. J. SMITH, Jonathan R. LEAKE, Davey L. JONES
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 245-271.

    ● Arable-ley rotations can alleviate soil degradation and erosion.

    ● Multispecies leys can improve livestock health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    ● Ley botanical composition is crucial for determining benefits.

    ● Lack of livestock infrastructure in arable areas may prevent arable-ley uptake.

    ● Long-term (10–25 years) research is needed to facilitate evidence-based decisions.

    Agricultural intensification and the subsequent decline of mixed farming systems has led to an increase in continuous cropping with only a few fallow or break years, undermining global soil health. Arable-ley rotations incorporating temporary pastures (leys) lasting 1–4 years may alleviate soil degradation by building soil fertility and improving soil structure. However, the majority of previous research on arable-ley rotations has utilized either grass or grass-clover leys within ungrazed systems. Multispecies leys, containing a mix of grasses, legumes, and herbs, are rapidly gaining popularity due to their promotion in agri-environment schemes and potential to deliver greater ecosystem services than conventional grass or grass-clover leys. Livestock grazing in arable-ley rotations may increase the economic resilience of these systems, despite limited research of the effects of multispecies leys on ruminant health and greenhouse gas emissions. This review aims to evaluate previous research on multispecies leys, highlighting areas for future research and the potential benefits and disbenefits on soil quality and livestock productivity. The botanical composition of multispecies leys is crucial, as legumes, deep rooted perennial plants (e.g., Onobrychis viciifolia and Cichorium intybus) and herbs (e.g., Plantago lanceolata) can increase soil carbon, improve soil structure, reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements, and promote the recovery of soil fauna (e.g., earthworms) in degraded arable soils while delivering additional environmental benefits (e.g., biological nitrification inhibition and enteric methane reduction). Multispecies leys have the potential to deliver biologically driven regenerative agriculture, but more long-term research is needed to underpin evidence-based policy and farmer guidance.

    Baifeng ZHENG, Yaochao YAN, Can FU, Guangyi HUANG, Long ZHAO, Qiong CHEN, Renyu QU, Guangfu YANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(1): 133-145.

    • HPPD is one of the most promising targets for new herbicides.

    • A family of novel HPPD inhibitors based on the triketone-quinoxaline scaffold was designed and synthesized.

    • One particular product (7d) gave the highest inhibition of HPPD of the newly synthesized derivatives.

    • Triketone-quinoxaline derivatives provide a useful molecular scaffold for the discovery of novel HPPD-inhibiting herbicides.

    p-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (EC, HPPD) belongs to the family of Fe(II)-dependent non-heme oxygenases that occur in the majority of aerobic organisms. HPPD has proved to be a promising target in herbicide research and development. A battery of novel triketone-quinoxaline compounds has been designed using a structure-based drug design strategy and then prepared. Enzyme inhibition assays show that these synthesized derivatives possess favorable inhibition capability against Arabidopsis thaliana HPPD with IC50 values ranging from 0.317 to 0.891 μmol·L1. Subsequently, the molecular docking results indicate that two adjacent carbonyls of the triketone moiety of the representative compound 2-(2,3-dimethyl-8-(o-tolyl)quinoxaline-6-carbonyl)-3-hydroxycyclohex-2-en-1-one (7d) engage in chelation with the ferrous ion of A. thaliana HPPD in a bidentate pose, and its quinoxaline scaffold forms two sets of parallel π-stacking interaction between two phenylalanine residues (Phe424 and Phe381). In addition, the extended phenyl group also interacts with Phe392 in a π-π stacking way. This study indicates that triketone-quinoxaline is a promising scaffold for discovering HPPD inhibitors with substantially increased potency, providing insight into the molecular design of new herbicides.

    Jeroen C. J. GROOT, Xiaolin YANG
    Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 2022, 9(2): 295-308.

    ● Impacts of 30 cropping systems practiced on the North China Plain were evaluated.

    ● Trade-offs were assessed among productive, economic and environmental indicators.

    ● An evolutionary algorithm was used for multi-objective optimization.

    ● Conflict exists between productivity and profitability versus lower ground water decline.

    ● Six strategies were identified to jointly mitigate the trade-offs between objectives.

    Since the Green Revolution cropping systems have been progressively homogenized and intensified with increasing rates of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and water. This has resulted in higher crop productivity but also a high environmental burden due to increased pollution and water depletion. To identify opportunities for increasing the productivity and reducing the environmental impact of cropping systems, it is crucial to assess the associated trade-offs. The paper presents a model-based analysis of how 30 different crop rotations practiced in the North China Plain could be combined at the regional level to overcome trade-offs between indicators of economic, food security, and environmental performance. The model uses evolutionary multi-objective optimization to maximize revenues, livestock products, dietary and vitamin C yield, and to minimize the decline of the groundwater table. The modeling revealed substantial trade-offs between objectives of maximizing productivity and profitability versus minimizing ground water decline, and between production of livestock products and vitamin C yield. Six strategies each defining a specific combination of cropping systems and contributing to different extents to the various objectives were identified. Implementation of these six strategies could be used to find opportunities to mitigate the trade-offs between objectives. It was concluded that a holistic analysis of the potential of a diversity cropping systems at a regional level is needed to find integrative solutions for challenges due to conflicting objectives for food production, economic viability and environmental protection.