The challenge of agricultural land depletion as a result of the pressure driven by the ever-growing population has brought about a renewed focus on the need for sustainable practices in agricultural production. Biochar is the solid carbonaceous product obtained when plant and/or animal biomass is subjected to pyrolysis. This chapter reviews the properties of biochar and its impacts when incorporated into the soil. Relative to its original organic form, this chapter iterates the benefits of biochar as a more sustainable organic approach towards improving agricultural soil qualities and hence crop yield due to its stability and duration in soils for hundreds of years. The impacts of biochar on soil physical, chemical and biological properties through the enhancement of soil nutrient and water-holding capacity, pH, bulk density and stimulation of soil microbial activities are by improving aggregation, porosity, surface area and habitat for soil microbes in biochar-amended soils. It is therefore recommended that biochar be used as soil amendment, especially to a degraded soil for a large and long-term carbon sink restoration.
Part of the book: Organic Farming
Agronomy is a branch of agriculture that deals with soil and crop. Soil varies in space and is responsible for variation in the growth and yield of crops on the field. This variation in the yields of crops planted and monitored on the same parcel of land under the same environmental conditions has been a great concern to farmers. Spatial variations of soil nutrients status, as caused by topography, soil texture and management practices, have been observed across the fields. Hence, the need to separate the field into site specific management units using geographical information systems (GIS) for effective soil and crop management in order to obtain optimum productivity. Over the years, field sizes, farming direction, locations of fences, rotations and fertility programmes have changed the nutritional status of the farms. Consequently, the productivity of the soil has equally been affected. In spite of these factors, conventional agriculture treats an entire field uniformly with respect to the application of fertiliser, pesticides, soil amendments and other chemical application. The use of GIS will help farmers to overcome over- or under-applications of fertiliser and other agrochemical applications. The potential of GIS application in agronomy is obviously large. However, the GIS user community in the field of agronomy is rather small compared to other business sectors. To advance the use of GIS in agronomic studies, this Chapter in book tends to explore the applications of GIS to some fields in agronomy.
Part of the book: Geospatial Technology
Vetiver grass is a densely tufted bunch grass which can be easily established in both tropics and temperate regions of the world. It plays a vital role in watershed protection by slowing down and spreading runoff harmlessly on the farmland, recharging ground water, reducing siltation of drainage systems and water bodies, reducing agro-chemicals loading into water bodies and for rehabilitation of degraded soils. Vetiver grass could tolerate extremely high levels of heavy metals. It could be used as biological pest control. The use of vetiver grass has been regarded as a low-cost technology for soil and water conservation; on- and off-farm land and water sources stabilization and remediation of polluted soils; and enhancement of water quality for irrigation purposes when compared with other soil conservation technologies. It could be a dynamic tool for mitigating environmental and agricultural problems, thereby enhancing crop yield and supporting all-year round agricultural cultivation. Recently, vetiver grass has been used to raise animals of different kinds. Thus, this chapter in the book explores several applications of vetiver grass, its impacts and resultant benefits as a technology that could enhance sustainable agricultural development.
Part of the book: Grasses
Globally, water resources for agricultural production have been on the decline. This is associated with increase in water demand over limited resources and poor quality water that adversely affects crop quality and yield and deteriorates soil properties. Even though soil salinity has been affectingagriculture for thousands of years, significant research has been conducted only in the past 100 years. Desalination, which is the process of reducing the salt content in water to an acceptable level, could be an alternative for improving water quality, thereby increasing water sources and reducing the competition among various users of water. Thus, desalination could lead to improved crop quality, improved crop yield, enhanced all‐year round crop production, and as such become an important tool for effective agricultural water management.
Part of the book: Desalination