Climate variability and changes are utmost important primary drivers of biological processes. They are intimately associated with a wide array of abiotic stresses, highlighting the vulnerability of ecosystems and endangering biodiversity. Nitrogen‐fixing trees and shrubs (NFTSs) constitute a unique group of plants for their wide range of applications at the environmental, social and economic levels. In this chapter, we review and analyse the potential of this group of legumes in agroforestry towards sustainable agriculture in Africa. In the first part, the intertwined pillar of sustainable agriculture is brought forward under the context of growing population and climate changes. The second part addresses general aspects of legumes, including botany and the symbiosis with rhizobia. The third part includes the application of NFTS as N‐fertilizers in agroforestry, highlighting the importance of an accurate choice of the crop(s)/NFTS combination(s) and cropping type (intercropping, multistrata or fallows). The implementation of agroforestry systems with NFTS should be supported by fundamental research strategies such as stable isotopes and systems biology and preceded by experimental assays, in order to identify the factors promoting N‐losses and to design appropriate management strategies that synchronize legume‐N availability with the crop demand.
Part of the book: Nitrogen in Agriculture
Crop sustainability can be threatened by new environmental challenges regarding predicted climate changes and global warming. Therefore, the study of real biological impacts of future environmental conditions (e.g., increased air [CO2], supra-optimal temperature and water scarcity) on crop plants, as well as the re-evaluation of management procedures and strategies, must be undertaken in order to improve crop adaptation and promote mitigation of negative environmental impacts, thus affording crop resilience. Coffee is a tropical crop that is grown in more than 80 countries, making it one of the world’s most traded agricultural products, while involving millions of people worldwide in the whole chain of value. It has been argued that this crop will be highly affected by climate changes, resulting in decreases in both suitable areas for cultivation and productivity, as well as impaired beverage quality in the near future. Here, we report recent findings regarding coffee species exposure to combined supra-optimal air temperatures and enhanced air [CO2], and impacts of drought stress on the crop. Ultimately, we discuss key strategies to improve coffee performance in the context of new environmental scenarios. The recent findings clearly show that high [CO2] has a positive impact on coffee plants, increasing their tolerance to high temperatures. This has been related to a better plant vigor, to the triggering of protective mechanisms, and to a higher functional status of the photosynthetic machinery. Even so, coffee plant is expected to suffer from water scarcity in a changing world. Therefore, discussion is focused on some important management strategies (e.g., shade systems, crop management and soil covering and terracing), which can be implemented to improve coffee performance and sustain coffee production in a continually changing environment.
Part of the book: Climate Resilient Agriculture