Grasslands represent a vital ecosystem, covering roughly 40.5% of the Earth’s land surface—excluding Greenland and Antarctica—equivalent to an area of 52.5 million km2. Moreover, they constitute approximately 70% of the world’s agricultural areas, which translates to around 34.3 million km2 [1,2]. Within these ecosystems, grasslands generate approximately 10% of terrestrial plant biomass and hold roughly 30% of the planet’s soil organic carbon (SOC) reservoir . They also provide a wide range of essential ecosystem services, encompassing food production, support for biodiversity, climate regulation, water-quality maintenance, management of water flows, erosion mitigation, landscape preservation, and recreational opportunities [4,5]. However, despite their ecological significance, grasslands are threatened by human activities such as overgrazing, drought, and unsustainable agricultural practices [1,6,7]. Overgrazing reduces ground cover, leading to soil degradation, reduced plant diversity, and even desertification in some regions . Grasslands are also susceptible to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and altered precipitation patterns, which can disrupt traditional grazing and cropping practices . Conversion of grasslands for agriculture and urban development threatens these ecosystems, resulting in habitat loss and reduced carbon storage . However, although grasslands play a crucial role in carbon cycling, they are also a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially methane (CH4). This makes balancing carbon sequestration with emissions challenging.
Innovative research is essential, as it will help us to develop strategies that enhance grassland productivity while maintaining or improving sustainability, ensuring that these vital ecosystems continue to provide essential services for humanity and the planet. This necessitates the broader adoption of efficient, cost-effective management practices and policies. Strategies such as optimizing nitrogen fertilizer rates, managing stocking rates, utilizing legumes and supplements, implementing grazing management techniques, adjusting daily herbage allowance, addressing GHG emissions, promoting carbon sequestration, enhancing biodiversity, and the responsible utilization of grass by-products could play a major role in this regard.
The advancements in grassland productivity and sustainability not only benefit agriculture by increasing grass yields and resilience, but also have positive impacts on ecosystems through biodiversity conservation and erosion control. Moreover, these advancements contribute to carbon sequestration efforts, which are crucial for mitigating climate change, and inform more efficient and climate-resilient land management strategies. The first volume of this Special Issue (SI) focuses on recent advancements in our understanding, with the aim of enhancing the productivity and sustainability of grasslands through strategic approaches. It serves as a crucial resource, offering valuable insights and evidence-based strategies that can inform and guide policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and anyone interested in sustainable land management, facilitating informed.
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