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The effect of tillage type and cropping system on earthworm communities, macroporosity and water infiltration

Abstract : To test the assumption that changes to earthworm communities subsequently affect macroporosity and then soil water infiltration, we carried out a 3 year study of the earthworm communities in a experimental site having six experimental treatments: 2 tillage management systems and 3 cropping systems. The tillage management was either conventional (CT; annual mouldboard ploughing up to −30 cm depth) or reduced (RT; rotary harrow up to −7 cm depth). The 3 cropping systems were established to obtain a wide range of soil compaction intensities depending on the crop rotations and the rules of decision making. In the spring of 2005, the impact of these different treatments on earthworm induced macroporosity and water infiltration was studied. During the 3 years of observation, tillage management had a significant effect on bulk density (1.27 in CT and 1.49 mg m−3 in RT) whereas cropping system had a significant effect on bulk density in RT plots only. Tillage management did not significantly affect earthworm abundance but significantly influenced the ecological type of earthworms found in each plot (anecic were more abundant in RT). On the contrary cropping system did have a significant negative effect on earthworm abundance (104 and 129 ind. m−2 in the less and most compacted plots, respectively). Significantly higher numbers of Aporrectodea giardi and lower numbers of Aporrectodea caliginosa were found in the most compacted plots. CT affected all classes of porosity leading to a significant decrease in the number of pores and their continuity. Only larger pores, with a diameter superior to 6 mm, however, were adversely affected by soil compaction. Tillage management did not change water infiltration, probably because the increase in macroporosity in RT plots was offset by a significant increase in soil bulk density. However, cropping system had a significant effect on water infiltration (119 vs 79 mm h−1 in the less and most compacted plots, respectively). In RT plots, a significant correlation was observed between larger macropores (diameter > 6 mm) and water infiltration illustrating the potential positive effect of earthworms in these plots
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 8:31:12 PM
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Yvan Capowiez, Stéphane Cadoux, Pierre Bouchant, Stephane Ruy, Jean Roger-Estrade, et al.. The effect of tillage type and cropping system on earthworm communities, macroporosity and water infiltration. Soil and Tillage Research, Elsevier, 2009, 105 (2), pp.209-216. ⟨10.1016/j.still.2009.09.002⟩. ⟨hal-01173223⟩

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