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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Reduced tillage increases the numbers of deep-burrowing earthworm species in arable soils

Published source details

Capowiez Y., Cadoux S.P., Bouchant P., Ruy S.P., Roger-Estrade J., Richard G. & Boizard H. (2009) The effect of tillage type and cropping system on earthworm communities, macroporosity and water infiltration. Soil and Tillage Research, 105, 209-216

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Reduce tillage Farmland Conservation

A replicated trial at Estrées-Mons, France (Capowiez et al. 2009), found that reduced tillage plots had a significantly higher average biomass of earthworms (Lumbricidae), but not a greater number of individual worms. Under reduced tillage there were 77 g earthworm/m2 and 116 earthworms/m2. Under conventional tillage, there were 37 g earthworm/m2 and 111 earthworms/m2. This difference was because there were more large, deep-burrowing worms such as Lumbricus terrestris and Aporrectodea giardi, and fewer small litter-dwelling worms such as A. caligosa in the reduced tillage plots. Soils under reduced tillage had significantly more large pores created by earthworm activity, in all size classes. Twelve 0.4 ha arable plots were subject to reduced tillage, prepared only with a rotary or disc harrow to 7 cm depth. Twelve control plots underwent conventional tillage, with a mouldboard plough to a depth of 30 cm, followed by seed bed preparation with a harrow to 7 cm. The management began in 1999. Earthworms were sampled in November after tillage and in April, from November 2003 until April 2006 (six times).