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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Springtail (Collembola) populations do not benefit from reduced tillage on an organic arable farm in East Jutland, Denmark

Published source details

Petersen H. (2002) Effects of non-inverting deep tillage vs. conventional ploughing on collembolan populations in an organic wheat field. European Journal of Soil Biology, 38, 177-180

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Reduce tillage Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled before-and-after trial on the agricultural research farm at Rugballegaard in East Jutland, Denmark (Petersen 2002) found no difference in the total abundance of springtails (Collembola) between conventionally ploughed and reduced tillage plots. The total number of springtails fell from around 90,000/m2 to around 30,000/m2, shortly after both tillage treatments. The distribution of springtails at different depths in the soil differed between treatments. After ploughing, there were significantly fewer springtails in the upper 4 cm of the soil on ploughed plots and an increase in springtail numbers at 16-20 cm depth (statistically significant for some species only). This was thought to be caused by the inversion of soil during ploughing. Two tillage methods were tested on four areas of organic wheat fields from 1998 to 1999: conventional mouldboard ploughing to 20 cm depth followed by harrowing, or deep tillage with a non-inverting tine subsoiler to 25-35 cm depth, rotavated at the surface. The first samples were taken in September 1998, before the first tillage treatment. Springtails were extracted from soil samples at three locations in each plot, and at four depths: 0-4, 8-12, 16-20 and 28-32 cm. Subsequent samples were taken in October 1998 (two samples) and March 1999.