Effects on earthworm populations of reducing pesticide use in arable crop rotations

  • Published source details Tarrant K.A., Field S.A., Langton S.D. & Hart A.D.M. (1997) Effects on earthworm populations of reducing pesticide use in arable crop rotations. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 29, 657-661.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

    A replicated study of arable fields on three farms in England (Tarrant et al. 1997) found that overall earthworm (Lumbricidae) populations did not differ significantly under conventional and reduced pesticide inputs. The only significant difference between treatments was found in autumn 1993 when earthworm density was higher in reduced pesticide treatments (35-50% of normal application) than controls at two of the farms (Warwickshire: 1,529 vs 1,149/m², North Yorkshire: 409 vs 346), the reverse was true at the third farm (Nottinghamshire: 35 vs 45). Differences in earthworm densities were much greater between farms than between fields within farms. Species and age composition differed between farms but the treatment effect was not consistent between fields, even within the same farm. Seven fields over three arable farms were split in two, one half received a conventional pesticide regime and the other a reduced (35-50%) input and no insecticides (1991-1993). Earthworms were sampled in spring and autumn (1993-1994) from three 50 x 50 cm quadrats/plot by hand-digging and using 0.2% formalin solution (20 min period). This study was part of the same project (SCARAB – Seeking Confirmation About Results At Boxworth) as (Frampton et al. 1994, Frampton 1997).


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