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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Abundance of mites, Collembola, some earthworm species but not insects tended to be higher in direct-drilled compared to ploughed plots in England

Published source details

Edwards C.A. (1975) Effects of direct drilling on the soil fauna. Outlook on agriculture, 8, 243-244

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Reduce tillage Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study of arable fields at eight sites in England (Edwards 1975) found that abundance of mites (Acari), springtails (Collembola) and some earthworm (Lumbricidae) species tended to be higher in direct-drilled plots, whereas insects were more numerous in ploughed plots. Direct-drilled plots contained 922-2,665 mites and 106-2,408 springtails, whereas ploughed plots contained 620-2,340 and 77-1,904 respectively. The opposite trend was seen for insects (direct-drilled: 39-123; ploughed: 44-156) as numbers of taxa such as fly (Diptera) larvae, rove beetles (Staphylinidae) and ground beetles (Carabidae) were higher in ploughed plots. Earthworm numbers were higher in direct-drilled at all sites (811-1,638 vs 628-1,243). Species such as the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris followed this trend (direct: 22-323; ploughed: 4-103), however, other species showed a slight tendency for a higher abundance in ploughed plots. Four replicate plots (6.4 x 18 m) of winter wheat under each treatment were established at Rothamsted Experimental Station (1964-1967) and Woburn (1965-1971). Half of each plot received insecticides. Soil arthropods were sampled every two months by taking soil cores, and earthworms in spring and autumn. In 1974 soil animals were assessed in six additional experiments comparing direct-drilling and ploughing by the Letcombe Laboratory and National Institute of Agricultural Engineering. Results for pest species are not presented here. This study is partly the same study as (Edwards & Lofty 1982).