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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Soil biota indicators for monitoring the Estonian agri-environmental programme.

Published source details

Sepp K., Ivask M., Kaasik A., Mikk M. & Peepson A. (2005) Soil biota indicators for monitoring the Estonian agri-environmental programme. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 108, 264-273

This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes) Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial in Estonia (Sepp et al. 2005) found no difference in numbers of earthworms (Lumbricidae) or soil microbial activity between arable soils with and without agri-environment schemes, in the first two years of a pilot agri-environment scheme. There were 32-224 earthworms/m2 of 1-5 species in the Jõgeva County area and 0-614 earthworms/m2 of 0-5 species in the Saare County area. The grey worm Aporrectodea caliginosa was dominant (81-89% of all earthworm individuals) in both areas. As the scheme had been in place for one or two years only, the authors considered these results to be baseline data, showing no initial differences in soils between agri-environment and control areas. The ‘Environmentally Friendly Production Scheme’ required restricted nitrogen fertilizer (100 kg/ha or less), limited field size, at least 15% of the cultivated area to be under legumes or grass and legumes, with cereals not grown for more than three years in a row, uncultivated field margins and maintenance of existing landscape elements, including semi-natural habitats. The pilot scheme began in 2001. For each pilot area, earthworms were monitored in one cereal field on each of ten farms with the Environmentally Friendly Production Scheme, and five farms without it, in an adjacent reference area. Earthworms were sampled by hand-sorting from five soil blocks 50 x 50 x 40 cm. Microbial activity was sampled by estimating the activity of dehydrogenase enzymes (the fluorescein diacetate method).