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Title (Primary) Contribution of anecic earthworms to biopore formation during cultivation of perennial ley crops
Author Kautz, T.; Lüsebrink, M.; Pätzold, S.; Vetterlein, D.; Pude, R.; Athmann, M.; Küpper, P.M.; Perkons, U.; Köpke, U.;
Journal Pedobiologia
Year 2014
Department BOPHY;
Volume 57
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T31;
Keywords Lumbricus terrestris; Burrowing activity; Biopore; Short-term ley; Subsoil
UFZ wide themes RU1
Abstract Large sized biopores (diameter >2 mm) in the subsoil can be created by tap roots, which leave voids after their decay, or by the burrowing activity of anecic earthworms which may benefit from the temporary lack in tillage in perennial cropping systems. However, the interactions between root growth and earthworm activity in the process of biopore formation during perennial ley cropping are not well understood. The aim of this field study was to quantify the development of the abundance of the anecic earthworm Lumbricus terrestris and the biopore density during the cultivation of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) grown for either one, two or three years. An increased abundance of L. terrestris was already recorded after two years of continuous ley when compared with one year cultivation. The ley crop species had only minor influence on the abundance of L. terrestris. Biopore densities of both diameter classes under study (2–5 mm and >5 mm) were not significantly affected by the duration of ley cropping. In contrast, biopore densities were influenced by ley crop species. More biopores of diameter class 2–5 mm were recorded after chicory than after fescue. Lucerne cropping resulted in intermediate biopore density. Additionally, in an incubation experiment under field conditions, we quantified whether L. terrestris preferentially created new biopores or colonized abandoned, previously existing ones. After three weeks of incubation, one third of the adult individuals incubated in the experimental area created new biopores at 0.4 m soil depth. A similar percentage of individuals colonized previously existing biopores, partially widening the lumen of smaller sized biopores. The remaining individuals remained in the topsoil. Sub-adult individuals rarely formed new pores. Half of the introduced sub-adults remained in the topsoil. We conclude that in crop rotations new biopores can be generated during perennial ley cropping by taproot systems of ley crops, but that a two to three- year period without tillage is not sufficient for populations of anecic earthworms to make a marked contribution to biopore density in the subsoil. The relevance of anecic earthworms for altering physical and chemical properties of biopores during ley cropping still needs further investigation.
ID 14600
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Kautz, T., Lüsebrink, M., Pätzold, S., Vetterlein, D., Pude, R., Athmann, M., Küpper, P.M., Perkons, U., Köpke, U. (2014):
Contribution of anecic earthworms to biopore formation during cultivation of perennial ley crops
Pedobiologia 57 , 47 - 52