Monday, November 13, 2006

Earthworm Activities and Ecology in Sod-Based Peanut/Cotton Cropping Systems.

D.L. Hartzog1, T.W. Katsvairo2, D.L. Wright3, J.J. Marois3, K.B. Balkcom1, P.J. Wiatrak3, and J.R. Rich3. (1) Auburn Univ, Wiregrass Reg. Res. & Ext. Cntr, P. O. Box 217, Headland, AL 36345, (2) Univ of Florida, 155 Research Rd., Quincy, FL 32351, (3) Univ. of Florida, 155 Research Rd., Quincy, FL 32351

Diverse cropping systems generally increase yield and promote greater and more diverse soil fauna and flora including earthworms.  Studies were conducted in Alabama and Florida in 2003 to 2006 to evaluate earthworm species and their influence on soil properties including water infiltration  in bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) based peanut (Arachis hypogaea) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cropping system compared to the traditional peanut/cotton cropping system. We also monitored the growth and development of earthworms through the season. The sod rotation had greater earthworm densities than the conventional systems at both sites. The following earthworm species Microscolex phosphoreus (Acanthodrilidae), Amynthas loveridgei (Megascolecidae), Amynthas cortices and Diplocardia eiseni were identified at the Florida site and Aporrectodea trapezoides (Lumbricidae) and Ocnerodrilus occidentalis (Ocnerodrilidae) species were found at the Alabama site. The higher earthworm population densities in the sod rotation increased water infiltration at both sites. Earthworm channels were visible in the natural layer of compaction. The roots of the subsequent cotton crops were able to grow through the channels to reach deeper soil depths. Earthworm juveniles were mostly found in winter and more adults observed in summer.

Handout (.pdf format, 3410.0 kb)