Effect of tillage on earthworms over short- and medium-term in conventional and organic farming

Crittenden, S.; Eswaramurthy, T.; Goede, R.G.M. de; Brussaard, L.; Pulleman, M.M.


Earthworms play an important role in many soil functions and are affected by soil tillage in agricultural soils. However, effects of tillage on earthworms are often studied without considering species and their interactions with soil properties. Furthermore, many field studies are based on one-time samplings that do not allow for characterisation of temporal variation. The current study monitored the short (up to 53 days) and medium term (up to 4 years) effects of soil tillage on earthworms in conventional and organic farming. Earthworm abundances decreased one and three weeks after mouldboard ploughing in both conventional and organic farming, suggesting direct and indirect mechanisms. However, the medium-term study revealed that earthworm populations in mouldboard ploughing systems recovered by spring. The endogeic species Aporrectodea caliginosa strongly dominated the earthworm community (76%), whereas anecic species remained