Volume 14, Issue 54 (winter 2011)                   JWSS 2011, 14(54): 71-84 | Back to browse issues page

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Abstract:   (28907 Views)
Although the crucial function of earthworms in improvement of soil physical properties is well -know, but very little is known of the interactive influence of earthworms and organic materials on soil properties such as soil aggregate stability, particularly in arid and semi-arid soils. The low organic matter content and the significant role of earthworms in improving physical properties of arid and semi-arid soils necessitate studying the interactive effects of organic materials and earthworms. Thus, the main objective of this study was to identify the interactive effects of anecic earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris L.) and various organic residues (including alfalfa, compost, mixture of alfalfa and compost and cow dung) on soil aggregate stability expressed as the Mean Weight Diameter (MWD), Geometric Mean Diameter (GMD) and Aggregation Ratio (AR), and furthermore soil Ca and Mg contents. The experiment consisted of a 2×5 factorial treatment organized in a completely randomized design with four replications under controlled greenhouse conditions, lasted for 150 days. Results showed that earthworm inoculation and organic materials addition alone increased significantly all the indices of soil aggregation and aggregate stability, and Ca and Mg contents. However, the combined use of earthworms and organic residues resulted in more stable aggregates. Results indicated that earthworm inoculation in the presence of organic materials resulted in 39, 58, 2, 67, 43 and 74% increases, respectively in MWD, AR, GMD, Ca, Mg and macroaggregates whereas microaggregates were reduced by 13.5% in earthworm-worked soils. We observed a significant relationship (R2=0.945) between soil Ca content and MWD, demonstrating that earthworms apparently excrete calcite that helps bonding clay particles and soil organic matter via cationic (Ca+2) bridging. In summary, results of this study show that the simultaneous applications of anecic earthworms and organic materials may considerably help in improving the structure of arid and semi-arid soils with low carbon level.
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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Ggeneral
Received: 2011/04/5 | Published: 2011/01/15