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Soil management to prevent earthworms from riddling irrigation ditch banks

Kemper, W.D. and Jolley, Paula and Rosenau, R.C. (1988) Soil management to prevent earthworms from riddling irrigation ditch banks. Irrigation Science. 9:79-87.

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Earthworm activities were observed under subdued light in lucite
fronted soil filled boxes in which bean plants were growing. They formed their
burrows by ingesting a relatively small core of soil about 2 mm in diameter and
expanding these holes to a diameter of about 5 mm by flexing their muscles.
The compacted zone extended about 4 mm from the radii of these burrows. As
shallow bean roots of young plants extracted water from the upper portions of
the soil, worms moved downward to moister soil. During furrow irrigation,
worms moved toward the water source through existing burrows. A few of them
burrowed new holes to the furrow and emerged and swam in the water for up
to 20 min before burrowing back into the mud in the bottom of the furrow. In
columns with sections packed with pressures of 50, 100, 200, 300 and 600 kPa,
worm burrowing was reduced in sections packed at higher pressures and was
practically negligible in the sections packed at 600 kPa. Visual comparison of
porosity in the compacted soil surrounding earthworm burrows and the soil
compacted at 300 and 600 kPa indicated that the worms are able to compact
soil with a force between 300 and 600 kPa. Worms were not able to survive long
enough to burrow through 15 cm of a subsoil with organic carbon content less
than 0.2% that lay between them and topsoil. Both compaction and use of
subsoil for the banks show promise for reducing earthworm burrowing and
water loss from ditches.

Item Type: Article
NWISRL Publication Number: 0651
Subjects: Soil
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Dan Stieneke
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:53
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2017 21:11
Item ID: 498