Article

Does compost use affect microarthropod soil communities?

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Abstract

A 20-year period of soil survey data highlighted the progressive loss of soil organic matter content in northern Italy agricultural lands. Because this trend is related to the decrease in the availability of manure obtained by zootechnical activity, the national authorities have stimulated the use of compost in order to reduce the soil fertility loss. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of tillage activity, compost and manure fertilisation on soil microarthropod community. Samples were taken from a sorghum monoculture and a peach orchard over a five-year period from 2003 to 2007. The abundances of soil microarthropod groups were generally evaluated at order level. The Acari/ Collembola ratio (AJC), Shannon diversity index (H'), evenness index (E), QBS-ar index and V index were also calculated. The peach orchard showed a higher share of typical steady soil organisms (Diplopoda, Diplura and Pauropoda) and QBS-ar scores compared with the sorghum monoculture, highlighting its suitable conditions for soil fauna. In the sorghum monoculture, tillage reduced Symphyla abundances and taxon richness, whereas the same effect on Acari abundances and QBS-ar values seemed to be lightened by compost fertilisation. Significant effects of compost use were observed only for Acari in the sorghum monoculture, and for Collembola and Diplura in the peach orchard. In all these cases abundance increases were noticed. Detrimental effects of compost on the density or diversity of soil microarthropods were not found in any of the tested cultivation typologies, supporting the use of these substances to add organic matter into soil.

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... The high number of applications in Italy, European and nonEuropean countries (e.g. Ballabio et al., 2013;Blasi et al., 2013;Galli et al., 2014;Hartley et al., 2008;Madej et al., 2011;Menta et al., 2008Menta et al., , 2010Menta et al., , 2011Menta et al., , 2014aMenta et al., ,b, 2015Menta et al., 2017a,b;Rüdisser et al., 2015;Tabaglio et al., 2009;Yan et al., 2012) signal the potential of QBS-ar. The major aim of those studies was to test the effects of forest cutting, grazing, trampling, industrial activities, emission, agriculture, heavy metals and other anthropogenic disturbance on soil quality. ...
... QBS-ar had showed a good sensitiveness to soil practices. Tabaglio et al. (2009); Menta et al. (2010) andSapkota et al. (2012) showed a reduction of QBS-ar values in conventional tillage compared to no-till soils. QBS-ar values can be affected not only by the ploughing but also by other practices such as organic or chemical fertilization and cover crops. ...
Article
During the last century, soils have been over-exploited by humans through agriculture and industrial development. The need to assess different aspects of soil degradation has become a priority in the soil protection management. Among several indices developed in the last years, QBS-ar (Soil Biological Quality-arthropod) index joins the biodiversity of soil microarthropods community with the degree of soil vulnerability. Up to now, numerous publications have reported the results of the QBS-ar application. This paper starts a review process for QBS-ar assessment by taking into account its potential in highlighting the relationship between soil quality and different land uses. In order to clarify the relationship between QBS-ar values and land use, we collected 41 published papers that reported of QBS-ar applications. In this framework, another aim of this paper is to make a critical review of the QBS-ar in respect to applications in different environmental contexts, and to obtain critical indication about problem and potential of QBS-ar for monitoring activities. We collected published data on QBS-ar and we individualized eight groupages in relation to soil uses: 1) Agriculture lands (A, several crops, till and no-tillage, organic, conventional), 2) Woods (W, forests, maquis and bushes), 3) Restored (R, plant remediation, restored pit mine, peri-urban uncultivated areas), 4) Natural degradation (ND, soils in natural degraded conditions, e.g. serpentine soils, soil in the brÛlé), 5) Permanent grasslands, pastures and meadows (G), 6) Orchards (O), 7) Urban parks, residual urban woods, public gardens, botanical gardens, home gardens (UP), 8) Soils involved in human degradation (D). The results confirmed that land use significantly affects QBS-ar values. The overall mean of QBS-ar =93.7 can be considered a tentative threshold that separates high quality soils and values which are typical for poor soils. In the end, we would like to affirm the validity of this index, which, allows to evaluate the suffering state of soils and its potentiality for an expeditious use to evaluate soil biological quality in recovery areas.
... Mites of this genus feed intensively on nematodes, including the M. incognita invasive J2 stage, which can be consumed at an estimated rate of 60 J2 per day [34]. This observation is doubly important, as agroecosystems may be less rich in microarthropods, including mites, compared with natural biocenoses [35][36][37], and composting increases their abundance [38]. Additionally, a harmful effect of compost on microarthropods was not observed [37]. ...
... This observation is doubly important, as agroecosystems may be less rich in microarthropods, including mites, compared with natural biocenoses [35][36][37], and composting increases their abundance [38]. Additionally, a harmful effect of compost on microarthropods was not observed [37]. Therefore, composting may not only affect nematodes directly, but also increase the abundance of predatory mites. ...
Article
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The intensification of agriculture has created concerns about soil degradation and toxicity of agricultural chemicals to non-target organisms. As a result, there is great urgency for discovering new ecofriendly tools for pest management and plant nutrition. Botanical matrices and their extracts and purified secondary metabolites have received much research interest, but time-consuming registration issues have slowed their adoption. In contrast, cultural practices such as use of plant matrices as soil amendments could be immediately used as plant protectants or organic fertilizers. Herein, we focus on some types of soil amendments of botanical origin and their utilization for nematicidal activity and enhancement of plant nutrition. The mode of action is discussed in terms of parasite control as well as plant growth stimulation.
... The potential habitat for soil organisms (BIO) was assessed based on the analysis of presence and diversity of microarthropods (range size between 0.2 and 2 mm) using the soil biological quality (QBS) index (Parisi et al., 2005;Gardi et al., 2008;Tabaglio et al., 2009;Menta et al., 2010). The index is based on the following concept: the higher the number of microarthropod groups morphologically well adapted to the soil habitat, the higher the soil quality. ...
Article
The multiple functions of urban soils secure the supply of ecosystem services to the urban population, but they are seldom taken into account in current urban planning. The purpose of this study is to highlight the multifunctionality of the soils of urban green spaces and to assess the influence of different types of urban green (i.e. parks and gardens, roadside green and agricultural fields) on the joint supply of soil-based ecosystem services. In a case study area in the city of Carpi (NE Italy), we focused on a set of soil functions underpinning ecosystem services and on possible synergies and trade-offs between them. We surveyed and sampled 19 urban green areas to assess the following soil functions: biological fertility, potential habitat for organisms, water regulation and storage, soil buffering capacity and carbon stock. Results showed differences and trends in the bundles of ecosystem services provided by the soils of urban green areas, highlighting the relevance of soil disturbance and vegetation cover density in affecting soil functions. For biological indicators, results showed a negative significant correlation to CaCO3 content, which is associated with the degree of soil disturbance, and that soils in urban areas do not always have compromised soil fauna and may provide the same level of biological quality as agricultural soils or forests.
... The loss of soil fauna communities and the correlated ecosystem services that they provide are probably the most important consequences of mining. In fact, soil biota are important in many soil processes: they contribute to the distribution of organic matter and, as a consequence, they affect the rate of decomposition, they are involved in nutrient cycling and in the formation of soil structure, and they influence porosity, aeration and infiltration (Kremen et al., 1993;Lavelle et al., 1997;Bird et al., 2004;Frouz et al., 2008;Menta et al., 2010Menta et al., , 2011. Unfortunately, soil fauna are still infrequently monitored (Cristescu et al., 2012) and the reactions of terrestrial arthropods are still little known (Grégoire Taillefer and Wheeler, 2012), even though it is recognized that soil fauna, in particular microarthropod groups, are useful bioindicators of human disturbance and can be used to define minesite soil condition and quality (Longcore, 2003;Zeppellini et al., 2009;Madjei et al., 2011). ...
Article
Mining causes significant damage to the environment: the removal of top layers of soil causes loss of structure and functionality, with a subsequent reduction in biodiversity. Soil communities are important for soil formation, they contribute to the improvement of several characteristics of soils and they play key roles in many processes that enhance the success of restoration. Unfortunately, soil fauna are poorly monitored even though they represent a good tool for assessing soil quality. The “La Speranza” quarry in northern Italy was studied from the start of the restoration process in 2008 until 2012. Six sites were selected and monitored annually. Microarthropods were extracted from three replicates of soil drawn from each site, identified to order level and then counted. Both the abundances of taxa and the soil biological indices applied (Shannon diversity index (H’), Pielou's evenness index (J), the Acari to Collembola ratio (A/C) and the QBS-ar index) revealed a good level of soil recovery over the years studied. Furthermore, the edaphic organisms that are generally associated with stable conditions in the soil (e.g. Symphyla, Protura, Chilopoda), appeared in the most recent of the years.
... Wherein, the density and richness and them of functional groups in addition to diversity index of soil macro-faunal communities increased progressively after 20 years of cultivation ( Figure 1). It was a reflective of long-term tillage management facilitating the soil macrofaunal recovery to some extent, though with a slow process of revitalisation with any soil tillage activities in sandy agro-ecosystems [27][28][29]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The semiarid agro-pastoral zone in northern China represents a typical degraded ecosystem under intensified human activities. This region has undergone profound land use changes during the past century, and natural grasslands have been progressively cultivated. However, the changes of soil macro-faunal community along a cultivated cropland chronosequence are largely unknown in this region. An investigation on soil properties and macro-fauna was carried out in 3, 10 and 20 years of tillage croplands, with an adjacent exclosure grassland as reference sites in Horqin Sand Land, northern China. Environmental parameters (soil bulk density, moisture, temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, organic carbon and total nitrogen) indicated a significant, negative effect of cultivation on soil conditions of exclosure grassland. Soil bulk density, temperature, pH, and electrical conductivity increased significantly, while soil moisture, organic carbon and total nitrogen decreased significantly after cultivation of grassland. There was considerable improvement of soil properties after 20 years of tillage, particularly in soil moisture, temperature and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen. Cultivation of grassland significantly decreased the density and richness, and them of functional groups, together with diversity index of soil macro-faunal community. But they increased progressively after 20 years of cultivation, though still significantly lower than that in the exlclosure grassland. Further, data for the different soil macro-faunal groups characterized specific responses and adaptation to varying soil conditions of croplands under tillage management with age. Soil moisture, pH and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen had the greatest influence on the faunal community structure. In conclusion, cultivation of exclosure grassland degraded the soil properties and soil macrofaunal diversity. Long-term (20 years) of tillage management could facilitate the recovery of soil properties, and also soil macro-faunal assemblies to some extent.
... Wherein, the density and richness and them of functional groups in addition to diversity index of soil macro-faunal communities increased progressively after 20 years of cultivation ( Figure 1). It was a reflective of long-term tillage management facilitating the soil macrofaunal recovery to some extent, though with a slow process of revitalisation with any soil tillage activities in sandy agro-ecosystems [27][28][29]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The semiarid agro-pastoral zone in northern China represents a typical degraded ecosystem under intensified human activities. This region has undergone profound land use changes during the past century, and natural grasslands have been progressively cultivated. However, the changes of soil macro-faunal community along a cultivated cropland chronosequence are largely unknown in this region. An investigation on soil properties and macro-fauna was carried out in 3, 10 and 20 years of tillage croplands, with an adjacent exclosure grassland as reference sites in Horqin Sand Land, northern China. Environmental parameters (soil bulk density, moisture, temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, organic carbon and total nitrogen) indicated a significant, negative effect of cultivation on soil conditions of exclosure grassland. Soil bulk density, temperature, pH, and electrical conductivity increased significantly, while soil moisture, organic carbon and total nitrogen decreased significantly after cultivation of grassland. There was considerable improvement of soil properties after 20 years of tillage, particularly in soil moisture, temperature and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen. Cultivation of grassland significantly decreased the density and richness, and them of functional groups, together with diversity index of soil macro-faunal community. But they increased progressively after 20 years of cultivation, though still significantly lower than that in the exlclosure grassland. Further, data for the different soil macro-faunal groups characterized specific responses and adaptation to varying soil conditions of croplands under tillage management with age. Soil moisture, pH and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen had the greatest influence on the faunal community structure. In conclusion, cultivation of exclosure grassland degraded the soil properties and soil macro-faunal diversity. Long-term (20 years) of tillage management could facilitate the recovery of soil properties, and also soil macro-faunal assemblies to some extent.
... Microarthropods were extracted using a Berlese-Tüllgren funnel; the specimens were collected in a preserving solution (75% ethyl alcohol and 25% glycerol by volume) and identified to different taxonomic levels (class for Myriapoda and order for Insecta, Chelicerata and Crustacea) using a stereo microscope. Soil quality was estimated with the QBS-ar index (Parisi et al., 2005;Gardi et al., 2008;Tabaglio et al., 2009;Menta et al., 2010). The QBS-ar index is based on the following concept: the higher the soil quality, the higher the expected number of microarthropod groups which are well adapted to soil habitats. ...
Article
Commonly, in Italy coppice utilization consists in a felling of about 80–85% of the above-ground woody biomass, with release of scattered standards (about 40–120 standard/ha). This is a crucial operation in forest management, which also has important effects on understory, fauna, and soil. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact generated by the prescribed silvicultural treatment and by the logging methodology on the soil characteristics, within the chestnut coppice with standards located in central Italy on the Cimini Mountain area. This study has paid close attention to the application of the coppice with standards management to the soil ecosystem of chestnut woods, with special regards to its utilizations and problems. The applicative use of equipment and working methods were also included in this study to evaluate the entity of impact on forest soil characteristics. For the study of the silvicultural treatment and logging impacts on the forest soils in addition to the usual physical and chemical analysis (pH, organic matter, bulk density, penetrometric and shear resistance), soil quality was estimated by means of a biological index based on soil microarthropod (QBS-ar). Our findings demonstrate that physical, chemical and biological soil features can be strongly impacted by harvesting operations and, consequently, certain soil processes may be influenced at the imposed compaction levels. On other hand, in the areas where soils were not impacted by harvesting, physical, chemical and biological soil features showed values similar to the mature stages of coppice stands. The results confirm that chestnut coppice soils are characterized by high biodiversity level of edaphic fauna and from a well-structured and mature microarthropod community, which is typical of stable ecosystems (QBS-ar value >200).
... Microarthropods were extracted using a Berlese-Tüllgren funnel; the specimens were collected in a preserving solution (ethyl alcohol and glycerol, 75 and 25% by volume, respectively) and identified at different taxonomic levels (class for Myriapoda and order for Insecta, Chelicerata and Crustacea) using a stereo microscope. Soil quality was estimated using the QBS-ar index (Gardi et al., 2008;Menta et al., 2010;Parisi et al., 2005;Tabaglio et al., 2009;Venanzi et al., 2016). The QBS-ar index is based on the following concept: the higher the soil quality, the higher the number of microarthropod groups well-adapted to soil habitats. ...
Article
Coppicing is a very traditional method of forest management and is still widespread in many regionsworldwide. Until the middle of the 20th century, coppice forests were very common in most parts ofEurope and several issues related to coppicing are still considered relevant and important. In Italy thecoppice management has still a good economic and social relevance for hilly and mountainous areas. Inaddition, forest harvesting has a significant impact on regeneration, fauna and soil. The aim of this studywas to investigate the impact of the silvicultural treatment and forest operations on species diversityof tree natural regeneration and soil characteristics in a Turkey oak coppice in central Italy. The forestsurface strongly impacted by forest operations was on average 3.4 ± 0.9% of the total area for the twotreatments. The findings 6 and 16 months after coppicing on areas A and B, respectively. showed that treespecies composition of regeneration was not affected by either the forest operation or the silviculturaltreatment. The average regeneration composition analyzed was ca 10% of shoots and 90% of seedlings.On the contrary, physical, chemical and biological soil features were strongly impacted by harvestingoperation and slightly by the silvicultural treatment. BD was higher in the disturbed areas than in theundisturbed ones in both the A and B treatments (average increase of 0.232 g/cm3, equal to ca 28%). PRincreased an average of 0.1690 MP (147%) when comparing the disturbed and undisturbed areas of theA and B treatments. SR showed a significant increase in disturbed areas of A (+6.23 t/m2; 245%) and B(+2.91 t/m2; 114%) in comparison with the control. OM content was significantly higher in the controlarea (ca 6%) than in the other treatments. pH did not seem to have been influenced by silviculturaltreatment or logging operations. The results confirm that Turkey oak coppice soils are characterized bya high biodiversity of edaphic fauna, which is typical of stable ecosystems (QBS-ar > 200). The diversityof tree species regeneration was good and similar to those of well-structured forests (Evenness 0.77).
... 57% of these animals were collected from mulched plots and 43% from control plots. There cultivation greatly reduces the numbers of species and abundance of Symphyla (Menta et al., 2010). Collembola are quite sensitive to soil solarization, therefore mulching may provide more favourable conditions for light-sensitive soil-dwelling arthropods due to its light shielding effect . ...
Article
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The average soil temperature was significantly lower in plots covered with hay. Hay mulching, however, did not increase significantly the total number of soil micro-arthropods collected using a soil pin trap and a soil sampler. Significant increases in the number of individuals was recorded only for certain groups. 64% of all the arthropods collected using soil pin traps were collected in hay-covered plots and 36% in control plots. This increase was statistically significant for the orders Entomobryomorpha and Poduromorpha of the subclass Collembola and surface-dwelling (epigeic) Coleoptera. For the samples collected using the soil sampler, 57% of the specimens were collected from hay-covered plots and 43% from control plots. As for the pin traps this was reflected in differences in the numbers of the orders Entomobrhyomorpha and Poduromorpha of the subclass Collembola and Pauropoda, collected in the treated and control plots. We conclude that mulching affected the different arthropod groups differently.
... They were separated into biological forms and associated with a score of adaptation (EMI, eco-morphological index), which ranges from 1 to 20. The QBS-ar index was finally calculated as the sum of the EMI values of all groups (Parisi et al., 2005;Gardi et al., 2008;Tabaglio et al., 2009;Menta et al., 2010). ...
Article
In recent decades, the use of heavy machinery in forest management has significantly increased, causing the compaction of forest soils and potentially affecting seedling survival and establishment. We thus investigated the effects of soil compaction on soil physical parameters, microarthropod biodiversity, soil respiration, as well as growth and physiology of Pedunculated Oak (Quercus robur) seedlings in an experimental field in central Italy (coarse loamy soil). Two levels of soil compaction were simulated, i.e. 10 tractor passes vs. 25 tractor passes. The larger number of tractor passes increased soil bulk density (+27%) and penetration resistance (+46%), while porosity declined (−11%). Compaction decreased the qualitative biodiversity of soil microarthropods (−13%), the number of growth flushes (−22%) and of leaves (−22%), shoot biomass (−26%), the shoot/root ratio (−10%), the main root length (−24%) and the longest first-order later root length in the top 10 cm of soil (−31%). The decreased growth of seedlings in the soil compaction treatment was accompanied by lower photosynthetic rate (−34%) and leaf nitrogen content (−27%). We concluded that limited access and acquisition of nutrients and water due to the shorter length of main root likely played a key role for growth and physiological responses to soil compaction in Q. robur seedlings. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716308374
... Arable land was characterized by the lowest QBS-ar value, the annual crops by values ranged between 20 and 151 (average value 71.1, SD 26.7). These results did not differ from those found in previous studies [12,18,24,26], outlining that the practices used in arable lands, in particular ploughing, affect soil habitat and soil community composition and, thus, the QBSar index. In these sites the number of well-adapted groups of microarthropods, then much more vulnerable, results low. ...
... L'applicazione dell'indice di qualità biologica dei suoli, QBS-ar, basato sul grado di adattamento al suolo dei microartropodi edafici, permette di ottenere un valore sintetico di qualità biologica e funzionalità dei suoli. I valori dell'indice hanno dimostrato di essere generalmente correlabili all'uso e allo stato dei suoli al momento del campionamento ( Menta et al., 2010;Menta et al., 2011;Menta, et al. 2014), permettendo di formulare differenti conclusioni utili alla gestione dei suoli da diversi punti di vista, in relazione alle necessità. ...
Technical Report
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Il presente lavoro è stato svolto nell’ambito dell’incarico di Servizio di acquisizione di nuovi dati riguardanti l’Indice di Qualità Biologica del suolo QBS-ar ed analisi dei dati in relazione ai parametri chimico-fisici dei suoli affidato al Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, della Vita e della Sostenibilità Ambientale dell’Università di Parma (CIG ZE01AA07FD). Il lavoro ha avuto lo scopo di avviare una raccolta ed analisi di dati relativi alla qualità biologica dei suoli agrari della Regione Emilia-Romagna al fine di poter: 1) Descrivere lo stato di qualità biologica dei suoli agricoli della regione E-R. 2) Stabilire valori di riferimento che possano descrivere le tipicità dei suoli nei diversi contesti di uso del suolo della regione E-R. 3) Definire la qualità biologica dei suoli regionali in riferimento al contesto nazionale ed europeo. 4) Sperimentare un indicatore capace di evidenziare situazioni di degrado o di riduzione della biodiversità, qualità biologica e funzionalità edafica in relazione all’impatto di politiche agricole regionali e comunitarie.
... Although the QBS index has proven effective in evaluating soil biological health in a number of previous studies (e.g., [4] [28] [29], no significant differences in QBS indices were found among treatments in our study. Menta et al. [30] reported that the adoption of no till practices, but not the addition of manure or compost, increased the QBS index of soils in sorghum fields where increases in abundance of Acari were also observed. Parisi et al. [4] reported that QBS value correlated well with land use classes but was not impacted by sewage sludge application to soil. ...
Article
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Soil arthropods play an important role in nutrient cycling and maintenance of soil structure, and their abundance and diversity provide an indication of the biological quality of soil. Land application of livestock manure provides crop nutrients and may also impact the soil arthropod community. This study was conducted to quantify soil arthropod abundance and diversity for a pe-riod of one year following swine manure application via broadcast or injec-tion. Arthropods were extracted from plot soil samples using Berlese funnels, identified and counted, and the QBS index (Qualità Biologica del Suolo) was calculated for each soil sample. Collembola (Hypogastruridae and Isotomi-dae) populations were greater (p < 0.05) in the broadcast plots than the injec-tion or control plots. Pseudoscorpiones were more abundant (p < 0.05) in the injection treatment compared to the broadcast and control treatments. Acari populations and the QBS index were not significantly impacted by manure application.
... I am convinced that organic agriculture is a good strategy to guarantee the future of our planet. In some of my previous studies [16][17][18][19][20][21] where we compared soil quality in terms of soil biodiversity and organic carbon content in different agriculture managements, we clarified the importance of an "conservative approach", that often shows higher soil biodiversity and complexity. I would like to consider this discussion not only from an environmental point of view but also from a farmer's point of view. ...
Article
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The SETA group (Agricultural Science and Technology) sent a letter to the Italian Parliament advising them not to adopt a legislative measure that favors organic and biodynamic agriculture compared to the conventional one. Another group of scientists thinks instead that the Italian government should favor organic and biodynamic agriculture and explains its reasons. The current article lists the SETA letter and the point of view of other Italian and international ecologists, economists, pedologists, ecologists, writers and artists, which are tendentially “protectors of nature” but not idealists. Nor are they so much in agreement with each other. Judge for yourself in scrolling through the Discussion chapter. The divergence leads to the “why” it is necessary to switch to organic farming not on the “need” to do so. There are also disappointments about the use of GMOs or the costs of highly technological agriculture. The situation is such on planet Earth that it is necessary to involve the whole society to get out of it. In addition, politicians are also needed to structure the collective action that only if conceived by the whole society and not by individuals or by non-coordinated organizations can save our species. We are convinced that agriculture and soil are among the fundamental levers of this action.
... I am convinced that organic agriculture is a good strategy to guarantee the future of our planet. In some of my previous studies [16][17][18][19][20][21] where we compared soil quality in terms of soil biodiversity and organic carbon content in different agriculture managements, we clarified the importance of an "conservative approach", that often shows higher soil biodiversity and complexity. I would like to consider this discussion not only from an environmental point of view but also from a farmer's point of view. ...
Article
Full-text available
The SETA group (Agricultural Science and Technology) sent a letter to the Italian Parliament advising them not to adopt a legislative measure that favors organic and biodynamic agriculture compared to the conventional one. Another group of scientists thinks instead that the Italian government should favor organic and biodynamic agriculture and explains its reasons. The current article lists the SETA letter and the point of view of other Italian and international ecologists, economists, pedologists, ecologists, writers and artists, which are tendentially "protectors of nature" but not idealists. Nor are they so much in agreement with each other. Judge for yourself in scrolling through the Discussion chapter. The divergence leads to the "why" it is necessary to switch to organic farming not on the "need" to do so. There are also disappointments about the use of GMOs or the costs of highly technological agriculture. The situation is such on planet Earth that it is necessary to involve the whole society to get out of it. In addition, politicians are also needed to structure the collective action that only if conceived by the whole society and not by individuals or by non-coordinated organizations can save our species. We are convinced that agriculture and soil are among the fundamental levers of this action. of the new Government is the approval of the law decree 988-Measures for the protection, development and competitiveness of organic farming, agri-food and aquaculture production. Given that every farmer who is respectful of the law is free to produce as he wishes, we would like, as citizens and scholars, to call the attention of our institutional representatives the following concepts that most often do not find space in the public debate;-Organic crops are less environmentally sustainable than those with the conventional / integrated method. This is because they give rise to a 20 to 70% lower yield, in equal farmed areas, therefore their generalized extension would require 20 to 70% more land to become cropped, leading to a massive destruction of forests and natural grasslands;-Compared to conventional agriculture, organic farming leads to 50% higher greenhouse gas emissions in pea crops , 70% higher ones in wheat, and 300% higher ones in rice; emissions result moreover 61% higher per kg of bread produced;
... I am convinced that organic agriculture is a good strategy to guarantee the future of our planet. In some of my previous studies [16][17][18][19][20][21] where we compared soil quality in terms of soil biodiversity and organic carbon content in di erent agriculture managements, we clari ed the importance of an "conservative approach", that o en shows higher soil biodiversity and complexity. I would like to consider this discussion not only from an environmental point of view but also from a farmer's point of view. ...
Article
Full-text available
The SETA group (Agricultural Science and Technology) sent a letter to the Italian Parliament advising them not to adopt a legislative measure that favors organic and biodynamic agriculture compared to the conventional one. Another group of scientists thinks instead that the Italian government should favor organic and biodynamic agriculture and explains its reasons. The current article lists the SETA letter and the point of view of other Italian and international ecologists, economists, pedologists, ecologists, writers and artists, which are tendentially “protectors of nature” but not idealists. Nor are they so much in agreement with each other. Judge for yourself in scrolling through the Discussion chapter. The divergence leads to the “why” it is necessary to switch to organic farming not on the “need” to do so. There are also disappointments about the use of GMOs or the costs of highly technological agriculture. The situation is such on planet Earth that it is necessary to involve the whole society to get out of it. In addition, politicians are also needed to structure the collective action that only if conceived by the whole society and not by individuals or by non-coordinated organizations can save our species. We are convinced that agriculture and soil are among the fundamental levers of this action.
... The negative effects on soil biota could be related to the use of organic wastes, such as accumulated trace metals in soil (Tranvik et al. 1993). However, Menta et al. (2010) concluded that negative effects of compost use on soil fauna abundance or biodiversity were not recorded in sites treated with compost. Applying manures in excess of plant requirement increases the potential for serious environmental damage from runoff or leaching. ...
Chapter
In general, about 80–90% of the soil biological activity is carried out by soil fauna. Soil fauna has proved potentiality in soil formation and decomposition of waste materials. Of late, the importance of soil fauna in the functioning of soil ecosystem has been increasing gradually with integrated farming systems. Soil fauna mediate minute functions in soil viz., organic matter decomposition, nutrient cycling, C-storage, energy flow, water and oxygen infiltration and storage in soil. Due to intensification of agriculture, several undesirable side effects in soil have resulted in the degradation of environmental quality and natural resources and economic insecurity for the traditional farming families. Some of them are: loss of soil biodiversity due to continuous mono-cropping practices, top soil erosion, soil toxicity due to salinity, alkalinity and toxic mineral levels that are detrimental to soil biota. Further, dependence on synthetic fertilizers and scanty use of organic manures lead to the break-up of natural nutrient cycles and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals affecting human health, wild life and environment quality. The positive effects of soil biota on ecological function include organic matter decomposition and soil aggregation, inorganic transformations that release available N, P, S, Fe, Mn, etc., nitrogen fixation, detoxification of agrochemicals and toxic compounds by microbes.
... In particular, QBS-ar is considered to show good sensitiveness to soil practices [8], often resulting in lower values in soils disturbed by tillage [13]. Moreover, Tabaglio et al. [6] reported a higher abundance of microarthropods in no-till soils than in conventional tillage, highlighting how mechanical operation strongly impacts suitability of habitat for soil fauna [52,53]. However, as observed in our study, the same authors reported that most of these differences disappear in autumn, suggesting that, given sufficient time without soil disturbance, arthropod numbers are able to recover within the growing season [21,54]. ...
Article
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Using native seed mixtures to create or recover grassland habitats in rotation to crops or in strips surrounding fields is considered a cost-effective practice to enhance ecosystem resilience and agro-biodiversity. The aim of this research was to assess the effects of native hayseed mixtures on plant and microarthropod communities in an agricultural area of Northern Italy. Three different experimental treatments were set up. The first was a control (C) (i.e., non-seeded plots left to spontaneous vegetation succession after ploughing no deeper than 15 cm). The second, hayseed seeded (Hs) after ploughing no deeper than 15 cm. The third experimental treatment was hayseed overseeded (Ov) on the resident plant community after only a superficial harrowing. Ov plots exhibited the preeminent positive effects on the total productivity and quality of the grassland in terms of total vegetation cover, cover and richness of typical grassland species (i.e., Molinio-Arrhenatheretea species), and cover of legumes, grasses and perennial species. Moreover, Ov sites exhibited the highest abundance of microarthropod taxa and soil biological quality (QBS-ar) but only in spring, when the disturbance of ploughing negatively affected Hs and C plots. On the other hand, Hs sites showed a great reduction of invasive alien (i.e., Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Artemisia verlotiorum) and segetal weed species (i.e., Capsella bursa-pastoris and Spergula arvensis) in terms of cover. This study provides valuable indication on using hayseed mixtures to create grassland habitats as reservoir of native flora and soil biodiversity in agriculture areas.
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The landhopper Talitroides topitotum is a terrestrial amphipod considered invasive species associated with litter. Pitfall trap is commonly used to catch invertebrates that are active in the soil, this strategy of studying the fauna is generally nonspecific in what they catch. The present study was conducted at RPPN Mata do Uru to determine the variation in the spatial and temporal abundance distribution of these exotic amphipods and Other macroinvertebrates in five sectors of the araucaria forests. Five different phytophysiognomies were selected in the dry season of the 2016 and 2018: sector A open area; sector B varzea area; sector C grass sector with both sides formed by border; sector D area within the Mixed Ombrofila Forest and sector E Gramineous-woody Steppe stains. Ten Pitfalls were distributed in each sector, totaling 100 at the end of the study, allowing 168 hours in the environment. A total N=1839 macroinvertebrates were captured, the abundances were higher in 2016 (N=1169; 63,57%). T. topitotum represented between to 39.26% (2016) to 48.06% (2018) of the total sampled. In addition, in 2016 the specie did not occupy all sectors with an average occupancy rate of 25.66%, while in 2018 the specie occupied all sectors and increased the average occupancy rate to 40.82%. The body length of the individuals varied from 4.78 mm to 10.97 mm and no have males and ovigerous females in this population. There is evidence that the specie occupied the different physiognomies and increased its average occupation rate.
Technical Report
Il presente lavoro è stato svolto nell’ambito dell’incarico di Servizio di acquisizione di nuovi dati riguardanti l’Indice di Qualità Biologica del suolo QBS-ar ed analisi dei dati in relazione ai parametri chimico-fisici dei suoli affidato al Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, della Vita e della Sostenibilità Ambientale dell’Università di Parma (CIG ZE01AA07FD). Il lavoro ha avuto lo scopo di avviare una raccolta ed analisi di dati relativi alla qualità biologica dei suoli agrari della Regione Emilia-Romagna al fine di poter: 1) Descrivere lo stato di qualità biologica dei suoli agricoli della regione E-R. 2) Stabilire valori di riferimento che possano descrivere le tipicità dei suoli nei diversi contesti di uso del suolo della regione E-R. 3) Definire la qualità biologica dei suoli regionali in riferimento al contesto nazionale ed europeo. 4) Sperimentare un indicatore capace di evidenziare situazioni di degrado o di riduzione della biodiversità, qualità biologica e funzionalità edafica in relazione all’impatto di politiche agricole regionali e comunitarie.
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Technical Report
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The SETA group (Agricultural Science and Technology) sent a letter to the Italian Parliament advising them not to adopt a legislative measure that favors organic and biodynamic agriculture compared to the conventional one. Another group of scientists thinks instead that the Italian government should favor organic and biodynamic agriculture and explains its reasons. The current article lists the SETA letter and the point of view of other Italian and international ecologists, economists, pedologists, ecologists, writers and artists, which are tendentially "protectors of nature" but not idealists. Nor are they so much in agreement with each other. Judge for yourself in scrolling through the Discussion chapter. The divergence leads to the "why" it is necessary to switch to organic farming not on the "need" to do so. There are also disappointments about the use of GMOs or the costs of highly technological agriculture. The situation is such on planet Earth that it is necessary to involve the whole society to get out of it. And politicians are also needed to structure the collective action that only if conceived by the whole society and not by individuals or by non-coordinated organizations can save our species. We are convinced that agriculture and soil are among the fundamental levers of this action.
Preprint
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Il gruppo SETA (Scienze e tecnologie agrarie) ha inviato una lettera al Parlamento italiano in cui consigliava di non adottare una misura legislativa a favore dell'agricoltura biologica e biodinamica rispetto a quella convenzionale. Un altro gruppo di scienziati ritiene invece che il governo italiano debba favorire l'agricoltura biologica e biodinamica e ne spiega le ragioni. Il presente articolo espone prima la lettera SETA, e poi il punto di vista di altri ecologi, economisti, pedologi, ecologi, scrittori e artisti italiani e internazionali, tendenzialmente "protettori della natura" ma non idealisti. Non sono nemmeno perfettamente d'accordo tra di loro. Giudicate voi stessi scorrendo la parte Discussione. La divergenza porta sul "perché" sia necessario passare all'agricoltura biologica ma non sulla "necessità" di farlo. Ci sono anche differenze di opinioni sull'uso di OGM o sul come comportarsi verso i costi di un'agricoltura altamente tecnologica. La situazione è tale sul pianeta Terra che è necessario coinvolgere l'intera società per uscire dal tunnel. Ai politici viene chiesto di strutturare l'azione collettiva che solo se concepita da tutta la società e non da individui o da organizzazioni non coordinate può salvare la nostra specie. Siamo convinti che l'agricoltura e in particolare le modalità di sfruttamento del suolo siano tra le leve fondamentali di quest’azione.
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Biodiversity has been a focal aim of environmental protection since the Rio conference, but only with the beginning of the new millennium did soil biodiversity become an important aspect of international policy. Edaphic fauna play a key role in many soil functions, such as organic matter decomposition, humus formation and nutrient element cycling; moreover, affect the porosity, aeration, infiltration and distribution of organic matter in soil horizons, modifying soil structure and improving its fertility. The ecosystem services provided by soil animals are becoming progressively lost due to agricultural practice intensification, which causes a reduction in both abundance and taxonomic diversity of soil communities. In the present study, a permanent grassland habitat was studied in order to evaluate its potential as a soil biodiversity reservoir in agroecosystems. Grassland samples were compared with samples from a semi-natural woodland area and an arable land site. Microarthropod abundances, Acari/Collembola ratio (A/C), Shannon diversity index (H′) and evenness index (E) were calculated. QBS-ar index was used in order to evaluate soil biological quality. Microarthropod communities of the three land use typologies differed in both the observed groups and their abundance. Steady soil taxa characterized both woodland and grassland soils, whereas their abundances were significantly higher in woodland soil. Taxon diversity and soil biological quality in the grasslands did not differ from the woodland samples. The microarthropod community in the arable land showed a reduction both in taxa numbers and soil biological quality compared with the other sites. Soil biological quality and edaphic community composition highlighted the importance of grassland habitats in the protection of soil biodiversity. KeywordsBiodiversity–Grassland–Microarthropods–QBS-ar–Soil quality–Sustainable agriculture
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The management of agricultural land includes a vari-ety of agronomic practices that can affect physical, chemi-cal and biological properties of soil. Soil bioindicators can be very useful to detect changes in soil quality, and among them soil fauna can be profitably applied to monitor the soil health status. Different groups of soil invertebrate are used as bioindicators or biotests; in some cases the biologi-cal indicators are represented by a single taxon, while in other cases the entire microarthropod community is as-sessed. In this study, the evaluation of different agronomic regimen has been realized using the QBS indexes (arthro-pods and collembola) and Folsomia candida test. The QBS results showed the expected seasonal variation and were more affected by soil characteristics than agronomic regi-men, with the lowest values recorded by the byodinamic farm; also the Folsomia candida tests gave similar results.
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Two crop production systems, which differ on tillage and pesticides, were compared for biodiversity of soil microarthropod communities. A biodiversity index, which integrates different structure and density parameters (abundance, taxonomic richness, taxonomic diversity, coenotic diversity) was used. Results showed a greater biodiversity in minimum tillage systems compared to deep tillage systems. Pesticides seemed to be only a second order factor of variance on microarthropod biodiversity. © 2002 Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
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To evaluate the impact of management practices on the soil environment, it is necessary to quantify the modifications to the soil structure. Soil structure conditions were evaluated by characterizing porosity using a combination of mercury intrusion porosimetry, image analysis and micromorphological observations. Saturated hydraulic conductivity and aggregate stability were also analysed.In soils tilled by alternative tillage systems, like ripper subsoiling, the macroporosity was generally higher and homogeneously distributed through the profile while the conventional tillage systems, like the mouldboard ploughing, showed a significant reduction of porosity both in the surface layer (0–100 mm) and at the lower cultivation depth (400–500 mm). The higher macroporosity in soils under alternative tillage systems was due to a larger number of elongated transmission pores. Also, the microporosity within the aggregates, measured by mercury intrusion porosimetry, increased in the soil tilled by ripper subsoiling and disc harrow (minimum tillage). The resulting soil structure was more open and more homogeneous, thus allowing better water movement, as confirmed by the higher hydraulic conductivity in the soil tilled by ripper subsoiling. Aggregates were less stable in ploughed soils and this resulted in a more pronounced tendency to form surface crust compared with soils under minimum tillage and ripper subsoiling.The application of compost and manure improved the soil porosity and the soil aggregation. A better aggregation indicated that the addition of organic materials plays an important role in preventing soil crust formation.These results confirm that it is possible to adopt alternative tillage systems to prevent soil physical degradation and that the application of organic materials is essential to improve the soil structure quality.
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Traditional approaches to soil quality evaluation were based on the use of physical, chemical and microbiological indicators. Recently, new methods, based on soil microarthropods have been proposed for soil quality evaluation. Soil microarthropods have been shown to respond sensitively to land management practices and to be correlated with beneficial soil functions. In Italy, a new approach (called QBS index) based on the types of edaphic microarthropods has been proposed to assess soil biological quality. The QBS index is based on microarthropod groups present in a soil sample. Each type found in the sample receives a score from 1 to 20 (eco-morphological index, EMI), according to its adaptation to soil environment. The QBS index sums up these scores, thereby characterizing the microarthropod community of the sample being studied. QBS has been applied on a range of soil types and land uses in Italy, its validity evaluated for assessing biological quality of soil in different situations. This paper describes the QBS methods and presents three applications of the proposed methodology.
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The effects of fertilization, mowing and grazing on the microarthropod fauna are studied. High nitrogen fertilization, among some correlated factors, corresponds with a decrease in number of species and a low abundance of microarthropods. -from Authors
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1. Population differentiation was studied in Onychiurus armatus (Tullb.) and Isotoma notabilis Schaffer from a reference site and two highly polluted (Cu, Zn) sites (long-term and short-term exposed, respectively) in the Gusum area, SE Sweden. 2. Growth, survival and reproduction were followed in a F1 generation of O. armatus reared on a diet of the fungus Verticillium bulbillosum (W. Gams and Malla) grown on a series of Cu + Zn amended agar plates. Survival and reproduction were observed in a P generation of I. notabilis incubated in soils with enhanced concentrations of Cu and Zn. 3. Metals affected growth rate but not mean maximum length of O. armatus. The growth rates of both populations decreased significantly with increasing metal concentrations. Animals from the polluted site were less affected by metals and attained reproductive size earlier than those from the reference site. 4. Survival decreased with increasing metal exposure in both species, but there was no significant difference in survival between populations within the species. 5. Reproduction in terms of egg production (O. armatus) and number of juveniles (I. notabilis) was significantly reduced by metals. 6. Higher overall reproduction rates were recorded for O. armatus and I. notabilis from polluted sites compared with the reference sites. The difference between populations of both species reached a maximum in the most polluted treatments. 7. The rareness of I. notabilis in comparison with O. armatus in the polluted soil could not be explained from a weaker phenotypic response to metals. In neither of the species was the population from the polluted site inferior to the reference population. 8. Selection for metal resistance in O. armatus is suggested to operate on the body growth rate and for both species on the reproductive rate.
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Three organic soil conditioners were tested in 14 different Malus domestica orchards: cattle manure, SB compost (from sewage sludge and poplar barks) and MSW compost (from municipal solid waste not source separated). These materials differed notably in their heavy metal content: the SB compost contained greater amounts of Zn, Cu and Pb than did the cattle manure, while the MSW compost had higher concentrations of all the metals studied. For 6 years the Zn, Cu, Ni, Pb, Cd and Cr content were monitored in the soil—both in ‘total’ and EDTA extractable form—and in leaves and fruits. The resulting data demonstrate that the SB compost did not cause any significant increase in heavy metal levels in soil and plants; this compost can thus be used to fertilise the soil with no danger in the short/medium term either to the environment or to crops. In contrast, the experiment clearly demonstrates that the MSW compost, used over a 6 year period, increased concentrations of Zn, Cu, Ni, Pb, Cd and Cr in the soil—both in ‘total’ and EDTA extractable form—and in the case of Pb and Cd also in the vegetation and the fruits.
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Communities of microarthropods, especially those in forest soils with a well-developed litter and humus layer, are characterized by a great diversity of species. The intricate relationships of soil invertebrates with their ecological niches in the soil, the fact that many of them live a rather sedentary life, and the stability of community composition at a specific site provide good starting points for bioindication of changes in soil properties and impact of human activities. There are various ways in which the composition of a soil microarthropod community can be characterized. Nine different approaches towards the development of community bioindicators may be recognized in the soil zoology literature. Each of these approaches exploits a different aspect of community structure. For example, community composition may be summarized by its dominance structure, its diversity of feeding types, its diversity of life history patterns, etc. The different approaches are evaluated according to two criteria: specificity (how specifically does the indicator react to a certain soil factor or impact?) and resolution (how sensitively does it react to changes?). A conclusion from the review may be that a combination of physiotype classification and multivariate statistical analysis holds the greatest promise at the moment. Two examples of recent bioindicator approaches are discussed in more detail: the `bioindicator index for toxicant residues', which measures the extent to which internal concentrations of toxicants pose a risk to a soil community, and the `arthropod acidity index', which measures the average pH preference of a microarthropod community based on substrate choice experiments.
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This chapter illustrates detritus-based food webs responding to various disturbance regimes occurring in conventionally tilled (CT) and non-tilled (NT) systems. The detritus food web is based largely in the soil system, and is important in regulating nutrient cycling and energy flow, it is reasonable to expect that this food web may be a viable and meaningful indicator of disturbance exerted by tillage and alternative weed management strategies. The principal differences in disturbance regimes involve cultivation, herbicide application, residue management and manipulation of weed levels, therefore, emphasis is placed on these factors. The chapter also reviews the results of previous studies, determines how different components of the detritus food web respond to the disturbances relative to each other, and examines the consequences of these disturbances for overall food web structure. Furthermore, while disturbances in CT systems may exert predictable negative effects on most groups of soil organisms, the responses of species assemblages are less predictable. Individual taxonomic species are undoubtedly a more sensitive indicator of ecosystem disturbance than are entire functional groups, and is therefore a more appropriate unit for biomonitoring purposes.
Article
The response of microarthropod populations to different combinations of conservational agricultural practices was investigated in two field experiments. In the first experiment, cropping systems with combinations of tillage (conventional or reduced), biocide application (conventional or reduced), and fertilization (chemical or cattle manure compost) were compared. In the second experiment, five treatments including four fallow managements that received different levels of tillage, biocide, and organic matter input from vegetation were compared. The springtail (Collembola) population was higher with less tillage, less biocide application, and more organic matter input in both experiments, and these effects were additive; there was no specific combination of practices that has an interacting effect. The mite (Acari) population was also higher under most conservational treatments, and a significant interaction effect between tillage and organic matter application was found. A large increase in the Acari population under the combination of reduced tillage and higher organic matter input suggested that beneficial effects of these practices on the Acari community could be increased by integrating these practices. There was no significant correlation between the microarthropod populations and plant cover or soil chemical/physical properties measured. Slight changes in soil environments caused by agricultural practices may affect microarthropod communities substantially even before the changes in soil properties become detectable.
Article
The ecological impact of dried sewage sludge addition to reclaimed soil was assessed by comparing soil microarthropod fauna (oribatid and collembolan populations) of sewage sludge treated plots with those of adjacent control plots. An Egyptian orchard of newly reclaimed soil cultivated with guava trees (sandy soil) at E1 Salheya region was selected for the present investigation. Sludge application was performed at three doses i.e. 1.6 ton/ha, 3.3 ton/ha and 6.5 ton/ha. Four replicates were conducted for each dose application through a one-year period (during the four seasons). Sludge application had a marked influence on some soil microarthropods but no influence could be detected on others. The intensity of the effect was strongly correlated to sludge doses. Also, a marked quantitative and qualitative influence could be observed on soil-bound mites. It was discovered that application of sludge up to 6.5 ton/ha over the period of a year to the reclaimed area produced a marked significant effect on the oribatid community. Scheloribates laevigatus, Epilohmannia c. cylindrica and Isotomina thermophila may serve as bioindicators to evaluate the role of sewage sludge application on the soil habitat.
Article
The response of both the cryptozoic macroarthropod community (large soil invertebrates that live and/or hide on the soil surface) and soil micro and meso-arthropods (Acarina and Collembola) is described with respect to abundance (number of individuals) and richness (number of family groups) when no-till, chisel plow, and ridge-tillage systems were established on a clay loam soil (Typic Haplaquoll) having a previous history of conventional tillage. Except for the September sampling date, in 1988, abundance of cryptozoic fauna was higher in no-till than in conventional tillage: 30 taxonomic families were collected in comparison to 22 for conventional tillage. In 1989, trends in abundance and richness were not consistent in no-till and conventional tillage; chisel plow was similar to no-till; and ridge-tillage was similar to conventional tillage after severe soil disturbance by ridging. In 1988, mean soil arthropod abundance and richness were significantly higher in no-till than in conventional tillage plots from June to the end of August but not in October. In 1989, for no-till, chisel plow, and conventional tillage, there were significant sampling depth and cultivation by depth interaction effects on total soil arthropod abundance.
Article
The effects of three tillage practices (plowing, chisel plowing, and springtine cultivation) on soil mites were evaluated in a replicated field experiment. Mean mite abundance in the control plot was 15 013 ind./m2, comprising 1339 Uropodina, 6321 Gamasina, 1174 Astigmata and 6179 Oribatida. Significant effects of soil cultivation were confined to the sampling date immediately after the first tillage treatment. At that time acarine numbers were reduced by more than 50% by tillage, the adverse effects of springtime cultivation in deeper soil layers being less than those of the other tillage treatments. Different groups of Acari were affected differently by tillage, with Oribatida reacting sensitively to the plow and Gamasina to the chisel plow. No differential effects on Uropodina or Astigmata could be found. No species-specific response patterns were detected among oribatid mites, but the adverse effects of soil cultivation on microphytophagous species were particularly strong, with no significant differences between tillage treatments. No size-dependent effect could be established.
Article
Effects of cropping on summer abundance and species composition of epigeic Collembola were investigated during a six-year study in which nine different arable crops were sampled. Crops were sited on three farms, each with a different rotation and soil type. Species composition was usually similar between fields on the same farm but differed markedly between farms. Arthropleona were generally favoured by a grass and wheat rotation on calcareous clay whereas Symphypleona were favoured by a mixed cereals and break crops rotation on calcareous loam. A mixed cereals and root crops rotation on stony sand consistently had the lowest collembolan abundance and taxonomic richness in all years. Analysis of combined data from all three farms indicated that, except for barley, winter-sown crops had higher abundance and taxonomic richness than spring-sown crops. This pattern was also evident when all crops within individual farms were compared, but the differences were statistically significant only at one farm. However, when comparisons were restricted to cereals, differences in collembolan abundance between spring and winter-sown cereals were inconsistent between farms. Several collembolan species had restricted spatial distributions among fields, independent of cropping and soil type. These findings, which are compared with previous work on effects of cropping on Collembola, have implications for the interpretation of field ecotoxicological studies.
Article
Collembola can be among the most numerous meso-invertebrates in the forest floor and, through their interaction with primary decomposers in the decomposition food web, may affect litter decomposition and consequently site productivity. This study was conducted to determine whether Collembolan abundance could be impacted by organic matter removal, compaction, and vegetation control on a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantation. Monthly soil and litter samples were taken over 2 years and the fauna extracted from them using modified Tulgren funnels. Organic matter removal and vegetation control generally caused a significant decrease in Collembolan populations, while compaction did not significantly affect Collembolan populations. These results indicate that habitat was the primary influence on population abundance in this experiment, possibly via its influence on desiccation. Sensitivity of collembolan populations to habitat changes caused by organic matter removal indicates a potential effect on long-term site productivity.
Article
Four agricultural crops in C Sweden were sampled: barley with or without N-fertilization, a grass ley and a lucerne ley. Species composition was similar in all crops. A few Collembola species, notably Folsonia fimetaria and Tullbergia krausbaueri, dominated. Total abundance was higher in leys (17-31 × 103m-2) than in barley (11-13 × 103m-2). No differences due to N-fertilization were found. Vertical distribution in the leys was more superficial than in barley. Differences in seasonal dynamics were found between barley and grass ley. Assuming that Apterygota are exclusive microbivores, their consumption corresponded to 0.3-1.0% of the estimated annual microbial production (probably an underestimation, mainly due to restricted sampling depth). -from Authors
Article
A multidisciplinary study was carried out over four years in Northern Italy on a silt loam under continuous maize. The experimental design was a split-plot with four replicates; the main factor was the soil management system, conventional tillage (CT) or no-tillage (NT), while the secondary factor was N fertilisation. At the end of the trial, soil samples were taken from all plots at four depths (from 0 to 20 cm). In these samples the following were determined: pH, soil organic carbon (SOC), total N, available P, exchangeable K, cation exchange capacity (CEC), electrical conductivity (EC) and water aggregate stability (WAS). Soil compaction was measured during the last three years, after maize harvesting. To study the microarthropod community, soil samples (0–10 cm depth) were taken six times over the four years. Our results show that NT significantly increased SOC (+15.8%), total N (+9.6%), C/N (+5.3%), exchangeable K (+37.1%) and WAS (+64.8%). The stratification ratio for exchangeable K reached 2.15 for NT plots. N fertilisation, on the other hand, had no significant effect on most of the physico-chemical indicators, except for pH, CEC and EC. Soil compaction was significantly higher for NT compared with CT up to a depth of 25–30 cm. During the last year, interesting reductions in soil penetration resistance for NT were measured, up to 300–430 kPa in the 2.5–12.5 cm layer. As for the microarthropods, Acari were more sensitive to tillage compared with Collembola, and the Wardle V index proved to be a good indicator of the response to tillage. N fertilisation with 300 kg N ha−1 had a negative effect on the total microarthropod abundance. The Shannon diversity index gave fluctuating and significantly different results: over the years results were split alternately between the two tillage systems. The QBS-ar index, calculated for all the four years of the study, ranged between 48 and 72, values typical of intensively cultivated soils. The results obtained suggested that it was not influenced by the tillage system. Therefore, this index seems to be unsuitable for detecting the influence of tillage management and N fertilisation on the microarthropod community.
Article
The final results of a 6-year pot experiment on the organic fertilization of sunflower crops using compost prepared from vegetable and animal wastes are reported. Comparisons were made of the plant quality and residual fertility of different soil-fertilizer-compost mixtures ranging from untreated soil (no fertilizer or compost additions) to a 5% soil-95% compost mixture. Crop yields, together with the percentage dry matter, protein, and lipids in the seeds were taken as a measure of plant quality, whereas residual fertility was indicated by the microbial and plant nutrient content of the soil-fertilizer-compost mixtures. After 6 years of cropping with no additional mineral or organic fertilization, improvements in crop yields were still apparent in the mixtures with the highest compost contents. The improved crop production was related to the persistence of improved conditions of residual fertility. It is concluded that the use of compost can lead to improved soil fertility, even after several years, which in turn results in a quantitative improvement in crop yield and product quality.
Article
Nematode assemblages constitute a potential instrument for assessing the quality of submersed, temporarily submersed, and terrestrial soils and for the development of an ecological typology and biomonitoring system. Interpretation of physical or pollution-induced disturbances has hitherto mainly been based on changes in diversity, dominance patterns or percentage of dorylaimids (Adenophorea). The maturity index, based on the nematode fauna, is proposed as a gauge of the condition of the soil ecosystem. Values on a coloniser/persister scale are given for nematodes that occur in The Netherlands. The possibilities of the use of this index are demonstrated by a retrospective interpretation of some literature data. The use of nematodes in environmental studies is discussed.
Article
Tillage systems affect the soil physical and chemical environment in which soil organisms live, thereby affecting soil organisms. Tillage practices change soil water content, temperature, aeration, and the degree of mixing of crop residues within the soil matrix. These changes in the physical environment and the food supply of the organisms affect different groups of organisms in different ways. One of the challenges of research in soil ecology is to understand the impacts of management on the complex interactions of all organisms at the soil community level. In addition to the response of organisms to soil manipulations, agriculturalists are interested in the actions of soil organisms on the physical and chemical environment in the soil. Soil organisms perform important functions in soil, including structure improvement, nutrient cycling, and organic matter decomposition. This paper discusses the effects of tillage practices on soil organism populations, functions, and interactions. Although there is a wide range of responses among different species, most organism groups have greater abundance or biomass in no-till than in conventional tillage systems. Larger organisms in general appear to be more sensitive to tillage operations than smaller organisms, due to the physical disruption of the soil, burial of crop residue, and the change in soil water and temperature resulting from residue incorporation. Variations in responses found in different studies reflect different magnitudes of tillage disruption and residue burial, timing of the tillage operations, timing of the measurements, and different soil, crop, and climate combinations. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges for tillage researchers.
Article
Effective use of organic wastes for agricultural production requires that risks and benefits be documented. Two types of sewage sludge, household compost and solid pig manure were studied under field and greenhouse conditions to describe their fertilizer value and effects on soil properties and soil biota, the fate of selected organic contaminants, and their potential for plant uptake. A 3-year field trial on two soil types showed no adverse effects of waste amendment on crop growth, and a significant fertilizer value of one sludge type. Accumulation of N and Pi was indicated, as well as some stimulation of biological activity and micro-arthropod populations, but these effects differed between soil types. There was no detectable accumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), nonylphenol and ethoxylates (NP+NPE) or linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS) after three repeated waste applications, and no plant uptake was suggested by analysis of the third crop. A plot experiment with banded sludge was conducted to examine sludge turnover and toxicity in detail. Less than 5% of NP or LAS applied in organic wastes was recovered after 6 months, and less than 6% of DEHP applied was recovered after 12 months. Potential ammonium oxidation (PAO) at 0–1 cm distance from the banded sludge was stimulated despite toxic concentrations in the sludge, which suggested that contaminants were degraded inside sludge particles. Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles suggested a gradual shift in the composition of the microbial community within sludge, partly due to a depletion of degradable substrates. A pot experiment with sludge-amended soil and soil spiked with contaminants showed no plant uptake of NP, DEHP or LAS. Degradation of LAS and NP added in sludge was delayed and the degradation of DEHP was faster than when the contaminants were added directly to the soil. In conclusion, adverse effects of organic waste application on soil or crop were not found in this study, and for some waste products positive effects were observed.
Article
Micro and macroporosity, pore shape and size distribution, aggregate stability, saturated hydraulic conductivity and crop yield were analysed in alluvial silty loam (Fluventic Eutrochrept) and clay soils (Vertic Eutrochrept) following long-term minimum and conventional tillage. The soil structure attributes were evaluated by characterizing porosity by means of image analysis of soil thin sections prepared from undisturbed soil samples.The interaggregate microporosity, measured by mercury intrusion porosimetry, increased in the minimally tilled soils, with a particular increase in the storage pores (0.5–50 μm). The amount of elongated transmission pores (50–500 μm) also increased in the minimally tilled soils. The resulting soil structure was more open and more homogeneous, thus allowing better water movement, as confirmed by the greater hydraulic conductivity of the minimally tilled soils. The aggregate stability was less in the conventionally tilled soils and this resulted in a greater tendency to form surface crusts and compacted structure, compared with the minimally tilled soils. The latter tillage practice seemed to maintain, in the long-term, better soil structure conditions and, therefore, maintain favourable conditions for plant growth. In the silt loam, the crop yield did not differ significantly between the two tillage systems, while in the clay soil it decreased in the minimum tilled soil because of problems of seed bed preparation at the higher surface layer water content.
Article
In order to determine the independent and joint effects of: (1) crop management; (2) soil condition; and (3) site location on soil biota assemblage, we examined the effects of several crop management and soil condition descriptors on the abundance and diversity of soil microarthropods in crop fields. Data were analyzed using linear regression, canonical correspondence analysis and variance partitioning. Our results indicated that: (1) soil mites was the most affected group by crop management; (2) most of the variance on microarthropod abundance remained unexplained as none of the descriptors were able to explain more than 10% of total species matrix variance; (3) tillage intensity resulted in higher variance explained of the species matrix than pesticide use or crop rotation; (4) soil carbon was the most influential factor among soil condition descriptors; and (5) a significant component of species variation was accounted for by the spatially structured fraction of the explanatory descriptors and other underlying spatial processes. Following the methods proposed in this work, further studies based on the obtained results may increase their power to detect agriculturally induced effects on soil biota by including more soil fauna groups and more controlled environmental factors or by improving the description of the local scale spatial heterogeneity.
Article
The garden symphylan (Scutigerella immaculata: Newport) is a common myriapod soil pest of vegetable crops in the Pacific Northwest and other regions of the US. Symphylans consume germinating seeds, plant roots, and above-ground plant parts in contact with the soil. Factors regulating symphylan populations in agricultural soil systems are poorly understood, particularly the effects of farming practices such as cover cropping and reduced-tillage.Cover crops were planted in the fall of 1994 through 1996 and either incorporated into the soil in the spring with tillage or killed with glyphosate and the residue left on the soil surface. Fewer symphylans were recovered with Berlese funnels from soil under cereal cover crops than soil in mustard cover crops, regardless of tillage system. Fewer symphylans were recovered from soil under the spring oat cover crop than soil under the barley cover crop. Eliminating spring tillage may have increased symphylan populations but the effect of reduced tillage on symphylan populations was less important than cover cropping.Predaceous mites were more abundant in soil under large amounts of cover crop residue but these predators were not correlated with lower populations of symphylans. Spring tillage dramatically reduced populations of Pergamasus quisquiliarum, a known predator of symphylans. Cover crops increased both the ratio of predaceous mites to symphylans and the total population of potential prey, thereby, reducing the capacity of predaceous mites to regulate symphylan populations.
Article
We studied the influences of organic and conventional management practices on microarthropod diversity, densities, and dynamics in apple orchards on the Western Slope of Colorado. The ‘organic’ orchards differed from the ‘conventional’ orchards in that they used natural fertilizers (versus synthetic) and did not use insecticides and/or herbicides. Based on findings from annual agroecosystems, we hypothesized that the conventionally managed (CM) apple orchards would support a lower diversity and density of soil microarthropods than the organically managed (OM) apple orchards. We located nine sites, three OM orchards, three CM orchards, and three native sites. From each site, microarthropods were extracted from soil samples taken from June to September of 1997 and April to September of 1998. The richness and diversity of functional groups and families did not differ among the OM orchards, CM orchards and/or native sites. We did find significantly greater (P≤0.05) densities of soil microarthropods early in growing season, June 1997 and April 1998, in the OM orchards in comparison to the CM orchards and native sites. Furthermore, the densities of predatory mites were significantly greater in the OM orchards in comparison to both the CM orchards and native sites on selective dates throughout the period of study. Organic management practices have increased the densities of microarthropods above those found in CM orchards and native sites. These results may be due to the interaction between a greater accumulation of plant litter and organic matter in the OM orchards and the heavy pesticide use in the CM orchards.
Article
There has been recent interest in the characterization of soil biodiversity and its function in agricultural grasslands. Much of the interest has come from the need to develop grassland management strategies directed at manipulating the soil biota to encourage a greater reliance on ecosystem self-regulation. This review summarises information on selected groups of soil animals in grasslands, the factors influencing their abundance, diversity and community structure and their relationships to the functioning and stability of grassland ecosystems. Observations on the impacts of agricultural managements on populations and communities of soil fauna and their interactions confirm that high input, intensively managed systems tend to promote low diversity while lower input systems conserve diversity. It is also evident that high input systems favour bacterial-pathways of decomposition, dominated by labile substrates and opportunistic, bacterial-feeding fauna. In contrast, low-input systems favour fungal-pathways with a more heterogeneous habitat and resource leading to domination by more persistent fungal-feeding fauna. In view of this, we suggest that low input grassland farming systems are optimal for increasing soil biotic diversity and hence self-regulation of ecosystem function. Research is needed to test the hypothesis that soil biodiversity is positively associated with stability, and to elucidate relationships between productivity, community integrity and functioning of soil biotic communities.
Article
Application of urban refuse compost to agricultural soil could help to solve municipalities' problems related to the increasing production of waste only if soil property improvement and environmental conservation can be demonstrated. The use of low-pressure tractor tyres is another proposal in modern agriculture for reducing soil compaction. This study thus aimed to detect the effects of both compost and low-pressure tractor tyres on soil loss, runoff, aggregate stability, bulk density, penetrometer resistance and maize (Zea mays L.) yield. A 3-year field experiment was carried out on a hilly (15% slope) clay loam soil in central Italy. Twelve plots (200 m2 each) were monitored with tipping-pot devices for runoff and soil erosion measurement. Treatments were: compost addition (64 Mg ha−1), mineral fertilisation, use of low-pressure tyres, use of traditional tyres, with three replicates, in a fully randomised block design. Compost was applied once at the beginning of the experiment. Runoff reduction due to compost ranged between 7 and 399 m3 ha−1 during seasons, while soil erosion was reduced between 0.2 and 2.4 Mg ha−1. Mean weight diameter (MWD) of stable aggregates, measured on wheel tracks, increased by 2.19 mm, then progressively decreased. Compost significantly increased bulk density by 0.08 Mg m−3 due to its inert fraction content. This effect was less evident in the second and third year, probably due to harrowing. Maize yields were slightly, but significantly, reduced in composted plots by 1.72 Mg ha−1 in the third year. Low-pressure tyres significantly reduced soil loss in the third year by 1 Mg ha−1. Furthermore, they did not significantly influence runoff volumes and soil structural stability. Low-pressure tyres or compost addition were singly able to prevent an increase in penetrometer resistance due to agricultural machinery traffic. Low-pressure tyres increased the maize yield during the 3 years and the difference (0.4 Mg ha−1) became significant in the third year. In conclusion, results show the positive lasting effect of compost in ameliorating soil physical properties and reducing runoff and soil erosion. Low-pressure tyres appear justifiable both for the observed increase of grain production and reduction of soil compaction. This latter effect is, nevertheless, masked by compost addition which is also able to reduce penetrometer resistance. Further research is required to explain the causes of the slight inhibition of grain yield observed when compost was compared with mineral fertilisation.
Article
We studied the effects of long-term organic and mineral fertilization on soil microarthropods and soil chemical parameters in a field experiment under semi-arid conditions in Central Spain. Two different regimes of organic manuring, i.e. farmyard manure applied once in 3 years versus annual manuring with crop residues were compared. Soil carbon and nitrogen contents were increased markedly by farmyard manure, whereas straw and green manure had no significant effect. In contrast, the abundance of soil microarthropods was increased by annual application of straw and green manure, but not by farmyard manure last applied 2.5 years before sampling. We conclude that in the field experiment under study the abundance of soil microarthropods was influenced by the immediate food supply rather than by soil chemical parameters, such as carbon and nitrogen content or the pH. Biodiversity of soil microarthropods, as estimated by the Shannon index, was not affected significantly by straw and green manure. Obviously, other management practices, especially tillage, are limiting the species composition of soil microarthropods and thereby overshadow possible effects of fertilization on diversity.
Article
Soil and litter arthropods are important in many forest ecosystem processes where they help to regulate nutrient dynamics and soil quality, and are useful bioindicators of ecosystem condition and change. This study was initiated in response to concerns about possible decline in site productivity due to intensive forestry practices. We investigated the effects of tree harvesting and site preparation treatments on soil and litter arthropod abundance in a loblolly pine plantation in eastern Texas, USA. Using soil and litter cores, we sampled abundance of selected arthropods over two years following tree harvesting. Response to treatments varied somewhat among arthropod taxa. Acari (mites) and Collembola (springtails), the numerically dominant taxa in core samples, were initially higher in abundance in less intensive harvesting and site preparation treatments. However, after 2 years, abundance of these arthropods was comparable in all harvesting and site preparation treatments. Fertilization with nitrogen and phosphorus had a strong positive effect on abundance of most arthropod groups in the second year of the study. The recovery of arthropod abundance through time suggests that the silvicultural practices used did not jeopardize the ecological integrity of the site. The results reported here contrast with other similar studies which suggests that soil and litter arthropod communities respond differently in different geographic locations and forest types. Further comparative and extensive studies of this nature are needed therefore for a deeper understanding of the impacts of forest management practices.
Article
The Pampa region is the most important agricultural area in Argentina. Although intensive agricultural activity is leading to important levels of soil degradation, studies on the impact on soil fauna are scarce. Despite the environmental importance of collembolans, symphylans and pauropods in soil, information on the influence of land management on their population densities is poor, particularly in Neotropical agroecosystems. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different management systems on the density of collembolans, symphylans and pauropods. Population abundance of these arthropods was examined in a natural site and a cattle raising, a mixed and an agricultural management system on a Typic Hapludoll soil in La Colacha, Córdoba, Argentina. All the sites studied had the same land use history until approximately 50 years before sampling and have the same soil type. Total abundance of the studied groups varied in the different management systems. Our results suggest that conventional agricultural management tends to reduce the density of collembolans and pauropods. Our data do not support our hypothesis that the cattle raising management system constitutes an intermediate situation between the natural site and the high-input management systems. We conclude that the reduction of collembolan and pauropod densities in high-input management systems is largely explained by the mechanical and chemical perturbations produced by conventional agricultural management practices and by particular abiotic soil conditions present in the intensively managed sites that are unfavourable for these organisms. Surprisingly, symphylans were more abundant in the mixed management site. The implications of our findings on soil ecosystem functioning are discussed.
Article
Effects of organic soil amendments on populations of mycophagous springtails and nematodes and on Rhizoctonia solani stem canker of potato were investigated in two field experiments each lasting two years. The organic amendments consisted of three green manure crops (white mustard, forage rape and oats), and farmyard manure (FYM, alone or in combination with white mustard). In Year 1, before the application of soil amendments, experimental fields were infested with R. solani by growing a potato crop from seed tubers severely infested with black scurf. In the next year potato was grown again as test crop. In Experiment 1, there was a moderate degree of Rhizoctonia stem infection in the test crop. Organic amendments reduced the disease severity and increased populations of mycophagous soil organisms. The greatest reduction in disease severity was found when FYM application was combined with white mustard or when oats was grown as green manure crop. In Experiment 2, Rhizoctonia stem infection was so severe that emergence of potatoes in the test crop was reduced. Again, soil fauna populations were increased by farmyard manure combined with mustard and also when oats was grown as green manure crop. The disease severity was only slightly reduced by the former treatment, and significantly by the latter one. FYM+white mustard increased the springtail populations and had no effect on mycophagous nematodes, whereas oats increased the numbers of mycophagous nematodes tenfold. The results from both experiments support the hypothesis that stimulating the populations of mycophagous soil mesofauna can contribute to a reduction in Rhizoctonia disease severity in potato.
Article
The intensification in livestock production has increased the need of efficient treatments of waste streams especially to preserve as much as possible, the nutrients into the soil-plant system. Composting is a cheap, efficient and sustainable treatment for solid wastes that is always included in any manure treatment scenario. In this paper, an overview about the environmental and safety challenges of composting of manures is made considering the compost quality requirements established by the main demanding sectors. Co-composting and additive strategies are presented as feasible options for the improvement of compost quality. For quality evaluation of manure compost, the use of both classical and innovative instrumental techniques could increase our knowledge about added properties in compost, especially those related to organic matter stability.