Clean weeding showed positive effects on earthworm communities following six years of minimum tillage in a maize field in northern Zimbabwe
Taylor & Francis Group - Informa UK Limited
Earthworms are a major component of soil fauna communities with positive effects on soil chemical, biological and physical processes. A study was carried out to investigate the medium-term effects of cultural practices on earthworm communities in an agricultural field. Data were collected in the 2018/2019 cropping season from a six-year-old experiment with tillage system, fertiliser application rate and weeding intensity as the main, sub- and sub-subplots, respectively. Lumbricus (34.4%) and Diplocardia (38.3%) were the dominant genera, while endogeic earthworms (48.4%) dominated the community structure among other earthworm functional groups. Clean weeded plots under the basin planting system had higher Lumbricus abundance (quadruple), genus richness (76.4%) and Shannon diversity index (56.0%) than all other treatments. Inorganic fertiliser application in the conventional tillage system reduced Eisenia abundance and genus evenness by 100.0% and 73.3%, respectively. These results suggest that in minimum tillage systems, frequent hand weeding confers positive effects on earthworms including increased abundance. In conventional tillage systems, application of high doses of inorganic fertiliser is detrimental to earthworm communities. Further studies need to focus on identifying the most sustainable and cost-effective hand weeding frequency for enhanced earthworm diversity and increased crop productivity.
Acknowledgments: The authors are grateful to Ms. Chipo Chirimuuta and all the field support staff at Chinhoyi University of Technology experimental farm for their assistance with trial management and data collection. Chinhoyi University of Technology provided financial support for all the field and laboratory work. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 2022, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09064710.2022.2052177 . © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Keywords: Anecic; basin planting; endogeic; epigeic; Africa; Zimbabwe; soil biodiversity; Monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate; Cambisol; red clay.
Nilton Mashavakure, Bliss Gutukunhuwa, Arnold B. Mashingaidze & Edson Gandiwa (2022) Clean weeding showed positive effects on earthworm communities following six years of minimum tillage in a maize field in northern Zimbabwe, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 72:1, 673-684, DOI: 10.1080/09064710.2022.2052177