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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Water Movement in Earthworm Burrows and Cracks in a Tile Drained Field

Authors
item Shipitalo, Martin
item Nuutinen, V - MTT AGRIFOOD RES.-FINLAND
item Butt, K - U. OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2003
Publication Date: November 4, 2003
Citation: SHIPITALO, M.J., NUUTINEN, V., BUTT, K.R. WATER MOVEMENT IN EARTHWORM BURROWS AND CRACKS IN A TILE DRAINED FIELD. ASA-CSSA-SSSA ANNUAL MEETING ABSTRACTS. 2003. CD-ROM. S06-Shipitalo768853-Poster.

Technical Abstract: Subsurface drainage enhances crop growth, but can contribute to loss of agrochemicals and sediment. Soil macropores can contribute to this phenomenon. To determine if there was any interaction between earthworm burrows and cracks, we investigated water movement in a tile-drained field in Finland. Populations of Lumbricus terrestris L. were greater, and their burrows deeper, above the drains than between drains. Mean infiltration rate above the drains was twice that of the mid-drain position and infiltration rates were positively correlated to L. terrestris numbers and biomass. Infiltration rates in individual burrows, measured with the plow layer removed to reduce the influence of cracks, ranged from 6-1043 mL/min (ave. 358 mL/min) and were not related to their proximity to the drain. Consistently higher infiltration rates (ave. 1080 mL/min) were noted when measurements were made with the plow layer intact. Dye poured into cracks adjacent to these burrows indicated water movement to the base of the plow layer followed by lateral movement until open burrows were encountered. Water movement to the depth of the drain was exclusively in L. terrestris burrows with 106 dyed burrows per square meter observed 10 cm above the tile. This suggests that while entry of water into this soil is probably dominated by cracks when it is dry enough for their formation, rapid movement of materials entrained by this flow to the subsurface drains depends on connection of the cracks to earthworm burrows.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014
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