Roots and earthworms under grass, clover and a grass-clover mixture

Nick J.M. van Eekeren, Jan G. Bokhorst, L. Brussaard. 2010. Roots and earthworms under grass, clover and a grass-clover mixture. 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World. , Brisbane, Australia. 1 - 6 August 2010.
Pagina's / pages: 4
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Taal/language: Engels
Abstract / summary in English:

White clover has a lower root biomass and a higher abundance of earthworms than grass. This might have an impact on the ecosystem services soil structure maintenance and water regulation when white clover is introduced in a grass-clover mixture. We investigated the root biomass, the abundance of earthworms and a selection of soil physical parameters in white clover, grass-clover, and grass with and without inorganic N fertilizer. The treatment with clover-only had a lower root biomass, a lower C/N-ratio of the roots, a higher abundance of earthworms, a higher number of earthworm burrows, a lower penetration resistance at the 20-30 cm soil layer and a lower proportion of crumbs in the soil, than the other treatments. This confirms the literature that pure clover stimulates the ecosystem services of water regulation, but is less conducive to soil structure maintenance. However, the grass-clover mixture did not differ significantly from the grass treatments, but differed from pure clover in a higher percentage of soil crumbs. We infer that, when clover is introduced in grassland to reduce the reliance on inorganic fertilizer, the mixture of grass and clover maintains the positive impact of grass roots on soil structure but only may show a positive effect of clover - only on water regulation with a higher clover percentage in the dry matter than in our experiment.

Keywords in English: roots, earthworms, grassland, clover, ecosystem services