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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Conservation of soil fertility in low input agricultural systems of the humid tropics by manipulating earthworm communities

Objective



THE INTRODUCTION OF ENDOGEIC EARTHWORMS IN LOW-INPUT OF THE HUMID TROPICS MAY INCREASE CROP PRODUCTION BY UP TO 40-100% AT THE EARLY STAGES OF THE CROPPING CYCLE (LAVELLE ET AL., PROJECT STD2-2362). NONETHELESS, THE RESULT VARIES DEPENDING ON THE INTRODUCED EARTHWORM SPECIES, TYPE OF CROP AND SOIL TYPE, AND IT IS NECESSARY TO CONTINUE THE EXPERIMENTS. IT IS THEREFORE NECE SSARY TO 1) BROADEN THE BASIC ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE ON TROPICAL ENDOGEIC EARTHWORMS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON SOIL PROCESSES AND CROP PRODUCOTION, NECESSARY TO IDENTIFY ADAPTABLE AND PERFORMING SPECIES FOR INTRODUCTION; APPLY THAT KNOWLEDGE TO 2) REPEAT SUCCESSFULL SMALL-SCALE EXPERIMENTS AT THE REAL SCALE OF A FARMER'S PLOT; AND 3) TEST THE FEASIBILITY OF EARTHWORM INTRODUCTION TO RESTORE DEGRADED SOILS; 4) TEST FOR THE CULTURAL ACCEPTABILITY AND ECONOMIC PROFITABILITY OF TECHNIQUES DERIVED FROM THIS RESEARCH.
RESEARCH INTEGRATES SIX RESEARCH THEMES I.E. 1) IDENTIFY POSSIBLY ADAPTABLE SPECIES ON THE BASIS OF THEIR WIDE DISTRIBUTION AND/OR TOLERANCE FOR SPECIFIC ENVIRONMENT CONDITIONS; THE OBJECTIVE IS TO INTEGRATE 400 SPECIES FROM TROPICAL AMERICA, AFRICA AND INDIA IN THE DATABASE ORGANISED IN THE STD2 PROJECT; 2) INVESTIGATE ECOLOGICAL PERFORMANCES OF 10 SPECIES WITH WIDE ECOLOGICAL TOLERANCE SELECTED FROM THE DB IN ITS PRESENT STATE (160 SPECIES; 700 SITES); 3) ASSESS EFFECTS ON SOIL PROCESSES AND FERTILITY IN SHORT-SCALE DESIGNS; ONGOING EXPERIMENTS ON SOIL ORGANIC MATTER DYNAMICS USING NATURAL 13C LABELLING WILL BE CONTINUED AT LAMTO (IVORY COAST) AND YURIMAGUAS (PERU); MORE SMALL-SCALE EXPERIMENTS WILL EVALUATE A RANGE OF SOIL-CROP-EARTHWORM INTERACTIONS IN MEXICO AND COSTA RICA (4 SOILS, 3 CROPS 3-5 EARTHWORM SPECIES): 4) DEVELOP EXPERIMENTATION AT A REAL SCALE TO EVALUATE THE PRACTICAL FEASIBILITY OF THE TECHNIQUE AT YURIMAGUAS WHERE PROMISING RESULTS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED AND SUITABLE CONDITIONS FOR AGRONOMIC EXPERIMENTATION ARE AVAILABLE; TWO OPTIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED I.E. A- THE DIRECT INTRODUCTION, JUST AFTER CLEARING OF THE FOREST, OF A MINIMUM QUANTI TY OF EARTWORMS PRODUCED IN LABORATORY CULTURES (60KG HA-1) IN THE ORIGINAL FOREST, ONE YEAR BEFORE CLEARING TO ALLOW NATURAL MULTIPLICATION OF POPULATIONS TO INCREASE BIOMASS UNTIL SUITALBE LEVELSL 5) CONSIDER THE APPLICATION TO THE REGENERATION OF DEGRADED SOILS;

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Coordinator

Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM)
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70-74 route d'Aulnay
93143 Bondy
France

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