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Impact of a no-till with mulch soil management strategy on soil macrofauna communities in a cotton cropping system

Brévault T., Bikay S., Maldes J.M., Naudin K.. 2007. Soil and Tillage Research, 97 : p. 140-149.

DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2007.09.006

Systematic exportation, burning of crop residues and decreases in fallow periods have led to a large-scale depletion of soil organic matter and degradation of soil fertility in the cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cropping systems of Cameroon. The present study tested whether soil management systems based on a no-till with mulch approach intercropped with cereals, which has been shown to restore cotton production, could boost the biological activity of soil macrofauna. The impacts of no tillage with grass mulch (Brachiaria ruziziensis Germain and Eward) (NTG) and no tillage with legume mulch (Crotalaria retusa L. or Mucuna pruriens Bak.) (NTL) on the abundance, diversity and functional role of soil invertebrates were evaluated during the third year of implementation in northern Cameroon (Windé and Zouana), compared to conventional tillage (CT) and no tillage (NT) without mulch. Macrofauna were sampled from two 30 cm x 30 cm soil cubes (including litter) at the seeding stage of cotton, and 30 days later. The collected organisms were grouped into detritivores, herbivores and predators. Examination of the soil macrofauna patterns revealed that the abundance and diversity of soil arthropods were significantly higher in NTG and NTL than in CT plots (+103 and +79%, respectively), while that of NT plots was in-between the no tillage groups and CT (+37%). Regarding major ecological functions, herbivores and predators were significantly more abundant in NTG and NTL plots than in CT plots at Windé (+168 and +180%, respectively), while detritivores, predators and herbivores were significantly more abundant in the NTG plots than in CT plots at Zouana (+92, +517 and +116%, respectively). Formicidae (53.6%), Termitidae (24.7%) and Lumbricidae (9.4%) were the most abundant detritivores while Julidae (46.1%), Coleoptera larvae (22.1%) and Pyrrhocoridae or Reduviidae (11.8%) were the dominant herbivores. The major constituents of the predatory group were Araneae (33.8%), Carabidae (24.6%), Staphylinidae (15.7%) and Scolopendridae (10.3%). Direct seeding mulch-based systems, NTG and NTL, favoured the establishment of diverse macrofaunal communities in the studied cotton cropping system. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Mots-clés : gossypium hirsutum; cameroun

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