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Impact of two root systems, earthworms and mycorrhizae on the physical properties of an unstable silt loam Luvisol and plant production
- Kohler-Milleret, Roxane, Le Bayon, Renée-Claire, Chenu, Claire, Gobat, Jean-Michel, Boivin, Pascal
- Plant and soil 2013 v.370 no.1-2 pp. 251-265
- Allium porrum, Allolobophora chlorotica, Glomus intraradices, Petunia hybrida, aggregate stability, earthworms, mycorrhizae, root systems, roots, silt, soil aggregates, soil analysis, soil types
- BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Soil organisms are known to engineer the soil physical properties, but their impact is difficult to assess and poorly documented. Shrinkage analysis has a good potential for such assessment. This study analyses the effects of mycorrhizae (Glomus intraradices), earthworms (Allolobophora chlorotica) and two plants, Allium porrum (leek) and Petunia hybrida (petunia), on the physical properties of an unstable loamy Luvisol, as well as the biological interactions between the soil organisms. METHODS: In addition to soil organism biomass, shrinkage analysis and soil aggregate stability analysis were used to characterize the soil physical properties. RESULTS: The soil aggregate stability, specific volume and structural pores volumes were increased with plant roots compared to control. The drilling effect of roots could not explain the pore volume increase, which was several orders of magnitude larger than the volume of the roots. Leek had larger impact on volumes while petunia mostly increased soil aggregate stability. Mycorrhizae increased the soil stability and the soil volume. Earthworms alone decreased the pore volumes at any pore size, and plant roots mitigated this. CONCLUSIONS: Our results highlight (1) the large impact of soil biota on soil physical properties, (2) that their separated effects can either combine or mitigate each other and (3) that the observed changes are varying in intensity according to soil type and plant type.