Full TGIF Record # 19358
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Author(s):Potter, Daniel A.; Powell, A. J.; Smith, M. S.
Title:Degradation of turfgrass thatch by earthworms and other soil fauna
Source:Kentucky Turfgrass Research. 1988, p. 32-36.
Publishing Information:Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service
Series:Progress Report 319
Keywords:TIC Keywords: Thatch; Thatch control; Earthworms; Microorganisms; Thatch decomposition; Mineral soils; Organic matter; Poa pratensis; Chlordane; Carbofuran
Abstract/Contents:Two tests initiated in 1986 to determine if earthworms and other soil invertebrates contribute to thatch breakdown. Several hundred pieces of thatch (7.5 x 12 cm) were enclosed in nylon mesh bags having different sized openings and buried under a Kentucky bluegrass turf. The mesh sizes were selected to 1) admit all invertebrates including earthworms, 2) to exclude earthworms but to admit smaller invertebrates, or 3) to exclude all decomposers except microorganisms. In the other experiment, pieces of thatch were buried in identical, large mesh bags in plots that were either rich in earthworms, or from which earthworms had been eliminated by application of insecticides (chlordane & carbofuran). Thatch pieces were dug up every 3-4 months to compare the rates of breakdown in samples with and without access by soil invertebrates. Results on microbrial respiration, incorporation of mineral soil, and net loss of organic matter are provided in figures and tables. The most striking effect of earthworms was the incorporation of large amounts of mineral soil into the thatch matrix. Net loss of organic matter was also much faster in the presence of earthworms than when earthworms were excluded by the mesh bags or with insecticides. The structure of the thatch was nearly unchanged without earthworms, but the pieces were broken apart and dispersed when earthworms were present. Moreover, level of microbial activity were more than twice as high in thatch from plots with earthworms than in thatch from plots where worms were physically or chemically excluded. These results show that by rapidly incorporating large amounts of soil into the thatch matrix, earthworms perform a function similar to topdressing. They also confirm that earthworms play a major role in breaking apart and mixing thatch into the soil.
See Also:See also 1986 research report in Kentucky Turfgrass Research, no. 303 1986, p. 31-32, R=19486. R=19486

See also 1987 research report in Kentucky Turfgrass Research, no. 313 1987, p. 23-24, R=13685. R=13685

See also related article, "Pesticide effects on earthworm populations and thatch breakdown in Kentucky bluegrass turf," Kentucky Turfgrass Research, no. 319 1988, p. 37-39, R=19359. R=19359
Pictures: b/w
See Also:Other items relating to: BIOTHATCH
ASA/CSSA/SSSA Citation (Crop Science-Like - may be incomplete):
Potter, D. A., A. J. Powell, and M. S. Smith. 1988. Degradation of turfgrass thatch by earthworms and other soil fauna. KY. Turfgrass Res. p. 32-36.
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