Management of plant communities on set-aside land and its effects on earthworm communities

  • Published source details Gormsen D., Hedlund K., Korthals G.W., Mortimer S.R., Pizl V., Smilauerova M. & Sugg E. (2004) Management of plant communities on set-aside land and its effects on earthworm communities. European Journal of Soil Biology, 40, 123-128.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A replicated controlled study of former agricultural land in four European countries (Gormsen et al. 2004) (same study as (Leps et al. 2007)) found that the abundance of earthworms (Lumbricidae) was higher in sown and naturally colonized grassland than in an agricultural rotation in two of four European countries. Numbers and biomass of earthworms were significantly higher in the restoration plots (Netherlands: high plant diversity plots 43 individuals/m², low diversity plots 52, naturally colonized plots 95; Sweden: high 254, low 289, natural 169) than in the agricultural rotation treatment (Netherlands: 5, Sweden: 15 individuals/m²). In the Netherlands, numbers were significantly higher in the naturally colonized plots than in the sown treatments. Differences between treatments did not differ at the UK or Czech Republic sites. In Sweden, species diversity was lower in the agricultural plots (2 vs 3-5 species) and worm biomass increased with legume biomass. In the UK worm biomass increased with grass biomass. In each country there were five blocks each with four treatment plots (10 x 10 m): seed sown to give high (15 species) and low diversity (four species), natural colonization, and a continued agricultural rotation treatment. A target plant community was also sampled. Earthworms were collected within 30 minutes from 4 to 5 squares in each plot (July or August 1998), identified to species or genus and wet weight recorded. Vegetation was sampled within 12 permanent subplots in each plot.


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