Long-term effect of a legume cover crop (Mucuna pruriens var. utilis) on the communities of soil macrofauna and nematofauna, under maize cultivation, in southern Benin

Abstract : In southern Benin like in other tropical areas, natural fallows, which were traditionally used in order to improve soil fertility, are no longer possible in a context of high population pressure. Many studies have underlined the advantages of legume cover crops to ensure the sustainability of plant productivity: increase in soil organic matter content, increase in crop yields, improvement of the water regime of soils, and decrease in runoff and erosion. Nevertheless the mechanisms responsible for these modifications are not completely understood. The characterisation of biological activity and diversity in a soil can help in understanding the dynamics of soil structure and the flux of nutrients. For this purpose, the density, diversity and functional composition of soil nematodes and soil macroinvertebrates were measured in different treatments under maize cultivation. The three treatments were: (1) a pure traditional maize crop without any fertilisation (T); (2) a maize crop with a mineral fertiliser (NPK); and (3) a maize crop inter-cropped with Mucuna pruriens var. utifs (M). Soil in plot M presented different biological properties when compared with T and NPK: higher macrofauna density (especially termites, earthworms, millipedes, centipedes) and biomass (especially earthworms and termites), higher density of facultative phytophagous, bacterial-feeding and predatory nematodes, and lower density of obligatory phytophagous (Criconemella, Scutellonema and Meloidogyne) nematodes. The modification of the composition and activity of soil biota under Mucuna might partly explain the potential of Mucuna for soil restoration. (c) 2006 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 6:39:42 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 1:24:32 AM

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E. Blanchart, C. Villenave, A. Viallatoux, B. Barthes, C. Girardin, et al.. Long-term effect of a legume cover crop (Mucuna pruriens var. utilis) on the communities of soil macrofauna and nematofauna, under maize cultivation, in southern Benin. European Journal of Soil Biology, Elsevier, 2006, 42, pp.S136-S144. ⟨bioemco-00175375⟩

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