ECOWORM - Erosion COntrol in arable land through the management of earthWORM communities


Intensive practices of conventional West-European agriculture (e.g. cultivation, use of pesticides and fertilizers) are more and more recognized as the drivers behind land degradation problems (e.g. soil erosion). Less intensive production systems, like conservation agriculture and organic farming, present themselves as more sustainable alternatives. Because of their favourable effects on soil structure and nutrient cycling, earthworms – or ecosystem engineers as they are sometimes called – can take up an important role in the ecological functioning of the latter.

The aim of this project is to build a better knowledge of the soil fauna, in particular the earthworm fauna, for the benefit of a more sustainable arable farming. The coupling of functional biodiversity and soil conservation should lead to a more source-based tackling of current erosion problems in Flemish loamy soils.

At the end of the project a greater insight in the roles of earthworms in erosion-prone arable land will be established. This knowledge will be built on both observational and experimental research in situ and in the laboratory so that: quantitative relations can be established between agricultural practices (crop rotation, soil cultivation, fertilizers, biocides, crop residues, cover crops and field margins) and the occurrence of earthworms and erosion variables quantitative effects of earthworm populations on soil-physical characteristics and erosion variables can be estimated

The most important practical project outcome will be the translation of acquired scientific insights in a toolkit for the farmer. This is an illustrated technical guide with: background information on earthworm functions and; a description of a range of management techniques with their positive and negative effects on earthworm populations and erosion


earthworms, soil conservation, functional biodiversity, zero-tillage, erosion, soil fauna


National {Cooperation status}
Belgium {Geographical scope}
Agricultural {Habitat type}
Dry and Sub-humid Lands {Habitat type}
Ecosystem Services {Tags}


Name Role Amount
Strategic Basic Research unknown


Name Role Start End
Hermy, Martin member 2005-01-01 2009-01-01
Muys, Bart member 2005-01-01 2009-01-01
Valckx, Jan member 2005-01-01 2009-01-01


Name Role Start End
Forest Ecology and Management member 2005-01-01 2009-01-01

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform