Earthworms perform many essential and beneficial functions in the soil ecosystem, including soil structure improvement and nutrient mineralization. However the earthworms’ ability to perform these crucial functions can be suppressed when they are exposed to toxic substances.
A Baylor University geology researcher, along with scientists from Rice University, tested a new soil additive called biochar for its effects on the common earthworm. The researchers found that wetting the biochar before applying it to the soil mitigates the harmful effects of biochar to earthworms and the earthworms’ avoidance of soil with biochar.
“Because of the high potential for widespread application, it is essential to proactively assess and mitigate any unintended consequences associated with biochar soil enrichment,” said study co-author Dr. Bill Hockaday, assistant professor of geology at Baylor. “The results show us that depending on rainfall patterns and irrigation, wetting biochar either before or immediately after soil application would be needed to prevent the disappearance of earthworms and enable their beneficial effects on plants.”
The results appeared on-line in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry.
Biochar is of increasing interest because of concerns about climate change caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is a byproduct of renewable energy and fuel production from plant materials like forest wastes and crop residues. Biochar is a form of charcoal that enhances soil fertility and plant growth by increasing soil water and nutrient retention, and can store carbon in the soil for hundreds of years.
The researchers found that earthworms avoided soil enriched with dry biochar, and when they were exposed, their weight decreased. After performing several different tests, the researchers found that insufficient moisture was a key factor affecting earthworm behavior in soil enriched with dry biochar. The researchers also found that biochar did not affect earthworm reproduction.
“Most importantly, we are the first to demonstrate that biochar did not stress the immune system of a very sensitive soil organism,” said Dong Li, study co-author and a graduate student at Rice. “This is an important step forward for a very promising strategy in combating climate change.”
Matt Pene, Assistant Director of Media Communications, 254-710-4656
Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.
“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.04.2018 | Life Sciences
18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences