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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Anecic Earthworms: a Keysone Species in Land Application of Waste Organic By-Products

Author
item Adler, Paul

Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 1999
Publication Date: August 1, 1999
Citation: Adler, P.R. 1999. Anecic earthworms: a keysone species in land application of waste organic by-products. [abstract]. Ecological Society of America, August 8-12, 1999, Spokane, Washington.

Technical Abstract: In the United States, "dry" or lagoon storage followed by land application of manure has been the standard practice. Currently, however, several fac- tors are driving the interest in bioprocessing animal manure. Elimination of atmospheric emission of undesirable gases, ground water contaminaation, and surface runoff are rationale behind plans to phase-out lagoons. A value-added approach is also being investigated to utilize manure as a re- source, and recoup additional treatment costs allowing distribution further from sites of excess manure production. This paper describes a soil system for waste organic byproduct managaement, which mimics the natural soil eco- system using its full biodiversity of micro-organisms and fauna. It employs all the major ecological groups of earthworms, which are complementary in bioprocessing waste byproducts. Anecic earthworms are the keystone species, which modify the soil environment allowing high organic loading rates coin- -cident with high hydraulic loading rates. Unlike composting which only use micor-organism to stabilize the waste organic byproducts, greater soil bio- diversity is employed, thereby reducing farm labor needed to mix and aerate. Sustainable organic loading rates of 100-120 kg/m2/y have been observed, and at lower organic loading rates, sustainable hydraulic loading rates of 0-.5 cm/h have been achieved. The resulting soil has both a high specific surface area and infiltratability.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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