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The impact of conventional and organic farming on soil biodiversity conservation: a case study on termites in the long-term farming systems comparison trials in Kenya

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Anyango, John; Bautze, David; Fiaboe, Komi K.M.; Lagat, Zipporah; Muriuki, Anne; Stöckli, Sibylle; Riedel, Judith; Onyambu, Gladys; Musyoka, Martha W.; Karanja, Edward N. and Adamtey, Noah (2020) The impact of conventional and organic farming on soil biodiversity conservation: a case study on termites in the long-term farming systems comparison trials in Kenya. BMC Ecology, 20, p. 13.

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Online at: https://bmcecol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12898-020-00282-x

Summary

A long-term experiment at two trial sites in Kenya has been on-going since 2007 to assess the effect of organic and conventional farming systems on productivity, profitability and sustainability. During these trials the presence of significant numbers of termites (Isoptera) was observed. Termites are major soil macrofauna and within literature they are either depict as ‘pests’ or as important indicator for environmental sustainability. The extent by which termites may be managed to avoid crop damage, but improve sustainability of farming systems is worthwhile to understand. Therefore, a study on termites was added to the long-term experiments in Kenya. The objectives of the study were to quantify the effect of organic (Org) and conventional (Conv) farming systems at two input levels (low and high) on the abundance, incidence, diversity and foraging activities of termites.
The results showed higher termite abundance, incidence, activity and diversity in Org-High compared to Conv-High, Conv-Low and Org-Low. However, the termite presence in each system was also dependent on soil depth, trial site and cropping season. During the experiment, nine different termite genera were identified, that belong to three subfamilies: (i) Macrotermitinae (genera: Allodontotermes, Ancistrotermes, Macrotermes, Microtermes, Odontotermes and Pseudocanthotermes), (ii) Termitinae (Amitermes and Cubitermes) and (iii) Nasutitiermitinae (Trinervitermes).
We hypothesize that the presence of termites within the different farming systems might be influenced by the types of input applied, the soil moisture content and the occurrence of natural enemies. Our findings further demonstrate that the organic high input system attracts termites, which are an important, and often beneficial, component of soil fauna. This further increases the potential of such systems in enhancing sustainable agricultural production in Kenya.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Farming systems, Organic farming, Long-term trial, Soil macrofaunam, Termite abundance, Termite diversity, Termite activity
Subjects: Farming Systems
Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International Cooperation
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Plant Protection and Biodiversity
Kenya
DOI:10.1186/s12898-020-00282-x
Related Links:https://systems-comparison.fibl.org/
Deposited By: Bautze, David
ID Code:37395
Deposited On:02 Mar 2020 10:28
Last Modified:02 Mar 2020 10:28
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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