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Root Herbivores in an Orchard System: Assessing the Influence of Root Herbivory and Pest Management on Root Dynamics, Soil Fauna, and Soil Carbon Pools

Lewis, E.E. and G. Stevens . 2008. Kearney Foundation of Soil Science


The central objective of our study was to assess the influence of root herbivory on root dynamics and major components of soil carbon cycles. A closely related objective is to assess the influence of root herbivore management (chemical pesticides and biological control) on roots, soil fauna (both root herbivores and non-target fauna), and soil carbon cycles. This field study focused on spatial and temporal variability in root herbivory within a single orchard-herbivore system and attempted to identify common influences of these fauna on plant growth and soil-ecosystem function. We are among a sm all number of labs world-wide employing the novel mini-rhizotron technique for the non-destructive study of root dynamics and carbon cycling in agricultural systems. The system is generally used in lighter soils, sandy-loams. The heavy clay soil in our experimental plots presented us with an opportunity to design tools and protocols uniquely suited to this soil type.