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Earthworms promote the reduction of Fusarium biomass and deoxynivalenol content in wheat straw under field conditions
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Earthworms provide numerous ecosystem services within the context of Conservation Agriculture. Two species of earthworms, Lumbricus terrestris and Aporrectodea caliginosa, were field-tested to determine their impacts on decomposing Fusarium culmorum-infected and deoxynivalenol (DON)-contaminated wheat straw on the soil surface. Earthworms were inoculated into systems containing infected straw with high contamination levels of DON on non-infected straw for an 8 week period in Northern Germany. L. terrestris was able to significantly reduce the Fusarium biomass as well as the DON concentration compared to both A. caliginosa and control. This indicates that anecic detritivorous species of earthworms may be able to mitigate the risks, such as subsequent crop infection, of using crop residues in a CA system.