Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wormholes -- Yet Another Avenue For Pollution?

Date:
September 20, 2005
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
There's no doubt that earthworms benefit agriculture by their tunneling. But a recent study has shown that their burrows might also be funneling liquid manure--and possibly other contaminants--to underground drainage pipes. These, in turn, flush contaminated water onward, bypassing normal filtering and cleansing by soil.

To see whether wormholes funnel manure to drain pipes, ARS scientists trace wormhole connections to pipes by blowing smoke through pipes and watching it pour out of surface wormholes.
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Smeltzer

There's no doubt that earthworms benefit agriculture by theirtunneling. But a recent study has shown that their burrows might alsobe funneling liquid manure--and possibly other contaminants--tounderground drainage pipes. These, in turn, flush contaminated wateronward, bypassing normal filtering and cleansing by soil.

Related Articles


Agricultural Research Service soil scientist Martin J. Shipitalo, atthe ARS North Appalachian Experimental Watershed Laboratory inCoshocton, Ohio, and Frank Gibbs, with USDA's Natural ResourcesConservation Service in Findlay, Ohio, did the study in no-till fieldswith liquid manure applied.

They found that water moved through wormholes twice as fast when theholes were within two feet of drainage pipes. The pipes providedoutlets that helped the water flow along, instead of slowly percolatingthrough small openings between soil particles.

The study suggests that the most practical solution is for farmersto install shutoff valves so they can turn off drainage during liquidmanure application and for a short time afterwards. Some Ohio farmersalready do this, with cost-sharing from the Ohio Department of NaturalResources. Another solution would be to install catch basins at theedges of fields to capture water draining from pipes and hold it forreuse. Both would help downstream water quality.

Worms--especially nightcrawlers--are especially attracted to no-tillfields in areas that require drainage. They like the combination ofno-till, drainage pipes, and the liquid manure farmers often apply tofields.

The worms eat the leftover parts of crops left on the surface byno-till, which skips plowing before planting, and they see the manureas food, too. The drainage pipes aerate the soil nicely, loosening itup for easy digging, especially the soil used to cover the drainagepipes. Plus, the crop residue offers them shelter, and with no-tillthere's no fear of a plow breaking up their tunnels.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Wormholes -- Yet Another Avenue For Pollution?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050920083701.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2005, September 20). Wormholes -- Yet Another Avenue For Pollution?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050920083701.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Wormholes -- Yet Another Avenue For Pollution?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050920083701.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins