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Microbial populations, enzyme activities and nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium enrichment in earthworm casts and in the surrounding soil of a pineapple plantation

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Total populations of bacteria and fungi, dehydrogenase activity (as a measure of total potential microbial activity), and urease and phosphatase activities were determined in earthworm casts and surrounding laterite soils planted to pineapple. The casts contained higher microbial populations and enzyme activities than the soil. Except for fungal populations, statistically significant (P = 0.05) increases were found in all other parameters. Microbial populations and enzyme activities showed similar temporal trends with higher values in spring and summer and lower values in winter. The earthworm casts contained higher amounts of N, P, K and organic C than the soil (P = 0.05). Selective feeding by earthworms on organically rich substrates, which break down during passage through the gut, is likely to be responsible for the higher microbial populations and greater enzyme activity in the casts.

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Tiwari, S.C., Tiwari, B.K. & Mishra, R.R. Microbial populations, enzyme activities and nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium enrichment in earthworm casts and in the surrounding soil of a pineapple plantation. Biol Fert Soils 8, 178–182 (1989).

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