Ecology and management of earthworm casting on sports turf

Paige E. Boyle, Michael D. Richardson, Mary C. Savin, Douglas E. Karcher, Daniel A. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Earthworm activity is beneficial in most natural and agricultural systems, but excessive earthworm casting is a problem on sports fields worldwide. Expulsion of soil-rich earthworm fecal matter, or casts, as mounds of soil on the turf canopy can muddy the surface, reduce photosynthesis, and lead to thinning, weed invasion and surface softening. Casts affect ball roll on sports fields, cause fouling of maintenance equipment, and dull mower blades. Build-up of cast material on reel mower units can affect height and quality of cut. Casting activity is dependent on environmental conditions such as soil texture, temperature, moisture, pH, and organic matter. Response to environmental conditions varies by species. Management options are limited, because no pesticides are specifically labeled for earthworm control at this time, and cultural control methods such as soil modification, turfgrass clipping removal, and sand topdressing have limited and inconsistent efficacy. Products containing plant-derived saponins and irritants show promise for earthworm management. Pest management practices to mitigate excessive earthworm casting will likely need to be species-specific, but limited knowledge of earthworm identification by end-users further inhibits the efficacy of control measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2071-2078
Number of pages8
JournalPest Management Science
Volume75
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society of Chemical Industry

Keywords

  • Lumbricidae
  • Megascolecidae
  • cultural control
  • vermicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

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