(1) Background: Strategies aimed at managing freshwater eutrophication should be based on practices that consider cropland invertebrates, climatic change, and soil nutrient cycling. Specifically, detritivores play a crucial role in the biogeochemical processes of soil through their consumptive and burrowing activities. Here, we evaluated the effectiveness of increasing detritivore abundance as a strategy for nutrient management under varied rainfall. (2) Methods: We manipulated soil macroinvertebrate abundance and rainfall amount in an agricultural mesocosms. We then measured the phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon levels within the soil, corn, invertebrates, and soil solution. (3) Results: Increasing detritivore abundance in our soil significantly increased corn biomass by 2.49 g (p < 0.001), reduced weed growth by 18.2% (p < 0.001), and decreased soil solution nitrogen and total organic carbon (p < 0.05) and volume by 31.03 mL (p < 0.001). Detritivore abundance also displayed a significant interaction effect with rainfall treatment to influence soil total P (p = 0.0019), total N (p < 0.001), and total C (p = 0.0146). (4) Conclusions: Soil detritivores play an important role in soil nutrient cycling and soil health. Incorporating soil macroinvertebrate abundance into management strategies for agricultural soil may increase soil health of agroecosystems, preserve freshwater ecosystems, and protect the valuable services they both provide for humans.
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Lindsey-Robbins, Josephine; Vázquez-Ortega, Angélica; McCluney, Kevin; and Pelini, Shannon, "Effects of Detritivores on Nutrient Dynamics and Corn Biomass in Mesocosms" (2019). Earth, Environment and Society Faculty Publications. 12.