EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Termite mounds in Cambodian paddy fields. Are they always kept for improving soil quality?

Ratha Muon1,2, Chenda Lai1, Eve Bureau-Point3, François Chassagne4, Frank Wieringa5, Jacques Berger5, Kimchhin Sok6, Martine Audibert7, Pascal Podwojewski2, Sebastien Marchand7, Vannak Ann1, and Pascal Jouquet2
Ratha Muon et al.
  • 1WAE Research Unit, Institute of Technology of Cambodia. Russian Federation Blvd, PO Box 86, 120404 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • 2IRD, Sorbonne University, University Paris Est Creteil, CNRS, INRA, Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences (iEES-Paris), F-75005 Paris, France
  • 3UMR 8562 Centre Norbert Elias, CNRS, EHESS, UAPV, AMU, France
  • 4UMR152 PharmaDev, Université de Toulouse, IRD, UPS, France
  • 5UMR QualiSud, IRD, Montpellier, France
  • 6AERD Research Unit, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • 7UMR6587 CERDI, Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, France


The utilization of termite mounds for the improvement of soil fertility is a worldwide practice and usually explained by the specific properties of this biogenic material. In Cambodia, farmers also use termite mound soils as amendments with the aim to improve the fertility of paddy fields. The first objective of this study was, therefore, to describe the physical and chemical properties of this material and, consequently, to determine its potential for improving soil fertility. A second objective was to consider farmer’s perception and to quantify the diversity of services provided by termite mounds. We confirmed the specific soil properties of termite mounds but showed that their positive influence on soil chemical fertility and water retention are only significant in very sandy soil (>80% sand) while they remain limited in less sandy soil (~40 and 60% of sand). However, termite mounds are considered useful by farmers independently of the soil condition, mostly because this soil material is considered to positively increase soil fertility but also because they host a specific biodiversity which can be used for medicinal purposes or because consumed, then increasing population livelihood. Our work shows the discrepancy between the perception of farmers and the real impact of termite mounds on soil fertility as well as the diversity of services delivered by biodiversity in paddy fields. 

How to cite: Muon, R., Lai, C., Bureau-Point, E., Chassagne, F., Wieringa, F., Berger, J., Sok, K., Audibert, M., Podwojewski, P., Marchand, S., Ann, V., and Jouquet, P.: Termite mounds in Cambodian paddy fields. Are they always kept for improving soil quality?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-55,, 2022.

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