Opening a can of worms
15th October, 2008
It might be fair to say that the earthworm is a farmer’s best friend.
Farmers attempt to make their land more productive with the use of fertilisers and the latest equipment for tilling the soil, spending huge amounts of money.
The earthworm, on the other hand, achieves the same effect - albeit on a far slower and smaller scale. Earthworm manure is rich stuff, however. By the time the worm has munched through soil, plant material and ‘organic litter’, many minerals that were previously unavailable to plant roots become available.
Earthworms play a vital role in both the ecology of soil and the agricultural environment. As Gilbert White observed in his journals, published as The Natural History of Selbourne (1789): “Worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation by boring, perforating, and loosening the soil, and rendering it pervious to rains and the fibres of plants; by drawing straws and stalks of leaves and twigs into it; and most of all, by throwing up such infinite numbers of lumps of earth called worm-casts, which, being their excrement, is a fine manure for grain and grass.”
Indeed. And it is the role of the humble earthworm in the ecology of the farmer’s field that...
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