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The Benefits of Earthworms

1. The constant tunneling of earthworms allows the free passage of air into and out of the soil.

2. Worms' burrowing also breaks up the hard pan and plow sole created by mechanical tillage. 

3. By eating organic materials such as manure, leaves, grass and decaying wood, earthworms break them up at a much faster rate than would otherwise occur.

4. Nutrient-rich worm burrows allow plant roots to develop faster, thus making stronger and healthier plants less susceptible to fungus, disease, or pests.

5. Rainfall is better able to enter the soil when lots of earthworms are burrowing. This eliminates the water erosion and puddling which can kill young plants.

6. In the case of Lumbricus Terrestris and about 50 other species of earthworms which have similar habits, the digging of deep semi-permanent burrows brings mineral rich sub-soils to the surface in reach of plant roots.

7. A large population of worms will attract robins among other species of birds. While robins will prey on the worms in the early months when worms are near the surface, the birds will turn to feeding on insect pests later in the season.

8. Probably the most important contribution made by earthworms is the way they homogenize minerals and organic materials into a rich black humus. Just as mixing compost into clay or sandy soils improves the soil texture, the activities of earthworms are even more effective. When worms ingest organics they also have to take in small bits of grit just as birds do to digest their food. When this is expelled it is a nutrient rich manure known as a "cast". The structural integrity of each cast is such that it does not fall apart readily. Earthworms casts improve soil structure and porosity and lessen the impacts of erosion from wind and water.

When earthworms are present in good numbers, tillage of a field can be kept to a minimum. Less tillage means moisture conservation, fuel savings, and less equipment expenditures and repairs.


Source: Ron Hamilton, Prince George, British Columbia


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