Earthworms close up
Words by: James Godfrey-Faussett
— Lead Forest Maker at SUGi
Charles Darwin spent nearly 40 years studying earthworms and was credited with saying they were the number one most influential species in the history of our planet and that every particle of soil (on the planet) had passed through an earthworm at least once !
As earthworms meander and munch their way through the earth they aerate the soil, relieve compaction, move microorganisms around and the chemistry of their guts renders soil and plant matter into fertile humus, while boosting microbial life and aiding plant root formation.
Incredibly an acre of fertile soil can contain 2 to 3 million earthworms that are capable of moving 18 tonnes of soil around and producing upwards of 10 tonnes of castings per year!
Earthworms have no eyes or teeth, but process all sorts of soils and matter, mixing the soil with bacteria and enzymes that line their guts. Remarkably the soil that has passed through a worm can be 50% higher in organic matter than beforehand.
Children seem to have a curious fascination with earthworms- initially a bit suspicious but then it’s hands in the soil and up come the wiggly worms !
We sometimes add earthworms during the soil preparation stage, as much for the delight and giggling of the children involved as for the soil’s benefit.