Why are Earthworms important?
Earthworms Churn the Soil and Make it Porous
As earthworms eat their way through soil, they break up hardened soil.
Earthworms Improve Water Infiltration Rates
The maze of tunnels create as earthworms eat their way through soil allows water as well as air to better mix with the soil.
Earthworms Neutralize Soil pH
Soil pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the soil is. A pH of 7 is considered neutral–neither acid nor base. Soil that has been digested by an earthworm is chemically changed so that its pH is at or near 7 when it leaves the earthworm’s body as poop (casts).
Earthworms Make Soil More Nutritious For Plants
Soil which has been digested by earthworms is chemically changed so that the earthworm’s waste contains nutrients in a form that are easily used by plants.
Earthworms Encourage Needed Soil Microorganisms
Nitrogen fixing bacteria are needed to change the nitrogen in air to a form that plants can use. These bacteria are more numerous around the sides of the earthworm burrows.
Earthworm Mucous Encourages Root Growth
The mucous lining of an earthworm’s burrows are excellent sources of nutrients as well as a good place for roots to grow.
Earthworms Produce Nutrient Rich Fertilizer
The digestive system of earthworms is constantly taking in what is considered litter and garbage and changing it into a rich fertilizer needed to grow healthy plants.
Charles Darwin calculated that in ten years, if all the worm casting from one acre of soil were spread over the acre, it would be two inches thick (5 cm). Now that is a lot of worm poop!
See the video for information about how earthworms are being used to clean soil of toxic waste.