Earthworm species number in their thousands and, as unappealing as they may be to some, they are a necessary part of the soil and play a vital role in the health of plants.
Earthworms work tirelessly beneath our feet to produce rich castings, called vermicast, which are the essential building blocks of soil.
We rely on them to mine the soil and recycle nutrients to provide the right environment for plants to grow.
Compost worms can also be used to recycle kitchen scraps, and farming worms is an ideal method of recycling.
This type of worm is different to an earthworm as it lives closer to the surface, eats fresher organic materials and likes wetter conditions.
Worms improve the structure of the soil and increase the air supply in it. This makes it possible for bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects and micro and macro-organisms to survive.
Earthworms burrow into the soil and break down root mats, opening up tunnels for oxygen and water to penetrate the soil.
Coated with nitrate-rich mucus, the roots of plants quickly take advantage of these tunnels, getting nutrition from the mucus.
Earthworm castings are far richer in minerals than the earth they ingest and, when deposited into the soil, act as a fertiliser.
Did you know?
Aristotle called earthworms the intestines of the soil and Charles Darwin wrote, ‘Of all animals, few have contributed so much to the development of the world, as we know it, as earthworms.’