Feature: Earthworms May Be Critical to Planetary Health and Well-being
Monday, October 3, 2011 9:28 PM
To: Environmental Ecology News
Cc: Sustainability Planning News
From: Yahoo News Groups
Date: Mon, 3 Oct[masked]:19:39 -0400
Subject: Feature: Earthworms May Be Critical to Planetary Health
WORMS WILL SAVE PLANET
The average worm weighs less than half an ounce
Sunday October 2,2011
By Stuart Winter
EARTHWORMS have been burrowing their way through the ground for 300
million years but now they have become the secret weapon in the war
against ?climate change.
Instead of just wriggling around and providing food for birds,
?earthworms can help prevent ?flooding and droughts, a major four-year
Floods and droughts are caused by cycles of dry weather and
monsoon-type rains, said by some experts to be caused by global
And this is where the humble earthworm can help the planet.
The average worm weighs less than half an ounce but it is able to eat
through a third of its own weight in soil a day.
When worms tunnel the soil absorbs more water - meaning that in their
millions worms can turn the ground into one vast sponge soaking up the
water in floods but retaining it during dry spells.
Now farmers can play a vital part in combating the devastation caused
by floods and droughts by encouraging earthworms, according to experts
who ?carried out the scientific study in Leicestershire.
When fields are not ploughed, the soil condition is improved
?naturally by the tunnelling of ?earthworms
The research by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Society and
supported by ?Heritage ?Lottery Funding will help to develop
techniques to combat these two threats to the land.
Dr Chris Stoate, head of research at the society's ?Allerton Project
farm, said: "Our research shows that farmers can make a huge
difference in helping to ?mitigate the effects of ?climate change.
"When fields are not ploughed, the soil condition is improved
?naturally by the tunnelling of ?earthworms, which absorb water at a
rate of four to 10 times that of fields which are without worm
"This in turn helps the soil to take up water during storms and
to retain it during drought. It also helped to buffer our stream from
flooding during heavy rain."
One of the key ?recommendations in the study is for farmers to cut
back on traditional ploughing to ?harness the power of the army of the
eco-friendly microbes and earthworms that live in the soil.
This then increases the capacity of the ground to take up water
?during storms and then to retain it during droughts.
The worm has proven to be one of nature's great survivors and also to
be a vital player in the environment, breaking down soil, recycling
nutrients and being an important part of the farmland food chain.
Birds as varied as buzzards, owls, and ?kestrels all feed on
Some worms can live 10 years and although they have no teeth, arms,
eyes and legs they can move 27 feet per hour underground.
Farming Minister Jim Paice ?welcomed the study. He said: "If we
use and manage our natural assets in a sustainable way, they will
?continue to meet not only our needs such as for energy, sustenance,
fresh water and fertile soils, but also the needs of future
*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for
research and educational purposes only. ***
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