Searching for Worms

Searching for Worms

One of the easiest and simplest ways to assess the health of your soil is to dig up, count and weigh the earthworms that you find.  So we did just that.  We took a section of soil measuring 20cm wide, 20cm across and 30cm deep and tipped it into a container before sorting through the soil and removing all of the worms that we could find.

We then counted and weighed the worms to see what and how many were present.  The magic number is to try and find 16 earthworms in a spadeful of soil.  At this density there should be about 400m2.  We repeated this 4 times across each field to get an average number of worms per soil sample.  We did this on the top of Bredon Hill in a field that has been under no-till for the last four years

We also sampled one of our sand and gravel fields, which was last cultivated in September 2014 to check on the numbers in that field.  The results are interesting to say the least, but not wholly unsurprising.

Field No. of worms Worms/m2 Worms/ha
Shaldons 26 668 6,687,500
Bottom Heath 10 268 2,687,500

Worms love to feed on the organic matter or decaying plant material so the more of this we can add to the fields the healthier our worm population will become.  Worms are important as they create natural fertilisers, aerate the soil (as they burrow) and actually restructure the soil by ingesting it and excreting it in the form of worm casts.  Happy worms equals happy soil.

Find out more at the Earthworm Society or Opal Explore Nature