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While there is still a lot that scientists don’t quite understand about Earth Worms, it is widely known and accepted that they are beneficial in every sense from waste reduction by scrap feeding, to harmonising the microbiome of the soil and plant Rhizosphere.
So, while the code may not have been cracked just yet (meaning all that “good stuff” is – so far – unable to be replicated in a laboratory setting), by their activity in the soil, earthworms offer many benefits: increased nutrient availability, better drainage, and a more stable soil structure, all of which help improve farm productivity.
Improved nutrient availability
Worm’s feed on plant debris (dead roots, leaves, grasses, manure) and soil. Their digestive system concentrates the organic and mineral constituents in the food they eat, so their casts are richer in available nutrients than the soil around them. Nitrogen in the casts is readily available to plants. Worm bodies decompose rapidly, further contributing to the nitrogen content of soil.
New Zealand research shows that worm casts release four times more phosphorus than does surface soil. Worms often leave their nutrient-rich casts in their tunnels, providing a favourable environment for plant root growth. The tunnels also allow roots to penetrate deeper into the soil, where they can reach extra moisture and nutrients. Earthworm tunnelling can help incorporate surface applied lime and fertiliser into the soil.
The extensive channelling and burrowing by earthworms loosens and aerates the soil and improves soil drainage. Soils with earthworms drain up to 10 times faster than soils without earthworms. In zero-till soils, where worm populations are high, water infiltration can be up to 6 times greater than in cultivated soils. Earthworm tunnels also act, under the influence of rain, irrigation and gravity, as passageways for lime and other material. Improved soil structure Earthworm casts cement soil particles together in water-stable aggregates. These are able to store moisture without dispersing. Research has shown that earthworms which leave their casts on the soil surface rebuild topsoil. In favourable conditions they can bring up about 50 t/ha annually, enough to form a layer 5 mm deep. One trial found worms built an 18-cm thick topsoil in 30 years.
Research into earthworms in New Zealand and Tasmania found earthworms introduced to worm-free perennial pastures produced an initial increase of 70–80% in pasture growth, with a long-term 25% increase: this raised stock carrying capacity. Researchers also found that the most productive pastures in the worm trials had up to 7 million worms per hectare, weighing 2.4 tonnes. There was a close correlation between pasture productivity and total worm weight, with some 170 kg of worms for every tonne of annual dry matter production.
Source: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/ You can buy Stimulator here
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