Exploring Earthworms and Soil Compaction
Walking to my car this morning, I was forced to step over “drowned earthworms” scattered on the sidewalk and driveway, following the night’s heavy rain. I would expect an even higher number of dead earthworms from soils that do not have very good water drainage. My thought was that the rainwater fills up the available pore spaces and could drown the worms. Since earthworms breathe through their skin and need moisture to do that, would too much water be a problem? Would it force them to “come up for air?
April Showers bring May Flowers…. and Roaming Earthworms
According to some scientists, the biggest reason that earthworms come to the surface during heavy rain is not to avoid drowning but instead to travel farther during “worm migration”.1 On the other hand, when soils get very dry (drought-like), earthworms are known to travel deeper into the soil where more moisture exists, reducing their migration efforts.
Compaction has a negative effect on Earthworm populations
Soil compaction is one of the biggest reasons that soils do not have good drainage and low microbial activity. Other reasons are high clay content and low soil organic matter (SOM). When soils are compacted, the abundance of earthworms is decreased, the amount of macropores is lessened (less air), and water infiltration is reduced.2 Keeping earthworm populations high is important for maintaining healthy soils because their digestive activity increases SOM, their burrowing aerates the soil, and their castings (poop!) help retain soil moisture.
With the addition of VITAL Blend soil amendments, the soil’s quality is improved and earthworm populations will thrive in soils that are not compacted and have available organic matter to munch on. VITAL Blend is good at reducing soil compaction, increasing soil’s water holding capacity, and promoting the growth of soil microbes that convert decaying matter into organic matter. Try our blend of activated BioChar and freshwater-sourced Humate to organically revitalize the soil and invite more earthworms, bacteria, fungi, protozoans, nematodes and arthropods to dwell in your soil.
Top Four Interesting Facts about Earthworms
- Earthworms migrate horizontally to find better food sources, avoid predation and discover superior soil conditions. They move vertically (upward) toward moisture and oxygen and (downward) to avoid cold winter temperatures.
- If you cut a worm behind it’s clitellum (wide band-like segment), the worm may regenerate the body part.
- Earthworms are Hermaphroditic, which means they have both male and female sexual organs.
- The longest earthworm in the world is found in South Africa and can be over 20 feet long. (from 15 Amazing Facts)
More soil biology means healthier soils, which leads to improved plant growth because “the Beauty Above comes from the Science Below.” Please call or email us for more information regarding VITAL Blend soil amendments today.
#earthworms #vitalblend #soilcompaction
- Referenced from a blog by Carly Porter on com, “Why Do Earthworms Surface After Rain?” April 14, 2011
- Sourced from “Role of earthworms in regenerating soil structure after compaction in reduced tillage systems,” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071712002611
- Sourced from “15 Amazing Worm Facts,” https://wormfarmguru.com/amazing-worm-facts/