Worms are an often overlooked but incredibly important part of our ecosystem. Given that there are over 20,000 species of worms, we won’t be able to talk about them all. That being said, we will try and outline some of their amazing qualities and hopefully convert some people to loving them like we do.
Worms are the earth’s inbuilt waste management system. They can process food waste and turn it into bioavailable soil within 8 weeks, something that commercial composting can take up to 12 months to do, with a much less useful end result. A single worm can eat it’s body weight in waste in just 1 day.
Multiple food chains and ecosystems rely on worms. From soil level, worms are like lions in the savannah. Compared to microbes, fungi, nematodes and insects that they share the soil with, they are huge, roaming their territory while rotavating the soil and allowing for the others they share the soil with to play their part in making soil alive. From above ground, worms are the bottom of multiple food chains, (birds, rodents, amphibians and reptiles) and therefore essential to the survival of everything within those food chains.
Due to soil degradation, we have an estimated 45 harvests remaining before all land on earth is completely infertile. While this is an absolutely terrifying concept it is avoidable, with worms being an essential tool we can use to reverse the damage we have done to soil on Earth. A large part of soil degradation comes from industrial fertilisers and pesticides used in the agricultural industry. Salt deposits from these chemicals degrade soil and kill the living organisms within them, leading to soil that is less fertile. This in turn creates a cycle where farmers are forced to use more of the chemicals to see the same or diminished yields in their fields, eventually leading to completely infertile soil. If we replace the living organisms in the soil including worms, we can reverse the collapse of the soil ecosystem.
When worms are farmed commercially, the main product that is being created for sale is the worms themselves, to be sold by weight to fish nurseries or the fishing industry. They are fed unsustainable yet nutritious feed designed to make them multiply and grow as large as possible, however none that we know of (we’ve looked) are using green waste in their worm farms.
Call to action, benefits of our worm soil - Worms are an integral part of our soil. Their castings are incredibly nutrient rich, and are what give our soil mixes and plant feed the power to repair soil and rejuvenate plant life.
“It may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures” - Charles Darwin