“Worms are the intestines of the Earth” – Aristotle
The basic building blocks of soil are rocks, broken down over time into ever smaller pieces. But in order to be built into soil, it needs the builders. Enter the earthworm!
EVERYBODY knows earthworms. Most of us have known them since childhood. Earthworms dramatically alter soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics, and plant growth. But what they REALLY do best is incorporate large amounts of organic matter and microorganisms into the soil.
How you ask? Many people think earthworms eat dirt. This is true….. but not for all of them. Turns out that earthworms that live closer to the surface eat more organic material. The earthworms that live deeper in the ground are the ones eating the dirt. All of the worms get their nutrition from the microorganisms that live in and on both of these materials. As stuff passes through their intestines, it picks up more microorganisms. And then?….
They poop it out! Many more microorganisms are present in their feces or ‘casts’ than in the organic matter that they consume. Earthworms generate tons of casts per acre each year, dramatically altering soil structure.
This process facilitates the cycling of nutrients and their conversion into forms more readily taken up by plants.
Check out this cool video of worms doing their thing!