The small, wriggly earthworm has benefited man and nature for centuries. It improves the composition of soil and aids in the growth of flowers and plants. According to NYSite, scientists estimate as many as 50,000 earthworms inhabit one acre of moist soil. They also serve as a source of food for other animals and offer financial benefits to humans.
Earthworms improve the quality of soil. Their tunneling activities loosen hardened soil, and their movement to the surface can result in the transportation of vital minerals that are sometimes in short supply there. Their movement also results in the mixing of various layers of soil. They excrete substances that can neutralize potentially harmful pH levels in soil.
Earthworms also aid in maintaining plant health. According to Earthworm Benefits, worms consume bacteria that is harmful to plants, and their abandoned burrows are a source of nutrients that aid in the creation of more fertile root channels. An Ohio State University study indicated that soaking seeds in a tea made from worm castings for one hour increases the rate of sprouting.
Earthworms also can help the environment. Earthworm Benefits indicates bacteria living inside of worms actually can break down chemicals found in some hazardous materials. They also can reduce soil erosion. A University of Minnesota study indicated that when earthworms were added to a cornfield, the field's ability to absorb water increased by 35 times.
Earthworms are important members of the natural order. According to NYSite, the body of an earthworm consists of 70 percent protein. This makes them an important source of food for a variety of birds, such as robins. If the bird only manages to pull off the first few segments of the worm's body, new segments will replace them. They are also are a favorite meal of small animals that burrow underground, such as moles.
FarmersMarketOnline.com indicates that a large number of earthworms in a field decreases the need for soil tillage. As a result, farmers save on labor costs, equipment repairs and fuel consumption. Earthworms are also important to business owners such as bait shop proprietors, who sell them to fishermen.