Worms in Decline! What Regenerative Farming is doing to help

I’ve woken up to a full on Wiggly Crisis. Even the Daily Mail is worried! https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13469733/Get-wiggle-save-British-earthworm-Experts-plead-decisive-action-save-essential-creatures.html
Worms are  humble creatures, often overlooked (although not by Wiggly Wigglers, play a vital role in maintaining soil health and fertility. The experts are calling for more studies to understand what’s happening – whether it’s building, chemicals, ploughing that’s causing a decline we need more research.

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Economist

However in the meantime I am really pleased to report that as regenerative farming practises gain more and more traction worms are definitely benefiting.

At the heart of regenerative agriculture lies a fundamental shift in mindset – from viewing the soil as mere dirt to recognising it as a living, dynamic ecosystem. Here at Lower Blakemere the three of us – Farmer Phil, Monty and me read Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown in the harvest of 2021 and decided we needed to change. One of the key principles of regenerative farming is minimising soil disturbance, which includes reducing ploughing wherever possible. By leaving the soil undisturbed, farmers preserve earthworm habitats and allow our underground friends to thrive.

Regenerative farming is all about soil health and we have changed our farming policy to use much more mulch, increase our organic matter and use cover crops in the winter. Mulch, such as compost or straw, not only nourishes the soil but also provides earthworms with a rich source of organic matter to feast upon. Cover crops, planted between our cash crops, protect the soil from erosion, improves its structure, and at the same time offer a haven for earthworms to thrive.

Monty has built our first four Johnson Su Bioreactors and I know from sales of composting worms that many farmers are adopting this method throughout the UK. Named after Chinese farmers Johnson and Su, this method is about making a fertiliser and compost tea and creating an environment where earthworms thrive and soil fertility is enhanced.

There’s no doubt we need to look after our Earthworm population. After all Charles Darwin, renowned for his theory of evolution, dedicated considerable attention to the humble earthworm, recognising its vital ecological role. One of the first books I bought when I started Wiggly Wigglers was his book “The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms,”

Darwin explained how earthworms enhance soil fertility through their burrowing and feeding activities, which aerate the soil and facilitate nutrient cycling. He famously stated, “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”

Encouraging earthworms to thrive is crucial because they improve soil structure, increase organic matter decomposition, and promote plant growth. Their presence is a key indicator of healthy soil ecosystems, making them indispensable allies in sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation.

*Lower Blakemere Farm is taking part in The Duchy of Cornwall’s Natural Capital Project as one of the six Focus Farms where we have measured our carbon, our birdlife, our soil health and more (and our earthworm population) The Duchy Natural Capital Project’s aim is to cherish, protect and enhance the environment for future generations.

Across its 130,000 acres of upland and lowland farmland and forests the Duchy is establishing a database that will provide a unique baseline assessment of seven key natural capital elements, namely soils, water and air quality, biodiversity, historic interest, recreation and access and landscape.

Based on these assessments, integrated farm plans will be drawn up to not only safeguard existing features but also to provide ambitious enhancements on each farm and at scale across the estate as a whole.

The Duchy of Cornwall is establishing several Focus Farms where it can develop its more detailed understanding, not only of the costs and benefits (monetary and non-monetary) of the ecosystem services of this work but also where research can be pioneered and developed to help inform its future assessments.

Order Wiggly Garden Worms (Earthworms) Online Here https://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/products/garden-worms Sent Next-day Nationwide!

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