Get to know your worms in 30 minutes!

Get to know your worms in 30 minutes!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Get to know your worms in 30 minutes!

A new survey from Rothamsted Research is asking farers to take part and assess the earthorm population of their soils, taking only 30 moinutes. 

An ambitious six-week programme to map the earthworm population of the UK has begun, building on the success of a pilot study early this year when around 100 farmers volunteered 60 minutes to survey their fields; this time, many more are being asked to give up 30 minutes.

The inaugural national farmland #30minworms survey runs from 15 September to 31 October. It aims to help farmers to record their earthworm populations and to assess the effects of soil management, such as tillage and cover cropping,on soil health. Survey booklets can be downloaded here.

In the pilot study carried out during March and April, more than 1300 hectares of farmland soils were surveyed by farmers and their families all over the UK, including fields managed under arable, potatoes, horticulture and pasture.

Scientist Dr Jackie Stroud said "This revealed that 58% of fields had basic earthworm biodiversity and around 15% had exceptional earthworm populations – and we could detect the effect of different tillage practices and cover cropping. Importantly, farmers feedback directly led to the #30minworms method and database so that, as a community, we can generate a first-class resource to realise soil health in practice.”

The survey booklet takes you through what is involved. Each test starts with the digging of five soil pits (20 centimetres x 20cm x 20cm) across a field (in the shape of a W), then the earthworms are categorised and counted, and their data recorded for despatch to the Rothamsted team.

It doesn't matter if you don’t know your surface dwellers from your deep burrowers. Half the people who took part in the pilot survey were unconfident in their earthworm ID skills but the online earthworm ID quiz, which comes with the booklet, helped them before they headed for the fields.

For more information see the website here





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