Grass-clover leys boost earthworm recoveries: the return of the natives

Earthworms have been in the news recently, with new data confirming that earthworm numbers are low in UK arable soils due to intensive ploughing, repeated soil disturbance and low soil organic matter. Find out how they can make a comeback quicker than you might think.
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Earthworms are important soil organisms: their burrowing and feeding activities allow water to percolate through soil; they breakdown organic matter, releasing nutrients for plants and other soil organisms like bacteria and beneficial soil fungi, but also stabilising the residual organic matter. Earthworms form characteristic soil casts – these small mounds of earthworm-processed soil form little hotspots of activity on the soil surface and support a myriad of other soil organisms. The contribution of these humble organisms to ecosystems is considerable, and low numbers in arable soils are a concern. What are the knock-on effects on other soil organisms; the release of nutrients for crop growth; for water retention and possible flood control?However, all is not lost. Earthworms can make a come-back, and in a relatively short period of time!

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