Research update: Working with Earthworms to boost soil productivity
It’s no secret that earthworms are beneficial to improving overall soil productivity. A silent workforce, earthworms work day and night in the root zone, improving soil structure and fertility and promoting root and plant growth.
Blue Environment and SESL Australia recently completed a three-year research and demonstration project entitled Optimising the benefits of vermiculture in commercial-scale vegetable farms (VG15037), a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.
This investment investigated how commercial vegetable farms can benefit from building and maintaining earthworm activity. The project team undertook field research at over 18 vegetable farms across Australia, looking at how farm practices affected earthworm numbers and how greater earthworm activity improved soil health.
On farm studies looked at the main factors influencing earthworm activity, including:
- intensity and depth of tillage;
- levels of soil carbon, and particularly labile forms of carbon;
- soil moisture; and
- sensitive chemical use.
Read more about the findings in this article which first appeared in the Summer 2019/20 edition of Vegetables Australia, the leading magazine for the Australian vegetable industry.