Earthworms as fertilizers in crop protection

I’m  Pauline Madale, a 27 year old a farmer from  Morogoro Tanzania. Most of the farmers in my community  use chemical fertilizers, manure as well as crop rotation to increase the fertility of their farm soils. Last year, after I graduated from school,  I effectively started  practicing  vegetable farming using earthworms instead of chemical fertilizers to improve soil fertility. This has been a successful endeavor and I have never looked back. Earthworms bring up the nutrients from deep in the soil and deposit them on the soil surface as castings, hence counteract leaching of nutrients, mix soil layers and incorporate organic matter into the soil.

I believe that through engaging my community this project will benefit many farmers and the next generation as it’s cost effective

Earthworms are completely natural, making the crop healthier for consumption.They are also good in improving soil drainage through extensive channeling and burrowing as they loosen and aerate the soil as well as improving soil drainage. Soils containing earthworms drain up to 10 times faster than soils without earthworms. In zero-till soils, where worm populations are high, water infiltration can be up to 6 times greater than in cultivated soils. Earthworm tunnels also act, under the influence of rain, irrigation and gravity, as passage ways for lime and other material.

Earthworms increase nutrient availability in the soil as they feed on plant debris (dead roots, leaves, grasses, manure) and soil. Their digestive system concentrates the organic and mineral constituents in the food they eat, so their casts are richer in available nutrients than the soil around them. Nitrogen in the casts is readily available to plants. Worm bodies decompose rapidly, further contributing to the nitrogen content. They help to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. This is very important to any farmer who expects great harvests.

In my project I would work with earthworms’ which break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use. When they eat, they leave behind castings that are a very valuable type of fertilizer. Earthworms are like free farm help. 

It is important to know that earthworms breathe through their skin, which means they prefer loose, loamy soil. These worms also need soil rich in organic material and nitrogen. As a farmer I add a layer of lawn clippings over the soil to provide cool shade and nitrogen that attract earthworms.

Earthworms are hermaphrodites. When they mate, both of them reproduce. At every generation, earthworm population doubles.

In order to increase earthworms I  increased organic the organic matter. Earthworms feed on soil and dead or decaying plant remains, including straw, leaf litter and dead roots. They are the principal agents in mixing dead surface litter with the soil, making the litter more accessible to decomposition by soil microorganisms. Animal dung is also an attractive food for many species of earthworms. The following farming practices provide food for earthworms. 

Earthworms are intolerant of drought and frost, and do not like dry sandy soils. 

They are active only when the soil is moist, and are inactive when it is dry. Organic matter cover helps reduce the effect of climatic extremes, and retains soil moisture.

This is a low cost and highly beneficial project which is also environmental friendly because it reduces the risk of surface water runoff which may drain to rivers and lakes causing  eutrophication .

I have decided to join IUPAC 2019 Next Generation so that I can learn more from agricultural experts and I believe my community would gain a lot from this project. Together we shall benefit in this cost effective project and improve our agriculture

Pauline Madale, Morogoro, Tanzania  

112 comments

  1. This is one amazing endeavor that you thought of and even tried it practically… Congratulations on this Pauline.I know you can achieve even more .

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  2. Congratulations for such an amazing idea Pauline,,I never knew this one ,,hope this could be the best method to all agriculturist

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  3. Your initiative and motivation are inspiring. Crop cultivation methods, like this one, that support natural soil health should be encouraged since they are environmentally and socially sustainable. Keep it up and continue sharing to spread awareness and inspire others.

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