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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Earthworms Suppress Plant Diseases & Support Quality Vegetable Production

by Carolyn Allen Earthworms are a solution -- not an incidental extra in the web of life. Your solutions can be putting earthworms to work for you not only in your garden, but in your yard, your flower beds, and in agriculture.

Sustainable farmers have understood for years that the density of earthworms is one of the most reliable indicators of soil health, but they have not known why.

Earthworm Research Shows Suppression of Pathogens

Research at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has provided compelling evidence that the humble earthworm plays a significant role in suppressing several common soil-borne plant pathogens.

Earthworm densities have been regarded as reliable indicators of soil health, but their role in suppression of plant disease has not received much attention.

Earthworms in Greenhouses

A greenhouse study was carried out with asparagus, eggplant, and tomatoes grown in pots infected with common Fusarium and Verticillium species known to cause serious plant diseases in these crops. In the pots that also contained earthworms, plant weights increased 60% to 80%, and estimates of disease severity declined 50% to 70%.

In general, plant weights were increased 60 to 80% and estimates of disease were reduced 50 to 70% when soils were augmented with earthworms.

The author speculates that the disease-suppressive benefits of earthworms are brought about by their impact on soil microbiological activity, and that “…strategies to increase earthworm densities in soil should suppress soilborne diseases.”

Source: Wade H. Elmer, “Influence of Earthworm Activity on Soil Microbes and Soilborne Diseases of Vegetables,” Plant Disease, Vol. 93: 175-179, February 2009