INTENSIVE farming has seen a massive slump in the number of worms, according to a nationwide survey.
Two in five fields have too few or even none of the creatures — vital to our ecosystem.
Getty – Contributor A fall in the number of worms affects 40 per cent of fields, with intensive farming blamed
It makes growing crops harder and hits the birds who feed on the wrigglers.
Researchers said the fall was due to high-intensity ploughing, which disturbed their habitat, caused a loss of surface food and exposed them to predators.
But 57 per cent of farmers have now vowed to alter their practices, including having more crop rotation and using fewer pesticides.
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The major spring study, the first of its kind, found the average field had nine earthworms in every spadeful of soil.
This is almost half the number in the more successful ten per cent of fields. Study leader Dr Jacqueline Stroud, of Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Herts, said the results explain a drop in numbers of the song thrush, which feeds on worms.
She said: “Earthworms are sensitive to soil management, making them an ideal soil health indicator.”
AFP – Getty The major study showed the average field had nine earthworms in every spadeful of soil
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