Friday, August 10, 2018
Considering the recent stories about coral bleaching, honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder, dramatically depleted salmon runs, and the deadly Red Tide in Florida, it is hard to imagine that we need another lesson about the intolerable stresses we are putting on the environment that keeps us alive.
But in case anybody still doubts that we are killing ourselves, a story just popped up describing the dangerous decline in the earthworm population.
Why are earthworms important? That depends. Do you like to eat?
Thanks for reading,
Your Living Green editor
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A recent study in the journal Soil Systems lays out the case for the worldwide decimation of earthworms. This new report offers a stark assessment of the health of Earth's agricultural soils.
The study reviewed global evidence for loss of earthworms under modern conventional farming. Long-term farming trials-some that have run for over 170 years-consistently found losses of 50 percent to 100 percent of worm biomass, with an average loss of more than 80 percent.
In other words, modern farming practices have killed off four out of five worms that once lived on farms. Farmers around the world have been turning verdant fields into subterranean deserts.
The new study blames tillage (plowing) and intensive use of chemical fertilizers that deplete soil organic matter. In other words, practices that form the backbone of modern conventional agriculture destroy worm food and decimate soil life. In the U.S. and around the world, soil organic matter levels are roughly half of their historical levels before the advent of modern agriculture.