A resource created by Jackie Stroud, soil scientist at Rothamsted Research, also known as ‘The Worm Lady’!
Did you know there are three different types of earthworms at work in your soil? Each type lives in a specific layer and performs a unique function which contributes to the soil’s health and therefore your vine’s health. Find out why a decline in soil health is worrying for all wine lovers on Decanter.
Really you want to have all three types of worms working in harmony. The living litter feeders break down organic matter on the surface making nutrients available for uptake by vines, the top-soil worms work on building good soil structure (aggregation) and nutrient mobilisation, and then the deep-burrowers keep water flowing from the soil surface to deep pools below, as well as increasing aeration and root development.
Monitoring earthworm activity will give you a good overview of the soil health in your vineyard. All you need to do is dig a 20cm deep hole in the ground and count the different earthworms you find in each layer. Counting the number of worms is a good indicator of life in the soil. If you go one step further and identify what type of worm it is, then this can tell you much more about what the worms are working on and help uncover any necessary changes you need to make in your soil management.
However, you need to make sure you can identify which worms are which before you head out to the field!
You can use this AHDB info sheet that Jackie Stroud put together as a resource for learning about the types of worms and how to effectively count earthworms.