Count your earthworms and help Oxford scientists find out more about the soil that keeps your plants healthy in the latest ‘citizen science’ project from environmental charity Earthwatch.
All you need to do is dig two holes somewhere in your garden where there are at least two different habitats – say, lawn and flowerbed - and count how many earthworms you find. Then fill in the simple online survey to record your results.
Researchers will use your results to find out more about the many useful functions carried out by earthworms. Their tunnels help rainwater flow into the soil, reducing flooding, and they can also prevent carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by burying organic waste underground. They also improve the fertility of a wide range of soils.
The Earthworm Watch project, run in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in London, will also help understand how garden soils provide a habitat for earthworms and look at how simple measures such as adding mulch can improve soil health and support earthworm abundance.
The survey is the latest in a series of ‘citizen science’ projects, in which ordinary people help scientists gather far more data than would otherwise be possible. You can join in the study at www.earthwormwatch.org.