Earthworms provide 6.5 percent of global grain production

Updated Oct 2, 2023
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications and cited by AFP, a team of scientists led by Stephen Fonte, an assistant professor at Colorado State University in the US, states that earthworms contribute significantly to 6.5 percent of the world's grain yield annually due to their critical role in soil ecosystems. Earthworms help decompose dead plant material, releasing nutrients that crops need to grow, and their tunneling, among other benefits, promotes root growth through aeration. The scientists analyzed maps of earthworm populations, soil properties, crop yields and previous studies of plant productivity. “Contribution” was defined as the percentage of the harvest that was made possible by earthworms. “We estimate that earthworms could provide about 6.5 percent of the world's annual grain production, including staple foods such as wheat, rice, corn and barley. Their contribution may be greater as the earthworm population is probably underestimated in many places, ...
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