Earthworm Count

Earthworms are an indicator of biological life in the soil, large and small. Easily visible and easy to count, higher numbers are often an indicator of improved soil health. It is best to count earthworms in early Autumn or late Spring.

Avoid carrying-out during extreme weather conditions eg: very dry, hot or cold, or in the following few weeks after a manure/compost application.

Want to learn to identify the 3 different types of earthworms? Here you can learn about the 3 types, why counting different types is important and take the brilliant quiz from soil scientist Jackie Stroud.

Hand Sort Method (5 mins per hole)

Equipment:

  • Spade,
  • Bin bag/tray

Doing test:

  1. At your sample bay, dig out a square as wide as your spade, and dig down about 20 cm (or as deep as is possible on your land, you just need to be consistent across your vineyard). Overall size: ~20 x 20 x 20cm
  2. Place the dug up soil on the plastic bag.
  3. Break down the soil with your hands, keep any earthworms you find on the bag. Put all broken down soil back in the hole.
  4. Count the number of earthworms and record in the app.
  5. You can stop there and press ‘save’ in the app…Or…
  6. You can next separate the earthworms into adults and juveniles, putting the juveniles back in the hole.
  7. Count the number of leaf-litter, top-soil and deep earthworms and record the number of each type in the ‘notes’ section below where you entered the total number of worms, and ‘save’.
  8. Put all earthworms back in the hole.

Record:

  • Number of earthworms you find as soil broken down.
  • Make a ‘note’ on the app of how many adult leaf-litter, top-soil and deep earthworms there are.

Resources:

https://horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/sites/default/files/dl/How-to-count-earthworms-GREATsoils.pdf

https://www.permaculture.org.uk/research/soil-yield-and-biodiversity-tests-project

http://nrri.d.umn.edu/worms/research/methods_worms.html