The presence of earthworm castings can actually harm a grass that is otherwise healthy. When there are too many earthworms in the soil where a grass develops, their castings begin to burn the lawn owing to an excess of fertilizer. This causes the grass to grow faster and use up more oxygen in the process, leading to dead areas of the turf. The best way to avoid this problem is by keeping the number of earthworms in your yard under control.
If you're considering adding some earthworms to your garden or lawn, try starting with a small population for a few months only before expanding them out further. This will help them to get used to the environment before they reach critical mass in the soil.
Earthworms are a vital part of any healthy ecosystem. However, if populations become excessive, it can be detrimental to the health of the grass. If you want to keep earthworms at a reasonable level, consider planting vegetation that attracts them as opposed to cultivating plants that kill them. For example, if you want to keep mice away from your garden, then planting marigolds should do the trick.
Worm mounds are another pest control concern that worms cause for lawns. These mounds can be as high as 2 feet and tend to develop in areas where it gets hot often or where there is not enough rain. The worms use up all their energy burrowing into the ground instead of cooling off in the sun like humans do so they can die of heat exhaustion.
Worms are a part of the ecosystem and when they are in balance there are no problems with pests. However, if they are overabundant then they can cause harm. For example, if you were to buy a house with a well-maintained yard but it was also covered in worm mounds then you would know that there are too many worms for its environment.
Some farmers use worm farms to increase their yield of potatoes, onions, and carrots. In this case, the worms are used to break up hard soil so that the plants have an easier time growing. This method has become popular again since the 1980's when agricultural practices were changed to allow farmers to use more organic methods. Organic farming prevents the use of pesticides and herbicides which can be harmful to earthworms if they are used frequently.
Fertilizers, in general, boost earthworm populations by increasing agricultural wastes, especially when pH is kept around neutral. Earthworms are largely unaffected by herbicides. Some pesticides, nematicides, and fungicides, on the other hand, are very poisonous to earthworms. These chemicals should not be applied to areas where earthworms are known to live.
Fertilizers help nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium reach soil in amounts sufficient for optimal plant growth. This is important for crops such as corn, which use these elements heavily and require them in large quantities. Fertilizer-treated fields contain higher levels of nitrogen-based compounds than non-fertilized fields. The increased availability of these elements encourages more rapid vegetative growth and greater yields during subsequent seasons. When soils become depleted of nutrients, however, fertilization becomes unnecessary.
The amount of fertilizer needed depends on several factors, including the type of crop, soil conditions, rate at which it is expected to degrade, etc. For example, farmers who wish to maximize their corn yield might choose to apply up to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre of land. However, if they expect the nitrogen to remain active for less than 10 years, they would need to add another 50 pounds every year until the total reaches 200 pounds. If the farmers know that the nitrogen will remain active for more than 10 years, they could reduce their annual dose by one-half.
Earthworms are not normally detrimental to plants. On the contrary, they are helpful, aerating the soil and nourishing it with their castings. However, if you have a problem plant or area of your yard that is damaged by worms, there are some options for control. The first step is to identify the type of worm so that appropriate controls can be used.
The two main categories of earthworms are nightcrawlers (which are black) and leggers (which are brown). Both types feed on the surface of the soil, but nightcrawlers are more likely to cause problems for plants. If you see white patches on plants or in the garden center after rain, this is evidence that nightcrawlers are feeding. You can get rid of them by covering the affected area with several inches of sand or dirt. This will force them under the soil's surface where they cannot do any damage.
Leggers are less likely to cause problems for plants. They tend to stay within the top few inches of soil and only move about when it gets too hot or cold outside. You should be able to control them with corkscrew gardens or trenches filled with water. These methods will also help prevent nightcrawling since it is difficult for them to travel through wet soil.
Earthworm activity is a good indicator of general soil health, and their numbers are linked to plant growth and production. They improve soil structure, break down thatch, and release plant-useable nutrients as they decompose organic materials in lawns. Too many worms in your yard may be a problem if they're eating all the plants or if they're interfering with maintenance activities such as mowing or gardening.
Worms help control insect pests by eating them. For example, when larvae of some beetles eat earthworms, they become food for birds since earthworms are not a preferred meal for these insects. This process has been called "entomophagy" (eating of insects). There are other ways that earthworms protect plants, but this is an important one because it involves reducing insect populations rather than just removing them.
Of course, earthworms can be a problem too. If you have a large population of worms, they can cause problems for plants by eating their roots or by blocking water drains. Earthworms also can carry diseases from one part of the garden to another. If you find that your worms are eating all the plants or if they're interfering with maintenance activities, get help from a pest-control service provider.