California study finds earthworms increase greenhouse gas emissions
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Often we hear about livestock agriculture contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and being bad for the environment. However, according to a California based study, there is a new culprit contributing to greenhouse gas emissions – earthworms.
The study was recently published in the scientific journal Nature; it demonstrates that worms may be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon dioxide from the soil into the atmosphere.
According to the researchers, earthworms through the process of breaking down organic matter, may be responsible for contributing to up to one-third of carbon-dioxide emissions from the soil.
The study goes a step further and raises the question about “no-till” farming, which is an agriculture technique of growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage. This increasingly popular agriculture technique is in essence preserving earthworm habitats and with the increase use of organic fertilizer may be exacerbating the greenhouse gas emissions process rather than mitigating it.