The earthworms are important for soil health. Looking back to the history of agriculture, the earthworm works as natural plough man in cultivation of land.The earthworm feeds on cow dung, soil, Plant residues and waste material. While feeding on the soil, it moves up and down and as result turning of the soil is facilitate.
It has the capacity to turn the soil ranging from approximately 2-250 ton soil in a year. This results in about 1-5mm soil layer increase per year.
Reproduction in Earthworm
Earthworm is hermaphrodite i.e. having both male and female sex organs on same earthworm. But it still needs mating with other earthworm for reproduction because
- Sex organs are distantly placed
- Maturity of both the sex organs is generally not at the same time.
Cocoon formation in Earthworm
It takes approx. 6 hrs to form cocoon after copulation .Thereafter, it takes about 30-45 days to attain the adult stage from cocoon formation .1 Adult earthworm produces 20 cocoons on an average and thereafter 3 earthworms are produced from 1 cocoon .
Body structure of Earthworm
Earthworms don’t have eye and ear but surprisingly sensitive to both light and sound .Further, both the ends of earthworm are sharp. This is a unique characteristic of earthworm .This provides an additional help in agriculture in 2 ways:-
- Making tunnel in the soil for aeration in the soil
- Natural ploughing of the land (as the earthworm can moves both way e. front and back)
Capacity of Earthworm
Earthworm prefers to feed on semi decomposed material. It eats five times of its weight .While in soil, it moves twenty times up and down per day in soil
Benefits of Earthworm in Agriculture
Earthworm helps in
- Enhancing fertility of soil
- Maintenance of soil quality i.e. physical, chemical and biological properties on sustainable basis
- Enhancing productivity of crop.