practical inquiry into soil-building, soil-conditioning
plant nutrition through the action of earthworms,
with instructions for intensive propagation
and use of Domesticated Earthworms
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
A third edition of this practical manual became immediately necessary because of its astounding demand around the world. But
perhaps this demand
not so astounding
consider a statement by Dorothy in the he-Month Club
enough to know that our very lives depend on saving what top-soil the globe still has, and doing all that is possible to create conditions in which more can be made, and made more rapidly than by the haphazard leisurely methods of nature, which takes from five hundred to a thousand years to lay down one
inch of top-soil."
in a thrilling story about Reader's^Digestj Dr. Barrett's experiments and achievements and about this book, thus describes the work of the lowly but vital creature: "Earth-
boring, keep the
they transform vegeand animal waste into rich humus;
they change the earth's chemicals into soluplant food; their countless trillions of tiny tunnels enable rain water and air to
penetrate the soil."
comprehensive volume on the not only with fascinating reading but also, and more practically, with exact procedures for earthworm culture and
for use of earthworms in general farming and orcharding. Part I discusses "The
(Continued on back flap)
the collection of the
San Francisco, California 2006
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
for intensive propagation and use of Domesticated Earthworms
in biological soil-building.HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
practical inquiry into soil-building.
J. and plant nutrition through the action of earthworms.
Printed in the United States of America
("Earthmaster Earthworm Culture Bed" copyright
Boston. 1947. Roscoe.
Versus Native Earthworms
Sheffield Oliver. . .
Breeding Habits of the Earthworm
THE EARTHWORM UNDER CONTROL
Mass ProThe EarthEarthworm
in Scientific Literature
duction of Topsoil on worms of the Nile
Intestines of the Earth
THE EARTHWORM AND
by Dr. George
Orcharding With Earthworms
Technical Discussion: Facts.
Earthworm Tillage "Earthworms 150.
. . Jacobson. Figures and References 153 "The Chemical Composition of Earthworm
Casts" by H.
Harvesting the Increase
1000 Pounds of
Earthmaster Earthworm Culture Bed
Materials Cut to Dimension
The Gold Mine
Earthworm Culture Starting Earthworm Culture
Acre" by Williams
. . G.
XI. Lunt and H..
Importance of Controlled
Diagram of Alimentary Canal of Earthworm The Rainworm The Brandling
Dr. George Sheffield Oliver
Domesticated Earthworm Eggs
Lugbox. Plans (III)
Christopher Gallup. Plans (II) Earthmaster Culture Bed. front and side view
in Lugboxes Earthworms
Detail Plan for
Lugbox Earthworm Culture
Base Support and Dividers for Lugbox
Utility Culture Bed (III)
facing 136 145
The Earthmaster Culture Bed
Earthmaster Culture Bed. Plans (I)
Earthmaster Culture Bed.
be doubted whether
other animals which have played
so important a part in the history of the world
as have these lowly organized creatures.
that small. no weapon of offense naked.
What Why. through life.
so rudely disturbed? it is an earthworm just a poor.Prologue
slowly. The seasons in orderly procession come and go. for a moment we have held within our hand one of the "mills
of God. living thing
or defense. no mind to be afraid. blind worm.
In contemplative mood. no feet to run away. without tooth or claw. we hold a handful of rich. It is without form.
emerge from chaos. yet within it all forms are It is without structure. dark humus." sang the poet Longfellow.
through geological ages." one of the major forces which have wrought mightily upon the face of the earth that life may exist and continue to
exist. fire and flood. man.
appears dead. cosmic convulsion and
seismic upheaval for the coming of
life. The primordial mists fade and life slowly spreads over the low surfaces of the earth vegetation. animal. we see the "mills and water. yet within it all the wonders potential.
of civilization sleep.
sides. frost and sun. yet
small. back to earth. And yet. yet within
Negligently focuses our attention.
mind glances back of God" at work wind
uniting in preparation of earth's surface see form take shape from substance.
eternal cycle of nature has been established earth.
the annihilation of space by radio. are filled and maintained as storage reservoirs of this basic
hill. The theme-song of the book is "Earthworms Excrete Humus. "Harnessing the Earthworm" is the theme of this book.
or study the it takes
. "So what?" is the instant question that springs into the modern. This inquiry is concerned with the practical side of the story. irrigation and power.
question with a big answer
Back of the
generalization "earthworms excrete humus" is another epic story which would require volumes adequately to tell. practical mind. navigation.
essential of life.
modern commerce and war on
the seven seas. depressions.
with their unfor his
with the answer to this question
that this inquiry deals. the conquest of the air by airplanes. the exploration into the infinite reaches of the universe by astronomers.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Back of the generalizations of science are the epic stories of "Water seeks its own level" is a generalization. inquiring.
phenomena of present-day civilization which have followed because of the simple fact that water seeks its own
Because water runs down
the great catch-basins of the the substrata of the earth itoceans. before
he even conceived of the
in a primitive
use. it is difficult to realize that for ages man watched the
quick-flowing rivers running
possibility of harnessing
generalization which epitomizes the important findings of science in the study of these lowly organized animals. the machine age.
woulld be necessary to write the story of the development of plant and animal life on this planet the development of agriculture." In the light of modern development and utilization of water power. "So what?" comes again the instant. and all the
the joining of oceans by canals.
inspect a magnificent ocean liner.
"Earthworms excrete humus"
prow of his canoe perhaps in a upon his gods his body became a mast and speeding him to safety on the wings of the wind.
In even a superficial study of the ideas which have influenced civilization.
in the soil of
permanent habitation. He wandered over the face of the earth in search of precarious
sustenance. prehistoric man as he instinctively clung to a flood-borne tree and rode to safety on some lee shore. Only with the coming of agriculture and a sure
supply of food was man able to settle down in one place and develop from a wandering tribe into a nation of people. The obvious possithe soil and growing his food did not occur to tilling the mind of man until very late in the history of the race. the father-mother foundation of life and progress in
first. until some venturesome Columbus got caught off-shore in the teeth of a
faint idea of power-navigation
of the imagination to go back to the
was born in some low-browed.PROLOGUE
an almost impossible point where the first
the dim-lit .
and the production of food occupation of man. while
stood up in the
the idea of power-navigation took hold of nation and awakening intelligence.
sail. For still other ages primitive man pushed and poled and paddled his unwieldy dugout about in the safe shallows of the shore waters. Other ages passed before some primitive Edison proudly presented the first dugout canoe to his amazed world a miracle of creation which he had painstakingly hacked and hollowed out with a crude stone implement.
in the case of agriculture. the improvement and
. subject to the vicissitudes of the elements and often facing famine.
In spite of
the universal and prime
the inventions and mechanization that have
taken place in the development of agriculture the vast industry for the chemical fertilization of the soil. the inevitable conclusion must be reached that the
and development of agriculture is the greatest of all inventions.
are struck by the
outstanding contrast between the
( 1 )
chemical fertilization and mechanization. we realize the futility of chemical fertilization and turn
to a study of nature's perfect method. like a good undertaker. and growth which have not been improved upon. nature yet remains "Mother Nature" and the human race is still a breast-fed infant. with its progressive and inevitable depletion of the natural fertility of the soil.
from the good earth through processes of fertility. modern agriculture is simply an exploitation of the natural resources and forces of nature. And in agriculture.
present and temporary needs for food production. (2) nature. but at the same time provide with growing fertility a soil which will support in abundance the countless unborn generations of the
In a study of the soil-building methods of nature.
east to west.
. experiment stations and agricultural colleges all these things yet remain
superficial adjuncts to facilitate nature's own methods. restoring to the soil in swiftly. the great research laboratories.
through the adaptation and ingenuity of man. Like the utilization of water power. man seeks
to feed the plant to
more and quick
build soil in
meet the temporary and immediate call for through her method. We have found this force at work throughout the earth from
the far north to the far south. we have which found a force at work in the earth the earthworm appears to have been evolved for the specific job of rebuilding foe soil from the biological end-products of plant and animal life. drawing its sustenance and
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
food plants and animals.
the river. seeks to a continuous cycle which can meet with abundance
profits. efficiently. the sail is not the wind. and erosion.
the high plateaus and high into the mountains quietly. agricultural soil-robbers.
Studying the progressive destruction of the soil on this conby mechanized methods. the ship
not the ocean. the processing and preservation of foods.
usable form everything that had Jbeenjtaken. flow in a never-ending and ever-increasing stream
to the great centers of population.
in the life
through contemplation of the vast activities of these lowly creatures. a force in nature comparable to water-power in its potentialities. it becomes a question of man's conquest over the potential forces of nature and their adaptation
harmless. once more. lakes and oceans.
back to earth. willing.
every region of the globe the products of field and orchard and garden.
The solution of this problem is the next great step in human progress and. rivers.
earthworms excrete humus
just about as
as the fact that water flows
That intimate. the plant and animal life.
forces of nature. problem facing civilization today eventually the problem of continued existence itself is the problem of rebuilding the soil.
Thus by untold
year the widely diffused fertility of the earth is gathered up and concentrated in restricted areas. In con-
. far removed from the possibility of rebuilding the soil at the original source
with the vast tonnage of organic waste material incident to the growing and processing of food for both man and animals. perfect factory for manufacturing this substance quickly and in sufficient quantity to answer all the nutritional needs of man. homogenized earth possibly the most mysterious substance know to science. ranches and forest.
body of the earthworm is nature's own complete. is the one basic source of From a strictly practical standpoint. with chemical compounds humus. stock farms. topsoil. finely divided mixture.
friendly. of restoring to the earth in immediately usable form for plant food the biological end-products of civilization. an idea was born the harnessing of the earth-
for the intensive use of man.
In our search for material we have delved into scientific and other literature books on zoology. we are not dealing with theory. such as water power and electricity. agricultural
bulletins. have also spent some years of work in practical research
and experimentation. wild speculation or wishful thinking we are dealing with facts.
feeding. boil down and the facts pertinent to the subject of harnessing the earthpresent worm in such a manner as to inspire the reader to go to work
to himself." peculiarly adapted to intensive production under control.
through actual demonstration. with references dating
In developing the idea of harnessing the earthworm. Incidental to
. students. have been adapted
to the service of
man. Scientific studies of the earthworm are voluminous. the
ties in store for
cover the subject in all its related details would require years of study and volumes of exposition.14
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
sidering the earthworm. Many individuals
have adapted its activities to their own use and profit.
back to the time of ancient Greece and Egypt. horticulture. biology. together with the best methods of
task in this inquiry is to cull out. just as other forces ploited of nature. propagated and exfor human use in an intensive manner. For generations scientists. and practical as it is lived. newspapers. pamphlets. but it so happens that the earthworm is one major force in nature
easily be placed under control. we do not exclude other forces of nature just as important in the biological processes of soil-building. botany. Others have carried out selective breeding and feeding experiments over
a period of many years in developing what we have termed "domesticated' earthworms. verifying the claims about earthworms which we found in the literature on the subject.
experiment station records.
experimenters and practical tillers of the soil have studied the earthworm and recorded its value in nature.
special articles in magazines. and similar sources. taking in a period of more than two hundred years.
interviews and practical experiences of individuals who have harnessed the earthworm
. taking a semi-desert. so that neighbors and at what we have accomplished with unfavorable
land and in a very short time. letters
culturists. In presenting our findings. infertile hillside and turning it into a homesite of almost tropical luxuriance.
not a treatise.PROLOGUE
the writing of this book. we established the Earthmaster Farm for earthworm research.
some instances we may
has been said that the
thing to do with a fact
practical thing to do with a fact is to use it.
personal experiences and observations. present the facts for your recognition and use and dedicate
to all those
our object to present just enough material to
clearly the possibilities inherent in harnessing the earth-
use. but to subjects which have a direct bearing on the task in hand.
will use quotations. but
intended as an inspiration
to further study
and to practical
. with the aid of
earthworms in soil-building.
love the soil and the eternal cycle of
which springs from
The Earthworm and
discontented children. and vast aggregations cities. His air-conditioning creates a cool
spot for luxurious comfort astride the equator.
marooned on the islands of villages. under the His frozen footprints are preserved for future ages in the sea. man has
all conditions and environments and lives wherever there is air to breathe on the surface of the earth. are
some of the
useful things to satisfy his growing needs and deBepractical ends of scientific research. up production of necessities and luxuries for his use. under the earth.Humus
to survive. and he squats nonchalantly within the rim of boiling volcanic cauldrons and takes
the temperature of
mother earth and diagnoses her fevers and
convulsions. Through his conquest over the forces of nature. including man. segregated and separated from the land of restless.
adapted himself to
regions of the north pole and the trail of the tractor pushes steadily into the unexplored continent locked in everlasting winter around the south pole. in the sky.
serve the demands of the ubiquitous adaptability of man. playing with the machines and
in large part.
cause of his adaptability and conquest over the forces of nature. to
sires. in its demand for nutrition man alone demands infinitely more that mere nutrition. towns.
. on the surface of the waters. but
ALL FLESH is one. has cut loose from his mother's apron strings the earth
find the populations of civilization
throughout the world.
000.000 head of cattle for beef and butplanting. And humus is not found in inexhaustible mines below the surface of the earth
in the better soils
diminishes almost to th
It is there
vanishing point at a depth of thirty-six inches.159.100.067.
milk and shoes. In the annual Year Book of the United States Department
.000.655. We have briefly indicated the
size of the order to call attention to the fact that
humus. and panic seizes the people as starvation takes hold.000 pounds of wool.000 acres of land for reRound up 182.000 bales of cotton to the facwith 3. we are staggered by such items as these:
Rush the harvest of 4.9142. Husk 4. the immediately usable supply of
which is concentrated in the eighteen-inch surface crust of the earth and in the more favored and very limited areas of the globe. In checking over the annual requisition of the human family for food and supplies.
of Agricultural Statistics. and prepare 366.000 bushels of wheat. that we may be clothed and kept warm.365. the available material must be used over
.000 bushels of corn and prepare 209. just as food of the earth. have mentioned a few of the
major items that are included in the annual demands of the human family for food and clothing.
Let the flow of food to the
stop for a single day. where we are pecuter.000 acres of land for replanting. and
Let the flow stop for two days.692.000 pounds of peanuts also a citrus -fruit item of 67. several hundred pages of fine print are required to tabulate and report on the annual food crops of the United States and the world.
tentially.000 boxes. And in the United States.000.20
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
toys which science and invention have provided and uniting in a mighty cry and cosmic bawl for food.291.
tories. Let it stop for a
headline news.000. we find a small item of 1.954.
In the cycle of nature.
potentially present in the
the end product of and animal life and must plant be created for current use from day to day and season to season. becomes tragedy of major proportions.
heat. the waters find their way into all the settling basins of the earth to deposit the elements of life in the humus factories
From the dust-laden winds of hill.HUMUS
rebuild. and in the lowlying foothills and great plains of the torrid and temperate zones.
All vegetation. from the weathered face of the rocks and hills and mountains. the populations of the earth dwell along seashores and lakes.
to convert. As volumes have been written and are constantly being written on these many processes through which nature attains her ends.
all life. from the millions of square miles of high phere.
wind to the majestic sequoia gigantea.
THE HUMUS FACTORY
In her vast
tion. yes. towering nearly three hundred feet into the air.
water runs down
the desert. frost and these unite. finally to form that thin
surface layer of dark earth in which life is rooted. along rivers in the valleys. for the first thin blanket of
humus which was spread over
the surface of
parent material of
. from microbe to man all have been couched in the bedding ground of humus. For the most part. requiring years. where the great humus factories of nature are located. nature gathers her materials. disintegrate. this is so. And all eventually find their way to the comsingle-celled
the compost heap o$ nature
to be converted
serve in the unbroken cycle of nature. wind and rain. ages
many of the processes are slow.
centuries. from star dust and the dust of disintegrating comets and planets. we will not
burden these pages with detailed discussion on
fice it to
this subject. and from the motherwaters of the sea she creates the rains and washes the atmosAnd in the end. transmute. nature uses
slow combustion. aeons of time. light.
. and the invisible particles brought to the earth by the rays of the sun and other whirling bodies which are scattered.22
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
the deposit of
the earth in preparation for the birth of life
star dust. properly conditioned
ing in rich proportion
for best root growth and containform all the elements
required of the earth for plant nutrition. no confusion just the
ordinary routine. easily adapted to the use of man. no worry.
Earthworms are the shock-troops of nature for the jjuick. behold. nature marshals her vast earthworm army to a feast. i
both) all the processes high-speed humus^ factory^ combining mechanical and chemical for turning out the finished product. No waiting. is deposited on and near the surface of the earth. daily transaction of business in the
tories of nature. or a number of years. with one notable exception: When a requisition is put in for a few million
the earth as
humus. she created in miniature a perfect humus mill. I
topsoil. castings. ready for immediate use for earthworms excrete humus. In the body of tfre earthworm we find a complete. humus while she is waiting upon her slower pro-
Climaxing her millions of years of experimentation. disintegrating planets
it. the miracle is accomplished the order is
and the crying children of the plant world are fed the night-soil of earthworms.
of space. like wind-blown particles of dust.
cesses. of "Earthworms" which may be found in the Zoology subject section in the reference department of most public libraries. the creation of humus from Taking dead vegetation and animal life is usually a process measured in terms of weeks and months. to be prepared over niffht for emergency plant food for tomorrow. and.
THE EARTHWORM FAMILY
refer the reader to the voluminous writings on the general.
we shall from consideration all worms except the (Lumbricus terrestris).
Whatever the name. While many hundreds of species. our interest centers the \_Oligochaeta jand that portion known to science as the
"small-bristled ringed worm. earththey swal-
low the earth with all that it contains." "dewworms. earthworms range all the way from small worms of almost microscopic dimensions to giant annelids measuring from
The large members of the family three feet to eleven feet long.
worms have one important
lis. 1. In size.
are comprised in the order Phylum annelida." "rainworms. are found in certain parts of South America.
crawlers." is very generally used in the extensive German literature on the subject. including the islands of the sea. Africa. "regenwurm." "fishworms. is
largest of the giant
and for reasons given later. and thefBranHTu
. Ceylon and
Australia. Megascolides Austrawhere authentic measurements of worms
have been made.HUMUS
are interested in the function
and work of the earthworms rather
than in a study of the animal from a zoological standpoint." "night "night lions. except in the arctic
and where the regions
ground may be frozen to great depths over long periods of time.
pose of this inquiry. illustrated in Fig. including marine worms. The last name. from the tropics to ex-
treme northern and southern
latitudes." They are distributed all over the planet." etc.
size. and in the process of ditopgestion and elimination excrete practically neutral humus
soil rich in
water-soluble nutrients for plant
life. such as "angleworms.
down still more to the particular purare interested in the group of earthworms to the United States and known under various popular
to eleven feet in length
In the torrid and temperate zones more than one thousand ^eciej of earthworms (some authorities say more than 1800)
bringing new mineral parent material for topsoil and depositing it in the
form of castings.
hardy. remains active in
soon as the spring
However. very prolific
manure worm] (Helodrilus -foetidus). the rainworm is very quite low temperatures. very active.
for a fully mature
or six inches. and all dead organic materials. or The(1brano!iinfr
a small. digesting and utilizing them to serve its bodily needs and finally ejecting
form of castings
manure of earthworms. leaves. illustrated in Fig.
upper eighteen inches of soil. the
attains a length of twelve inches or more. garmeadows.
/HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
or stinking earthworm (Helodrilus foetidus). with an average
length of eight inches.24
2. characterized by a dis-
rainworm/ is a native of the fields and forest lawns. been ground and thoroughly mixed. but coming thaw has warmed the earth.
topsoil. and when they are deposited on and in the immediate surface of the earth this new material has become
tion. It commonly lives in the
night. the rainworm burrows deep below the line during the winter season. devouring ceaselessly.
dens. It quite generally burrows to a depth of
But the rainworm
feet. The brandling is commonly known as the manure worm. though that surface layer is its main feeding layer and breeding ground. orchards.
not entirely concerned with the thin surface of the earth. ney through the alimentary canal of the worm they have undergone chemical changes. These castings from the deep layers of the In the jourearth surface are not just sterile.
particularly favorable conditions. lying dormant while the
to the surface as
ground is frozen.
and earthworm burrows have even been found
depthes of from ten to fourteen feet. taken on new material. From these deep burrows into the subsoil the earthworm returns to the surface. day and dead roots. and has even
rainworm often more usual length
been observed in slushy snow. mineralized earth.
ready for immediate use by growing vegeta-
In the colder climates. is worm. and pastures.
it is soon a good burrower and will take care of itself in almost all climates.
piles and compost heaps. but in measuring a large number of mature manure worms we
determined an average length of about four inches.
castings of the manure worm. hence its name "manure worm." The term "domesticated" is applied to earthworms which have been developed through selective breeding and feeding methods in a controlled environment especially created to favor intensive propagation. In intensive propagation and use of earthworms. it may attain a length of six inches or more. horgation
when we come
and home gardening.
This point will be emphasized
later. well-watered soils. The
found widely distributed throughout the United
States and in Europe.HUMUS
Its favorite habitat is
or injured. but prefers to
not a deep-burrowing worm like its work in the surface areas
under rotting vegetation. we pass to a consideration of the feeding habits and digestive functions of earthworms. nursery.
The manure worm
rainworm. the manure worm readily adapts itself to the same environments favored by the rainworm. contain a very
high percentage of water-soluble plant nutrients. deodorizing and converting all such material into rich. with an odor similar to fresh turned meadow
earth. clean humus. From this brief discussion of the earthworm family.
to the subject of the intensive propaFinally. and use of earthworms in soil-building for agriculture. like those of the rainthe many other species of earthworms.
. and other decaying materials. digesting. both in the southern as well as in the colder In size. manure. as opposed to native earthworms which are found in most fertile. however. However. latitudes. orcharding.
ticulture." Contrary to general belief. size is important and the smaller varieties can be utilized with better results than can the
worms. which make them possibly the most valuable animals on earth. after becoming adapted to the soil. The brandling gorges voraciously on manure and decaying vegetation. we shall diswhat we have termed "domesticated at length earthworms.
Soil Scientist. Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. He called earthworms "intestines of L. is graphically descriptive of the earthworm. for the apt phrase which literally describes the function of these master-builders of topsoil.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
INTESTINES OF THE EARTH
are indebted to the ancient Greek philosopher. stripthirty feet long. depending on the species). termed the earthworm a Colloid mill. ped of all external incumbrance which might interfere with its life-function of digestion and equipped with just enough instinctive intelligence to carry out its feeding activities without too fine
discrimination. derived from the Latin word anellus (a ring). Powers. as strong as steel
an earthworm. streamas
lined to the ultimate for functional performance. Aristotle. brain and nervous system.
to produce the intimate chemical
earthworm. The family name. is a very good descriptive name to indicate the activity of
Considered primarily. everything which opposes itself to the blind attention of the earthworm becomes something to be devoured. the ingested materials undergo chemical changes. so that the resultant
castings (manure) are a practically neutral humus.
flexible as silk. closely woven togethei to form a tube of great strength. whose body is formed by a series of from 200 to 400 muscular rings (more or less. deodorization and neutralization. rich in watersoluble plant food.
serve as colloid mills
and mechanical homogenized mixture of fine organic and inorganic matter which forms their In the mixing which takes place in the alimentary canal castings." This. annelida.
in soil-building. organ and tissue. integrated around a digestive tube the alimentary canal about The earthworm is a digestive tube alone. too. than one-thirtieth of an ounce may
one of the an earthworm weighing
a stone weighing
two ounces. man himself is an organism of bone and muscle.
strongest animals innature for its size. immediately available for plant nutrition. When a
UPPER PART OF INTESTIIE
DIAGRAM OF ALIMENTARY CANAL OF EARTHWORM
(After Charles Darwin)
oyster. If small enough. as it swallows the earth with all that it contains dead roots. .
They come to the surface to feed.
soil. to serve as a millstone in the gizzard while being subjected to the solvent action of acids and alkalies so abundantly provided in the digestive
twig. coming to
the surface at night to feed on organic litter. including tough. Figuratively
speaking. Curator of Natural History at the Bruce Museum of Natural History. gives a concise statement of
the feeding habits of
wonderfully interesting book. the particle is swallowed.
Paul Griswold Howes. the
at the surface of the
Backyard Exploration. To be more specific. giving the surface a chemical treatment in passing and possibly sucking off a few choice morsels from the weathered
^principle of the hydraulic drill.
If a piece of
cellulose. the worm eats its way around. as follows: Worms are the most numerous
. highly sento light. the softened and
almost liquified material finding
into the storage space
met with. with Thus. vegetable and animal remains. as they are truly animals They do actually consume large quantities
. may be coated with a saliva-
and left to soften (perhaps for days or weeks).
ing tunnels or burrows.
. softening the earth in front of
dark way through the densest adobe and clay soils riddling and earth. or
such as dry leaf stem. the
minute and microscopic vegetable
elements. blindly. the earthworm is a nocturnal animal. compact honeycombing the soil to a depth of ten feet or more with aerateats
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
stone too large to swallow is encountered. By day it pushes slow tunneling operations below the surface.
with everything it may contain. in action the earthworm employs the
Being truly a blind dweller of the dark. resume its journey of disintegration and digestion through
Continuing our journey through the earthworm. great From this quantities of soil also pass through this vast army. while vast quantities of it pass into vegetable mould that helps to make other plants grow. No form of organic material for the digestive secretions of the earthworm are similar escapes. [Editorial note: All vegetable remains not immediately consumed. Holding fast in their burrows by the tail-end. cellulose
human family. plastic mass. Carare grist for the mill of
the earthworm. Think then of the weight and depth of a single year's castings that are left upon the surface and you will begin to realize that the worms are actually responsible for the ploughing and turning over of the earth as the years go by.HUMUS
of vegetable matter not living leaves and grass.
Nothing like them is known in any other aniThese calcium-secreting glands pour out abundant quanti-
. small stones.
passes into the crop
into the gizzard as a semi-liquid. soil they assimilate what is useful to them.
Special mention should be made of the highly remarkable calciferous glands which are located in the walls of the esophagus
of the earthworm. as the abundant digestive juices are poured in to exert their chemical and solvent action. for anything that cannot be digested is at least so finely comminuted that no structural form remains. living and dead
bacteria. fats. all the ingested material vegetable matter.
mal. including the
and mixing action of this efficient organ. carry-
grindstones. leaving the remainder each night upon the surface in the lobed and familar castings which everyone has seen.
In the gizzard everything
to the grinding. stretching themselves to great lengths and grasping bits of food.] In addition to the vegetable matter which the worms eat. Stop for a minute to consider the countless individual worms which inhibit every acre of ground. are eventually eaten and pass through the alimentary canals of worms in their final transformation into humus or soluble plant food. which they pull below the surface. mineral earth. animal matter. part of the material is eaten. proteins. Here. but the dead and dying vegetable matter that lies upon the ground.
to those of the higher animals. the worms reach out in all directions.
crop. mate end-product of the activity of earthworms is humus the
Harvey W. after being discharged
from the gizzard into the intestine. the
of rings varying in different species. the entire worm is comprised in a muscular tube of from two hundred to four hundred strongly contractile muscular rings. It is probable that nearly the whole of the vegetable matter in the soil passes sooner or later through the alimentary canal of these ceaseless soil-builders. The anterior one-third of the worm's body contains the vital
organs and organs of the digestive system. including the calciferous glands. whatever nutriment that be necessary for the worm's own body-building and funcmay tioning is absorbed from the humidified. Dr. Continuing with the digestive process. taking on valuable added elements from the intestinal and urinary secretions in which it is continually bathed. finally ejected as castings
thoroughly homogenized earth that only chemical analysis can In other words. semi-liquid.
its passage through the worm. the material is subjected to further mixing action as it is moved slowly along the alimentary canal.
After having performed this nutritional function. as much as . In Principles and Practice of Agricultural Analysis. Particularly valuable is the admixture of the urinary secretions. and is converted into the form of humus. Wiley
considerable portion of the ammonia in the soil at any given time may also be due to the action of worms. The re-
maining two-thirds contains the intestine. As stated before.30
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
of fluid rich in calcium.four hours. such finely divided. and emulsi-
fied material. on account of the ammonia content. the ultiresolve it into its component parts. which exerts its neutralizing action upon the acids of the organic and inorganic mass of material which daily passes through the alimentary canal of the earthworm a quantity which may equal or exceed its own weight
every twenty.018 per cent of this substance having been found in their excrement [castings]. and reproductive organs.
and in all the days to come. we might to these two divisions." But until the individual can paraphrase the poet with a more literal and practical statement. as we conceive it. direct and utilize the forces live in comparative comfort wherever there
to breathe. we think of man as the master of the earth. say. "I am the master of the earth. rooting
through his universal adaptability harnessing." The
remaining chapters of this book are really an elaboration of this
generality. the directing the forces of nature.
At this point we feel justified in a brief digression to consider the practical purposes of soil-building.HUMUS
new-turned earth and growing material of life itself.
to his ability to
of nature. Collectively. viz: "Why It Can Be Done" and "How It Can Be Done.
present-day environment of
has become the entire earth.
Security means adea clothes on one's back
no apprehension for the
to bring a
for himself and his loved
who desires ones." The preceding sections have been introductory As a preliminary generality. Nevertheless. the master of
listen to the full-bellied poet blithely sing. the subject matter naturally falls under
two main headings. encompassed by his own particular environhis
ment and must work out
salvation in that environment. sweet-smelling subtstance of
WHY AND HOW
In considering the soil-building possibilities inherent in harnessing the earthworm.
what a comforting word!
a roof over one's head quate food freedom from fear place in the sun
future. he can
my fate." he is liable to live in insecurity and fear of the future. the captain of the soil. "The reason it can be done is because it has been done. and Through this adaptability. ding. we hope
surely to build security knowledge of
Philosophically. controlling. the captain of my soul.
beginning with the immediate present. and begin to build security for all the tomorrows of the
future. Under scientific control and intensive propagation. or in a roomy garden. may begin to build his own soil. a basic fact stands out: or west. As a master-builder of topsoil throughout the ages. adapt myfor me and mine. materials.
frontier. And. Among conflicting ideologies and changcannot move east ing social systems.
All the necessities.
into the picture?
. they have met. will be built by man exactly to meet his balanced food requirements. and
child can put the
work. the reader
appropriately ask a few ques-
What is this new standing? Where is it?
self and build security where do earthworms come
upon which I am apparently am anxious to explore it. and forces with which nature has worked throughout the ages. on orchard or farm. but in highly accelerated tempo. each individual. incidentally. the earthworm in nature has played a leading role. and luxuries of
upon the production of food and food comes from topsoil. a few square feet of earth in a city yard. satisfactions. The topsoil of the future. north or south here we stand and must stand. marking the boundary of a new and
Promised Land. Circling the globe. Whether the individual works with a single flower pot or window box.32
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
means through which he may become
the literal master of
earth. the earthworm is destined to play a major part in the future development of topsoil and its maintenance at the highest point of productive capacity. Working intelligently with the same tools. There are no more horizons.
THE NEW FRONTIER
The crowding populations of the earth stand on the last frontier a new frontier. here and
this point. with
the allied forces of nature and cheaply abundant materials at hand. comforts.
The Rainworm. or
H elodril u s
can build his
needs. satisf action.
the struggle for the mastery of the earth the actual is over. and learn how to utilize it to the best advantage. himself.by layer. This new fronis not a figure of speech. or a big piece of It is not earth. but will behow to occupy a little piece of earth.
acreage. according to their ability to acare seeking security through the development of a quire. it is an actual. either small
land. the ancient remains of buried continents lie sleeping the inexhaustible parent material of new
lands to be awakened and roused to verdant
through the knowledge and mastery of man. and profit of enjoying his own new earth which he. be it small or large.
Through simple and
mastered methods of soil-building.
any quantity necessary to meet
. millions of people are turning towards the establishment of themselves upon the land. vast changes will take physical occupation of the earth place. are already taking place. right down to the bedrock.
The wise man or woman will not procrastinate. They subsistence-homestead as a vocation or avocation.HUMUS
The new frontier is literally beneath our feet.
gin to plan
necessary to seek expensive land.
has helped to create. and have the pleasure. Layer .
of nature. highly developed and
fertile. physical fact and
each individual can go to work at once upon his own particular spot of ground. Among the changes very definitely in evidence is the
of city and urban populations
Spurred by necessity and a universal awakening to the importance of the soil.
in a never-ending cycle.
age-long weathering and disintegration of stone.
mountains. to tower into
earth. Down from the
comminuted particles find their way. over and over and finally ending in the deeps. becoming vegetable and animal. becoming soil.
The primary parent
IN THE primordial gases of chaos nature
activities. to settle into the depths with all the debris from
heights. to rise above the surface and complete
Shaler. leveled. "is rock material on
the deep. nature uses her many forces mechanical. entire continents Through erosion. Through great seismic upheavals and the deposition of silt. to be compressed into sedimentary rock and once again. again to be slowly worn to powder and redeposited in the sea. to be deposited and mixed for a spell with a vast aggregate of vegetable and animal residues in the low-lying places of the earth.
the recurring cycle. to be continued uninterrupted
the ages. Thus. becoming soil again. The incalculable animal and vegetable life of the sea finds its end in death. but in the end to find their way on flood-borne waters to the sea.
hills and plains. and vital. continents once again rise from the waters. the surface of the earth changes breaking up. mountains are ground down. through geological ages. chemical.
to be compressed into sedimentary rock.
" Continuing. iron. rivers.
In the process of transformation. with only 10^ pounds acbecomes excrement.
In. are harvested. the earthworm has been and is unchanged one of the great integrating. silicon.
In the feeding of 100 pounds." all life. such as
ending annual cycle untold millions of tons of the products of forest and farm. calcium. magnesium. both vegetable and animal. In
this movement of "rock material on its way to the deep. sodium. orchard and garden. and oceans. becoming food for the earthworm. indispensable
and. from microbe to man.
ing of this repository. counted for by increase in animal weight. stubble. dead vege-
warns "Man and all forms of life draw life from the sun. a small percentage becomes animal tissue. the earthworm
life in all
one of the greatest tools of nature." In the continual renewal and maintenance of this important surface layer upon which life
depends. phosphorus. nitrogen. Aside from the gaseous waste. clouds. Nathaniel Southgate Shaler.
rudely handled. for practically all of the fertile topsoil of earth's has passed many times through the bodies of earthworms.
sheep and hogs. the noted Harvard geologist. impermanent. sulphur. forms. with traces of
practically all the
elements of the universe. potassium. but most of it becomes food for humus-building
worms. chlorine. of grain to domestic anicattle. and earth through a tenuous film of topsoil. has aptly called the thin layer of humus-bearing topsoil "the placenta of life. soil-building forces of nature. on the average 89^ pounds waste and gases. to be transformed into earthworm food after they
have nourished animal
end-products of life
and served man.THE EARTHWORM IN NATURE
Working through remote
geological ages down to the present form. in the end. air. the 89^2 pounds represents earthworm food. lakes.
In the book Man and the Earth.
All the biological
kitchen and farm waste. has contributed to make the subsoil and topsoil the great repository of the physical elements of life
oxygen. the earthworm has contributed a major surface part. hydrogen. In a nevermals. the animal life itself. is the
great transformer of vegetation into perfect earthworm food.
handled by organic methods. nature has taken her time. nature has combined the elements of nutrition for all life. we find upon analysis that it contains 50 pounds derived from the earth and 950 pounds of chemicals derived from
air. dead animal residues constitute the cheap and ever-renewed source of earthworm food for profitable soil-
building. it is estimated that from 500 to 1000 years are required to lay down one inch of topsoil seldom so short a
time as 500 years.
find as high as 7. in the exact mainly vegetation.
form an additional great tonnage of material which eventually becomes earthworm food. Into the structure of the plant.
land. The living network of fine roots.
In the accumulation of the great tonnage of humus as found In the slow in the good black soils. on the averof chemicals age. eternally gorging on the dead and living vegetable material. These elements are
derived both from the earth and from the
Taking 1000 pounds of dry vegetation as a unit of measurment.
algae. as has been pointed out. on each other and on dead animal residues all producing earthworm food.
important in holding the
soil in place.000
of bacteria per acre in the superficial layer of topsoil. constitutes
by weight of the
organic matter in the upper six inches of In the good destined to become earthworm food.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
manures. fungi. The earthgo hungry. birds
the organic matter
140 to as high as 600 tons of humus per acre. all
becoming earthworm food. proportions necessary to reproduce vegetation.
The microscopic life of the earth and soil is vastly greater than the animal life which we see on and above the earth as
processes of nature.36
compounding. inexhaustible resources of parent mineral soil.THE EARTHWORM IN NATURE
In the process of transition back to the
soil. from a practical standpoint.
impregnating. nature slowly builds topsoil. we also have practically inexhaustible sources of vegetable material to draw upon for purposes of
soil-building. and combining
humus with the parent mineral soil. Just as we have. sources
which have never heretofore been exploited
for the use of man.
Charles Darwin collected his notes.
the place and funcand other sci-
entific writers in general. shortly before the death of the great naturalist. To appreciate and comprehend fully the vast activity and importance of earthworms in nature. he
. the first edition of his famous book on earthworms appeared. In 1881. with Ob-
servations on Their Habits.
read. Thus in this one instance we have a com-
plete and comprehensive study over a sufficient period of time in which to establish facts and form conclusions. as the most important animal agency in soil-building. The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Earthworms.
It is available in practically all
"Vegetable mould" is the name given by Darwin to the ferIn his introduction.
"I was thus led to conclude that all states mould over the whole country has passed many
and observations. or possibly one or two pages. and set them down in meticulous and painstaking
detail throughout his long life. give it brief mention in a paragraph. referring to his studies layers of topsoil. and then refer the reader to Charles Darwin's
study as recorded in his great book.
Beginning his study of the earthworm during his college
days prior to 1837. made his observations. Darwin's book on The Formation of Vegetable
Mould should be
in Scientific Literature
tion of the
So THOROUGHLY established and accepted earthworm in nature that soil
In almost all humid countries they are extraordinarily numerous and for their size possess great muscular power.
amount of mechanical trituration in the muscular gizards of the worms. so thatthe whole superficial bed of vegetable mould passes^ through their bodies in the course of every few years. the particles of earth forming the superficial mould are subjected to contegration. twigs. In this state it is well fitted to retain moisture and to absorb all soluble subThe bones of stances.
Worms have played a more important part in the history of the world than most persons would at first suppose. Thus. and sift it so that no stones larger than the particles which they can swallow are
the whole intimately together. From the collapsing of the old burrows the mould is in constant though slow movement. The generation of the humus-acids is probably hastened during the digestion of the many half-decayed leaves which worms consume. and the particles composing it are thus rubbed together.
in the last chapter of his book. as well as for the process of nitrification. " In a summing up of Darwin's conclusions.tgnjons (10. . the intestinal canals of worms.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
times through. the shells of land molluscs. in which small stones serve as mill-stones Worms prepare the ground in an excellent manner for the growth of fibrous-rooted plants and for seedlings of all kinds. and will again pass many times through.
. and other parts
it. In many parts of England a weight of more than .. the harder part of insects. are before long all buried beneath the accumulated castings of worms. 'vegetable mould/
we cannot do
better than to quote
own summary. Worms likewise drag an infinite number of dead leaves. By these means fresh surfaces are continually exposed to the action of the carbonic acid in the soil. etc.
ditions eminently favourable to their decomposition and disinMoreover. dead animals. like a garsoil for his choicest plants. Hence the term 'animal tnould' would
be in some respects more appropriate than that commonly used. They periodically expose the mould to the air. leaves. the particles of the softer rocks suffer some
. and of the humus-acids which appear to be still more efficient in the decomposition of rocks.516 kilograms) of dry earth jtnnually passes througfat tHeirJbodies and is brought to the surface on_each acre of jand. and are thus brought in a more or less decayed state within reach of the roots of plants.
Later investigations carried out by the British Government in a more
favorable location than England. showed jm_ainniial_ volumejof^ Notable incastings averaging more than 200 tons per acre. passing through their bodies anoBnngmg" to the surface from ten to
eighteen tons of dry earth annually on each acre of land. as have these lowly organized creatures. Ohio State University. turf-covered expanse. and still continues to be ploughed. partially digested. Firman E. after being torn into the finest shreds. formerly professor of Soils.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
of plants into their burrows. Bear. It is a marvellous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould over any such expanse has passed. These were concentrated. When we behold a wide. This earth forms the dark-coloured. on which so much of its beauty depends.
In some of the
of England. it was found that they were present in plots of soil covered with bluegrass in numbers averaging over one million per acre. rich humus which almost everywhere covers the surface of the land with a fairly well-defined layer or mantle . is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly levelled by worms. by earthworms. both as to numbers of earthworms per acre as well as to the tonnage of castings
thrown up.000 to 53. one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed. and saturated with the intestinal and urinary secretions are commingled with much' earth.
from the time of Darwin down
present have corroborated his findings and have also shown that Darwin was extremely conservative in his claims. in his authoritative book on Theory and Practice in the Use of Fertilizers. The leaves which are dragged into the burrows as food. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world.000 per acre.
Darwin found earthworms
concentrations of from 25. Dr. every
few years through the bodies of worms.
. . states "In a study of earthworms in the soil on the Ohio State University Farm.
will again pass. partly for the sake of plugging them up and partly as food. we should remember that its smoothness.
. testifying as an expert before the Committee on Flood Control. House of Representatives. Arthur J. but den these pages with further examples. S. De-
partment of Agriculture Yearbook for 1938. in the
of soil. noted
and for many
years Chief of the Soil Survey Division in the United States Department of Agriculture. in
normal circumstances contain an earthworm
more than six hundred billion. Mason estimated that the farm lands of Ilinois. stated:
"The weight of
In a radio address delivered over Farm Forum." U. or granular mixtures of mineral and organic material produced by earthworms. give particular areas of the forest floor their whole character. page 946 Certain mulls. Mason." pages 964-965. corroborative
unnecessary to bur-
Curtis Fletcher Marbut.
They move and
. Prof. we find
Earthworms feed on
and organic matter and thoroughly
put together.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
at the time the
numbers were estimated
in July. Seventieth Congress. Heiberg of the New York State College of Forestry \said: "If your soil is suitable for earthworms there may be more than two and one-half million per acre. That means that you may have more pounds of earthworms in your employment than all your domestic animals
. weighing about [1400 pounds. expressed the belief that in certain areas
to earthworm casts."
is at least
tenfold the weight of the entire human popuMr.
state. Hundreds of quotations from scientific
of the foregoing. Svend O.
Quoting further from the same book "Formation of Soil.
cited. the granular condition characterizing whole layers of soil is due quote from "Soils and Men.
In its best form it is crumbly. and porous. There is no doubt that earthworms are the most beneficial animals in forestry. weighing about 800 pounds. The mixing is done by the soil fauna. especially by the earthworms which continually dig and cultivate and eat both the The excreta are placed vegetable matter and the mineral soil.
. 1. this humus type (coarse mull) is undoubtedly the highest and its ability to absorb moisture and One liter of chus prevent surface run-off and erosion is high. The quotation refers type of forest soil.
by Svend O. No. friable. the soil surface. the entire humus layer of coarse upon mull constists of earthworm excreta." or "crumbmull"
In the mull.
. in fact. 37. tions of potentially productive soils is the presence of well-
respect to productivity. Vol. In good forest mull between
one and two million earthworms are found per acre. while on the same soil where the coarse mull has not developed it may require two or three hours
to seep in. and they thrive especially well in moderOne of the many indicaately acid to moderately alkaline soils.42
soil to the
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
acre each year.
the Journal of Forestry. with
. It resembles a well-cultivated garden. "mull."
ture. their castings may amount to 15 tons per acre per year.
MASS-PRODUCTION OF TOPSOIL ON FARM LAND
what the earthworm can accomplish in soila proper chance. water poured on a 100 square centimeters surface of coarse mull which corresponds to about four inches of rain may be ab-
sorbed in less than 15 seconds. The cultivation of the soil and ploughing under of manure which farmers and gardeners find to be of great importance for the soil productivity is done "free" by the earthworms if they are furnished with a suitable environment
. Associate Professor of
State College of Forestry. we quote the following from the article on "Forest Soil in Relation to Silviculture. the organic matter is intimately mixed with the upper few inches of the mineral soil. Heiberg. we must select a spot in the
world where nature has provided a favorable environment.
ancient "bread-basket" of the world and reputedly the most fertile soil on the face of the Only in the more densely populated areas of China and globe. Vol. and this without deterioration of the fertility of the soil. No.
Station Record.79 tons) per acre. we must examine the source of the Blue Nile and the facts in nature which make such results credible.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
an unfailing supply of earthworm food in excessive abundance. thousand years of recorded history the Valley of the Nile has
been densely occupied and under continuous cultivation.
Japan do we find such a concentration of human beings drawing For more than six their nourishment from limited areas of soil.
find the following
on by the British Government
Valley of the White Nile in the Sudan indicate that the great
in fertility of the soil of this valley is due of earthworms.
brief descriptive excursion to the
of the Nile. which in-
. properly composted with all the chemical elements and organic content required to build rich topsoil. Observations are recorded mated that the castings of earthworms on six months of active growing season of
large part to the
these soils during the the year amounts to
239. To understand them. Here we have an object-lesson in nature on mass-production of topsoil on a scale
of such magnitude as to enable us to envision the limitless posinherent in the intensive propagation and utilization of shall make a earthworms in the controlled service of man.
THE EARTHWORMS OF THE NILE
United States Department of Agriculture Experiment
the Blue Nile
source rivers of the true Nile
their confluence at
White Nile and Khartoum. 27.580 pounds (119. Fortunately.
figures given in the foregoing quotation are almost unbelievably amazing to anyone who has made no study of the
and volume of work accomplished by earthworms. we have such
an example in the Valley of the Nile.
and thirty miles beencounters the great fall called "Tisitat"
. narrow canyons. which is responsible for the unexcelled fertility of
soil. For nine months of the year this is a hard. including the elephant and other herbivora.
and dry wash
becomes a roaring torrent. To the north of the river are
great timbered jungles which support an unequalled animal life. fantastic peaks. in the
through a huge gorge. lies a triangular stretch of level
called the "Gezira. cloudbursts. abrupt.
In June of each year comes the rainy season. five-million-acre tract of ancient farm land has been slowly
built up through the ages by the annual deposit of silt from the overflow of the Blue Nile. the Blue Nile finds its source.
feet.rivers unite to form the Nile. This inexhaustibly fertile. probably numbered in the billions. beginning with downpour. canyon. The river water holes. as well as the great carnivora and lesser animals of all kinds.
eroded slopes. terrific thunder and electric
rest. between the
Roughly. The land of the
Gezira harbors an earthworm population.
must consider the region from which the Blue Nile
miles wide at the base of the triangle and narrowing to the point where the. longest river in the world.
its first fifty
low Lake Tana
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
mile. as the waters from thousands of square miles of highlands rush down to swell the Blue Nile into a vast wall of water fifteen hundred feet wide. its waters so richly laden during the flood season that it is almost a river of mud.
midway point of this four-thousandAbove Khartoum. high plateaus six to ten thousand feet in elevation
vast. dry country of volcanic mountains.
almost dry river wakes from
gully. in order to understand the composition
silt. as it starts on its course
to join the
trickling. tiny tributary. the Gezira
long. deep gullies.
surface. find their
into the river to
silt. leaving its deposit of silt. crocodiles. etc. the river bursts from the gorge into the lowland of the Gezira
and spreads over the plain as overflow. feldspar.. hornblende crystals. at places
feet deep.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
sible gorge. lions. until the river carries 17 per cent of silt.
of months from millions of animals and birds. uninvaded jungle paradise for animals and birds. and an aggregation of beasts great to
small. clay. the thirsty earth absorbs it quickly The earthworms begin like a sponge.
the flood-water spreads. ferruginous minerals. of which 9 per cent is organic matter and 8
per cent mineral matter. ready to receive
making it one vast honey-combed suband store the waters when they come. hippopotami. In the Gezira more than 9000 miles of irrigation ditches help to distribute the flood
waters uniformly over the earth. including elephants.
crowded into an almost inaccesbetween whose precipitous
This gorge is an almost walls it pursues its course for 500 miles. perfectly
depth of several
feet. mixing cauldron of racing.
After flowing 500 miles through the confines of this great canyon. eroding waters from the highlands gather vast quantities of volcanic ash.
mixed and composted. with
the numberless tons of fine earth they have piled up in their ceaseless workings during the nine month's dry season. is spread for the worms Beneath the dry surface of the earth the innumerable earthworm population has awaited the coming of the rains. a boiling. A peculiar element which adds appreciably to the organic richness of the silt of the Blue Nile is billions of white ants. The rushing. The temperaThe accumulated droppings ture never falls below 100 degrees.
The downpour of
rain continues for nearly one
hundred days. leopards. It is thus that the vast annual feast of organic and inorganic
of the Gezira. with very little let-up. The earth has been riddled with billions of tunnels to a
the steep hillsides into the Blue Nile.
work and almost over
carried through the
. silt-laden waters.
Age after age.
In this recorded observation.
. covering a period of nearly one hundred years. or entirely produced by earthworms. from before the time of Darwin down to the immediate present. loaded with immediately available. homogenized and excreted as
plant nutrients. the castings were estimated for a period of six months only. for thousands
Here no human cultivation is required. this process has been In this favorable environment nature composts food in
worms do the cultivating.
Based on comprehensive knowledge of work.
abundance. We are thus
given an outstanding example of mass-production of topsoil in nature by the earthworms of the Nile Valley. and excrete humus for the growth of vegetation in an endless cycle. is fully conclusive.
probably the most outstanding
the fact that in
earthworm the soil undergoes a chemical change which the nutritional elements for plant growth are renthrough dered water-soluble to a much more highly marked degree than is found in soil which has not been subjected to the influence of
earthworms. digested. The seeded and the next operation is the harvest the earthof years. rightly termed a
fertility. a conservative estimate for the entire year in the area under consideration would place the total probable annual output of castings at more than 200 tons per acre. In fact. totaling for this time slightly less
than 120 tons per acre. digest it.
laden topsoil. Among the many reasons that account for the fertility of earthworm castings.
FERTILITY OF EARTHWORM SOIL
While engaged in research and experiments over a number we examined many reports carried in scientific literature.46
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
rich. showing vastly increased productivity of soil that
populated with earthworms. The eviof years. fine
worms. the evidence shows an overwhelming superiority of earthworm soil over other fertile soils. the earthworms devour it.
(Ph. R. the ratio of higher production in the presence of worms varied all the way from 2. one without: invariably. ideally qomposted and laid down. surprising differences between the cultural results obtained. In Wolney 's experiments..THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
fertility of the
Nile Valley is an example two thousand-mile stretch of land which is literally one vast bed of earthworm soil.9 percent in that of potatoes. all the fertile river valleys and bottom lands of
a the earth could be cited with equal truth as illustrations of the important work of earthworms in the building of topsoil. Composition and Relations to Climate and Plant Growth. L. and subjected to the digestion of earthworms in a favorable environment. and this has been fully confirmed by the subsequent researches of Djemil. and I have hacl
.. same age and condition. 140 percent in vetch. the one with the worms will take on new zest and life. A. by E. but cussion to cite a few. 135. one time Professor of Agriculture in the University of California and formerly Director of the California Ex-
find in part*:
Wolney has shown by direct experimental cultures in boxes.
appropriate at this point in the dis-
In the book Soils: Their Formation. we will
reports received from practical earthgive part of a letter from a Georgia
. layer by layer. to 733 percent in the case of rape. Mr.D. with and without earthworms.
From among many worm culturists. Properties..L. 63.
farmer.D. Further on in this book we shall
give other reports.9 percent in that of rye. Caldwell
I have planted Moss Rose in experimental pots. one pot with worms. and 300 percent in that of the field pea. 6 percent in the case of oats. Many
growth experiments have been carried out in verification of made for earthworm castings and soil that has been worked over by earthworms. While we have given the Valley of the Nile as an example.
ITS TRANSLOCATION AND MIXING BY EARTHWORMS
On the subject of plant food in subsoil. All boxes produced good crops of grass. The box of native soil. with the aid of hundreds of earthworms burrowing about their roots. ing and cultivating ability. but with
. grass was harvested and the results carefully compared. Anderson.
1940. I have also grown petunias in boxes.
In a full-column article entitled "Earthworms in Role of
Great Benefactors of the
Human Race. April fPages 71 and 72
12. by Wilbur Walter Weir
'South Pasadena (California) Reriew. yielded 271 percent more than the control box without worms. produced leaves 1^ to 1J4 inches wide by 3 inches long. in such size and profusion as to be unbelievable to one who never had a demonstration of the earthworm's fertilizPetunias in soil of identical fertility. while those in the boxes without worms were yet j inch wide by 1 to \% inches long. A. W." Mr.
feel that the
attention to the fact that the
identical soil. we quote from Productive Soils: The Fundamentals of Successful S<oil Management
and Profitable Crop Management^.fertilized plants were
several times as tall as the others.
foregoing is amply sufficient to call earthworms not only produce a great but they produce soil of unsurpassed fertility.
earthworms added one box of pure earthAfter germination and sixty days' growth. reported a number of
growth experiments by the author. one box of trivialis}. Editor of the S*outh Pasadena Review.
earthworms added. and the worm. the castings.* One of the experiments reported on was this: planted three boxes of lawn grass (poa One box of good native soil as control.
. While we could give an endless array of reports similar to
the above. The box of earthworm castings yielded 463 percent more than the control box without earthworms.48
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
them make such wonderful growth as 16 to 1.
. George Sheffield Oliver. with a cluster of ripe "carob" against the background.
The potassium content is usually greater in the subsoils. owing to the presence of more organic matter. Forest Service.
subsoil. S. soil. the higher content of the surface soil is gradually reduced.
further importance of this soil
Every farmer and student of the soil knows that he cannot his topsoil with any great quantity of subsoil. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils. On exthe higher phosphorus content of the upper strata. In that subsoils also contain the important elements. Ph. but which absorb much more of the potassium leached down from the surface stratum.. without se-
he subsoil.D. the phosphorus and potassium content of the surface soil is very much the same as that of the
fine particles. More potassium is found in subsoils of humid climates because of the presence of more
which are not only richer in potassium than the coarser surface particles. There is often a close relationship between the phosphorus and This accounts for the amount of organic matter in mineral soils. one time Soil Technologist. Dept. Branch of Research. especially when they are present in large numbers. general. it is readily appreciated what a great change may be made in the surface soil by the translocation of the subsoil to the top layers through the action of earthworms.. haustive cropping.S. the surface soil contains more rUrogen than the subSome deep.
From the foregoing quotation. University of Wisconsin)
It is important to bear Subsoils contain plant food elements. U. of Agriculture.
. especially when they are fine-textured.S. Forest Ecologist. black soils may have as high percentage of nitrogen in the subsoil (to a limited depth) as is contained in the surface stratum. The percentage of phosphorus in the surface layer is commonly greater than or equal to that contained in the subsoil. In arid and semi-arid soils.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
(B. which render it immediately available for the growing of crops. M. until it equals at least the percentage contained in
movement from the depths to the be more fully understood in the light of the chemical changes the soil undergoes in its passage through the earthworm.[A].
especially from ping. great numbers of earthworms had burrowed
from the culture boxes and other beds. This box is about five feet long. we had neglected the task of mixing compost for a period of several weeks. thirty inches wide and twelve inches deep. for immediate use. we dumped the box for examination. However. rabbit manure.SO
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
riously reducing the fertility of the topsoil for immediate cropWhen subsoils are brought to the surface. and chicken manure. It is thoroughly mixed with the surface topsoil. so that the whole becomes one uniform. where we had established our experimental culture beds. preparing it. bring it
to the surface
and deposit it. in the translocation of the subsoil by earthworms. In our lath house. To determine. crumbly soil. preparatory to mixing the earthworm compost.
. the necessity
avoided. homogenized layer. we found that many earthworms had moved into the box from the
into the earth
and were producing many egg-capsules. as well as to illustrate. After four months. We then added several
materials. The earthworms do not simply swallow the subsoil. the entire contents of the box having been converted into
one homogenized mixture of fine.
for leaving the land fallow for months of weathering is The soil undergoes the necessary changes in the ali-
mentary canals of the earthworms. allowing them to burrow down into the mix. the mixing
action of earthworms. they should be "weathered" for months and mixed sparingly into the
Howtopsoil before they become fully available for best results. as has been stated. We were using an old cement mixing box for compost mixing. with layers of good topsoil. We found no sign of stratification.
depths ranging from eighteen inches to two feet downward.
stratified layers of
prepared a culture box of carefully Layers of granulated peat moss. were alternated. mixed horse manure. This box had been filled with rabbit manure and thoroughly wet down. with a galvanized iron bottom that had finally rusted into many holes. ever.
hundred earthworms on top of the stratified compost. Upon examination of the manure.
which lasted one year.
late in the fall. and the changes which the soil underwent determined by analyses at the beginning and end of the experiments. except that earthworms
were not added. was found at
the end of the experiments to gradually increase from the surface toward the subsoils. which at the beginning was greatest in the surface soils. was found to have been comWe used this fine. of Agriculture Experi-
lugbox garden. Murinov
Alternate layers of different kinds of soil were placed in zinc boxes with one glass side.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
to leave the
box and observe
results. earthworms were added. dark. which supplied our table with lettuce. and other greens of unusual excellence from early spring until
In this instance.
that in the soils to
which the earthworms
were added the phosphoric acid soluble
in 10 per cent hydrochloric acid increased in all cases. grown in lugboxes.
providing us with highly
and productive earth for our
for protection against the summer sun and keeping the ing The contents of the box soon lost its identity contents moist.
and mixed with earthworm
has been worked over by earthworms castings. The nitrogen was more uniformly distributed throughout the soil at the end of the experiment than at the beginning. crumbly earth. The lime content.
the following sum-
of an experiment by A. In the Record of the U. the worms brought up considerable quantities of the subsoil from beneath the old cement box and thoroughly mixed and combined it with rabbit manure. young onions. attention should be called to
nitrogen. the soil kept in a proper state of moisture.food elements
major plant. check series of boxes were treated in the same manner. earthworm soil for a Victory Garden.
pletely converted into
S. radishes. No.
work.59 tons of each acre inhabited by worms.
threefold (321 per cent).
. he says
. as determined by Knop and Wolff.52
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
as well as the minor elements are phorus and potassium mixed and compounded with a high percentage of orintimately ganic material.00056 per cent. the amount of dry material by which Darwin estimated annually passed through the earthworms
of England per acre. It therefore appears that the action of the worms has increased the ammonia content of the soil acted upon
to the soil
. Stockbridge.. which exposes many
surfaces to the bacterial action so important in the topsoil. is only 0.018 per cent of 10.018 per cent. Composition and Characteristics. as the castings are rich in calcium carbonate that has been secreted from the blood of the earthworm in the metabolic processes and is then excreted in
. is equivalent to 381. Florida Agricultural College) in his book Rocks bridge and Soils: Their Origin. Darwin states the ammonia content of worm castings to be 0.
When given in the number of pounds per acre represented 0.
. be it borne in mind. while the average ammonia present in common surface soils.functions of earthworms. of the constituents made available in the topsoil by the life.
and perhaps not the most important. .
earthworms "sweeten" the soil.24 pounds. all in a finely divided state. the yearly accession of ammonia Ammonia is but one. This point
discussing earthworm castings.
Of particular note is the highly important fact that earthworm castings are very rich in nitrogen and may contain three
in the soil in
which the worms
brought out by Horace Edward Stock(Ph. is but a change wrought in one year and capable of yearly
. Quoting further from Dr.D.59 tons. "This. :
of organic matter thus directly or indirectly be inferred from the fact that Darwin estimates that the material annually brought to the surface by worms is two-tenths of an inch per acre equivalent to an average of 10.
the mineral subsoil undergoes chemical changes.
the accession of
to the topsoil
would be an almost un-
believable amount. ranging from a sparse of a few thousand per acre to several millions per population acre in favorable environment. the thorough and ceaseless mixing of these elements with the soil. Without quoting is just part of the important work oS worms.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
can only surmise at this point that the accession of other plant food elements to the topsoil is proportional to the gain in nitrogen derived from ammonia. riddling and honeycombing the earth to a depth of several feet. we will point out that in the example we have given of the action of the earthworms in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. us summarize in part the v/ork of earthworms in nature.
While earthworms inhabit the surface layers of soil. They are distributed practically all
over the globe. deriving nutrition from the organic content of the soil.
The constant translocation of the plant food minerals from the subsoil to the surface zones."
In considering the significance of the above quotations and comments. making it immediately available for plant
are found in nature. the entire mass of mould on every few years through their alimentary
canals. they commonly burrow deep into the earth. making it a finely conditioned.
evenly balanced soil without the necessity for long weathering. which deals with the con-
long references and
details. but swallowing the soil with all that it contains. bringing the subsoil to the top and mixing it with the surface
passage through the worm. before passing on to the second part of the book.
passes in the course of a
trolled activity of
earthworms. with some related points. They come to the top to deposit their castings on top of the earth and in the loose surface layers.
the potenrendered available by the fact that in
the digestive processes of the earthworm the elements of plant nutrition are made water-soluble.
Wormcasts commonly contain a high percentage of carbonates as well as a high percentage of nitrogen. espeDecomcially those concerned in the decomposition of cellulose.
Plow sole is eliminated.
Earthworms continually restore the plant food elements to the surface soils from the subsoils. the reduction in acidity in some instances amounting to as much as 75 per cent.
increased in the topsoil. earthworms reduce the alkalinity of the soil.
while acid soils are rendered less
the soil also has a greatly increased number of soil bacteria. due to the fact that the nutritional elements have been concentrated in the castings in water-soluble
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
The aerating tunnels have the important function of In some cases greatly increasing the air capacity of the soil. the air capacity is increased as much as 60 to 75 per cent. absorbed. Earthworms increase the organic content of the surface soils by concentrating the organic content of the soil in the top layers. Water penetration is improved where there is adequate earth-
Earthworm castings have much greater productive value for plant growth than other soil. the earthworms produce a topsoil that is practically a neutral humus.
action of the earthworms. instead of running off or standing on the surquickly
Wormcasts in acid soil are much less acid than the soil from which they are derived. In large numbers.
position of vegetable matter influence of earthworms. Where there are numerous earthworms.54
nutrition. thus overcoming the effects
of leaching. so that alkaline
less alkaline. The rainfall is population.
Bacterial multiplication and functioning are favored by the action of earthworms.
will be emphasized. confirmed by numerous reports from earthworm culturists. Undetermined deficiencies in the soil have evidently been remedied by the addition of earthworms. is that fruit trees which have never borne fruit become productive after earthworms have been established around them. which
ideal ration. Another important observation we have made. resulting in unproductive
fruitful.THE EARTHWORM IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
feeding an animal with a well-balanced food ration.
by action due to the production of a more without deficiencies such as are found in soils dedoubtless
pendent on chemical fertilization.
of the above points
. Resistance to pests and plant diseases is increased
applies to plant nutrition.
In the second part of this book.
IN THE foregoing pages we have discussed the earthworm in nature and shown something of its value in the soil. Such a population
figuring an average working depth of thirty inches. The value of the earthworm in nature has been established beyond question. favorable environment of the Upper Nile
we have reported on the annual production of more than two hundred tons of castings per acre.000 per acre. However.000. The positive and unqualified answer to the question "Can it be done?" is "Yes it has been done.
without ever a thought or effort to
in the service of
man." One million earthworms per acre in good native soil is considered a very numerous natural population.
while in the more
an annual production of ten tons of castings per acre.000 to upwards of 2. We have shown earthworms working in the soils of England in concentrations of from 25.000 to 53. We have shown earthworms in
. talking and writing about the value of earthworms in nature without doing anything about it is exactly like the academic discussion of water power in nature. In the intensive propagation and use of domesticated earth-
worms.000 per acre or more and in the soils of the United States in concentrations of from 250. we have put them
operations in concentrations of three thousand or
controlled soil-building more per cubic
means one hundred and thirty million worms acre foot. showing that it can be done.
have gone to the greatest of all teachers Mother Nafor an example of "mass-production" of earthworm topsoil in the Nile Valley. We now pass to the second part of the book.
Lest the reader
at this point
be misled into
soil. which deals more particularly with earthworms under controlled propagation and use.
and the example of nature is duplicated in proportion to the amount of material and number of worms involved.
In round numbers. Not only
does nature show that
can be done. but she shows how to do it.
. provide the abundant-soil-building food of worms which is cheaply available practically everywhere. The fact which makes such high concenper trations possible is that the number of earthworms in a given environmental space is limited only by the amount of available food present.
in a cubic
foot of native
hasten to state that in
tritional material for the
provide the necessary concentrated nuworms to work with in special culture
beds or compost heaps. practical application of the lessons of nature.CAN
foot of composted parent material. in the inpropagation and use of domesticated earthworms we
create a favorable environment.
The Earthworm Under Control
IN THE following chapters we deal with the intensive propagaand use of earthworms under controlled environment. As has been stated, the one fact which makes it possible to utilize the earthworm in mass-production of humus-laden topsoil is that the number of earthworms in a given environment is limited only by the amount of available food present. There are two objectives to be held in mind: The first is the most effective and economical utilization of all possible organic material, such as every form of vegetation, all animal manures, garbage, garden, orchard, and farm waste, and litter of all kinds; in fact, what we have termed the biological end-products of life as opposed to purely chemical end-products and strictly chemical
objective is to establish the greatest posin the soil, using methods of tillage
fertilization that will favor the
maintenance of earth-
in the soil, as well as the bacterial population that is con-
cerned in soil-building and maintenance of the highest state of
fertility in a
propagating earthworms intensively in special culture beds, we use them very much as we use bacterial cultures, breeding them in high concentrations by furnishing adequate food maIn
support vast numbers in a limited area. Fertile farm soil, properly handled through organic methods, will easily support from one to two million or more earthworms per
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Such a population will provide ideal aeration and air soil, with good drainage, rapid water penetration and maximum moisture-holding capacity. At the same time, such an earthworm population provides a soil turnover and conditioning of upwards of two hundred tons of material annually, mixed and prepared in the humus mill of the earthworm and
capacity for the
delivered to the root-zone of vegetation comprised in the immediate six to eighteen inches of surface soil. In special culture
propagate earthworms in concentrations of upwards of three thousand worms per cubic foot of material, which means, in round numbers, one hundred and thirty million
per acre-foot. the above figures and objectives in mind,
to begin to visualize the possibilities of soil-building,
be for a single flower pot, a window box of flowers, a small city yard or garden, or more extensive acreage in large gardens, nurseries,
orchards, or farms. ordinarily think of earthworms as small, wriggling, inTo appreciate properly the possignificant, repugnant creatures.
inherent in the intensive propagation and use of worms soil-building, we should gain a new and different concept,
thinking of them in units of hundreds, thousands, or even milinstead of thinking in terms of separate, tiny, individual worms. For purposes of illustration, suppose we ask, "How
are a million earthworms?" and use our imagination in
answering the question.
combine one million earthworms into a
single, composite animal and place this animal on an acre of ground, with a year's ration of fertile topsoil piled up around it
symmetrical piles for its daily consumption. We shall then have a monster animal, weighing more than 2000 pounds, with 365 piles of soil before it. Each pile will contain approximately
pile will represent the daily ration of this
one cubic yard of earth, weighing upwards of 2000 pounds. Each
animal, that will swallow
or more of earth each
We have weighed many of the earthworms which we propagated during our research. If to end. or other domestic animal.
Thus they have to gorge many hours each day in order to produce eggs in commercially profitable numbers. this amount However.
nutrition required analyze and care-
fully study these figures.
good condition. mentally Now let us check with integrated from one million earthworms. the balance going out in their droppings. we begin to gain a concept of the tremendous soil-building force which is at work in the earth when
populated by one million earthworms per acre.A NEW CONCEPT
day of the year.
twenty-four hours. as has been pointed out. In fact. as they have been established by careful experiment. the facts. Suppose that a laying hen had to swallow enough earth daily to secure the
amount of organic food necessary
to keep her in
good laying con-
earthworms work unseen and their manure is so thoroughly combined with the soil that it cannot be separated.
a mature hen will drop seventy-five pounds of manure each year.
just as truly an air-breathing. manure-producing animal The difference is a horse. in
order to ab-
sorb from the
good condition. On the average. the manure of the earthworm is finely conditioned
soil. averages four inches in length. eating
weight of earth
daily. or about 31 worms per ounce. On the average. Thus one million of them would weigh 2000 pounds. Chickens utilize only about ten per cent of the nutritional value
of the food they eat.
stated than an
in soil each
seems almost unbelievable. Such will be our composite animal. cow. they would make a continuous line over 6% placed end
miles long. they run about 500 The fully mature to the pound. a ration of topsoil equal to the weight of the earthworm each day seems a very reasonable amount. when the eating and ex-
cretory activities of the chicken are compared with those of the earthworm.
sideration. assuming that her digestive organs were Yet that is exactly what the similar to those of the earthworm. thousands.
so constructed as to be able to digest this material.
on the organic conthat
dition. Only because it is perhaps the most perfect
therein. she would have to consume several times her own
weight of earth each day.
digestive organism known to the animal world is the earthworm able to absorb enough food from an amount of earth equal to
in a fat
and active condition.
on examination. for in intensive propagation and use of earthworms we must deal with great numbers of them.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
instead of feeding on concentrated grains and mashes. this. thus gaining the small amount of food necessary for nutrition. Thus. millions. perfectly reasonable and
We again repeat: Think of earthworms in large units of hundreds.
the statement that the earthworm swallows
earth daily appears.
cannot expect to attain results worthy of con-
Oliver told it. the earthworm farmer of today
have the advantage of modern composting techniques and many other improvements which have been worked out during the past few decades. In answer to our questions about the use of earthworms for large acreage. Oliver related to us the story of his early youth on his grandfather's farm. pioneer earthworm culturist of California.VI
of the questions most frequently asked is "How would earthworms for large acreage and general farming?" you are fortunate in having a fact story of a large Ohio farm
which was operated with full use of earthworms during the period from about 1830 to 1890. we came in contact with the late Dr. Oliver.
In a later chapter. with results which are corroborative of those reported as follows by Dr.
While this story gives the broad basic principles for use of earthworms in general farming. We became close friends and collaborators for a number of years prior to his death.
from remote geological ages
to the present. Dr. However. we shall give a report of earthworm tillage on a modern farm. We can think of no better way to present the technique for utilization
of earthworms in general farming and for large acreage than to tell the story. for they have come
us practically unchanged. Early in our research into the subject of earthworms. the earthworms remain the
same. reconstructing it very much as Dr.
George Sheffield Oliver.
but it had been sold off in forty-acre tracts to former tenants until It had been there remained only the farmstead of 160 acres.
figure. my grandfather would set each of them up on a tract of forty acres or more. George Sheffield.
as a small boy. my grandfather's practice to select young single men as farm As these men reached maturity and married and wanted help.
WHEN. through the utilization of earthworms. maintained in ever-increasing fertility over a period of more than 60 years. He was a man who loved the soil and took pride in every detail of his farm. He lived to the ripe old age of ninety. this farm-holding had been 1.
story related to the author by the late Dr.
Originally. I remember him as
tall. came across a picture of the poet struck by the close resemblance of the two
and they could have
been taken for twins. at the age of seventy-five. After all these years I
fact. took delight in riding the young three-year-olds.
forty years. I found him living on a model farm of 160 acres.
memories from the period of spent on this farm are the daily horsetook with my grandfather. which he had farmed continuously for more than sixty years. riding with the ease grace of the practiced horseman. I went to live with my grandfather. to establish homes of their own.
In the type of Edwin Markham. assist them in getting started. swinging into the saddle
At that age he still facility of a man in his prime.800 acres. in later years.
and accept a payment contract over a period of Thus. like him-
Sheffield Oliver. his close neighbors were men who.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
The story of a self-contained farm of 160 acres. in northern Ohio.three.
with orchard. garden and park occupied one Near the center of the 160 acres was located the great forty. The house and orchard were backed by forty acres of timbered land maple.
These stacks occupied permanent raised platforms. Root cellars. with broad swinging gates
of the four sides. a wonderful park. and many other trees native to Ohio.
Located in the four corners of the barnyard were the strawalternating wheat stack. opening into lanes which led into each of the forty-acre tracts. My grandfather called this timbered tract his park.
it. The park was well watered with living springs and
a quite generous-sized creek ran through nish all the fish the family needed. due to his lifetime experience. in order to understand its efficient operation without waste of time
and energy. abounding in small game and bird life to delight the soul of a small boy with his first gun. oat stack. canned and dried fruits and vegetables provided for the winter months. wheat stack. black walnut. oat stack.
large enough was designated
a task which
dearly loved. The homestead. the farm was fenced with black walnut rails beautiful timber which would be almost priceless at this time. hickory.
It was divided into four tracts of forty acres each. Incidentally. simply by opening the proper gate and driving them through the lane into the particular section that was to be
pastured. about six feet above the ground. The homestead was located at the center of the farm.
barnyard of about two acres.
and could cooperate in all community work. and the intensive utilization of earthworms. burr oak. vegetable banks. I
official fish-catcher. Thus the stock could be herded into any part
of the farm. Four acres of orchard and garden furnished an abundance of fruits and vegetables the year round. resting on sturdy walnut posts and covered
important to get a picture of the lay-out of the farm.EARTHWORMS IN GENERAL FARMING
self. improved methods. My grandfather often remarked that he was making more profit from his remaining 160 acres than he ever made on the original
1800 acres. It was indeed.
Just outside the barnyard ran the creek. so that drainage was always away from the house and there was no chance of
led to the
from the teeming
of the barnyard.
compost pit. My grandfather
claimed that each kind of straw added valuable elements of fertility to
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
or poles. with an overhead cable anchored to the top of each post and running to the barn. At each end. to be evenly spread in a uniform layer.
. in which the manure from the barn was transported to the compost pit and dumped each morning. evenly spaced from side to side and about twenty
from the end. feeding on the good straw overhead through the cracks between the logs. the manure could be dumped at a spot most convenient for proper handling. so that when necessary the compost could be well soaked in a few minutes. Plenty of straw was always thrown down for bedding. By means of the posts in each end. The stock had under these platforms in the winter. a heavy log post was deeply anchored. Also a flume. I now know to have* been the most perfect and scientific fertilizer production unit I have ever known. On these cables were large traveling dump baskets. which found its
source in a big spring in the park. This is an imit
portant point in the utilization of earthworms for general farming.68
the light of my present knowledge. The homestead occupied ground on a higher level than the barnyard.
In the center of the barnyard was the compost
pit. with a controlled intake. From this creek an abundance of water was piped by gravity into the watering troughs for the stock in barn and yard. cut from the woods.
possible to clear the barn quickly each morning of the night's droppings and spread the material in the pit without any loss of the valuable elements of fresh manure. This pit was fifty feet wide and one hundred feet
long and had been excavated to a depth of about two feet. These posts were probably twelve to fifteen feet high. With this arrangement of overhead trolley from barn to compost pit. and he alternated the strawstacks so that wheat and oat straw would be evenly mixed.
. At the proper season. the ice pond would be filled and when the ice' formed to the right thickness the annual harvest of ice was cut and
stored in the ice house. The bottom of this pond was formed
of a fine-textured red clay. For more than sixty years these 160 acres had been farmed without a single crop failure. brood mares. for pleasure and profit. he had cattle. hogs. In addition to horses. including stud. and a variety of fowl. my grandfather's hobby. The hired help consisted of three or four
tional help at rush seasons.
farm combined general farming and stock raising.
And now enters the earthworm. according to the season. Usually about three hundred head of stock were wintered. grandfather was known far and wide for the unequaled
excellence of his corn and other grain. and a large part of his The surplus was disposed of at top prices for seed purposes.
heart of the farming technique
was the com-
pit. and colts in all stages of development. and my grandfather attributed his unvarying success as a farmer to the utilization of earthworms in maintaining and rebuilding the fertility of the soil in an uncycle. leading by gravity arranged from the creek at one end. to provide an abundance of ice for all purposes the year round. while at the lower end a spillway was provided so that the pond could be drained.
men. This pond was so that it could be filled from a flume. was the breeding and training of fine saddle horses and matched Hambletonian teams. with addiThis establishment was maintained
prosperity and plenty.
He maintained a herd of about fifty horses. and with teams of scrapers
Each spring the pond was drained many tons of this clay were scraped
out and diked around the borders of the pond to weather for use on the compost heap.
including a flock of about five hunderd chickens which had the
run of the barnyard.EARTHWORMS
floor of the
IN GENERAL FARMING
one side of the barnyard and
higher level than the
yard was located the ice pond. with a flock of ducks. sheep.
the compost would be watered through the flume leading from the creek. sheep. Thus the variety of animal manures from horses. the droppings for heap.
Meantime. deodorized soil.
in mineral elements. and it was especially designed to provide a great breeding bed for earthworms. beneath the surface the earth-
untold millions. and incidentally adding about twenty tons
of droppings per year to the material which eventually found its way into the compost heap. cattle. and evenly spread over the surface. the combined manure and litter being harrowed to the compost heap and distributed in an even
layer over the entire surface.
into the bedding material. gleaning every bit of undigested grain that found its into the manure. and fowl alternated in the heap with layers of the fine-textured clay. hogs. the previous twenty-four hours were transported to the heap by the dump baskets on the overhead trolley. assisted by
adding their droppings to the surface and treading them From time to time the entire barn-
yard was raked and scraped.
(the necessity being determined by careful inspection on the part of my grandfather). rich in all castings From time to time as necessary the elements of plant life. the pit was fifty by one hundred excavated to a depth of two feet. A flock of chickens everlastingly scratched and worked in the barnyard. as well as the
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
previously mentioned. The cattle and sheep grazed around the four strawstacks and bedded under the shelter of the
stacks. The building of the compost heap was an invariable daily routine of the farm work. thus being provided with the
moisture needed to permit the earthworms to function to the
. and depositing their excreta in the form of a completely broken down. several tons of the red clay from the border of the ice pond would be hauled in and spread in an
even layer over the surface of the compost.
As the compost reached a depth of twelve or fourteen inches.
Literally millions of
earthworms inhabited the
was cleaned. gorging ceaselessly upon multiplied the manures and decomposing vegetable matter.
but with shovels. while two or adopted: three farm wagons with deep beds were employed in hauling the crumbly end-product of the earthworms from the compost The wagons worked ahead of the plows. revealing the What had originally been an illperfect work of the worms.
now know from
foot of this material contained hundreds
years of study and experiment. When spring arrived. the pit to the fields. would hatch out from two or three to
as high as twenty worms. and depositing it in surface as castings a finely conditioned. within two or three weeks after burial in the fields. urine. As
this time of the year. Thus the newly hatched earthworms became the permanent population of the soil. was now a dark.
There were no dense cakes of burned.EARTHWORMS IN GENERAL FARMING
greatest advantage in their life-work of converting compost to humus. rich in the stored and available elements of plant food in water-soluble form.
material being spread
generously on the surface and quickly
. The "smell test" was a sure way of judging the quality. Within a few months the earthworms had completed their work. the following method was Several teams were used with the plows. each of which. and litter.
forks. all odor of manure had disappeared
was not handled with
and the material had the clean smell of new
earth. My grandfather would take a handful of the material and smell of it
before pronouncing it ready for the fields. every cubic and hundreds of earth-
with the odor of fresh-turned earth. homo-
genized soil. the compost heap was almost a solid mass of earthworms and every shovel of material would contain scores of them. the season of the annual plowing.
the spring plowing began. mixing and commuch earth in the process. half-decomposed manure.
beginning of the spring plowing. the top layer of the heap would be stripped back. When perfect transformation had taken place. smelling mixture of manure. following their
and on the
digesting the organic material.
my great delight. they found earthworms in numbers of one million or more per acre. stripping back the top layers of material which had not been broken down. was appointed crow hunter. for part of the technique followed was to plow the egg-capsules and live earthworms under. Seldom was any material exposed on the surface more than a few minutes ahead of the plows. One year he would begin the hauling at one end of the pit.
this time. leaving a
generous portion at the other end of the culture ground. I am sure that the earthworm population of my grandfather's farm far exceeded one million to the acre. After the hauling of the
as breeding and
. On account of this technique. but annually a generous "seeding" with live earth-
capsules was planted to replenish and help renew the of the earth. I
industriously banged away at the crows to my heart's content.72
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
plowed under. a light shotgun. I estimate that
tons per acre of this highly potent fertilizer material into the fields in perparation for the crops to follow. not only was the earth
were annually plowed
continually occupied by a very numerous worm population tlie year round.
In the annual distribution of the fertilizer. killing some of them and keeping hundreds of them at a dis-
tance until the plows could turn the earth and bury the worms and capsules safe from the birds and the sun. on the Ohio State University Farm. fertility More than forty years after my experience on my grandfather's farm. From my experience of almost a lifetime of study and experimentation with earthworms. studies of the
earthworms in the soil of Ohio were Ohio State University. In plots of soil covered with bluegrass. my grandfather never completely stripped the compost pit. so that as many of the earthworms would survive as possible to continue their valuable work in the soil. Also it was necessary to plow the worms and capsules under as quickly as possible to escape the voracious. marauding crows which swarmed in great flocks to the feast of worms and capsules so
thoughtfully spread for them.
much of the farm. and finally a crop was turned under for green manure.
that this land
usually considered the finest to begin with. A crop of hay was harvested and stored for the winter.
determined that cer-
earthworms. the entire remaining contents of the pit were evenly spread over the entire surface for "mother substance" and the new
compost heap was thus begun. in nature we have a constructive force which creates humus with amazing rapidity when given the opportunity and. earthworms thus working will completely transform one cubic yard of material per month.
experiments in later years. in a three-year cycle. to repopulate the compost pit and
carry on the highly important work of providing fertilizer for the coming year. In this manner. with vast numbers of egg capsules.
method there was
a very large number of breeding earthworms. only six to eight inches in depth over
underlaid by limestone. One forty-acre tract was planted to timothy and clover each year. Thus.
Going back to my grandfather's farm. under proper control. When the clover fields
were plowed under an almost unbelievable number of earth-
worms was revealed as One fact I failed
turned. wheat. will work ceaselessly
tain breeds of
in concentrations of
more than 50. In this warm.000 to the cubic yard. allowing the earthworm population to work and multiply to the
maximum. oats. each year one forty was left undisturbed by the plow for a number of months.EARTHWORMS IN GENERAL FARMING
pleted. timothy. soil. account of the shallow depth of the
. in a favorable environment and with an abundance of food material to work on. the worms multiplied with maximum rapidity.000
through the very simple process of composting with earthworms.
the earth into the finest
while converting the organic content of form of humus. his regular rotation was corn. the field was used for grazing. and clover hay. also. highly favorable environment. furnishes a method of utilizing every possible end-product of biological
in an intensely practical way." The
ears were very uniform and evenly filled to the end.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
deep subsoil plowing was not possible. I well remember would scoot along on top of the almost surface
However. some seedlings. but with the exception that Darwin never suggested the "harnessing of the earthworm" for intensive human
use. and the fence rows. which were allowed to develop from Particularly do I remember the cherry trees.
own experience I am struck by
working without any specialized knowledge of earthworms to begin with.
trated deeply into the subsoil
the plows limestone layer. in the light of my
as well as the experience of a host of others. the vast earthworm population peneand constantly brought up parent mineral material to combine with the surface soil. delicious flavor. which made up for the lack of deep soil.
to give to friends
who came from
for the prized seed and even wrote to for seed.
Before ending this narrative of my grandfather's earthworm farm. and I remember that the cob of this special corn was hardly larger than a carpenter's lead pencil.
study only emphasized the importance of the work of the earthworm in nature. utilizing all that Darwin later revealed in his great book. which was very highly esteemed throughout that section and was known at that time as "Sheffield corn. grandfather never sold this corn. I must mention the orchard.
He also originated a sweet corn. the reflection that here was a simple farmer. The fence rows throughout the farm were planted to a
great variety of fruit trees. of a eagerly sought for seed.
method practiced on
looking back through the long vista of years to the my grandfather's farm. long before Charles Darwin's famous book on The Formation of Vegetable Mould appeared. with no practical applica-
tion to the personal agricultural problems of
man. My grandfather often remarked that in all his sixty years of farming he had never had a crop His corn was the finest in all the country and was failure. the garden.74
soil. and yet.
and material from the compost pit. furnishing
and from more than forty years' experience
work. the house there was produced a great variety of fruit. kept wonderfully soil being literally alive with earthworms. as well as a wealth of shrubbery."
both potted and otherwise. He said.
. especially fruit trees.
the best plow for a tree and
vegetable garden was espeenriched from the compost pit.
the neighbors. supplemented by much friendly and loving instruction from grandfather on the subject of earthworms. for the family as well as for
In those days the fruit was not sold.
am fully convinced that the harnessing of the earthworm will be one of the major factors in the eventual salvation of the soil. we would use a rich beautified the place. I remember an often-repeated remark of my grandfather upon the care of trees. For choice flowers. grandfather's earthworm farm furnishes an example of
technique for utilizing the earthworm in general farming From my observaoperations.
do not want them disturbed. through the utilization of the earthworm. "Never disturb the soil
IN GENERAL FARMING
and each tree bearing a different kind
In the four acres of orchard and garden surrounding of fruit. either on a large or small scale. profusion of flowers. the cially fine. I know that the soil can be made to produce several times as much
as the present average.
tions as a small boy.
the dead bac-
teria as well as the products of bacterial life. The number of bacteria in an ounce of fertile topsoil is variously estimated as from eighteen million to twenty-four billion. walks. we may not
visualize or sense
Earthworm Farm" George
Sheffield is quoted as
regard to the care of trees. creeps."
ground riddled to
Earthworms like to work in great depth by earthworm burrows. When
consider that bacteria appear as dots under the microscope
in the case of fertile agricultural
life which crawls.VI
Orcharding With Earthworms
IN THE story of
saying. Because we do not see this microscopic universe. among the fine roots of trees. and flies on and above the surface of the ground. there is a vast
The wisdom of this rewhen a study is made of the appreciated fully only of orcharding. When we go to nature where primeval
tree. the numbers will reach astronomical figures within a few hours.
multiplication of bacteria is so rapid that.
"Never disturb the
subject forests have stood for centuries. the shade. with a bulk and weight
of such magnitude that the human mind cannot grasp the total. finding sustenance in
the organic debris and bacterial life of the
tation. under favorable conditions. runs. starting with a single cell.
Aside from vegelife in
world of unseen bacterial
weight than all animal
Incidentally. Professor of Bacteriology and Joseph Physiological Chemistry. Like the earthworm.
being strictly limited by the amount of food available in their environment.
. the by-products of their own life-processes accumulate rapidly and.
considering the nutrition
26.ORCHARDING WITH EARTHWORMS
when magnified one thousand
times. Ph. if the water had an average depth of one mile..000. let us state that they are self-limiting. Greaves (M. Also.
tall and a quarter-mile broad.000 pounds. they are soon stewing in
However. The above may at first appear as a digression from the
orcharding. This process may be completed in half an hour at
times even more rapidly. in less than five days they would make a mass which would completely fill as much space as is occupied by all the oceans on the .500. the higher forms of animal life could exist. E. he would appear more
than one mile
by Dr.D. the same as other life-forms. Under less favorable circumstances it may be much longer.
bacteria are the unseen but ceaseless transformers of the end-
earth. as it were.
Lest some reader becomes alarmed about bacteria. a man to one thousand times his size.. Utah Agricultural College)
Fertility*. from Bacteria in Relation to Soil quote
bacterial generation is taken as the time required for a cell to divide and the resulting daughter cells to reach maturity.earth's surface. the results of such multi-
If we were to magnify plication become still harder to grasp. and that in three days the descendants of this single cell would weigh 148.000.S. in the absence of the bacterial life of the soil. It has been estimated that if bacterial multiplication went unchecked the descendants of one cell would in two days number 281. back to the earth.356.
back to the
through life. It has been further estimated by an eminent biologist that if proper conditions could be maintained for their life activity.
When we come
should not be too
to orcharding with the aid of
earthworms. carrying concealed within its growth-rings its recorded age record of perhaps three
thousand years. the scriptural injunction. by reason of the fact that we live in Southern California where citrus fruit is the main
our studies of the earthworm
Some time ago we visited the great orangearound Riverside. Mr.
they grow. Where did it come from. it is important to understand fully the source of nutrition for the worms as well as for the trees. in considering the life of a tree and its nutrition." a grove which the
in orcharding have been confined most part to citrus orcharding. and watch the tree
While the same
principles apply to orcharding in general. Frank Hinckley. or
friendly cooperation with nature. bear-
ing within its bulk trainloads of material. towering nearly three hundred feet into the air. with a life-
span reaching toward a geological age. Mr. "Consider the
lilies. We stand in awed amazement as we contemplate a Sequoia gigantea. California. There is much more sustenance in the soil than may
be derived from the gross forms of vegetation in and above the earth.
it is well to examine the elements which enter into its growth and maintenance.
much concerned about about cultivation.
and might well paraphrase the
line to read.
owner. how did it grow. from what hidden source does its mighty heart draw its inconceivable strength? No man has carried small bags of
chemical fertilizer in a foolish attempt to help nourish this tree into its giant size. stand back. the particular end growing of our journey being "Hanford Loam. No man-made plow has disturbed the surface of the earth at
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
of trees through the aid of earthworms. Hinckley
. The thing to do
fertilizers." "Consider the trees. has operated by the non-cultivation method for a period of more than twenty years.
successful orange grower and business
who has made money growing
oranges all his life than forty yiears.
noticed a great difference in water penetraeliminated. The tentalking about. Soon after I quit all cultivation. At that time the twenty-eight-yearold trees appeared to have reached their limit as to size and production.
and. I might say that my experience with the earthworms is more on the practical side than on the experimental.
Hanford Loam were amazed at the size and luxuriance of the trees. we received
the following letter. I discontinued all cultivation about eighteen years ago. and they have continued to do so ever since. 1939. is one of the outstanding
of the average orange tree. On one of my ten-acre groves.cultivation. Hinckley's own story of
his experience in developing
grove conveys the facts in a most forceful manner. well informed. we wrote him a letter requesting a report for our records.
Mr. Hanford Loam. Raking the leaves out from under the trees and placing them beneath the
. and his experience covers a period of more
well educated. I noticed that the earthworms were doing a wonderful job of tilling the soil they eliminated all plow sole.
tion. methodical. leaving the ground porous and mellow. until now they are large. Under date of October 17. and my production average for the last fifteen years has been about 630 boxes per acre per year. The first year after changing my cultural method to one of
has been growing oranges. fine trees.
. about three hundred boxes per acre per year. the trees started growing.ORCHARDING WITH EARTHWORMS
a hard-headed. I also perceived that they were feeding on the leaves that had accumulated in the furrows and around under the trees. as he has kept careful records for
he has his data and knows what he
acre tract comprising groves of the state.
DEAR DOCTOR BARRETT:
I have your letter of October 10th and will try to give some information that will be of value in your research. Many of the leaves were of such unusual size as to be almost unbelievable when compared with the foliage
many years. After our visit to his place.
the worms are able to live and increase. Under such ideal conditions. the furrows have become shallow and wide from hoeing and raking the leaves. The water can thus cover a larger area of the surface.
. but the trees are able to use more of that
applied. This soil is a heavy red soil and very I am well pleased with the way the worms subject to plow sole. also the sizes have been in the desirable brackets. which I took care of in the mechanical way for fourteen years. I might As the trees have a heavy say. with the exception of one year when I used cottonseed meal. I also have a twenty-acre grove in sandy soil. Until six years ago I averaged about 3^4 pounds of actual nitrogen per tree per year.
find that since
the worms have opened up the soil water penetrates more freely.
and aid the
trees. The quality of the fruit has been above the average. Under this method of non-cultivation. There has been no organic matter added to this grove since the fall of 1919. I use a little less water. as it kept more moist. I have used a soluble commercial fertilizer. have multiplied and eliminated the plow sole under my method within the year. but the last six years I have averaged 1 1/3 pounds of actual nitrogen per tree per year. the earthworms rapidly increased until now they are able to work every foot of soil in my grove in fact. without extra expense. In my opinion there is no doubt that the earthworms add fertility on the soil besides conditioning it.80
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
drip of the trees encouraged the worms to work that portion of the soil most. which I purchased a year ago. and I saw very few worms in all that time.
In regard to the amount of water used. They started at the lower end of the furrows. the soil is continually in motion. and the worms are increasing every year. for the past twenty years. foliage of large leaves. I have applied my non-cultivation method. and they will no doubt continue to better the
. For the past fourteen years. however. where the soil is heaviest and as the soil changes from the accumulation of leaves around the trees. the leaf-drop seems to furnish ample food for the worms. I also have a lot of sixty-five orange trees at home. I can irrigate in a much shorter time and with a larger volume of water per furrow. These groves are kept clean of weeds by hoeing. calcium nitrate or sulphate of ammonia. making as much soil as possible available for the worms to use during the dry season.
with thirty-two consisting of hoes and rakes.
receive these data. Faulkner's book.
terest to point out that
Since receiving currently on its way to becoming a best seller. we have visited his place a number of times and a good many interesting details have been
brought out. Hinckley.ORCHARDING WITH EARTHWORMS
Our Deputy Farm Adviser
of the sizes. consisting and amount of boxes covering the past
Mr. Hinckley had eliminated the plow from his orcharding operations more than twenty years before the appearance of Edward H. Hinckley replied: "I have thirty acres in I beoranges in Hanford Loam and another grove near there. has over four thousand dollars' worth of machinery and hires an expert to operate it.
is making a graph. never allowing them to go No to seed. I call in a Mexican
our question. with many things not covered in his letter.
tractors or machines are required in the non-cultivation
therefore the trees do not need to be trimmed high.
Hinckley's orchard the trees have been allowed to develop until
the limbs practically touch the ground." Mr. lieve my total investment in machinery is less than ten dollars.
method In Mr. A near neighbor. By use of the
hoe promptly to eliminate weeds. the above report from Mr.
January of 1944.
desire. One of the most astonishing statements was made by him in answer
do you have invested in machinery?" Mr.
At the date of
this writing. acres of oranges. Plowman's Folly. I will be glad to send Thank you for your interest in
work. the orchard was soon practically free from weeds.
"How much money
boy every other month and we go over my groves with hoe and rake to eliminate the few weeds which come from seeds that
are blown in by the wind. maintaining a dense shade over the entire surface and an unfavorable environment for
. his labor costs were less. Hinckley stated that after the initial change from the old cultural methods. grades.
can be made to take the place of a much larger acreage under the generally accepted cultural methods. Hinckley.
new method was
started the grove
profit. with earthworms instead of plows. highly productive. lower labor costs. And where heavy use of chemical fertilizers is the practice.
young groves can be brought
to profitable production
tion of earthworms.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Also the shade conserves surface moisture and
vors the development of a large earthworm population. and. long-lived orchard. with top quality fruit.
was not showing a
In orcharding with the aid of earthworms.
was twenty-eight years fact.
In the case of Mr. Mr.
method for developing earthworms in orchards generous colonies of "domesticated earthworms"
under each tree. Hinckley's orchard is over fifty years old and is in greater production than ever before. the highly important bacterial life of the soil be inhibited. Methods for
. discontinued plowing and breaking up their breeding grounds. it was going back. extends far beyond the life of a grove where the earthworms are
constantly retarded in their development by frequent ploughing. in addition. At the time this chapter is written. provided cover for the worms in the form of leaf-drop raked underneath the drip of the tree.
and shorter period of time than by the old methods the life of a grove. and the practical elimination of culls.82
weeds. there was no special propagaHe simply created a favorable environment
for the development of the native earthworm population." By this method the
anything found in nature. and the worms began to multiply. Within a few months results may be obtained which would otherwise require years. with organic fertilization similar to that used on "My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm. After
a few years this grove has become one vast earthworm culture bed. less fertilizer costs. Through earthworm culture. the
earthworm population may entirely disappear.
has shown that
quality. earthworm culture bed.
that is. the same principles apply to other types of orcharding.ORCHARDING WITH EARTHWORMS
intensive propagation of domesticated
and his methods and results through "earthworm tillage.
While we have discussed the earthworm in citrus orcharding. we wish to emphasize. methods which we have called "earthworm tillage.
purposes will be taken up in later chapters. Hinckley
served in other successful orchards. we obtain a soil with a maximum of From such soil.
production results are obtained. a five-acre grove near Costa Mesa. experience plant nutrients in available form." For the year 1945 the owner of this grove stated that he received a gross amount of $7. we are led to conclude that the earthworm doubtless deserves credit for many of the outstanding results which have been ob. as What well as to general farming and production of food crops.500 for his orange crop from these five Examination shows that the entire tract is really a great acres. From a few such reports investigated. Hinckley's California. regardless of vegetation under consideration. utilized properly. Since becoming acquainted with Mr. both
. is that with earthworms and the other allied forces of
nature. It is handled by methods similar to Mr." we have had We will mention reports from a number of other orchardists. one small tract in particular.
If we figure an average
working depth of thirty inches. one million worms per acre would mean. In intensive propagation and use. Darwin found native earthworms in numbers ranging from 25. as has been pointed out. in round numbers. which means less than one worm
per cubic foot of surface soil.VIII
IN THE unhurried processes of nature it may require from forty to fifty years for native earthworms to spread slowly from a single breeding colony and fully impregnate an acre of ground.000 to 50. A population of two to four native earthworms per cubic foot in farm soil or other soil is considered a quite numerous earthworm population. where they have been found in bluegrass land in numbers upwards of a million per acre. Darwin estimated that from ten to eighteen tons of dry material per acre passed through the bodies of
England each year
be deposited in and on
the surface as castings. we control the environment and create nutritional conditions which are most favorable to proliferation
. Even in these small numbers. In previous pages we have shown the almost incredible amount of cultivation and translocation of soil which earthworms perform under favorable conditions.
have previously mentioned the earthworms in the State of Ohio.000 or more per acre in some soils. about ten worms per cubic foot. In England. where the earthworms had been working in a fairly favorable environment through geological ages.
to meet the requirements for intensive use in
and agriculture. if furnished them is deficient in organic material. Working with the sure methods of definite purpose and knowledge.
While we may build
for future generations." we are referring to a breed of earthworms which has been developed and modified by selective breeding and feeding over a period of several years. To production such great numbers in limited space. The ordinary native earthworm is a slave to the environment into
perimental work which led to earthworm was to eliminate
The original object of the exthe development of the domesticated the elements of chance which are
encountered in dealing with the exceedingly numerous varieties of native earthworms to speed up results to meet the demands
. to develop an earthworm which would be adaptable to every kind of soil and food and one which could be changed readily from one environment to another. we must.000
per cubic foot. we may achieve results within a few months
which would otherwise require many decades to accomplish. provide food material and soil-building elements for them to work with. which take no account of time. but only from the organic content that has been derived through life processes.
to have the benefit of the soil
here and now. the elements of chance must be eliminated and results
must be measured
in units of time. were we to wait on the leisurely processes of nature. above all. the
it. In using the term "domesticated earthworm. In the adaptation of the earthworm as a controlled servant
of man. and this
is the reason for intensive breeding of earthworms.
of practical people under
all conditions and environments. It should always be borne in mind that
on the organic contents of the soil. both and country. of course.
with concentrations of as with
as 3.DOMESTICATED EARTHWORMS
and growth of earthworms.
not secure any nutrition from
the purely mineral content of the soil. and.
in a very wide range of soil. agricultural. from very acid thrive and multiply
serious importance of this point of soil acidity will be appreciated by those who have made some study of the chemical nature of soils and plant nutrition. undesirable members culled out. whereas a worm which has
developed in an entirely different environment might not survive It is this fact of the adapttransplanted into a strange soil.
. Transfer the native earthworm to a different soil or food.
alkaline." we are dealing with native earthworms which have been modified by environfeeding. and each will hatch out from three or four to as high as twenty worms. Some species Jive and thrive only in a very limited range of soil acidity. Another important consideration in earthworm culture is In some species.
earthworm egg-capsules are hatched out in a new environment. and its chemical makeup adapts itself to the particular element in which it lives. and
will usually die. and other uses." various species of earthworms were used. and gradually cultures of earthworms
were obtained which answered the purposes of intensive propagation under control for horticultural. that environment becomes the natural one for the newly hatched worms.86
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
is born. numbers of infertile capsules are produced and only one or two worms will be hatched from the fertile capsule.
speak of "domesticated earthworms. habits observed. It grows to maturity on the available food present.
In what we have termed "selective feeding and breeding. great the question of fertility and proliferation. In other species practically all the capsules are fertile.
ability of the
hatched which makes
to the particular soil in which possible to engage in intensive earth-
culture for the production of egg-capsules which.
or at least require a long period of time to
and become prolific in the new location. in Others will fact. It is hatched from the egg-capsule as a f-ullearthworm and immediately begins its life-work of devouring the surrounding soil in search for sustenance. must have an almost neutral soil to survive.
we should not
for laboratory identification and classification. and finally ejecting it as highly refined and conditioned topsoil. under special breeding and cultural conditions. such
to the fact that the
worms change and
earthworms throughout the earth
adapt themselves to
to the fact that they can
ments and new foods. Oliver's later experiments and accomplishments in earthworm culture.
Regardless of where earthworms are found. when we submit the "domesticated earthworm" to a competent zoologist
earthworm which has been modified by changes in environment and nutritional factors.
the modification of
various species of native
carrying through the digestive mill of the alimentary canal.
this point. or what species are dealing with.
different localities. under special environmental conditions and feeding.
In the story of "My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm. are still dealing with some species of native
jump to the conclusion that we have discovered or produced a new species of earthworm. Thus when we observe marked changes in earthworms.DOMESTICATED EARTHWORMS
placed in a
being adapt themselves to the nutritional environment into which they have been hatched.
credit to the late Dr.
that are adapted
to the soil in
which they are born. swallowing the
George earthworm" which
Sheffield Oliver for the
development of the "domesticated used in our soil-building research." we have the background of Dr. that the layman or untrained observer may conclude that he
has produced a new species of earthworm. earthworms have survived through remote geological ages down to the present
species. As stated before. the one important fact to bear in mind is that all of them accomplish the same end they eat their way
through the earth.
His experiences as a small
Ohio farm implanted
young mind those
His mind naturally turned to ways and means for utilizing his early knowledge of earthworms. with definite knowledge of the value of earthworms. To the day of his death Dr. Later on. Oliver was firmly convinced that he had succeeded
he began his
producing a hybrid earthworm.88
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
and impressions. a letter written under the date of January 30.
Recalling that great earthworm culture bed in his grandfather's barnyard. The story is best given in his own words. As you know.
portant. which led to the development of the domesticated earthworm. selective feeding
not highly imhis work of
and breeding he did succeed in producing an which answer perfectly all the To get firstfor intensive propagation and use. Charles Darwin brought out his famous book on the Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Earthworms. 1940. about which the whole economy of the farm revolved. Oliver himself. which confirmed in a scientific way what I had
. gaged in 'landscape gardening. I To will try to give you the essential facts as briefly as possible. which
quote as follows
DEAR DOCTOR BARRETT:
In answer to your request for information about the development of what you call the domesticated earthworm. we
applied to Dr. your term "domesticated earthworm" is a quite appropriate name. which many years later led him
More than forty years after Dr. requirements hand information on the development of this modified worm. One of their most valuable charcteristics is that they do not wander away from the vicinity where the
home colony has been established.
earthworm farming. begin with. for the worms which I have developed certainly like to live at home. Oliver found himself engrandfather's farm. of my ups and downs while experimenting with earthworms. my interest in earthworms dates from the time I lived for a number of years on my grandfather's farm
back in Ohio. it is a long It would take a rather large book to record the details story.
experiments with earthworms.
Golf requires perfectly smooth surfaces for best results and the little hillocks of castings made by the earthworms are often large enough to divert the ball. observations. In some
England. would be very advantageous. about the only legitimate objection) is the habit of the ordinary native earthworm of building little piles of lobed castOn lawns such piles of castings ings on lawns and golf links.
fact. the native earthworms produce such mounds of castings that lawns. people who have worked with the soil have simply accepted earthworms as one of the inhabitants of good soil. From time immemorial farmers and gardeners have recognized that plants and vegetables prosper in soil where there are plenty of earthworms. coming under practical conditions.DOMESTICATED EARTHWORMS
already learned from practical experience. One of the main objections which has been made to the use of earthworms (in
stables attempted to transplant
fields. particularly in
smooth for good sport and sightliness. In my investigations I found scattered instances where farmers who fertilized their land with manure from neighbor-
manure-bred worms to their Every attempt ultimately failed. bred and interbred. soil-bred worms demand soil and decaying vegetable matter and humus. while on golf links they are such a nuisance that in many places the worms are killed out by the use of poisons and mineral fertilizers. My own experiments and research brought to light the fact that earthworms are as much in need of the food and soil on which they have been raised as a fish is in need of water. My first efforts to develop a satisfactory hybrid earthworm were made in 1927 when I was engaged in landscape artistry. So the quality of delivering its excretions under the surface
. In general. Chief among these favorable qualities was the fact that the brandling never deposited its excretions above the surface of the soil. but few have given any thought to why this is true. never realizing that the worm had anything to do with the building of the soil. showed that the brandling (commonly known as the manure worm) possessed highly favorable qualities which. Selected specimens of earthworms found in various sections of Most of my the United States were studied. Manure-bred worms demand manure. and cricket grounds have to be rolled regularly in order to keep the surface
sections. golf courses. So far as I have been able to learn. no sincere attempt was made to discover why such earthworms perished when moved. are unsightly. if transmitted and retained by a hybrid. as the transplanted worms did not survive.
and a number of other popular names in different localities). I selected healthy specimens of both the brandling and the orchard worm in the hope of producing a fertile cross. the thoroughly humidified castings. one-third vegetable humus. I examined the earth about the deep roots of large trees which were being transplanted and discovered numerous earthworms which evidently spent most of the time deep in the ground. but sometimes reaching ten to twelve inches in size.
second important point in considering the brandling is the fact that. are not exposed to the air and dried out.90
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
. I carefully gleaned these first capsules from the soil and placed them in a separate container.
a most desirable one and a most necessary one if earthworms are to be used extensively in choice lawns and golf courses. search for a deep-burrowing earthworm to mate with the brandling was finally rewarded. with high ammonia content.
In the course of time examination of the
and copulation of the earthworms was observed. of an average length of six to eight inches. These were placed in a special mixture of approximately one-third soil. When these were hatched and grew to near maturity. whereas the manure worm is a medium-sized worm of an average length of three or four inches. rainworm. It was my desire to retain this valuable characteristic. Such worms have been found as deep as ten to twelve feet or more. if possible. by leaving its castings under the surface of the soil near the root-zone. Being satisfied that this type of orchard worm would be ideal for experimentation. This worm was a large species of Lumbricus terrestris (orchard worm. seldom going deeper than six inches. Such a burrowing earthworm will cultivate the soil thoroughly about the upper roots of plants and vegetables. and very generally five and six feet deep. Another characteristic of the manure worm (brandling) is its habit of living close to the surface. the weaker and less promising were culled out
capsules. all the valuable elements of plant food in the castings are readily available to the roots of plants and vegetables. and one-third decayed animal manure. Such a composition contains all the elements necessary for plant life and in this instance contained plenty of food suitable for both the brandling and the orchard
worm. night lion. also. but at the same time secure a worm that would burrow deep into the soil and bring up the subsoil with its rich chemical elements so necessary in the renewal of the topsoil. angleworm.
from a practical
standpoint. and poultry houses have proved that this five years' time spent was fully justified. under favorable conditions producing one egg capsule every seven days. readily adapting itself to any food environment or soil.
It is not migratory. lawns. in a flower bed. loose.
particularly to produce fish It is very active. practically odorless and containing all the elements necessary for growing choice plants and
a free animal. the results obtained in orchards. very high percentage of the capsules are fertile and they hatch out from four to twenty
each. Thus all the wastes of the ordinary family can be composted and used for earthworm food. point which should be strongly emphasized is that this hybrid worm produces a very fine. and will remain alive on a fish-hook for a number of hours when properly impaled. crumbly material.
some of them being
It is a prolific breeder.92
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
and the stronger ones were retained as breeders. However. To summarize results for the earthworm culturist. until all the surrounding ground is thickly populated with this prolific breeder and cultivator of the soil. nurseries. For a period of several years I continued careful selective breeding and feeding until I had developed a hybrid which breeds true to form and is perfectly adapted for intensive propagation and use in horticulture and agriculture. gardens. this domesticated hybrid has
bait. the home breeding center remains and the worms
gradually spread in all directions in an ever-widening circle. or elsewhere. this
was not experimenting
unexcelled for bait. of a
good red color. The castings do not stick together. While the story of my experiments appears very simple in the recounting. granular casting instead of a lobed casting. During the six months about one thousand hybrids had been selected as breeders and were mating and producing fertile eggs.
. many of the castings are deposited below the surface in proximity to the rootlets where they are needed. it should be stated that a full five years were consumed in these experiments. Thus when a breeding colony is established under a tree. but are deIn posited as a very evenly distributed layer on the surface. under a rosebush. It turns these end-products into rich humus.
takes the same
work with scrub stock as with amount of time to grow a
grow some choice variety that has been deand tested. is the story of the evolution of the "domes-
work the year The small ex-
pense of starting right is soon absorbed in the results obtained. This is especially advantageous in the case of delicate flowers and fine seedlings. Earthworm culture is very much the same as working with other animals or with plants. One friend wrote us that he started with 250 earthworm eggcapsules and within
two years he estimated
had 500. The labor is the main cost put into the work. are
sorts of food
Cordially yours. the beginner can avoid many mistakes and much expensive labor.
GEORGE SHEFFIELD OLIVER
DOMESTICATED EARTHWORMS VERSUS NATIVE EARTHWORMS
The question is frequently asked. if native earthworms do the same work?" Our answer is that anything worth doing
worth doing well. as they are sure to be prolific. in brief. veloped While earthworm culture can be established and developed
seedling tree as to
with the available native worms."
Earthworm you are doing a
round where the temperature
enough. averaging only three to four inches in length when fully mature.000
. "Why go to the expense of purchasing domesticated earthworms. it pays to make the start with the domesticated variety. as the small worm riddles the earth with its fine aerating tunnels without disturbing the tiny rootlets and without drying out the soil too much.
takes just as
It is a medium-sized worm. By taking advantage of the experience of who have spent years in study and research.
your book on Harnessand lasting service to look forward with keen interest and anticipation
that in writing real
to its publication. Such.
. The technique of intensive propagation and use is so simple that a child can understand and follow it. the small initial investment of
main expense in soil-building is Once earthworm culture is established. The life of one man is too short to carry
out original research into the subject.
these materials through earthworm culture. including scientists. it is not necessary to
carry out long experimentation for verification of the basic facts. increased production. Darwin's experiments and research extended over a period of more than fifty
win. But this is not necessary. results are much more quickly obtained and more satisfactory than by the ordinary
methods. Materials used in breeding earthworms are the same materials that should be incorporated into the soil anyway in building up and
maintaining a high state of productive
fertility. as the facts have already been established through long years
of experimentation by many different people. and practical farmers and gardeners.94
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
breeders in his culture bed. Therefore. Our advice to those who desire to make a start in earthculture is: Secure an adequate supply of domesticated earthworm egg-capsules.
the right start is
in increased land values. and go to work. earthworm production can be carried into astronomical figures very quickly by composting and handling the material properly.
Once adequate breeding stock has been developed. the
the time and labor spent. thousands of experimenters. have verified the facts which he established. or a culture of domesticated earthworms.
increased living satisfaction. literally
Since the time of Daryears before he published his findings.
issued by the
Ohio Biological Survey. having both eggs and spermatozoa.
. .Breeding Habits of the Earthworm
EACH individual of the earthworm family is both male and female (hermaphrodite). they are not self -fertilizing. as it stands out above the surface of the body
as a distinct band.. We quote in part from this
Each individual is a male and female (hermaphrodite). The Century Dica very good definition of the clitellum.. An act of copulation is necessary in order that eggs may become fertile. darker in color than the rest of the body. tionary gives quote in part: ". a
a band of
peculiar glandular ring around the body. viscid secretion by which two worms are bound together in a kind of copulation. In a bulletin titled. Olson gives a very concise and clear description of the act of copulation and the reproductive functions of earthworms. Though having both eggs and spermatozoa. Henry W." The clitellum is easily identified.
. producing a tough.
It is a sexual
organ. Situated back from the head about one-third the length of the worm is the "clitellum. as the earthworm. but
is not self -fertilizing."
surrounding the body. the saddle of an annelid. but mutually fertilize each other's eggs
. resulting ing and other modification of certain segments. The Earthworms of Ohio. Dr. so anyone of the same species will do for a mate.
HATCHING CAR5UUE & YOUNG
Earthmaster Farms. California
having an olive color. and mild
favorable conditions. where it receives spermatozoa from the seminal receptaThe sperm then fertilizes cles where they have been stored up. with the heads facing in They then opposite directions and the ventral sides in contact. eggs from the oviducts and then passes the ninth and tenth segments. After the worms have separated. crawl out through one end of the cocoon after The cocoons vary in the slime plug has been dissolved away.
. as first its anterior end and then its posterior end slips off over the sharp prostomium. which forms a thick band
about the cliteller regions of their bodies. where it is picked up and stored. summer temperature. constitutes the cocoon. giving off a tightly together. the eggs. trapezoides one egg only. secrete quantities of viscous mucus. ber of eggs in the capsules of Helodrilus trapezoides is from three to eight in those of Lumbricus terrestris it is from four to
. or rarely two or three. of seminal fluid that is conducted along the grooves quantity to the seminal receptacles of the other. and various other popular names).BREEDING HABITS OF THE EARTHWORM
The two worms meet and overlap one another
to about one-
third to one.
twenty. The slime tube is gradually slipped off over the head. which. with the fertilized eggs and nutritive In this cocoon fluid which it contains. which means plenty of food. This closed slime tube. according to the species. rainworm. one millimeter in length. the slime tube which is formed by the clitellum of the worm is worked forward over the body. on the other hand.
All of the eggs
fecundated and develop. These mucous bands surround both bodies and serve to bind the copulating individuals Each worm then acts as a male. when ready to emerge. the domesticated earth-
seven to ten days.. The smallest are hardly size and shape. produce The embryos escape as small worms in about two embryos to three weeks.
moisture. it collects a few side. while the largest are as large as eight In Lumbricus terrestris (commonly known as the millimeters .
orchard worm. collecting albumen from the glands of the ventral As it passes over the fourteenth segment. closing up as though with a draw-string.
. in the capsules of H.
produce one of the lemon-shaped egg-capsules every The capsule (cocoon) may contain from
. The numthe capsules are lemon-shaped..fourth of their lengths.
the eggs develop directly into the young worms.
they are hatched as full-fledged earthand immediately begin their life-work of devouring earth
and utilizing the organic food material from the ingested earth. depending on the size of the worm from which they come.98
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
two or three to as high as twenty fertile eggs. Capsules have been reported to have hatched out after lying dormant for eighteen months. To the untrained
eye. While the newborn worms are hard to see. capsules may be placed in refrigeration at temperatures ranging from fifty degrees and
lower. Size varies. The newborn worms first appear as whitish bits of thread. or are dried purposely for preservation. produced. and thus kept dormant and fertile until they are desired
The color is usually egg-capsules. warm environment.
about one-quarter inch long or smaller. reddish-colored earthworms. varying from light
passed capsules to a dark purple in cap-
sules nearing maturity and ready to hatch. the incubating period is from two to three weeks. this period may be extended almost indefinitely by drying out the capsules or by
refrigeration. ranging from
the size of a pin-head to about the size of a grain of handful of earth from a properly prepared culture box tain several dozen capsules. they may remain dormant and fertile for months
and develop under proper temperature and moisture. the
newborn worms are
visible only after a careful search
While the normal incubating period at right temperature has been stated to be from two to three weeks. there is no difall
Except for size. They gradually become darker within a few hours and within a few days can be readily identified as tiny. of the soil.
rice. they On the other hand. if the capsules happen to be subjected to
the heat of the sun and dry out. and finally depositing the residue on or near the surface as castings. Also.
the earth at the time the capsules are will incubate and hatch within the normal period. In a moist.
DOMESTICATED EARTHWORM EGGS
sixty to ninety days will reach the reproductive stage and does not mean that the
reproductive organs have reached a point of maturity where they
The egg-capsules from these young worms be almost microscopic in size and difficult to find. or some other out-of-the-way place where it would have been impossible for a mature worm to find
best. After hatching.
of the fertile eggs under
different conditions accounts
for the very wide distribution of
earthworm over the earth.100
for use. from the far north to the tropics. the older
In a favorable environment an earthworm will live for
ture for impregnation of the earth or for other purposes. On account of
is possible to produce earthworm egg-capsules and ship them to any part of the world. from sea level to high altitudes.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
In frozen ground and manure piles and frozen compost
heaps. This worm is fully grown in this length of
will begin to function. as soon as the spring thaw comes and the earth or manure warms up. It will may usually require several months to a year for a domesticated
averaging about four inches
If desired for use as fishbait. Capsules become dried out and are carried great distances and scattered by the wind in new locations.
to reach full
size. perhaps on a high mountain or on an island of the sea. They are sometimes swallowed by birds and fail to digest and are then dropped in a new location. great numbers of capsules which have been dormant
was given of an observation
carried out for
a period of fifteen years and the
. Earthworm capsules are often transported great distances on the roots of plants and start a colony hundreds or thousands of miles from the original location. the young worm develops rapidly and in
may begin to produce capsules. They may stick to dry soil on the hoofs or hides of animals and be transported from one place to another. thus commercially enabling people anywhere to establish intensive earthworm cul-
BREEDING HABITS OF THE EARTHWORM
appeared just as young as ever. fats. a colony may be established from one fertile earthworm or from a single egg-capsule.
So. It breaths through the skin and eliminates through the skin. There is no difficulty or problem in the production of plenty of worms. It absorbs and assimilates nutrients from the swallowed material. even into the millions. both acid and alkaline sugars. which grinds
and mixes everything. earthshould enjoy comparative immortality in the flesh.
. the earthworm is about as nearly perfect a digestive apparatus as can be conceived of in the animal world.
nation. it does not
to select or
proteins. barring accidental destruction. starches. including grains of sand and small stones which act as millstones in the gizzard. it
can be seen that production will soon reach astronomical figures. As a matter of fact. Those who are particularly interested in mathematics can take
a pencil and paper and figure it out.
chew the food. reelimi-
maining eternally youthful through perfect assimilation and
As earthworms are both male and female in one body. Equipped with a powerful gizzard.
The worm swallows anything
small enough to enter its mouth. With a capsule being produced every seven to ten days and hatching from one or two to twenty worms. Its secretions take care of
every form of food. once the simple technique is studied and a start made.
orchard. or a
few worms. and
to extensive acreage in orchard. It should be in mind and emphasized that intensive use of earthworms
for production of electricity. We use from one thousand to five thousand times the concentrations
bears about the same relation to earthworms as found in nature
of breeding earthworms per cubic foot of composted material as would be found in the average natural environment with the
earthworm population. beginning with a few
(called egg-capsules). or ranch.
tically the same.
. a small garden. regardless of the size of the setup.
small city gardener may have only a few square feet of earth. whether it be for producing fine potting material for a few plants. or for acreage of any extent. unharnessed water power flowing down a native stream. or possibly just a few potted plants or a window box. Earth-
be engaged in successfully. such as Boulder Dam. farm. or farm. A start may be made in a oneculture
gallon can or a small box. so on
a market garden or nursery.X
STARTING EARTHWORM CULTURE
INTENSIVE propagation for maximum results in soil-building requires large numbers of worms. Others may have a small kitchen vegetable garden or flower gar-
den. or Bonneyville Dam. has to the Niagara Falls. depending on the amount of
land to be used for garden.
For a small yard or garden. with
investment of from five dollars on up to about twenty-five dollars. The
was used to impregnate extensive soil-building culture beds and compost heaps and at the end of the first year vast
numbers of the
work and multiplying
many tons of composted soil-building material.
used in providing soil-building food for the worms is the same material which should be incorporated into the soil anyway in
building and maintaining the highest state of fertility. of course. a compost
heap. be commensurate with
expended. the way to begin earthworm culture is to provide a culture medium of earthworm food in some kind of container or bed a tin can.
like starting in to raise chickens. As an example of the rapidity of increase which can be made from a small beginning. Results obtained will.000 egg-capsules had been harvested from these four boxes.
already covered the subject of food for worms in a general manner. a small wooden box. a proportionately greater setup should be made as a beginning. the main money-cost involved is the small amount of labor
required in taking care of the cultures. Within one year from the time this setup was made. a small setup is all that is required one or two cans or box cultures. From
this start four
lug-box cultures (see illustrations and instructions on box culture) of five hundred worms each were set up. a total of 55. or start with a large number of eggs and increase rapidly. one thousand egg-capsules were incubated and hatched out. and keep the culture thoroughly moist and shaded.
a few eggs and increase slowly. one is apt to become
discouraged with the slow progress made in building up an adequate number of breeding earthworms to show satisfactory
. Where too small a beginning is made.
For a greater amount of land.EARTHWORM CULTURE
In a few words. Once the initial beginning is made.
Further discussion of earthworm food will come
later. or a specially designed culture bed add a few egg-capsules or worms.
INTENSIVE EARTHWORM CULTURE IN BOXES
simplest and most practical method for beginning earthculture is propagation in boxes. In giving instructions for making a beginning and proceeding with perfect confidence in success.
results. culture beds. Many years' experience in the intensive breeding of earthworms for egg-capsules production has demonstrated that a
box of the approximate dimensions
of 14 inches wide.es." We wish to emphasize that the methods herein described are not In our research arbitrary. In this way comes progress. the main attention
for sixty to ninety days will be to sprinkle the cultures with water about once a week. and so on.
box or bed as it does to take care of a Once the setup is made. we have invented or evolved methods. except for certain basic principles.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
a sizeable start. 18 inches long. or often enough to keep them moist
worms are developing. We further counsel every earthworm culturist to experiment constantly and work out methods of his own. therefore.
and experimentation over a period of a good many years.
advise the beginner in earthworm culture It requires about as much time to look
after a single culture
box. the main consideration. and 6 inches deep is the most favorable size both for convenient and easy handling as well as
order to develop quickly and
. More labor.
found necessary proceed on the prin-
that "anything worth doing is worth doing well. we shall not discuss makeshift methods. as well as in the work of many others who have taken up earthworm culture and followed the methods we have advised. which have proved successful in our own work. is involved
following makeshift methods than will be
doing the thing
stood on edge and support may be made from properly spaced apart by cleats firmly nailed across the ends. answers all purposes for setting up earthworm culture. damp
spot underneath the box and the worms may congregate or escape under the box and burrow into the ground. lawns. Lug boxes are light in weight. than it is from one location
to handle. which has and overall measurement of 14 inches wide. Also. made any length desired. \7 l 2 inches long and spaced
inches apart by
cleats. light base
to adjust a long base.
tions). The illustrated plan shows the details of a base support with
. and serve the purpose admirably. and soil in general. beds. boxes may be stacked in tiers four to ten boxes high. Breeding boxes set flat upon the ground or floor provide a cool. The tiers should be supported above floor or ground upon a base about six inches high. especially
to another. but we have found in practice that in
leveling the base
easier to adjust a short base in a
perfectly level position.
of the base support is to provide ventilation and drainage and also to prevent escape of the breeder worms. trees. To conserve space. as well as flower pots. quite strong and durable. Tiers four or five boxes high are most con-
venient for easy handling. Such boxes are usually obtainable at the grocery or market at the very reasonable cost of from three to ten cents
each. Supported on a base above floor or ground. We have found that the standard vegetable lug box. Such a base
timber. in shifting a base
on uneven ground. \7 l 2 inches long and 6 inches deep. the short. deSuch a base may be signed to support three tiers of boxes.
watering of cultures
the use of separators between the boxes (see illustraof 2 x 2" material.
dimensions 46 inches long and 17% inches wide. the worms will remain in the boxes where the food and moisture are.EARTHWORM CULTURE
maintain a steady supply of earthworm eggs for production of breeding stock and for impregnating extensive culture beds and
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
A hose nozzle or flat sprinkler head can be inserted facilitated. between the boxes without disturbing the tiers and the entire tier
can thus be watered in one or two minutes.
are set up, all the attention they require between harvest times three or four weeks apart is watering once or twice a week,
depending on the weather and temperature. In hot, dry weather is required than in cool, wet weather. Cultures
should be kept thoroughly moist at all times for best results. In watering, a gentle sprinkler stream should be used so that the
surface of the culture will not be rudely disturbed by the force of a hard stream or spray. always use a layer of gunny sack material on top of the culture material in each box. The
gunny sack conserves moisture and prevents drying out; and
also acts as a
water spreader, insuring even spread of the water and preventing disturbance of the culture material by force of
have found that plenty of gunny sacks are almost
in fact, old
sacks, sugar sacks,
tow sacks of any kind provide material for a multitude of purposes. We use them for cover material to protect the cultures from excessive heat and cold, for shade in a form of screens tacked on a lath or other light framework. Their main use, however, is as cover material on the Such surface of the compost in all boxes and culture beds.
cover material conserves moisture, keeps the surface of the culture dark and damp, and favors maximum capsule-production.
numbers immediately be-
low the damp layer of burlap and
this favors rapid breeding.
use a heavy pair of tin snips for cutting the sacks into convenient sizes for regular use. Ordinary scissors may be used,
but they are not heavy enough for regular use. With tin snips, can cut several layers of sacking at a time, thus speeding up
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
the process. have also discovered that it is much easier to cut wet sacks than dry ones. So we usually soak a number of sacks in a tub of water and cut them to the proper dimensions
for future use, according to the size of the culture beds to be In large culture beds, we do not cut the sacks at all.
cultures one sack will provide for four boxes, the of the squares being folded over at the sides and ends of edges boxes.
Preparation of Boxes
Properly prepared culture boxes will last from two to four Therefore an expenditure of time, plus a few cents cost years. in material, is fully justified. Also we have found that there is
greater "living satisfaction" to be derived from things well-
done over that derived from careless work. Boxes of the proper dimensions may be made, the size not being arbitrary so long
as the depth is kept at about six inches. In intensive propagation for capsule production the depth is important. Earthworms
breed at the surface for the most part so in shallow box cultures they quickly congregate on the surface under the damp burlap cover.
If vegetable lug
boxes are used, select good boxes without
large knot holes.
six to eight quarter-inch over bottom of box. The cracks in botholes, properly spaced tom provide additional drainage. Reinforce bottom of box by
For drainage bore
nailing a lath cleat across it at each end, thus preventing the For each thin boards from splitting off around the nail-heads.
box, cut ten pieces of plasterer's lath, thirteen inches long, to be placed crosswise in bottom of box. This distributes the
weight of the wet compost evenly over the bottom of box, provides drainage, and prevents sagging of the bottom boards. Also when
box are dumped, the crosswise lath prevents the wet from adhering to bottom. The lath may be used over compost and over, the same as the box. For convenient handling, a small
strip of lath, six inches long, should
be tacked on each end of
box, near upper edge, so that the box can be firmly grasped in In the illustrations, we show a photograph of a lug-box lifting.
setup, with line-drawings to
suggest very careful study and attention to details.
While usually speak of earthworm food as "compost." the compost may be thoroughly mixed in any convenient way, on a bare spot of ground, in a box or other container, we have
found a mixing box, similar to a cement-mixing trough, a very convenient and practical thing to have on hand. Such a mix-
box should be about twelve inches deep, three feet wide, and five to six feet long, with smooth wood or metal bottom and sloping ends. A metal bottom supported by wood, is preferred, as this makes a practically waterproof box and there is no waste of water while mixing compost. Three cubic feet of material can be conveniently mixed in such a box. Any surplus material not used can be stored in the box and kept moist for
the material thus stored increases
value as earthworm food.
It is well to
a rake, hoe, or shovel, in the screen the earth first in order to remove small stones
The compost can be mixed with same manner that cement is mixed.
or hard clods, using a half-inch mesh screen, or even as fine a screen as quarter-inch mesh. The sloping ends of the mixing
facilitate the mixing and emptying of the box. Compost for boxes should be very thoroughly broken up by chopping, lug
raking, or screening, similar to the preparation of fine potting The finer the better. It should be borne in mind
earthworms have no teeth and that they can swallow parno larger that the mouth opening. While the preliminary mixing should be made with pracdry material,
it can be lightly sprinkled to lay the flying the material becomes well broken up, it should be
this tends to
and make a dense mass
stead of a crumbly.
one-half pound for each cubic foot of finished compost is sufficient. too much care cannot be exercised in the preparation of material for capsule production. half-and-half. where of material is composted. The mash or corn meal insures a ration of carbohydrates. and one part
absorb the water
Lug Box Compost
a fine compost may be prepared of screened topsoil. we usually
compost a liberal sprnikling of some standard. If mash is used. good plan is to mix a of compost as outlined and then sprinkle it daily for two tray or three days. Corn iheal has been all-purpose found to favor the formation of egg-capsules. or a mixture made from rabbit manure only.
large compost beds.
the proportion should be about one-half to one If corn meal cubic foot of finished compost.
cubic yard to several tons all kinds of manure and vegetable can be used to advantage but for
not too disagreeable or messy to handle with the bare hands or with gloves.
A mixture of manures may be used. turning it thoroughly at each sprinkling. including garbage. In addition to the material as outlined. In considering the kind of manure to use. proteins.110
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
sprinkled more and more. but not muddy or "soggy" wet. loamy compost. For lug box propagation. the For available source of manure must be taken into account. it is highly desirable to have a very fine compost of crumbly material that is
. so that when it is ready for use it will be a crumbly mass.
pound for each
used. damp through and through. intensive production of capsules in lug boxes. and fats for the worms. However. finely broken up. so that they will be well-
. In this
evenly through and through.
manure. we prefer a mixture of horse and rabbit manure. chicken mash or corn meal. one agricultural peat moss.
waste. Compost should not be "flooded.
It is not necessary to bother with too fine a measure. dependent on plenty of food. as
Peat moss is best for lugthey bulk up after water is added. Therefore
greater care may be taken and a small additional expense incurred. Materials should be measured dry. millions of capsules can be propagated at practically no cost other than the cost of the cheap and abundant material used
. regardless of the organic composition of the composted
Maximum production in box culture is soil-building material. we usually mix about is about all the mixing box
An apple box is a handy measure.
the value being based on labor cost for production and handling. leaves. which
In preparing compost for box culture. and squeezed out. straw. or other measure.
Measuring and Quality of Materials
three cubic feet of material. So we take an apple box. as the proportions as outlined are approximate only. as the idea is to provide a compost that will retain a high water content without being soggy or muddy. The mash or corn meal should be added before the compost has been wet.
However. holds approximately a cubic foot. as it will accommodate. usually soak it
twenty-four hours before mixing the compost and then squeeze the surplus water out.EARTHWORM CULTURE
nourished. or one and one-half pounds of corn meal. For large
compost beds. broken up. egg-capsules are valued at one cent each. The peat may be soaked ahead
It requires several hours' of time. box culture.
production for use in impregnating
soil. or other vegetable matter may be substituted for peat. of manure. Commercially. hay. Lug-box culture is used particularly for production of large numbers of egg-capsules for impregnation of more extensive compost beds and soil areas. one box of good loamy topsoil and one box of agricultural peat moss. value a lug-box culture of five hundred breeder worms at
fifteen dollars. time fully to impregnate peat with water. so that it can be uniformly distributed throughout the mixture. plus three pounds of chicken mash.
productive land. should be placed on top of the compost.
stead of the hay. This burlap cover does not may
need to be disturbed
ready for servicing. which should be well soaked before using. and may be covered with a few additional handfuls of
compost. making their own burrows. cultures are sprinkled from time to time through this coveruntil
the prepared compost.
well to smooth and "firm" the surface before adding
tool for this
Loading Culture Boxes with Earthworms
A layer of alfalfa hay about one inch deep should be placed bottom of the culture box or two or three thicknesses of old potato sack material (or other gunny sacking) can be used inin
anyway to rebuild and maintain fertile and The utilization of earthworms in transformis
ing the culture material also produces better
most rapid and
than any other method. the edges be folded over inside the box. raked lightly over the surface of the compost. prevents compost from adhering to bottom of box.
While the compost should not be
packed. cover the surface with one or two thicknesses
trowel. After the worms are added. If the worms have been received in a shipping container. The worms will quickly work down into the compost. The entire contents of the container can be dumped into the prepared box. A wood will answer the purpose. The hay or burlap improves drainage. usually already gunny sack into four to eight pieces^ approximately the size of
the top of box. and is favored
by the earthworms as food.112
earthworm added to the
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
materials of topsoil used in culture are the identical materials which should be
for earthworm food. they will be mixed with
box about two-thirds full Five hundred breeder earthworms
prepared earthworm food. cut an old discussed the uses of burlap. or a cement finisher's
a plasterer's metal triangular block
have of burlap. If the sacking is larger than the box. the worms.
Double-handful of Domesticated Earthworms.
.Above: Earthworm Culture
exactly as outlined for breeder worms. the cultures are handled the same as the culture boxes of mature worms. Place in a warm place for incubating and hatchA temperature of from fifty to seventy degrees in the shade ing. provides a dark surface.
enough. should be kept moist at all times. Through experience we have found that about
hundred mature worms
to a lug
box give the
best results in
. or other shady place can the proper temperature. the culture
capsules are being produced. After capsule production is started. two or three hundred earthworm egg-capsules over the Spread surface of the compost and cover with one inch of additional compost.EARTHWORM CULTURE
culture should not be disturbed during development. the eggs will incubate
in from fourteen to twenty-one days.
shed. The newly spawned worms will develop quite rapidly in a warm environment and will reach the reproductive stage in from sixty to ninety
days. as described in the preceding paragraph. Then the culture can be divided into two or more boxes. a
thousand or more egg-capsules may be used in a single box. A lug box of comif
be examined to determine
post as described above has sufficient food to develop one to two thousand worms from capsule to reproductive stage. basement. As the burlap rots and disintegrates. Contents of the culture box
After sixty days. Cover with damp burlap.
which acts as a spreader for the water and prevents the water from disturbing the surface of the culture.
be utilized. incubated and hatched out and developed over a period of from
sixty to ninety days.
except for the necessary watering.
Impregnating Culture Boxes with Egg-Capsules The culture boxes for capsules are prepared the same
worms. and favors capsule
production. Thus. it becomes food for the worms and a
fresh cover is added as necessary. Experience has proved that such a cover conserves the moisture and prevents the surface from drying out.
preferably covered with metal. Many small details of production and handling will be taught by experience in fact. that is the only way that they can be learned. unless accidentally destroyed. they
Although earthworms begin to produce capsules while they are quite small. of
desired length. or
. Dump contents of a culture box on table and rake the material into a cone-shaped pile. they must have plenty of The compost should be kept moist through and through. Wet. according to what is necessary to keep the cultures moist.
Harvesting the Increase
Proper Work Tables
table twenty-eight inches high. It is well to have a railing on back and ends of table.
Worms live to a great age. provided they are in a favorable
will be the best breeders as a rule. the culture
never to allow the cultures to "dry out. sprinkling can. muddy compost is
not so easily handled as is a moist.
worms are to multiply rapidly. is a convenient size for harvesting operations. about three
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
If there are too
capsule production. crumbly material.
Watering Culture Boxes
water. thirty inches wide. The boxes should be watered with a sprinkler
hose. Proper state
must be determined by inspection until experience shows correct routine and time for watering. old caseknife.
table-top should be smooth. the fully mature worms
in reproduction. The material which adheres to sides and bottom of box can be carefully
scraped out with a small trowel. so that the macan be handled without trouble.
and without cracks. or hose nozzle once or twice a week. not soggy wet. putty knife. The point of prime
liminary to harvesting the increase." Preboxes may be
allowed to become somewhat dry for a few days. to prevent material from being pushed off the table.
a considerable length of time. the same as the original culture boxes. Proceed lightly. After waiting a few minutes after dumping. until two-thirds or been transferred to the
of the old culture material has
box. the breeder worms will be found in the one-third of the old compost remaining on the table.EARTHWORM CULTURE
spatula. The old boxes will have the original labels on them and can be used for the breeder worms over and over. with the fingers.
should be transferred back to the old culture box. and
one time. to allow the worms to work down away from the surface. In following this routine. Worms are very sensitive to light and will quickly burrow down toward the bottom and center of the compost in trying to escape from Have the same number of culture boxes prepared as the light. We sometimes wait a day or more.
of the egg-capsules will have been transferred to the new culture The harvested material will contain the capsules which have been produced during the two or three weeks preceding the
Also it will contain a good many young worms. either mild sunshine or under electric light. so as not to An inch or more of material can usually be injure the worms. have been dumped.
to harvest the increase as rapidly as possible. start the harvesting operation by raking the material from the surface of the cone-shaped pile. the work table should be in a lighted place. the material removed contains the egg-capsules and is placed in the new culture box. they should
not be cut or injured. Most
boxes. The old boxes which have been dumped should be prepared again.
Never use a sharp cutting tool in handling earthWhile they will stand considerable handling.
shall find that
have worked down to the bottom of the
most of the pile. after dumping the culture boxes on the work table. wait a few minutes. removed at first. before beginning the harvesting. By waiting
harvest. If there are a number of boxes to be serviced.
so on. then repeat the operation. a long table can be used and several boxes dumped at
During the harvesting. to allow the worms to work deeper. and we
allowing five hundred to impossible to recover all the eggcapsules at harvest time and this residue of capsules will hatch out and develop with the mature breeders. temperature.116
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
be able quickly to transfer the top two-thirds or more culture boxes without encountering any worms and
without further waiting. practically all the increase in capsules will be transferred to new culture boxes. harvesting is carried out every twenty-one to thirty days. Incubation period of capsules is fourteen to twenty-one days. the
boxes should be worked over from time to time.
previously stated. depending on moisture. The loaded boxes with capsules should be properly marked newly and a new tier of boxes started. to build up
additional breeding stock. the culture
well to actually count the
hundred per box. numbers is for mature breeder-earthworms.
be followed by the individual usually number and date
One series of the boxes.
With mature. the boxes rilled
new compost and prepared as at the original start.
this reason. the
. These new cultures will rewith the
quire from sixty to ninety days before they are ready for harvesting operations. The remainder of the old compost.
ferred to the breeder series.
reproductive age. and other conditions.
a culture box becomes too crowded.
Any system of marking can may suit his own inclination. Therefore. breeding earthworms. In setting up new breeder boxes. In time. and the number of worms reduced to from five hundred to six hundred per box. The other series
is for the cultures
which are developing from egg-capsules. maintaining two series of numbers. if harvesting is carried
out every twenty-one to thirty days. with the breeder worms. should now be returned to the old culture boxes.
they can be separated and breeding cultures of the correct number In marking boxes.
have from one thousand to two thousand
they reach the reproductive stage. Or the increase can be used directly for impregnating potted plants. would produce enough increase to impregnate from one hundred to three hundred trees per month. trees.
have population to correspond to the available food present. properly handled. we have found it convenient to tack set up.
earthworms can survive. capsule-bearing material is buried around the trees. beds. Once earthworms are
established in the
they will take care of themselves. a setup of a hundred lug boxes of five hundred
breeders each. or can be marked with New lead pencil or waterproof pencil after they are tacked in. or orchards. the
harvested. leaving Numbers can be the head of the carpet tack not quite down. or other trees or shrubs.
typed on card before attaching to box. we can
out for attaching
cards from time to time.
Building Large Compost Beds
Once an adequate number of lug-box cultures of mature breeders have been established. By leaving the head of the carpet tack slightly protruding. in orcharding. shrubs. th**
soil. all harvested material can be used for impregnating large compost beds for soil-building and for
rapid propagation of vast numbers of earthworms. flower
. Wheresufficient moisture to maintain good vegetation.
a small square of white cardboard to the end of the box. gardens.
the other hand. found that we can secure the maximum number of capsules from
boxes of between
hundred and six hundred worms each. cards can be provided as the old cards become ragged. from the bole.
to the box. while the capsules are hatching out and developing. with a cover of prepared compost as a
mulch. In impregnating orchards. lawns. to conserve moisture and furnish an abundance of availfood for the developing worms.EARTHWORM CULTURE
each egg-capsule producing from one to as high as twenty tiny worms. I obtained another lug box.and
following that count
inform you of
. We give here a brief summary of two reports. The capsules will incubate and hatch in fourteen to twenty-one days. prepared new compost of the same composition as previously described. just
two months after
Report No. The approximate one-third balance of the unsorted original compost was buried under some ferns in front of my house. with temperatures ranging from fifty to seventy or eighty degrees in the shade. The newly hatched worms develop rapidly and in sixty to ninety days will begin to produce capsules.
conservative to estimate that there were at least one thousand
egg-capsules in the entire contents of the original lug. After carefully sorting over approximately two-thirds of the lug's contents. It is my plan to take another census of these two lugs on November
. Judging from the number of eggcapsules I recovered. which means abundant food and moisture.
. have verified these results many times. received by the author. . Mature worms will produce an egg-capsule every seven to ten days. 1939. from ap-
proximately two-thirds of the original compost. The perman's letter follows "On September 24.118
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Rapidity of Increase
Under favorable conditions. earthworms increase with almost incredible rapidity. with
tinent part of this
one hundred earthworm egg-capsules. eight hundred by actual count. An earthculturist wrote that he started a lug-box culture on July
23. I had har-
eight hundred egg-capsules and approximately three hundred earthworms.
contents of the lug on the sorting table. California. which will indicate what can be accomIn our own experiments we plished from a small beginning. and divided my crop into the two lugs.
. Temperature. Drying out quickly affects worms and will inhibit
or stop reproduction. basements. Darkness.
findings over a period of several years' exresearch in practical earthworm culture and soil-
tures ranging from sixty to eighty degrees will be found most favorable.
vast quantities of the soil-builders at work in these beds. multiplying into almost astronomical numbers. usually provide covers for the tiers of boxes.
September 30. Good drainage should be maintained in
bottom of box. protected from flooding rains. A. to conserve moisture and provide darkness on surface of compost. many man concludes with this summary: "I closed my year October 1. Boxes should not be flooded.
. 1943. This point cannot be too strongly emphasized. H. 2:
letter. the tiers should be Sheds." This man has used his increase in establishing extensive soil-building compost beds and states that he now has
. 1944. Missouri. they still require plenty of water.000 capsules H. Boxes should be kept fairly dark. I have produced 55. Worms prefer to work near the surface Therefore we keep the surface of the culture covered with damp burlap as previously outlined. Moisture
For intensive capsule production
cultures. so that surplus water will quickly drain out. as earthworms work in darkness.
. From June 4. starting with 1000 capsules. fully
building. or other cheap ma-
terial. while at the same
the material into highly fertile top-dressing
for his garden acreage. though not soggy wet. Worms were originally water animals.EARTHWORM CULTURE
Report No. If cultures are maintained in outdoor shade. Cultures should always be moist through and through.
For intensive production.
reports similar to the above.
culture. made of old gunny sacks.
PLAN OF BASE SUPPORT FOR LUGBOX STACK
PLAN OF DIVIDERS FOR LUGBOX EARTHWORM CULTURE
details of construction.122
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
setups.000 egg-capsules per
to the box. tree shade or other shade will prove satisfactory for
Culture boxes should not be placed flat on the ground or other surface. as previously outlined.
tween boxes. for in such cases the worms will gradually work out into the ground or gather under the damp bottom.
structure of separator
. see illustrations
. stood on edge 13^4 inches apart.
Any length base support can be provided. a support for the tiers of boxes should be made of 2 x 6" (two pieces) material. Therefore. with cleats across ends to hold them firmly. for
on ends of boxes.
shade and conservation of moisture
. Tiers any height.
In a setup of this kind we use approximately 500 breeders Often harvest upwards of 2.
page 122 shows an actual photograph of two tiers of lug boxes Points to note particularly are separators beresting on base. favor a base
support to accommodate three tiers.)
Setup of Earthworm Breeding Boxes
have given detailed drawings
culture. lath strips for placing crossbottom of boxes structure of base support for the tiers.
shows tiers without cover. to allow insertion of hose sprinkler head for watering burlap sacks resting between boxes on top of separators.
convenient size base will support three tiers. The tiers are thus supported six inches above the
ground. according to the number of tiers that are to be placed on the base. as this size support is easily handled. four to six boxes being best for handling. in actual use we cover the slacks with burlap sacks to keep cultures dark and to conserve moisture.
or other land. practically all the increase
the eggs from the boxes once every thirty days. will be seen from the pictures. we use lug-box setup for rapid production of earthworm eggs.
. The important point to note is the posts are spaced to make the interlocking corners.
present two designs for large compost culture beds the first design illustrated in the four detailed drawings on the next page and the more complicated design illustrated by pictures and detailed construction plans of the "Earthmaster" culture bed which is shown in following pages.EARTHWORM CULTURE
month from each box. From this it will be seen that a setup of from five to ten cul-
ture boxes will quickly develop vast
numbers of worms. The plan with posts
the simplest and most practical
average earthworm farmer. flower beds. if the harvesting operations are carried out
to thirty days.
use the increase for impregnating
large compost breeding beds. the size of the bed may be varied larger or smaller as desired by the particular individual. and use the increase to impregnate large compost beds for soil-building and for development of vast numbers of earthworms. to suit the available space and the extent of the land to be
eventually way the 2
impregnated. the egg-capsules is from fourteen to twenty-one days. In harvesting
from the culture boxes. lawns.
In the knockdown construction. the bed is constructed of
. it is not necessary to comThe incubation period of plete the work on a particular date. therethe increase
EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
Soil-Building Culture Beds
In our methods for developing earthworm culture.
are set in place one at a time. two feet allows for good aeration at all times.
in place. larger or smaller.124
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
2 x 4" posts and 1 x 6" planking. or other place of final disposition. beginning at bottom. is very important in securing best results in earthworm culture. as desired. No nails are used. thus exposing one open end of the bed and allowing the shoveling of the contents of bed into wheelbarrow
or other carrying device for distribution to flower beds.
Pressure of the compost ma-
layer. evenly spread. Originally earthworms were water animals and their bodies have
Depth of Bed
While the width and length of the bed may be varied. good drainage is of prime importance. without digging into the sand layer which is placed there for permanent drainage.
In composting with earthworms. This
makes the bed mole and gopher proof. we place on the ground as bottom of the bed a layer of four to six inches of coarse sand or gravel.
of the bottom boards
Also one main purpose unloading of the finished com-
post with a shovel. followed by the end member. the depth should be maintained at about twenty-four inches. The side members of the bed. spaced apart about one-half to one inch. In unloading the broken-
down compost. which interlocks between
to hold the side
of this culture bed
out one at a time.
depth of about Also in watering
a culture bed of this depth it is not difficult to keep the entire This contents of the bed thoroughly moist from top to bottom. Earthworms are air-breathing animals
and must have plenty of air for best results. lawn. and on top of this we place a layer of 1 x 6" boards. To accomplish this.
potato sacks. It is always best to use a sprinkler head on the garden hose.
material acts as a water-break and spreader. we always use on top of the compost surface a layer of old tow sacks or burlap. in easily
contents of bed are not flooded. should be provided to protect contents of bed from flooding rains and to provide shade and darkness. preferably. Experience will soon teach how to maintain
the best degree of moisture.
in watering with a hose or sprinkler head. so long as
In the detailed construction plan
Cover and Shade
we have not shown any removable sections. Old feed bags.
face of compost are not disturbed by force of the water stream. on north side of tree. as
this distributes the
water to better advantage. spreading it on the compost
. or other
this cover material
porous material can be used. The bed can be watered through without disturbing the surface of the compost. they are the most active when kept summer temperatures of from sixty to eighty degrees.
suitable cover. Worms work best in shade and darkness. but contents should be kept thoroughly moist though not "soggy" wet. In
earth the greatest production of capsules will be had.
veniently located the bed can be placed. This keeps the culture bed as cool as possible during
summer months. without flooding.
Garbage Disposal and Waste Utilization
All kitchen waste (garbage) is perfect earthworm food and be disposed of as it accumulates.
should not be exposed to hot
For moisture conservation and to prevent surface drying out. Any lack of water slows down their Beds should not activity and reduces productivity of capsules.EARTHWORM CULTURE
a very high water content. so that. Rain water is very fine for the worms.
black topsoil small prun-
leaves. such as cabbage or other organic material.
amount of manure mixed
a very great
combine everything. or establishing large culture.
trimmings from the vegetable gardens.126
compost beds in the open. enough to destroy animal life.
compost should be avoided.
wish to emphasize
at this point that
culture. and by the time the bed is full there will be an adequate worm population to break it down
quickly into fertile topsoil. always spread the garbage evenly over surface of bed and then add a thin layer of sifted topsoil on top of garbage to absorb odors and furnish a base of soil for combining
with the vegetable and other matter.
leaves. as they may
develop intense heat in the deeper layers. all
clippings. can be used in the
quickly impregnate the new compost. In composting with earthworms.
Intensive Production of
a rich compost is provided. a culture bed eight feet four feet wide and two feet deep will easily support a population of fifty thousand domesticated earthworms. it is highly important to mix the compost with enough earth so
that a high degree of heat will not be developed.
. it is no problem further to develop earthworm In starting additional culture beds. This is also one of the main reasons for keeping the culture bed shallow in
depth. we simply take a liberal portion of compost from the old culture bed a wheelbarrow load or more with such worms and capsules as it may contain and use this This start will as a starter for the new composting operation. adding it layer by layer and mixing enough topsoil or subsoil to prevent heating.
such a culture bed is fully impregnated and developed from a lug-box setup. Once
long. a fact that should always be borne in mind. EARTHWORM
layer by layer. the
for potting or other use.
The worms consume and
definite plans for culture boxes. Any kind of box.
through long experience.
and so on. if no experimenting is carried out. the beginner will avoid many mistakes.
found. container. or culture bed
will serve. culture beds. On the other hand.
. new and better methods will not be discovered. to be good. each earthworm culturist should experiment and develop plans of his own.
has good drainage and
and moist. By following a successful plan that has already been tested.
the length and breadth may kerjt use lugbox culture for bFyaned to suit individual needs. Makes bed moleand gopher-proof. This construction provides an excellent unit for household garbage disposal and for general composting of all kinds of organic
manures. grass clippings. rapid production of earthworm egg-capsules.
is a most While practical. for soil-building and for development of vast numbers of earthworms. such as illustrated.o
BOARDS SPACED TO FIT PLACED ON TOP OF FILL
("Knock Down" Construction)
Boards are laid on top of sand and gravel fill. without disturbing sand till.
. all-purpose culture bed. the depth should be at two feet.UTILITY CULTURE BED
Detailed Plan of
Earthworm Culture Bed
. Provides easy shoveling surface for emptying bed. leaves. Improves drainage and aeration. take the increase and impregnate larger culture beds.
UTILITY CULTURE BED
M * o .
end members may be pried out one at a time. et 18 inohe* in ground*
provides plenty of
bottom with space between side and end members air.
ground so as to provide interFor easy emptying.UTILITY CULTURE BED
End View and Cross
. leaving one end open
Corner and end posts are
nails are used.
2X4" Rrtvood posts. for the air-breathing
for shoveling. with good drainage.
it may be used without any other housing.
both very necessary in the successful propagation of the airbreathing domesticated earthworms. working plans. where the bed can
be shaded under a shed. low material cost. durability. photographs and descriptive matter fully protected. 2 3).
watered the water flows downward along the side
members. Then. It allows perfect aeration and drainage. 8 9) embraces the basic principle of the Earth(see photos master Culture Bed.)
Earthmaster Culture Bed
presented as a complete basic
conveniently developing and handling approximately mature domesticated earthworms. strength. On account of the V-shape. 10-11-12). Thus the entire mass of compost is kept uniformly moist throughout.
Earthmaster Earthwonn Culture Bed
For Intensive Propagation of Domesticated Earthworms
construction of the compost compartment No. Invented and designed by Thomas J. However. as a part of the Earthmaster System. Barrett. With the superstructure and cover (see photos No. or other shelter. gradually becoming concentrated in the narrow portion at the bottom. All rights reserved. Roscoe. lath house. the moisture rises through the center toward the top. through capillary attraction. California.000 tical efficiency may be mentioned simplicity of construction. tree. In addition to its prac10. the superstructure may be left off (see photos No. Users may construct their own beds. and accessibility.
it is well to protect the
breeders from mixing with native earthworms.
36" long. 2 pieces of
lawns. in intensive production of domesticated earthworms. day by day.
Variation: If superstructure
not desired (see photo No.
6". gardens. 3). With Earthmaster Culture Beds. rather than large culture units which may have to be left partly servFor this reason.
Corner Posts: 4 pieces 2 x
side requires 5 pieces
x 4". for impregnation of additional culture beds for breeding purposes.
MATERIALS CUT TO DIMENSION
. or other available lumber. hemlock.
Bottom of Compost Compartment:
6". stands 36 inches high and 36 inches square. Also. The primary purpose of maintaining a culture bed is to provide an easy and convenient method for harvesting earthworm
egg-capsules. the standard unit iced.
20" long. after a day's work. 20" x 4". orchards. including cover and superstructure. or for impregnation of compost heaps. flower
33J4" long. 36" long.
posts 30" long. The complete unit.
Removable Sides of Compost Compartment:
6". 36" long.132
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Years of experience have abundantly demonstrated that
better to maintain
a battery of
which can be completely serviced in rotation. or farms. the pure cultures of domesticated earth-
worms may be maintained
33j^" long. described in this paper has been adopted and advocated in the Earthmaster System.
the side curtains may be folded back on top of frame as in photo No.
Special Emphasis Study all photographs carefully for correct assembly and It properly assembled and nailed together. or for other attention.
spreader. four side walls material. of a frame covered with roofing paper. spaced J4" apart. the bed will nailing. with two end lath 30" long. not become "wobbly" or pull apart
6". All covers should be of light construction. 12. contents of bed may be watered through the
cover with hose sprinkler or sprinkler can. 10-11-12): A light frame 36 x 36" square. are made by tacking an opened gunny sack (see photo No. 10):
11 pieces lath (ordinary plasterer's lath). 7 and No. with 1 inch space between the comer posts and end members of panel. Thus. Or for protection against excessive summer heat. made of
or other light
In addition.EARTHMASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
24" long. 12) to each of the four sides of frame.
Primary Cover (Photo No. made of lath and material and covered with a piece of gunny sack (tow sack.
Cover acts as a water
Supercover (Photos No. leaving one edge to hang
free. 9). 33" long. Space between lath about width of lath. the walls may be dropped down as in photo No.
serviced. burlap or other porous material). or for protection against cold. 1. sugar sack. (See photos No. Note: 5 pieces used in each end. Note: When cover is in place. 32J4" long by 32" wide. so that they may be readily lifted off
tection against flooding rains. covered with gunny sack. For pro-
an extra cover should be provided. when not in use.
Note that poend
sition of base-sills is reversed
inside. bottom rail 6" above ground.
posts projecting 6" above top rails.
Photo No. 2 and No. Note space of J4" between members.
. with ends supported on
side-rails are nailed to flat of cor-
end. end top.
Photo No.wall members abut against the lath strips on bottom (see photo No. 30" long.rails outside. (Note: Photos No.
x 4" below
Photo No. 2x4".)
Frame showing corner
base-sills. 3 show view
If superstructure superstructure.)
3. Material for each panel 2 corner posts.
(View with superstructure. Removable side.) End panels. Left shows inside of panel.
Note the end
4. Note lath strips tacked on each edge of bottom boards. Right shows outside of panel. with three of the
Photo No. (View without superstructure. top rail 30" above ground.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
CONSTRUCTION DETAILS AND ASSEMBLY
that top side-rail
above. 4. that bottom boards are centered. be 36" long. as in photo No. Note position of frame
Frame assembled with bottom boards
side top. with materials cut to dimensions. 36" long.
removable sidewall members leaning against frame. base-sill
bottom of corner posts.rails nailed to edge of corner posts. leaving head of nail projecting %". 2" from edge. 2.
(View without superstructure.
. Uniform spacing between members
maintained by driving a roofing nail into edge of each This spacing ber. 3-1 x 6".
leaning against the corner. 8).
Photo No. Note the J4"
spacing between all members. Space beabout the width of a lath. the compost compartment is divided into large lower chamber for permanent earthworm burrows. 9
View showing sub-surface
divider in place. 8-9 for this detail).
changed two or three times a year and replaced by fresh maThe "egg-nest" material above the sub-surface divider (see photo No. or all. between the side. six inches below
. of the side-wall members may be removed. which forms the
feeding ground and egg-capsule "nest.
Photo No. 8-9 for details of inside. it is a simple matter to pry a member up and release the bottom end.
Photo No. 9) is worked over frequently in harvesting capsules and castings. Thus two or three. When divider is in
place (see photo No.
the compost compartment is filled. By inserting a "pry" on outside of the compost compartment. pressure of the maholds side-walls firmly in place. allowing the material in the compost compartment to be conveniently removed from below. Note removable side members. 33" x 30".
Photo No. See photos No. 9).
with a shallow upper space.
is allowed between the upright members of the end panels and the corner posts to allow for nailing of top siderails on inside of posts (see photos No.EARTHMASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
to allow for swelling of the
wet wood. 8
View looking down
compost compartment.wall and
top rail. 6
Side view. removing the members one at a time. showing compost compartment completely assembled. six inches deep. with lower ends resting against the lath strips on bottom. 7
sub-surface divider. the top ends resting against side-rails six inches below top edge. The permanent breeding compost is
is filled with well-prepared culture compost and forms the feeding. The material in the egg nest is worked over every two or three weeks. flower pots. Capsules are used for establishing additional breeding beds.136
top. resting on edges of top rails. with side-walls folded on This cover is made by tacking an opened tow sack on a top. same as through the primary
cover. 36" x 36" square. This cover is made by tacking tow sack over a light frame.
the edge of an opened
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
on upper ends of side-wall members. Purpose of the supercover is
for extra shade and protection during summer season. breeding and egg-capsule nest.
nursery. Material of lower chamber is changed two or three times a year.000 mature breeding worms. castings sifted out and new material added. as
tow sack on each of the four
sides of the
frame. using sprinkler hose or can. 10
View showing primary cover
side. leaving one edge of sack free to hang down as a sideshown in photo No. all increase is recovered by working the egg nest every two or three weeks.
Note that primary cover is compartment.
Photo No. the eggs harvested. through the top of supercover. Cover acts as a water break and spreads water uniformly over surface of bed. Side-walls are made by tacking light frame. orchard. 11
View showing supercover in place. The chamber below the divider is filled with earthworm culture compost and forms the permanent burrowing ground for approximately
10. farm. and as Contents of bed may be watered protection against cold. or for impregnating com-
the time they are produced.
with supercover alongused directly above compost
Photo No. Contents of bed may
be watered through this cover. or for impregnating the soil in garden. The space above the divider.
cover should be
of roofing paper or
in place. As earthworm eggs hatch in from fourteen to twenty-one days from
six inches deep. 12.
THE EARTHM ASTER
IMPORTANCE OF CONTROLLED PRODUCTION
In the intensive propagation and use of domesticated earthworms. If large acreage is to be im-
pregnated. Therefore. An even temperature approaching summer heat is best. where other chill. to protect contents of bed against flooding rains. In
View showing supercover.
Photo No. so that an adequate score of capsules be
available at all times. garage. such as a shed. It should always be borne in mind that earthworms work best in the dark and that plenty of shade is
in the open. barn. baseor even the north side of a tree the superstructure may be dispensed with. with side-walls lowered." when sprayed with water occasionally.
available. Another important consideration is that of keeping the breeding strain of
domesticated earthworms free from mixing with native earthworms. a rain-cover should
essential to best results in intensive propagation. at least one unit of breeders should be maintained under perfect control. However. the cover acts as a wind-break and protects the As pointed out above. it is essential that egg-capsule production be maintained under perfect control. Domesticated earthworms have been produced through
feeding and breeding of native earthworms for cerfavorable characteristics for intensive propagation. then a battery of units will be required. depending on how much land is to be impregnated. the supercover as illustrated acts as a "desert cooler. if the culture bed is maintained
always be provided to protect the bed from flooding. The supercover should be made light so that it can be readily
lifted off for servicing of bed. In the advancing coolness of
bed from excessive
weather.EARTH MASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
other material. Worms work best and multiply rapidly when kept moderately warm. lath house.
_rabbit. beet greens. cooked or raw in short. kitchen refuse. but more topsoil
sifted. For small setups.
Mixing of Compost
The mixing of compost exactly right will come with exThe approximate composition of good earthworm culperience. so much the better. vegetable matterj( grass clippings.
the compost compartment (see photo No. or small yard or garden. well leftovers. large compost piles may be impregnated and culture material from such piles be used for establishing numerous earthworm colonies in lawn. In use. 8) is filled with culture compost to the top of the side-wall members. orchard or fields. which will be within six inches of the top of bed.
For building up a battery of Earthmaster Culture Beds. a single breeding unit
required. such as
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
the Earthmaster Culture Bed. coffee grounds.
All green stuff is especially desirable for capsule production. the breeders are protected mixing. the enincrease from the original unit may be used and within a few months the breeding units may be increased to a point where it is possible to impregnate acreage. garbage) one. lettuce. such as
. such as cabbage.000 mature breeding earthworms. garden. etc. If the manure is fresh. With one or more Earthmaster "egg-nests" for
capproduction. Soil is added to absorb odors. chicken. leaves. carrot greens. etc.. for maximum production of egg-capsules and for convenient harvesting.
sheep. Jure compost is^ne-third animal manure/ (horse. tea leaves. or other domestic animal or fowl) [one-third.
SERVICE AND USE THE
designed to house approxi-
The Earthmaster Culture Bed
mately 10.third good topsoil.
should be used in this case to prevent heating. prevent heating and to add "body" to the earth-
the compost compartment. good results
-be utilized for cutting
be obtained by mixing the materials coarse and allowing the to break it up. Production of potting material is
greatly accelerated by breaking up the material in advance for quick consumption by earthworms.
grinder may up vegetable matter. the material
should be at level from one to two inches
rails. then put the sub-surface divider in place as shown in picture No. it pays to prepare the compost in a finely divided state. material should be
down and allowed to settle.
in the process of
frequent egg-harvesting from the material on top of the divider. However. 9.
Screening Materials The more finely broken up
the material. etc.
Purpose of the Sub-Surface Divider
that. hard clods.
be thoroughly mixed with a
shovel or fork. and thoroughly wet down and allowed to drain and settle. with the large mass of compost below the divider to form
the permanent burrowing ground of the breeders.EARTHMASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
below the edge of top
bed should now be moist
. Keep adding mait down until the compartment is Jilled to
within six inches of the top with well-settled compost. the better. to topsoil remove small stones. After
After the sub-surface divider
settling. the permanent burrowing ground of the earthworms will not be
disturbed or broken up. The should be screened through a half-inch mesh. If one has the time.
Impregnating the Earthmaster Culture Bed
is in place (photo No. or finer. 9).
have a space above the divider about six inches
deep. the with especially well-prepared culture compost of the same materials as that in the lower chamber.
material in which they are packed. No. sules from packing material just
Do not try to separate dump entire contents on
face of the compost.
Care of the Bed
Contents of bed should not be disturbed for from sixty to ninety days from date of planting capsules. except for watering as often as
is necessary to keep it moist. In hot suma light sprinkling every day or two may be necessary to keep the surface from drying out.
For conserving the moisture and keeping the surface of the compost from drying out too much. 10. In cool
mer weather. The primary and supercover (photos No. The water will soak right through it. but not soggy wet.
tribute the capsules over the entire surface. or for occasional determine the condition of moisture. with a good watering once a week. From one to as
worms per egg may develop. lightly rake it over the surface of bed and then cover with a layer of fine compost to a depth of one to two
Hatching of Capsules
Earthmaster Domesticated Earthworm Egg-Capsules will hatch out in from fourteen to twenty-one days. is now impregnated with 3.
The bed should never be allowed
dry out.000 capsules. one good watering each week is sufficient. Subsequent waterings
are not so generous just well sprinkled to keep contents moist. It is estimated that from 9.
weather.000 to 12. by burying
in the surface of the
compost one to two inches deep. This should not be re-
moved during the development period of sixty to ninety days. The prepared bed. 11.140
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
throughout. They will probably average three or four worms per capsule. 12) are now put in place. In the first wetting down. water is used freely and allowed to drain off. and No.000 worms will develop from 3. but not "soggy" wet.000 Domesticated Earthworm Egg-Capsules. Experience will show how often to water to keep
contents damp. a layer of wet tow sack should be placed on the surface. Earthworms mature and begin to breed in from sixty to ninety
high as twenty
the routine of harvesting may be started. containthe eggs.EARTHMASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
days. one with half -inch screen to remove the coarser material which
mixed with new compost. surface. For this reason.
to deposit their eggs
feed mainly near the
damp tow sack_on
the surface forms a good
cover for darkness and dampness.
Removing Contents of Egg-nest
Before removing the material from the nest. thus production is quickly established. screening.
to the surface
They castings. the capsules which have been deposited during
this period will
be recovered. or if too hot. Under favorable conditions. the worms will withdraw into their per-
manent burrows deeper
in the culture bed.
raked into a cone-shaped pile in the center of the bed (covers laid aside) and allowed partly to dry out. so
HARVESTING THE INCREASE
Egg-Capsules and Castings As earthworm egg-capsules hatch
in fourteen to twenty-one days from the time they are deposited. or if the bed is kept shaded dark. When disturbed by light and vibration. the surface should be kept moist
well-covered. especially at night. When disturbed or
light. an inch or more of the surface may be removed for Two small hand-screen boxes should be provided.
escape from the
and drying. After sixty days from impregnation. it is evident that if the material in the egg-nest is removed or worked over every two to three weeks. according to moisture and temperature. will pass through the coarse screen. the surface compost should be examined to a depth of three or four inches for capsules. If capsules are found. The finer material. the maing
. Next. domesticated
earthworms may pass an egg-capsule every seven
that the increase
to ten days.
In a few minutes after ex-
Use of Egg-Capsules and Earthworm Castings
material harvested from the Earthmaster Culture
castings. or for commercial use. they are to be counted and sold. by using the
increase to build additional culture beds.
gradually to increase circle from the
original point of impregnation. is the screenings from the harvest. wet down. fine compost. The harvest thus proceeds. an adequate earthworm population is rapidly built enrich and condition the earth for all time to come. the same as the original material.
. Wherever a handful of this material is used.
composed of earthworm
the capsules in order to use them. just as the original bed was prepared. The coarser material that
Reloading the Egg-nest
now mixed with
Fresh. a battery of producing units can very quickly be built up and thus a controlled production setup for impregnating extensive ground. and the egg-
is filled. The mature breeder-worms will continue to work downward and take
refuge in their permanent burrows below the sub-surface divider. The routine of harvesting is carried out every two or three weeks. and It is not necessary to pick out also contains the egg-capsules. shrubs and trees. in the yard or garden. fine particles of compost.
does not pass through the quarter-inch screen is remixed with new compost. the earth around
den. will be established.142
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
from the first screening is passed through a quarter-inch The earthworm castings with the egg-capsules will now be found in the very fine screenings.
is only necessary where harvested material is used
for potting plants. With simple care as outlined. down to the sub-surface divider. and covered. in flower beds. the material being re-
moved layer by layer. a nu-
merous earthworm colony and impregnate the earth
established. yard and garflower beds. around trees.
Thus. by seeding the flower pots.
native earthworms. and earthworm colonies will be established wherever it is used. and castings. capsules. which is a very
Some multiply slowly. For extensive impregnation of grounds. Some varities feed are very prolific.
This composted material can be used liberally.
desired to establish an
All earthworms are valuable as soil-builders. Some are adjusted to a very limited range of soil acidity. lawn clippings. contains of worms. many tons of compost should be built up and maintained as culture beds for earthworms. with varying characteristics and habits. All garden books give instructions on building compost. all household garbage. should
be carefully composted at some wellshaded location and thoroughly impregnated with earthworm
numerous earthworm population will rapidly egg-capsules. in the compost. on a very limited range of material. for
impregnating the earth wherever
adequate earthworm population. Soon a very great supply of earth-
will be developed in the composting operations.
leaves. For extensive acreage.
reserving part of the compost for new beds. digesting the material quickly and turndevelop ing it into the most choice topsoil for potting and other uses. as they funcThere are hundreds of varieties of tion in the same manner. Others consume practically everything in the nature of animal and vegetable waste. reseeding of the compost is not necessary. etc..EARTHMASTER EARTHWORM CULTURE BED
Composting for Increase
The Earthmaster Breeding Units
trolled supply of capsules
are maintained as a constrain of domesticated
from the pure
that the culture beds are
the only source for impregnating the earth. using
the material after
has been transformed by the earthworms. wherever needed. Others adapt
or a profitable and satisfying home
industry. Through selective breeding and feeding. forms the founda3. six inches deep and about eighteen inches Under favorsquare.
conditions. An ordinary lug box. both animal waste
as well as all vegetable matter. In intensive earthworm culture. impregnated with Domesticated Earthworm Egg-Capsules. will accommodate 500 to 600 breeders. have been developed.
a single egg-capsule. they remain and spread* slowly to the surrounding environment. we create a favorable environment and use domesticated earthworms which have the
necessary characteristics for propagation in high concentrations. domesticated earthworms. and are much less migratory than most native earthworms. starting from After adequate culture beds have been
single Earthmaster Culture Bed.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
themselves to a wide range of soils. When a colony is established. established.000 tion for a fascinating hobby.
is estimated that one worm may hundred within a year. thrive on
practically all the biological endproducts of life. adapted to intensive
propagation and use. it is a simple matter to build up the cultures to a point where biological soil-building on a substantial scale is possible. adapt themselves to a wide range of soil acidity. They are very prolific.
Q W W
8 CO < 2 W
define "earthworm tillage" as a general term covering methods adopted to encourage the maximum development of native earthworm population in the land. And as a practical
part of earthworm tillage methods, we should include intensive propagation of earthworms for "seeding" the land with eggcapsules, not only to accelerate the development of a
possible time, but also as a method for utilizing every possible organic waste material in building topsoil to be used as a top-dressing in garden, orchard
population in the
and farm. In our chapter on "My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm," the methods described would be classed as earthworm tillage. In the chapter on "Orcharding with Earthworms," we touched on earthworm tillage methods as followed by Mr. Hinckley in his citrus orchard. We should say that Edward H. Faulkner's book Plowman's Folly is primarily an able discussion of earth-
worm tillage. In fact, the remarkable results reported in that book we should attribute to the fauna of the soil, with very great
emphasis placed on the earthworm population.
not "to plow or not to plow" ; we shall not enter that field. advise every student of earthworm culture to read carefully Plowman's Folly, as well as everything
he can find on organic methods. It is all instruction in Once the basic printillage and earthworm culture.
ciples are grasped, a
of possibilities and instruction
revealed for study and experimentation.
as possibly the
most important book
on basic organic methods Sir Albert Howard's An Agricultural Testament. If we were recommending one single book from all books on the subject for earthworm students, we would say, "read An Agricultural Testament." However, once one has
on a study of organic methods, as contrasted with the "chemical" school of thought, one finds the sources of
recorded information almost endless, with the
outstanding example of what
we mean by
showing the tremendous increase
take place through use of such methods, we reproduce an article which appeared in the February, 1945, issue of
150,000 to the Acre."
Journal and Farmer's Wife, under the title, "Earthworms, This report on the farming methods and
by Mr. Christopher Gallup
a corroboration of
the methods which
father's Earthworm modern machinery.
described in the chapter on "My GrandFarm," but applied to a modern farm with
we have been in correspondence with Mr. Galan energetic, aggressive student of modern methods lup, and a successful farmer. In connection with the story of his farm, we quote a few lines from a letter received from him under
date of April 18, 1945 "When we used to get 70 bushel baskets of corn per acre, the borers just raised cain with it but when our
had been stepped up to 196 baskets per acre, the borers In another letter from practically dropped out of the picture." Mr. Gallup under date of June 3, 1945, he remarks: "Saturday we finished putting 37 truck loads of hay into the barn from two fields that produced only 21 truck loads last year. No manure or fertilizer was used in making the difference."
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Earthworms: 150,000 to the Acre
By Williams Haynes
(This article reproduced by permission of FARM JOUKNAL AND FARMER'S WIFE and by permission of WILLIAMS HAYNES)
FISHERMEN each season dangle
other bait enjoys such popularity with anglers. The fish may, or may not, hold similar views. Christopher Gallup looks at the earthworm as bait for big-
ger crops. More earthworms, he contends, mean higher fertility. In evidence he offers a yield of 196 bushel baskets of ear
corn, in contrast to the
80 bushels his earlier methods produced. His swarming earthworms annually leave more than eight tons
of their casts per acre. (The cast is the deposit after the digests the vegetable and mineral material which it eats.)
Then Gallup points to the chemical analysis of these casts. Compared with other topsoil, they contain five times as much nitrogen, seven times as much phosphorus, eleven times as much
potash, three times as
does one persuade the earthworms to multiply? Feed them, says Gallup; feed them trash and organic matter. His
possible into the top six inches of where, in the lower four inches, the worms do most of their
of eastern Connecticut.
hundred and seventy years ago when King Philip and his Narragansett braves, in 1675, took to the war-path and ravaged
that corner of Connecticut, a forebear of Christopher Gallup al-
ready had some of the farm cleared. Fifteen years ago, determined to be successful as a farmer, as he had previously been in a Hartford insurance company,
Gallup began operating the family's ancient homestead.
. below.Left. the Spring -tooth Harrow and Tractor with which he feeds his Earthworms. his chief tool.
worms are heaving up subsoil in quantity.
Then he spreads
. Their tunnels carry air and water into the ground.
After his manure and promptly harrows it in. I put on lime and commerdid everything the experts advised.
Harrowing the trash
in helps in the first year
to create their
food supply. enough to bring two and half tons of
digested material to the surface each twenty."
Gallup's cultivating method is to set the teeth of the harrow most shallow notch. Gallup says. and a couple of weeks before the land could be worked with a disc harrow.
is out. They and digest both decaying vegetation and soil itself. knows all about earthworms. lot
But the best
could get was 80 bushels of corn." Ultimately. and to go over the field several times. Gallup hit on the spring-tooth harrow plus earthworms.four hours.
Frequently people ask. caterpillar
old land the works.
The second year
begins to congregate.
get out with the tooth-harrow
That is a good three weeks earlier than we could use a plow.
with a heavy plow
tractor. lot of plant food in any language. western student
population on an acre could be increased to ten times that number.
determined to give that
fertilizer. I firmly its stones our New England soil was good soil.
I plowed deep. the third it multiplies. in spite of a and hard work. "I went into our hooked to a 20 H. both ways. each heavy spring rain he harrows again.
as 150. Grass and perennial weeds
can then be killed with surprising ease.000
count indicates that in Gallup's best fields as worms inhabit each acre. each time lowering the teeth one notch. Exactly what happens in the gizzards between their suction mouths and the fertile casts is yet to be found out.EARTHWORM TILLAGE
He says.P. Gallup figures that four years are needed to build
as soon as the frost
the breeding stock By the fourth the
"aren't your that litter an A-l incubator for pests?"
at the first har-
sun and spring
and the worms. Gallup says the trash almost never bunches. new growth starts. hurry
decay. gives extra moisture for germination.
notice at once that he cultivates both in preparation in regular tillage more often than usual. a foot high the hiller-disc again throws back Tractor cutivation continues until the corn is two feet
Gallup does not use hybrid seed.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
"And. Four to eight days later the cultivator with weeder
teeth in front breaks
high. which will be detasseled for
the ridge. the
tractor in high speed can
five or six
times as fast as plow
or cultivator can travel.
quite tender after
having been softened by frost and snow. But the method of cultivation which
brings on more earthworms has something. he believes." they add. and by planting time it has disappeared. "is due to this kind of seed selection.
soil is still
loose the corn
a planter and cultivator with hiller-discs that throw a heavy ridge over the driled seed. 1 "Part of our increased yields/ says Gallup. Gallup cuts
the sod with a disc harrow late in July.
down the ridge. and rakes crossways with the spring-tooth. destroying any young weeds.
crop for the pollen rows in his seed
thinks this avoids
the disadvantages of inbreeding and gives vigor. When he brings a piece of sod into cultivation. Next he manures heavily and rakes in After five cultivations. he sows lightly with the spring-tooth. strongly
Early in the spring before a bit of even heavy trash like corn stubble
down the corn borers.
will also plant selected corn
Gallup says of the view that
to both questions.
ready by spring for his regular procedure.
mainly responsible. This. This spring he will plant from his 1944 crop.
Technical Discussion. including the author
believe that Harnessing the
a very definite
. Facts. Lunt and H. under the heading of "Discussion. so far." H. G. Figures and References
IN THIS book.
Also. Jacobson have revealed in a few wellwritten pages the scientific basis of
worms by popular
writers. and some unsupported except by our own experimental findings." we find the statement "Whether or not it is practicable deliberately to increase the worm popula:
aside. M. In
on "The Chemical Composition of Earthworm Casts. or even
tion. and for those who
might seriously question much of the foregoing. For those who are not informed fully on the subject. we have purposely avoided technical terms and discussion. the inclusion of this authoritative report will satisfy the technical and strictly scientific students who might otherwise
question. some of the claims supported. We set out to create a mental picture of the importance of the earthworm in nature and to point the way to harnessing the earthworm in the intensive service of man. this
book as not worth
tion is another question
and one which
lacks an answer. we are glad to reproduce a highly valuable report recently released for publication by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
last paragraph of the Lunt and Jacobson report. we have made broad claims for the value of earthworms. In our handling of the subject.
in the affirmative
. Christopher M." statement in the "Summary" by Doctors Lunt and concluding Jacobson. we may point out that the field soil samples reported on in this bulletin were collected from the farm of Mr. however. Gallup in increasing his production of corn from 80 bushels per acre to an average of 196 bushels per acre as at least one startling example of what can
tents of this book. are at the same time favorable to plant growth. and quantitative measurements under field conditions of the part the worms play in crop production have not as yet been obtained." In the following pages we give the report of Doctors Lunt
and Jacobson in its entirety.154
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
to this question. We consider that the experience of Mr. which reads: "Conditions favorable to the worms.
although the con-
and experiments cited.
. with the instances
be accomplished through ''earthworm tillage. are obviously not familiar to the writers of "The Chemical CompoThe same comment applies to the sition of Earthworm Casts. Gallup." As a further comment on this last quotation. with the valuable books at the end of the report.
Russell (8) quotes the folowing from Gilbert White. being their excrement.
Reprinted from SOIL Scixncx 5.
Contribution from the department of soils. and later.. although a estimate was made of the quantity present on the field at rough the time of sampling. which. most of all. November.TECHNICAL DISCUSSION
Vol. and loosening the soil.
Experiment Station. 1944
The Chemical Composition
number of farmers have adopted
the terms not being exactly synonymous but referring to practices which have some features in common. No effort was made to obtain quantitative measurements
amount of cast material thrown up in a year. respectively.
Associate in forest soils and associate agronomist."
extensive scale until recently. and consequently sterile. Connecticut Agricultural New Haven* Connecticut. 58.
numbers of lumps of earth called worm-casts. and agronomists and
foresters as well as
and gardeners have
recognized the improvement in the physical condition of the soil brought about by these inhabitants. Little has been done. to exploit the idea or to "put the
work" on any
years ago Gilbert White. hard-bound. and void of fermentation.. and rendering it pervious to rains and the fibers of plants. by boring. perforating. which would proceed but lamely without them. by throwing
. the earth without worms would soon become cold. published in
1777: "Worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation. is a fine manure for grain and grass . A. by drawing straws and stalks of leaves and twigs into it and. M. however. Lunt and H. No. Jacobson2
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Received for publication July 22. The reported successes of these farming methods have prompted the study of the
properties of worm casts in comparison with the soil mass as a whole. Darwin (2) stressed the value of earthworms to agriculture.
Robertson (7) has shown that earthworms secrete calcium
carbonate concretions in their calciferous glands.3 per cent for the unworked soil. He points
however. When worms were kept on
paper or in acid peat.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Although several workers have investigated the activities and the benefits of earthworms. They discovered that barley grown in pots produced much higher yields when earthworms were
worms. which are excreted in the do not affect the reaction of the casts in the least. it is
rather the secretions of the gut wall which are responsible for changes in the reaction of the casts. organic matter. neutral. Salisbury (9) found that worm casts had a higher organic matter content than
the soil in six cases out of eight. formation of week or 10 days. Darwin (2) devoted a whole book to the subject of earthworms but did not include any
such data. only a few data on the composition of the casts have been published. Hensen(3) found that loss on ignition of worm excrement lining the burrows was 3. He also mentioned that Miiller reported 24 to 30 per cent loss on ignition for worm ex-
crement in contrast to about 8 per cent for soil.
types as the result of earthworm from cut-over land on two
soil types had higher base-exchange capacities. and nitrogen contents than did the unworked soil mass. provided the worms have access to material containing calcium. He also reported that the reaction of the casts was usually more nearly neutral than was that
of the original
soil. Blanck and Giescke (1) found a marked increase in the nitrify-
ing power of three different
take place under acid. compared with 2.
calcite concretions ceased
. Similar findings have been reported by Robertson (7) and are shown in the data of Puh given below.3 to 5 per cent. or alkaline conditions. that these concretions. according to Powers and Bollen (5).
p. At the end of this time
Stockli (10) studied the effect of
earthworms on the
ten different places including garden.3
p.*. p. Base capacity per 100 gm Exchangeable calcium (CaO) per 100 gm. the casts and the linings in general.151
1. Using a noncalcareous loamy clay. geological origin of the In comparison with the undisturbed
higher bacterial count.8
(noncalcareous loamy clay)
(noncalcareous loamy clay.. higher content of humus soluble in 30 per cent EbCb. p. He found great variations in their activity from place to place
and from season
Temperature and moisture were all soil was of no consequence.0
0. and forest soils. higher pH and loss-on-ignition of the tunnels had.8
culenta) and left Her analyses of the casts covered virtually the whole surface.20
Lindquist (4) reports that earthworms increase nitrate production not only by mixing humus with mineral soil and stimuof lating bacterial activity but also through the decomposition
7. Available phosphorus p.054
7. end of this period were as the soil and of the worm casts at the
(6) introduced earthworms.8
p. (Pkeretima bucthem for two months.m.95
Total nitrogen Organic matter
0. with calcareous
important. with which were mixed 1 part calcareous sandy soil by
9 parts of the loamy
finely cut leaves
and stems of
6. not ordinarily occupied worms.
the adjoining soil mass to a depth of 6 inches and third. and the higher portion is classed as belonging to the Gloucester or Plymouth series. Rubins . Gallup. obtained in four separate areas. Sam:
Field samples were collected by H.
inch level.16. first. Hamden. Most of the
made by Mr. Rubins.
forest soil samples. from forested areas. conAl horizon (nearby top J/ to 1 inch of soil. Mt Carmel State Park. Downs. Property of Christopher M. G. 1 5 in North Stonington. a part of the B horizon) and
. earthworm casts. A. In each case three kinds of material were taken.
sisted of casts. The soil is principally Hinckley gravelly loam. Samples were collected at 5-pace intervals along six lines across the field. to the
. The field. principally oak with maple and dogwood. B. samples of casts and of the surrounding soil mass were collected in the fall of 1942 from both field and forest and were subjected to rather complete ana4 The field samples were obtained in a field of sorghum and lysis. and each group of line samples was composited into one sample. soybean stubble and young sweet clover on Earthworm Tillage Farms No.
B. Lunt and D. second.inch layer consisting of the remainder of and. rather than plowing under in the conventional manner. not
horizon (lj^ to 8. Jacobson and E. J. M. Mixed hard woods. by H. more or less). soil at the 8. horizon (8 to 20 inches. The "earthworm tillage" consists essentially in working the stubble and other plant debris into the upper 4 or 5 inches of soil by means of disk and spring-tooth harrows. was being pastured by ten steers and
tofore. Everything possible is done to supply food for the worms in order to increase their number.158
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
more complete data than have been published hereknowledge of the writers. Holyoke stony fine sandy loam. of approximately 4 acres. in some cases. Connecticut.
two milk cows. Locations and descriptions of the areas are as follows I.
sugar maple. and other
species. consisting of white. but it would have been
II. nor was identification of the worms as to species. and sugar maple. chestnut oak. In most cases agreement
between samples from several parts of the field was good. hickory. Abundant casts. hickory. Southington stony fine sandy loam. cases the casts showed higher values than the 0-6 inch layer.) III. Mixed hardwoods consisting principally of red oak. rough estimate indicated that.
material. showed a marked difference in properties of the casts as compared with the surrounding soil mass.
Casts were so numerous
be sure of unworked
(Subsequent analyses. the casts
in the field numbered approximately three to the square foot and weighed 2 ounces apiece.000 pounds. red. private property. Middlefield. Southington stony fine sandy loam. and total calcium figures are obviously highly significant.TECHNICAL DISCUSSION
Casts were numerous pies were taken at edge of timber just in the open. Principally white oak. private property.
Casts were abundant. Meshomasic State Forest.
Quantitative measurements of the number of casts produced throughout the year or of the number of earthworms were not
soil. Even the nitrogen. dogwood. which amounted to about 129. with black oak. Hinsdale stony fine sandy loam.
which in turn were higher than those of the 8-16-inch depth.
clay content of the casts
sugar maple. Portland. at the time of sampling. and hemlock.)
Middletown. Greatest differences were found in available phosphorus and exchangeable potassium and magnesium. Mixed hardwoods. however. (In the woods. and well denned. sassafras. IV. dogwood.
white oak. the differences being 35 to 50
per cent. and differences between horizons were considerably greater than were
In nearly all differences between samples from the same horizon. the increases in the casts over the surrounding topsoil ranging from threefold to elevenfold.
Data pertaining to the analyses of the casts and soil from the cultivated field are given in table 1. and chestnut oaks.000 per acre and a weight of 160. organic carbon. casts prevailed.
contents of nitrogen.160
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM TABLE 1
Properties of earthworm casts and of soil from cultivated field Values given are means of six samples* with standard deviations
line across the field.
In the forest
close. hence six samples. Composite samples from whole field.
2) agreement among the four proand differences between horizons are
obviously highly significant.
Each sample was a composite of individual samples collected There were six lines.
magnesium contents of
Properties of earthworm casts and of soil
from forested areas
The AI and A3
soil. but both were considerably lower in
the forest soil casts
were much higher
exchangeable calcium. particularly
the field soil
magnesium was not observed in the forest
of exchangeupper horizon of
nor was there
any such relation between
calcium and total magnesium
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM TABLE 2 Continued
on a water-free
Total magnesium content was actually lower in Ax. There was no essential difference in
either the total colloids or the clay content of the casts as compared with the AI horizon.
correspond roughly to the 0-6-inch layer of the cultivated
the other hand differences in available phosphorus and exchangeable potassium and magnesium were distinctly smaller than
in the field soil. and exchangeable calcium in the casts were even more pronounced here than they were in the field soil.
In comparison with the cultivated
able calcium to exchangeable
The higher proportion
with one exception.
soils. casts have been found to larger bacterial population than the unworked
the opinion of some that the worms are present because of the favorable soil conditions. the
exchangeable calcium content of
the corresponding values
horizons considerably above
in the forest soils.
than 2 mm. showed no essential differences in the texture of casts and topsoil.
. there is sufficient evidence
either soil. in diameter and that in some cases parwas reduced by means of a rubbing action inside the Mechanical analyses of our samples digestive tract of the worm.
thus facilitating aeration. root penetration.
pH of the casts was higher than in the Nitrate nitrogen was not determined on the forest applied sometime in the past to the cultivated soil
had raised the pH.
10) to indicate that earthworms do very definitely imstructure by increasing aggregate content and porosity.
calcium but not in exchangeable
explanation for this difference
given. She found the casts to be
cium. water absorption.
The data on chemical properties herein reported confirm those published by Powers and Bollen (5) and by Puh (6). and Stockli (10) reported that casts contained no pardrainage.
of calcium that
form was about the same
in the casts as
was in exchangeable was in the AI horizon
in the field soil. but in the forest soil the proportion in the casts
than in the
horizons. with one notable difference in Puh's work.
was exchangeable was
definitely higher in
the casts in both soils.
which earthworms are active
invariably in better
the biological standpoint. 3.
5 to 2. be sufficient to increase the calcium (and perhaps mag-
nesium) content of the surface soil. it might
influence the composition of the surface
casts are less acid (or less alkaline in alkaline
even where the worms are confined to the
surface soil (6. in part. 0.
by pushing but mostly by swallowing it and depositing the excrement at the surface.e.. therefore. if the subsoil contained a higher concentration of any other material. of earththe digestion of plant material and its intimate mixing with mineral soil.1 to 0. The concentration of the principal plant-food elements (except K) in the plant is considerably
If the subsoil
Their food consists of plant and animal remains on the surface
and in the upper layers of the soil. and apparently some nutriment is obtained from the soil itself. In the light of these facts it is interesting to speculate as to what would happen in an inverted profile. Likewise.
favorable weather they are active in the top 6 or 8 inches of
soil. or can it
be attributed to direct action of the
the soil material?
these questions. In dry or cold weather they retire to considerable depth 4 to 6 and even 8 feet. with the A and C horizons reversed.5 per cent N.
necessary to examine the habits
chemically (and biologically). It would appear. 9). Burrowing in the subsoil is done only to
provide living quarters during unfavorable weather.6 to 2. that the amount of subsoil carried to the surface
in the soil. over a long period of time. and
land. 0. i.164
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Only a cursory examination of the data is needed to show the higher fertility status of the casts. forest tree leaves contain in the neighborhood of 0. In
their tunnels. shows that the change in reaction is not dependent upon the transporting of less acid (or less alkaline) subsoil to the surface.0 per cent K.5 per cent P. the
of such material brought to the surface might.
For example. What is the explanation ? Is it due to substances brought up from the subsoil.
and grains by cattle and the subsequent return of the manure to the soil. resulting in net amount of plant.food. 8).5. Russell (8) reported the nitrogen worms to be 1. dies in the soil and its decomposed body returns plantfood to the soil without loss. Also.
That yields may be increased by the presence of earthworms
has been demonstrated in pot culture studies (5.
Samples of earthworm casts and of unworked soil from sevwere collected from a cultivated field and from four
.5 per cent respectively.5 to 2.
from the farm. to the decomposition of their
own bodies (6. hay.
The earthworm. only a fraction of which is available to the plant. The process may be likened to the consumption of grass.8. practicable deliberately to increase the worm another question and one which still lacks an anit is
Whether or not
population swer.food than the plant residues
but a higher concentration than the soil. It has been found that the increased
nitrification that takes
into the soil
due. Obviously one should avoid any
materially reduce earthworm activity. however. On a field scale. some
(or the milk from cows) are loss to the soil of a certain
losses occur in the
incorporated with the
soil. The resultant product contains a lower concentration of plant.
the action of digestive secretions favor the decomposition of the organic matter and of soil minerals. Both the mechanical mixing and
. of N
per worm. 8). and 0. no accurate quantitative comparisons have been
made. 0. however.0 per cent or about 10 mgm. it is extremely difficult in the field to determine to what degree
are responsible for any increase in yields or improveof the crop. to the knowledge of the writers.TECHNICAL DISCUSSION
4 per cent Ca whereas the amount in the soil averages about 1. Inasmuch as any practice earthworm activity is also favorable to plant growth. on
other hand. with this
difference.2. in part at least.
] 1882 Uber die Fruchtbarkeit des Erdbodens in ihrer (3) HENSEN. V. Jahrb. nesium was about equal in all samples. 11:661-698. (London) 5 :505.
DARWIN. averaging 2 ounces each. and exchangeable calcium. Rec.
are beneficial to the
has been established beyond a
Conditions favorable to the worms.
samples showed similar but even more striking
were higher in nitrogen. and quantitative measurefield conditions
of the part the
play in crop
production have not as yet been obtained.
Landw. and had a higher moisture equivalent than the casts from the field soil. in Exp. available phosphorus. the field soil contained approximately three casts to the square foot.
biological properties of
organic matter. are at the same time favorable to plant growth.166
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
forested areas and subjected to chemical and mechanical analyses. Diingung. and moisture equivalent. Soc.]
Pflanzenernahr. exchangeable potassium and magnesium. on the physical and
F. Geol. 1882. 3 (B)
198-210. casts contained less exchangeable hydrogen and a lower clay content than the 0-6 inch layer. 54:718. Appleton and Co.. however.
soil. base Total magcapacity.
and were higher in total and nitrate total and exchangeable calcium.
Abhangigkeit von den Leistungen der
der Erdrinde lebenden
the influence of
Ztschr.000 pounds to the acre.
. In the field soil. Sta. Trans.
results. At the time of sampling.
C. [Also in book form D. New York.
or 16. base saturation. E. AND GIESCKE. organic carbon. These changes in composition as the result of earthworm activity are due chiefly to the intimate mixing of plant and animal remains with mineral soil in the digestive tract of the worm and That earthto the action of digestive secretions on the mixture. but the casts
of vegetable mould through the worms.
46:415-425. 1936 The function of the calciferous glands of earthworms. Jour.
earthworms on soil reaction soils. Sci. Sci.
Landw. W. Contrib.
(10) STOCKLI. China.
Skog wardsfor. 1941 [Investigations of the importance of some Scandinavian earthworms for the decomposition of broadleaf litter
and for the structure of mull. Agr. German summary. (7) ROBERTSON. BioL 13:279-297. 1935 The chemical and bioSoil Sci. B. W. Schweiz 42 :5-121. Exp. J. 39:179-242. Linnean Soc. Jahrb. L.. entry 6276. Jour.
(In Swedish. logical nature of certain forest soils. E.
P. 1910 The effect of earthworms on soil productiveness. Zool Ser.
C. A.. Soc. BioL Lab.
Studien iiber den Einfluss des
die Beschaff enheit des Bodens. 40:321-329. Jour. D. J. B. 3:246-257: (8) SALISBURY. E. D16..
(Abstract in BioL Abs.
properties of the soil. AND BOLLEN.
J.) (5) POWERS.
(8) RUSSELL. 15:147-155.
warning: "You can't come here. or speculative synthetic production of food. forces.
vored regions is no longer possible.
both in the immediate future and for
new frontier for the present generation and for future Our concept is not based upon some magic formula generations.
for synthetic soil-building." There is no more land. Using the same tried and tested tools.
sires. supplemented and aided by the use of modern machinery and the
accumulated knowledge of the forces and materials with which
many generations to individual can exploit the potentialities of this new An entire nation can defrontier to his own immediate benefit. with a sign erected. and that is to build more soil. particularly the more
face or will eventually face a need for There is only one possible way to supply this pressing demand.
the lands beneath their feet. It is all preempted. We have called this last frontier a "new frontier" a place of opportunity whereon we conceive of the possibility of literally building a new earth to supply more richly all our needs and de-
densely populated. "No Trespassing Keep Off!" Each country is determined to reserve and conserve its dwindling supply of topsoil to feed its own people. but at a highly accelerated tempo. Practically all countries in the world. and materials
with which nature works. On every border stands a man with a gun.
as outlined by our government
. By far the greater part of the earth's surface is measured in millions of
square miles of non-arable land
deserts. Nature has provided the example. Consider the situation in what is probably the most favored land in the world the United States. commercially considered. we have approximately three acres of arable land per person. four
billion acres. This living surface is a very thin blanket. The limited area of arable land has been closely estimated." as applied to the arable topsoil of the earth can be best illustrated by asking and answering two
simple questions. in processes which we can observe. swamps.this land is so depleted that.
hardly profitable to farm
While we export a great
of the United States barely feed themselves. topsoil is the living surface of the earth upon which all life depends both vegetable and animal life. steaming tropical jungles. utilize."
people are there in the world?"
Answer: "Over two billion. with simple and definite instructions written into the geological pages of the earth.THE NEW FRONTIER
we work. mountains." That is. With our
present population. and improve upon.
pointed out over and over. Much of . we can build topsoil and accomplish within a period of months or a few short years what nature requires decades and even centuries to accomplish. yet in normal times our
imports of food practically balance exports. there are an average of about two acres of arable land per person. involving rudimentary mathematics: Question: "How much cultivable land is there in the world?"
Answer: "Approximately. Were we to provide a minimum standard of nutrition. Of what we we have approximately two acres per
person. surveyed or measured. threadbare in
As has been
it. deal of food.
The meaning of "limited.
stretched over the earth.
areas of sterile rock and eroded slopes showing through. In the foregoing chapters of this book we have discussed the examples and lessons which nature has provided.
it is necessary merely to call attention to this field of knowledge.
land. rebuilding and conditioning our so-called "worn out" soils and sub-marginal
lands. Throughout the incalculable ages of from the conception of primordial chaos down to the present world of form and substance as we know it. we briefly call attention to the mineral reitself. and
available figures. the possibilities of which have not For source materials yet been explored for constructive use. but primarily
to the bedrock. lend-lease food export program during World War II.
from even a casual survey of facts and can see that the problem of providing for
population. In the superficial layers of the earth.170
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
apportioned to our entire population. to say nothing of the population pressure throughout the balance of the world. and
at all times
more soil on favorably located non-arable some hundreds of millions of acres of such lands
on our new
frontier. is immediate and pressing and not something to be considered in the distant future. carefully
immediately following the war.
are willing to reduce radically our
the above. has graphically brought to the attention of all our people the sad fact that there is not enough
food to go around unless
standards of nutrition.
not enough. there an actual food shortage in the United States. with which to work.
we have the inexhaustible parent mineral material of topsoil available for soil-building. In addition to conserving and increasing the productivity of the soil we have. from the visible surface on down
sources of the earth
. So far as the knowledge is concerned.
only to apply the
knowledge which we have to the available materials which we have. the parent mineral base of topsoil has been formed and deposited. For our purpose. The other source-parentmaterial of topsoil is vegetation and animal life. and we can now add to it the new knowledge of atomic energy. we refer to the accumulated technical information of the entire world of science.
*Miscdlaneous Publication No.
. U. . or 7. S. rain falls. the greatest is located in the sky. the sun
F. At noon. Let us quote from the book
To Hold This
Soil by Russell
Blazing hot. It is the pumping heart of the circulatory water system that keeps earth alive. . upwards of 4J/2 million horsepower to the square mile. Windmills run by sunpower. Streams and rivers flash to the sea. and different layers of its waterladen atmosphere unevenly. The sun draws surface water up for another run down the face of the continents. they return
. at the surface
and enormously hotter immediate source of life. the
the standpoint of soil-building on the the primary source of topsoil. If the sun did not heat different parts of earth's surface. clouds mount the wind. no winds would blow. under the heading of "Celestial Dynamics. 321. when the rays strike perpendicularly. the delivered energy averages three-eights horsepower.000
. on each square yard of land and sea. only about one two-billionth part reaches the earth. Department of Agriculture. earth. Even so. and the lands are replenished. . "All the rivers run into the sea yet the sea is not full unto the place from whence the rivers come. We mean the sun figuratively
the source of
speaking and literally speaking
planet. Most sun
power goes out to other heavenly bodies or far off into space. 10." Ecclesiastes 1 :7.
.THE NEW FRONTIER
should designate it as energy operating through what we poputerm "substance" or "material" in the mysterious processes
life. and the
the secondary source. clouds form and the cycle continues.
THE GOLD MINE IN THE SKY
Accepting gold as a symbol of value or wealth. the sun delivers lj^ horsepower to the square yard.260 horsepower to the acre. day and night. Winds blow.
the chemical start
and nucleus around which the more complex compounds of protoplasm are formed. sun power previously fixed for use through a film of
for the transition from the poetical statement of the abstract generalization to the more prosaic practical application and analysis of the concrete facts :
color of the earth
what we might
green. Farmers plowing. be designated as leaf-green or chlorophyll. The upon the chlorophyll in the leaf of plants through
the plant. including
man. leaf.000 such leaves. our common ingredients sun. but all the food in his potatoes and in all the other comestibles which
. miners digging. indeed. For a brief and masterly discussion of the
meaning of chlorophyll. He may not..
as "photosynthesis. A same time (1 month). in the
Quoting from The Green Earth. they deliver energy the sun stored in plants aeons ago.
use. petroleum. eat so much sugar.
the color of life
Life endures because the earth
world are so
closely related chemically that they
the green substances of the plant may.172
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Sun power drives the weather mill that grinds soil and propels still-secret processes by which in soil.. airplane drivers streaking for Europe or South America all are developing in their various persons and from their subject beast or equipage. the sunlight. and flesh..
a governed explosion of buried sun power. for prac-
sun. acting upon the chlorophyll in 5 square inches of potato leaf will produce about 1 gram of
month. by Harold William Rickett. is green.. ". Sundays motorists out for an airing. under the heading of "The Green Color of Plants and What Comes of It. leaf-green. the sugar made by
30. air. we refer the reader to a chapter in The Green Earth.
soil . and gasoline are burned. sea." produces sugar within sugar is the beginning of life." As one
simple illustration. the color-evidence of the existence of a substance which has been called the most important material in the world : chlorophyll. water and a sprinkling of earthy minerals combine into all forms of life and energy. acting
the parent repository of the earth
potassium. spreading the leaf-green surface to the sun.
. with traces of many other known elements of the universe. and. selecting
which enter into their structure.forces working in the necessary light of day and working in the equally necessary dark of the night and dark of the earth. iron.
by weight calcium. oxygen. magnesium. through the action of sunlight on chlorophyll.THE NEW FRONTIER
to his table is derived
potato plants and
others. sodium. hydrogen and nitrogen. whether nourished
solved in water to
or by the ingredients of soil purified and dismake a nutrient solution. are combined
the air. we
will give a breakare taken from Soil and figures Civilisation by Milton Whitney. a definite area of
for the support of one
leaf surface is necessary
table of the figures. silicon. the nutritional elements of life in the exact proportions necessary From the parent repository of the air to reproduce the plant. we see all vegetation as a parent material of topsoil. Chief of the Bureau of Soils. appropriating the all-pervading nutritional elements from
the mineral elements
air reach the bole
Into the structure of the plant. Deep into the secret. through the life.
from the sugar made in the leaves A definite number of leaves."
So much for the place the sun occupies in the producAnd the same nutrient elements which tion of food for man. expressed in
pounds per thousand pounds of dry matter.
whether grown in the
or in a glasshouse.
carbon. in its eventual breaking down and disintegration of the earth to form the vital surface
function of vegetation. To provide a chemical picture of the estimated average composition of the vegetation of the earth. phosphorus.
Vegetation is bedded in topsoil. In its entirety. necessary darkness of the earth the roots of plants ramnify. man uses are also used by the plant world in the growth of vegeThe nutrition of man and all animal life is merely an tation. chlorine. Into the and branches.
3.. with rearrangement for pur-
poses of illustration. with their myriad forms of quick-growing vegetation.8
7. There are no waste places: all is right and useful to the all-seeing and comprehend-
ing mind of man. soil-building material for man. through photosynthesis.
16.8 air. all entering into or assisting in the manufacture of the above named food materials.
the foregoing pages. the major part by weight of parent material for the building
Hydrogen (H) Nitrogen (N)
classification 950^ Protein 100 pounds pounds of elements from the 429..
earth and the fullness thereof becomes
green in practically all to catch and transform the inexhaustible resources of the air into
usable. While we have not named other trace elements.
.0 820 pounds ^derived ^Carbohydrates 61. hear the age-old soldier-crusader cry.2J
. we can see that we will have no shortage of parent materials with which to work and exploit the new and last frontier..
16. Magnesium (Mg)
Chlorine (Cl) Iron (Fe)
A total of 50 pounds of the named mineral elements derived from the earth.. insect and ani-
can spread the sun.
2. representing Fats 30 pounds
I ( . which constitute a minute part of the whole...2
. these trace elements are of tremendous importance and cannot be ignored in arriving at
final conclusions. .
have been given to illustrate and emphasize the part which the sun plays in providing. the entire surface of the earth becomes a pleasant work-ground..
. a new earth.2
S. The tropical jungles.
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
Department of Agriculture.
the eternal questioning cry of conquering man on his upward As the idea takes hold of path.0
Calcium (Ca) .6
Sodium (Na) .trap of leafthe so-called waste places of the earth. such as Boron.
Carbon (C) Oxygen (O)
. "Where do we go from here?"
the constructive mind and creative imagination. Phosphorus (P)
compost grinding machines. in the larger use of earthworms. The earthworm is destined to become a master-builder of topsoil on
Throughout the ages of the past the earthworm in nature has been a master-builder of topsoil on the old frontiers. become a region for profitable harvest. and garbage disposal will become a soil-building operasewage The waste products tion.
and used intensively
in the controlled
man. in its final stages a biological process. And we have the earthworm.
of the world will feed the world. their utilization
becomes an engineering problem
be worked out by en-
gineers. the parent elements of life itself. dredges. but to indicate and point out the possibilities. any individual can harness the earthworm to build soil. out and mine the mineral elements from it. we can utilize standard heavy machinery. cannot elude We have our earth. based on known facts. However. holding the secret of soil-building and waiting to become the servant of man in the day and hour when man
servant. bulldozers. The parent elements of topsoil. we have our suntrap and the sun. shredders. The garbage of a city will be transformed into enough topsoil to produce food for the city in a recurring cycle. to catch and hold the elements from the air while we transport them to the place of ultimate use. road-buiding ma-
Eventually all chinery.THE NEW FRONTIER
mal life. Such individual use is a very simple matter. such as tractors.
In the larger use.
has been pointed out. It is not our purpose to attempt to go into
engineering details. with the roots of vegetation to search us.
and men. is earthworm food. beasts. waste and gases. orchard and garden. "In a never-ending cycle untold millions of tons of the products of forest and farm. eternally gorging on the dead and living vegetable material. intensive culture of domesticated earth-
worms. out of each 100 pounds of grain fed.
forms. but most of it becomes humus-building food for worms. All the biological endto
nures. and 10% pounds
is represented by increase in animal weight.
becoming food for the earthworm. waiting to be utilized in a profitable manner through the scientific. are harvested. such as cattle. In the process of transformation. sheep and hogs. maconstitute the abundant cheap source
of earthworm food.
be transformed into potential earthworm food after they have nourished animal life and served man. In the feeding of domestic animals. dead vegetation.
"The unseen and microscopic
soil is vastly greater
of the earth beneath the
than the animal
which we see above
fertile farm land we may find as high as 7. in the end. from microbe
great transformer of vegetation into perfect
life itself. a small percentage becomes ani-
layers of topsoil. on the average. on each other and en dead animal residues
. dead animal residues
to man.000 pounds of bacteria per acre in the super-
earth as birds. l 89 /2 pounds becomes excrement.
. down to the bedIn the is deposited the parent mineral material of topsoil." About the first question people ask is. acting upon leafgreen (chlorophyll) to synthesize the gaseous elements from the
air. for all practical purposes. combined and
producing earthworm food. The
earthworm will not go hungry .
life we have the second great source-material of topsoil.
it." Nature works slowly in the production of topsoil.
so important in holding the soil in place.
the parent materials into what we know as top-
or what Charles Darwin called "vegetable mould. growth.
becoming. . or ages. and (2) sunlight.
we have termed
Then. centuries. and in whatever quantity desired. we might parent say that the two parent sources of topsoil are: (1) the mineral
world of vegetation and animal
surface layers of the earth.
fun-gi. over peIn biological soil-building. The unseen vegetable food. the answer is "Whatever has lived and died both vegetable and animal is what we feed earthworms.
moulds form an additional great tonnage of material that eventuThe living network of fine roots. The reason we can do this is because. "What do you feed ' earthworms!57 The above quotation from former pages indicates In a few comprehensive words. through life-processes
fermentation. with the tools and forces which
take the materials which nature has prowe have learned to use. Stated another way. ally becomes earthworm food. as riods of years.
and speed up the processes of nature. where we want it. Thus we can build topsoil when we want it.
rock. we have inexhaustible materials and inexhaustible
. black soils the organic matter earthworm food is represented by from 140 to as high as 600 tons of humus per acre.
action. the answer to this question. in turn.
are mixed. constitutes about onetenth by weight of the total organic matter in the upper six
In the good inches of soil all are eventual earthworm food." In this discussion of earthworm food we have the key to soil-building. decay. earthworm
In the superficial layers of earth's surface.
been one important element of
life. air breathing "meat" animal. each
consume and pass through
body every twenty. know how to carry on intensive propagation to produce the necessary millions and billions of earthworms as they may be required. The combined weight of one million mature domesticated earthworms will approximate a ton. we can on from there. limited only by our visualization and
use of the possibilities. However. It is just as obvious as sunlight.
"A chain is as strong as its weakest the weakest link in nature has been
the S!QW transition of vegetable and animal life back to the soil In nature. all ani-
through consumption of the vegetable. The earthworm is a warm-blooded. take hold of the principle. nurtures
manure of worms
(castings) is topsoil which. the earthworm has for use again in the eternal cycle."
In the chain of
life. these tiny mills produce a tremendous tonnage of topsoil in the
course of a single year. vegetable life. It does not go
. an unlimited supply of food. or a few hogs or other domestic
in the chain of
and forces for the intensive propagation and use of earthworms.
If given a chance. the
HARNESSING THE EARTHWORM
which to work. equal to its own body weight. will weigh a ton. by harnessing
the chain into the strongest link.
a miniature "mill" for the production of topsoil. indirectly.four hours a weight of soil-building material Considered in units of one million. They are limited in numbers only by the amount of available food and we have shown that there is.
Earthworms know how to compound into topsoil the parent materials of topsoil. There is no essential difference between feeding other domestic animals to produce meat and feeding earthworms for intensive production. Once we catch the vision. while the manure of other animals becomes food
for worms. One or two head of cattle. from
a practical standpoint. we have demonstrated that we can reinforce and transform this weakest link of
old truism states that
or a specially designed culture
post soil-building earthworm
. add water.CONCLUSION
simple. add worms or earthworm egg-capsules keep wet and let nature take her course. All variations from these simple basic principles are made for convenience and efficiency. results will
naturally depend upon the skill basic principle involved. which may contain even hundreds of tons of composted source
take a scientist to utilize the principles they are so extremely Stated in a few words. regardless of whether we work in a small way with a box or tin can.
bed. When the question is asked.
and care used
in following the
have written a book in an endeavor to create a mental
picture of the most important animal in the world the earthworm.
In earthworm culture as in other things. the basic principles are: Com-
food. or work in a larger way with carefully built compost beds." And when the first question is followed by a
second question. "Can I build topsoil?" the answer is "yes.
10. 153. 84. the. 25
Downs. 26 Australia. 26. construction. culture. materials. watering.
canal. excretion of humus. 47. 46. 167 Blanck. 87. 124 harvesting. construction. 43-46. 134 . 52. 24. 85.
W. plans for. 26 Aristotle. 92. feeding habits. An. by Dr. 25. 65.. 131. 23 "Chemical Composition of Earth-
Earthmaster Farm. food. 13.
Caldwell. R. G.
. 100. 16. alimentary 26-27. calciferous glands.
Djemil. 166 Blue Nile. by Sir Albert Howard.
14. 90. 69-70. 40. 99. 93-95. 155 Crop rotation. Tacobson." by H. Joseph E. 40 Biodynamic Farming. 62.
8. 132. 25.
155-167 China. 47 Domesticated
Earthworms. 156. 92.
Earthmaster Earthworm Bed. 153. 22 1 family. 49. M. 74.
94. 150. 117. 23
Backyard Exploration.. 30. nature's heap. 47 California. 109.
Dewworms. 36. 171 Ceylon. 43. 98. 29. 83 109-111. 85. definition.
A. 169 Culture beds. The. 23.
25. breeding habits.
S. 141 . 82. 61. 92. 101. 156. distribution.
20. 68. 24. 164. 46.
78-79. Dr. 27. 30. 113. E. 37. 38-40. 44.
Casts. 143. Firman E. 11. environment. 90
Bruce Museum of Natural History. 47 Celestial Dynamics. 49. 102. 164. 45
Bollen. 77 Bear. 131. large beds. digestive system.
68-71. 103-147. 43. 44 Africa. 41. 156.
140. 50. 96. 149
Anderson. 14. 31. 123-147.
No. 139: care
29.. 52. 23. 138. 166. 158. materials. 35. 28.
B. egg capsules. 29. 164. 173. 29. 159. 125
. development. 40. 39. 23
23.. pit. Charles. 128-130. 89. 65.INDEX
Angleworms. 116127. chemical action on soil. 73
Cultivated soil. 89. 167
Citrus fruit raising. servicing. 131 Earthworm Tillage Farm. for. drainage. D. 78. 20. A.
ment Station. harvesting. 43. 28
Bacteria in Relation to Soil Fertility. 71. 63.
U. 57 Agriculture. A. by Paul Griswold Howes. 28. 158-159
domestication. 155. 21
50. 133 . benefits of.
of. 15 Earthmaster System.
B. 155 Biological Abstract. 22.
age. Lunt and H. 25. 73. 164. 155. 163. 83 California Experiment Station.
Earthworms. food crops. use of earthworms in. 123. 145-
Darwin. 95. 82. 22. Greaves. 84. 23. 94.. 174 Agricultural Treatment. 53. 84-93. . 132 plans 138. 88. 163.
V. Joseph K.. 42 Journal of the Linnean Society. 14. 23. 25
Experiment Station Record.
Irrigation. hybrid. The.
in Role of Great Benefactors of the Human Race. 90.
22.. 89. Prof.
Han ford Loam. 80. weight. 20
Forest Service. 42 "Formation of Soil. 13.
68. 92. distribution. 52
43. The. 156. Sir Albert. 166 H. structure.
tion. 14 "Green Color of Plants and What Comes of It. 20. 119 Hilgard. 49. 84.. 148. 166 Landwehr Jahrbuch. 21. 24. 78.. 88
Gallup. Frank. size. 167
Khartoum. 150 Flood Control. 68. 150 Heiberg. 47. 12. 13. 22 source. 57. 158
Illinois. Svend O. The. 26. 88-93
. number. 166
Farm Forum. 84.
150-152. With Observations on Their Habits. 81.
153. acid. 74.. 84. 41." by Williams Haynes. 24
"Earthworms. organic.. Schweiz. A.
. 61. 69. rapidity of increase.. The. 77 Greece.
14. 172 Green Earth.
Fishworms. 28 Humus. 61-64.
Food Crops. by Charles Darwin.
53. 30. 153..
149. 167 Journal of Forestry." by
Greaves. 61. WGY. popular names. F. 148 Fertilizers. chemical. 158 Japan. 160. Svend O. 85. 149. propagation. H. Williams. scientific.
A." by Harold William Rickett. 39. 35
Haynes.177. selective breeding and
Gardening. 40. 10. 20. by Harold William Rickett. Knop.
103. 41 Farm Journal and Farmer's Wife. 61. 57. 82. "factory of nature. 48.
74-75. 157 Landwehr Jahrbuch.
Helodrilus trapezoides. Paul Griswold. 73. 23.
Faulkner. Henry W. formation 21. 97 Hensen. 61. 49 Forest soil. 25. 38.
13. 23. 48
Earthworms of Ohio." 13.
Lactuca sativa. 149-152
Egypt. 90. 52
20. Dr. 40. 155. 72. 21. by Dr. 56.
25. 148-152. 46. The. 84.
disposal. 151. 167 Journal of Experimental Biology. 151
93. 149 Howes. 78-83. Lawns. 41
Agricultural College. 148
Farming. 47 Hinckley. Bol. 39. 90-94. United States Department of Agriculture. Dr. 23. 62. 9. 51 England. G. 125-126. 65.
67. Heiberg.000 to the Acre.
155 Harrowing. Hybrid Earthworms. 44. 40. 41 Mould Formation of Vegetable through the Action of Earthworms.
Christopher. 88-93. W. 162 "Forest Soil in Relation to Silviculture. 68
149." by Prof. 56. 41-42. fertility of. 45 Giescke. 89
Harnessing the Earthworm. 119. 82. 154. Anderson. 166
feeding. 56. Helodrilus foetidus. 43 Journal of Agricultural Science." by Curtis Fletcher Marbut.
home. E. 70. M.
general. 72. 65. 172
33. 34. 20. 117 Orchard worm. 66. 112. 178 Manure worm. 167
Folly. 23 Night lions. 70. 15.. 174. 32. 67. 90 Nile Valley. 66. B. 82... 82. 54. 109-112." by Dr. 167
. 41 Mechanization..
Farm. 67 Non-cultivation method. 110. Lunt. 157. use of earthworms in. 126. 48. subsoil. 35 Sheffield. 12. 76. 36. by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler. 114-116. earth-
Puh. 96 Orchards. 22. 35. 171 Lug boxes.
29. 65. 75.
22. 156. George Sheffield
Oliver. 72. 12. 97
H. The. 51. 170.
30.. 113. P. 82. 96 Ohio State University. J. 165. for Earthmaster Culture Beds. 84. 15. 76. 57.
173. for Culture Beds. United
C. H. 121 preparation. 72. 175. 121
Plowing. Nathaniel Southgate. Zoological Service. Henry W. 48.
71. 90. 83. Dr. 167 Lord. 72 Ohio State University Farm. 35.
156. 35. 64. 167 Shaler. 88 Ohio Biological Survey. E. 31. 24. 32. 116. 13. 164.
tiller. 97 Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. by Dr. 80 Megascolides Australis.
and Practice of AgriAnalysis. 23 Oliver. 105.. for Lug Boxes. 13. 158
23. Curtis Fletcher. 40. 114
annelida.. 52.. 62.
Their Origin. 120.
State College of Forest-
Night crawlers. 40. topsoil.
and Characteristics. 179 Soil and Cultivation. 14. 57. Harold William. 157
position. 52. 76-83. 157. 43-47.
J. 35. 96 Marbut. marking. 170. 148. 153. 76 Small-bristled ringed worm. 56.
Russell. 23. 108. 87. 66. 155. 77. 120. 128-130. chemical elements of. 26. 30 Productive Soils of Successful
W. impregnation. E. D. 37. loading. 105. 49.
34. 23 Plans. A. 173. 163. The.
155. gunny sacks. 167 Science Society of China.. harvesting. supports. 49. 148
and the Earth. 173 Soil Science. 74.
49. 72 Oligochacta. 81. compost for. destruction of. 20. 34. 87-98 Olson. chemical elements. 106. 157
by Wilbur Walter Weir.
J. 23. Biological Laboratory Contribution. 48
Ohio. 89. 149
ry. A. 49. 42. 167
Manure. George Sheffield. Horace Edward Stockbridge. 87.
Lumbricus terrestris. 172 Robertson. 149. Dr. 151
Powers. 72. 101. 51
M. 74. 42-46. 53.
ture. 65. 103-127.Life Cycle. 177.
24. building. 12. 77. mass production of. 41 Mason.
51. Arthur J. George. 145. Russell. watering. 74. 178
9. 41. 102.. 42.
177-179. 75. 12. source of plant and animal life. separators. 90.. 163. 90. 177.
50. 156. 97 Resistance to pests and plant diseases. J. 35
25. 163. plans for. 55 Rickett. by Milton Whitney. E..
The Fundamentals Soil Management Crop Management. 25. 66-76. 23
Rainworms. 23 Miscellaneous Publications. by Dr. The.
41 Soils -.
Nile. 157. 22. 49.
Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture Statistics. 48. Wilbur Walter. Miscellaneous Publications. 24 Stockbridge.Their Formation.Bureau of. 48. 48 Stinking earthworm. 41 Department of Agriculture Yearbook. 20.. E. Firman E. Composition. Properties. 50. 43. 172 South Pasadena Review. 52
Wolney. 173 "Soils and Men. 38. 174. 48
Farm Forum. W. the. Experiment Station Record. 173 Wiley. 53 Sun power. 49. 49. 43. 174. Yearbook for 1938. Tidskr. 47
Yearbook of the United States De-
To Hold This
Vegetable Mould. plowing." by Curtis Fletcher Marbut. 20
. 74 Sudan. 172 Svensk Skogsvardsfor. 77
Stockli. 179 the Transactions of Geological Society. 20
. 51.. 23. 177.
52.. Milton. 47 South America.
by Russell Lord. Dr. 47 University of Wisconsin. 166
173. Harvey W. 49. 52
Soils. 35. Dr.
chemical elements. 155
Tana Lake. 40
Wolff. Gilbert. 20. 42. 57. 43
University of California. United States Department of Agriculture.
Weir. 41. 74. 171. 23.
partment of Agriculture for 1938. by Dr. London. 175. 44
Theory and Practice in the Use of Fertilizers. 42. 171. 167 Subsoil. Dr. 173. Hilgard.
13. A. Horace Edward. mass-production of. and Relation to Climate and Plant Growth. Bureau of Soils. 32.
Bear. 49 Utah Agricutural College.
177-179. 8V United States Department of Agriculture. by Dr.
Environment. reporter. In 1936 he began earthworm soil-building research. editor."
tion Booklist. Northwestern Acadei
J. are spec American Library Asso.
. and lance news photographer in Canada. Encyt
Britannica. He spent nearly 3 years
laboratory plant physiology California Institute of Technology. the directions for culture and on either small or large scale." includ nature and in scient
Control. Trained for map
production in the field he served throi I with the lllth United St. Calif. Engineers. as an exp mental center.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
was born in Coll 1884. have appeared in many le ing newspapers and magazines through
the world. and other publicatic the author of Eartbivorms: Their
tensive Propagation Soil -Build ing.
other scientific and popular writings. Educated Ruskin University. Mex and the United States. The
and Use in Biolog Pruning Knife. and concise. establishing "Ear master Farms. and Chicago College of Mi cine and Surgery. Jr.
. I ture articles about "Earthmaster Farn
disc." revealing the me ods which have enabled the author to t a barren desert hillside into a luxuriant p. He contributor to Magazine Digest.
and working drawings
are valuable aids
The photographs.(Continued from front flap)
Earthworm and the earthworm
literature. he has been physic printer..
American College of Osteopathic Medic
and Surgery. soldier.
Standard text for veterinarians and dairymen.
different species are included.
excellent photographs and
the concise scientific descriptions
This practical guide helps those who make hooked and braided rugs."
Wisconsin Agriculturalist. and other articles from fabrics. sea animals.00
. to achieve the quaint and beautiful colors which
only natural dyes. this thorough
discussion of the smaller business will solve your every problem.
It identifies clearly
up good few of the many questions answered.
$2. train salespersons.
RPI ITP WIIMPHPIF^. Deals with surgical as well ". build
buy or meet competistatistics. can obtain
of rugs handed Bibliography.
location. botanical facts.
to be delighted. . should be in the library of
UDDER DISEASES OF THE COW
by A. ".
Illustrated. the beautiful effects characterexplains how you.
The American Mercury. to
will. profusely illustrated.
garden lover $2.
useful guide to the inverte-
brates of the Atlantic Coast. too. this
by Horace G. an opposed to packaged dyes. bibliography.
. distributing. and
by Joshua Freeman Crawell
bits of horticultural
ANIMALS OF THE SEASHORE
a distinguished scientist."
GARDEN WISE AND OTHERWISE
poetic encyclopedia for the garden lover
tion." Ontario Milk Producer. provide.
every dairyman.YOUR OWN BUSINESS
by Norman Edwards
of the rare.
. by far the best treatment of the subject that we have ever seen.