It’s the ultimate eco showdown…
In part one, of a three part series on animal eco-warriors, we take a look at one of earth’s smaller creatures and its big impact on the earth.
If put to a test of whom was more eco-friendly, who do you think would win: Man or Animal?
One could argue that mankind is clearly more eco-friendly because we consciously choose ways in which to benefit the world around us.
On the other hand, one could argue that animals are even more eco-friendly because they don’t have to choose how to be kind to the planet, they just are: it’s inherent.
In my opinion, animals totally take the cake – and one in particular needs to be wearing a Superman cape. Ready for this one?
Yes, the small, strange, wiggly creature is one of the biggest eco-heroes of them all. How, you ask? Check this out:
According to CNN.com, Worms are nature's waste disposal units. Or rather, it is more accurate to call them waste renewal units, as they don't simply consume the waste -- they turn it into something far more useful: nutrient-rich compost.
Earthworms are by any definition incredible creatures -- particularly, in this context: The Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellus, which are the two breeds of worm commonly used in vermicomposting, according to CityFarmer.org. Not only can they eat their own body weight in organic waste every day, but they actually remove -- or neutralize -- many of the toxins in that waste in the process, according to The Ecologist.
There are a lot of them, too. You will find as many as 1 million earthworms in just 1 acre of land, according to NatureWatch, their population doubling in size every one-two months. And they work hard -- 1 million worms will get through 10 tons of leaves, stems and dead roots in one year, ploughing 40 tons of soil in the process.
What they end up producing is ready-to-go plant soluble nutrients. According to NatureWatch, earthworm castings have five times as much nitrogen, seven times as much phosphorous, 11 times as much potassium and 1,000 times more "beneficial bacteria" than the stuff the worm consumes in the first place. Literally speaking, what goes in is far less valuable than what comes out.
It is no surprise why these worms' byproducts are often referred to as "black gold," this knowledge being particularly pertinent at a time when nearly 40 percent of the world's agricultural soil has become "seriously degraded," according to the UK Soil Association.
- improves soil quality;
- prevents plant diseases;
- speeds up seed germination;
- combats soil erosion;
- increases the soil's ability to store water (thereby diminishing the amount of water needed by the trees and plants);
- and, according to The Ecologist, "fixes heavy metals and reduces mineral leaching from the soil.
(The article goes on for a while, but I figured that this would give you a general idea. Definitely read it in its entirety, however.)
Who knew? For being kind of gross (in my opinion), worms are actually pretty cool.
Now, to be fair, the article does go on to say that the composting worms can produce some pretty hefty greenhouse gas emissions…. But, doesn’t every Superman have a kryptonite? I still say worms rock.
Stay tuned, next time we’re looking at a buzzing little insect that I have a bit of an allergic reaction to if stung by.