Chelsea Green Publishing

The Blogging Community at Chelsea Green

Even Earthworms Are Bad Now

I am having trouble with one of the latest scientific findings. Some researchers are saying that earthworms are bad for forests. The new data claims the worms, which are mostly non-native species, gobble up too much of the leaf litter, leaving the forest floor bare and compacted. Wildflowers like trillium and bloodroot and even maple seedlings disappear, according to these scientists. I know it is impertinent for a non-scientist to argue with the experts, but their conclusions in this case run counter to my experience in my tree groves and to my sense of logic. First of all, since the earthworms being discussed mostly came from Europe, why didn’t they destroy any forests over there? For sure, my woodland is loaded with earthworms, especially night crawlers. I find their little piles of castings (I guess that’s what they are) on my way to the barn every morning. The woodland floor however remains six inches deep with leaf litter throughout most of the year, breaking down to about three inches by fall when a new layer of leaves drop. There certainly is no bare, compacted soil anywhere except on the lane to the barn where I drive truck and tractor. Furthermore, the trillium and bloodroot that I have started in the woods proliferate except where deer nibble them. And as for maple seedlings, they grow up everywhere like weeds. Furthermore again, the worms turn the leaves they do eat into rich humus and tunnel up and down in the forest soil, keeping it permeable and water-absorbing, a far, far cry from a barren, compacted soil surface. I think scientists should turn their attention more to deer. Where plant life seems to be diminishing in woodland, deer are often to blame. When experimental fences are erected in forests to keep out deer, plant life proliferates, offering a stark contrast to the grazed portions outside the enclosures. Visit Gene’s blog to read the rest of his thoughts on the so-called earthworm phobia.

sanctuaryoftrees Gene Logsdon is the author of, most recently, A Sanctuary of Trees: Beech Nuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions


A Small Thing But Maybe Not

All summer I raved and ranted at the squirrels that were eating the corn in my crib. I was particularly concerned because the drought seemed to be making sure this year’s crop was going to be a bust. I did not look forward to buying corn at drought-inflated prices just to keep squirrels fat eating […] Read More..

Fires In the Fields

If you want to see the landscape of hell painted prettily on a farmland horizon, watch a field of corn on fire. It is hellish enough, in my view, to see corn fields stretching away in every direction from sea to shining sea with no houses, barns, trees, fences, grazing animals or any other sign […] Read More..

Weeds That Like A Sip of Roundup Now and Then

First the glorious days of advanced farming brought us corn stalks that eat tractor tires. Now there’s a weed that likes to drink weed killers, especially Roundup. Recently Palmer amaranth “completely overran” most of the soybean test plots at Bayer CropScience’s test plots in Illinois, in the words of DTN/Progressive Farmer editor, Pam Smith, despite […] Read More..

The Weather May Not Be the Problem

There are so many stark contrasts in the world today. These are times out of which great epics of literature ought to be written but aren’t. Society is too engrossed in drivel like whether badminton players in the Olympics were cheating or not. This summer, the driest in 50 years in parts of the Midwest, […] Read More..

Tire-Eating Cornstalks

I fantasize about genetically-engineering deer that would love the taste of raccoons or that would eat car tires so society would do something about surging wildlife populations. But now a true occurrence is taking place in Foolish Farming Today that not even a genius like Mark Twain could reduce to a more absurd conclusion. Agribusiness […] Read More..