Earthworm Watch

Museum identification trainees holding earthworms

At a glance

Categorise earthworms and soil types.

Type of activity: Outdoors

Who can take part? Everyone

When? Spring and autumn

Where? Any green space in the UK

How long will it take? About one hour

Cost: Free

Contribute to research into soil health and carbon storage by measuring soil properties and recording earthworms in your garden or local green space.

Why we are doing the project

Soils are vitally important for supporting life on Earth. They recycle nutrients, filter water and enable us to grow crops for food. They also store large amounts of carbon in tiny fragments of dead plants, and microorganisms and animals that live within the soil. Storing carbon in soils helps to limit the dangerous effects of climate change.

Earthworms keep soils healthy - they improve its fertility and ability to store carbon by mixing in dead plant material, and their burrows increase the amount of air and water that can enter.

We don't yet understand how human activities such as planting schemes, moving topsoil and adding fertilisers affects soils and earthworms, especially in gardens and other urban green spaces. Earthworm Watch will study how these factors affect the ability of earthworms to create healthy soils.

How to take part

1. Request a survey pack by emailing earthwormwatch@nhm.ac.uk or print your own copy of the instructions booklet PDF (502KB) and earthworm and soil chart PDF (258KB).

2. Follow the instructions in the booklet. This involves:

  • digging two 20cm by 20cm holes in contrasting habitats - the lawn and a flowerbed, for example
  • measuring various properties of the soil, such as moisture
  • categorising the types of earthworms you find in your holes

3. Enter your results using our online form on the Earthworm Watch website.

Project team

Find out more about the project on the Earthworm Watch website.

In partnership with:

In association with:

The Earthworm Society of Britain

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