“We must save the earthworms”: why we must worry about their disappearance

the essential
World Worm Day is scheduled for Friday, October 21. The species, whose population is collapsing, is important in the life of our soils. For several years, experts have been sounding the alarm. La Dépêche du Midi explains why.

“We went from 2 tons per hectare in 1950 against less than 200 kg per hectare today.” Antoine Constantin, former manager of allotment gardens in a district of Laval (Mayenne), assures him: “We must save the earthworms!” “It is obvious that the propensity of earthworms is not changing in the right direction, recognizes Christophe Gatineau, agronomist and farmer. And, according to the latest teachings from the IPCC, its population will continue to decline.” However, the species plays an essential role in biodiversity.

95% of worms destroyed by the plow

“Earthworms receive the porosity of the soil by absorbing the rains – thanks in particular to the galleries they build. completely natural and without spending a cent,” explains Christophe Gatineau. Essential to soil fertility, the earthworm well deserves its World Day.

However, today, its existence is largely threatened by agriculture which prefers to do without the skills of the earthworm: “Conventional agriculture, often called intensive, does not take into account living soils. Its fertilizers use the life of earthworms at stake”, explains the agronomist. And, it’s not just pesticides that kill: his mechanical tools too. “It is estimated that the plow destroyed 95% of those in its path”, illustrates Antoine Constantin.

“It has no legal recognition”

Consequence: in 2019, in a report, Ademe judged that more than 60% of the world’s soils were already degraded as a result of human activities. “A phenomenon which is accentuated and which could worsen with climate change”, noted the Agency of the environment. A percentage that could be reduced “if we let the ecosystem regenerate itself”, say the experts.

In December 2021, the State, for its part, recognized that pesticides impoverish the soil and kill earthworms, but no historic decision which has so far had no beneficial effect on earthworms: “Many do As if the earthworm did not exist, believes Christophe Gatineau. It must be said that it has no different legal recognition to others. From the moment it is recognized by the rewarded, we can give it Rights.”

In the meantime, the two specialists rely on one thing only: pedagogy. “The population must realize that the soil is a living environment where 3/4 of terrestrial biodiversity is found, it is not just a simple growing medium”, argues the agronomist. “You have to make young people aware of their importance, explain their anatomy, what they need to live, how they reproduce.

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