The Science of Soil Health: Nightcrawlers and Soil Water Flow


When we get to those dry summer months good
soil hydrologic function is critical. We visited with Purdue University’s Dr. Eileen Kladivko
to talk about the remarkable effect that night crawlers have on aiding water flow into and
through soils. Right, in general our soils are in excessively
wet in the spring and that is more of our issue and that is why we use tile draining
and things like that, but what I’m getting at really is that the night crawler in particular
can be very important for getting infiltration of water into the soil during the growing
season so when we get those quick thunderstorms in the middle of the summer we usually want
all that water to go in because that is not when we have excess water so we want the water
to go into the soil but especially with soils that are high silt sometimes you can get crusting
and you have less crusting of course if you’re in no till but if you have a lot of night
crawlers, those deep channels that the night crawlers make can really help get water into
the soil profile where you have a chance for your crop to use it as opposed to having it
run off, you know an extra inch or two of water in a lot of our summers makes a big
difference in the yield. I happen to have a few demonstrations of night
crawlers if you would like to see and they call it channels if you would like to see
those. So this is my technician a number of years ago went out and poured the liquid rubber
latex basically that you use in biology classes on an area where there were some night crawler
middens and then he came back a couple days later after it had hardened and he carefully
dug it out and you can see that these were night crawler channels all in this one square
foot area and you can see that basically those channels are going down, they have broken
a little bit now in the meantime but some of these channels were down three feet deep
and just imagine water flowing across the surface and into these channels how much water
can flow down those big and deep channels, and they are very vertical you can see that
their (so you got the vertical flow and then they have the chance to flow laterally as
well….), Oh yes once the water is down in the soil profile its going to move out from
those. I think it’s a great demonstration of night
crawler channels.

4 thoughts on “The Science of Soil Health: Nightcrawlers and Soil Water Flow

  1. I just love gardening. The challenge of trying to figure out exactly how God designed the Symbiotic Relationship between plants and soil to work together is just fascinating to me

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