Role of Earthworm in soil Fertility, Agriculture and Ecosystems

Agriculture is facing enormous demands as the world’s population and consumption grow. Food production must significantly increase to fulfill the world’s future food security and sustainability needs. However, the increase of cultivable land is extremely slow. Fertilizers must be used extensively due to the quickly growing population and slowly developing agricultural land. Chemical fertilizer use is a potential approach for enhancing agricultural yields. productivity. A huge rise in agricultural productivity has been recorded during the last century, owing primarily to fertilization, which results in improved plant nutrient availability. Chemical fertilizers now contribute to roughly 40–60% of total crop output increases. Maize is one of the most important food crops on the planet, delivering at least 30% of the calories consumed by almost 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries. It’s also used in animal feed and a variety of industrial goods, including the production of biofuels. Increased demand and supply gaps in global maize supplies have exacerbated the market, contributed to rising global maize prices, and even put millions of people at risk of food insecurity. To solve these issues and accelerate maize growth and yield, measures must be adopted.

Earthworm in Soil

1. Soil organisms play an important role in soil structure, water content, temperature, and nutrient cycling in agricultural systems. Soil organisms have also been shown to have the ability to change soil fertility and improve plant growth. The interactions between plants and soil organisms are critical for plant nutrition intake. The relevance of earthworms for soil fertility has been acknowledged as far back as Darwin among diverse soil species.

2. Earthworms are one of the most significant agro-ecosystem fauna, and they dominate invertebrate biomass in many temperate and tropical soils around the world. The importance of earthworms as a major contribution to the creation of solid structural aggregates in soil was recognized more than a century ago. Earthworms can contribute significantly to the management of many pedo-ecosystems, as is now widely recognized.

3. They can be used for land reclamation, soil enhancement, and organic waste management in addition to being a high-protein animal feed source.

4. Depending on the species, earthworms consume and mix a considerable amount of soil or live in burrows. Organic matter, silt, clay, and cations like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are all present in significant concentrations in their casts.

5. In addition to castings and urine, earthworms deliver nitrogen into the soil. By aerating soil during rain or irrigation, earthworms alter their physical features.

6. Earthworms improve organic matter incorporation and decomposition, raise soil aggregate, increase porosity and water infiltration, and boost microbial activity.

7. Earthworms burrow through soil and feed on organic matter, altering the ecology of all other species that live in the soil, including plant roots. Earthworms can establish optimal soil physical and structural conditions for plant root growth by burrowing and foraging in the soil. Earthworms are considered to be one of the most important components of the soil biota in terms of soil fertility maintenance, in addition to their role in soil structure.

8. Earthworms serve a helpful function in agro-ecosystems, according to mounting evidence. Many studies have shown that earthworms can have significant physical and biological effects on plant nutrient availability, resulting in increased plant growth.

9. Earthworms have been shown to alter the structure, microbial activity, and mineralization of nutrients in soils. Earthworms may influence plant growth by altering the spatiotemporal availability of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) nutrients in their castings and tunnel walls.

10. Earthworms contribute to N cycling in maize agroecosystems through excretion activities, according to Whalen et al. Earthworms contributed to the nitrogen cycle, according to Bhadauria and Ramakrishnan, by consuming worm cast, producing mucus, and decomposing dead tissue.

11. According to certain studies, the biological interaction between an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (Glomus intraradices) and earthworms increased maize shoot and root biomass by regulating soil enzyme activities and the content of accessible soil N, P, and K. Because plant growth necessitates the presence of both N and P in soils, interactions between earthworms and fungi may have aided in the regulation of plant growth in environments when soil nutrients are scarce.

12. Earthworm mucus from the epidermal layer is important for locomotion, eating, osmoregulation, defense, reproduction, and epithelial and other surface protection.

13. It’s long been recognized that mucus can boost the activity of soil bacteria. Earthworm mucus dramatically improved tomato seedling growth by enhancing Cd uptake and transport in plants, according to a hydroponic experiment.

14. Earthworms also have an impact on nutrient availability in a variety of ways. Earthworm tissue and material are not only enriched in specific nutrients as compared to the soil matrix, but ingestion of organic material also speeds up the rate of cycling. During the vermicomposting process, earthworms and their mucus have been shown to promote maize stover stabilization by activating lignocellulose degrading microorganisms.

15. Bityutskii et al. discovered that earthworm mucus, a waste product of these creatures that remains in the soil, can accelerate plant residue mineralization and humification. Furthermore, earthworm mucus discharge has been shown to improve soil aggregates, minerals, and processes (physically, chemically, and biologically).

16. Earthworms are critical as an organic soil fertilizing factor to boost numerous crop growth and development.

 17. One of the most important components of earthworm mucus is amino acids. Exogenous amino acids have been shown to help plants absorb vital nutrients. Glutamate is a fundamental component of mucus as well as bionic fertilizer. Glutamate is known to be an important element in seed emergence, plant growth, development, and stress response.

18. The implementation of multidirectional measures that integrate agricultural productivity goals with environmental protection criteria is required by a sustainable agriculture strategy. Biological creatures have evolved extraordinary functions and features that are extremely adaptive to their living habitats in the natural world during millions of years of evolution and a rigorous process of natural selection.

19. Biological systems and environmental adaptabilities have evolved as a result of interactions between live species and their natural surroundings. Biological organisms have demonstrated optimal adaptations to the living environment by efficiently performing several biological activities utilizing synergic actions.

20. Bionics is a broad science that applies biological principles to the construction of technology systems or the creation of artificial technology systems with biological features. The composition of earthworm mucus gives important inspiration for prospective simulation and manufacturing of liquid fertilizer from a bionic standpoint.

21. It is vital to investigate the effects of earthworm epidermal mucus on plant growth to improve soil fertility and fertilization implementation. The bionic aspect as the component content of biological materials can be reproduced and recreated by learning from chemical compositions. Earthworm epidermal mucus, which is thought to be the basic unit of synthesized protein, was researched by researchers. The amino acid given to the soil could be taken immediately by plants or degraded further by microbes. Amino acids have been shown to have the properties of reducing residual soil and increasing crop physiological activity.

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