Wild Willow Farm is excited to welcome you to our self-guided tour! Follow the signs around the farm and learn about each landmark along the way. Thank you to local Chula Vista High School students for helping to create content for each QR code!
We are losing insects and other invertebrates like worms at an alarming rate. This is of concern because worms help decompose organic matter. They are vital in keeping our ecosystem in balance. Earthworms are an important component of the food webs below and above ground. They graze on soil microorganisms and even after death, their bodies serve as food for microbial and animal scavengers. They are an important source of food for many predatory insects, birds, and mammals.
Worms are part of the soil food web, an intricate ecosystem of all the living organisms in the soil. These organisms release nutrients, prevent disease in plants, and provide soil structure. The smallest organisms, like bacteria and fungi, are too small to see, but the larger consumers, like earthworms, can be seen in healthy soil.
Worms are nature's plow. Here are a few benefits of worms:
They move through the soil & mix it.
They help increase the amount of air (aeration) and water that gets into the soil.
They break down organic matter, like leaves, into nutrients plants can use (humus).
They encourage roots to grow deeper into the soil, reaching extra nutrients and moisture.
Soil with earthworms drains 10 times faster.
Earthworms increase the amount of food you grow.
Native earthworm species are extremely sensitive to soil disturbance and will quickly disappear from an area that has undergone tillage or tree harvest. They will not re-establish if the disturbance is continuous, as in most farming practices. This leaves an area free for colonization by exotic species, which are much more tolerant of human activity. The irrigated, clover-amended pasture represents the closest thing to “worm heaven” for these species. The native species are able to get by with much lower quality food sources and can tolerate drier soils. In moderately degraded pastures, native species can persist to a point. In severely degraded pastures and croplands, earthworms may be few or none at all. This is especially true in irrigated systems where salts have accumulated at the soil surface. Because earthworms play such an important role in soil processes, any practice that creates a favorable environment for earthworms will pay off in the long run in enhanced soil fertility. In agroecosystems, those practices that promote earthworm populations include the use of organic amendments such as composts and cover crops and reduced tillage.