Worms undeterred by urea
Dairynz is setting the record straight – soluble fertilisers do not destroy worm life in soil.
Dairynz strategy and investment leader for productivity Dr Bruce Thorrold said there was a mistaken belief among many that soluble fertilisers, such as urea and superphosphate, killed earthworms.
‘‘In fact, soluble fertilisers will often increase earthworm numbers,’’ Dr Thorrold said.
‘‘To sustain a healthy earthworm population, which is so important for good soil, farmers should limit soil damage in winter.’’
In the December edition of Dairynz’s Inside Dairy magazine, Agresearch principal scientist Alec Mackay lends his expert opinion to help dispel the myth of fertiliser use.
‘‘Applying soluble fertilisers to maintain soil fertility will not destroy soil life. Fertilising ensures a continual food supply for earthworms,’’ Mr Mackay said.
‘‘I see an emphasis on management practices that limit soil damage in winter as being far more important in maintaining a healthy earthworm population.
‘‘Earthworms are primary decomposers feeding on organic matter, such as dead plant material and cow dung – their numbers grow as the quantity and quality of organic matter increases,’’ he said.