A New Use for Earthworms

Earthworms may have a place in the ecological system of the planet, but they are not sought after creatures, safe for a few like composters or fishermen looking for bait. Now they are helping dairy farmers and have one more group seeking the benefits they can give.  The millions of gallons of water used by dairy and beef cows eventually turn to wastewater which carry animal waste, nitrates and other chemicals harmful to all, and which find their way into the groundwater which may even become drinking water. Earthworms offer a solution. They are  heavily mixed  on a bed with wood chips and shavings and as the water filters through a layer of crushed rock they eat the manure and other harmful chemicals.  The water will thus be used and filtered several times before it leaves the farm. It’s a process called vermifiltration  installed by a company called BioFiltro. The earthworms only need water and time.  And studies done by BioFiltro and by the University of Nebraska show how the worm*s can substantially reduce nitrate levels. Other filtration systems are not as energy efficient or are more expensive to use.  The two dairy farms using this process in Washington State are so pleased they hope that dairy farms throughout the US can use it.