Anyone that’s worked around or with worms knows they’re a pretty remarkable being. We know they improve soil fertility but I’ve been looking into whether they can be used to restore contaminated regions to usable, arable and safe conditions. My research seems to suggest the answer is YES!
There may be some solutions in store that are game-changers.
I found this case study from Griffith University in Australia which details worms absorbing, bio-accumulating and neutralizing all kinds of pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants. A 1994 experiment (Bhawalkar & Bhawalkar 94 Vermiculture Biotechnology. Pune, India: Pub. of Bhawalkar Earthworm Research Institute (BERI).) indicates a large population of worms (up to 1 million per hectare) could be established in as little as 90 days in contaminated soil. It seems then feasible to begin remediation of former landfills, mining sites and other contaminated soil to return it to food or livestock production. This would be much more cost effective than current methods of massive excavation and just moving contaminants to a new site. It would in time stop leaching of toxins into water supplies and improve overall health.
This could mean less deforestation to produce food for an ever growing world population. It could mean the ability to grow more foods locally in developing nations and reduce the need for costly transportation.
We as vermiculture and vermicompost practitioners may well be on the leading edge of ending hunger, solving environmental catastrophes and feeding a planet…be proud.