Those Arrogant Earthworms

By: 
HILARION “Abe” PAWID
Posted: 11-Jan-2011 / 9 years 46 weeks ago

The arrogant earthworms in the mud paddies of the Banaue Rice Terraces have no
relations to the “Arrogant Worms” singing trio of Kingston, Ontario in Canada
who once upon a time captivated the hearts of Canada young.

Those earthworms of Banaue in Ifugao are unreasonably huge and considered pests
by the tillers of the world famous rice terraces.  In the past three or four
decades, farmers raised concern over the proliferation of these earthworms that
burrow into the terraces’ soil causing rice paddy dikes to crumble.


No positive opinions were advanced for those arrogant earthworms. Theories were
advanced and applied to eliminate them. A few farmers secretly used pesticides
on those wiggling cretins but they seem to multiply alongside efforts of
eradicating them.

Government agencies looking into the plight of the farmers dubbed the giant
earthworms as threat to the preservation of the rice terraces considered one of
the eight wonders of the world.


Unknown is the fact that these earthworms provide the needed nutrients to the
more than 2,000 year old rice producing soil. Researchers reveal that earthworms
burrow themselves deep into the soil and pushes subsoil to the surface to mix
with topsoil.


Writing on worms, Anne P. Michell says that slime, a secretion of earthworms,
contains nitrogen which is an important nutrient for plants. She adds:

“Earthworms produce what is probably the most valuable poop in the world. They
actually eat their way through packed soil, depositing behind them rich compost,
which they have digested from nonliving organic matter. The result is the
biologically crucial aeration and enrichment of the soil.


“In the judgment of no less a naturalist than Charles Darwin himself, ‘it may be
doubted whether there are any other animals which have played so important a
part in the history of the world, as have these lowly creatures’.”

Unlike their Bontoc neighbors in Mt. Province who use sunflower leaves to
stimulate nourishment of their rice farms, Ifugao farmers since time immemorial
do not fertilize their rice paddies yet have abundant harvests.

There are more than 4,400 different types of worms and of these are 2,700
species.  A worm has both male and female organs. They mate by joining their
clitella, the swollen area near their heads, and exchange sperms.

Worms survive in moisture and oxygen.  It is said that there could be a million
earthworms in a hectare of land. Their number in an area could be an indicator
as to the acidity and contamination of the soil.  They are sensitive to
pesticides, insecticides or herbicides.-hp

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