An interesting study has arisen regarding worm behavior, and it could have a great impact on farming and sustainable agriculture. Research shows that if soil containing worms is littered with microplastics, it can affect the worms negatively, preventing them from thriving.

This is an important issue, as nature is becoming increasingly contaminated with micro plastic. We now have solid scientific evidence of how this could effect eco systems in the long term.


The study was done on one particular type of worm, but it is one of the most common types out there and shares many similarities with other types. The worm is known as aporrectodea rosea, and is mostly found in farmland. It is a rosy-tipped earth worm that thrives in dark, wet places. For the purpose of research, the garden was filled with plastic, and the worms’ behavior was observed.


The ground was filled with a high density plastic known as polyethylene, or HDPE. This is one of the most common plastic types, and is therefore well suited to this research as it showcases how actual soil littered with HDPE would likely behave.

This type of plastic is commonly used for bags and bottles, meaning it can be found in any yard or on any farm. The goal of the study was to see how worms would react if they spent thirty days in the ground, with micro levels of this plastic.

The Experiment

There were two sets of worms used for this study: one placed in the soil that is filled with plastic in small doses, and the other placed in ordinary soil to serve as a control group. The development of one would then be compared to the other.

The worms were observed over a period of thirty days, and comparisons were made between the two groups. Worms placed in the soil with plastic lost as much as 3% of their body weight during that time.

The Scientists

Biologist and author of this study is Bas Boots, who stated that the research is just the beginning of many other similar projects, and that it is not yet known how plastic truly affects worms.

Since the plastic was the one varying factor, however, it can be said that it definitely created weight loss in the worms, but more research must be conducted. Boots has stated that: “These effects include the obstruction and irrigation of the digestive tract, limiting the absorption of nutrients and reducing growth.”

Other Worms

Similar research has been conduced in other facilities, on other types of worms. The research in these cases also had similar conclusions, and the scientific community is starting to make firm connections between plastic waste and dangerous effects on the worms who are subjected to it. The research suggests that microplastic could have similar effect on other, more complex animals such as fish.

How Big Is The Problem?

One must keep in mind that nothing is definitively proven yet, but it is safe to say that we should start rethinking our overall use of plastic. It is the biggest part of waste found in soil, simply because it cannot be absorbed or broken down by soil over time.

There are between 700 and 4,000 particles of plastic on any given kilogram of soil, and that amount is set to increase over time if we do not reduce our daily use of plastics.



Date:Oct 5, 2019


Tags:animals, environment, soil

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