Worm cast products may harm earthworms

  • Last updated: 7 June 2024
Products to combat worm casts in lawns may harm earthworms - even if they're labelled organic, say experts.
Worm cast in lawn
Products that eliminate worm casts could damage worms

Gardeners and greenkeepers may be unwittingly harming soil life, and particularly earthworms with poorly regulated 'soil conditioners'.

Pesticide Action UK and Professor Dave Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex, and former Organic Gardening Podcast guest, are some of the experts calling for tighter regulation of products that poison invertebrates.

Products that unnecessarily eliminate worm casts, or worm excrement from lawns have been found to contain 'saponins' (plant-based compounds), which are highly toxic to worms. Some are labelled 'organic' with no mention of their effect on soil creatures.

Populations of earthworms in the UK have fallen by around one third in the past 25 years. Worm casts can actually be good for the soil, and used as a nutrient-rich potting material, so there should be no need to remove them.

Campaigners are calling for the government to investigate these products and suspend their use until their effect on earthworms and other wildlife is fully understood.

Find out more about the valuable role earthworms play in our soil and garden ecosystem at gardenorganic.org.uk/earthworms.