Worm Experiment

by Avery

Hello worm experts! I am working on an experiment using worms for my senior science project. I have heard that worms neutralize the pH of the soil, so I am going to test to see if this is true.

My procedure involves placing worms in 5 different pots containing soil with a pH of 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. I chose these numbers because they are the typical range for growing plants. Does this sound right to you and are these pH levels safe for worms?

Also, I was wondering how long it will take to see any results. My thought is that since digestion is what neutralizes the soil, I would just have to wait until the worms excrete a bunch. How often do they do that and how long would you expect for it to affect the pH level?

If there is anything else I should do, let me know. Thanks :)

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Nov 09, 2015
Worm Experiment Involving PH Levels
by: Pauly

Hello Avery,

Thanks for your question and hopefully we can set you in the right direction. I love it when worm composting meets science projects. It's an Awesome way to raise awareness about the benefits of one of the most misunderstood creatures hardly seen :)

There can be several answers for this but I will give you a few of my thoughts.

1. Worms excrete on a daily basis. When you pick up a worm it almost always poops on your hand much like a frog will pee every time you handle it or my cousin would dribble a little her pants every time you tickled her :) Ha HA! Okay we could have done without that last thought :O

2. This project could take a month or two depending on how many worms you have vs the type and amount of material you have for the worms to feed on.

I suggest having a before, during (with worms working the material), and after bin of the material you're wanting to process.

3. worms can handle a wide variety of PH levels. They can handle a PH of 4 but this is usually something that they work up to. It's really not suggested that your material get to the 4th level as things can get quite out of hand.

Usual we suggest adding some type of mineral to quickly bring the PH level back to a safe level between 6-7.5

8 is pretty high and 4 is too low but since this is a "project" we sort of need to throw out the do's and dont's. Just understand that for the safety of your worms and entire project you'll need to work up to the PH level 4 using fresh kitchen scraps high in proteins and carbs.

You'll still need to add plenty of carbon material to the bin to allow fresh oxygen to move about but be very careful that it doesn't overheat.

For this you'll need to allow it to heat up and then let it cool on it's own before introducing it to the worms. Adding the food to one side or corner of the bin will allow the worms to retreat to a safe place so they don't die.

4. Matter containing a high PH level will naturally equalize over time, but using worms will certainly expedite the process in which I'm sure this is what the project is for.

5. I suggest using red wigglers for this experiment. They will be the most tolerable and forgiving for your project. They can tolerate the widest range of variables.

Hopefully this helps you some and I look forward to hearing other thoughts on this.

Thanks again for your interest in sharing this with your school friends and science judges. I hope it helps you raise awareness about the benefits of worms in your area.

All the best,

Nov 10, 2015
Worm Experiment Questions On Variables
by: Bill Jacobson

Hi Avery, thanks for your interest in worms. My first question is how will you be adjusting the ph of the soil?

Be sure it is safe for the worms, battery acid and lye might not be good ideas. Try to do it as naturally as possible.

What is your "soil" like? Is it hard red clay or rich in organic matter? Worms don't really eat soil, they eat the decaying organic matter in the soil.

They will ingest some soil particles as they eat the organic matter and this will act as grit in their gizzards and pass thru with the organic matter into the castings in much better condition than it was originally.

Good luck with your experiment and please share some pictures with us and tell us how it turned out.


Nov 24, 2015
You will need a "control" test for comparison
by: David

When doing an experiment, it is wise to have multiple samples to compare so that you are sure that what happened is consistent. If your testing is to see if worms make a difference in the pH, you need to have the same number of soil samples with and without worms, each at the different pH levels. This way, you can truly compare if the worms made a difference at the various pH levels.

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