Science and user-based co-development of a farmland earthworm survey facilitated using digital media: Insights and policy implications

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Stroud, J. L. and Goulding, K. W. T. 2022. Science and user-based co-development of a farmland earthworm survey facilitated using digital media: Insights and policy implications. Annals of Applied Biology - AAB. 181 (1), pp. 70-79.

AuthorsStroud, J. L. and Goulding, K. W. T.

Science–farming partnerships can improve our understanding of how land management behaviours sustain or enhance life-sustaining soil ecosystems. However, it remains a challenge to establish partnerships between researchers and practitioners that complement the ways in which farmers acquire and value knowledge and can also advance soil science. A pilot study was conducted to explore these issues in relation to earthworm monitoring. It showed that farmers were interested in comparing their field results to research experiments to inform their decision-making. Social media was used to support farmers' earthworm monitoring schemes, with a concomitant sampling of research experiments to create capacity for shared learning. Constructive feedback from the scientific community was sought using an online
questionnaire. An Autumn 2018 survey generated 152 field analyses from farmlands in England, and 48% of participants' fields and the research experiment showed no evidence for earthworms being widespread and/or the presence of all three ecological groups of earthworms. A Spring 2019 survey generated earthworm population data from farmland soils around the world, amassing 11,464 earthworms assessed
over 2,200 ha in the UK. A total of 12 scientists (from 30 questionnaire invitations) volunteered their time and expertise to support the survey. Conclusions helped to
prioritise future improvements in earthworm monitoring, which should include photographs of earthworms for verification of the data, long-term monitoring and integration with soil properties. Most (83%) perceived this earthworm survey would
likely improve farmland soil health and so would recommend its use in the UK. The survey is being independently taken forward and used as a metric by both private and public stakeholders, demonstrating authentic knowledge transfer in soil science.

KeywordsCitizen science; Civic science; Earthworms; Social media
Year of Publication2022
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology - AAB
Journal citation181 (1), pp. 70-79
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)https://
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderNational Environmental Research Council
Funder project or codePloughing on regardless?
Publisher's version
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 Apr 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Dec 2021

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