Earthworm Compost Survey

'Open to the ground' Compost Bin (c) Neil Bradley
'Open to the ground' Compost Bin (c) Neil Bradley (CC BY 4.0)

Vermicomposting (or Worm Composting) is a means of dealing with household and garden waste on site. Compost Earthworms are an ecological grouping of earthworms (including Eisenia fetida and Dendrobaena veneta) that thrive in environments with very high organic matter stores, such as dung, rotting wood and compost systems.

Compost systems range from compost heaps (open to both the air and ground) through to wormeries (enclosed systems with trays that are rotated to maximise efficiency). The resulting compost is excellent for potting and a good fertiliser for use in the garden.

In 2011, the Earthworm Society of Britain decided to launch a survey to get a better understanding of how many compost systems have active compost earthworm populations, how these worms colonised the systems and what home composters feed their worms. We had a great response, over 225 people told us about their compost and 209 people found earthworms in their compost! The survey was re-launched in 2014 and the number of responses increased to 563. We are pleased to announce that the survey will be launched again in time for World Earthworm Day 2020 on 21st October 2020.

Building an understanding of vermicomposting in the UK

The survey yielded some interesting results, including:

  • Earthworm Compost Survey results524 (93%) compost systems were confirmed to contain earthworms
  • Compost bins that are open to the ground were by far the most popular system (72%) that was reported in the survey.
  • Most earthworms are not placed in the compost bins by enthusiastic gardeners but instead they just turned up in the system (89%).
  • In the case of sealed compost bins where the earthworms had not been introduced deliberately, earthworms were also found.
  • The most popular things people put in their compost were: kitchen green waste (95%), garden green waste (94%) and tea bags (83%) – the survey was before the presence of microplastics in tea bags was widely reported.
  • 62% of respondents added citrus peelings to their compost. Surprisingly this did not seem to affect the earthworms, because they were still recorded in the compost with citrus.

A more detailed summary of the results can be found in our Earthworm Compost Survey Results blog.

Earthworm Compost Survey 2020

To complete the survey, simply fill in the form below.


Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise indicated, this work was created by Keiron Derek Brown on behalf of the Earthworm Society of Britain and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.