Floods have left behind a new crisis for farmers as a shortage of earthworms washed away in the waters is resulting in soil damage on farmland in Gloucestershire.
A shortage of worms has been caused by the weight of water removing air from the soil and killing them
Earthworms are a central part of our ecosystem. But they have disappeared from certain areas and in other places numbers have decreased.
Worms in the soil show that the ground is healthy enough to allow plants to grow, providing food for insects and small mammals.
Without these smaller creatures, birds and larger animals like foxes are deprived of their food source.
Matt Shardlow, from charity Buglife, recommended collecting worms from local meadows and introducing them into fields affected by flooding.
But one of the country’s leading worm suppliers, Nigel Baker, pointed out that farmers would need 24,000 worms to restore an acre of farmland – which would cost £2,000.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is increasing the maximum grants for farmers to help their land recover from floods from £5,000 to £35,000.
A spokeswoman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “There is nothing to stop farmers using this cash to buy new worms.”