Did You Know Nematode Worms Protect Crops?
The majority of nematodes are microscopic worms that live everywhere, in trees, soil, sand and even in the ice of the Arctic. But, they can also be much larger! Placentonema gigantissima is a giant nematode species which can grow to 8.4 meters in length . Some nematode species, such as the Potato Cyst Nematode, can harm agricultural crops, leading to yield losses of up to 35%. There’s even a species which is known as the 'beer mat nematode', because it likes to live in damp beer mats!
Nematodes can also protect crops, for example, the 'terrestrial gastropod parasitic nematode' is used for biological control of slugs. They are applied via crop watering systems and remain active until their food source, the slugs, have all been eaten. Biological control is an important tool for meeting the Farm2Fork and Biodiversity targets to reduce the use of chemical and more hazardous pesticides by 50%, by 2030.