If you love wildlife and being outdoors, then there’s still time to join an important project this week to help our understanding of UK earthworms.

Organic food delivery company Riverford is hoping to get as many people as possible to take part in its Big Worm Dig survey.

Using a handy booklet available through their website, simply dig a small patch of soil in your garden, identify the worms you find with their easy key and upload the results to the Big Worm Dig website.

There’s even a clever trick with mustard powder that can help you bring worms to the surface! It’s a really fun activity to do with children, even in the rain.

Working with earthworm experts Dr Kevin Butt and Dr Chris Lowe, from the University of Central Lancashire, Riverford hopes to collate survey results from all over the country.

“Earthworms are incredibly important in soil ecology, but very little is known about the British earthworm population,” says Dr Butt.

“We’re excited to see what the survey might reveal, and really pleased to be involved in the project.”

The survey runs until November 30, with final results revealed in March 2015 after scientific analysis. Everyone who uploads results will also be entered into a prize draw to win a family break in Devon, plus lots of Riverford goodies, including vegboxes and meatboxes.

“They may not be the most appealing of creatures, but we really need worms,” explains Riverford’s founding farmer, Guy Watson.

“They are like mini tractors, loosening up the soil to allow air and water to penetrate. They also convert soil nutrients into a form that plants can use more readily, which is why we love them at Riverford; they help look after our veg. Whenever I find worms in our soils, I’m a happy farmer.”

As well as all this, much of the UK’s wildlife depends on earthworms as a source of protein, including birds, badgers, hedgehogs, moles and foxes.

  •  To get involved, visit riverford.co.uk/bigwormdig