MILLIONS of worms are needed to replenish flood-hit farmland on the Somerset Levels, experts say.

Stuart Fripp, an agronomist advising farmers in the flood-damaged South-West, says in many areas earthworms are non-existent.

The sheer weight of many feet of water forced out the air from acres of farmland across the Levels and has killed off much of the worm population.

Fordgate farmer James Hall told the Mercury: “We need worms to improve the soil.

“We actually still have quite a few in this area that have somehow survived. But other farms have not been as fortunate.”

James Winslade, who had to evacuate his family and hundreds of cattle during the floods, said: “There are no worms, so we’re going to have to find some to put back.

“I’m doing everything to get the soil back into condition. I just want to get it back to how it was but it’s going to take years.”

Mr Fripp said his team had been digging holes in a lot of land that was flooded, but in many places has not found any worms at all.

One of the country’s leading worm suppliers, Nigel Baker, has claimed farmers would need 24,000 worms to restore an acre of farmland, costing £2,000.