What is Vermicomposting?

Vermicomposting is the scientific method of making compost, by using earthworms. They are commonly found living in soil, feeding on biomass and excreting it in a digested form. It means “worm-farming”. Earthworms feed on organic waste materials and give out excreta in the form of “vermicasts” that are rich in nitrates and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These are used as fertilizers and enhance soil quality.
Methods of Vermicomposting:

  1. Bed Method: It is an easy method in which beds of organic matter are prepared.
  2. Pit Method: In this method, the organic matter is collected in cemented pits. However, this method is not prominent as it involves problems of poor aeration and waterlogging.

Process of Vermicomposting

Aim: To prepare vermicompost using earthworms and other biodegradable wastes.

Principle: This process is mainly required to add nutrients to the soil. Compost is a natural fertilizer that allows an easy flow of water to the growing plants. The earthworms are mainly used in this process as they eat the organic matter and produce castings through their digestive systems.
The nutrients profile of vermicomposts are:

  • 1.6 percent of Nitrogen.
  • 0.7 percent of Phosphorus.
  • 0.8 percent of Potassium.
  • 0.5 percent of Calcium.
  • 0.2 percent of Magnesium.
  • 175 ppm of Iron.
  • 96.5 ppm of Manganese.
  • 24.5 ppm of Zinc.

Materials Required

  • Water.
  • Cow dung.
  • Thatch Roof.
  • Soil or Sand.
  • Gunny bags.
  • Cemented tank.
  • Dry straw and leaves collected from paddy fields.
  • Biodegradable wastes collected from fields and kitchen.
  • Earthworms.
  • Weed biomass.

Procedure

  1. To prepare compost, either a plastic or a concrete tank can be used. The size of the tank depends upon the availability of raw materials.
  2. Collect the biomass and place it under the sun for about 8-12 days. Now chop it to the required size using the cutter.
  3. Prepare a cow dung slurry and sprinkle it on the heap for quick decomposition.
  4. Add a layer 2 – 3 inches of soil or sand at the bottom of the tank.
  5. Now prepare fine bedding by adding partially decomposed cow dung, dried leaves, and other biodegradable wastes collected from fields and kitchen. Distribute them evenly on the sand layer.
  6. Continue adding both the chopped bio-waste and partially decomposed cow dung layer-wise into the tank up to a depth of 0.5-1.0 ft.
  7. After adding all the bio-wastes, release the earthworm species over the mixture and cover the compost mixture with dry straw or gunny bags.
  8. Sprinkle water regularly to maintain the moisture content of the compost.
  9. Cover the tank with a thatch roof to prevent the entry of ants, lizards, mice, snakes, etc., and protect the compost from rainwater and direct sunshine.
  10. Frequently check to avoid the compost from overheating. Maintain proper moisture and temperature.

Result: After the 24th day, around 4000 to 5000 new worms are introduced and the entire raw material is turned into the vermicompost.
Vermicomposting

Advantages Of Vermicomposting

  1. Develops roots of the plants.
  2. Improves the physical structure of the soil.
  3. It increases the fertility and water-resistance of the soil.
  4. Helps in germination, plant growth, and crop yield.
  5. Nurtures soil with plant growth hormones such as auxins, gibberellic acid, etc.

Disadvantages

  1. It is time taking process as long as six months to convert the organic matter into usable forms.
  2. It releases a very foul odor.
  3. This process is high maintenance.
  4. The bin should not be too dry or too wet. The moisture levels need to be monitored periodically.

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