VERMICOMPOST – FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
The tremendous increase in population, urbanization, industrialization and agricultural production results in accumulation quantities of solid wastes. This has created serious problem in the environment. In order to dispose this waste safely it should be converted effectively. This is achieved by bio-composting and vermicomposting of farm, urban and agro-industrial waste. It is being increasing realized that composting is an environment friendly process, convert wide variety of wastes into valuable agricultural inputs. Compost is excellent source of humus and plant nutrients, on application of which improve soil biophysical properties and organic matter status of the soil. This present review focused on vermicomposting and its importance in improvement of soil nutrition and agricultural crops. This review assesses the following topics: vermicomposting, raw materials of vermicomposting, microbiology of vermicomposting, effect of vermicompost materials in agriculture and physico-chemical properties of soil, and importance of vermicompost. Recycling organic wastes through vermicomposting is being considered as an economically viable solution. Earthworms are considered as natural bioreactors while proliferate along with other microorganisms and provide required conditions for the biodegradation of wastes
_ Am emerging technology for recycling of crop residues and other organic soild wastes by the utilisation of earthworms to convert them into vermicompost
IMPORTANCE OF VERMICOMPOST
-Vermicompost is known to be the world’s best fertilizer.
-Vermicomposting is a method of preparing enriched compost with the use of earthworms.
-It is one of the easiest methods to recycle agricultural wastes and to produce quality compost.
-Earthworms consume biomass and excrete it in digested form called worm casts. Worm casts are popularly called as Black gold.
-The casts are rich in nutrients, growth promoting substances, beneficial soil micro flora and having properties of inhibiting pathogenic microbes.
-Vermicompost is stable, fine granular organic manure, which enriches soil quality by improving -its physicochemical and biological properties.
-It is highly useful in raising seedlings and for crop production.
– Vermicompost is becoming popular as a major component of organic farming system.
– Using Vermicompost can fulfil the requirements for organically grown products.
PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY VERMICOMPOSTING MATERIAL
-Decomposable organic wastes such as animal excreta, kitchen waste, farm residues and forest litter are commonly used as composting materials.
-In general, animal dung mostly cow dung and dried chopped crop residues are the key raw materials.
-Mixture of leguminous and non-leguminous crop residues enriches the quality of vermicompost.
-Eudrilus eugeniae is preferred species of earthworms because of its high multiplication rate and thereby converts the organic matter into vermicompost within 45-50 days.
-Since it is a surface feeder it converts organic materials into vermicompost from top.
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 per cent of Nitrogen.
0.7 per cent of Phosphorus.
0.8 per cent of Potassium.
0.5 per cent of Calcium.
0.2 per cent of Magnesium.
175 ppm of Iron.
96.5 ppm of Manganese.
24.5 ppm of Zinc.
MATERIAL REQUIRED FOR VERMICOMPOST
-Soil or Sand.
-A large bin (plastic or cemented tank).
-Dry straw and leaves collected from paddy fields.
-Biodegradable wastes collected from fields .
-To prepare compost, either a plastic or a concrete tank can be used.
-Collect the biomass and place it under the sun for about 8-12 days.
-Prepare a cow dung slurry and sprinkle it on the heap for quick decomposition.
-Add a layer (2 – 3 inch) of soil or sand at the bottom of the tank.
-Now prepared fine bedding by adding partially decomposed cow dung, dried leaves and other biodegradable wastes collected from fields . Distribute them evenly on the sand layer.
-Continued to adding both bio-waste and partially decomposed cow dung layer-wise into the tank up to a depth of 0.5-1.0 ft.
-After adding all the bio-wastes, release the earthworm species (Eudrilus eugeniae) over the mixture and cover the compost mixture with dry straw .
-Sprinkle water on a regular basis to maintain the moisture content of the compost.
-Cover the tank with a thatch roof to prevent the entry of ants, lizards, mouse, snakes, etc. and protect the compost from rainwater and direct sunshine.
-Have a frequent check to avoid the compost from overheating. -Maintain proper moisture and temperature.
-Compost gets ready in 45-50 days. The finished product is 3/4th of the raw materials used.
TYPES OF VERMICOMPOST
-The types of vermicomposting depend upon the amount of producton and composting
structures. Small scale vermicomposting is done to meet the personal requirement and
farmer can harvest 5-10 tonnes of vermicompost annually. While, large-scale
-vermicomposting is done at commercial scale by recycling large quantity of organic
waste with the production of more than 50 – 100 tonnes annually
-Methods of vermicomposting
Vermicromposting is done by various methods, among them bed and pit methods are more common.
-Bed method : Composting is done on the pucca / kachcha floor by making bed( 6x2x2 feet size) of organic mixture. This method is easy to maintain and to practice .
-Pit method: Composting is done in the cemented pits of size 5x5x3 feet. The unit is covered with thatch grass or any other locally available materials. This method is not preferred due to poor aeration, water logging at
bottom, and more cost of production .
BENEFITS OF VERMICOMPOST:-
(1) it acts as biofertilizers, restores soil nutrients, stabilizes soil, and enhances soil fertility at a long-term period;
(2) it attends to social issues and recycles waste; and
(3) it is shown to be a profitable enterprise as a circular economy.
Vermicompost produced by the activity of earthworms is rich in macro and micronutrients, vitamins, growth hormones, enzymes such as proteases, amylases, lipase, cellulose and chitinase and immobilized
microflora. Vermicompost is optimal organic manure
for better growth and yield of many plants. It can increase the production of crops and prevent them from harmful pests without polluting the environment.
Application of vermicompost increased growth, improved plants nutrient content, and improved the quality of the fruits and seeds.