Vermicompost is the product of earthworm digestion and aerobic decomposition using the activities of micro- and microorganisms at room temperature. Vermicomposting, or vermicomposting, produces a rich organic soil amendment containing a variety of plant nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
Through Wajeeh Ur Rehman1, Zubair Aslam1 *, Ali Ahmad1, Mohammed Sajjad1,, Mamoona Jamil4, Mehwish Nadeem3
Vermicast (also called worm droppings, worm humus, worm manure or worm faces) is the end product of the decomposition of organic matter by earthworms. These casts have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and higher nutrient saturation than organic matter prior to vermicomposting.
Vermicomposting has several advantages, but the two most popular are (1) diverting organic residues from the landfill and reducing waste collection costs and (2) creating resources from the waste.
The reach of vermicomposting is also increasing in Pakistan. The first vermicompost center in Pakistan was established at Faisalabad University of Agriculture. Burning biomass has a number of serious environmental consequences, including the release of greenhouse gases such as CO2, CH4 and black carbon, which cause global warming, as well as changes in hydrology and regional climate. Moreover, it can also cause various respiratory disorders in children and adults as it produces toxic smoke. Smog is another phenomenon that occurs when smoke is mixed with droplets of fog. The formation of smog has recently increased rapidly in Pakistan. One of the main reasons for the formation of smog in the region of the subcontinent is the burning of agricultural waste. This smog can have drastic effects on human health, that is, infections of the eyes and respiratory tract.
To get rid of these problems, we must adopt new techniques to recycle agricultural wastes for their beneficial use in sustainable agriculture. Vermicomposting is one such technique that uses earthworms and the interplay of bio-oxidation to break down the organic matter supplied to them as parent material into a nutrient-rich bio-fertilizer.
Vermicomposting has grown in popularity, unlike traditional composting. Since it gives an approach to the composting of natural materials which is faster with great attention to nutrients and therefore, progressively useful for plant environments. Soil fertilization cannot be considered another innovation, but among waste administration techniques it is increasingly recognized as a reasonable choice for composts with financial and ecological benefits, as this procedure eliminates or decreases the risk of dispersal of pathogens, pests and weed seeds associated with direct use of compost land and prompts a stabilized end product that can be used to recover and maintain soil quality and fertility.
Sustainable agriculture requires stable soil production under specific climatic conditions for a longer period of agricultural production without affecting soil fertility. The Green Revolution increased agricultural production, but the misuse of agrochemicals and inorganic fertilizers disrupted soil health. The soil organic matter became depleted due to the intensive use of synthetic fertilizers and negatively affected the physical and chemical properties of the soil. Pakistani soils are deficient in organic matter because they contain less than 1% organic matter. For the conservation of soil productivity, at least 2% organic matter is essential. Thus, it takes an hour to add organic amendments to the soil to restore the loss of organic matter in the soil. Organic amendments increase soil productivity by restoring the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. The less efficient use of inorganic fertilizers with their high cost draws the attention of the farmer towards organic farming. Organic matter improves soil structure, nutrient availability, cation exchange capacity, pH, water holding capacity and microbial activity. Soil pH is influenced by organic matter and the change in soil pH differs depending on the nature of the organic matter.
The typical earthworms that you find in your garden are not suitable for vermicomposting. They are ground worms that do not process large amounts of food waste and do not reproduce well in confined spaces. Instead, worms commonly referred to as red worms or red wigglers are preferred because they reproduce quickly, are common, and tend to stay on the surface while feeding.
There are several species of vermicomposting worms but the most common are Eisenia fetida and E. andrei. Red wigglers are hermaphrodites with both male and female reproductive organs; however, it takes two more worms to mate with each worm giving sperm to the other worm. Eisenia fetida is the best species for vermicomposting in environments like Pakistan.
Under ideal conditions, a population of vermicomposters can double about every 2 months (4 to 6 weeks from cocoon to emergence and 6 to 8 weeks from emergence to maturity). The “band” around a worm, known as the clitellum, indicates maturity and is reproductively active. The cocoons are about the size of a matchstick head, turning pearly white to brown as they develop until one to several babies hatch.
Climate and temperature
Red wigglers require conditions similar to humans for their growth – they prefer room temperature (21-31 ° C) and adequate humidity. The population of a worm is controlled by nutrient / food availability and space requirements.
They like to eat pre-composted foods most of the time. For this, food must be crushed into small pieces. This includes crop residues, cow dung, fruit peels, paper and sewage sludge. Pieces of meat, oil, fat, bones, dairy products, cat or dog waste, etc. are not recommended for vermicomposting.
If you want to make vermicomposting, dry it in the sun for a day or two first to get rid of the smell and then break it into small pieces. So that the worms can eat it easily. Pre-compost the material for 2 weeks and maintain humidity by spraying with water daily. After that, follow the next steps:
1. Choose a flat, hard surface free of glass or other inert materials (plastics) on which a thick layer of soil has a height of 0.30 m and its area is one square meter or its length depends on the amount of material present.
2. Wet this layer of soil by sprinkling water
3. Spread a layer about 15 cm high of the material to be composted and wet it.
4. Add earthworms to the layer in 1:50 w / w (Earthworm: material) for two months
5. Maintain the humidity level by sprinkling water daily and covering it with burlap bags.
6. After two months, harvest the vermicompost as soon as black granules appear above the surface. Harvesting is usually done manually by sieving.
7. After sifting, collect the earthworms and use them again and sell them.
Important things to take care of:
- Compost in any shaded area to avoid sun and rain.
- Moisten regularly.
- Any material that needs to be composted should not be fresh.
- Dry the substance well before use and cut it into small pieces.
- About 2000 earthworms weigh one kilogram.
- About 10 kg of earthworms can turn a ton of waste into vermicomposting.
- The temperature should be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Authors: Wajeeh Ur Rehman1, Zubair Aslam1 *, Ali Ahmad1, Mohamed sajjad1,, Mamoona Jamil4, Mehwish Nadeem3
1Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Faisalabad University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
2Center for Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB), Faisalabad University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
3Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad