Vermicompost
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Vermicompost (also called worm compost, vermicast, worm castings, worm humus or worm manure) is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by some species of earthworm. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting.

 

Vermicompost is richer in many nutrients than compost produced by other composting methods. It also contains millions of microbes which help break down nutrients already present in the soil into plant-available forms. Unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which keeps nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil. Worm compost is usually too rich and gummy for use alone as a seed starter, and is used as a top dressing or mixed with soil in a ratio of one to four. Most fruit and seed pits are reported to germinate in vermicompost easily.

Vermicompost benefits soil by

  • improving its physical structure;

  • enriching soil in micro-organisms, adding plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid, and adding enzymes such as phosphatase and cellulase;

  • attracting deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil;

  • improving water holding capacity;

  • enhancing germination, plant growth, and crop yield; and

  • improving root growth and structure.

Our implementation- Zero cost method

  • In a shaded place (No direct sunlight.. given the tropical nature) constructed out of coconut leaves is our vermicomposting factory.

  • The raw material used is the leftover/wasted hay, grass and weeds which is readily available in the farm.

  • This raw material is piled together in the shade to create a mound of 6'-4'-4'.

  • The mound is sprayed with slurry  of cow dung(10-15 kgs) mixed with (75-100lts ) of water once a week.

  • This is followed for about a month till most the grass, hay and weeds start to rot and the height of the mound is reduced to 1.5' to 2'.

  • First time we introduced about 500 gms (2-3 handful) of earthworms for a mound size of 6'-4'-2' on the top evenly and again cover them with some grass to prevent earthworms being eaten by birds/poultry initially.

  • We water the mound every 2-3 days to keep the temperature cool. About 8-10 buckets of water (appx. 120-150lts) is used.

  • The compost was ready in 50-60 days after the first time. Typically we will get around 400-600 kgs of vermicompost.

  • Re-use of earthworms is essential to have a continuous supply of vermicompost. The earth worms would have multiplied by 3-4 times now.

  • We started the 2nd mound right after introducing earthworms the 1st time and continued with the preparation phase.

  • Earthworms gathered from the 1st mound is introduced to the second mound as mentioned above.

  • The composting time for 2nd and subsequent ones will be much shorter(30-40 days) owing to larger qty of earthworms.

  • 6'-4'-2' sized mound of vermicompost is used for about 200-300 pits or about an 1/2 acre of land!

  • This implementation is not suitable for commercial purposes as commercial vermicompost requires processing and should be kept dry.

  • If you need to buy earthworms from various places, the price varies from Rs.300-400 per kg. We will be glad to give small quantities of earthworms for free for folks planning on organic cultivation.