Vermicompost is the fertilizer made from organic waste through the actions of some cultivated worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, etc.; through a process known as vermicomposting. Vermicompost is cheap and very helpful as it supplies crude nutrients for crop use and also serves as a soil conditioner.
Some farming practices are often detrimental to human’s health; examples are: the use of inorganic pesticides and fertilizers, bush burning, etc.; inorganic pesticides are chemical compounds; they are undoubtedly toxic to humans’ health.
However, its use on crop has dosage and, thus, applied at a specific period. Generally, pesticides should not be applied on any crop at about 4-5 weeks to harvesting; meanings you should not apply an inorganic pesticide at about 4-5 weeks to harvesting period.
The same applies to inorganic fertilizers; they are detrimental to both the soil and the environment, thus, contributing to global warming and deterioration of the soil nature. These are quite detrimental to both the environment and human.
The use of organic fertilizers, like vermicompost, is now preferred to inorganic fertilizer; however, this is only or best for the rural areas where people are adaptive to such effect. The need for agriculture is now enormous, both the urban and rural areas must engage in agriculture to ensure an adequate supply of food for the increasing population.
By 2050, it has been predicted that the world population will be around 9 billion; presently, there is a need to increase food production by 28% to ensure even and adequate distribution of food across the globe. Relying solely on rural areas to supply food is quite hazardous to the globe.
Equipment Needed For Vermiculture Compost
You need the following equipment to build a vermicomposting farm; they are:
- Farm coat or apron
- Hand fork
- Vermicomposting Bin
- Vermicomposting worms
The gloves and farm coat are personal protective equipment (PPE). Proper hygiene has to be maintained in all farming activities; use of PPE protects you from direct contact with microscopic pathogens. The hand fork is used to open up a hole in the corner of the compost bin to feed the worms daily and also to pulverize the compost during harvesting.
The vermicomposting bin is the worm house and where the composting is done. It is a controlled environment that facilitates the growth and activities of the Vermicomposting worms. In vermicomposting, the worms are the animals catered for, they are domesticated and managed to be productive just like how bees are kept in the hive. The waste of the worms is what farmers need to fertilize the soil. The compost bin can be made of wood or plastic; however, wood is preferred as it is more absorbent and gives a better insulating effect.
Beddings are important components in vermicomposting; bedding facilitates dampness in the vermicomposting bin and also allows burying of food for the worms. The bedding material must be damp, edible, absorbent and fluffy in nature; common bedding materials used are: sawdust, shredded newspaper or cardboard, groundnut husk, rice hull etc.; sand can also be added for the worms’ gizzard and lime to regulate the pH of the system.
Worms play an important role in vermicomposting, but not all worms. There two types of vermicomposting worms used in this process: Eisenia foetida also known as red wiggler or manure worm and Lumbricus rubellus. They are both found in aged animal manure or compost. These worms are kept and fed inside the compost bin; they are fed with waste food materials such as fruits, vegetables, tea bags etc.; sternly avoid feeding worms with oily foods, dairy products, and meat. They result in offensive odor, attract flies and rodent.
Steps Involved In The Making Of Vermiculture Compost
Firstly, you need to get your Vermicomposting bin, design it as described above to enhance worm cultivation conditions. Get your bedding materials inside the compost bin; you can use more than one bedding material for better interaction in the system.
Fill the bin with the bedding material, do not compact; allow air spaces as it facilitates aeration and allows the free movement of worms in the system. Mix dry leaves with the bedding material and a handful of soil to act as primer; add water to this mixture to make it damp.
Place the vermicomposting worms on the top of the mixture and watch them crawl to the bottom; the amount of worms needed depends on the amount of feed to be fed. If you are serving one pound of food daily, you will need two pounds of worms.
Feeding is done by burying the feed in one corner of the compost bin after digging the corner with the hand fork. The feed is then covered with the beddings. Feed in different corners every week till about 4 months when the vermicompost is ready for harvesting. Ensure the compost bin is covered always.
Vermiculture compost is ready after 3-4 months. All the components in the compost bin are harvested except the worms. The worms are separated from the compost either by handing picking or by heaping composts under the sun and watch the worms crawl to the center. Separate the worms from the compost and place them in fresh bedding for another batch of vermicompost. The harvested compost is then applied to the soil as mulch or dug into the soil.
Problems In Vermiculture Compost Making And Possible Solutions
- Pungent or offensive odor: this is usually caused by lack of oxygen or overfeeding or waterlogged vermicompost. To correct this, check the drainage holes made at the bottom of the bin to ensure they are not blocked, drilling more holes is more preferable; you can also stir the entire content of the compost bin to allow free flow of air. Also, stop feeding the worms until the feeds in the compost bin are used up.
- Worms crawling out of the bedding: when you observe the worms are crawling out of the bedding to the sides of the compost bin or the lid, it means the bedding is too acidic; this is caused as a result of uncontrolled addition of citrus and other acidic foods. To control this, add lime to the bin.
- The emergence of flies: this occurs when you’ve overfed the worms or when you did not bury the feeds. Always bury the feeds under the bedding and ensure you serve adequate feed. Also, ensure the compost bin is covered always.
Vermicomposting is an environmental-friendly practice as it can be done both indoor and outdoor. The dark brown earthy material produced, Vermiculture compost is a balanced source of primary plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and micronutrients.
It is also called worm cast; it is odorless and does not burn plant parts like the roots when applied as seen in animal manures due to their high urea content. In addition, vermicompost or wormcast does not harbor plant pest or diseases; it is the most ideal organic fertilizer for both rural and urban farming. Ensure the vermicomposting worms are kept under favorable conditions and watch them produce rich manure for your crops.
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