Vermicompost is an organic manure (bio-fertilizer) produced as the vermicast by earth worm feeding on biological waste material; plant residues. This compost is an odorless, clean, organic material containing adequate quantities of N, P, K and several micronutrients essential for plant growth. Vermicompost is a preferred nutrient source for organic farming. It is eco-friendly, non-toxic, consumes low energy input for composting and is a recycled biological product.
The process allows for the safe conversion of waste into a valuable nutrient rich humus fertilizer i.e. Vermicompost.
- Improves its physical structure Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes such as phosphatase and cellulase)
- Microbial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests
- Attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil
- Improves water holding capacity
- Enhances germination, plant growth, and crop yield
- Improves root growth and structure
- Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid)
- Biowastes conversion reduces waste flow to landfills
- Elimination of biowastes from the waste stream reduces contamination of other recyclables collected in a single bin (a common problem in communities practicing)
- Creates low-skill jobs at local level
- Low capital investment and relatively simple technologies make vermicomposting practical for less-developed agricultural regions
- Helps to close the "metabolic gap" through recycling waste on-site
- Large systems often use temperature control and mechanized harvesting, however other equipment is relatively simple and does not wear out quickly
- Production reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitric oxide (produced in landfills or incinerators when not composted or through methane harvest)
Mid-scale worm bin (1 m X 2.5 m up to 1 m deep), freshly refilled with bedding. Vermicompost can be mixed directly into the soil, or seeped in water and made into a worm tea by mixing some vermicompost in water, bubbling in oxygen with a small air pump, and steeping for a number of hours or days.
The microbial activity of the compost is greater if it is aerated during this period. The resulting liquid is used as a fertilizer or sprayed on the plants.
The dark brown waste liquid, or leachate, that drains into the bottom of some vermicomposting systems as water-rich foods break down, is best applied back to the bin when added moisture is needed due to the possibility of phytotoxin content and organic acids that may be toxic to plants.
The pH, nutrient, and microbial content of these fertilizers varies upon the inputs fed to worms. Pulverized limestone, or calcium carbonate can be added to the system to raise the pH.