Vermicompost Quality as Influenced by Different Species of Earthworm and Bedding Material


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Vermicompost Quality as Influenced by Different Species of Earthworm and Bedding Material

  1. 1. Two and a Bud 58:137-140, 2011 RESEARCH PAPER Vermicompost quality as influenced by different species of earthworm and bedding material J.S. Bisenl, A.K. Singh, R. Kumar, D.K. Bora and B. Bera* Darjeeling Tea Research and Development Centre, Tea Board, Kurseong, Dist. Darjeeling -734203, W.B, India. * Director (Research), Tea Board of India, Kolkata ABSTRACT Slow rate of decomposition and mineralization of organic matters are major limiting factors in adequate nutrient availability to the plant in the Darjeeling tea soils. Results indicated that the organic carbon was higher in tea waste and weed biomass, ranging from 29.10 to 32.65%, while it was lower in Eupatorium sp. ranging from 22.75 to 24.8%. At harvest, pH and organic carbon of vermicompost went down ranging from 4.81 to 7.13 and 17.5 to 21.70% respectively. The C: N ratio was recorded narrow in all the treatments ranging from 11:1 to 13:1 than the pre-inoculation stage. Highest total Nitrogen content (1.84%) in the final produce was recorded in tea waste + cowdung with Eiseniajoetida followed by Eupatorium + cowdung with local worm (1.75%), and tea waste + cow dung with Eudrillus euginae (1.67%). Highest Phosphorus (1.04%) and Potassium (1.46%) contents were recorded in Eupatorium + cowdung with local worms. The pH ofvermibed wash was recorded in decreasing order with time span of decomposition irrespective of the treatments. The maximum multiplication rate was in local worm followed by Eiseniajoetida and Eudrillus euginea. INTRODUCTION In recent years, earthworms have been identified as one of the major tools to process the biodegradable organic materials (Julka and Senapati, 1987; Greig Smith et al.,· 1992). The utilization of waste materials through the earthworm has given the concept ofvermicomposting. The vermitech approach utilizes waste management process by involving earthworms (Satchell, 1967). Improvement of soil through vermiculture has now become a popular part of organic farming. Vermicmpost is accepted as humus bio- fertilizer, soil fertility booster, soil activator and soil conditioner with required plant nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, growth hormones and beneficial microbes like nitrogen fixing, phosphate solubilising, denitrifying and decomposing bacteria. "The Green Revolution" th~t was promoted in early part of 20th century, was a boost to food production without foreseeing its ill effects. The recent realizations to maintain ecological balance for sustenance of agricultural production, farmers and scientists alike are aiming at fmding an alternative to chemical agriculture. India has a long tradition of agriculture with a rich heritage of ecofriendly agriculrure technologies. The tropical climate prevailing in India is very congenial for farming. Taking in 1 Corresponding author: e-mail: jsbisen30@gmaiLcom 137 consideration such favourable environmental conditions, early farmers developed such technologies which were used to reap a big harvest throughout the ages. But after 1950, when green revolution was introduced, there was a sudden hike in consumption of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and hybrid seeds. Unfortunately such extravagant use of these technologies and interference in natural processes in so called modern agricultural technologies seem to have failed in maintaining harmony with nature. As a result even sustainability of agriculture as a whole is at stake. Therefore an experiment was conducted during 2009 with the objectives to find the best source of bedding material in relation to the nutrient status as well as the multiplication of earthworms and to fmd out the best species of earthworm vis-a-vis different bedding materials. MATERIALS AND METHODS The study was conducted at Darjeeling Tea Research and Development Centre, Kurseong, situated at Lat. 26° 55'N, Long. 88°12'E, altitude 1240 a.m.s.l. To explore the scope of vermicomposting with the help of locally available organic wastes and to study the performance of three species
  2. 2. of earthworm (Eisenia foetida, Eudrillus euginea and a local species) in the production ofvermicompost by using different bedding materials (Eupatorium glandulosum, mixed weed biomass and tea waste with cowdung at 2: 1 ratio), an experiment was conducted at Darjeeling Tea Research and Development Centre, Kurseong, during August to November, 2009.Three types of bedding materials which are abundant in this region, viz. tea waste, mixed weed consisting mainly polygonum sp., Ageratum sp., Urtica dioica, grasses etc. and Eupatorium glandulosum (alone) mixed with one week old cowdung at 2: 1 ratio (weight basis) were used. Three species of earthworm used were Eisenia foetida, Eudrillus euginea and a local worm. The tea waste and chopped weeds were mixed thoroughly with cowdung at 2: 1 ratio and filled in wooden boxes of50cm x 30cm x 30cm size treatment-wise with three replications of each. Boxes were covered with gunny bags and kept for another fifteen days for pre- decomposition. Need-based sprinkling of water was done to maintain the moisture level and to induce decomposition process. After pre-decomposition, 100 worms of each species were released in each box on the top of the bedding materials and allowed to move down. Pre-decomposed and compost samples (at maturity) were collected for pH, organic carbon and nutrient analysis. The water was sprinkled at regular intervals to keep the culture moist. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS The pH of all the mixed bedding materials after pre- decomposition were above neutral ranging from 8.20 to 8.92 except tea waste which ranged from 6.51 to 6.61 (Table 1). At maturity, the pH of final produce declined in all the treatments to neutral and rartged from 4.81 to 7.13. Decomposition of organic matter leads to formation of ammonium ions and humic acids, these two components have exactly opposite effects on the pH. Presence of carboxylic and phenolic groups in humic acids caused lowering of pH while ammonium ions increased the pH of the system. Combined effect of these two oppositely charged ions actually regulated the pH of vermicompost leading to a shift of pH towards neutrality. These observations were in conformity with those obtained by Fares et aI., (2005). At pre-inoculation stage, organic carbon was higher in weed biomass and tea waste with cowdung and ranged from 32.65 to 29.10% as compared to Eupatorium sp. with cowdung which was from 22.75 to 24.8%, while at maturity organic carbon was highest in the vermicompost prepared from Eupatorium + cowdung (21.70%), it was closely followed by Tea waste + cowdung (21.1 0%) while it was lowest in weed biomass + cowdung (17.5%). During vermicomposting process, the organic carbon contents in all the treatments declined remarkably. Vermicomposting process refers to feeding of earthworm on organic matter and microbial degradation. The combined process brings about carbon loss from substrates in the form of carbon dioxide. Studies have revealed that earthworm activities bring about significant decline in organic carbon level of waste resources and accelerate wastes stabilization process (Loh et aI., 2005; Suthar, 2006). The organic carbon was being decomposed by the microbial biomass present in the compost (Mondini et aI., 2003). Similarly, Guest et al., (2001) observed the decrease in carbon concentration from 20 to 16% during composting. Total nitrogen content at pre-inoculation stage varied widely where N content in tea waste was 2.15 to 2.45%. In the weed biomass it was from 0.87 to 1.79%. Total nitrogen content in vermicompost at maturity in compost prepared from tea waste + cowdung using Eiseniafoetida was 1.84% Table 1. Comparative performance of three different species of earthworm in relation to the different bedding material and changes in nutrient status Treatment PHO.c.%Total N%CNTotalP% Total %MaturityP.I.MaturityPl.MaturityPl.MaturityP.I.MaturityPl.Maturity8106.8323.4620.021.021.5223:113:10.420.960.621.40 8.456.7924.821.700.961.6126:111:10.430.900.601.39 8.516.6922.7520.410.871.7526:111:10.391.040.691.46 6.514.8232.0521.102.151.8415:111:10.340.580.830.99 6.594.8129.1020.872.191.6713:112:10.320.540.800.96 6.617.1331.4918.052.431.6413:111:10.370.600.881.13 8.926.9532.2017.51.761.5118:111:10.400.521.031.14 8.836.8530.8518.811.791.6217:111:10.430.490.981.08 8.586.8732.6519.391.731.4719:113:10.410.500.981.17 0.790.862.802.380.370.303.27N.S.N.S. T2 - Eupatorium+Cowdung2:I(Eudrillus)T4 - Teawaste+ Cowdungat 2:I(Eisenia)T6 -Teawaste+ Cowdungat 2:1(local)T8 - Weedbiomass+Cowdungat 2'1(Eudrillus)P.l.-Pre-inoculation 138
  3. 3. CONCLUSION Table 3. Average multiplication rates of different species of earthworm The pH of vermibed wash collected at different time intervals (Table 2) revealed that the pH had a decreasing trend with span of time. Faster multiplication oflocal worm followed by Eiseniafoetida and Eudrillus euginae (Table 3) was recorded which might be due to adaptability oflocal environmental conditions. (1.40%), Eupatorium + cowdung using Eudril/us eugenae (1.3<J01o) and was lowest intea waste +cowdung using Eudrillus eugenae (0.96%). The status of P and K contents in vermicompost depends on acid production during organic matter decomposition process by the microorganisms and is the major mechanism for solubilisation of insoluble phosphorus and potassium. Also, the presence of large number of micro flora in the gut of earthworm might play an important role in increasing P and K contents inthe process of vermicomposting (Sharma, 2008). No. of earthworm Total earthworm Doubling time of inoculated present after earthworm, days 70d s. 100 463 55 100 368 63 100 489 52 Eisenia foetida Eudrillus euginea Local sp. Earthwonn sp. followed by Eupatorium + cowdung using local worm (1.75%) while it was lowest in the compost prepared from weed biomass+ cowdung using local worm (1.47%). The nitrogen content in vermicompost after incubation was recorded in decreasing trend in tea waste and weed biomass but in Eupatorium it gained in final produce as compared to pre-inoculation. The loss of total N content may be due to leaching through vermibed wash during the composting. Gunadi et aI., (2002) demonstrated that earthworm activity enriched the nitrogen profile of vermicompost through microbial mediated nitrogen transformation, through addition of mucus and nitrogenous wastes secreted by earthworms. Initially at pre-inoculation stage, C:N ratio was wider but at maturity it was narrower in all the treatments. In most of the treatments, the C:N ratio was recorded 11:1 while it was little wider 12: 1 in tea waste + cowdung using Eudrillus eugenae, Eupatorium+ cowdung with Eisenia foetida 11: 1. The decrease in C:N ratio in the vermicompost as compared to the initial organic substrates, might be due to relative increase in total nitrogen on loss of dry matter (organic carbon) as CO as well as water loss by evaporation during mineralization2 process. The decrease in C: N ratio over time might also be attributed to increase in the earthworm population (Nedgawa and Thompson, 2000), whic~ le~ to rapid decrease in organic carbon due to enhanced OXidatIOn of the organic matter. The available P content at pre-inoculation stage was higher in Eupatorium + cowdung using Eudril/us eugenae (0.43%) followed by Eupatorium + cowdung using Eisenia foetida (0.42%) and minimum was in tea waste + cowdung using Eudril/us eugenae (0.32%). Highest content ofP was recorded at maturity in Eupatorium + cowdung using local worm (1.04%) followed by Eupatorium + cowdung using Eisenia foetida (0.96%), Eupatorium + cowdting using Eudrillus eugenae (0.90%) and was lowest in weed biomass +cowdung using Eudril/us eugenae (0.49%). Available K content was highest in Eupatorium + cowdung using local worm (1.46%) followed by Eupatorium + cowdung using Eisenia foetida The pH of all the vermicomposts prepared from the wastes ranged from acidic to neutral. Their C: N ratio reduced considerably at maturity. Maximum N content was found in Tea waste + cowdung with Eisenia foetida followed by Eupatorium + cowdung with local worms while P and K contents were highest in Eupatorium + cowdung with local worms. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are grateful to Tea Board for giving them an opportunity to conduct the experiment and extending their Table2. Changes in pH ofvermibed wash collected at different time intervals of vermibed wash pH 50DAI Pre inoculation 7DAI15DAI22DAI30DAI40DAI llm+ Cowdllng at 2:I(Eisenia) 8.28.758.377.457. IS6.686.83 8.458.608.127.337.036.996.79 8.518.298.446. 6.515.435.144.954.914.924.82 6.596.104.874.604.514.764.81 6.615.564.948.224.494.737.13 8.927.119.107.818.077.376.95 8.838.778.628.197.887.296.85 8.588.798.567.487.757.406.870. C.D. at 5% 0.400.530.270.560.230.250.30 139
  4. 4. support during the study. They are also thankful to Mr. R.K. Chauhan for his valuable contribution during preparation of the manuscript. REFERENCES Fares, F., Albalkhi, A., Dee, J., Bruns, M.A., Bollag, J.M. (2005). Physicochemical characteristics of animal and municipal wastes decomposed in arid soils. J Environ. Qual. 34:1392-1403. Greig- smith, P.W., Becker, H., Edwards, P.J. and Heimabach, F. (1992). Eco toxicology of earthworms. Athenaeum Press Ltd., Newcastle. U.K., pp. 269. Guest, C.A., Johnston, c.T., King, U., Alleman, J.E., Tishmack, J.K., Norton, L.D., (2001). Chemical characterization of synthetic soil from composting coal combustion and pharmaceutical by-products. J Environ. Qua/. 30:246-53. Gunadi, B., Blount, C., Edwards, c.A., (2002). The growth and fecundity of Eiseniafoetida (Savigny) in cattle solids pre- composted for different periods, Pedobi%gia 46:15-23. Julka, J.M. and Mukharjee, R.N. (1986). Preliminary observations on the effect of Amynthus diffringens 140 (Baired) on the C/N ratio of the soil. Pro. Nat. Sem. Org. Waste Utility, Vermicompost. Part B: Verms and vermicomposting, pp. 66-8. Loh, T.C., Lee, Y.C., Liang, J.B., Tan, D. (2005). Vermicomposting of cattle and goat manures by Eiseniafoetida and their growth and reproduction preference. Biores. Techno/. 96: 111-4. Mondini, C., Dell' Abate, M.T., Leita, L., Beneditti, A. (2003). An integrated chemical thermal and microbiological approach to compost stability evaluation. J Environ. Qua/.32:2379-86. Nedgawa, P.M., Thompson, S.A.and Das, K.C. (2000). Effect of stocking density and feeding rate on vermicomposting of biosolids. Bioresources Technology 71:5-12. Satchell, J.F., (1967). Lumbricidae. In soil Biology. A. Burges and F. Raw (eds.), Academic Press, Londan, pp.259-322. Sharma, K.A. (2008). A hand book of organic farming in vermicomposting. Agrobios, India (ISBN 8177540998). Suthar, S. (2006). Potential utilization ofguargurn industrial waste invermicompost production. Biores. Techno/.97(18):2474-7.