Miracle that the Earthworms and its Products Can Do For the Economic Prosperity of the Farmers
Updated: Feb. 2012 (New additions on health benefits of Organic Foods)
FARMERS MANUAL on ‘ORGANIC FARMING’ by
EARTHWORMS (Charles Darwin’s Friends of Farmers)
Miracle that the Earthworms & its Products
(Vermicompost & Vermiwash) Can Do For the
Economic Prosperity of the Farmers, Ecological
Security of the Nation While Producing Nutritive &
Health Protective ‘Organic Foods’ for the Society
(Dr. Sinha with his vermiculture team at Griffith University, Australia)
Rajiv K. Sinha
Adjunct Senior Lecturer
Griffith University, School of Environmental Engineering
(Vermiculture Unit), Nathan Campus, Brisbane
Queensland - 4111
The ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1950’ 60’s driven by the widespread use of costly
‘AGROCHEMICALS’ boosted food production - but at the cost of society and environment.
Consumption of ‘chemically grown food’ have adversely affected human health. Heavy use of
CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS destroyed the natural physical, chemical & the biological
properties of the soil which became ‘addicted’ over the years and still higher doses are now
required to maintain the productivity of the previous years thus escalating the cost of food
production. It virtually resulted into ‘biological droughts’ (severe decline in beneficial soil
microbes and earthworms which help to renew the natural fertility of soil) in farm soils in the
regions of green revolution in world. Higher uses of agro-chemicals also demands high use of
water for irrigation putting severe stress on ground and surface waters. Continued application
of CHEMICAL PESTICIDES induced ‘biological resistance’ in crop pests and diseases and
lograthmatically much higher doses are now required to eradicate them. Farmers all over the
world are desperately looking for an ‘economically viable, environmentally sustainable &
socially acceptable’ alternative to the destructive agro-chemicals.
The traditional concept of vermicomposting of ‘farm wastes’ and using the vermicompost in
farm production are being scientifically revived for vermicomposting variety of organic wastes
from municipal and industrial streams and using the products (vermicompost & vermiwash) as
a ‘sustainable alternative’ to the ‘destructive agro-chemicals’. Earthworm participation
enhances composting of waste organics from 60 to 80 %, also ‘disinfect’ and ‘detoxify’ the
Vermicompost is highly nutritive ‘organic fertilizer’ rich in NPK, humic acids, micronutrients,
beneficial soil microbes and also contain plant growth hormones – auxins, gibberlins and
cytokinins. It has great ‘moisture retaining’ capacity & significantly reduces the need of ‘water
for irrigation’ by 30-40 %. Studies indicate that EARTHWORMS and VERMICOMPOST are
‘extraordinary powerful growth promoters’ in crops (5-7 times more than ordinary compost &
significantly higher over chemical fertilizers) while also repelling crop pests and suppressing
diseases, protecting the soil, restoring and improving its natural fertility and producing ‘SAFE
ORGANIC, NUTRITIOUS & HEALTH PROTECTIVE (against cancers & heart diseases)
FOODS’ for society at a much economical cost (at least 50 % less) as compared to the costly
agrochemicals whose costs & doses of application continues to rise. Research at CSIRO,
Australia shows that earthworms lift the ‘protein value’ of the wheat grains by 12 %. There is
also significant rise in the value of ANTIOXIDANTS in fruits & vegetables grown organically
especially on vermicompost.
Researches indicate that in the 1st
year of farming the results may not be very encouraging as
the soil’s natural fertility is badly depleted due to continued use of chemical fertilizers over the
years. It takes some time to restore fertility and from the 2
year onward the production
overtakes that of chemical fertilizers. Vermiculture can bring ‘economic prosperity’ for the
farmers with ‘ecological security’ of the farmlands & ‘health security’ for the people. A 2nd
GREEN REVOLUTION is on, and this time driven by Charles Darwin’s ‘children & friends of
farmers’ – the EARTHWORMS – the miracle of nature & savior of mankind.
A revolution is unfolding in vermiculture studies (rearing of useful waste eater earthworms) for
composting variety of organic wastes from municipal, agricultural and industrial streams more
scientifically into a highly nutritive ‘organic fertilizer’ (vermicompost) and using it for production
of ‘safe organic food’ with significantly ‘low’ or ‘no’ dependence on agrochemicals.
Vermicompost is rich in HUMUS & work as a ‘slow-release fertilizer’.
(Rearing of Useful Earthworms)
Vermi-agroproduction of Crops Human Vermi-composting of Farm Waste
(Organic Food) Sustainability (Organic Fertilizer)
With their continued application the ‘organic nitrogen’ & other nutrients in compost tends to be
released at constant rate from the accumulated ‘humus’ and the net overall efficiency of NPK
over a period of years is considerably greater than 50 % of that of chemical fertilizers.
Availability of phosphorus is sometimes much greater.
Earthworms have over 600 million years of experience in waste & land management, soil
improvement & farm production. No wonder, Sir Charles Darwin called them as the
‘unheralded soldiers of mankind and farmer’s friend working day and night under the soil’.
Value of earthworms in plant propagation was emphasized by the great Indian author Surpala
in his epic ‘Vriksha-ayurveda’ (Science of Tree Growing) as early as in the 10th
He recommended to add earthworms in soil of pomogranate plants to obtain high quality fruits.
2). Earthworms Improves Total Physical, Chemical & Biological Quality of Soil
Earthworms are regarded as ‘biological indicator’ of soil fertility. Significantly, the worms lead
to total improvement in the quality of soil and land where they inhabit and also enhance total
plant growth and crop productivity.
Worms significantly contribute as ‘soil conditioner’ to improve the physical, chemical as well
as the biological properties of the soil and its nutritive value. They swallow large amount of
soil every day, grind them in their gizzard and digest them in their intestine with aid of
enzymes and excrete out in the form of fine mucus coated ‘vermicastings’ which are rich in
humus, NKP, micronutrients and beneficial soil microbes including the ‘nitrogen fixers’ and
‘mycorrhizal fungus’. The organic matter in the soil undergo ‘humification’ in the worm
intestine. The colloidal humus acts as ‘slow release fertilizer’ in the soil. Humus is generally
lacking in soils devoid of earthworms as it takes very long time for soil or any organic matter
to decompose to form humus while earthworms secrete them in their excreta. Without humus
plants cannot grow and survive. It is essential for root formation.
In general a land inhabited and ploughed by earthworms for 3 years will become high yielding
farmland. Earthworms loosen the soil as they move through it. Air and water can penetrate
soil through earthworm tunnels. Earthworms climb up to the surface of soil to grab remnants
of plants and feed in tunnels and thus fertilize all strata of soil. One square meter of healthy
soil contains 1,000 earthworms. According to the estimate of an American researcher,
1,000,000 (one million) earthworms in a garden/farm plot provide the same benefit as three
gardeners/farmers working 8 hours in shifts all year round, and moreover having 10 tons of
manure applied in the plot.
3). Earthworms Significantly Improves Nitrogen (N) & Phosphorus (P) in Soil
This is of great agronomic significance as nitrogen (N) & phosphorus (P) are often a ‘limiting
factor’ in any farm soil.
Nitrogen Contribution to Soil: Worms significantly contribute nitrogen (N) contents to soil
by over 85%. Earthworms recycle nitrogen in the soil in very short time and the quantity
recycled is significant ranging from 20 to 200 kg N/ha/year. After 28 weeks soil with living
worms contained 75 ppm of nitrate nitrogen compared to the control soil without worms which
contained 45 ppm. Worms also increase nitrogen levels in soil by adding their metabolic &
excretory products (vermicast), mucus, body fluid, enzymes and decaying tissues of dead
worms. They also contribute nitrogen indirectly through fragmentation of organic materials
and grazing on soil microorganisms.
Earthworm tissues contains about 7.9 % N on a dry weight basis. Living worms release
nitrogen from their bodies and after death it is rapidly decomposed in about 4 days releasing
all nitrogen into the soil. In a study with potted ryegrass, over 70 % of the N
incorporated into plant shoots after 16 days. Study found that 50% of the N in dead worm
tissues was mineralized in 7 days while 70% in 10-20 days and the N was converted to NO3-
N which is bio-available form on nitrogen to crop roots. The release of mineral N after death of
earthworms could be significant since worm biomass can turn over up to 3 times a year in
farm soil. Study estimated direct flux of nitrogen through earthworm biomass in farm soils
ranging from 10-74 kg N/ha/year. In corn field mortality and decomposition of dead
earthworms could contribute 23.5 kg N /ha/year. In case of inorganic fertilizer-treated farm soil
it is only 15 .9 kg/ha/year.
Phosphorus (P) Contribution to Soil: It is well established that worm casts are richer in
‘inorganic phosphorus compounds’ extractable in water than the surface soil ingested.
Exchangeable phosphorus (P) measured isotopically was three (3) times greater in worms
vermicasts than in the underlying soils.
Passage of organic matter through the gut of worm results in phosphorus (P) converted to
forms which are more bio-available to plants. This is done partly by worm’s gut enzyme
‘phosphatases’ and partly by the release of phosphate solubilizing microorganisms in the
4). Earthworms Reduce Soil Salinity & Sodicity, Renew Soil Fertility and
Improve Crop Productivity
Farmers at Phaltan in Satara district of Maharashtra, India, applied live earthworms to their
sugarcane crop grown on saline soils irrigated by saline ground water. The yield was 125
tones / hectare of sugarcane and there was marked improvement in soil chemistry. Within a
year there was 37 % more nitrogen, 66 % more phosphates and 10 % more potash. The
chloride content was less by 46 %.
Another study in 2008 reported production of POTATO, SPINACH and TURNIP by
application of vermicompost in a reclaimed sodic soil in India. The overall productivity of
vegetable crops during the two years of trial was significantly greater in plots treated with
vermicompost applied @ 6 tons/ha as compared to control. There was significant
improvement in soil quality of plots amended with vermicompost @ 6 tons / ha - reduction of
73.68 in sodicity (ESP) and increase of 829.33 kg / ha in available nitrogen (N) contents.
5). Vermicompost : Miracle Farm Input Superior to Conventional Compost and
Vermicompost is a highly nutritive ‘organic fertilizer’ rich in NKP (nitrogen 2 - 3 %, potassium
1.85 – 2.25 % and phosphorus 1.55 – 2.25 %), micronutrients, beneficial soil microbes like
‘nitrogen-fixing bacteria’ and ‘mycorrhizal fungi’ and are scientifically proving as ‘miracle
growth promoters’. Some researchers have reported as high as 7.37 % nitrogen (N) and
19.58 % phosphorus as P2O5 in worms vermicast depending upon the substrates used for
vermicomposting. Phosphatase activity is also very high in vermicast.
Our works done in India showed that exchangeable potassium (K) was over 95 % higher in
vermicompost. There are also good amount of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg).
Additionally, vermicompost contain enzymes like amylase, lipase, cellulase and chitinase,
which continue to break down organic matter in the soil (to release the nutrients and make it
available to the plant roots) even after they have been excreted. Vermicompost has very ‘high
porosity’, ‘aeration’, ‘drainage’ and ‘water holding capacity’. It appears to retain more nutrients
for longer period of time .There have been several reports that worm worked waste and their
excretory products (vermicast) can induce excellent plant growth.
a). High Levels of Bio-available Nutrients for Plants
Earthworms mineralize the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in the compost to make it bio-
available to plants as nutrients. It has been found that the vermicompost tends to be higher in
‘nitrates’, which is the more bio-available form of nitrogen for plants. What is more significant
is that it is ‘organic nitrogen’ that do not accumulate in food products in a concentration that
accumulates in food grown on chemical nitrogen (urea) posing health risk. They also found
that vermicompost is rich in several other plant nutrients e.g. phosphorus (P), potassium (K),
sulfur (S) and magnesium (Mg). We found that the NPK value of vermicompost processed by
worms from the same feedstock (cattle dung) significantly increases by 3 to 4 times. It also
enhances several micronutrients.
Table- 1: NPK Value of Vermicompost Compared With Conventional Cattle Dung
Compost Made from Cattle Dung
Nutrients Cattle Dung Compost Vermicompost
1. N 0.4 - 1.0 % 2.5 - 3.0 %
2. P 0.4 - 0.8 % 1.8 - 2.9 %
3. K 0.8 - 1.2 % 1.4 - 2.0 %
(N.B. NPK value of vermicompost can go much higher by 10-15 % depending upon
the nature of organic wastes and limes that are added to the cattle dung).
b). High Level of Beneficial and Biologically Active Soil Microorganisms
Our works done in India found that the total bacterial count was more than 1010
/ gm of
vermicompost. It included Actinomycetes, Azotobacter, Rhizobium, Nitrobacter & Phosphate
Solubilizing Bacteria ranges from 10
per gm of vermicompost
c). Rich in Plant Growth Hormones : Ability to Stimulate Plant Growth
Researches show that vermicompost further stimulates plant growth even when plants are
already receiving ‘optimal nutrition’. It consistently improve seed germination, enhance
seedling growth and development, and increase plant productivity much more than would be
possible from the mere conversion of mineral nutrients into plant-available forms. This is
because of plant growth hormones ‘AUXINS’ (for growth of stems & leaves), ‘CYTOKININS’
(for cell division) & ‘GIBBERLINS’ (flowering hormone) secreted by earthworms.
d). Vermicompost is Free of Pathogens
Vermicomposting of wastes leads to greater reduction of pathogens even after 3 months upon
storage. Whereas, those subjected to only conventional thermophilic composting, retained
higher levels of pathogens even after 3 months. This is because earthworms selectively feed
on harmful pathogens and also kill them by their ceolomic fluid which has anti-pathogenic
e). Vermicompost is Free of Toxic Chemicals
Studies have found that earthworms effectively bio-accumulate or biodegrade several organic
and inorganic chemicals including ‘heavy metals’, ‘organochlorine pesticide’ and ‘polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons’ (PAHs) residues in the medium in which it inhabits.
f). Vermicompost Protects Plants Against Various Pests and Diseases
There has been considerable evidence in recent years regarding the ability of vermicompost
to protect plants against various pests and diseases either by suppressing or repelling them
or by inducing biological resistance in plants to fight them or by killing them through pesticidal
action. Our studies in India indicated that pesticide spray was significantly reduced by over 75
% where earthworms and vermicompost were used in farming.
i). Ability to Induce Biological Resistance in Plants: Vermicompost contains some
‘antibiotics’ which help in increasing the ‘power of biological resistance’ among the crop plants
against pest and diseases. The fungus actinomycetes also contributes in the process.
ii). Ability to Repel Crop Pests: There seems to be strong evidence that worms
varmicastings sometimes repel hard-bodied pests. Some researchers reports statistically
significant decrease in arthropods (aphids, buds, mealy bug, spider mite) populations, and
subsequent reduction in plant damage, in tomato, pepper, and cabbage trials with 20 % and
40 % vermicompost additions. George Hahn, doing commercial vermicomposting in
California, U.S., claims that his product repels many different insect pests.
iii). Ability to Suppress Plant Disease: Researchers in the U.S. have found that use of
vermicompost in crops inhibited the soil-born fungal diseases. They also found significant
suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes in field trials with pepper, tomatoes, strawberries
and grapes. In all these experiments vermicompost applications suppressed the incidence of
the disease significantly. They also found that the ability of pathogen suppression
disappeared when the vermicompost was sterilized, convincingly indicating that the
mechanism of disease suppression was biological and achieved by some beneficial microbes
g). Vermicompost Increase Water Holding Capacity of Soil
Addition of vermicompost to soils increases water holding capacity, maintain evaporation
losses to a minimum and works as a ‘good absorbent’ of atmospheric moisture due to the
presence of colloidal materials – the ‘earthworm mucus’. The worm vermicast works as
‘micro-dams’ storing hygroscopic and gravitational water. The water stable aggregates of
‘polysaccharide gums’ produced by the bacteria inhabiting the intestine of earthworms
increases the general entry of water into the soil and infiltration due to construction of
cemented ‘macro-pores’. Increasing water holding capacity of soils prevents ‘soil erosion’ and
improves productivity. There are reports that the earthworms increased the water holding
capacity of New Zealand soils by 17 % and Indian soils by over 30 %.
Table-2: The Virtues of Organic Fertilizers Over Chemical Fertilizers
Virtues Chemical Fertilizer Organic Fertilizer (Vermicompost)
1). Primary Mostly contains only one (N in Urea) Contains all (NPK) in bio-available
Macronutrients or at the most two (N & P in DAP) forms
(NPK) in any one type of CF & that too in
non-bioavailable forms which are
converted into bio-available forms by soil microbes
2). Secondary Not available Bio-available in required amounts
(Ca, Mg, S)
3). Essential Micronutrients None All present
(Zn, B, Mn, Fe, Cu, Mo & Cl)
4). Humus & Organic Carbon None Rich in humus & high organic carbon
5). Beneficial Soil NA (Adversely affects Rich in beneficial soil microbes
Microbes (N2 fixing & beneficial microbes &
phosphate solubilising etc.) impair natural soil fertility)
* 6). Plant Growth Hormones None Rich in auxins, gibberlins & cytokinins
7). Moisture Holding Reduces moisture holding Increases moisture holding
Properties capacities of soils capacities of soil
8). Impact on Soil pH Disturb soil pH causing Maintain proper balance
alkalinity & acidity in soil pH
9). Effects on Creates imbalances in soil Help in balancing the soil EC
Electrical Conductivity EC affecting nutrients & improve plant nutrients
(EC) Of Soil assimilation by crop roots adsorption
10). Impact on Soil Damages soil texture & Improves soil texture
Texture & Aeration reduce soil aeration for better aeration
*Not found in any other organic fertilizer except vermicompost
Table -3: Farm Soil Properties Under Organic Farming and Chemical Farming
Chemical & Biological Organic Farming Chemical Farming
Properties of Soil (Use of Vermicompost) (Use of Chemical
1) Availability of nitrogen
2) Availability of
3) Availability of potash
4) Azatobacter (N2 fixing
bacteria-1000/gm of soil)
5) Phospho bacteria
(100,000/kg of soil)
6) Carbonic biomass
(mg/kg of soil)
6). Vermiwash : The Nutritive Liquid Filtered Through Body of Worms Rich in
Growth Promoting and Pesticidal Properties
The brownish-red liquid which collects from all vermicomposting beds should be collected.
This liquid partially comes from the body of earthworms (as worm’s body contain plenty of
water) and is rich in amino acids, vitamins, nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, magnesium,
zinc, calcium, iron and copper and some growth hormones like ‘auxins’, ‘cytokinins’. It also
contains plenty of nitrogen fixing and phosphate solubilising bacteria (nitrosomonas,
nitrobacter and actinomycetes). A miracle observation was made by an Australian resident
vermicomposting food wastes that vermicompost & vermiwash has the capacity to revive
even a dying plant. (Mr. Avnish Bhardwaj; firstname.lastname@example.org)
More importantly this liquid contains beneficial microbes (chitin and cellulose degraders).
They repel pests and suppress the disease causing bacteria, fungus and the soil nematodes.
Chitin degraders digest pests and the cellulose degraders digest bacteria and fungi especially
the nasty Phytopthora & Pythium which causes wide range of diseases in crops. Farmers
from Bihar in North India reported growth promoting and pesticidal properties of this liquid.
They used it on brinjal and tomato with excellent results. The plants were healthy and bore
bigger fruits with unique shine over it. Spray of vermiwash effectively controlled all incidences
of pests and diseases, significantly reduced the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides
on vegetable crops and the products were significantly different from others with high market
value. These farmers are using vermicompost and vermiwash in all their crops since last few
years completely giving up the use of chemical fertilizers and using minimal pesticides.
Experience of farmers practising vermiculture in agriculture in the US indicates that the
vermiwash liquid can be made more effective as pest repellent and diseases suppressant if
the numbers of the beneficial microbes (chitin & cellulose degraders) are increased in them.
Under normal feed materials like cattle dung and food wastes usually 2-3 millions chitin
degraders and 4-5 million cellulose degraders are formed in a given volume of vermiwash
liquid but the threshold number required for effective action is about 10 millions. Number of
chitin degraders can be increased by adding more chitins (shrimp or crab shells or melted
cow hooves or horns) in the earthworms composting feed materials and cellulose degraders
can be increased by adding paper or saw dust in the feed. If sugars are added to the
vermiwash and fermented for some hours the number of chitin and cellulose degrader
microbes can also multiply in several millions in short time. Both chitin & cellulose degraders
are ‘engines of the soil’. (George Hahn; email@example.com).
7). Vermicompost Tea: An Effective Biopesticide
George Hahn also reported that if the vermicompost is dissolved in water and made into
solution called ‘vermicompost tea’ this liquid can also be used as spray for repelling pests and
suppressing plant diseases. Vermicompost prepared by adding chitins and cellulosic
materials in the feed can have high number of chitin & cellulose degraders in compost tea.
This solution can also be fermented with sugars to multiply the numbers of pest & disease
killer microbes (chitin & cellulose degraders) in millions and billions in short time. George got
9 billion in 24 hours. Hence with smaller amount of vermicompost farmers can make large
volumes of bio-pesticides with very high number of pest and disease killer microbes.
(George Hahn; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scientific Reason of Disease Suppression by Vermicompost, Vermiwash &
The scientific explanation of vermicompost and all other vermiproducts (vermiwash &
vermicompost tea) of earthworms possessing plant disease suppressing/fighting properties
are the high levels of agronomically ‘beneficial microbes’ including the chitin & cellulose
degraders found in them. Some protect plants by out-competing plant pathogens for available
food resources i.e. by starving them and also by blocking their access to plant roots by
occupying all the available sites. They also use the pathogens as food for predation. Some
secrete ‘antibodies’ and ‘hormones’ which inhibit the growth of plant pathogens. Some
beneficial microbes activate a plant’s ‘defense mechanisms’ against diseases. This can
include ‘thickening of the cell walls’ in plant roots and foliage to make it more difficult for
pathogens such as fungi to get into plants. Some microbes (fungus actinomycetes) excreted
by the earthworms in their vermicast produce chemicals that kill parasitic fungi causing crop
diseases. Chitin degraders produce enzymes ‘chitinases’ which breaks down the chitin in the
exoskeleton of pests and insects and kill them. Similarly, the cellulose degraders produce
enzyme ‘cellulase’ which dissolves the cellulosic walls of pathogens (fungi & bacteria).
Such beneficial microbes are also found in other composts too but the earthworms
vermicompost have much more and in diverse forms. The earthworms host large number of
beneficial microbes in their gut and proliferate them in billions & trillions in short time.
8). Some Studies on Growth Impacts of Worms & Vermicompost on Crops
Several studies have reported amazing growth impacts of worms & vermicompost on crops.
1). Study in India found that earthworms & its vermicast improved the growth and yield of
WHEAT by more than 40 %. Study at CSIRO Australia found that the earthworms increased
growth of wheat crops by 39 %, grain yield by 35 %, lifted protein value of the grain by 12 % &
also resisted crop diseases as compared to the control. The plants were grown in a ‘red-
brown earth’ with poor nutritional status and 60 % moisture.
2). Study in India found that RICE CROPS receiving vermicompost @ 10,000 kg / ha were
statistically at par with those receiving chemicals @ 200 kg / ha. There was greater population
of nitrogen fixers, actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi in paddy fields inducing better nutrient
uptake by crops and better growth in all vermicompost applied soils. Study from Philippines
also reported that yield of grain in rice crops was 40 % higher with vermicompost.
3). Study on growth impacts of vermicompost on CORN crops found that there was 14 %
increase in ear yield of corn crops applied with vermicompost @ 5 ton / ha as compared to
inorganic fertilizers applied at normal recommended dose.
4). Study in Australia (1998) found that vermicompost boosted GRAPE yield by two-fold as
compared to chemical fertilizers. Treated vines with vermicompost produced 23 % more
grapes due to 18 % increase in bunch numbers. The yield in grapes was worth additional
value of AU $ 3,400 / ha. Significantly, the yield was greater by 55 % when vermicompost
applied soil was covered under mulch of straw and paper. Still more significant was that
‘single application’ of vermicompost had positive effects on yields of grapes for long 5 years.
5). Farmers in Sangli district of Maharashtra, India, grew grapes on ‘eroded wastelands’ and
applied vermicasting @ 5 tons/ha. The GRAPE harvest was normal with improvement in
quality, taste and shelf life. Soil analysis showed that within one year pH came down from 8.3
to 6.9 and the value of potash increased from 62.5 kg/ha to 800 kg/ha. There was also
marked improvement in the nutritional quality of the grape fruits.
6). Study on CHERRIES (2005) found that vermicompost increased yield of CHERRIES for
three (3) years after ‘single application’ inferring that the use of vermicompost in soil builds up
fertility and restore its vitality for long time and its further use can be reduced to a minimum
after some years of application in farms.
7). Study on STRAWBERRIES (2008) found that vermicompost increased the yield by 32.7 %
and also drastically reduced the incidence of physiological disorders like albinism (16.1
4.5 %), fruit malformations (11.5 % 4 %), grey mould (10.4 % 2.1 %) and diseases like
Botrytis rot. By suppressing the nutrient related disorders, vermicompost use increased the
yield and quality of marketable strawberry fruits up to 58.6 %
8). In US Pecan Nut farmers are using vermicompost with dramatic results. Pecan is good
source of protein and antioxidants and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in human blood. US
provide 90 % of the world’s pecan nuts. 2 - 4 tons per acre of annual application of
vermicompost showed 400 % increase in yield after 4 years. In the first year there was 150 %
increase over the chemical fertilizers.(George Hahn, 2011; email@example.com)
Our Experimental Studies on Earthworms & Vermicompost Promoting
Excellent Crop Growth
a). Potted Corn Crops (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2007)
Vermicompost Vs. Chemical Fertilizers
Growth of Corn Plants After 12 Weeks
(A) - Control Av. Growth 46 cm
(B) - EARTHWORMS Only (25 Nos.) Av. Growth 53 cm
(C) - CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS (NPK) Av. Growth 87 cm
(D) - VERMICOMPOST (200 gm) & EARTHWORMS (25 Nos. ) Av. Growth 90 cm
Growth after 19 Weeks
(A) – Control Av. Growth 53 cm
(B) - EARTHWORMS Only (25 Nos.) Av. Growth 56 cm
(C) - CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS Av. Growth 92 cm
(D) - VERMICOMPOST (200 gm) & EARTHWORMS (25) Av. Growth 105 cm
Important Observations & Findings
Corn plants with earthworms and vermicompost in soil achieved very good growth and were
better over chemical fertilizers. While the plants on chemicals grew only 5 cm (87 cm to 92 cm)
in 7 weeks those on vermicompost grew by 15 cm (90 cm to 105 cm) within the same period.
But plants with earthworms only (without feed) failed to perform. Most significant finding was
that plants on vermicompost demanded less water for irrigation.
A B C D
A B C D
Vermicompost Vs. Conventional Compost
Growth of Corn Plants after 6 Weeks
(A). EARTHWORMS & FEED MATERIALS Av. Growth 57 cm
(B). CONVENTIONAL COMPOST (400 gm) Av. Growth 70 cm
(C). VERMICOMPOST (400 gm) Av. Growth 104 cm
Growth after 14 Weeks
(A). EARTHWORMS & FEED Av. Growth 82 cm
(B). CONVENTIONAL COMPOST Av. Growth 78 cm
(C). VERMICOMPOST Av. Growth 135 cm
Important Observations & Findings
Corn plants with vermicompost in soil achieved rapid and excellent growth and attained
maturity (appearance of male & female reproductive organs) very fast. Plants on conventional
compost could not achieve maturity until the period of study (week 14). Plants with worms
(provided with feed) performed better than those of conventional compost at the completion of
study (Week 14).
b). Potted Wheat Crops (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2008 - 09)
This study was designed to compare the growth promoting abilities of vermicompost &
earthworms with conventional compost & chemical fertilizers.
A B C
A B C D
Growth of wheat crops on vermicompost, chemical fertilizers, composted cow manure
(A). Chemical Fertilizer (NPK + Mg+ S+Fe+B+Zn 5 gm x 3 times) Av. Growth 43 cm
(B). Composted cow manure (500 gm) Av. Growth 32 cm
(C). Control (No inputs) Av. Growth 26 cm
(D). Vermicompost (500 gm) + Earthworms (25 Nos.) Av. Growth 47 cm
A B C D
Photo showing development of seed ears in wheat crops grown on -
(A).Vermicompost & Worms; (B) Chemical Fertilizers; (C).Composted Cow Manure
Important Observations & Findings
Wheat crops maintained very good growth on vermicompost & earthworms from the very
beginning & achieved maturity in 14 weeks. The striking rates of seed germination were very
high, nearly 48 hours (2 days) ahead of others and the numbers of seed germinated were
also high by nearly 20 %. Plants were greener and healthier over others, with large numbers
of tillers & long seed ears were formed at maturity. Seeds were healthy and nearly 35-40 %
more as compared to plants on chemical fertilizers. The total growth performances of wheat
crops (in terms of health, color and texture of shoots & leaves) on vermicompost &
earthworms was significantly better over the chemical fertilizers. What they achieved in just 5
weeks, was achieved by others in 10 weeks. More significant was that the pot soil with
vermicompost was very soft & porous and retained more moisture. Pot soil with chemicals
were hard and demanded more water frequently
c). Potted Tomato Plants (Griffith University, Australia, 2010)
A B C D
Photo showing growth and development of tomato plants in 10 weeks
(A) Control (No Input) Av. Growth 60 cm
(B) Chemical Fertilizer (5 gm, 3 times) Av. Growth 71 cm
(C) Marketed organic manure (500 gm) Av. Growth 52 cm
(D) Vermicompost (250 gm) Av. Growth 138 cm
D). Potted Egg-Plants (Griffith University, Australia, 2010)
A B C D
Photo showing growth and development of egg-plants in 10 weeks.
(A) Control (No Input) Av. Growth 25 cm.
(B) Chemical Fertilizer (5 gm, 3 times) Av. Growth 48 cm.
(C) Marketed organic manure (500 gm) Av. Growth 28 cm.
(D) Vermicompost (250 gm) Av. Growth 83 cm.
Important Observations & Findings about Tomato & Egg-Plants
Tomato and egg-plants on vermicompost maintained very good growth from the very
beginning. Number of flowers and fruits per plant were also significantly high as compared to
those on agrochemicals and conventional compost. Presence of earthworms in soil made a
significant difference in ‘flower and fruit formation’ in tomato & egg-plants. This was obviously
due to more ‘growth & flowering hormones’ (auxins and gibberlins) available in the soil
secreted by live earthworms. Very disappointing was the results of composted cow manure
obtained from the market. It could not compete with vermicompost even when applied in
‘double dose’ (500 gm).
e). Farmed Wheat Crops (India, 2007-08)
We studied the agronomic impacts of vermicompost and compared it with cattle dung
compost & chemical fertilizers in farm. Cattle dung compost was applied four (4) times more
than that of vermicompost as it has much less NPK values as compared to vermicompost.
Table – 4: Agronomic Impacts of Vermicompost, Cattle Dung Compost & Chemical
Fertilizers in Exclusive Applications & In Combinations on Farmed Wheat Crops
Treatment Input / Hectare Yield / Hectare
1). CONTROL (No Input) 15.2 Q / ha
2). Vemicompost (VC) 25 Quintal VC / ha 40.1 Q / ha
3). Cattle Dung Compost (CDC) 100 Quintal CDC / ha 33.2 Q / ha
4). Chemical Fertilizers (CF) NPK (120:60:40) kg / ha 34.2 Q / ha
5). CF + VC NPK (120:60:40) kg / ha + 25 Q VC / ha 43.8 Q / ha
6). CF + CDC NPK (120:60:40) kg / ha + 100 Q CDC / ha 41.3 Q / ha
Study: By Dr. R.K. Sohane, Bihar (India); Exclusive use of VC by Dr. R.K. Sinha (Australia).
Key: N = Urea; P = Phosphate; K = Potash (In Kg / ha);
Important Observations & Findings
Vermicompost boosted wheat yield by 18 % higher over the chemical fertilizers in the 2
of farming after the natural fertility of the soil (impaired due to long use of chemical fertilizers
since the ‘green revolution’ of 1960s) was restored in the 1st
year. The yield was much higher
in subsequent years. Application of chemical fertilizers in combination with vermicompost
though increased yield by about 9 %, it is not of much significance, as the cost of production
goes much higher with the use of chemicals.
Application of vermicompost had other agronomic benefits. It significantly reduced the
demand for irrigation by nearly 30-40 %. Test results indicated better availability of essential
micronutrients and useful microbes in vermicompost applied soils. Most remarkable
observation was significantly less incidence of pests and disease attacks in vermicompost
f). Potted Vegetable Crops (University Of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India, 1998-2000).
Table- 5: Growth Impacts of Vermicompost, Earthworms & Vermicompost
Vis-a-vis Chemical Fertilizer On Growth & Development of Egg Plants
Treatments Av. Veget.
Av. No. of
Av. Wt. of
Max. Wt. of
(50 Nos.) + VC *
28 20 675 gm 100 900 gm
23 15 525 gm 75 700 gm
3. Chemical Fertilizer
(NPK) (Full dose)
18 14 500 gm 70 625 gm
4. CONTROL 16 10 425 gm 50 550 gm
Key: N = (Urea) 1.40 gm; P (Phosphate) = 2.50 gm; K (Potash) = 1.04 gm.
* VC (Vermicompost) = 250 gm
Potted egg-plants grown on vermicompost (with live worms in soil) bored on average 20 fruits
/ plant with average weight being 675 gm. Whereas, those grown on chemical fertilizers (NPK)
bored only 14 fruits / plant with average weight being only 500 gm. Total numbers of fruits
obtained from vermicompost applied plants were 100 with maximum weight being 900 gm
while those on chemicals were 70 fruits and 625 gm as maximum weight of a fruit. Live
worms with vermicompost made the big difference in fruit formation.
Table –6: Growth Impacts of Vermicompost, Worms With Vermicompost
Vis-a-vis Chemical Fertilizer On Growth & Development of Okra Plants
Treatment Av. Veget.
Av. Wt. of
Max. Wt. of
(50 Nos.) + VC*
39.4 45 48 gm 225 70 gm
29.6 36 42 gm 180 62 gm
(NPK) (Full dose)
29.1 24 40 gm 125 48 gm
4. CONTROL 25.6 22 32 gm 110 43 gm
Key: N = (Urea) 1.40 gm; P (Phosphate) = 2.50 gm; K (Potash) = 1.04 gm; VC = Vermicomost (250 gm).
Potted okra plants grown on vermicompost (with live worms in soil) bored on average 45 fruits
/ plant with average weight being 48 gm. Whereas, those grown on chemical fertilizers (NPK)
bored only 24 fruits / plant with average weight being only 40 gm. Total numbers of fruits
obtained from vermicompost applied plants were 225 with maximum weight being 70 gm
while those on chemicals were 125 fruits and 48 gm as maximum weight of a fruit. Again the
live worms with vermicompost made the big difference in fruit formation.
9). AMOUNT & APPLICATION TIME OF VERMICOMPOST IN CROPS
Vermicompost can be used in any crop and in any amount as it is ‘completely safe’ for soils
and crops in all amounts. Study made by Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture,
Hyderabad, India have provided a report which is given in Table 5 -
Table - 7
Recommended Quantity and Time of Application of Vermicompost in Some Crops
Crop Quantity Time of Application
1). Rice (Paddy) 1 ton / acre After Transplanting
2). Maize (Corn) 1 ton / acre After Ploughing
3). Wheat 1 ton / acre After Ploughing
4). Sugarcane 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
5). Groundnut 0.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
6). Sunflower 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
7). Chilli 1 ton / acre After Ploughing
8). Potato 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
9). Tomato 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
10). Brinjal 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
11). Okra 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
12). Cauliflowers 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
13). Cabbage 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
14). Garlic 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
15). Onion 1 – 1.5 ton / acre After Ploughing
16). Grape (Vineyards) 1 ton / acre Summer time
17). Citrus 2 kg / tree At planting time & before flowering
18). Pomegranate 2 kg / tree At planting time & before flowering
19). Guava 2 kg / tree At planting time & before flowering
20). Mango & Coconut 2 kg / tree At planting time
5 kg / tree 1-5 years old trees
10 kg / tree 6-9 years old trees
20 kg / tree Trees older than 10 years
21). Cotton 1 ton / acre After Ploughing
Source: CRIDA, Hyderabad, India
Several studies indicate that vermicompost is required in much ‘lesser amount’ as compared
to all other bulky organic fertilizers e.g. composted cattle dung (cow, horse & pig manures and
sheep & goat droppings), composted MSW & plant residues to promote optimal growth and
yield. This is because they contain ‘high nutrients with ‘humic acids and growth hormones’.
Once the ‘natural fertility’ of soil is restored in the 1st
years of application, further use
rapidly ‘enhance’ the fertility levels and subsequently much lesser amount of vermicompost is
required to maintain the same levels of productivity. (This is just contrary to the use of
chemical fertilizers whose doses have to be increased over the years to maintain the
productivity of the previous years).
10). Important Feedbacks from Indian Farmers Practicing Vermiculture
A ‘VERMICULTURE MOVEMENT’ is going on in India with multiple objectives of
environmental restoration (waste management & farm soil regeneration) and socio-economic
development (poverty eradication) programs in villages. Under a collaborative (Australia-
India) research program I am working with some Indian agricultural scientists to generate
awareness & interest among Indian farmers about social, economic & environmental benefits
of vermiculture. We interviewed some farmers practicing vermiculture. Most of them asserted
to have switched over to ORGANIC FARMING by vermicompost completely eliminating the
use of chemical fertilizers in the last 3 - 4 years with very encouraging results, benefiting both,
their economy (reduced cost of inputs and significantly high outputs from good crop
production, sale of vermicompost and worms) and the environment (reduced use of chemical
pesticides, improved physical, chemical & biological properties of farm soil). Some of them
asserted to have harvested three (3) different crops in a year (reaping 2-3 times more
harvest) due to their rapid growth & maturity, and reduced harvest cycle. Several villages
have become ‘BIO-VILLAGE’ completely giving up chemical agriculture.
Some of the important FEED-BACK by farmers about use of VERMICOMPOST were -
1). Reduced use of ‘water for irrigation’ as application of vermicompost over successive years
improved the ‘moisture holding capacity’ of the soil;
2). Reduced ‘pest attack’ (by at least 75 %) in crops applied with vermicompost. Cauliflowers
grown on vermicompost remains 95 % ‘disease free’. Late Blight (fungal disease) in banana
was almost reduced by over 95 %;
3). Reduced ‘termite attack’ in farm soil especially where worms were in good population;
4). Reduced ‘weed growth’;
5). Faster rate of ‘seed germination’ and rapid seedlings growth and development;
6). Greater numbers of fruits per plant (in vegetable crops) and greater numbers of seeds per
ear (in cereal crops), heavier in weight – better in both, quantity and quality as compared to
those grown on chemicals;
7). Fruits and vegetables had ‘better taste’ and texture and could be safely stored up to 6-7
days, while those grown on chemicals could be kept at the most for 2-3 days;
8). Wheat production increased from 35 to 40 %;
9). Fodder growth was increased by nearly 50 % @ 30 to 40 quintal / hectare;
10). Flower production (commercial floriculture) was increased by 30 – 50 % @ 15-20 quintal
/ hectare. Flower blooms were more colorful and bigger in size;
Table-8: Farmers Opinion on the Impact of Vermicompost on Productivity of Crops
CROPS Doses of Vermicompost Applied Growth Impacts
1). CEREALS 2 Tons /Acre
Oats Very Good
Maize Very Good
2). PULSES 2 Tons / Acre
Garden Pea Very Good
Black Gram Very Good
3). Oil Seeds 3 – 5 Tons / Acre
Sun Flower Very Good
Ground Nut Very Good
Soybean Very Good
Mustard Very Good
4). VEGETABLES 4 – 6 Tons / Acre
Cucumber Very Good
5). FRUITS 2 – 3 Kg / Plant
Custard apple Excellent
Mango Very Good
6). ORNAMENTALS 4 Tons / Acre
7). OTHER CROPS 5 Tons / Acre
Cotton Very Good
Coffee Very Good
Source: (Dr. Radha Kale; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Farmer’s report about disease resistance in cauliflower induced by
vermicompost (Bhagat Ji, Hazipur, Bihar, India. December 2008)
Cauliflower grown on Cauliflower grown on
Chemical Fertilizers Vermicompost
(Highly Susceptible to Diseases) (Resistant to Diseases)
11). The Nutritive & Health Protective Values of Food Crops
Grown Organically : The Medica-Foods
Higher Protein: Studies made at CSIRO (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research
Organization), Australia found that the presence of earthworms (Aporrectodea trapezoids) in
soil lifted protein value of the grain of wheat crops (Triticum aestivum) by 12 %.
Higher in Antioxidants, Vitamins & Minerals & Protection against Cancers & Heart
Diseases: Organically grown fruits & vegetables especially on vermicompost have been
found to be highly nutritious, rich in ‘ANTIOXIDANTS’, vitamins & minerals and can be highly
beneficial for human health. They are being classified as ‘PROTECTIVE or MEDICA-FOODS’
which can help prevent several human diseases (even CANCERS & HEART DISEASES
which is threatening the modern human society) if consumed regularly in daily diets. Organic
foods have elevated antioxidants levels in about 85 % of the cases studied with average
levels being 30 % higher compared to chemically grown foods. Flavonoids are up to 10 times
higher and with very high ‘anti-mutagenic’ & ‘anti-proliferative’ activities. This is of great
significance in preventing some deadly diseases like cancers.
Antioxidants (FLAVONOIDS, VITAMINS C & E, SELENIUM & CAROTENOIDS) in foods
interfere with the development of CANCERS (breast, colon, lung & prostrate) and cardiac
conditions leading to ‘clogging of arteries’. Antioxidant phenolic compounds are ‘anti-
proliferative’ and can prevent or slow tumour progression.
Organic foods also have 50 % lower ‘NITRATES’ (93 % lower in organic spinach) as
compared to chemically grown ones. This is linked with ‘gastric cancer’ (as it can be
transformed into nitrosamines in stomach) and ‘infantile methaemoglobinaemia (blue baby
Some fruits and vegetables grown organically, especially by VERMICOMPOST show
significantly higher ANTIOXIDANTS.
1). TOMATO: Tomato is one of the most ‘protective food’ due to excellent source of balanced
mixture of minerals and antioxidants, including vitamin C, total carotene and lycopene.
Tomatoes grown organically especially on vermicompost have significantly higher total
antioxidants, total CAROTENE, vitamin C, iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), potassium (K), crude fibre and
antioxidant ‘LYCOPENE’ which has preventive effects on ‘PROSTATE CANCER’. It also
protects from CARDIOVASCULAR diseases. Interestingly, protective effect is increased by 4
times in cooked & processed tomatoes e.g. sauce, paste, puree & ketchup. Cooked tomatoes
(for 30 minutes) have significantly higher levels of ‘lycopene’ than raw tomatoes. It also
registered significantly higher ‘shelf-life’ when stored at room temperature.
2). CARROT: It had very high levels of ‘BETA-CAROTENE’ an antioxidant which prevents
oxidation of LDLs (bad cholesterol) that leads to clogging of arteries and heart problems when
oxidised. Only foods like carrots offer this tremendous health protection and cooked carrots
have twice the antioxidant power of raw carrots. Antioxidant ‘FALCARINOL’ in carrot satisfies
six criteria suggested for food intake of antioxidants to reduce the risk of several types of
3). BROCCOLI: It has a powerful antioxidant ‘GLUCORAPHANIN’ which has been shown to
fight cancer and has preventive effects against ‘COLON CANCER. Its level increases when
grown organically. Unlike other antioxidants that attack a single free radical and then lose
their power, ‘glucoraphanin’ boosts the body’s entire ‘antioxidant defence system’ which can
disarm lots of free radicals. It may also cut the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular
diseases and stroke.
4). BERRIES: All berries from ‘cranberries’ to ‘strawberries’, ‘blackberries’ and ‘blueberries’
are rich in antioxidants and their contents increase significantly when grown organically on
vermicompost. Organically grown STRAWBERRIES have also been shown to have higher
‘anti-proliferative’ activity against ‘COLON CANCER’ & ‘BREAST CANCER’ cells.
CRANBERRIES have been shown to prevent a number of human cancers & also
‘ATHEROSCLEROSIS’ (heart diseases).
5). WATERMELON: It is also rich source of antioxidant ‘LYCOPENE’ which has preventive
and protective actions against PROSTRATE CANCERS & CARDIOVASCULAR diseases.
Lycopene contents increases high in organically grown crops by vermicompost.
6). APPLES: Fruit richest in antioxidant ‘FLAVONOIDS’ (Quercetin) shows still higher
flavonoid contents when grown organically. It also prevents oxidation of LDLs (bad cholesterol)
that leads to clogging of arteries. It endorsed the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctors
away’. Unfortunately, chemically grown apples have been found to have significant ‘residual
pesticides’ in their skin and below and has been rated at the top among the ‘dirty dozen’ fruits
so far studied. Apple trees have to be sprayed with pesticides (containing some 36 chemicals)
nearly 16 times for full protection from fruit development to maturation. Hence only the
‘organically grown apples’ can testify the old saying. Organic apples are being grown in India
since 2002 on vermicompost. The quantity and quality of the apple fruits have increased
significantly with shelf life.
12). COMMERCIAL VERMICOMPOSTING: A SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISE
It is like getting ‘gold from garbage’ or ‘converting waste into wealth’.
Wastes Suitable for Large Scale Commercial Vermicomposting
Municipal Organic Wastes
1). FOOD WASTE from homes (all raw and cooked kitchen waste- fruits and vegetables,
grains & beans, coffee grounds, used tea leaves & bags, crushed egg shells) and restaurants;
2). GARDEN WASTES (DRY LEAVES & DRY GRASS CLIPPINGS) from homes and parks
constitute an excellent feed stock for vermi-composting. Grass clippings (high carbon waste)
require proper blending with nitrogenous wastes;
3). SEWAGE SLUDGE from the municipal wastewater also provide a good feedstock for the
worms. Millions of tons of sludge from various wastewater treatment plants (municipal &
industrial) are being generated every day in world. The worms digest the sludge and convert
a good part of it into vermi-compost. The worms bio-accumulate any toxic ‘heavy metals’
present in the sludge & render them harmless by combining with special proteins or by
changing their ionic states so that they become non-bioavailable for plant roots;
4). PAUNCH WASTE materials (gut contents of slaughtered ruminants) from abattoir also
make good feedstock for earthworms.
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Wastes
1). FARM WASTES such as CROP RESIDUES, DRY LEAVES & GRASSES;
2). Livestock rearing waste such as CATTLE DUNG, PIG & CHICKEN EXCRETA MAKES
EXCELLENT FEEDSTOCK FOR EARTHWORMS. CATTLE DUNG is most loved FOOD for
earthworms and its use with any organic waste and in any vermicomposting process is
very rewarding. Animal excreta containing excessive nitrogen component may require
mixing of carbon rich bulking agents (straw, saw dust, dried leaves and grasses, shredded
paper waste etc.) to maintain proper C/N ratio.
Some Industrial Wastes Suitable for Commercial Vermi-composting
Solid waste including the ‘wastewater sludge’ from paper pulp and cardboard industry, FOOD
PROCESSING INDUSTRIES including BREWERY & DISTILLERY; VEGETABLE OIL
FACTORY, POTATO & CORN CHIPS MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, SUGARCANE
INDUSTRY, aromatic oil extraction industry. Sericulture industry, logging and carpentry
industry also offers excellent feed material for vermi-composting by earthworms. Scientists in
India have successfully vermicomposted the ‘flyash’ from the coal-power plants which was
considered to be a hazardous waste. Because of rich in nitrogen worms love to feed upon
WATER HYACINTHS considered to be a noxious weed is a wonderful feed material for
earthworms. The resulting vermicompost is rich in PHOSPHORUS as the weed contain more
phosphorus. In fact all WEEDS (aquatic & terrestrial) can be vermicomposted.
Key Considerations in Vermicomposting
Vermicomposting by Earthworms : Rapid, Odorless and Efficient System
Earthworm participation enhances composting of waste organics from 60 to 80 %. It also
‘disinfect’ and ‘detoxify’ the end-product. They promote the growth of ‘beneficial decomposer
aerobic bacteria’ in the waste biomass and also act as an aerator, grinder, crusher, chemical
degrader and a biological stimulator. As compared to the conventional composting systems, it
takes nearly half the time to convert waste into vermicompost and the process becomes
faster with time as the degrader worms and microbes multiply in number. Most earthworms
consume, at the best, half their body weight of organics in the waste in a day. Eisenia fetida,
Perionyx excavatus & Eudrilus euginae are considered to be versatile waste eaters and
composters. E. fetida is reported to consume organic matter at the rate equal to their body
weight every day. What is more important is that each worm ‘eat the composted material’ at
least 8 times leaving the end product naturally rich in key minerals for plant growth.
1. Number & Biomass of Worms : Important for Rapid and Odourless Vermicomposting
The number and quantity (biomass) of earthworms is ‘critical’ for good vermi-composting.
Best results are obtained by using these species which are ‘voracious waste eater’ e.g.
1). Tiger Worm (Eisenia fetida)
2). Indian Blue Worm (Perionyx excavates)
3). African Night Crawler (Eudrilus euginae)
4). Red Worms (Lumbricus rubellus)
Tiger worm eat waste equivalent to its own body weight everyday while the other two species
eat waste half of its body weight every day. Given the optimum conditions of temperature and
moisture, about 1
/2 kg of adult worms (approx. 1000) can vermicompost 10 kg of waste or 5 kg
of worms (approx.10,000) can vermicompost 1 ton of waste in just 30 days.
It is estimated that one (1) ton of earthworm biomass on an average contain one (1) million
worms approximately. One million worms doubling every two months can become 64 million
worms at the end of the year. Considering that each adult worm (particularly Eisinia fetida)
consume waste organics equivalent to its own body weight everyday, 64 million worms
(weighing 64 tons) would consume 64 tons of waste everyday and produce 30-32 tons of
vermicompost per day at 40-50 % conversion rate.
2. Sensitive to Light, Touch & Dryness
Earthworms are very sensitive to touch, light and dryness. They tend to migrate away from
light. Cold (low temperature) is not a big problem for them as the heat (high temperature).
Their activity is significantly slowed down in winter, but heat can kill them instantly. They
temporarily migrate into deeper layers when subjected to too cold or too hot situations.
3. Adequate Moisture
Moisture is also a critical factor in vermicomposting process as worm body need plenty of
water for growth. Moisture content of 60 - 70 % of total weight of waste is considered to be
ideal for vermicomposting. Moisture may be lost from the composting pile by biological
oxidation, microbial and worm consumption and also by simple evaporation. Moisture content
below 40 % dramatically decrease microbial activity. Moisture should be just enough to
prevent free flow of water by gravity and form leachate. Excessive moisture (above 80 %)
also impedes ‘oxygen transfer’ from the voids containing air to the microbial cells creating
‘anaerobic conditions’ leading to ‘rotting’ and not real composting. This also adversely
affecting worm activity
4. Adequate Aeration
Vermi-composting is an aerobic process and adequate flow of air in the waste biomass is
essential for worm function. Worms breath through their skin and need plenty of oxygen in the
surrounding areas. Although worms constantly aerate their habitat by ‘burrowing actions’,
periodical turning of waste biomass can improve aeration and biodegradation.
5. Adequate Supply of Calcium (Ca)
Calcium appears to be important mineral in worm biology (as calcarious tissues) and
biodegradation activity. Although most organic waste contains calcium, it is important to add
some additional sources of calcium for good vermicomposting. Researches indicated that
addition of LIME POWDER significantly increases the NITROGEN content of the
vermicompost. Egg shells are good source of natural calcium. Occasionally limestone powder
should be added.
6. Size of Waste Particles
The particle size of the waste material being biodegraded is critical because decomposition
begins at the surface of the waste particles. Generally, the smaller particles have a more
surface area per unit of weight and therefore allow more microbial activity leading to rapid
decomposition. Smaller particles also allow oxygen to penetrate through the pile more evenly
and be available to the microbes. But if all particles pack so closely so as to allow very little air
to circulate it would retard composting. The particle size should be such that there is enough
surface area for rapid microbial activity and also enough void space for air to circulate for
microbial respiration. For optimum results the size of waste particles should be between 25
and 75 mm.
7. Carbon / Nitrogen (C/N) Ratio of Waste Material : Critical Factor in Vermicomposting
Nitrogen is a ‘critical factor’ in any aerobic composting system. Microorganisms need nitrogen
to produce new proteins efficiently and generate new cells to enhance decomposition
process. The proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C/N) in waste material is critical for
decomposition. Generally 25 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen by weight (C/N=25:1) is
considered ideal for rapid composting. When the C/N ratio is too high (means high amount of
carbon in composting material), such as leaves, grass clippings and newspapers, insufficient
nitrogen slows decomposition. When the ratio is too low (means high amount of nitrogen in
composting material), such as in food and garden waste, too much nitrogen leads to odor
problem and ammonia gas (NH3) is given off. As the decomposition proceeds and more and
more carbon are lost to the atmosphere as CO2, this ratio narrows. Woody materials, dry
leaves, straw, paper and garden mulch have high carbon values. In general, coarse, dried out
materials contain little nitrogen, green garden and kitchen (food) wastes and cattle dung
contains high levels of nitrogen. Hence proper blending of carbon and nitrogen containing
waste materials is essential for vermicomposting.
High C/N ratio above 30:1 in waste biomass has been found to impair worm activity and
vermi-composting (even normal aerobic or anaerobic composting). Although earthworms help
to lower the C/N ratio of fresh organic waste, it is advisable to add nitrogen supplements such
as cattle dung or pig and goat manure or even food waste (which are rich in nitrogen
contents) when waste materials of higher C/N ratio exceeding 40:1 such as the cellulosic
wastes (farm crop wastes) are used for vermi-composting.
Table - 9
C/N Ratio & Degradability Potential of Some Organic Materials Used for Composting
Organic General C/N Nitrogen Carbon Relative
Wastes Characteristics Addition ? Addition ? Degradability
1). Food Waste High N & wet - No Yes High
2). Farm Waste (Veg.) High C & dry - Yes No Moderate
3). Leaf Litter Balanced C/N & dry - No No High
4). Grass Clippings High C & moist 20 Yes No Moderate
5). Newsprint Very High C & dry 983 Yes No Moderate
6). Wheat Straw High C & dry 128-150 Yes No High
7). Green Leaves High N & moist 40 - 80 No Yes High
8). Cow Manure High N & wet 18 No Yes High
9). Pig Manure High N & wet - No Yes Moderate
10). Poultry Manure High N & moist 15 No Yes High
11). Horse Manure Balanced C/N & wet 25 No May be High
12). Sawdust High C & dry 200 - 500 Yes No Moderate
13). Woodchips High C & dry - Yes No Poor
14). Sewage Sludge High N & wet 11 No Yes High
15). Mixed Slaughter High N & wet 2 No Yes High
Commercial Production of Vermicompost : The Technique
To vermicompost bigger amount of organic municipal and farm wastes every day, the most
convenient and economical way is to -
1). Construct WINDROWS - TRENCHES 10’ (length) X 3’ (width) X 2’ (height) with bricks
sidewalls and plastered base. They must be located in COOL & SHADED AREAS to prevent
direct sunlight and rain. About ONE TON of composting materials can be vermicomposted in
this size of trench every 2 months.
2). Level of the trench is kept above ground and with inclined base and an opening to
facilitate drainage and collection of liquid (vermiwash) in underground pit at one end.
One Ton Capacity Vermicomposting Trench (10’ x 3’ x 2’) With Pit to Collect
Underground Pit for Collection of Vermiwash
Inclined Base of Vermicomposting Bed
3). VERMICOMPOSTING BED is prepared by placing about 3-4” thick layer of SOIL at
the bottom followed by week old CATTLE DUNG above that. It is suggested to release
about 5 kg of composting earthworms (Approx. 10,000) in the BED SOIL at the start (in this
size of trench of one ton capacity) and allowed to acclimatize for a week before CATTLE
DUNG and other composting materials are placed over them.
Some Important Suggestions
a). DRY LEAVES & GRASSES, STRAWS & COCONUT COIR, FOOD WASTE & WASTE
PAPERS can also be placed in between the DUNG LAYERS.
b). CATTLE DUNG must be at least ONE WEEK OLD as fresh cattle dung emit methane and
may harm the worms. Mixed species of composting worms are suggested.
c). Even lesser amount of worms can initiate the composting process because with time the
population of worms increase rapidly as the worms multiply fast doubling their number every
d). It can also be a wise idea to place a 1-2” thin layer of vermicompost (if available) over the
soil layer in the composting bed. This would help rapid growth of worm population in the bed
from the cocoons in the vermicompost.
4). Cattle dung and all other composting materials should be thoroughly spread over
the bed and sprinkled with WATER to maintain the required MOISTURE level of 60-70 %.
5). GENTLE TURNING of vermicompost pile by forks is also advisable at regular
intervals to keep it AERATED and prevent any odor problem.
6). Upon vermicomposting the volume of solid waste is significantly reduced from
approx. 1 cum to 0.5 cum of vermicompost indicating 50 % conversion rate, the rest is
converted into worm biomass.
(N.B. Depending upon the quantity of composting materials available per day, several such
trenches can be constructed in rows to be used one after the other in continuity. Within 70 -
80 days while the waste is converted into compost and excavated, the trenches become
available for the next round of filling and composting. The trenches must be constructed
under a shed to avoid direct sunlight and rainfall & the composting materials and worms must
be covered with ‘jute bags’ and kept ‘wet’ all time by sprinkling water. The cost of materials
(worms, vermicompost, bricks, cement etc.) is recovered in the very first year of composting).
Vermicomposting Trenches (India)
Factors Determining the Nutritional Quality of Vermicompost
The nutritional quality of vermicompost is determined primarily by the type of the substrate
(raw materials) and species of earthworms used for composting, along with microbial
inoculants, liming, aeration, humidity, pH and temperature. The African Night Crawler
(Eudrilus eugeniae), Indian Blue Worm (Perionyx excavatus) and the Tiger Worm (Eisenia
fetida) have been found to be voracious waste eaters and also producers of nutritionally
better quality of vermicompost. Among the waste products (substrates) ‘cattle dung’ has been
found to yield most nutritive vermicompost when composted by Eisinea fetida. Next are the
‘farm and food wastes’ which also produce higher quality of vermicompost processed by
either of these three species of worms.
Study also found that the content of phosphorus (P) was significantly increased from 1.4 to
6.5-fold in different substrates processed by E. fetida. Irrespective to the substrates,
vermicomposting always improve compost quality in terms of phosphorus status of the
product. Vermicompost prepared from the noxious aquatic weed water hyacinth (Eichhornia
cressipes) have been found to be very good source of phosphorus. Phosphorus was higher
where pig manure was a substrate.
Another study found that the level of phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) was
maximum in vermicompost prepared from ‘vegetable wastes’ as compared to ‘agricultural
residues’ processed by Eudrilus eugeniae than by Eisenia fetida. However, the level of
nitrogen (N) was slightly higher in agro-residues either processed by E. ugeniae or E. fetida.
Study found that application of lime @ 5 gm/kg of substrate and ‘microbial inoculation’ by
suitable ‘cellulolytic’, ‘lignolytic’ and ‘N-fixing’ strains of microbes not only enhance the rate of
vermicomposting but also results into nutritionally better vermicompost with greater enzymatic
(phosphatase & urease) activities. Liming generally enhance earthworm activities as well as
microbial population. Earthworms after ingesting microbes into its gut proliferate the
population of microbes to several times in its excreta (vermicast). It is therefore advantageous
to use beneficial microbial inoculants whose population is rapidly increased for rapid
composting and also better compost quality.
Table-10 : Nutrient Composition of Vermicompost Prepared from Vegetable Wastes and
Agro Residues Processed by E. eugeniae and E. fetida (Value in % on 60
Substrates E. eugeniae E. fetida
N K P Ca N K P Ca
1.10 0.98 0.58 1.44 1.06 0.92 0.52 1.32
2) Agro Residues 1.20 0.69 0.38 0.78 1.10 0.61 0.33 0.70
Harvesting Vermicompost and Segregation of Worms
This is an important exercise in large-scale commercial vermicomposting especially if some
hazardous organic wastes (e.g. sewage sludge) are used as feed material. Urban wastes
may also carry heavy metals. The worms from the composted materials have to be separated
(sieved) out as they may carry some bio-accumulated ‘heavy metals’ bound with special
proteins (bio-transformed into harmless ions). The worms can be re-used for
Two methods are generally employed for worm separation.
1). Sprinkling of water is stopped for about 2-3 weeks ahead to allow the top layers of
composted pile to become semi-dry. This forces the worms to migrate down in bottom layers
in search of moisture.
2). When the top layers of compost pile is semi-dried the unused feed materials (if any) from
the top layers is scrapped out (manually or mechanically), removed and placed on the vermi-
bed of another adjoining trench for vermicomposting.
3). The semi-dry composted materials from the top layers of the pile are then removed gently.
This process of semi-drying of top layers of composted pile and removal of vermicompost is
repeated for sometimes until most composted materials are removed and a small wet layer of
compost containing most of the worms remain at the bottom after some times.
4). The excavated trench with most vermicompost removed and a good worm population still
remaining at base can be re-used for another round of vermicomposting by placing
composting materials on the top and beginning the cycle. Alternatively, the worms (if excess
in numbers than required) can be separated out for sale by screening through a sieve. While
the granular vermicompost fall through the mesh, the worms stay behind.
(N.B. My own experience is that even if the worms do not survive in the vermicomposted bed
due to any reason vermicomposting can still be continued from the vermicomposted material
which contains plenty of worm ‘cocoons’. In that case a 2-3” layer of vermicompost must
necessarily be laid over the soil layer during preparation of vermicomposting bed).
Method - 2
1). The worms are given the temptation to migrate towards the surface in the upper layers of
compost pile by placing some fresh feed materials and sprinkling water after a dry spell.
Worms have tendency to move towards new feed materials especially if the food are loved
ones like ‘semi-dry cattle dung’.
2). After 5 - 7 days when maximum population of worms accumulate around the feed
materials, the top 3-4” layers of the waste pile with worms and feed materials is skimmed off
mechanically by front-end loader or manually by spade. This separates out about 80 % of the
worms from the pile. A second feeding and skimming can remove about 90 – 92 % of the
worms leaving behind a thick layer of vermicompost below which is excavated, shade dried
3). The skimmed material containing worms and residual feed is sieved through net which
allows the worms to fall through while the coarse feed materials are retained. The residual
feed materials are placed back in the trench for vermicomposting.
Problems Encountered During Vermi-composting & Their Solutions
1. Possibility of Unpleasant Odor in the Initial Stages
Although the system is generally ‘odorless’ as the worms secrete ‘anti-pathogenic’ coelomic
fluid, devour on harmful microbes and also continually aerate the waste pile by their
burrowing actions. Sometimes due to OVERLOADING OF WASTE oxygen supply becomes
insufficient leading to anaerobic conditions and odor problem. Sometimes LESSER NUMBER
OF WORMS PER KG OF WASTE biomass also create odor problems. But as the worms
grow rapidly in numbers it restores aerobic conditions and remove odor. It is always advisable
to MANUALLY TURN & AERATE THE COMPOST PILE time to time and also add some
carbon rich wastes (e.g. saw dust or dry grasses) to restore proper C/N ratio in waste
materials because odor problem may occur due to excessive nitrogenous wastes in the pile.
2. Fruit Flies, Maggots and Mites
Fresh food scraps attract fruit flies and mites that cause some nuisance. Sprinkling
LIMESTONE POWDER drives them away.
3. Attack of Ants and Reptiles on Earthworms
Earthworms are nutritive foods for ants & reptiles. To avoid their attack on worms a narrow
channel filled with water is suggested to be made around all vermicomposting beds.
4. Emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG)
It must be known that all organic wastes composting systems emit powerful GHG than CO2
e.g. methane (22 times) and nitrous oxides (312 times). However, our studies shows that
vermicomposting emits significantly less CH4 as the worms keeps the system aerated by
burrowing actions and retains more nitrogen (N) in vermicompost rather than allowing them to
escape as N2O.
11). Commercial Vermicomposting : A Good Business Opportunity, Can Create
Self-Employment & Combat Poverty
Earthworms not only converts ‘waste’ into ‘wealth’ it itself becomes a valuable asset as worm
biomass. Large-scale production of miracle plant growth-promoter ‘vermicompost’ and protein
rich ‘earthworms’ can be a good business opportunity today with awareness growing about
use of these products in agriculture and other allied industries. They have enhanced the lives
of poor in India and have generated self-employment opportunities for the unemployed. It has
become good source of livelihood for many. In India people are earning from Rupees 5 to 8
lakhs (Approx. AU $ 15-20 thousands) every year from sale of both worms and their
vermicompost to the farmers. It is estimated that one (1) ton of earthworm biomass on an
average contain one (1) million worms approximately. One million worms doubling every two
months can become 64 million worms at the end of the year. Considering that each adult
worm (particularly E. fetida) consume waste organics equivalent to its own body weight
everyday, 64 million worms (weighing 64 tons) would consume 64 tons of waste everyday
and produce 30-32 tons of vermicompost per day at 40-50 % conversion rate.
12). Commercial Vermiculture : Potential to Create & Promote Allied Food &
Pharmaceuticals Industries – Fishery, Poultry, Piggery & Dairy by Protein Rich
Earthworms Biomass & Their Bioactive Compounds
Vermiculture is a growing industry not only for managing waste and land very economically
for promoting ‘sustainable agriculture’ by enhancing crop productivity both in quantity &
quality at significantly lower cost than the costly agrochemicals. Large-scale vermi-
composting of organic wastes would result into tons of earthworms biomass every year as
under favorable conditions earthworms can ‘double’ their number at least every 60 – 70 days.
Worms are rich in protein (65 %) with 70-80 % high quality essential amino acids ‘LYSINE’ &
‘METHIONINE’. It is a wonderful PRO-BIOTIC FEED FOR FISH, CATTLE & POULTRY
INDUSTRY. Potentially large quantities of worm biomass will be available as ‘pro-biotic’ food
for the cattle and fish farming, after the first year of composting. Farmers can start an allied
industry/business of poultry farms and fish ponds by the byproducts of
Worms are also finding new use as a source of MODERN MEDICINES in the treatment of
heart diseases and several types of cancers and in the making of ‘antibiotics’ from the anti-
pathogenic ceolomic fluid. Worms are also finding new uses as raw materials in
‘DETERGENT’ & ‘LUBRICANT’ INDUSTRIES.
12). Economics of Food Production by Vermicompost Vis-à-vis Chemical
Fertilizers : Win-Win Situation for Farmers, Government, Environment &
A matter of considerable economic and environmental significance is that the ‘cost of food
production’ by vermiculture will be significantly low over the years (as the natural fertility of the
soil is built-up & use of vermicompost is reduced) by more than 60 - 70 % as compared to
chemical fertilizers and the food produced will be a ‘safe chemical-free organic food’ for the
society. There are reports that the yield, total production, income and profits from crops like
MAIZE, WHEAT & PEAS increased significantly by 2 to 3 times by use of vermicompost as
compared to the agrochemicals. It is a ‘win-win’ situation for both producers (farmers) and
the consumers (feeders). The cost of production of vermicompost is simply insignificant as
compared to chemical fertilizers. While the former is produced from ‘human waste’ - a raw
material which is in plenty all over the world, the latter is obtained from ‘petroleum products’
which is a vanishing resource on earth. Government in developing nations have to subsidize
the cost of agro-chemicals to make it affordable to farmers and also to keep the cost of food
production artificially low for society. Vermicompost can be produced ‘on-farm’ at low-cost by
simple devices, while the chemical fertilizers are high-tech & high-cost products made in
Use of vermicompost in farm soil eventually leads to increase in the number of earthworm
population in the farmland over a period of time as the baby worms grow out from their
cocoons. It infers that slowly over the years, as the worms build up the soil’s physical,
chemical & biological properties, the amount of vermicompost can be slowly reduced while
maintaining the same yield. The yield per hectare may also increase further as the soil’s
natural fertility is restored & strengthened. On the contrary, in chemical agriculture, the
amount of chemicals used per hectare has been steadily increasing over the years to
maintain the same yield as the soil became ‘addict’. Nearly 3-4 times of agro-chemicals are
now being used per hectare what was used in the 1960s.
Vermicompost is able to retain more soil moisture and also protects crops from pests &
diseases thus reducing the demand of water for irrigation by nearly 30 – 40 % and pest &
disease control by almost 100 % by ‘vermiwash’ & ‘vermicompost tea’ with higher numbers (in
millions) of pest and disease killer microbes. This significantly cut down on the cost of
production. As it also helps the crops to attain maturity and reproduce faster, it shortens the
‘harvesting time’. This further cuts on the cost of production and also adds to the economy of
farmers as they can grow more crops every year in the same farm plot.
While vermicompost production & use is an ‘environmentally friendly’ practices (salvaging
WASTE while converting them into RESOURCE, improving SOIL properties and conserving
WATER), production of chemical fertilizers is ‘environmentally damaging’ (generating
hazardous wastes & pollutants) in its entire life-cycle, since harnessing of raw materials from
the earth crust, to their processing in factories and application in farms (polluting soil & killing
beneficial organisms) with severe economic & environmental implications. Earthworms
converts a product of ‘negative’ economic & environmental value i.e. ‘waste’ into a product of
‘highly positive’ economic & environmental values i.e. ‘highly nutritive organic fertilizer’ (brown
gold) and ‘safe food’ (green gold). Vermiculture can maintain the global ‘human sustainability
cycle’ – producing food back from food & farm wastes.
In any vermiculture practice, earthworms biomass comes as a valuable by-product and
they are good source of nutritive ‘worm meal’. If vermi-products (worms, vermicompost
& vermiwash) are able to replace agrochemicals in food production and protein rich
worms provide nutritive feeds for fishery and poultry production it would truly help
achieve greater sustainability in safe human food production in future.
13). Conclusions & Remarks
Earthworms and its vermicompost may work as the ‘driving force’ in promoting ORGANIC
FARMING while improving soil health and fertility and can significantly REDUCE and
eventually REPLACE the use of AGROCHEMICALS. Their use would also significantly
reduce the demand of water for irrigation and pest & disease control. This is what is being
termed as SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. Several farming communities all over world are
practicing VERMICULTURE and have completely given up Chemical Agriculture. A 2
Revolution is on with earthworms driving it. Vermicompost also increase ‘BIOLOGICAL
RESISTANCE’ in plants against pest and diseases and help them to attain MATURITY and
reproduce faster, thus reducing the ‘life-cycle’ of crops and also shortening the ‘harvesting
time’. A farmer can take more than two crops in a year from the same farm.
Results of our present studies made in Australia and India established beyond doubt
that ‘vermicompost’ works like ‘miracle growth promoter’ and is nutritionally much
superior to the conventional compost and even the chemical fertilizers. Care has to be
taken about heavy metals when processing urban wastes & sewage sludge for vermicompost
production. Study made in 1998 found that the best growth responses were exhibited when
the vermicompost constituted a relatively smaller proportion of the total volume of the
container medium. Our studies made at Griffith University, Australia (2010) on potted wheat
crops also supported this. This is contrary to chemical fertilizer use. Over the years since the
Green Revolution in the 1950s-60s, the amount of chemical fertilizer use has significantly
grown 5-6 times to maintain the same yield and productivity of previous years. This is
because the ‘natural fertility’ of soil has been seriously impaired by continued use of chemical
fertilizers. Vermicompost application restore and enhance the ‘natural fertility’ of soil by
significantly increasing the population of beneficial soil microbes like the nitrogen fixing and
phosphate solubilizing bacteria. Over the years their requirement is reduced as the soil
becomes more fertile and healthy.
Vermicompost can even turn a ‘barren land’ into ‘fertile productive land. Another very
important thing of considerable agronomic significance is that vermicompost prepared from
raw materials where ‘CATTLE DUNG’ is an important ingredient is superior and contain more
nutrients for better growth promotion. A 2
GREEN REVOLUTION is on in several countries
and this time by Earthworms – Charles Darwin’s ‘friends of farmers’ .
Tribute to the Earthworms
Earthworms are justifying the beliefs and fulfilling the dreams of the great visionary scientist
Sir Charles Darwin as ‘unheralded soldiers’ of mankind and ‘friend of farmer’s. Darwin
emphasized that ‘there may not be any other creature in world that has played so important a
role in the history of life on earth’. They are also justifying the views of great Indian tree
scientist Sir Surpala who visioned the role of earthworms in fruit development.
One of the leading authorities on earthworms and vermiculture studies Dr. Anatoly Igonin of
Russia has also said –
‘Nobody and nothing can be compared with earthworms and their positive influence on the
whole living Nature. They create soil and everything that lives in it. They are the most
numerous animals on Earth and the main creatures converting all organic matter into soil
humus providing soil’s fertility and biosphere’s functions: DISINFECTING, NEUTRALIZING,
PROTECTIVE & PRODUCTIVE’.
14). Important References & Websites for Further Know-how on Earthworms &
Vermicompost Production and Use
Appelhof, Mary (2003): Notable Bits; In WormEzine, Vol. 2 (5): May 2003 (Available at
Arancon, Norman (2004): An Interview with Dr. Norman Arancon; In Casting Call, Vol. 9 (2);
August 2004. (http://www.vermico.com)
Bogdanov, Peter (2004): The Single Largest Producer of Vermicompost in World; In P.
Bogdanov (Ed.), ‘Casting Call’, Vol. 9 (3), October 2004. (http://www.vermico.com)
Bogdanov, Peter (1996): Commercial Vermiculture: How to Build a Thriving Business in
Redworms; VermiCo Press, Oregon, 83 p.
Beetz, Alice (1999): Worms for Composting (Vermicomposting); ATTRA-National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service, Livestock Technical Note, June 1999.
Baker, Geoff & Vicki Barrett (1994): Earthworm Identifier; Publication of Council of Scientific &
Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Division of Soil & Land Management, Australia.
Bhiday, M.H. (1995): Wealth from Waste: Vermiculturing; Publication of Tata Energy
Research Institute (TERI), New Delhi, India; ISBN 81-85419-11-6
Bhawalkar, U. S. (1995): Vermiculture Eco-technology; Publication of Bhawalkar Earthworm
Research Institute (BERI), Pune, India.
Dynes, R.A. (2003): EARTHWORMS; Technology Info to Enable the Development of
Earthworm Production; Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC),
Govt. of Australia, Canberra, ACT.
Edwards, C.A. and N. Arancon (2004): Vermicompost Suppress Plant Pests and Disease
Attacks; In REDNOVA NEWS: http://www.rednova.com/display/ ?id =55938
Edwards, C.A., Burrows, I., Fletcher, K.E. and Jones, B.A. (1985): The Use of Earthworms for
Composting Farm Wastes; In JKR Gasser (Ed.) Composting Agricultural and Other Wastes;
Elsevier, London & New York, pp. 229 – 241.
Fraser-Quick, G. (2002): Vermiculture – A Sustainable Total Waste Management
Solution; What’s New in Waste Management ? Vol. 4, No.6; pp. 13-16.
GEORG (2004): Feasibility of Developing the Organic and Transitional Farm Market for
Processing Municipal and Farm Organic Wastes Using Large - Scale Vermicomposting; Pub.
Of Good Earth Organic Resources Group, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. (Available on
Kale, Radha D. (1998): Earthworms : Nature’s Gift for Utilization of Organic Wastes; In C.A.
Edward (ed). ‘Earthworm Ecology’; St. Lucie Press, NY, ISBN 1-884015-74-376.
Munroe, Glenn (2007): Manual of On-farm Vermicomposting & Vermiculture; Publication of
Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada; 39 p.
NCSU (1997): Large Scale Vermi-composting Operations – Data from Vermi-cycle Organics,
Inc.; North Carolina State University, U.S.
Pajon, Silvio (Undated): ‘The Worms Turn - Argentina’; Intermediate Technology
Development Group; Case Study Series 4; (Quoted in Munroe, 2007).
Sherman, Rhonda (2000): Commercial Systems Latest Development in Mid-to-Large
Scale Vermicomposting; Biocycle; November 2000, pp. 51.
UNSW, ROU (2002): Best Practice Guidelines to Managing On-Site Vermiculture
Technologies; University of New South Wales Recycling Organics Unit; Sydney, NSW,
Australia; (Viewed in December 2004)
Some Other Useful Websites
http://www.thewormman.com (The Worm Man, Australia)
http://www.alternativeorganic.com (Good Earth People, Canada)
http://www.wormwoman.com (Mary Appelhof : Classic Book ‘Worms Eat My Garbage’
http://www.wormdigest.org (‘Worm Digest’ – A Quarterly Magazine)
www.envirofert.nz (Waste Management by Vermiculture, New Zealand)
Scientists / Farmers in Australia, NZ & US Involved in VERMICULTURE
Jaya Nair (J.Nair@murdoch.edu.au)
Geoff H. Baker (Geoff.Baker@csiro.au)
R.A. Dynes (email@example.com)
Katie Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fauser Wayne (email@example.com)
Gary Jorgenson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tom Bourke (email@example.com)
M. Gary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Paul Harrey (email@example.com)
Richards Folley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andrew Swann (email@example.com)
Jerry Scholder (USA) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
JM Kelly (email@example.com) Farmer
George Hahn (USA) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
David (Australia) (email@example.com) Farmer Scientist
Anthony Sim (Australia) (firstname.lastname@example.org) Farmer Scientist
Indian Vermiculture Scientists / Farmers
Radha Kale (email@example.com)
Ravindra Sohane (Bihar)
Surendra Suthar (firstname.lastname@example.org);
N. Karmegam (email@example.com);
Vinod Garg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
G. Gunasekaran (email@example.com
Periasamy Alagesan (firstname.lastname@example.org
Prashant Kumar (email@example.com)
Surendra Rai (Bihar, India) (firstname.lastname@example.org) Farmer
Vinod Kumar Singh (Bihar, India) (email@example.com) Farmer
Some Commercial Vermiculture Companies in Australia & NZ
1. Vermitech Pvt. Ltd. (www.vermitech.com)
2. Vital Earth Company Pvt. Ltd., Lemon Tree Passage, NSW – 2319
3. Acme Worm Farms (Tom Bourke: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)
4. Worms Down Under, QLD (Paul Harrey; firstname.lastname@example.org);
5. Vermiglobal Ltd., NSW (Richards Foley: email@example.com)
6. Back to Earth Australia Pty. Ltd. (Andrew Swann: firstname.lastname@example.org)
7. Envirofert, New Zealand (M. Gary: email@example.com; www.invirofert.co.nz)
Vermiculture Research Centres in Australia
1). Rural Industry Research & Development Corporation (http://www.rirdc.gov.au) R.A.
2).. Murdoch University, Perth (Dr. Jaya Nair: firstname.lastname@example.org)
3). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Canberra Dr.
Geoff H. Baker (Geoff.Baker@csiro.au; email@example.com)
4). Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Brisbane (Dr. Rajiv K. Sinha)
Some Commercial Vermiculture Companies and Research Centres in India
1. S.S. Vermicompost Farm, Madurai, Tamil Nadu – 625 209 (www.trademart.
2. Green Earth Biotech Ltd., Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu – 641 029
3. Agri-Solutions, 36/152 A, Shree Krishna Centre, Parvathipuram, Nagarcoil, Tamil
Nadu – 629 003
4. The Best Agro-Organics, Dindguil, Tamil Nadu (www.thebestagroorganics.com
5. Agri-Tech, Vadodra, Gujarat (Mr. Mandar Prabhune ; firstname.lastname@example.org)
6. Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu (Dr. G. Gunasekaran) (thilgamsekar
7. Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad Sreenath Dixit
8. Bhawalkar Earthworm Research Institute, Pune (Mr. Uday and Mrs. Vidula Bhawalkar)
9. Tata Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi.
10. GKVK (Agriculture University), Bangalore (Dr. Sunitha Seenappa) (Prof. Radha D.
Kale (Retd.); email@example.com)
11. Periyar College of Technology for Women, Tamil Nadu
12. Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, Bihar
13. Karnataka Compost Development Corporation, Bangalore
14. M.R. Morarka-GDC Rural Research Foundation, Jaipur (satyveer@
15. University of Rajasthan, Jaipur (Dr. Sunita Agarwal: firstname.lastname@example.org)
16. Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Harayana (Dr.
Vinod K. Garg; email@example.com)
17. Institute of Agriculture, Visva-Bharati University, West Bengal (Dr. Gunindra
18. V.M.K.V. Engineering College, Vinayaka Missions University, Salem (Dr. N.
19. Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi (Dr. Surindra Suthar:
20. Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, Gujarat; (Dr. Dhaval)
21. Mr. & Mrs. Vijay Sharma, Jagatpura, Mohali, Punjab
22. Ecosmart Waste Management Pvt. Ltd. India (Syed Ismail Khurram: