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Composting with earthworms

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All you need to learn and start composting with aid of earth worms on your own.
Composting of waste to produce bio fertilizer by decomposition or by the use of earthworms called vermiculture.

What is Vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is a simple biotechnological process of composting, in which certain species of earthworms are used to enhance the process of waste conversion and produce a better end product. Vermicomposting differs from composting in several ways (Gandhi et al. 1997). It is a mesophilic process, utilizing microorganisms and earthworms that are active at 10–32°C (not ambient temperature but temperature within the pile of moist organic material). The process is faster than composting; because the material passes through the earthworm gut, a significant but not yet fully understood transformation takes place, whereby the resulting earthworm castings (worm manure) are
rich in microbial activity and plant growth regulators, and fortified with pest repellence attributes as well! In short, earthworms, through a type of biological alchemy, are capable of transforming garbage into ‘gold’

Published in: Environment

Composting with earthworms

  1. 1. VERMICULTURE A PROJECT by care.indiay
  2. 2. VERMICULTURE A PROJECTVERMICULTURE A PROJECT by CARE.INDIA
  3. 3. VERMICULTURE A PROJECTVERMICULTURE A PROJECT by CARE.INDIA
  4. 4. Vermicompost is the product or process of composting utilizing various speciesp g g p of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials and vermicast Vermicastmaterials, and vermicast. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter byg y a species of earthworm. Containing water-soluble nutrients, Vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-p , rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. The process of producing Vermicompost is called Vermicomposting. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  5. 5. .The Vermicompost may be used for farming, landscaping, to create compostg, p g, p tea, or for sale. Some of these operations produce worms for bait and/or home Vermicomposting. There are two main methods of large- scale Vermiculture Some systems usescale Vermiculture. Some systems use a windrow, which consists of bedding materials for the earthworms to live in and acts as a large bin; organic material is added to it. Although the windrow has no physical barriers to prevent worms from escaping, in theory they should not due to an abundance of organic matter for them to feed onthem to feed on. Often windrows are used on a concrete surface to prevent predators from gaining access to the worm population. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  6. 6. The second type of large- l V i iscale Vermicomposting system is the raised bed or flow-through system. Hereg y the worms are fed an inch of "worm chow" across the top of the bed, and an inchp , of castings are harvested from below by pulling a breaker bar across the largebreaker bar across the large mesh screen which forms the base of the bed. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  7. 7. Because red worms are surface dwellers constantly movingdwellers constantly moving towards the new food source, the flow-through system li i t th d t teliminates the need to separate worms from the castings before packaging. Flow- through systems are well suited to indoor facilities, making them the preferredg p choice for operations in colder climates. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  8. 8. Small scale Demonstration home scale worm bin at a community garden site -y g painted plywood For vermicomposting at home, a large variety of bins are commercially available or acommercially available, or a variety of adapted containers may be used. They may be made of old plastic containers, d St f t lwood, Styrofoam, or metal containers. The design of a small bin usually depends on where an individual wishes to store the bi d h h i h f dbin and how they wish to feed the worms. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  9. 9. Bins need holes or mesh for aeration. Some people add a spout or holes inp p p the bottom for excess liquid to drain into a tray for collection. Worm compost bins made from recycled or semi-recycled plastic are ideal, but i d i h drequire more drainage than wooden ones because they are non- absorbent. However, wooden bins will eventually decay and need to be replacedreplaced. Small-scale Vermicomposting is well-suited to turn kitchen waste into high-quality soil amendments, where space is limited Worms canwhere space is limited. Worms can decompose organic matter without the additional human physical effort (turning the bin) that bin composting requires Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY composting requires.
  10. 10. Composting worms which arep g detritivorous (eaters of trash), such as the red wiggler Eisenia fetidae, are epigeic (surface dwellers) together withdwellers) together with symbiotic associated microbes are the ideal vectors for decomposing food waste. Common earthworms suchCommon earthworms such as Lumbricus terrestris are anecic(deep burrowing) species and hence unsuitable for use in a closed system Other soil speciesclosed system. Other soil species that contribute include insects, other worms and molds. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  11. 11. The most common worms used in composting systems, redworms (Eisenia foetida, Eisenia andrei, and Lumbricus rubellus) feed most rapidly atrubellus) feed most rapidly at temperatures of 15–25 °C (59-77 °F). They can survive at 10 °C (50 °F). Temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) may harm them. This temperature range means that indoor Vermicomposting with red wormsindoor Vermicomposting with red worms is suitable in all but tropical climates. (Other worms like Perionyx excavatus are suitable for warmer climates. If a worm bin is kept outside, it should be placed in h lt d iti f di ta sheltered position away from direct sunlight and insulated against frost in winter. It is necessary to monitor the temperatures of large-scale bin systemstemperatures of large scale bin systems (which can have high heat- retentive properties), as the feedstock used can compost, heating up the worm bins as they decay and killing the worms. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  12. 12. There are few food wastes that V i ti tVermicomposting cannot compost, although meat waste and dairy productsy p are likely to putrefy, and in outdoor bins can attract vermin Greenattract vermin. Green waste should be added in moderation to avoid h ti th biheating the bin. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  13. 13. Such systems usually use kitchen and garden waste, using "earthworms andgarden waste, using earthworms and other microorganisms to digest organic wastes, such as kitchen scraps". This includes: All fruits and vegetables•All fruits and vegetables (including citrus and other "high acid" foods) •Vegetable and fruit peels and endsg p •Coffee grounds and filters •Tea bags (even those with high tannin levels) G i h b d k d l•Grains such as bread, cracker and cereal (including moldy and stale) •Eggshells (rinsed off) •Leaves and grass clippings (not sprayed Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY •Leaves and grass clippings (not sprayed with pesticides
  14. 14. Large-scale or commercial S h V i ti tSuch Vermicomposting systems need reliable sources of large quantities of food. Systems presently operating[use:presently operating[use: •Dairy cow or pig manure •Sewage sludge A l l• Agricultural waste •Food processing and grocery waste •Cafeteria waste •Grass clippings and wood chips Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  15. 15. Worms in a bin being harvested Vermicompost is ready for harvest when it contains few toVermicompost is ready for harvest when it contains few-to- no scraps of uneaten food or bedding. There are several methods of harvesting from small-scale systems: "dump and hand sort", "let the worms do thesystems: dump and hand sort , let the worms do the sorting", "alternate containers" and "divide and dump."These differ on the amount of time and labor involved and whether the vermicomposter wants to save as many worms as ibl f b i t d i th h t d tpossible from being trapped in the harvested compost. While harvesting, it's also a good idea to try to pick out as many eggs/cocoons as possible and return them to the binmany eggs/cocoons as possible and return them to the bin. Eggs are small, lemon-shaped yellowish objects that can usually be seen pretty easily with the naked eye and picked out. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  16. 16. Vermicompost has been shown to be richer in many nutrients than compost produced by other composting methods[ Ity p p y p g also has outperformed a commercial plant medium with nutrients added, but needed adjustment for magnesium and pH[. However, other studies have shown that the effects of home made, backyard, vermicompost compared to municipal compost were lower iny , p p p p terms of soil microbial] biomass, soil microbial activity, and yields of a species of ryegrass. Further, one study concluded that the differences between methods of composting were in large part due to the feedstock, and therefore nop g g p , generalizations can be made between composts made from varying materials[24]. It is rich in microbial life which converts nutrients already present in the soil into plant-available forms.p Unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which helps prevent nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  17. 17. Improves its physical structure Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes such as phosphate and cellulose) b lMicrobial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingeststhe worm ingests Attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soilp Improves water holding capacity Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  18. 18. Enhances germinationEnhances germination, plant growth, and crop yield Improves root growth and structure Enriches soil with microEnriches soil with micro- organisms (adding plant hormones such d bb llas auxins and gibberellic acid)[ Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  19. 19. Biowastes conversion reduces waste flow to landfills Elimination of biowastes from the waste stream reduces contamination of other recyclables collected i i l bi ( bl i itiin a single bin (a common problem in communities practicing single-stream recycling) Creates low-skill jobs at local levelCreates low-skill jobs at local level Low capital investment and relatively simple technologies make vermicomposting practical forg p g p less-developed agricultural regions Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  20. 20. Helps to close the "metabolic gap" through recycling waste on-site Large systems often use temperature control and h i d h ti h th i tmechanized harvesting, however other equipment is relatively simple and does not wear out quickly Production reduces greenhouse gas emissions suchProduction reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitric oxide (produced in landfills or incinerators when not composted orp through methane harvest) Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  21. 21. As fertilizer Mid-scale worm bin (1 m X 2 5 m up to 1 m deep), freshly refilled withMid scale worm bin (1 m X 2.5 m up to 1 m deep), freshly refilled with bedding Vermicompost can be mixed directly into the soil, or seeped in water and made into a worm tea by mixing some Vermicompost in water, bubbling in oxygen with a small air pump, and steeping for a number of hours orin oxygen with a small air pump, and steeping for a number of hours or days. The microbial activity of the compost is greater if it is aerated during this period. The resulting liquid is used as a fertilizer or sprayed on the plants. The dark brown waste liquid or leachate that drains into the bottom ofThe dark brown waste liquid, or leachate, that drains into the bottom of some Vermicomposting systems as water-rich foods break down, is best applied back to the bin when added moisture is needed due to the possibility of phytotoxin content and organic acids that may be toxic to plants.plants. The pH, nutrient, and microbial content of these fertilizers varies upon the inputs fed to worms. Pulverized limestone, or calcium carbonate can be added to the system to raise the pH. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  22. 22. When closed, a well-maintained bin is odorless; when opened, it should have little smell - if any, the smell is earthy. Worms require gaseous oxygen. Oxygen can be provided by airholes in the binOxygen can be provided by airholes in the bin, occasional stirring of bin contents, and removal of some bin contents if they become too deep or tooy p wet. If decomposition becomes anaerobic from excess feedstock added to the bin in wet conditions, l f f d h b d hor layers of food waste have become too deep, the bin will begin to smell like ammonia. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  23. 23. If decomposition has become anaerobic, to restore healthy conditions and prevent the worms from dying, the smelly, excess waste water must be removed and the bin returned to a normal moistureremoved and the bin returned to a normal moisture level. To do this, first reduce addition of food scraps with a high moisture content and second, add fresh,g , , dry bedding such as shredded newspaper to your bin, mixing it in well. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  24. 24. Pests such as rodents and flies are attracted by certain materials and odors usually from large amounts ofmaterials and odors, usually from large amounts of kitchen waste, particularly meat. Eliminating the use of meat or dairy product in a worm bin decreases the possibility of pestspossibility of pests. In warm weather, fruit and vinegar flies breed in the bins if fruit and vegetable waste is not thoroughly covered with bedding. This problem can be avoided bycovered with bedding. This problem can be avoided by thoroughly covering the waste by at least 2 inches of bedding. Maintaining the correct pH (close to neutral) and water content of the bin (just enough water where(j g squeezed bedding drips a couple of drops) can help avoid these pests as well. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  25. 25. Having worms escape is one of the most feared outcomes for many new vermicomposters. Worms generally stay in the bin, but may try to leave the bin when first introduced or often after a rainstormbin when first introduced, or often after a rainstorm when outside humidity is high. Maintaining adequate conditions in the worm bin and putting aq p g light over the bin when first introducing worms should eliminate this problem Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  26. 26. Commercial vermicomposters test, and may amend their products to produce consistent quality and results Becauseproducts to produce consistent quality and results. Because the small-scale and home systems use a varied mix of feedstock's, the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus content of the resulting Vermicompost will also be inconsistent. NPK b h l f l b f h g p testing may be helpful before the Vermicompost or tea is applied to the garden I d t id f tili ti i h itIn order to avoid over-fertilization issues, such as nitrogen burn, Vermicompost can be diluted as a tea 50:50 with water, or as a solid can be mixed in 50:50 with potting soil The mucus produced creates a natural time release fertilizer which cannot burn plants Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  27. 27. Compost is organic matter that has been decom posed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost isposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting for the materials to break down from anywhere between 5-6 weeks or even morebetween 5-6 weeks or even more. Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Aerobic bacteria manage the chemical process byate a . e ob c bacte a a age t e c e ca p ocess by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. The ammonium is further converted by bacteria into plant- nourishing nitrites and nitrates through the process of nitrification. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  28. 28. Compost can be rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping horticulture and agriculturelandscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids and as a natural pesticide for soilacids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation, wetland construction, and as landfill cover (see compost uses)uses). Organic ingredients intended for composting can alternatively be used to generate biogas through anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is fast o ertaking composting in some parts of theAnaerobic digestion is fast overtaking composting in some parts of the world including central Europe as a primary means of downcycling waste organic matter. Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
  29. 29. FOR THE IMMENSE PATIENCE DISPLAYED OUR COORDINATES : •Home Page : www.care-india.com •Blogs : www.biogas.co.nr /ww.caresolar.com Sl d h l d h / d• Slide shows: www.slideshare.net/careindia Project Vermiculture by CENTRE FOR APPLICATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

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