Vermicomposting Biotechnology

Vermicompost (also called worm compost, vermicast, worm castings, worm humus or worm manure) is the base-product of the breakdown of natural material by earthworms. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer, and soil conditioner. The process of making vermicompost is called vermicomposting. Vermicompost contains not only worm castings, but also bedding materials and organic wastes at a mixture of stages of decomposition. It also contains worms at different stages of growth and other microorganisms associated with the process. Earthworms’ castings in the home garden usually contain 5 to 10 times more additional nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium than the adjacent soil (Composting 101). Secretions in the intestinal tracts of the worms, along with soil passing through the worms, make the nutrients needed by plants more concentrated and available for plant uptake (IOBB).

Using a worm box, pile, pit, bin, or windrow helps expand and develop many skills needed to enhance sustainability of farming activities. In essence, worms work as natural bioreactors. The technique generates organic fertilizers, permits harmless disposal of certain organic wastes and decreases the requirement for landfill. Vermicompsting can be performed all year-round, providing that environmental conditions remain within acceptable limits. For improved efficiency, care should be taken to ensure that organic feedstock and environmental circumstances allow worms to reproduce productively and tolerate climatic fluctuations. Given appropriate conditions, vermicomposting appears to offer a relatively uncomplicated solution to the management of compostable organic wastes.

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