CITRONELLA OIL MEAL RECYCLING THROUGH VERMICOMPOSTING USING EUDRILUS EUGINIAE
Many biomass materials have been composted normally and also through vermicomposting. Citronella oil meal is one unconventional waste biomass, which has not been used for vermicomposting. In the present work this organic waste has been successfully vermicomposted. Citronella has gained attention oflate and many farmers are cultivating this grass as it seems to be a cash crop. Minimum herbage of this citronella grass is around 20 tonnes per year per acre. This grass contains oil in the range of 0.6 – 1.5% which has a good insect repellant quality and has good market value. Citronella oil meal was subjected to vermicomposting using two different particle sizes viz.; 0.5 mm and 1.5 – 2.0 inches to see the feasibility of vermicomposting time period taken. In both the cases, the citronella oil meal was mixed with soil and cattle dung in the ratio 1:1:1 and allowed to pre-decompose. Smaller particle size of 0.5mm took only seven days while the larger particle size of 1.5 – 2.0 inches size took 16 days for partial decomposition. After partial decomposition, both the substrates were transferred to earthenware vermibed and a total of 15 numbers of earthworm species Eudrilus euginiae were introduced in the vermibed. Particle size of 0.5mm took 46 days for complete vermicomposting while the larger pieces of citronella required 69 days for vermicomposting. In both the cases, good granular, cylindrical and uniform size of vermicompost was harvested, which had good NPK content. C/N ratio from original 123 reduced to 17.9 in the vermicompost. Vermicompost prepared depicted a bulk density, porosity and water holding capacity in the range of 0.9281 – 0.9962 gm/cm, 81.7 - 84.8% and 90.2-94.5% respectively.