Vermicomposting sometimes called ‘vermiculture’, ‘composting with worms’ or ‘worm composting’, uses worms and micro-organisms to break down organic materials under aerobic conditions, but at a relatively low temperature. to give nutrient-rich end product(compost). Specific species of earthworms like red worms or tiger worms etc are suitable for vermicomposting. The typical worm is made up almost entirely of water and protein and it consists of 53-72% proteins, 1-17% fat and 9-23% minerals on a dry weight basis. The average weight of 2000 adult worms is about 1 kg and these worms can be accommodated in an area of 1 m2. They consume both partially decomposed organic materials and micro-organisms which pass through the digestive tract and are excreted as casting. Their tunneling helps aerate the compost and feeding increase the surface area of organic materials for microbes to act upon.
Advantages of Vermicomposting
Compared to the conventional casting, vermicomposting produces:
- A better quality of compost as casts are rich in nitrates, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium and offer a very good substitute for chemical fertilizer.
- Finer compost – enhance particle size reduction.
Since the above compost is rich in nutrients, one should mix this compost with other materials before using them as manure.
Disadvantages of Vermicomposting
However, the composting in this process takes place in a relatively cool environment. This means the end product may contain pathogens. Compared to ordinary composting, this process requires more manpower and careful control of the composting environment including the use of relatively more consistent substances. The quality of the compost also depends on the quality of the feed materials.