Introduction: Hello gardeners how about learning vermiculture advantages for your garden? Well, we are here to help you with the process and advantages of vermiculture for growing organic food.. Vermiculture is the method of garden composting using worms. Over time, all organic material naturally goes through the practice of decomposition. Though, with vermiculture, the process is significantly accelerated. The worms consume the decaying organic material and flush it out of their system in what is referred to as ‘castings’ or ‘worm manure.’ The worm castings are nutrient-rich. It is the culture of earthworms and the goal is to continually increase the number of worms to obtain a sustainable harvest. The worms can be used to expand a vermicomposting operation or sold to customers who use them for the same or other purposes. In this article we also cover the following topics;
- Purpose of vermiculture
- Advantages of vermiculture
- Preparation of vermiculture
- Importance of vermiculture
A step by step guide to vermiculture advantages
Vermiculture process allows a grower to create organically rich compost year-round. Most growers use different types of worms such as earthworms, white worms, and red wigglers to compost. The compost formed by the worms is an excellent soil conditioner and all-natural fertilizer.
This is referred to as the process of cultivating worm or artificial rearing of worms to decompose organic food wastes into a nutrient-rich material. The output of vermiculture is known as vermicompost and formed by the process in which earthworms consume the farmyard manure and roughages in addition to the wastes from farms and thereby producing it. The produced vermicompost is rich in terms of nutrients and other plant growth-promoting substances, which is capable of supplying essential mineral nutrients to help and sustain plant growth.
The common worms used in vermiculture are red worms (Eisenia foetida, Eisenia andrei, and Lumbricus rubellus). These worms thrive at temperatures between 20 to 30°C and can be cultured indoor boxes. Other worms such as Perionyx excavatus and Eudrillius eugieneare are suitable for warmer climates.
How to multiply earthworms in large scale
The method used by farmers to multiply the earthworms is by mixing more amounts of biodegradable wastes, by including the plant materials, dried leaves and cow dung in a proportion of 1:1. Once the medium is done, around 40 to 50 earthworm species are released into the medium and protected it from sun, rain and other prey. Regular maintenance is required; keep a check at the moisture level by water sprinkling over it on a timely basis. Within a timeframe of 1 to 2 months, the earthworms would multiply by 300 times relying on this process alone. Thus, the new earthworms could assist us in preparing the vermicompost.
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Use of vermiculture
Worms are good for the garden soil for several reasons. Unparalleled as soil excavators, earthworms spend their lives ingesting, grinding, digesting and excreting soil as much as 15 tons per acre goes through earthworms bodies in a year. These “worm castings” are very rich in nutrients and bacteria than the surrounding soil. Their underground burrows create channels in the soils, which make the soil more porous, allowing water to move to greater depths in the soil column. Worm burrows allow for drainage after heavy rains reducing erosion.
Worms help plants grow better. Plant roots need oxygen and worm burrows provide passages for air to get next to the roots deep within the ground. This is known as aeration, analogous to what homeowners often do to turf lawn with heavy machinery. It must be noted that these deep tunneling worms also bring subsoil closer to the surface, mixing it with topsoil that has more organic matter. Slime, a secretion of earthworms, having nitrogen, which is important plant food. The sticky slime helps to hold clusters of soil particles together in formations known as “aggregates.” Soil aggregates or clumps lying next to each other permit air to move between the spaces.
Safety measures in vermiculture process
- The pit for the compost must be shielded from exposure to sunlight
- Guard the worms against pests and rats, birds, and ants, etc.
- Sprinkle water on the pit when essential to sustain the moisture level.
Maximum yield explains vermiculture
During the vermiculture process, the grower will harvest the nutrient-rich castings when they appear earthy-brown. The organic compost can be mixed directly into the garden soil around plants or made into a tea by mixing water with the worm castings. Once the compost becomes liquefied, it can be used to fertilize the grower’s plants and is referred to as a ‘compost tea’.
Commercially available fertilizers tend to be damaging and can burn fragile plants, unlike the compost produced by vermiculture. Since worm castings will never burn the delicate roots of a plant, several growers opt to plant their plants directly into nutrient-rich worm castings.
The worm castings contain beneficial microbes that help protect plants from a variety of diseases. Unlike chemical fertilizers, compost formed in vermiculture has no undesirable smells. It normally only smells like rich soil. Worm casting compost is used not only during a plant’s vegetative stage but also during its flowering phase.
Advanatges of vermiculture medium
The basic materials for culturing earthworms are crop residues, dry leaves, and cattle dung, along with sawdust, coir waste, and paddy husk, slurry from the biogas plant, poultry waste and vegetable wastes. Earthworm culturing must be done under shelter to avoid direct sunlight and flooding by heavy rain.
Using a tier system of worm housing along with newspaper bedding and food scraps we grew our worms over 3 months. Basic needs for vermiculture contain bedding, moisture, and feeding.
Worm bedding must be damp, edible, pH neutral, easy to move through, maintaining a constant temperature. Peat moss (pasteurized), shredded white paper, shredded newspaper or aged sawdust are typical. Add sand to give worms with something for their gizzards. Lime also works and is useful in controlling pH levels if the environment becomes too acidic.
Adequate drainage is necessary, 80% of plant material is water so allow for this when designing systems. Too much moisture will make anerobic conditions, making your system smell.
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For vermiculture feeding vegetable kitchen scraps are the best and if blended before the worms. Oils, fats, meats, and dairy products must be avoided, as well as pet wastes. Please avoid large pieces or woody stems, as they will be hard for the worms to digest.
Containers for vermiculture
Brick lined pits, plastic tubs, wooden boxes, earthen pots or any other suitable containers for culturing earthworms. The ideal size is 1 m x 1 m x 0.3 m but dimensions can be changed to suit the amount of waste material and convenience but the depth of pit must not be more than 45 cms. Sometimes a heap of organic matter over the plain ground in the shady area can be used for culturing.
Advantages of vermiculture systems
Vermiculture mainly focuses on the production of worms, rather than vermicompost. Growing worms efficiently requires a different set of conditions than vermicomposting. The basic differences can be given below;
Population density – Worm growers generally keep their beds at a density between 5 and 10kg/m2 (1 to 2 lbs/ft2). Efficient vermicomposting operations start at 10 kg/m2 and try for even higher densities (although windrows and other low-tech systems will have those high densities in certain areas, where environmental conditions are closest to optimum, well-managed flow-through systems operate at these levels or higher throughout the bed).
Type of system – Vermiculture operators generally select systems that give them greater control over the environmental conditions. The flow-through reactor can be used for vermiculture but is used for vermicomposting because of its high capital cost and its efficiency in producing vermicompost. Worms can be harvested sustainably from a flow-through system, but doing so will decrease the efficiency of vermicomposting.
Harvesting methods – Vermiculture systems want special techniques for harvesting worms since the systems usually favored by vermicomposting operators (e.g., vertical and horizontal migration into new bedding) separate the worms from the finished material.
Method of culturing earthworms
- Choose a container for culturing earthworms or dig a pit of suitable dimensions in shady areas.
- At the bottom of the pit or container, create a wormibed of 10 cm height using coir waste, paddy husk, sugar cane trash, old papers, etc. and spread a layer of soil over it. Wet the bed by sprinkling sufficient water over it to obtain a relative humidity of 40 to 45%.
- Carefully mix the organic waste, cattle dung and slurry from the biogas plant. And keep this mixture for 2 weeks for half digestion, during which heating of substrate will take place. Then the temperature will rise to 50 to 55°C. Add 5 to 10 % of neem cake in this material. Neem cake has a useful effect on the growth of worms and kills harmful microorganisms.
- Once the organic feeding material has cooled down to 30°C, introduce worms by spreading them over the bed at the rate of 500 worms for every 100 kg of organic material.
- Cover the bed with jute cloth, straw or similar material to give shade and protection to the worms. Water has to be sprinkled over this cover to keep the moisture content at 45 to 50%. The pH level of the raw material should not exceed 6.5-7.
- The worms feed actively on organic matter and excrete mounds of castings near the surface. In 60 days the compost will be ready.
- To separate the worms from compost, take out the vermicompost and then spread it in a heap in sunlight on a plastic sheet. In about 2 hours all the worms will move to the bottom of the heap. The compost can be removed from the top and used in fields, and the worms from the bottom can be collected and used for further vermicomposting.
Advantages of vermiculture
Using vermiculture is a great way to improve organic fertilizer. It is also called worm management. Vermiculture is an easy process that breaks down organic materials and produces castings that enhance plants’ growth. Here are the benefits of using the vermiculture process to enhance your garden.
Saves money with vermiculture advantages
You can save money on buying fertilizers, and insecticides that are necessary for gardens to maintain their health. You can even turn your hobby of improving garden profitable by selling both the worms and castings produced to farmers, nurseries, and pet shops.
Helps to protect your plants from disease
The “compost tea” formed from vermicomposting helps to combat common diseases in plants such as tomato blight and grape and squash mildew. This compost matter is useful to the health of vegetables, fruits, and trees, and enhances growth all around.
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An odorless process
Vermiculture is an odorless procedure that allows it to be done indoors unlike traditional composting. Worm bins are simple to maintain, and they do not have to be in your yard like a traditional compost pile or barrel.
Reduces household waste
Vermiculture process cuts down on your household waste. The red worms used in the vermiculture process continue to reproduce as long as there is food waste for them to consume. Once the food runs out, and the worms will begin to die. To keep a successful worm bin, you must constantly add household food scraps to the bins to keep the worms alive and thus greatly cut down on the amount of waste thrown out at your home.
Vermiculture is an organic procedure that cuts out the need to be concerned about the risks associated with traditional pesticides and fertilizers. The toxins that are benzene and xylene that are contained in some pesticides and fertilizers can cause serious damage to human organs and the nervous system. With the vermiculture process, you never have to be concerned with any risks associated with these chemicals because it is all-natural.
Creates better food products
Products grown with vermicomposting are shown to produce larger, and in some cases even taste better. In commercial settings, products developed in this manner demand a higher price due to their better quality. You can easily produce the same high level of results in the home garden using this proven process to fertilize your plants naturally.
That’s all folks about vermiculture advantages and preparation process. Keep growing organic food!. You may be interested in How to Grow Leafy Vegetables in Pots.