To achieve sustainable development goals, sustainability has to be brought in the field of agriculture as well. Various practices should be involved which are harmless to the environment and are also capable to meet the needs of the present. Use of vermicompost in place of fertilizers will not only help in enhancing soil fertility but it will also decrease the cost of input and maximize farmer's income. So, let's take a look at vermicompost, its preparation, application method and advantages.
What is Vermicompost?
The compost prepared by using earthworms and the waste raw material is known as vermicompost. The process of vermicompost is a breakthrough in utilising agricultural waste and turning it into a useful product.
How do earthworms produce vermicompost?
The mummy composed is nothing but worm castings. The earthworm feeds on to the organic matter and removes it in the form of faeces. The faecal matter of earthworm is known as vermicompost. The decomposing matter gets mixed with the enzymatic fluids secreted by the earthworm which are rich in amino acid sugar bacteria and various microorganisms.
Raw materials used-
Base materials- The waste material generated from the farm like stubble leaf litter cow dung extra can be used as the base material to prepare vermicompost and as a feed for the earthworms.
Starter- starter on inoculant is any material that will promote degradation of o the raw material to accelerate the composting process. It can be cow dung, biogas slurry, cattle urine etc.
Earthworms- the epigenic or the surface feeders are most commonly used in vermicomposting. Eisenia foetid and Eudrilus eugeniae are widely used exotic species for vermicomposting where as Perionyx excavatus, native to India is used for vermicomposting.
Rearing of earthworms ( Vermiculture )-
The rearing of earthworms is known as vermiculture which can be later used for vermicompost preparation. Majorly epigenic species are cultivated. The ideal temperature required by the earthworms ranges from 0 to 40 degree Celsius whereas the optimum temperature 20 to 30 degree Celsius. Earthworms also require high humidity of up to 80%. Even the odd ones can survive in relatively low amounts of oxygen levels; they still need oxygen to carry out their life processes. Earthworms grow well in soil having pH between 5 to 7.5.
The earthworms are hermaphrodite in nature means they possess both male and female reproductive organs. After fertilization, the eggs are deposited in the form of coal in the soil. Offspring emerge in nearly 40 to 80 days from the cocoon.
Vermicomposting is widely done by two methods: the pit method for or heap method.
● The pit can be of any dimension ranging from 20 feet long×3 feet wide× 2 feet deep standard size prepared with brick and cement.
● The proper outlet for removal of water should be present.
● The bottom-most layer of the pit is filled with coarse sand and bricks.
● The second layer is made of dry leaves of 15 to 20 cm.
● Above this layer cow dung and dried hay or straw mixed in the proportion of 3:1 is kept.
● Earthworms are released into this @ 1500- 2000.
● The top layer is then covered with dried straw or hay.
● The cow dung is allowed to get decomposed by the earthworms.
● Water should be sprinkled from time to time to maintain humidity.
● Within 45 to 50 days the compost is prepared.