Wednesday 10 Aug 2022

A worm of a kind

One solution to garbage woes is converting it into compost, and one way to make compost is to use earthworms; the resulting product is called vermicompost

Joyce Dias / The Goan | AUGUST 06, 2012, 03:13 PM IST
A worm of a kind

Why get yourhands dirty making compost when you can buy a bag of fertiliser from the shop? Compostingis the path towards going green, going organic and giving back to earth. Compostis used as an organic fertilizer.

One method ofcomposting is to place the waste in a pit in the ground so it is decomposed bythe bacteria in the soil. The other method is to use earthworms for the samepurpose. The latter is called vermicomposting.

“Vermicompost isan organic fertilizer and is the excreta of earthworms. Its appearance is thatof fine soil,” said S D Kulkarni, Managing Director of National Bank forAgriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Goa.

Ordinaryearthworms commonly found in fields and gardens are not suitable forvermicomposting. A special type of species called Eisenia foetida and Eudriluseuginea should be used instead.

Vermicompostinginvolves first putting a bed of coconut husk in a tank. This is for theearthworms to feed on after they consume the waste. Food and garden waste isintroduced in layers and this is kept for 2-3 weeks for pre-digestion;earthworms cannot ingest waste in raw form. Cow dung slurry (1 kg of cow dungin 10 litres of water) is then added. The slurry is the favourite food of theearthworm and aids faster decomposition. Vermicompost can be harvested in 45days. The tank/barrel should have a trench of water around it to dissuade ants.

“The tank shouldhave an outlet for the excess water which is called vermiwash. Vermiwash can beused for potted plants. Earthworms die in accumulated water,” said Fr PatrickD’Souza of the Society of Pilar and Director of Pilar Nature Farm.

“An ideal methodto have your vermicomposting unit at home is to have two barrels. Fill one withwaste and introduce earthworms. In the time the worms consume the waste, theother barrel can be filled,” said Uday Bhate, horticulturist at Zuari HoldingsLtd who have 48 vermicomposting beds.

Vermicompost isused to fertilise plants, trees and cultivated fields. With absolutely noadverse effects, its usage symbolises finally giving back to mother earth.

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