Business owners in the agriculture sectors as with many other sectors are always seeking sustainable methods to boost product yield and limit wastage.
Most of us know about or have heard about composting however one would have nurtured a gold mine by using nature’s master composters: worms. The slimy worms also known as oligochaete are more than just bait on a hook or a parasite to humans.
They are a diverse group of organisms whose niche is to decompose organic matter. This is where vermicomposting comes in.
Vermicomposting, if you have not realized by now, is composting with worms. It is an excellent way to assist with proper waste management. However not all worms are suitable to this task.
So what’s the big deal with vermicomposting?
In Vermicomposting, the worms assist with the conversion of the the organic matter or material into a high-end product readily available for plants to use. How is this possible? Worms feed on the leftovers along with the bacteria produced from the decomposing materials. This in turn accelerates digestion which:
- Allows matter to physically break down as it passes through the digestive system, providing the bacteria more surface area to act on and
- Provides more bacteria and enzymes that speeds up the chemical reactions required to produce the compost.
The castings which they produce, are a nutrient-rich addition to the soil. Worm castings contain a highly active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, remnants of plant matter and animal manure, as well as earthworm cocoons (while damp). The castings are rich in water-soluble plant nutrients, and contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil.
How is it compared to regular composting?
Some of the benefits of vermicomposting are:
– The use of the worms helps shorten the time taken for harvesting.
– The process is more thorough as both the earthworms and the microorganisms they produce are acting on the organic material
– Soil contains a higher nutrient value.
– It is more aesthetically appealing; therefore, it is easier to market.
– The process requires less labour, through the borrowing action of the worms to help with the mixing and aeration of the soil.
– And best of all it has a low set up cost.
So how can we develop this practice at home?
Well like any other organism, once you provide them with the right conditions, such as food and shelter, the worms and the process would thrive.
Not all earthworms are suitable for indoor composting. The most common types are the wrigglers, crawlers and garden-variety earthworms. But it would be wise and less expensive to use local or native worms. Such Species are: Eudrilus eugeniae or African Night Crawler, Perionyx excavatus or Indian Blue Worm.
Trinidad Earthworm Farm Boissierre Greens is a partnership between Mark Mica and Dexter Ragonannan, both of whom are interested in healthy waste management, and organic fertilizers. They are located at Boissierre Trace, Gran Couva, Caroni and graciously provided us with an interview to learn more about the practice and their work as pioneers in the field here in T&T.
Mark is currently reading for his PHd in Soils with vermicomposting research providing the base for the establishment of the business.
For more information on vermicomposting please visit their Facebook page and contact them for advice and to schedule a visit to their composting workshop. These workshops include materials, audio and visual displays, a hand guide and a certificate.