Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vermicompost Fertilizer: Vermicomposting Made Easy

Vermicompost fertilizer may look ewwy but this technology in organic farming may just save the world.

What is vermicomposting? It is the process of producing organic fertilizer (vermicompost) using agricultural wastes through the disgetive action of earthworms, and not just your ordinary garden earthworms (because it does more harm than good to your garden top soil) but the African nightcrawler (eudrilus euginae).

According to Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III and Mrs. Lina Villegas, vermicompost is a high quality organic fertilizer that contains up to 8%-7%-1% of NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium), as well as trace elements, depending on the quality of the substrate.

Here are the easy steps in vermicomposting:

Vermicomposting step #1. Site Selection - must be shady, free from flooding, near a water source, cool, and near a material source.

Vermicomposting step #2. Bed Preparation - Prepare wormbeds 1m x 4m x 2ft high or compost heap style. You may also use old or unused basin, pots, sack or any suitable container for backyard vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting step #3
. Gathering of Materials/Substrate - They are basically from two sources:
  • Carbon - grass, sawdust, leaves, coconut husks, corn stovers, stalks, rice straw, paper, boxes, etc.
  • Nitrogen - peanut, hagonoy, ipil-ipil, madre de cacao, centrosema, malunggay, katuray, baging-ilog, and all animal wastes except human, dog, and cat excrement because of the presence of e-coli bacteria.
However, eucalyptus leaves are not advisable because of their bitter taste.

Having gathered your materials, consider this as your Day 1 in the stages of vermicomposting. Afterwards you are ready for the next stages:

Vermicomposting stage #1. Anaerobic Stage (Day 2-15) - Mix a ratio of 3:1 Carbon-Nitrogen (CN) chopped or shredded substrate, sprinkle with water if the mixture is too dry. Place inside a sack and tie it up, or place inside a big can and cover it. Store in a shady area and leave the tied sack or covered container unopened for 10-15 days.

Vermicomposting stage #2. Aerobic Stage (Day 16-45) - Place the anaerobically decomposed substrate on the prepared beds 6 inches thick, unpressed. Sprinkle with water and maintain cool temperature of the substrate (ideally 5-7 drops of water when squeezed). Put the worms the next day.

Vermicomposting stage #3. Migration (Day 30-45) - If substrate is 80-90% consumed, processed and decomposed, allow the worm to migrate in orchid net/onion bag with the anaerobically-decomposed substrate in it.

Vermicomposting stage #4. Harvesting (Day 45-60) - Pull out the substrate where the worms have migrated and place in vacant beds. Manual picking of remaining worms is recommended. Do not water the bed a week before harvesting. The by-product of the process is vermicompost and earthworm biomass.

Vermicomposting stage #5. Storage and Farm Consumption - Air dry the vermicompost up to 30% humidity and seal in plastic bags for sale or for personal use.

Apply your vermicompost directly in the field as any other organic fertilizer or foliar fertilizer using vermi-tea.

Vermicompost is also used as one of the ingredients for "bukashi" which is made of basura (garbage), chicken manure, rice husks (must be made into charcoal) and vermicompost.

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