Back in my home town, even now, people own farm animals that yield milk. The dung from these animals is used as manure for their fields. Every house has a manure pit in the backyard where they dump the cattle manure and once in a year add it to the soil of their fields. Times have changed. From traditional manure piles, people have upgraded to vermicomposting units in their home or farm and only use vermicompost instead of cattle manure to grow their crops. Trainings conducted by the Department of Agriculture and some NGOs, people now are familiar with this process.
So what is Vermicompost? Vermi refers to earthworms, and this compost is prepared by earthworms that break down the organic matter. It has more nutrients than cattle manure. Composted cattle manure contains 0.6% nitrogen, 0.35% phosphorous and 0.6% potash. Vermicompost contains 1% nitrogen, 0.75% phosphorous and 1.5% potash which is almost double.
Vermicomposting is an easy process. You could decide to have a smaller unit or bigger one based on your requirements. You could start your vermicompost unit in a pit created in the land, constructed cement tanks, cement rings, containers like cement pots, mud pots or some plastic containers. The options are endless. There are just some factors before considering where you start your unit. After you choose the site, or the container, the first step is to create the worm bed. Put a layer of gravel in the bottom and a layer of sand over that. If you do it in a container, make some drainage holes in the bottom. Then add the farm waste, kitchen waste or any other organic matter to a depth of 1 foot. It is better to put both dry and wet waste, at a ratio of 50:50 that ensures efficient composting. Avoid twigs, coconut shells and other material which is hard for the earthworm to break down; this might delay the composting process. Above that add a thin layer of already prepared vermicompost or cow dung slurry which will provide immediate food to the earth worms. This entire mix should be preferably wet, but don’t over water it. Both drying and over watering can harm the worms. You know you haven’t over watered it when you squeeze the material and water doesn’t pour out from the mix. After you have ensured this, introduce earthworms into the pit. You can collect the earthworm from a moist area, or you can buy exotic species of earthworms from the market, which executes composting process at a faster rate. A handful of earthworms are enough for an area of1squarefoot. After introducing the earthworms, cover the unit with wet gunny bags or coconut/palm leaves which will protect the worms from direct sunlight and rain. Keep it moist by sprinkling water every day.
Once in a week, you could add the organic waste. The first cycle of composting takes 45 to 55 days. Once the compost is ready it is black in colour, light, powdery in texture, sweet smelling and easy to collect and handle. Usually the earthworms feed at the bottom and push the excreta to the top. What we call as Vermicompost is actually the excreta of the worm. Always harvest the manure from the top and heap it under the shade for 24 hours. The earthworms that come along with the harvested manure will move down in the heap. After collecting the manure put the earthworms back to the composting container or pit and repeat the process. The life cycle of the earthworm is 60 days, and when the compost is ready the earthworms double in number. You can collect some earthworm from your unit and sell it to others or start one more new vermicompost unit.
In the field, 2-3 tons per acre of vermicompost is applied. In container gardens, 50-100 grams or a handful of Vermicompost per square foot is enough.
Vermicompost is a great fertilizer for the plants. Get your bag of vericompost from our online store,here