A Step Towards Sustainability: DIY Worm Compost at Home
For a few years, farmers have been influenced by synthetic fertilizers as they give fast and quick results and increase yield. But they have forgotten that the fertilizer they use decreases the fertility of the soil. As they absorb the nutrients from the soil, vapors in the soil decrease, gradually leading to soil pollution. And even the food produced through synthetic fertilizers is not good for the health. After seeing the consequences, the Government started suggesting farmers to use natural manure to grow food grains. It is also an initiation towards attaining sustainable goals. When the farmers started to use natural manure, the market for organic manure started to grow. More people began to manufacture manure and started to earn more. Worm compost is the most used organic manure in agriculture. So let’s look at some of the features of worm composting.
What is Worm Composting?
Worm composting (vermiculture), also called organic garbage disposal, recycles food waste into a rich, dark, good-for-your-garden soil conditioner. It is an easy and natural method to decompose fruit and vegetable scraps and turn them into rich nutrients for plants. It is not that strained work to manufacture the worm. A container, worms, and food scraps are all we need. This starts a process where worms, with the help of microorganisms, convert it all into compost within a few weeks.
The scientific method of manufacturing manure through the earthworms is called vermicomposting, and culturing worms is called vermiculture. The worms are mostly found in the vapored soil living in soil, feeding on biomass and excreting it in a digested form. Worms are organic waste materials and give out excreta in the form of vermicasts that are abundant in nitrates and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. This increases the soil nutrients. Here are the two methods the manufacturer uses to manufacture the manure.
- Bed Method: It is a simple method in which beds of organic matter are prepared.
- Pit Method: In this procedure, organic matter is first collected in cemented pits. However, this method is not prominent as it involves problems of poor aeration and waterlogging.
Types of Earthworms
Epigeic (Epi = Top, Geic = Earth): These are usually found on the uppermost part of the soil. These don’t submerge in the soil but remain by feeding on soil litter and are smaller in size. These are usually found striped and are red to red-brown in color.
Anectic: These earthworms feed on soil litter by creating permanent vertical deep burrows in the soil. Thus, these earthworms live on top of the soil and in deep burrows. These earthworm casts are common in grasslands. These earthworms are huge and have pigmentation on their backs. The head is red or brown, and the tail is paler than the head.
Endogeic (Endo = Inner, Geic = Earth): These species are completely burrowing. They form horizontal burrows and feed on the matter found deep within the soil surface. These are small in size and rich soil feeders. These earthworms are not pigmented but have a pale appearance.
Compost: These types of species can be found in the compost pit. They flourish in the presence of moisture, warm environmental conditions, and readily available compost material. They intake compost material, and vermicomposting is formed. These earthworms are striped and red.
Materials Needed for Culturing:
The major materials required for compost preparation are water, cow dung, thatch roof, soil or sand, gunny bags, earthworms, weed biomass, and A large bin (plastic or cemented tank). Dry straws and leaves collected from paddy fields and biodegradable wastes collected from fields and kitchen are also used to manufacture the manure.
Methods to Follow
In order to manufacture the compost, either a plastic or a concrete tank can be used, and the size of the tank depends upon the availability of raw materials. Manufacturers have to collect the biomass and place it under the sun for about 8-12 days. Have to cut and arrange according to the required size using the cutter. It is mandatory to prepare the cow dung slurry and sprinkle it on the heap for quick decomposition. Add a layer (2 – 3 inches) of soil or sand at the bottom of the tank. After that, manufacturers have to prepare fine bedding by adding partially decomposed cow dung, dried leaves, and other biodegradable wastes collected from fields and kitchens. Place them evenly on the sand layer. Continue adding both the chopped bio-waste and partially decomposed cow dung layer-wise into the tank up to a depth of 0.5-1.0 ft. Then sprinkle water on a regular basis to maintain the moisture content of the compost. Cover the tank with a thatch roof to prevent the entry of ants, lizards, rodents, snakes, etc., and protect the compost from rainwater and direct sunshine. The composite medium should be observed to prevent the compost from overheating. It is important to have proper moisture and temperature.
Challenges and Solutions in Manufacturing
We should not bury kitchen waste and not overload the worms with too much food. We can also try keeping a plastic sheet or a piece of old carpet or sacking it on the surface of the compost bin. If we find any flies, it is mandatory to displace the compost bin to a location where the files will not be a problem. We can keep a few friendly spiders to take up residence near the compost bin.
The other major problem is odor. It usually comes from rotting food because of giving worms too much to eat and food sitting around too much, so it rots. In order to avoid this, you must stop overloading the food waste until the worms have broken down what they have.
Still, if the problem exists, it is important to transfer the medium into the pit. It allows more air in, which can also reduce odors. Besides, you have to check your bin’s drainage holes to ensure they are not blocked and drill more holes if necessary. If the contents of the container get too wet, the worms will drown. The medium can be too acidic, and the worms will migrate. Bedding can become too acidic with too many acidic leftovers, such as orange peels. Try to reduce the amount of acidic organic matter we throw into the trash.