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Vermicomposting and Vermiculture

African Night Crawler
African Night Crawler (Eudrilus eugeniae). The most commonly used earthworm for Vermiculture in the Philipines.

Vermiculture is a more "organic" way of producing fertilizer from readily available agricultural wastes in the farm and organic households refuse. These organic wastes are chopped and mixed with dried manure (especially from rumminants, like cows, carabaos, goats, sheeps, etc.) or from other animals, except dogs and cats (more on this later); and most important earthworms.

The final product from the "Vermicomposting" is "Vermicast", an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, and other nutrients that are found in the organic wastes used in the vermicomposting. The selected videos below provide useful guidelines on how to setup your own Vermicomposting and Vermiculture quite simply and easily depending on your available resources, funds and space, as well as what you plan to do with the vermicompost produced.


DA-BAR - QAES: How-to - Vermicomposting & Vermiculture.  This video from DA-BAR is not only in the Filipino language, it also provide important pointers more relevant to vermicomposting in the Philippines.

Role of animal manure. Animal manure not only is an organic waste but more important manure contains microorganisms, especially those from ruminants (carabao, cow, goat, rabbit, sheep, etc.) that aid in the decomposition of organic wastes. The main components of plant materials include celluloses and lignins not digested by simple stomach animals (like human beings, dogs, cats, pigs, etc.). In contrast, in the compound stomach of ruminant animals live symbiotic microorganisms that are able to digest either the celluloses (by secreting enzymes called cellulases) and the lignins by secreting ligninases) -- releasing simple sugars (from the celluloses) and biochemicals (from the lignins) that can now be digested by ruminants, just like other animals.

Dried manure. The DA-BAR video recommends dried not fresh manure for use in vermicomposting.

Why not manure from cats and dogs? Domesticated cats and dogs eat all sorts of food, including animal products. Depending on the source, the manure from these animals may parasites, other pathogens and deleterious microorganisms that may then be passed on to and may have adverse effects on humans, if the manure from these infected animals are used in vermicomposting.  For the same reasons, "human waste" is not generally used in vermicomposting.

In countries, like the United States, the use of "animal byproducts" in feeds for domesticated animals, as well as the excessive use of antibiotics may introduce parasites and pathogens that may then be introduced to the vermicompost, if manure from infected animals is used in the vermicomposting. Further, the excessive use of antibiotics in large scale animal production may introduce "super bugs" in to the vermicomposting process; thus also in the final vermicompost.

For these reason, you should know th source of your vermicompost.

"Role of earthworms. The earthworms added to the vermiculture mix not only eat the organic wastes; just like ruminant animals there are also micorganisms in the gut of earthworms actually that  are the ones responsibible in the actual "digestion" of the organic wastes eaten by the earthworms.

The "African Night Crawler" (Eudrilus eugeniae) is the most commonly used earthworm in the Philippines, however, other earthworms, such as the "Red Worm" (Eisenia fetida) and the "Indian Blues" (Perionyx excavatus).

Worm production. The DA-BAR study (view video above) found that a mixture of chopped banana stalk (75%) and ruminant (carabao, cow or goat) manure (25%) is  most suitable for rapid multiplication of earthworms. This may be due to the high moisture content of the banana stalk and more importantly, it has high potassium (K) content. [Other  agricultural waste 

Watering.  The mixture should be mist ("basa") but not waterlogged. During the summer months, at most three (3) times of watering. Do not water further, one week before harvest.  In the Part 02 video below, one technique used is to water only half of the bed, just one week before the harvest. [Supposedly, the worms will move to the more moist part of the vermiculture.]

Other selected videos. There are numerous videos found in the internet. The two other videos selected below are in Filipino; from an experienced vermicomposting farm. [However, the theoritical basis of why they do stuff, while working may not always be correct. To cite one, the use of the term, "aerobic" (without plastic cover) and "anaerobic" (with plastic cover) most likely is not correct.


Vermiculture and Vermicomposting 1

The pointers and guidelines from an experienced vermiculture practitioner are worth considering. including the use of hanging water bottles, to minimize the work to keep the vermiculture bed moist but not waterlogged.


Vermiculture and Vermicomposting 2

 

Advantages of vermicompost over commercial fertilizer. Commercial fertilizer is very costly -- usually beyond reach of ordinary farmers. Just as important, many components of commercial fertilizer (ammonium sulfate, potassium nitrate, etc.) are soluble in water. Thus, they usually are dissolved and washed away with the rain during the rainy season. The dissolved commercial fertilizer in the rainwater runoff, in turn may induce algal growth and other organisms (water hyacinth, and other acquatic plants) in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water that trigger what is referred to as algal bloom (that is evident by the deep green opaque color of bodies of water where excessive algal and plant growth occurs