Earthworms play a primary role in vermicomposting. The organic material has good commercial value for farmers. The production requires the use of specific type of earthworm.
The resultant material is ideal for crop and vegetable farming. It increases the farm yield, fruit quality due to the presence of nutrients. Applications are common in vegetable farming, ornamental plants and horticulture.
Investors interested in this business require low startup, small land space and practical knowledge of the subject matter. Vermicompost is natural, highly organic and attracts premium price in the market. A producer is bound to make good returns in a relatively short period.
Benefits of Vermicompost
There are many advantages for investors in this type of business. The main attraction is low investment and easy application. It is possible to start the business on a small plot of land.
The benefits includes loads of essential nutrients for crop growth. Others are long shelf life, easy to store and low odor. It improves soil aeration, texture, water buoyancy.
It encourages increase in earthworm population, reduces pest and disease in plants. It reduces the reliance of synthetic fertilizer and more on organic matter.
- Low investment
- Easy application
- Small plot of land
- Loaded with essential nutrients
- Long shelf life
- Easy to store
- Low odor
- Improves soil aeration, texture, water buoyancy
- Encourages increase in earthworm population
- Reduces pest and disease in plants
- Reduces the reliance of synthetic fertilizer
What is Vermicompost?
The rearing of earthworms in a controlled environment and introduction of organic matter. The breakdown of the matter by the earthworms result in the Vermicompost.
The amount of money depends on the size of the operation. An investor needs money to construct the vermin-bed, construct a shed and purchase digging equipment.
A good source of organic material for the production is cow dung. Finance the project through target savings or borrow from friends and family. You can apply for small business loans with low interest rate.
How to Produce Vermicompost
The first step is to prepare the bin and add 6cm bedding material. Add earthworms, cut waste material and add to bed.
Cover bin with moist cloth and keep away from direct sunlight. Maintain the moisture by sprinkling water accordingly. Harvest by separating the compost from the worm every 90 days.
1 First step is to prepare the bin or Bed
2 Add 6cm bedding material
3 Add earthworms
4 Cut waste material and add to bed
5 Cover bin with moist cloth
6 Keep away from direct sunlight
7 Maintain the moisture by sprinkling water
8 Harvest every 90 days
How to Prepare the Bed
Construct brick lined beds 15 meter length, 1.5 meter width, 0.5 meter height. To prepare the bed dig shallow layers and introduce the cow dung. Other organic material to introduce farm waste in layers into the dig.
To encourage faster fermentation keep the temperature of 29 C. protect the earthworms from flooding or direct rainfall by building an open shed over the dig. Introduce earthworms to each layer at the rate of 300 worms per m3 of bed volume.
Moisture content in the soil should not exceed 45% and keep temperature at 23 to 28C. To maintain moisture content sprinkle water when appropriate. Avoid high temperatures and resist overloading the heap.
The soil should have good drainage and waterlogged soil will kill the worms. The organic material should be free of chemicals, ceramic, stones, glass.
The ideal condition for production is soil moist condition of 50%. The soil should be well aerated, PH range of 6.5 to 7.5 and temperature range of 30C.
- Soil moist condition of 50%
- Well aerated
- PH range of 6.5 to 7.5
- Temperature range of 30C
Type of Earthworms
Not all types are ideal for Vermicompost production. Two common types used in the process are Epianecic and Epigeics. Epigeics are native to India and are surface feeders while Epianecic feed on upper layers of soil.
Earthworms reach maturity in 2 to 3 months and reproduce by laying an egg. The egg usually contains several embryos and produces about 4 to 8 earthworms. The mortality rate of earthworms are about 1 to 2 years in ideal conditions.
To reduce transportation cost site the business close to dairy farm. This will produce adequate amount of cow dung and farm waste.
How to Establish a Commercial Vermicomposting Unit
To setup a vermicomposting unit you need a building for the production. Others are preparation of the Vermicompost bed, shed. More are acquiring the seed stock, fencing, machinery, transportation and machinery.
Transportation is used to carry raw materials and finished products. Machinery needed are for aeration, loading, unloading, and digging.
You need adequate water supply to regulate the soil moisture. Fencing prevents predators while the investor needs to purchase earthworms.
Things You Need for Vermicompost Production
- Administrative building
- Preparation of the Vermicompost bed
- Seed stock
- Raw materials
- Water supply
Earthworms are loaded with protein and food for many creatures. Common predators are birds, ants, rats, centipedes, pigs and termites.
Harvesting the Vermicompost
A popular way of production is the use of wooden boxes or block. Separate the compost from the worms and collect from top layers. Sieve to remove any worms and store in polythene bag. Your main customers are crop and vegetable farmers.
More on Vermicompost
What is Vermicompost?
When organic material is decomposed by earthworms the resultant compost is Vermicompost. Commercial production of Vermicompost is highly lucrative and specialized field. The organic material is rich in nutrients perfect for crop, vegetables and fruit production.
Rate of application on crops
Farmers prefer Vermicompost because if its high yield good bio qualities. The compost aids fast growth for crops in an earthy organic ways. Common rate of application on crops include 200grams/square feet on flowering plants, 10kg/tree on fruiting trees. Others include 12 tonnes/ha on crops, 6 tonnes/ha on field crops.
Cost involved in the production of Vermicompost are labor, basic equipment, shed/. Other cost implications are sourcing organic material, transportation of compost to buyers. Organic material perfect for compost production are cow dung, chicken waste
Advantages of Vermicompost
Advantages include rapid decomposition of organic matter, improved growth. Others are higher farm yield, eco-friendly, improves soil structure, increased nutrients to plants, water retention for plants.
Good sales price of compost, long shelf life, low investment perfect for ornament plants, crop farming. Increases efficiency of fertilizer reduces disease and pests in crops, fosters excellent growth in plants.
- rapid decomposition of organic matter
- improved growth
- higher farm yield
- improves soil structure
- increased nutrients to plants
- good water retention for plants.
- Premium price
- long shelf life
- low investment
- increases efficiency of fertilizer
- reduces pests in crops
Equipment for Vermicompost production
Commercial production requires ample landed space and tons of organic material. Lease or purchase an acre of land to make several vermin-beds. Make provisions for water by installing a bore hole.
You need electricity, large stock of earthworms, sheds, equipment sheds, secure perimeter fencing. Basic farm equipment include rake, shovel, wheelbarrows, diggers, heavy moving equipment, and thermometer to measure core temperature. Invest in good storage facility, wooden boxes, packaging bags, storage racks.
- wooden boxes for vermin-beds
- installing a bore hole
- large stock of earthworms
- equipment sheds
- perimeter fencing
- heavy moving equipment
- good storage facility
- packaging bags
- storage racks
How Vermicompost is made
General operations in vermiculture are making of layered beds, shed, aerating, loading. Others include collection of compost, sourcing organic material, drying and packaging.
Worms are the main engine room in the production of the compost. Therefore an entrepreneur interested in producing Vermicompost should first go into vermiculture.
Vermiculture is the growing of earthworms in a controlled envelopment. The process of Vermicompost production involves maintaining core temperature, construction of vermin-bed, introduction of earthworms.
Stages of homemade Vermicompost production
To make the compost place a bin away from direct sunlight/.. Add 6 cm bedding material in bin. Next step is introduce earthworms and add waste material. Then cover bin with moist cloth, check moisture content regularly and regulate by sprinkling water on bed.
The sprinkled water will provide a conducive environment for the worms and prevent worm mortality.. The Vermicompost is ready every 100 days then store for another month before removing young worms.
Steps homemade Vermicompost
- place a bin away from direct sunlight
- Add 6 cm bedding material in bin
- Add earthworm
- Add organic waste material.
- Cover bin with moist cloth
- Check moisture content regularly
- Regulate by sprinkling water on bed.
- Harvest top layer every 100 days
- Use 2m sieve
- Bag Vermicompost
Precautions include smaller heaps to avoid high temperatures, regular watering/sprinkling to prevent loss of worms. Make sure the land has proper drainage channels to avoid stagnant. Remove glass, stones, nylon, plastics from organic material before it is used in the bed. Don’t use plastic sheet to cover the heap because it will increase the core temperature.
- smaller heaps
- regular watering/sprinkling
- land has proper drainage channels
- remove foreign materials from organic material
- don’t use plastic sheet to cover, use moist cloth
Making the Bed
To avoid infestation from birds, termites, pigs and centipedes apply insecticide before filling heap. Construct beds 1.5 meters wide and 0.3 meters height open from all sides in a shed. However in commercial production quality the construction is much bigger.
Once the bed linings are ready add organic matter and farm waste in layers. Then introduce the earthworms between the layers, place them in a ratio of 350 worms per 1 cubic meter and maintain content moisture at 45%.temperature at 22-30 degrees centigrade.
Removing the compost
Earthworms generally move down making harvesting the compost easy. Remove only the top layer of compost, remove any earthworms you find. Next stage is to sieve the compost with a 2mm sieve and resultant material that makes it through is Vermicompost then store in bags. Don’t forget to add organic material to replace the layer harvested.
Questions and Answers
What is the use of Vermicompost?
Vermicompost is high in nutritional value amazing soil conditioner. It has good organic material with water soluble nutriets that fuster good growth of crops, trees, fruits. It is good for most plants because of the repellant qualities with regular application.
What worms are used in making Vermicompost
Most earthworms arecapable of making the compost especially lumbricus and Eisenia foetida. Good types are red worms, manure worms, brandling worms, red wrigglers and tiger worms.
How long to make vermicompst
A worm lives about 1-2 years in ideal conditions while some live up to 4-5 years.It takes 3-6 months depending on number of worms per cubic and type of worms.