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.