Vermicompost is the product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.
Benefits of Vermicompost for Soil
- Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm.
- Vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.
- Vermicompost improved the physical make up of upper layers of soil, enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes which help to use complex matters such as phosphate and cellulose).
- The microbial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests, it also attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil and the mucus present in vermicast improves water holding capacity
Benefits of Vermicompost for Plant growth
- Vermicompost enhances germination, plant growth, and crop yield and improves root growth and structure.
- It enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding plant hormones such as auxins and gibberellic acid)
Economic Benefits of Vermicompost:
- Biowastes conversion reduces waste flow to landfills. Elimination of biowastes from the waste stream reduces contamination of other recyclables collected in a single bin (a common problem in communities practicing single-stream recycling.
- The production also creates low-skill jobs at local level. Vermicompost has low capital investment and relatively simple technologies make vermicomposting practical for less-developed agricultural regions
Environmental Benefits of Vermicompost:
- Vermicompost helps to close the “metabolic gap” through recycling waste on-site. large systems often use temperature control and mechanized harvesting, however other equipment is relatively simple and does not wear out quickly. Production reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitric oxide (produced in landfills or incinerators when not composted or through methane harvest)
Disadvantages / Issues of Vermicompost:
- Moisture, air circulation and compost quantity need regular monitoring otherwise the Vermicompost will smell like an old garbage. The quality of Vermicompost deteriorates in anaerobic environment.
- Vermicompost can be carried out at relatively low temperatures (under 25 °C) only. It is vitally important to keep the temperature below 35 °C, otherwise the earthworms will be killed.
- Vermicompost is time consuming. It can take many months, or even years, to build up a large working population of earthworms capable of vermicomposting significant quantities of waste. As well as this, earthworms (sometimes in large numbers) tend to escape during damp weather conditions or when food is in short supply.