So What’s All This Fuss About Worm Composting?
The growth of interest in vermiculture or worm farming in recent months has been nothing short of exponential. Across the globe, businessmen, students and housewifes are happily thrusting their hands into bins full of these slimy, wriggling creatures. In many countries, worms are being lavished with the care and concern, usually reserved for a treasured car or a favorite pet. The question is why?
Read on – the answer is to be found in these web page – Welcome to our obsession!
- Why Use Worms for Making Compost Anyway?
- The Main Advantages of Vermicomposting
- Commercial Vermiculture
- Worms Working for Mother Earth
- Worm Composting to Help the Hungry
- Dictionary of Worm Terms
Why Use Worms for Making Compost Anyway?
Doesn’t a conventional compost heap, work just as well, without the hassle of having to mess with worms? The answer is an emphatic NO !!! Firstly the vermicomposting process is much quicker and more importantly, the potential fertility of organic material passing through the gut of a worm is greatly enhanced, mainly due to the promotion of beneficial microbes. In the worm faeces (worm castings) – the feed material is broken down into much simpler forms, more readily available to the needs of plants. Simply put, complex cellular structures are converted into essential enzymes, hormones and minerals, whilst harmful pathogens are simultaneously removed or made non viable. The count of beneficial micro organisms found in vermicompost can be 20 times higher than that of a comparable good quality fertile soil.
The Main Advantages of Vermicomposting (Worm Composting)
Why start a worm farm? A fisherman might become a worm farmer to simply raise worms for fishing bait, but the more likely motivation these days, would be to convert organic waste directly into compost, using a process known as vermiculture or vermicomposting, to make a rich organic fertilizer for the garden or for pot plants.
Probably the strongest reason for the fast growing worldwide interest in composting waste through vermiculture must be the increasing awareness, amongst thinking people, of environmental issues and the health benefits of eating primarily organically grown foods. Making worm compost with red worms, offers an ecologically friendly way of providing high quality organic fertilizer for crops and other plants, whilst simultaneously disposing of unwanted waste products from kitchens, stables or gardens. Compost making, by any process, is also a great boon for municipal corporations as it reduces the amount of waste material heading for their increasingly overstretched landfills.
Large scale worm composting is used in many parts of the world as a valuable method of disposing of sewage sludge in an ecologically friendly way. The use of vermicomposting techniques of various kinds is used to turn potentially large quantities of potentially harmful human waste into useful organic fertilizer, from which dangerous pathogens have been eradicated and the plant nutriment value increased several fold. And this is an entirely natural process! Further down the line, on a commercial scale, live worms, worm compost and another useful by product called worm tea are all sold for gain. Worms are also raised commercially in the US and in countries such as China as for a high protein feed supplement for pigs, poultry and fish farming. There have even been serious suggestions of using earthworm meal as an excellent protein supplement for human consumption and also for using worm blood products to provide haemoglobin for humans – but at present we think we’ll leave those prospects alone!
Worms Working for Mother Earth
There are many reasons to start worm farming – remember this – it takes a couple of acres of farmland to feed just one 600 kilogram, methane farting cow – but if you were fanatical about it, you could raise something in excess of 25000 kg of worms on just one acre and dispose of a mountain of waste in the process – without putting too much carbon into the atmosphere. Looked at from the earth’s point of view – that is really a no brainer! Have no doubts – by making your own worm farm or by promoting vermicomposting, you are actually doing something effective to help our poor overstressed earth. The promotion of vermiculture, as a cheap and effective technology, has an important role to play on a worldwide scale.
Worm Composting to Help the Hungry
Spare a thought for the so-called Third World, where there are many rural schools that are struggling with the problem of educating malnourished children. How does a child concentrate on her school work if her tummy is perpetually hungry? With a little help from outside, some of these schools are beginning to start projects to grow foods to feed their students – however fertilizer is always one of the major input costs to people with few resources. Many of these areas have impoverished soils. In these places labor is cheap, but there is no money to buy imported materials. It is in this type of situation that vermiculture can certainly lend a hand. There are always organic wastes to be collected, in the form of animal dung, paper or fallen leaves, and the traditional stacked tire worm farm, which costs nothing to set up, is an ideal solution (see our webpage describing this system). For the minor effort of collecting a few old tyres, the initial set up can be replicated many times over, to increase the scale of the enterprise as required.
In South Africa, some schools are already being made aware of the value of vermicomposting and school gardens are being promoted by concerned benefactors. It would be a great boon if more poor communities could be made aware of the benefits and cost effectiveness of improving soil fertility through vermicomposting. The potential strength of worm farming is that it is a meaningful “low tech” enterprise that can do something towards providing food security, without needing costly outside interventions to sustain it.