pros and cons of vermicomposting

Pros and Cons of Vermicomposting

Introduction

Want to try out vermicomposting and you are not sure whether it is right for you? Well, the only way to find out is by trying it out. You will probably find satisfactory from reducing trash and saving the environment.

The key to safe and efficient home-based composting is using a good container. Inexpensive bins can be as simple as hay bales or wooden pallets, but sometimes the best available material is actually an old portable plastic playpen. Thus comes the many different composting methods that exist now. They all come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Thus we have the best guide  on learning how to make your own composting bins and getting compost from them.

With the right tools and some skills, you can be a vermicomposting expert in a short time. We will take you through the process of vermicomposting and the pros and cons of vermicomposting.

What Is Vermicomposting?

Vermicomposting is a process of decomposition of organic waste with the help of earthworms yielding a better end product called Vermicast. Vermicompost is considered an organic fertilizer as it is rich in nutrients and acting as a soil conditioner.

Vermicomposting is an excellent way to recycle food wastes in the kitchen and yard waste in the backyard. The best thing about Vermicomposting is that you don’t need a plot of land or your own garden to practice it. To start using vermicomposting at home you will need to set up a simple worm farm. There are many ways to do vermicomposting over the internet but we have the best vermicomposting guide

Vermicompost acts as an organic fertilizer and biological control agent conquering many plant diseases caused by soil-borne plant pathogens and pests. Vermicompost is a liquid organic fertilizer similar to the color of honey, which is produced by earthworms during earthworm compost production or even separately.

Earthworms eat their food by making a tunnel in the soil. These tunnels contain micro-organisms. The water passing through this tunnel brings down nutrients from it in soluble form and plants absorb it easily.

It contains many nutrients, hormones such as cytokinin, vitamins, and amino acids useful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, etc. All the nutrients in it are present in a soluble form which is available to the plants.

The Process of Vermicomposting

These are the steps in the process and some of the materials you require to set up a composting system:

  1. At the bottom of the cement, the ring covers it with a layer of polygene sheet or titles or coconut husk. (Size based on the number of raw materials available.)
  2. On the polythene sheet, spread a 15-20cm layer of organic material. Sprinkle rock phosphate if available on the waste material and the sprinkle cow dung slurry. Fill the ring completely in layers. Paste the top of the ring with soil or cow dung. Allow the material to decompose for 15 to 20 days.
  3. When the heat release during the decaying of the materials has subsided, free selected earthworms, (500 to 700) via the cracks erupt.
  4. To avoid birds from picking the earthworms, shelter the ring with mesh or a gunny bag. To conserve sufficient moisture and body temperature of the earthworms, sprinkle water every three days.
  5. If agricultural waste is being used then in about 2 months the Vermicompost is ready and if sericulture waste is used as substrate then it is ready in about 4 weeks.
  6. The prepared vermicompost is free from bad odor, black in color, and light in weight.
  7. Do watering regularly to maintain moisture.
  8. Monitor the composting tank to maintain temperature and moisture
  9. When the compost is ready, do not water the compost for 2-3 days to make it easy for the shift. Pile the compost in small heaps and leave it under ambient conditions for a couple of hours when all the worms lower the heap in the bed. To separate the earthworms from the manure, detach the upper portion of the manure and filter the lower portion.
  10. Cocoons, juveniles, and adults are the different stages of the earthworm’s life cycle, carried by the culture in the bed. Shift this culture to fresh half decomposed feed material.
  11. Make another pile about 20 days before extracting the compost and repeat the above process.

Pros and Cons of Vermicomposting

These are some of the pros and cons of vermicomposting you need to know before trying it out, but a few cons can be prevented if you properly maintain and take care of your system.

1)     Time

It is a time-consuming process and usually takes 2-3 months for completing the process. However, tossing compost into the bin and rinsing the collection container takes just a few minutes every 2 to 3 days.

Activities that may take a long are setting up the composting worms’ bin and harvesting compost. This can be considered to be in both the pros and cons of vermicomposting because it depends on how much time you have.

2)     Monitoring

You need to keep monitoring the composting tank to maintain its temperature and moisture for better action by the earthworms. And the bed should be turned every 30 days for aeration and proper decomposing.

3)     Waste Reduction

In large companies like food industries, the waste products can be reduced by reusing the wastes with vermicomposting. Composting requires a lot of sorting out organic matter from the trash; it diverts organic wastes from landfills and incinerators. You can compost food trimmings, leftovers, utensils, and certain agricultural wastes.

4)     Odor

If not done properly, it releases a bad odor. Filling the compost bin with green plants forms ammonia and produces the smell. You can add carbon sources like paper it helps to neutralize the smell. A well-maintained, healthy vermicomposting bin has an earthy smell.

Vermicomposting is well-oxygenated, so if there is any bad odor it is a sign of trouble. Bad odor is caused by mixing trash with non-organic trash and kitchen scraps this makes it not to get enough oxygen. Therefore, anaerobic bacteria grow in the trash and cause a smell.

5)     Costs

The initial cost of setting up a vermicomposting system can be high since you will need to purchase the bins and the warms too. If money is tight you can make your own composting bin. The composting worms’ population should replenish itself but if you want you can order or purchase them.

6)     Speed

Compared to other composting methods which takes up to 6 to 9 months to provide ready-to-manure, vermicomposting only takes 2 to 3 months

7)     Location

Vermicomposting can be done both indoors and outdoors. You can even place it under your kitchen sink. This is one of these biggest pros over other composting methods. If doing it indoors you need to cut the organic matter into smaller bits so that the warms can eat it quickly and keep the system odor-free.

8)     E-coli Count

After being kept for 21days, vermicompost will reduce the number of E-coli bacteria to permissible levels, according to research.

9)     Decentralization

Since this can be easily adopted in rural or urban homes, it helps you avoid transporting organic waste to centralized places. This, in turn, saves on fuel used for transportation, bringing down the cost for the community.

10) Attracts flies

The bins, once filled with organic matter, can attract fruit flies, but you can avoid this by adding food in quantities that the worms can eat and by covering it with soil. Flies indicate that the food is exposed or rotten, which may mean there is too much of it. To avoid the flies clean out what is there and wait for several days before feeding the worms again. When you do give them less food and bury it deep inside this will bring the flies population to control.

The Difference Between Vermicomposting and Fertilizers

Fertilizer is a chemical or natural substance that is applied to the soil or the plants to improve growth and productivity. Below are the differences between fertilizers and vermicomposting.

1.       Chemical Dependency

Vermicomposting is organic, so you do not need to worry about it harming your health. It is more nutritional because it is not mixed with anything unlike how fertilizers are mixed with chemicals. Chemical fertilizers do increase plant yields but do not do anything for the plants’ health.

2.     Sustainability

Vermicomposting allows nutrients to be sustained and absorbed by the roots of plants unlike fertilizers vermicomposting is not easily flushed from the soil because of the earthworm’s mucus that it contains. Plants have longer to obtain and sustain the nutrients and get the maximum benefit.

3.     Application

With vermicomposting, the dosage of application is based on the crops we grow. For field crops, 5-6 tones/ha vermicomposting is applied. For horticultural crops, it is advised to combine an equal amount of manure with vermicompost. In fruit crops, apply 4-5kg of vermicompost per plant in the tree basin.

Fertilizers are applied during planting below the surface close to the see row. Often fertilizer is placed 1 to 2 inches below. In cool, wet areas, a “starter application” of fertilizer is placed in a subsurface band to boost seedling growth.

4.     Affordability

Vermicomposting involves the use of earthworms to convert waste into manure, which makes it more affordable than fertilizers. But others prefer buying the bins and earthworms which may cost them some money. This can be considered to be both pros and cons of vermicomposting because it being affordable or not depends on your pockets. Some will find it affordable and will not.

5.     Chemical Composition

With fertilizers, septic tanks systems are used to separate and digest solid matter. However, they contaminate groundwater with pathogens and nutrients and deprive agriculture of valuable nutrients and soil conditioners.

The septic tank usually consists of an underground monolithic tank having two filter beds at its bottom or two filter bags that hung side by side and are used alternatively at intervals of 6-12 months, it is an efficient component for solid-liquid separation, pre-treatment, and collection/storage of solid matter.

The decomposition is however slow because of the high moisture content of the retained solids. Unlike fertilizers, vermicomposting no secondary treatment is required as the human excreta will be converted to vermicastings, which are hygienically safe and can be reused as a soil conditioner. Also with vermicomposting the dry and stable retained materials are obtained in the filter bags in about 3 months.

Vermicomposting Methods

Vermicomposting has two methods;

a) The Pit Method

In the pit methods which the composting is done in pits made of cement. The other method is the bed method; the beds are made on the floor. Most people prefer the bed method because it is easy to maintain.

The materials used in vermicomposting are organic wastes (kitchen waste, animal waste, etc.), earthworms are also used in this method but for quick action, specific earthworms are preferred. Cow dung, water, gunny bags, and large bins either cemented or plastic tanks.

b) The Bed Method

The second vermicomposting method is the bed method. The bed vermicomposting method is the most popular. The bed method involves making a bed using substrate material.

The bed should be about 4 to 5 inches thick; it can be made by layering organic matter such as leaves, chopped-up straw, wood chips, and rice husks. Greens are added after each layer of brown waste is added.

It should have worms in it before organic wastes are put into it so that they do not die from the new changes and make sure that you add enough water for them to survive.

Earthworms produce enzymes that help decompose wastes faster in large numbers without disturbing the soil structure around them. If the bins are kept dry, then they will starve because earthworms need water for their survival as much as humans need oxygen to breathe.

Which is the Best Vermicomposting Method

The best vermicomposting method is the bed method. This is because you can get more earthworms from your bed than from bins, and the worms are easier to maintain on a bed.

To create this method make sure that there are no sharp objects like rocks or very heavy soil in your compost pile, otherwise, it will kill the earthworms that live in it. You need at least three inches of brown waste to lay down before adding green wastes.

Adding food scraps to the bin means that you need less brown matter as they will decay faster than the ones on the surface which acts as protection for them and other things living around it. It also keeps these things fresh longer by reducing moisture loss through evaporation. The temperature inside your compost pile must be a steady 130–150 degrees.

What to Feed the Worms During Vermicomposting

There are a number of things you could feed worms with such as:

  1. Vegetable and fruit scraps including potato, carrot, corn, cabbage, melon, pumpkin, and so on.
  2. Coffee grounds (don’t add any oils or fats from your coffee)
  3. Eggshells Teabags and teacups with the leaves removed (these provide carbon for composting)
  4. Paper towels Bread/pastry scrapings (remove crusts and don’t include any fats or oils).
  5. Shredded newspaper Sawdust Wood chips Garden pruning’s/clippings Dryer lint Peanut shells Seaweed
  6. Dairy products like milk cartons may be added to the bin as long as they do not contain a lot of dairy fat; otherwise, they will encourage the growth of fungi which interferes with worm activity.

Final Thoughts

Vermicomposting is a productive, easy, environmental, and viable method you should probably think about trying out. Vermicomposting is very useful in resolving the waste discarding problem.

This method is safer when you want healthier plants because it reduces the need for pesticides. If you are thinking about trying vermicomposting, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of vermicomposting first.

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