Vermicomposting: Let’s convert waste into Manure
Environmental and health degradation has been arising as a major problem over last few decades all over the world and the root cause of it is no other than human being themselves and increasing waste due to urbanization and industrialization. Nepal being developing country has witnessed drastic urbanization in the last decade. The current urban population is touching about 16% of the total population of our country, and according to estimates by the social specialist, it will grow up to 24% by the next decade (JICA, 2005). From past and present experiences, the urbanization process is mostly carried out in haphazard manners and is leading to sub-standard urban environment and degradation of the quality of life. Despite of different negative effect unmanaged solid waste is the worst effect of urbanization responsible for degradation of health and environment of the area.
Solid waste can be categorized as bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste which chiefly comes from household, market, industries, medical field etc. The non-biodegradable waste can be reused and recycled whereas bio degradable waste can be composted or vermi -composted. The vermicomposting is preferred than compost normally.
Vermicompost is gaining the popularity from last one decade, considering the fact that supports to make the environment sound. In each and every part of the country, many agricultural group are involving in the vermicomposting activities. Similarly, in recent years, many agricultural groups in Lamjung districts are also involving in the vermicompost production. Many farmer are benefitted from the vermicompost activities as they are using the vermicompost in the crop field and finally their crop yield is increasing.
Vermicompost is the product of the decomposition process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers ,white worms, and other earthworms, to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. This process is called vermicomposting, while the rearing of worms for this purpose is called vermiculture.
Scope of Vermicompost
Management of Zoo wastes has been increasing problem in urban areas. The major part of the Zoo waste is organic material contributing from animal dungs, garbage and litter which can be converted into fertile compost. We used the vermicomposting techniques for converting the elephant dung, rhino dung, garbage and litter into compost in relatively short time compared to traditional method of composting. The physico-chemical and microbiological parameters of thus prepared compost were tested adopting standard scientific methods. The analysis showed that pH, organic matter content, moisture content, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and (Carbon:Nitrogen) C: N value are appropriate for utilizing in the farming. Thus vermicomposting is one of the viable options for converting huge amount of organic waste into high quality compost effectively. The climate of Nepal favors vermicomposting as well as it is one of the source of income .
Steps of vermicomposting
Step 1: Buy and Prepare the Bin
We should drill holes in the sides of the storage bin, bottom and top (too few or too many holes can be a bad thing, so keep the total number around 20) for air circulation and drainage. Buy a bin that is opaque and not clear – the worms need for it to be dark inside.
Step 2: Find a Spot for the Compost Bin
Placement of the compost bin is important. Many apartment complexes don’t allow storage on balconies, so we may have to strategically hide the compost bin so it is not visible from the outside. Also keep the bin in a shady spot. we don’t want the worms to get too hot or have too much light.
Step 3: Shred Paper for Bedding
Shred newspaper into thin strips to make bedding for the worms . Avoid glossy paper,. Newspaper and the paper inside of phone books are safe for composting worms because the inks used in this papers are strictly regulated by the government. Any other paper is questionable, so recycle any other paper in another way. Cardboard, such as toilet paper tubes, and egg cartons are also suitable for worm bedding. (Glossy boxes, such as cereal boxes are not appropriate.) we have to spray the paper so that it is moist, but not soaking wet. We should always keep the bedding at this moist consistency.
Step 4: Add Food and Wait
Then we should add a little bit of food and a small scoop of dirt and wait about two weeks. The food grows a good crop of microbes that the worms will eat.
Step 5: Add Worms
Eisenia foetida, or red worms, are the best worms for your vermicomposting bin. They should breed in the bin, so we should only need to invest in worms once. We should not put earthworms in our bin. They will die and your compost will fail.
Step 6: Feed the Bin
We will be “feeding the bin” (instead of feeding the worms) because although worms do eat some of the waste material put into the compost bin, they mostly feed on the microbes that break down the waste. Good food to put in the bin includes fruits and vegetables (feed citrus in moderation), coffee grounds, tea bags and crushed eggshells. For foods to add only in moderation include citrus, starches (bread, rice, etc.), spicy peppers, onions, oily food and sugary food. We should Never add meat or dairy, or any kind of human or pet waste. We should not add too much food. Then Watch the bin and see what foods break down and what foods don’t. Foods like lettuce break down right away, while banana peels take a long time to decompose. When we feed the bin, we add new shredded newspaper or spray with water, if needed.
Step 7: Harvest the Castings
In a few months, there may be some nutrient-rich worm castings that we can harvest from our bin and use as fertilizer for your garden plants. To harvest the castings, we need another container and a plastic bag with holes cut into it. Then we place the bag over the top of the new container, and make sure it’s taught over the opening. Then we put the new container in the sun, and start putting the contents of our worm bin onto the top of the bag. The worms will burrow through the holes and into the new container because they don’t want to be out in the sun. This way we can separate the castings from the worms. When harvesting is done , we put the worms back into their compost bin.
We can convert the biodegradable waste into organic manure using the worms. Vermicomposting can be done with cheaper investment . it can be practiced in local community .vermicomposting can solve the problem of unmanaged garbage in community.