Vermiculture is a process of utilization of some species of earthworms to create some kind of vermicompost. It is also termed as worm farming. Vermicompost is defined as a product of the composting process that includes white worms, red wigglers, and earthworms to form heterogeneous mixtures of vermicast, bedding materials, and food waste. In simple vermicast is obtained by the breakdown of organic matter by an earthworm.
Vermicompost comprises of water-soluble nutrients which form ideal nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. It acts as the best soil conditioner. Hence they are used in small scale organic farming. they are also used in the treatment of sewage sludge, oxygen demand from black water or wastewater.
Vermiculture can be carried out on the basement or in a balcony of the house. The advantage of a worm bin is that they can speed up the process. They make use of pure garden waste than that of garden waste once the colony is established. They are often smaller than that of composite bins. Paper can be used for worm bins. For example, a paper which cannot be put for recycling. Vermiculture is generally in practice in developing countries.
Types of Earthworms Used In Vermiculture
Earthworms improve the quality of the soil as it recycles the organic waste of different life forms into humus. Based on feeding and burrowing habits four types of earthworms are cultivated in vermiculture. They are stated below:
- Endogeic: These earthworms are characterized by burrowing. They usually create a horizontal burrow and they feed on the material present at the deep surface of the soil.
- Epigeic: These earthworms are found on the upper surface of the soil. They feed on soil fitter. They are not for burrowing. They are usually red, brown and red-brown in colour. They are small in size and do not contain stripes unlike other types of earthworms.
- Anecic: They create a vertical burrow and they feed on a soiled litter. They are found in the upper part of the soil and in deep soil burrows. In grasslands, castings of these earthworms can be found.
- Compost: As the name suggests these earthworms are found in the compost pit. These types of earthworms dwell in the warm environmental conditions, in the presence of moisture and in a readily available composite material.
Applications Of Vermiculture
- They can be used as fish feed as vermicompost is rich in protein and other nutrients. Care must be taken not to put excess vermicompost as a fish food as it may alter the pH of water.
- In the improvement of land quality. That is due to mining, increased use of chemical fertilizers and urbanization there is a depletion in soil. To overcome this EUI – Earthworm Inoculation Unit has been developed.