|Vermi compost yard in Thottiyapatty SG/OFI/SEVAI Project for improved Agriculture production|
SG/OFI-SEVAI project promotes Vermiculture Production in Thottiyapatty Water and soil conservation projects for improved agriculture production. The term vermicomposting means the use of earthworms for composting organic residues. Earthworms consume practically all kinds of organic matter and they eat their own body weight per day. The excreta of the worms are rich in nitrate. The passage of soil through earthworms promotes the growth of bacteria and actinomycetes. Actinomycetes thrive in the presence of worms and their content in worm casts is more than six times that in the original soil. The pioneering work carried out by SG/OFI-SEVAI project in vermiculture technology development and its dissemination has given it a new identity. The bedding material comprised miscellaneous organic residues such as paddy straw, cow dung and well moistened with water. The wet mixture was stored for about one month, being covered with a damp sack to minimize evaporation, and was mixed thoroughly several times. Although the worms were able to eat the bedding material, the worms were fed regularly at this stage: every kilogram of worms received 1 kg of feed every 24 hours.
Vermicast is dark brown/black humus like coarse material, soft in feel and free from any foul smell, live weed seeds and other contamination, Contains sufficient moisture (25-35%) at the time of packing to ensure high level of biological activities. Vermicast is one of the best forms of organic manure and is practically 100 percent like humus.
For each 0.1 m2 of surface area, 100 g of breeder worms were added. The feedstuffs included vegetable wastes also. Some form of protection was required against birds, ants, leeches, rats, frogs and centipedes. Vermiculture very low initial investment is done on the Thottiyapatty farm even in open areas under the thatched shed, Wide range of organic matters are used as raw material. Organic matter recycling has been in use and scientific methods for converting low value organic matter into high value organic composts were developed under this SG/OFI-SEVAI project for improving the fertility of the soil. The activities of earthworms for recycling of organic matter became the focus of attention in recent years. Know-how dissemination services are now offered to the marginal and small farmers of Thottiyapatty under SG/OFI-SEVAI project through SEVAI initiatives as well as through the efforts of farming partners, mostly by training to individual farmers as a component of organic farming programs. Vermiculture production has now become a major component of organic farming. The compost is ready after about one month. It is black, granular, lightweight and humus-rich. In order to facilitate the separating of the worms from the compost, watering should cease two to three days before emptying the beds. This forces about 80 percent of the worms to the bottom of the bed. The remaining worms can be removed by hand. The vermicompost is then ready for application.
The SG/OFI-SEVAI project technical person Sakthivel gave orientation to the village farmers pertaining to the steps of vermicomposting process and he said, “The steps of production of Vermicomposting in this process are: Cattle dung is collected from cow shelters; the dung is kept for about 7-10 days to let it cool, Beds/rows of dung and crop residues/leaves, etc. are made about 1 m wide, 75 cm high and with a distance of 75 cm between two rows, In the beds/rows, crop waste such as leaves, straw etc. is layered alternatively with the dung to thus make a height of about 75 cm, the beds are kept as such for 4-5 days to cool, Water is sprinkled to let the compostable matter cool down, Earthworms are put on the top of the manure row/bed. About 1 kg worms in a metre-long manure row are inoculated; It is left undisturbed for 2-3 days after covering with banana leaves. Covering with jute bags or sacks is not recommended as it heats the manure bed; the bed is opened after 2-3 days. The upper portion of about 10 cm of manure is loosened with the help of a suitable hand tool, the bed is covered again. The worms feed on an upper bed of about 10 cm. This portion becomes vermicasted in about 7-10 days, This portion (vermicasted manure) is removed and collected near the bed. Another upper portion of 10 cm is loosened and covered again with the leaves, Moisture is maintained in the bed by regular sprinkling of water, The loosened portion of the manure is vermicasted in another 7-10 days and is removed again, Thus, in about 40 days, about 60 cm of the bed is converted into vermicompost and is collected on 3-4 occasions, The remaining bed of about 10 cm in height contains earthworm mixed manure, Fresh manure mixture/organic residues, etc. are again put on the residual bed containing earthworms of about 10 cm and the composting process is restarted, The manure collected from the bed is freed of worms through sieving, Uncomposted or foreign matter is also removed in this way, The screened manure is bagged and used or sold as required”.- Govin