A Sustainable Way to Enhance Organic Waste Materials
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in sustainable practices, especially when it comes to waste management. One such practice that has gained popularity is vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is the process of using certain species of earthworms to enhance the composting of organic waste materials for a better and more nutrient-rich product. In this blog post, we will explore how to create a vermicompost bed and how to utilize the resulting product to fertilize your plants.
Creating a Vermicompost Bed
To start a vermicompost bed, you may use available organic waste materials in your area, such as kitchen scraps, yard waste, or manure. Prepare a vermi compost bed measuring one meter wide and five meters in length. Add the organic waste materials and water the bed, keeping it moist but not too wet. Check regularly and add one kilogram of earthworms (African nightcrawlers) in each bed.
The Role of Earthworms in Vermicomposting
Earthworms play a crucial role in the vermicomposting process. They consume the organic waste material and pass it through their digestive system. This process gives out a granular form castings known as vermicompost. Earthworms like dark conditions, so it’s important to put a cover on top of the bed, but ensure good aeration. You may use sacks or any other available materials in your area but avoid using plastic sheets as it may trap heat and gases.
Tips for Maintaining a Vermicompost Bed
To maintain the vermicompost bed, it’s essential to check the moisture regularly. A dry condition will kill the earthworms, while a waterlogged condition will drive them away. Vermicast is ready to harvest after one month. Start harvesting from the top of the bed and save the harvested Verma casts to separate the earthworms and undigested compost materials included during harvesting. Put back the residue to the vermicompost bed. It can be used immediately or stored for the next fertilization activity, but be sure to air dry it first before storage.
Using Vermicompost as Fertilizer
Vermicompost contains a good amount of macro and micronutrients that are needed by plants. The amount varies depending on the type of plant or manure used in vermicomposting. Vermicompost can be used as a mix for seedling medium, as a basal application during land preparation, or applied as a side dressing for growing plants.
Benefits of Vermicomposting
Vermicomposting has numerous benefits. It reduces the amount of organic waste that goes to landfills, thereby reducing the production of greenhouse gases. It also provides an excellent source of nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. Additionally, vermicomposting can be done on a small scale, making it ideal for small backyard gardening or to make use of kitchen waste.
The Quantity of Nutrients in FYM
FIM and vermicompost are organic fertilizers that contain all the essential nutrients required for plant growth. However, Dr. Bhatnagar notes that the major nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, commonly referred to as NPK. In this article, we will learn about the amount of NPK present in FIM and vermicompost, their availability, and their application rate.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in FIM and Vermicompost
FIM and vermicompost contain approximately 0.5% nitrogen, 0.2% phosphorus, and 0.4% to 0.5% potassium. Suppose we take potassium as 0.4%. In that case, we can calculate that 0.5% nitrogen means that in 100kg of FIM or vermicompost, there is only 0.5kg of nitrogen. Similarly, 0.2% phosphorus and 0.4% potassium translate to 0.2kg and 0.4kg, respectively, in 100kg of FIM or vermicompost.
To calculate the nutrient content of FIM and vermicompost, we need to know how much of the organic fertilizer is applied. Dr. Bhatnagar notes that farmers usually apply ten tons of FIM or vermicompost per hectare, with an application rate of 10 to 20 tons per hectare.
Nutrient Content in FIM and Vermicompost
If we apply ten tons of FIM or vermicompost per hectare, we get 50kg of nitrogen, 20kg of phosphorus, and 40kg of potassium. However, farmers typically apply only ten tons per hectare due to the problem of availability. If farmers apply twenty tons of FIM, the nutrient content will double, resulting in 100kg of nitrogen, 40kg of phosphorus, and 80kg of potassium.
Micro Nutrients in FIM and Vermicompost
Although FIM and vermicompost contain all the essential nutrients required for plant growth, micronutrients like copper and magnesium are present in smaller quantities. However, Dr. Bhatnagar emphasizes that the focus is on NPK because they require more attention.
Vermicomposting is a sustainable way to enhance organic waste materials and produce nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. To create a vermicompost bed, you may use available organic waste materials in your area, add earthworms, and maintain the bed by checking the moisture regularly. Vermicompost can be used as a mix for seedling medium, as a basal application during land preparation, or applied as a side dressing for growing plants. By using vermicomposting, we can reduce waste and create a more sustainable future.
FIM and vermicompost are essential sources of NPK, the major nutrients required for plant growth. Farmers usually apply ten tons of FIM or vermicompost per hectare, resulting in 50kg of nitrogen, 20kg of phosphorus, and 40kg of potassium. Although micronutrients are present in small quantities, their focus is on NPK because they require more attention.