Saturday, 15 July 2006

Vermicompost : A Potential Organic Nutrient Source for Organic Farming.

K. Ushakumari, Sailajakumari M S, and Sheeba P S. Kerala Agricultura Univ, College of Agriculture,, Dept of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Vellayani, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

India is endowed with immense organic resources and about 3000 million tonnes of organic wastes from agriculture, domestic and industrial sources become available every year, that often form a major source of various environmental problems. The utilization of waste through recycling becomes essential for environmental safety, economic stability and ecological sustainability. Several methods have been developed to convert biowastes into organic manure as an alternate source of farm yard manure and a substitute for chemical fertilizers. Among the various methods of waste management, vermicomposting is an important aspect as it converts non-toxic organic wastes into potential organic manure within a short period by using epigeic earthworms as biological agent. The compost prepared by the action of earthworm on non-toxic biodegradable waste is called vermicompost and is considered as a very important aspect in the organic farming package. A comparative study on different species of earthworms was conducted in Kerala Agricultural University, Dept. of Soil Science and Agrl. Chemistry, College of Agriculture Vellayani, Trivandrum, and the epigeic earthworm species Eudrillus eugeniae has been identified as a superb agent for vermicomposting under Kerala conditions. Different technologies were standardized using Eudrillus eugeniae for vermicomposting of farm and market waste, domestic waste, agro industrial waste etc. Enriched vermicompost with high manurial value for organic farming was prepared by adding biotic (beneficial micro organisms) and abiotic agents (oil cakes, rock phosphate, bone meal etc) to the biowastes during vermicomposting. The key component of organic farming is the availability of cheap and good quality organic manures to retain the fertility and nutrient supplying power of the soil. Among the sources of available organic manures, vermicompost is a potential source due to the presence of readily available plant nutrients, plant growth hormones, vitamins, enzymes, antibiotics and a number of beneficial microorganisms viz. nitrogen fixing, phosphorus solubilising and cellulose decomposing organisms. Vermicompost has been tried as an alternate source of organic manure and a substitute for chemical fertilizers on different vegetable crops. The results revealed significant effect of vermicompost on yield, quality and shelf life of the produce. The economics of production of vermicompost and its use have shown that it is more economic when compost is prepared by the farmers themselves to use in the farm. Vermicomposting of organic waste materials into valuable agricultural input solves the problem of waste disposal thus minimizing environmental pollution and produces organic manure of good quality for crop production. Vermicompost plays a significant role in building up of soil fertility and improving soil health for sustainable agriculture.

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