Earthworm - Vermiculture
The growth of industries, urban cities and the ever increasing human population have led to an increased accumulation of waste materials. Waste materials introduced into the environment are of two types namely non- degradable and degradable wastes. The disposal of these solid wastes remains serious challenge in most of the countries. Waste biomass from agriculture, domestic, urban and industrial sources remains the main cause of organic pollution in many countries, including India. Degradable or decomposable materials constitute a major percentage of the refuse (more than 60%). New technologies are now available for recycling some of these solid wastes. These wastes can be utilized in vermitechnology for the production of earthworm casts and earthworm tissue protein. India produces about 2500 million tonnes of organic wastes annually. If properly managed about 400 million tonnes of plant nutrients can be produced from this huge organic wastes.
In recent years vermiculture has received much attention in many countries. The spiralling cost of fish meal and the low supply of soyabean meal are responsible for the utilization of earthworms as an alternative low cost protein meal in aquaculture and poultry industry. Further the worms also play an important role in waste disposal. They decompose natural organic wastes into rich compost fertilizer. A single earthworm can produce 1000 to 1500 offsprings in a year. 2000 mature breeders can produce more than 1 million worms in a year.
Many species of earthworms are easily adaptable to agricultural wastes like after harvest strubble, sugarcane thrash, coirwaste, dung of cow, horse, sheep and poultry droppings. The breakdown of these materials or the degrades of organic matter by worm activity is called ‘Vermicompost’ It is a better source of organic manure.