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Vermicompost: A profitable agro-industry

A fter my retirement from the service of Indian Council of Agricultural


Research in Bangalore for some time I found it difficult how to pass
my time in the house. One day I thought that it is possible to do something
useful in our vacant land. I planted a good variety of papaya. During rains a
lot of weeds developed on the land. We had to remove the weeds. Then the
idea came that these weeds can be converted into worm compost. But I did
not know how to do it. So for this knowledge I went to the famous expert
Dr. Radha D. kale, head of Zoology Division, University of Agricultural
Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore. She gladly explained to me the whole process
and showed me the actual process of worm compost preparation.
Afterwards I have personally done the vermicomposting work and found it
quite remunerative. I am writing this article for the people who may be
interested in taking up this interesting and profitable venture.

There are six part of


vermicompost making as
detailed below:

1. Raw material
(organic matter
such as weeds &
house organic
waste).
2. Partial
decomposing of the
raw material.
3. Making
vermicompost form
the partially decomposed raw material.
4. Processing of the vermicompost.
5. Packing and marketing of vermicompost & selling of excess worms.
6. Recharging of the used vermicompost compartments.
These are discussed bellow.

(1) Raw material

(A) 100 Kilograms of organic matter such as house organic waste including
waste food, all weeds including parthenium. The parthenium species which
is a menace can be profitably utilized in this way but it should be cut before
seed formation to avoid multiplication.
(B) Cattle dung about 16 Kilograms for mixing with 100 kg organic matter in
order to do its partial decomposition.
(C) Earthworms 4000 for four 3 ft. x eft. X 3ft. chambers. Names of earthworms
are:

a. Eudrilus eugeniae
b. Eisenia fetida
c. Perionyx excavatus

Note: Mixture of these earthworms (1:1) is required after one months. These
should be procured on the day of use.

(2) Procedure for partial decomposting of raw material

a. Keep the 100 kg. raw materials (organic matter) in raised cemented
chamber.
b. Take 16 kilograms of cattle dung and mix it with 25 liters of water.
c. Mix this mixture with 100 Kilograms of raw material.
d. Keep this mixture moist and stir once every week for five weeks. It will be
partially decomposed.

Making of vermicompost from


partially decomposed raw
material

a. Make four raised chambers


measuring 3ft. x 3ft. x 3 ft.
with cemented floor.
b. Fix an asbestos sheet six
foot above for protection
from rains.
c. Keep the partially
decomposed matter in these
chambers at least one inch below the top.
d. Cover it with a perforated cover (Metallic) having two mm holes.
e. Put the mixture of 4000 there earthworm (1:1:1) over the surface of partially
decomposed organic matter.
f. Keep it moist by little water spray. These worms will eat the partially
decomposed organic matter and put out the excreta as vermicompost. Spray
little water once in three days.

(4) Processing of the vermicompost

a. After every ten days by hand remove the vermicompost (excreta).


b. Keep this vermicompost in heap in order to separate the very small
earthworms. In 24 hours these earthworms comes to the bottom part of
vermicompost, which are then removed and placed on the partially
decomposed organic matter.
c. The vermicompost is sieved by use of one mm sieve and spread in thin layer
for air drying.
d. Matter which could not be sieved is placed back on partially decomposed
organic matter for breakdown by earthworms.
e. In about one month all the partially decomposed organic matter gets
converted into vermicompost.
f. After 10 days of drying, vermicompost is collected and put in a heap. The
idea is to remove any remaining earthworm. For this purpose about half
Kilogram of cattle dung is put inside this heap. In about two days all
remaining earthworms collect in the cattle dung. This cattle dung is removed
and placed on the recharged matter.

(5) Packing and sale of vermicompost and excess earthworms


a. Before packing, the vermicomport is dried in air well.
b. Pack in 1 to 5 Kilograms weights in polythene bags, airtight.
c. Vermicompost can be sold at the rate of Rs. 3 Kg.
d. Excess earthworms along with a little vermicompost can be sold at Rs.
300/1000 earthworms.

(6) Recharging the partially decomposed matter and earthworms

The chamber should be recharge with the partially decomposed organic matter
and the earthworms as early as possible.

Necessary precautions
a. For protection of vermicompost preparation chamber from rains, roofing is
essential.
b. Covering of vermicompost chamber by perforated cover is essential for
proper aeration and protection from rodents, birds etc.
c. Sell the vermicompost before six months.

Nutrient status of vermicompost


According to Radha D Kale (1998) vermicompost has following status of
nutrients.
1. Organic Carbon 9.15 to 17.98 %
2. Total Nitrogen 0.5 to 1.5 %
3. Available Phosphorus 0.1 to 0 %
4. Available Potassium 0.15 to 0 %
5. Calcium and Magnesium 22.67 to 47.60 Mec/100 gm
6. Copper 2.0 to 9.5 ppm
7. Iron 2.0 to 9.5 ppm
8. Zinc 5.7 to 11.5 ppm
9. Sulphur 128.0 to 548.0 ppm

Economic viability of vermicompost


Data on cost of conversion of 100 Kilograms organic matter in to almost 100
Kilograms of vermicompost and sale of 100 Kilograms of vermicompost and
excess earthworms have revealed possibility of attractive profit by this agro
industry (Table 1)

Table – 1: Economic viability of vermicompost agro industry in Bangalore.


EXPENDITURE
Sl.No. Item of expenditure Cost (Rs.)
1 Organic matter (parthenium weed) 100 Kg 40
2 Cattle dung 16 kg 16
3. Mixing of cattle dung – water with 100 kg organic 20
matter
4. Filling of partially decomposed organic matter in 15
four 3ft x 3ft x 3 ft chambers and putting 4000
earthworms
5 Cost of 4000 earthworms 1200
6 Processing cost of 100 kg vermicompost 40
7 Packing of 100 kg vermicompost 20
Total cost of 100 kg vermicompost 1351
EARNINGS

1. 100 Kg vermicompost @ Rs. 3/Kg 300


2. 8000 earthworms @ Rs. 300/1000 2400

Total earning from 100 kg vermicompost 2700

Hence the net profit 2700-1351 = 1349

So it is apparent that vermicompost agro industry is quite profitable.

# Dr. H.C. Srivastava,


Former Principal Scientist & Head of Division in I.C.A.R.,
26, Ninth Cross,
Kemparna Layout,
C.N. Halli, P.O. R.T. Nagar,
Bangalore 560032

Note: The author has used various references in the preparation of this article.
For further details please contact him.