Vermicompost A profitable agro-industry

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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
                                                                        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

     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
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

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
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
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.
 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
 4.          Filling of partially decomposed organic matter in         15
             four 3ft x 3ft x 3 ft chambers and putting 4000
 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

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.

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