Aristotle said, “Worms are the intestines of the earth”, and Charles Darwin wrote a book on worms in which he declared that there may not be any other creature that has played so important a role in the history of life on earth.
Using worms to convert food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer is simple, inexpensive, and a great way to teach people to become life-long recyclers. The Department of Botany, GDC Boys Baramulla, has trained over 150 students till now. If you are interested in starting a vermicomposting unit, feel free to contact NSS Units or Department of Botany, GDC Baramulla.
Vermicomposting utilises microbial activity to break down organic matter in a moist, aerobic environment. Specific species of earthworms are required for this purpose. Worms are used to convert organic materials (usually wastes) into a humus-like material known as vermicompost or vermicast. The goal is to process the material as quickly and efficiently as possible. Organic waste is by far the largest component of waste generated in Jammu and Kashmir and is also responsible for environmental problems such as bad smell, leach, and combustible gas when it is disposed in a landfill. To convert unwanted organic matter, particularly food scraps, vegetable wastes, peelings, cow dung, leaves and paper into fertile soil, vermicomposting is best. It will not only prevent environmental pollution, it will also increase crop yield and help solve food problems. It will lead towards organic farming and healthy food.
There are two basic types of vermicomposting of interest to farmers: Beds and Bins. A bed works like a pit. The main difference is that the bed is contained within four walls and (usually) a floor, and is protected. The bin is any container covered by a lid. The beds/ pit can be built with bricks or concrete walls with dimensions of 8ft length, 5ft breadth and 3ft height.
Vermicompost is the most promising bio-fertilizer which not only increases plant growth and productivity by better nutrient supply, but is also cost-effective and pollution-free. Use of vermicompost promotes soil aggregation and stabilises soil structure. This improves the air-water relationship of soil, thus increasing the water retention capacity, and encourages extensive development of root system of plants. The mineralisation of nutrients is enhanced, boosting crop productivity.
Vermicompost also plays vital role in eradication of pollution hazards. The problem of disposing of agro waste may be solved by constructing vermicomposting beds/ bins. Household waste can also be converted into vermicompost. No hazardous effluents are generated and vermicompost can be used for all crops and soils at any stage of the crop. It will reduce the requirement of more land for disposal of fruits and vegetable waste. It will help create a better environment.

—The authors can be reached at [email protected]

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