Vermicompost is a rich organic medium consisting of nutrients, plant growth promoting substances, and beneficial micro organisms necessary for plant growth. It is made from agricultural waste and the use of earthworms. By using a layered process over a period of time, an organic medium is derived that reduces the need for large amounts of pesticides and even fertilizers. The diagram below illustrates the process.
Agriculture/Organic waste varies but is quite accessible. Types include dried grass, manure and other animal waste, leaf matter, kitchen waste, leaves and flowers after the extraction of oil, fruit/vegetable rind, pulp and other similar waste. crop remains, seed husk, bagasse and many others.
Dr. Abdullah Ansari, Head of the Department of Biology at the University of Guyana provides a greater insight into this fully organic process. “Earthworms have a critical influence on soil structure, forming aggregates and improving the physical conditions for plant growth and nutrient uptake.
They also improve soil fertility by accelerating decomposition of plant litter and organic matter and, consequently, releasing nutrients in a form that is available for uptake by plants.
The most commonly used worm is the Eisenia fetida which grows very quickly and is relatively easy to access here in the Caribbean.
Dr. Ansari, his colleagues and his students at the University of Guyana have been steadfastly conducting research on Vermitechnology for the past few years. The technology is relatively new with a wide area of scientific investigation.
With the help of final year biology and agri science students topics being researched include the effect of vermiculture on plant growth, as pesticide, and as a plant nutrient. Much of his research has fallen into the area of Vermiwash.
Vermiwash is a liquid nutrient product obtained during vermicomposting, that has significant influence on plant growth and yield attributes. Most notably is Dr. Ansaris research on vermiwash as a replacement for chemical nutrients used in Hydroponics.
Here in the Caribbean these items are imported which of course is not the best situation to ensure the supply of such a vital input. Dr. Ansari’s research has revealed that vermiwash when used in hydroponics is quite effective in plant growth parameters and good yield.
Vermiwash is a relatively new solution with a lot of potential because it has microbes, natural plant nutrients, and hormones. Vermiwash can be used for a period of three months. Current research looks at examining the microbial nutrient content after a period of time and also solidifying the mixture for longer shelf life. Even so there is lots of scope for more expansive research. However preliminary results are positive for its use in hydroponics.
Vermiwash is proved to be very effective against pesticides and improves plant yield, fruit yield and quality. It can also be used as a foliar spray.
For vermiwash a combination of dried grass and/or leaves, cattle dung, paddy straw, and neem leaves is advised. Furthermore its method of production is chemical free making this powerful medium, organic in nature.These vermiproducts have become key components of crop nourishment in organic and sustainable farming systems.