Vermitechnology: An introduction

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.

Vermicompost Diagram

Source: Dr. Abdullah Adil Ansari’s ‘Vermitechnology- permutations and combinations of organic waste recycling’

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.

Vermicompost

An example of vermicomposting at the Sam Motta Goat and Sheep Demonstration Station in Jamaica. It uses the same layered technique however ever it utilizes goat manure. The manure and dried grass is placed to one end of the container and the worms migrate to the fresh organic material for recycling. The compost is then harvested. Source: Agribusiness Society of UWI

12 Comments

  1. Great reporting! How widespread/popular is vermicompostage on caribbean farms? Are private businesses the main driver behind the adoption of this technology? Any idea if there is an official/public training & extension related effort? Or a manual?

    Thanks,

  2. Great reporting! How widespread/popular is vermicompostage on caribbean farms? Are private businesses the main driver behind the adoption of this technology? Any idea if there is an official/public training & extension related effort? Or a manual?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Cedric.

      I got some more information to help answer your questions. Firstly, Dr. Anasari of the University of Guyana, who is conducting research on vermiwash has indicated that training can be arranged. One would have to contact the university for details on arranging a session. In this sense the technology is open to the public and more importantly to agri stakeholders. Dr. Ansari may have a manual for use.

      Over in Jamaica at the Sam Motta Sheep and Goat demonstration Station, extension officers there are also practicing vermitech. The pictures from the blog post are from that research station. The intention is to pass on this to farmers. There is a well working networking with respect to goat and sheep production so it will be well received.

      Also in Dominica the ministry of agriculture imported all the inputs and organised training sessions for farmers that are part of the Dominican Organic Agriculture Movement (http://www.organicdominica.org/) So it is well practiced there.

      So as you can see it depends on which country/institution that is taking the extra steo to practice and sensitize stakeholders to vermitech.

  3. Hi this is Dr Ansari (University of Guyana)
    Training can be organized, Keron are you interested in doing so at your Agricultural extension centre, UWI? I would be willing to do so if it can be arranged accordingly, may be say 2 or 3 days session and then you can take up the follow up? Think about it and let me know.

  4. Assalamalaikum how r u? We all miss u? Pls come back happy to see ur success may Allah give the best make u realise that it is ur daughter who is really grown up now she only forced me to create her mail Id so that she can talk to u. ALLAHHAFIZ

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