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Term Paper on Vermi-Composting
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Introduction to Vermi-Composting
- Term Paper on the Progress of Worm Industry
- Term Paper on the Objectives of Vermi-Composting
- Term Paper on Vermi Compost
- Term Paper on How is Vermi-Composting Performed
- Term Paper on Vermi-Composting ― General Procedures at Agricultural Farms
- Term Paper on Vermi-Composting and Business of Worms
- Term Paper on the Economic Viability of Vermiculture
Term Paper # 1. Introduction to Vermi-Composting:
Vermi-composting is a method of making compost with the use of earthworms, which generally lives in soil, eat biomass and excrete it in digested form. This compost is generally called vermi-compost or wormi-compost. It is estimated that 1800 worms which is an ideal population for one square meter can feed on 80 tonnes of humus per year.
Soil fauna play a prominent role in regulating soil processes and the termites and the earthworms play a vital role in maintaining soil quality and managing efficient nutrient cycling. In organic farming practices, the soil is considered to be a living component with physical, chemical and biological characteristics.
Vermi-composting and commercializing live material, indicate needs of developing mass earthworm culture. Vermiculture means scientific method of breeding and raising earthworms in controlled conditions. It aims at creating improved conditions artificially so that earthworms multiply in shortest possible time and space.
Some Facts about Vermiculture:
i. The art of composting has been part of our global culture since ancient time.
ii. Worms live where there is food moisture, oxygen and a favourable temperature.
iii. In one acre of land, there can be more than a million earthworms.
iv. Worms are cold blooded animals. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.
v. Worms can sense light, especially at their anterior (front end). They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long (approximately one hour). If worm’s skin dries out, it will die.
vi. Worms are hermaphrodites. Each worm has both male and female organs. Worm mate by joining their clitella (swollen area near the head of a mature-worms) and exchanging sperm. Then each worm forms an egg capsule in its clitellum.
vii. Worms can eat their weight each day.
viii. Composting with worms avoids the needless disposal of vegetative food wastes and enjoy the benefits of a high quality compost. It is done with “red-worms”.
Term Paper # 2. Progress of Worm Industry:
Most people probably believe that worms are grown commercially for bait. While this has been the case for dozens of years, new applications for vermin-culture breeding earthworms’ ― one now in use and the demand for red-worms is soaring. The tiny red worm, principally the species Eisenia foetida, is a powerful resource in waste reduction.
Capable of conversing up to its own weight daily in organic waste, worms are now in use in the world at landfill diversion sites, converting yard trimming and other organic waste into worm casting—worm manure, which is highly prized soil amendment. Some sites are currently using 100,000 to 500,000 pounds of worms to convert tons of composted waste into vermi-compost—a highly valuable product, sold to nurseries, farmers, vegetable growers, orchard growers and gardens, etc.
Turning Garbage into Money:
The money making potential of vermiculture is so attractive that it is rapidly becoming a growth industry.
There are three key components of commercial vermiculture which explain its present and future potential:
1. Earthworms are capable of transforming huge amount of waste. For those who are raising worms for profit, the feed stock is generally plentiful and free. Typical feed stocks also consist of manure from a variety of animals: horses, cows, buffaloes, pigs, sheep’s, etc.
2. The worm’s population can double in 2 to 4 months. Thus after acquiring an initial inventory as breeding stock, sales of worms can be realized in a relatively short time.
3. The production of vermi-compost is a highly prized soil amendment, sought by farmers, gardeners and horticulturists. Studies about the nutrient-rich vermi-compost have proven its preferred value over ordinary compost and synthetic fertilizers. Vermi-compost dissolves slowly rather than allowing immediate nutrient leaching.
The product has excellent soil structure, porosity, and aeration and water retention capabilities. The product can insulate plant roots from extreme temperatures, reduce erosion and control weeds.
Earthworm farming can be done in a small, residential sized bin from recycling kitchen waste. An average of 5 to 10 minutes a day will do it. Nevertheless, one person can successfully manage quite a large number of worms, up to at least 3,000,000 to 5,000,000.
Term Paper # 3. Objectives of Vermi-Composting:
Nowadays natural farming, such as organic farming, eco-agriculture, permaculture, bio-dynamics agriculture, Rizhi Kheti, Sadhu Kheti is in vogue. They all agree in principle for least interference in nature system to raise healthy plants and animals. They all agree in limiting and in some cases eliminating use of artificial chemicals and heavy machinery in agriculture. They all aim at quality and nutrition’s nature of the farm produce.
The green revolution has resulted due to intensive agriculture with the extensive use of chemical fertilizer. The intensive agriculture practices boosted the production to feed the growing population in the underdeveloped countries. Farmers could harvest three crops in a year with good irrigation facilities. But there was no thought about its adverse effect in the long run on the soil condition in general and on the environment in particular for nearly four decades.
Fertilizers Use and Deterioration of Soil Environment:
The fertilizers are the combinations of chemicals which are used to increase soil fertility. Nitrogen fertilizers that form the major components of the chemical fertilizers are usually the derivatives of petrochemicals. The run off from the fertilizer factories are carriers of atmospheric and water pollution. Precautionary measures have to be taken to avoid fire hazard and leakage of poisoning gases to atmospheric from these units.
The primary ingredient of the phosphorus fertilizer is the deposit in the earth crust. To minimize the cost of transport, the factories have to be setup near the mining sites. Only one-third of the raw material used in the production is recovered as the fertilizer and rest of the material is the waste, which causes disposal problem.
In general, the production of chemical fertilizers is leading to depletion of fossil fuel, causing environmental pollution and occupational hazards.
It is true that crops to nitrogen-based fertilizers show a spectacular response. But this is short lived and can result in subsequent crop failures unless it is followed by phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. In the years to come, the need for fertilizer quantity will increase to get the targeted yield.
This clearly shows how the productivity of the soil is affected with indiscriminate use of fertilizers. These chemicals either leach or form complexes with metal ions to form undesirable complexes. Constant use of chemicals increases their leaching because of the depletion in pH of soils and they become less productive due to lack of good top soil.
To restore the soil composition, farmers are now showing inclination to revert to organic farming. With this changing trend, it is necessary to produce the organic manure in large quantities from the available sources of organic matter to maintain the high level of produce in the available agricultural land. In this regard, because of the rapid organic fertilizer production locally at extremely low cost using all kinds of biodegradable waste materials, vermi- composting has great future.
As regards total nitrogen, in all treatments and also at the different times, the net content decreased being more marked at the final stages when earthworm activity was higher. The different nitrogen fractions followed a similar tendency to the total nitrogen. In all treatments, at the final stages of the process, when the earth worm populations were bigger and active, important reductions of the organic nitrogen content and a high nitrification rate were observed.
Term Paper # 4. Vermi-Compost:
Vermi-compost is the stable fine granular organic matter, when is added to clay soil it loosens the soil and provides the passage for the entry of air. The mucus associated with the cast being hygroscopic absorbs water and prevents water logging and improves water holding capacity. Sandy soil have less water retention capacity, the strong mucus coated aggregates of vermi-compost hold water for longer time. The organic carbon in vermi-compost releases the nutrients slowly and steadily into the system and enables the plant to absorb these nutrients.
The soil enriched with vermi-compost provides additional substances that are not found in the chemicals. Vermi-compost improves physical, chemical and biological properties of soil in the long run on repeated application. The properties of vermi-compost which make it an ideal bio-fertilizer enhance soil fertility in the long run on repeated application.
The properties of vermi-compost which make it an ideal bio-fertilizer for the soil are:
i. Vermi-composts have immobilized enzymes like protease, lipase, anylase, cellulose, lichenase and chitinase which keep on their function of bio-degradation of macro-molecules of the agricultural residues in the soil so that further microbial attack is speeded up.
ii. Vermi-composting are rich in vitamins, antibiotics and growth hormones.
iii. Vermi-castings are free from pathogens.
iv. Vermi-castings have immobilized microflora which function in the soil to produce useful products.
v. Vermi castings have earthworm’s cocoons and promote earth worm population in the soil thus ensuring continuous production of vermi-castings in the soil itself.
vi. Give structural stability to the soil.
vii. Absorb moisture from air.
Recycling of Wastes through Vermi-Composting:
Vermi technology is useful in recycling the agro-wastes. Nutrients present in vermi-compost are readily available and the increase in earthworm populations on application of vermi-compost and mulching lead to the easy transfer of nutrients to the plant providing synchrony in interfered ecosystems. The availability of biomass in the compost and the nutrients in soil tilled by earth worm are definitely more due to the formation of drilospheres.
Minimizing Pollution Hazard:
Earth warm can minimize the pollution hazards caused by organic waste by enhancing waste degradation. The experiences of the farming community have shown that the exclusive use of chemicals to keep away the famine has turned out be a mirage.
Providing Growth Promotors:
In the vermi-compost, some of the secretions of worms and the associated microbes act as growth promoters along with other nutrients. The multifarious effect of vermi-compost influences the growth and yield of crops.
Black Gold (Worm Casting) from Worms:
Black gold (worm casting) is constantly in demand. Black gold is the most valuable type of fertilizer on the market, and because it is made of worm bi-product, it will continue to be an endless demand for consumers.
Term Paper # 5. How is Vermi-Composting Performed:
The degradable and decomposable organic wastes commonly used as composting materials in vermi-culture. Earthworm can be fed all forms of food waste, yard and garden waste leaves, grasses, straw and non-woody plant trimmings can be composted. Leaves are the dominant organic waste in most back yard compost piles. If grass clippings are used, it is advisable to mix them with other yard wastes; otherwise the clippings may compost and restrict airflow.
Cattle dung, buffalo dung, sheep dung, horse dung and poultry dropping, etc. may be used for this purpose. The uses of horse dung should be done carefully because tetanus virus is common in horse dung and is lethal to humans.
After harvesting and thrashing it may be used. It includes stems, leaves, husk (excepting paddy husk), peels, vegetable waste, orchard leaf litters, processed food waste, sugarcane brash and bagasse and processing waste.
These are wood clippings, peels, saw dusts and pulp. In addition of this, various types of forest leaf litter can also be used.
City Leaf Litter:
The burnt leaf litter from residential areas may be used; however, reports are not available. If it is used, this would keep cities clean and would provide useful product. The leaf litter of mango, guava, grasses and certain weeds (free from seed) may be used, but we need more information on this aspect.
City refuge or garbage on daily production basis comprises important material which can be stored, recycled or composted. Most of household kitchen waste with little manipulation can be used for vermi-compost.
After recovery of biogas, if not required for agricultural use, viz. in conventional composting can be used for vermi-composting.
The industrial waste from food processing, distillery, etc. can also be used in vermiculture with some manipulations.
More specifically following combinations can be used as feed for earthworms for vermiculture and vermi-composting. However, exact proportions may have to be adjusted with little pretesting.
i. Biogas slurry with some leaf litters and some soil sprinkler over.
ii. Cow dung/buffalo dung + sheep dropping + horse dung mixed in equal quantities.
iii. Cow dung/buffalo dung + agricultural wastes in ration of 10:3.
iv. Mixed dung of cow dung + gram bran in ratio of 10:3.
v. Cow dung or mixed dung + kitchen waste in ratio of 10:3.
vi. Cow dung or mixed dung + semi-flushed leaf litter in ratio of 10:3.
vii. Cow dung or mixed dung + sewage sludge in ratio of 10:3.
viii. Cow dung or mixed dung + vegetable waste in ratio of 10:3.
ix. Cow dung or mixed dung + wheat bran in ratio of 10:3.
x. Old cow, buffalo dung of minimum 7 days.
xi. Weed leaves, grass clippings + cow dung or table waste + soil 70:15:15.
xii. Standard diet includes cow dung or mixed dung + gram bran + wheat bran + vegetable waste in ratio of 10:1:1:1 + some powdered egg shell.
Term Paper # 6. Vermi-Composting ― General Procedures at Agricultural Farms:
A 7-8 cm thick layer of hardy raw material, i.e., stovers, stubbles and locally available weeds (avoid seedling stage) is laid out in a bed of suitable size, i.e. not exceeding 3′ in width and length according to materials availability. To this, a second layer of the same thickness comprising partially decomposed FYM or old cow or buffalo dung of 7 days, is added.
A vermi-compost or vermiculture with dung carrier of 1.5 to 2 cm containing earthworm and cocoons (E. foetida) is spread on it. Now again 1′ to 114′ thick layer of cow or buffalo dung layer is added and provide light irrigation or sprinkle water to maintain a moisture of 60-80% and the last layer again 0.75′ to 1′ of partially decomposed bio-agri-waste material (3 to 4 days old cattle dung mixed with chopped waste of farm, vegetable, weed and plants, etc.) is spread at the top.
This heap is then covered by jute cloth or gunny bags. Each layer is sprinkled with water and the frequency of water application be kept in such a way that 30 to 40% moisture can be maintained throughout the decomposition process. The temperature of heap must be monitored and it should not be exceeded from 35°C. The total height of the heap may be maintained about 2-212′ from the ground level.
Term Paper # 7. Vermi-Composting and Business of Worms:
The use of chemical fertilizers has increased the salinity of the soil, marketing it unpalatable to our worm, pesticides, in turn, kill indiscriminately, destroying the good with the bad.
Across the nation, farmers are developing their interest in vermi-composting because:
i. Low start-up costs—just worms and off the shelf supplies.
ii. No turning. Layout the manure and the worms do the work.
iii. Completely natural biological process produces all organic material.
iv. Use existing equipment. It is simple, no special training required.
v. Increase the value of manure to Rs.1500.00 per cubic yard or more.
Worms growing has been a commercial business for years. The industry started out for the fisherman but has since evolved for supplying worms to individuals who want to recycle their waste to fertilizer.
Comparing a large number of worm-related businesses, it is possible to categorize them according to three basic models the classic worm farm, the home vermi-composting business, and the resource recovery vermi-composting operations. Each one varies to the extent that it emphasizes production and sales of worm, supplies or castings.
The classic worm farm is primarily concerned with vermiculture, growing and raising earthworms for the huge fishing bait markets, as well as for home gardeners and farmers. Worm farms are often developed around a consistent source of animal manure. Today, the classic worm farm is still a thriving part of American economy. Worm farms are often maintained on small scale. Part time hobby farms are second sources of income for the farmers. The earthworm and castings farm are one of the largest vermiculture worm farms in North America.
The increasing interest in home vermi-composting has given rise to another category of worm enterprise whose focus is on marketing worms, worm bins, kits, tools and educational materials for small scale vermi-composting.
Vermi-composting for resource recovery, i.e., recycling of manure, yard and garden debris, food materials and bio-solids, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry. Vermi-composting projects may be developed on site to manage organic wastes from a campus or other institution. As a commercial enterprise, vermi-composting operations depend on receiving revenue for managing the wastes and for the resulting vermi-compost.
A case study was carried out by two young farmers of village Nanudia, Panchayat Samiti (PS)-Banera of Bhilwara district. Before doing case study, training was imparted. For the purpose of imparting training, two young farmers from each PS were selected with the help of State Agriculture Deptt. Who were interested to have training on vermi-composting at Krishi Vigyan Kendra? There were 11 PS. Thus total trainees were 22. One-week vocational training was given to the trainees in Oct. 2003.
During training programme, the trainees were motivated to take it as an enterprise so after 15 days two innovative young farmers of Banera Panchayat Samiti came back at KVK and asked for the establishment of units. With the help of scientist, the units were established by use of 100 kg vermiculture.
The vermi-compost was ready after 45 days. After that they multiplied it and the detail record of income generation along with expenditure is given in Tables 12.1 and 12.2.
Selling of Vermi-Compost:
Sold 275 quintals of vermi-compost at the rate of Rs.4/00 per kg. and earned Rs.1,10,000.00. Thus total income = 2,20,125.00 (vermin-culture) + Rs.1,10,000.00 (vermi-compost) = Rs.3,30,125.00.
Term Paper # 8. Economic Viability of Vermiculture:
Vermi technology is popular because it is a simple methodology with low investment. This technology does not need sophisticated infrastructure. For composting yards all that is required is some a pit or containers to initially decompose organic waste and tanks made out of stone slabs or wooden planks, trenches, plastic toughs to protect earth worms from pests and predators.
Stone slab is subjected to availability, while plastic bins would be less durable and expensive. Thus, tanks built using cement and bricks could suit all situations. However, trenches without any cement are popular in low rainfall areas. Further, no or negligible cost is involved in developing vermiculture parks. The term park is used for the places which are different from composting yards.
The park is an inventory of spaces over 1000 sq. meter with fencing and water supply facilities. They can be landscaped with tyres and the waste can be processed by earthworms under a cover of green manure (mulch). It does not smell any unpleasant odours. This method has been successfully tried at IIT, Mumbai, to convert the food waste from canteens into earthworm castings.
The major benefits from vermiculture technology are:
i. Effective utilization of non-toxic wastes as resource in meeting agricultural objectives.
ii. Has a potential to reduce dependency on non-renewable input, i.e., chemical fertilizers, pesticides which also cost petro-dollars to the country.
iii. Potential for conversion of waste land into productive land.
iv. Optimum utilization of land, labour and water in agriculture.
v. Effective environmental protection.
vi. Give quality produce which fetches better price in the market.
Entrepreneurship of worms is an eco-viable technology. It became popular because it is a simple methodology with low investment. This technology does not need sophisticated infrastructure. For composting yards all that is required is some area, bricks and roof. The method is also simple and can be easily understood by an uneducated person also.