Vermicomposting: Journey to Forever Environmental Conservation

Most farmers still rely on inorganic fertilizers or chemical fertilizers to support farming. The reasons related to the characteristics of inorganic fertilizers, that are the higher nutrient content and relatively practical use, even though farmers realize the price is more expensive inorganic fertilizers. This condition is more so with the increasing rise in the price of agricultural inputs, especially organic fertilizers. But the natural composting process to obtain organic fertilizer requires considerable time and are considered less able to match the growing demand. To anticipate the occurrence of the vacancy organic fertilizer now found some activator to accelerate the composting process so that continuity is guaranteed production of organic fertilizer.

Vermicomposting is the process of composting organic waste into high quality compost using earthworms. Decomposting organic waste can include kitchen waste, plant food waste or other agricultural product processing, or agricultural wastes such as straw, cocobit, mushroom logs, livestock manure, and even all kinds of waste both market waste, household waste, including newspaper and cardboard, and leaf litter that falls from the tree. All types of organic waste can be in vermicomposting well by earthworms.

Compost from vermicomposting process is commonly called a casting is the best compost for growing crops or trees. Cooperation between earthworms and micro-organisms impact decomposition process goes well. Although most of the decomposition process is done microorganisms, but the presence of earthworms can help the process, since the materials are decomposed by microorganisms has been parsed in advance by the worm. Thus, microorganisms work more effectively and more quickly. Part of this casting is a worm dirt that may be useful for fertilizer. Casting contains small particles of organic material eaten by worms and then released again as dirt.
The content of the casting depends on the organic material and the type of worm. But generally casting containing nutrients that plants need. Casting contains five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, and eleven times more potassium than regular soil. In addition it also contains major minerals and vitamins needed for the growth of plants. In casting are also beneficial soil microorganisms and humis acid which condition the soil in perfect pH balance. Casting has a plant growth factor that is equivalent to that found in seaweed. No compost better than the results of this vermicomposting.

Earthworms are vertebrata animals that live in damp and not exposed to direct sunlight. Humidity is important to maintain a reserve of water in the body. Desired humidity around 60-90%. In addition to moisture, soil conditions also affect the lives of worms such as soil pH, temperature, aeration, CO2, organic matter, soil, and food supply. Among the seven factors, pH and organic matter are two very important factors. The optimal pH range of about 6.5 to 8.5. The ideal temperature according to several studies ranged from 21-30 degrees Celsius.

Worms that can speed up the composting process should be fast breeding, survival in the organic waste, and not wild. From these requirements, a suitable type of worm that Lumbricus rubellus, Eisenia foetida, and Pheretima asiatica. These worms live by decomposing organic matter. These organic materials into food for worms. To provide moisture to medium organic matter, should be added to livestock manure or manure. In addition to providing moisture, manure also add carbohydrates, especially cellulose, and stimulates the presence of microbes that feed earthworms.

cacing tanah = vermicomposting
Figure 1. Lumbricus rubellus

Propagation of worms that will be used for vermicomposting is an important thing. The number of worms that will be used depends on how much capacity of organic waste will be decomposed. Within one month of one kilogram of Lumbricus rubellus on good environmental conditions for life will be two kilograms or twice. Every day this worm could spawn one. One egg will hatch three or four children worms. So that in one year hermaphrodite worm population that can be 1000 times. Two months old worm is ready to mate and lay eggs. So if it is programmed to produce 1 ton of worms per month, enough to the required one or two kilogram of worms to propagate in advance for one year, before harvested 1 ton per month.