Commercial production of vermicompost
Extensive use of inorganic chemicals and fertilizers on farm land has caused considerable damage to the health of the soil and the people, and the environment in general. Even animal products such as milk and meat are polluted through high concentration of harmful chemicals.
This has necessitated a re-look at the farming techniques for production of more eco friendly and healthy farm products. A judicious use of the organic waste (farm waste) to improve soil health, facilitates soil aeration and aids more efficient water holding capacity besides supplying nutrients, offering the best alternative to the environmentally harmful farm practices.
The biggest hurdle in converting the organic waste into manure is the handling of high volume of the raw materials and the consequent requirement of labour for such an exercise.
Around 10-15 tonnes of organic waste is required to be converted for producing the manure to cultivate a hectare of farm land. One of the most environment friendly and effective way of conversion of organic waste into useful manure is vermicomposting. About five tonnes of vermicompost per hectare is the recommended dose. However, attempts at production of vermicompost on commercial scale for distribution among the needy farmers have not been so successful due to the large requirement of manual labour. It requires eight man days for getting one tonne of the organic manure through vermicomposting starting from feed preparation, feeding, collection, sieving and packing. Attempts are therefore being made to find ways to reduce the labour requirements for vermicomposting so that commercial production can be started.
One of the techniques being developed and tested in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu with assistance from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is developing of a semi automatic conveyor system by making use of locally available materials for filling the feed tanks.
The system has been so designed that it can also be deployed for collection of the finished product for sieving and removal of twigs, stones and raw manure clods so that final product will be free from all external impurities.V Thirumalai, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, Krishnagir