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Vermicompost: Sustainable Solution for High Yields & Soil Replenishment

Vermicompost can increase soil porosity and aeration, enhance soil moisture retention, and improve soil structure, all of which can help increase crop yields. Vermicompost can be added to soil to increase microbial activity up to 20 times more than unamended soil.

Shivam Dwivedi
Vermicompost contains 2.3% nitrogen, 1.85–2.25% potassium, and 1.55-2.25% phosphorus per 100 kilogrammes
Vermicompost contains 2.3% nitrogen, 1.85–2.25% potassium, and 1.55-2.25% phosphorus per 100 kilogrammes

Vermicompost is becoming increasingly popular, so it's important to encourage farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to make it and incorporate it into the proposed Manipur Organic Policy. It requires very little time and money, according to Krishi Vigyan Kendra's agronomy specialist Nandini Chongtham. It improves soil quality and gives plants the nutrients they need for more significant growth and increased yield. Farmers greatly benefit from vermicompost made from Eisenia fetida and Eudrilus eugeniae (both earthworm species), according to her.

Vermicompost contains 2.3% nitrogen, 1.85–2.25% potassium, and 1.55-2.25% phosphorus per 100 kilogrammes. The organic materials that the earthworms eat to determine what percentage of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are present. When earthworms eat legumes, there is a high percentage of NPK in the vermicompost.

Vermicompost is used to help the soil retain water longer and more effectively while also increasing the production of growth hormones in plants. Vermicompost contains a higher percentage of NPK than Farmyard Manure (FYM), composed of a decomposed mixture of dung, urine, litter, leftover materials and fodder. (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium).

According to Nandini, vermicompost's NPK content is 2-3% higher than farmyard manure's. Vermicompost can be made using one of two techniques. The Pit Method and the Bed Method are the two. Because farmers must purchase a tank for vermicomposting, the pit method is slightly more expensive than the bed method.

The bed method uses a brick bed and walls, whereas the pit method uses a tank. Place both structures beneath a roof or shed. The farmer determines the size of the pit or tank.  Both buildings must have drainage systems. Both should use used sacks (coconut husk fibre) or papers as bedding material to absorb extra water or vapour.

She added that the surplus liquid drained through the drainage system could also be collected and used as vermicompost in the fields. It takes 1 kilogramme of organic matter to produce 1 kilogramme of earthworms. Half or a third of the organic matter should be cow manure. Paddy stalks, leftover vegetables, and food should make up the remaining content. Keep in mind that paddy husks, marigold leaves, and pine leaves (Uchan Mana) should not be included in the earthworm's feed (organic matter) (Wai). These cause earthworms harm and death.

It is not advisable to use fresh cattle manure. It needs to be allowed to decompose for roughly 15 to 20 days before being used as earthworm feed. Cut-up other vegetables and paddy stalks should also be added to the pit or bed as earthworm food after decomposing for about 15-20 days. The pit or bed is then gradually filled with pre-decomposed organic material, with earthworms placed between each layer.

A layer should typically be about 2 feet thick. It is then covered with clothing and used sacks to keep the moisture in. The moisture is then kept up by sprinkling water as needed. The content is then mixed at the end of a month. After two months, earthworm manures that resemble tea granules will start to appear on the surface. These manures are collected, filtered, and used as vermicompost. According to Nandini, this vermicompost can be collected four times per year.

The expert added that Eisenia fetida earthworms feed well and have a large offspring population. The species can produce or convert 75% of the organic matter they are fed—1 kg—into vermicompost. The benefits of vermicomposting are most significant because it yields vermicompost and earthworms. Farmers can make money by selling both. At the production site, she said, 1 kg of earthworms costs Rs 1,000 while 1 kg of compost costs Rs 20. One Gopal, who owns an organic agriculture store in Sanjenthong, claimed that more farmers are switching to organic farming practises and using vermicompost instead of chemical fertilizers.

Even though the number of farmers using vermicompost has increased, he said, it is incredibly well-liked among those who practise kitchen gardening. He inaugurated the store in April 2019. People initially did not purchase a lot because it was unfamiliar to them. More than 100 kilogrammes of vermicompost are now sold there each day. Every month, he purchases fifty 50 kilogramme bags of vermicompost from five different companies. He said anyone looking to sell vermicompost can contact him at his store. One kilogramme of vermicompost is available at the store for Rs 30.

A farmer from Yumnam Khunou Makha Leikai in the Imphal East district named Laishram Brojen claimed that he only used vermicompost in his farms and paddy fields. He owns agricultural land covering more than 6 Sanggam. He has two vermicomposting pits, each 3 feet wide and 10 feet long. Approximately 1,000 kilogrammes of vermicompost are produced per pit per year.

Vermicompost is in high demand, and he produces it all year long, encouraging farmers to do so to lessen their reliance on chemical fertilisers that are imported. According to Haobijam Nimai, the owner of Haobijam Agro Tech in Yumnam Khunou Awang Leikai, the company generates 20 MT of vermicompost annually. Five pits at Haobijam Agro Tech range in size from 82 to 42 feet long and 5 feet wide. His business has been producing for the past seven or eight years.

The company annually provides the Horticulture Department with about 300 bags of vermicompost. One kilogramme of vermicompost is available for purchase at his business for Rs 20, he said. He urged farmers to practice organic farming and use vermicompost, noting that the company wants to boost production. According to him, the government should develop initiatives and strategies to encourage farmers to use vermicompost and lessen their reliance on synthetic fertilizers. He added that the use of vermicompost enhances soil quality.

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