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Pages From Rajiv

Pages From Rajiv

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Published by Ekologija Izvor

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Published by: Ekologija Izvor on Apr 03, 2013
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08/27/2013

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VERMICULTURE BIOTECHNOLOGY
Rediscovering the Environmental, Social and EconomicVirtues
of
the Wonder Worms-Earthworms (Charles Darwin'sUnheralded Soldier's
of
Mankind) Through Researchesinto Environmental Biotechnology
A revolution
is
unfolding in vermiculture studies (rearing of earthworms) forsustainable waste
and
land management, soil decontamination
&
fertility improvement,
and
for sustainable agriculture
&
organic farming. Earthworms body contains
65%
protein (70-80
%
high quality 'lysine rich protein' on a
dry
weight basis). They multiplyvery rapidly. Studies indicate that they double their number
at
least every
60
days. Giventhe optimal conditions of moisture, temperature
and
feeding materials earthworms canmultiply by 2
8
i.e.
256
worms every 6
~onths
from a single individual. Each of the
256
worms multiplies in the same proportion to produce a huge biomass of wormsin a short time. The total life-cycle of the worms
is
about
220
days. They produce 300-400 young ones within this life period.Charles Darwin (1881) called the earthworms as
'unheralded soldiers
of
mankind','natural ploughman'
and
'friend
of
fanner's'
working day
and
night for
him
in
his
farmsoil.
It
is
interesting to note
that
the incorporation of earthworms in soil wasrecommended by Surapala, the author of
Vrikshayurveda,
as early as in the 10
th
centuryAD for obtaining high quality pomegranate fruits (Verse 131). Presence of earthworms
in
soil
is
a 'biological indicator' of good soil fertility. One acre of fertile
land
may containmore than 50,000 earthworms of diverse species. Interest
in
vermiculture technologyfor sustainable agriculture grew in the recent times
and
several scientists have studiedthe impact of vermiculture
on
cereal, vegetable
and
fruit crops.Earthworms have
600
million years of experience as waste
and
environmentalmanagers managing bio-waste including
human
waste, soil
and
land
on
earth. Aristotlecalled them as
'intestine
of
earth'
meaning that they can digest a wide variety of wastematerials from earth. About 4,400 different species of earthworms have been identified,
and
quite a few of them are versatile waste eaters
and
bio-degraders
and
feed
on
varietyof organic wastes. Composting by earthworms
is
proving to be environmentallypreferred process over the normal microbial composting
and
much more over thelandfills as
it
is rapid
and
nearly odorless process, can reduce composting timesignificantly
and
above all, there is no emission of 'greenhouse gas methane' whichplagues both these solid waste management options.
 
VERMICULTURE BIOTECHNOLOGY
151
Earthworms body work as a 'biofilter'
and
they have been found to remove the
BODs
by over 90%, COD by 80-90%, total dissolved solids (TOS)
by
90-92%
and
thetotal suspended solids
(TSS)
by
90-95%
from wastewater by the general mechanism of'ingestion'
and
biodegradation. The vermi-filtered water
is
clean enough
&
also nutritiveto be reused for farm irrigation
andin
parks
and
gardens. Many developing nationswho cannot afford to construct
and
maintain costly Sewage Treatment Plants (STP's)can go for this low-cost option.Earthworms in general, are blessed with high resistant
power
to several chemicalcontaminants in soil including the heavy metals
and
organic pollutants
and
have beenreported to bio-accumulate them in specially created tissues by nature called 'chloragogencells'. Vermiremediation biotechnology using earthworms
is
emerging as a low-cost
and
convenient technology for combating soil
and
land pollution. A 'wasteland' can betransformed into
'wonderland'
by earthworms.Vermiculture -vermi-composting, vermifiltration
&
vermiremediation, are all
seH
promoted, seH-regulated, self-improved
&
seH-enhanced, low or no-energy requiringzero-waste technology, easy to construct, operate
and
maintain.
It
excels all 'bioconversion' technologies by the fact that
it
can utilize organics
that
otherwise cannotbe utilized by others.
It
excels all 'bio-treatment' technologies because
it
achieves greaterutilization
than
the rate of destruction achieved by other technologies.
It
involves about100-1000 times higher
'value
addition' than other biological technologies.Vermiculture industry has grown considerably in recent years all over the world.For poor nations including in India,
it
is becoming a source of livelihood for the poorin rural areas, especially the women, and helping in poverty eradication programs.
 
VERMICULTURE FOR SUSTAINABLEAGRICULTURE
&
SAFE
FOOD
Reviving the Traditional Plant Growth Promoting Roles
of
Earthworms
in
Farming Practices Through Researches into
EBT
KEY
WORDS
Earthworms Secrete Plant Growth Hormones; Earthworms Proliferate
N2
Fixing Bacteria;Earthworms Induce Biological Resistance in Plants
&
Reduce Pesticide Use; EarthwormsRemoves
Soil
Pollutants, Reduce Soil Salinity
&
Improves Fertility.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Presence
of
earthworms
in soil is a 'biological indicator' of soil fertility.
One
acreof fertile
land
may
contain more
than
50,
000
earthworms of diverse species. Earthwormsare natural biological agents
that
affect soil fragmentation, aeration, bring
about
soil
turn and
dispersion, digest organic matter, graze microflora
and
even
reduce
Salmonella
bacteria to
about
30
per
cent. Earthworm activity is so prolific that,
on
average, 12
tonnes/ha/year
soil
or
organic matter is ingested by this population, leading to
upturning
of 18 tons of
soil/year,
and
world
over
at
this rate
it may mean
a 2 inch
humus
layer over the globe (Bhawalkar
&
Bhawalkar, 1993).
Charles Darwin
(1881)
called the earthworms as
'unheralded
soldiers of mankind', 'naturalploughman'
and
'friend of farmer's' working day
and
night for him
in
his farm soil. Theyare continually ploughing
and
also manuring the soil in the farmland. The habit ofburrowing
and
swallowing earth below the surface increases the fertility of the soil inmany ways. The burrow permits the penetration of air
and
moisture into deeper layerof soil, make the soil porous, improve drainage
and
make easier the
downward
growth

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