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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

DIGESTIBILITY RATE BY EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISM (EM) TREATED


SUBSTRATE MATERIALS AT DIFFERENT EARTHWORM
STOCKING DENSITIES

ROCKY B. ACSON

A Thesis Proposal Presented to the Graduate School


of the Central Philippines State University
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the


Degree Master of Arts in Educational Management
major in Vocational Productivity

APRIL 2017
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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Today, the global scientific society is looking for a more

economically cheaper & environmentally safer alternative to the

destructive chemical fertilizers for safe and sustainable food

production for the human society (Sinha, 2009). In relation to

this, human, livestock and crops produce approximately 38 billion

metric tons of organic waste worldwide each year and accumulation

of wastes, particularly organic wastes, is becoming a serious

hazard responsible for deterioration of environment (Goyal et.

al, 2011). In this regard, recycling of organic waste is

feasible to produce useful organic manure for agricultural

application (Ansari, 2011).

Vermicomposting has been reported to be a viable, cost-

effective and rapid technique for the efficient utilization of

crop residues and byproducts, and organic wastes (Nedunchezhiyan

et al, 2011). Hence researches are being done to validate which

are the best organic substrates from among the diverse organic

wastes that can produce most nutritive vermicompost

substituting chemical fertilizers and the best methods of


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

vermicomposting including the selection of composting worms that

can give rapid and good results (Sinha, 2009).

On the other hand, vermicomposting is a non- thermophilic

biodegradation of organic matter through the joint action of

earthworms and microorganisms (Nedunchezhiyan et. al, 2010).

Microorganisms are mainly responsible for the biochemical

degradation of the organic matter during composting and/or

fermentation process and, in the latter, earthworms play a very

important role in both microbial activity and diversity (Mupondi

et. al, 2010).

Therefore, this proposed study aims to explore the technical

viability of using Effective Microorganisms (EM) in combination

with earthworms in reducing the time of composting and improving

compost quality.

Objectives of the Study

1. To determine which of the EM treated substrate materials

for earthworm will have a higher digestibility rating.


2. To determine which of the different earthworm stocking

densities used will have a significant effect on the

digestibility rating of the different EM treated

substrate materials.
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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

3. To ascertain the interaction between the different EM

treated substrate materials and different stocking

densities on the digestibility rating of earthworm

beddings.

Importance of the Study

The result of this research served as a guide to farmers and

entrepreneurs who want to engage in vermicomposting business.

This were providing them additional knowledge on the potentials

of Effective Microorganisms in enhancing decomposition and in

improving compost quality. Furthermore, this will encourage

future researchers to explore and undergo research studies on the

importance of promoting highly sustainable recycling methods of

organic wastes and agricultural crop residues.

This was also contributing to the promotion of organic

farming as well as encourage the use of economically cheaper and

environmentally safer organic-based natural fertilizers in

improving crop performance and production of crops free from

chemical residues and safe for human and animal consumption.

Scope and Delimitation


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

This study on Digestibility Rate of EM Treated Substrate

Materials at Different Earthworm Stocking Densities was

conducted on January 2012 to March 2013 at the Agrimechanic shed

of NSCA-Cauayan Campus, now Central Philippines State University

Brgy. Poblacion, Cauayan Negros Occidental. The total research

area was being nine (9) meters in length and five (5) meters in

width. This study was focus on the digestibility rate of EM

treated substrate materials at different earthworm stocking

densities based on the following parameters: weight of casting,

weight of undigested substrate materials, digestibility rate, and

population of earthworm.

This study used Factorial Experiment, laid out in Randomized

Complete Block Design. Two factors that will be considered are;

a) EM treated substrate materials b) Stocking densities of

earthworm (Eudrillus euginae).

Definition of Terms
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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Actinomycetes. These are also called radial bacteria and

they reproduce from the center point into a radial pattern, as

the name is represented by family of Streptomyces which produces

antibiotics such as streptomycin.

Amino acid. A compound belonging to a class that contains

an amino group that serves as building blocks of protein.

Breeders. These are mature earthworms capable of producing

juveniles 12-20 pieces per month.

Composting. It is a decomposition process in which the

substrate is progressively broken down by a succession of

populations of living organisms. The breakdown products of one

population serve as the substrate for the succeeding population.

The succession is initiated by way of the breakdown of the

complex molecules in the raw substrate to simpler forms by

microbes indigenous to the substrates.

Decomposition. The process of breaking down organic

material, such as dead plant or animal tissue, into smaller

molecules that are available for use by the organisms of an

ecosystem. Decomposition is carried on by bacteria, fungi,

protists, worms, and certain other organisms.


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Earthworms. These are tube-shaped invertebrate animals with

a long, segmented body and no legs that aerate the soil with

their burrowing action and enrich the soil with their waste

products (called castings). Earthworms are mainly classified as

epigeic (surface dwellers), endogeic (shallow burrowing) or

anecic (deep borruwing).

EM. It stands for Effective Microorganisms, a mixed

culture microbial inoculants composed of several species of

beneficial bacteria, yeasts and fungi that exist homeostatically

in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Eudrilus eugeniae. An earthworm species commonly known as

African Night Crawler. This species is reported to be fast

growing; ferocious eater of organic food and does not need much

soil as substratum.

Fermentation. It is the process of decomposing the organic

materials initially for three (3 weeks) so that its resulting

temperature shall be reduced in preparation for the introduction

of the earthworms.

Filamentous Fungi. In the world of EM, they are hardworking

creatures like yeast, producing various biologically active

agents such as amino acids and polysaccharides.


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Juveniles. Young earthworms of 4 6 weeks of age.

Lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria are differentiated by

their powerful sterilizing properties. They suppress harmful

micro-organisms and encourage quick breakdown of organic

substances.

Mesophilic. Organisms growing or thriving best in an

intermediate environment (as in one of moderate temperature)

Organic matter. Fraction of the soil composed of anything

that once lived. It includes plant and animal remains in various

stages of decomposition, cells and tissues of soil organisms, and

substances from plant roots and soil microbes.

Photosynthetic bacteria. These bacteria play the leading

role in the activity of EM. They synthesize useful substances

from the secretions of roots, organic matter and/or harmful gases

(e.g. hydrogen sulphide) by using sunlight and the heat of soil

as sources of energy.

Polysaccharide. A complex carbohydrate such as starch or

cellulose made up of sugar molecules linked into a branched or

chain structure.
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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Psychrophiles. These are organisms that thrive in low

temperature environment.

Putrefaction. Anaerobic rotting of organic matter and the

by-products that produce bad odors which include ammonia,

hydrogen sulfide, and solids.

Splitting. The act of separating breeder worms from the

juveniles after harvesting of castings.

Stocking. The introduction of worm into the substrate

materials. It may assume the term worm inoculation as well.

Substrate materials. This is about farm wastes and crop

residues to be acted upon by microorganisms and earthworms during

the composting process.

Thermophilic. Organisms that thrive in a high temperature

or warm environment.

Vermicasts. These are fecal matters of earthworms enclosed

by its saliva. It contains the three (3) major plant food (NPK)

including considerable amount of essential plant nutrients. They

are free of weed seeds and free from harmful fungi and bacteria.

It is also called vermicompost.


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Vermicomposting. A technology involving the joint action of

earthworms and microorganisms as natural bioreactors for

effective recycling of organic wastes.

Yeast. A small single-celled fungus that ferments sugars and

other carbohydrates and reproduces by budding.

CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

The chapter presents relevant information taken from various

sources such as books, electronic articles, research findings,

flyers, and others. They are arranged according to the specific

variables of the study

The Recycling Issue

Recycling is the separation and collection of wastes, their

subsequent transformation or re-manufacture into usable or

marketable products or materials and the purchase of products

from recyclable materials (PCCARD), 2007). In this context, the

need to recover and reuse simply the remaining valuable

properties and/or elements contained in the waste materials is

obvious at present. This is not done in the country alone. Many

affluent and developing countries had in fact engaged in

recycling activities not for agriculture use but in industrial

purposes likewise (Microsoft Encarta, 2004).

The percentage of garbage in the United States that is

recycled into new products is projected to increase from around

17 percent in 1990 to as much as 30 percent by 1995, and 35

percent by 2000, according to Franklin Associates.(Yr. Edition

Mr Tingson) Some individual categories are already much bigger.


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

The US aluminum industry, for instance, estimates that 65 percent

of all aluminum cans are recycled. Green glass which is imported

to the US in the form of wine and beer bottles is also another

proof of the claim.

In general, the expansion of recycling programs has far

outstripped the development of markets to buy the collected

materials. However, there are ways around such imbalances.

Green glass can be ground up and used as aggregate in asphalt.

In 1990, New York Citys municipal asphalt plant used 38, 000

tons of crushed glass. And newsprint can be made into cellulose

insulation. It has even been used as animal bedding, although

environmentalists point out that such a use is not true

recycling, where a material is returned to the market time after

time; animal bedding can be used only once before being thrown

away. The long-term solution to the newsprint glut is to

increase the paper industrys capacity to recycle paper, and that

will happen.

In the face of opposition from residents and

environmentalists to all types of landfills and incinerators,

some local officials turn to an approach for warding off a future

garbage crisis that gets near-universal approval, at least in

principle: recycling. From the local standpoint, recycling


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

programs reduced the need for new landfills and incinerators

because they cut the amount of garbage that requires disposal.

From a wider point of view, recycling conserves natural

resources, such as trees and metal-bearing ores, and saves

energy. For instance, making a new aluminum can out of recycled

aluminum require only 5 percent of the energy that is expended to

refine aluminum from bauxite ore.

In 1988 only about 600 recycling collection programs existed

in the United States. By the end of 1991 there were about 3, 500

picking up recyclables from 15 million households. About 40

percent of these programs, mostly in the Northeast, California,

and Minnesota, were mandatory, meaning that residents faced fines

if they did not separate recyclables from ordinary garbage.

Most of these arrangements follow a similar pattern. Each

household regularly sorts its recyclables and places them in a

plastic bin, which is put out for collection once a week. A

truck with separate compartments for each type of recyclable

newspapers, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and so on takes the

items to a processing site; there they are bundled for shipment

to factories or mills, to be converted into new newsprint,

bottles and cans, or other goods.


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

In the Philippines, PCARRD (2007) cited that generation of

solid wastes per capita is estimated at 0.2 0.6 kg/day. Thus,

a family of six can generate an estimated total of 2.4 kg of

solid wastes daily, while the whole population of 8M produces

about 32, 000 tons of solid wastes. The average composition of

solid wastes in the country is shown in the table.

Table 1. Average composition of solid wastes in the


Philippines, % by weight.

Components %
Yard and field waste 33.5
Fines and inert 12.9
Wood 11.5
Food Waste 11.0
Paper and Cardboard 10.2
Plastic and Petroleum Products 9.8
Textiles 4.1
Metals 3.3
Glass 1.9
Leather and rubber 1.8
TOTAL 100.0
Source: EMB-DNR, 1998; PCARRD, 2007.

As indicated in the table, 33.5% of the total solid wastes

in the country was attributed on yard and field wastes as

reported by DENR in 1998. In the succeeding years food and yard

wastes accounted for almost 45% of the total amount of municipal

solid waste generated in 2000 (PCARRD), 2007). The Philippines

is practically an agricultural country and it produces rice as

its dominant staple food. Rice produced rice straws by about 50%
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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

of its dry weight (Pandey et al., 2009). Approximately 24M tons

of rice straws are generated as waste yearly, assuming a grain

straw ratio of 0.5 and 12M tons of palay. In addition to this,

assuming that a 40t/ha of fresh stovers of corn are produced from

2.5M hectare of area harvested, approximately 100M tons of it are

generated annually. With a kernel/ear ratio of 0.77 at 4.5M tons

of corn produced, approximately 1.3M tons of corncobs are

produced yearly (PCARRD, 2007)

Precisely, farmers do not incorporate rice straw in the crop

field because of its slow degradation rate, disease infestation,

unstable nutrients, and reduced yield caused by a short-term

negative effect of nitrogen immobilization. They usually dispose

it through open field burning. Because of this reality, the

management of organic waste become a major concern worldwide, as

unscientific disposal of waste can adversely affect the

environment by causing offensive odor, ground water contamination

and soil pollution (Garget et al, 2006) As conformed by United

Nations Environment Program (UNEP)(2009), rapid increase in the

volume and types of waste agricultural biomass, as a result of

intensive agriculture in the wake of population growth and

improved living standards, is becoming a burgeoning problem as

rotting waste agricultural biomass emits methane and leachate


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

(liquid waste), and open burning by the farmers to clear the land

and generate CO2 and other local pollutants.

Agricultural and industrial wastes including rice bran, rice

husk, rice straw, sugarcane trash, bagasse, molasses, press mud,

etc. have a huge potential for recycling nutrient elements

(Prakash, 2007). Recycling of organic wastes by the process of

composting in agriculture brings in the much needed organic

matter to the soils and improves the overall soil fertility and

soil productivity (Tandon, 1995; Chukwuka and Omotayo, 2008;

Ansari, 2011).

Recycling in the Philippines has the following goals:

preserves raw materials and natural resources, reduces the amount

of waste that requires disposal, reduces energy use and

associated pollution, provides business and job opportunities,

reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduces pollution associated

with use of virgin materials (PCCARDD, 2007).

Processing and Using Recycled Garbage

A new approach to garbage disposal that has gained in the

past two or three years is garbage composting. Most household

garbage is organic and will decompose under the right conditions

into a soil-like material called humus, which can be used to


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

enrich soil. Plant wastes such as leaves, grass clippings, and

other green garbage can readily be composted into humus for

homeowners and/or parks. By late 1991, moreover, 13 states had

passed some type of ban on disposing of yard waste in landfills.

Processing indoor garbage by composting is less common. A few

communities have opted to build composting facilities, where

garbage is either laid out in long piles, called windrows, or

places in specially designed vessels, to reduce odors and speed

up composting (Microsoft Encarta, 2004)

The basic machinery for processing solid wastes into compost

materials are the shredder, cleaner, breaker, horizontal mixer,

pelletizer, dryer, and grader. The shredder cuts the wastes into

small pieces for faster degradation during composting using

either windrow or mechanical composting systems with the aid of

suitable microorganisms. The compost is harvested after 21 days

or less and ground into small particles using the breaker mill.

The cleaner is used to remove impurities like stones, sand, and

steel. A horizontal mixer is used to blend the compost with

other ingredients and enhance the nutritional components of the

organic fertilizer. Pelletizing the compost follows if these are

not intended for distribution in powder form. The pellets are


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

dried to 15% moisture content for longer storage and are graded

prior to bagging (PCARRD), 2007).

Composting/Compost

Composting can serve as a key component of municipal solid

waste recycling activities, considering that food and yard wastes

accounted for almost 45% of the total amount of municipal solid

waste generated in 2000 (PCARRD, 2007). Approximately 45-55% of

the waste stream is organic matter, composting can play a

significant role in diverting waste from landfills thereby

conserving landfill space and reducing the production of leachate

and methane gas. In addition, an effective composting program

can produce a high quality soil amendment with variety of end

uses (http://www.echochem.com/t compostfaq2.html). It is a

process appropriate for the disposal of waste and is generally

beneficial from ecological and economic point of view (Taiwo,

2011).

A natural process of 'rotting' or decomposition of organic

matter by microorganisms under controlled conditions (Adegunloye

et. al, 2009)(not a sentence, Dr Teves). In the process, various

organisms, including bacteria and fungi, break down organic

matter into simpler substances. Raw organic materials such as


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

crop residues, animal wastes, food garbage, some municipal WASTES

AND suitable industrial wastes, enhance their suitability for

application to the soil as a fertilizing resource, after having

undergone fermentation (http://agritech.tnau.acin/orgfarm

composting.html). It is further described as the bioconversion

of organic matter in a much faster rate by heterotrophic

microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and protozoa) into

humus-like material called compost (www.environmental-

expert.com/Files/0/articles/9047/vermicompostingarticle for the

biofertilizerpeople.pdf)(Taiwo, 2011).

Not as a complicated process, the effectiveness of the

composting process is dependent upon the environmental conditions

present within the composting system i.e. oxygen, carbon,

nitrogen, temperature, moisture, material disturbance, organic

matter and the size and activity of microbial populations. If

any of these elements are lacking, or if they are not provided in

the proper proportion, the microorganisms will not flourish and

will not provide adequate heat. At optimum performance,

composting will convert organic matter into stable compost that

is odor and pathogen free, and a poor breeding substrate for

flies and other insects. In addition, it will significantly

reduce the volume and weight of organic waste as the composting


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

process converts much of the biodegradable component to gaseous

carbon dioxide. It is a continuous basis in the natural

environment (http://www.echochem.com/tcompostfaq2.html).

Another explanation is advanced by Eyheraguibel et al (2008)

and the African Journal of Biotechnology (2009). They said that

compost, a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer and soil

conditioner, is a product of humification of organic matter. This

process is aided by a combination of living organisms including

bacteria, fungi and worms which transform and enhance

lignocellulosic waste into humic-like substances. It is a dark,

crumbly, earthy-smelling material that results from the

decomposition of organic materials. Compost does double duty

when added to soil. It supplies nutrients to plants and improves

the structure of any type of soil by holding soil particles

together in larger aggregates. Compost also improves water

retention because it will hold almost twice its own weight of

water. Compost is relatively stable but continues to change when

mixed with soil. Humus is the stable, end result of organic

matter decomposition that provides an environment for a complex

nutrient transfer system within the soil. Like air, it is

essential to life on earth. By incorporating compost into our

soil, we are helping to replenish the humus we have lost through


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Republic of the Philippines


CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

farming and other human activities (Home & Garden Mimeo # HG 35

(6/2005).

On the other hand, the fundamental challenge at present is

in the manner the compost pile must be prepared and aerated

properly. Using conventional composting methods, piles must be

turned frequently, or they risk becoming anaerobic and

putrefying. If this happens, foul smelling gasses such as

ammonia and mercaptans (Thiols are liquids with penetrating

unpleasant smells, also called mercaptan) are produced, and

harmful bacteria proliferate. This makes for angry neighbors,

numerous flies, and a potentially disease inducing finished

product. The problem with continually turning the piles to

prevent putrefaction is two-fold. One, it is very labor intensive

and therefore expensive. Two, even frequent turning is not 100%

efficient and anaerobic pockets inevitably begin to putrefy in

the piles (http://www.nymusa.com/pro em app 1.htm)

(http://www.benefits-ofrecycling.com/types of composting.html).

However, composting is considered an economical and sustainable

option for organic waste management as it is comparatively easy,

provided it is managed properly to produce a good quality

product. It is a technique which facilitates mass reduction of

waste resulting in its stabilization (Nair et al, 2006).


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
Graduate School
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

Some communities are implementing large scale composting

programs in an effort to conserve landfill capacity. The key to

a successful recycling program is to ensure that the recovered

material is actually re-used or re-manufactures, and that the

products are bought and used by consumers. Recycling programs

will become more effective as markets for products made from

recycled material increase. The national government has developed

several initiatives in order to bolster the use of recycled

products (PCARRD, 2007).

The design and set-up of a centralized composting site must

consider the type and volume of organic waste, waste collection

methods, storage factors, and the end use for the finished

compost. Quality organic waste and good operating procedures

ensure the production of high-quality compost. Among the most

common centralized composting process technologies/facilities

are: windrows, static aerated pile, and in vessel (PCARRD),

2007).

Application of composts increased the soil organic matter

(SOM) i.e. soil carbon to more sustainable levels, above 3-5 %

and improve fertility. In loamy soil, compost applied @16

tons/acre (35 t/ha) SOM increased from 1.1 % to 2.5 %. Organic

carbon in soil plays a central and fundamental role in soil


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
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structure, quality and fertility. SOM acts as glue to bind

soil particles into aggregates thus improving soil structure,

infiltration, air porosity, water and nutrient holding capacity.

Soil erosion and compaction are exacerbated when soils are

depleted in organic matter. Soil quality and fertility reduces

over time as carbon is continually removed from farm soil through

grain harvesting, cutting of hay and stubble fed to cattle and

also through oxidation as greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Soil

carbon in farms is not being replaced in natural way. Application

of composts replenishes the SOM adds the lost soil carbon and

helps to sustain the soil quality and fertility and maximize

production over time. As the SOM decomposes over time it results

in the development of more stable carbon compound called humus.

Humus enhances mineral breakdown and in turn nutrient

availability to plants. Highly mature and stable composts (e.g.

vermicompost) contain long lasting form of carbon called

humates or humic and fulvic acids which are very important

for soil health and fertility (Compost Australia, 2011).

Generally, compost can be considered more as a soil

conditioner than as a fertilizer substitute because it improves

plant productivity primarily by improving physical and biological

soil properties and increasing soil organic matter, rather than


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
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by directly supplying significant amounts of plant-available

nutrients. By increasing soil organic matter content, which fuels

microbial activity and nutrient cycling, compost applications

will increase overall soil fertility. Over subsequent growing

seasons, the nitrogen applied in compost will become plant-

available (Emily Marriott et. al, 2011). Significantly, compost

is a rich source of organic matter and it improves the physico-

chemical and biological properties of the soil

(http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/orgfarm/orgfarm composting.html)

Vermicomposting

At recent years, disposal of organic wastes from various

sources like domestic, agriculture and industries has caused

serious environmental hazards and economic problems. It has been

demonstrated that earthworms can process household garbage, city

refuse, sewage sludge and waste from paper, wood and food

industries (Ansari and Ismael, 2011).

There are various physical, chemical, microbiological and

conventional methods of waste disposal but they are perceived

time consuming and need very high cost and input (Goyal et. al,

2011). Thus, in recent years, vermicomposting and composting have


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
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turned out to be promising way out for safe disposal of organic

waste (Sharma et. al, 2010). It is a technique of biodegradation

or stabilization of organic waste (natural/anthropogenic) by

using earthworms and microbes (Hand et al., 1988; Garg et al.,

2006; Suthar, 2007; Mainoo et al., 2009). As a mesophilic process

and is the process of ingestion, digestion, and absorption of

organic waste carried out by earthworms followed by excretion of

castings through the worms metabolic system, during which their

biological activities enhance the levels of plant-nutrients of

organic waste [R. M. Venkatesh and T. Eevera, 2008].

With the aid of aerobic microorganisms (i.e. bacteria and

fungi), earthworms digest processed organic materials under

favorable temperature and moisture conditions. The materials

that passed through the digestive tract of earthworm come out in

a texturized, sanitized and deodorized form of castings known as

vermicompost (Guerrero, 1983). The technology can help reduce the

amount of biodegradable wastes in community/municipal dumpsites.

The production of vermicompost will also contribute to the

promotion of organic farming and in restoring the fertility of

acidic soils resulting from organic matter depletion and overuse

of chemical fertilizers. It has the added advantages of being

more convenient, practical and economical than other similar


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CENTRAL PHILIPPINES STATE UNIVERSITY
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composting systems. (http://cptech.dost.gov.ph/etc-0015-

SW000.php)

Vermi-composting technology amounts to converting trash

into treasure or getting wealth from waste or gold from

garbage (.Sinha, Rajiv et al., 2009). Vermicomposting is a

simple biotechnological process of composting in which certain

species of earthworms are used to convert wastes into better end

product (Garg et al., 2005). Vermicomposting has been reported to

be a viable, cost effective and rapid technique for the efficient

utilization of crop residues and byproducts, and organic wastes

(Garg et al., 2006; Suthar, 2009). It provides two useful

products; the earthworm biomass and the vermicompost (Sen and

Chandra, 2007).

The Vermicomposting process is faster than composting,

because the material passes through the earthworm gut. The

resulting earthworm castings (worm manure) are rich in microbial

activity and plant growth regulators, and fortified with pest

repellence attributes as well (Garg et al., 2005). Earthworms

consume various organic wastes and reduce the volume by 60%

(Nagavallemma et al., 2004). The average body weight of earth

worms is 0.5-0.6 g and they eat wastes equivalent to their body


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weight. It produces cast equivalent to about 50% of the waste it

consumes in a day (Garg and Kaushik, 2005;

www.ccsenet.org/jsdJournal of Sustainable Development Vol. 3, N0.

3; September, 2010)

In the revised Vermicomposting Primer prepared by Pineda

(2011), it emphasized that the Vermicomposting Technology was

introduced in the Philippines by Dr. Raphael Guerrero III through

the national program on Kitchen Garden technologies in the year

1983. One of the objectives of such technology was to motivate

the farmers especially in the rural areas to be more productive

by maximizing their respective backyards with readily available

vegetables and fresh water fish like Nile tilapia (Tilapia

nilotica Linn.).

Vermicomposting is making use of the different strains of

earthworm. For this technology, it uses the African Night

Crawlers (Eudrilius Eugeniae L.) which originated from Germany

and was only introduced in the Philippines by Dr. Raphael

Guerrero III for the generation of this unique technology, So

far, the worms are considered one of the appropriate alternative

organisms available for efficient and effective low-cost

recycling of farm wastes.


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The earthworm normally is grooved in the white ventral body

portion and the color of the remaining parts is black or lighter.

It moves slow and is preferring dark moist habitat all the time.

The maximum adult length is about 30 60 centimeters while its

weight is 1.50 grams on the average.

The creature is practically easy to rear. As a matter of

fact, the very reason why it attracted the attention of the

researchers is that it consumes all biodegradable wastes that are

given to them in short period of rearing. Fifty breeder worms

can convert one square meter of fermented substrate (20-kilogram

animal manure and sawdust) into an almost equal quantity for only

a month of rearing.

These animals which can last for 15 years are certainly

harmless and if reared properly can produce vermicasts as low-

cost organic fertilizer for the backyard of every household

elsewhere. It is the best alternative plant food and considered

as the safest organic fertilizer compared with popular

conventional harmful synthetic fertilizer materials available

abundantly in the market which almost subjected majority of the

consumers into maximum health risks.


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Simple Basic Steps in Vermicomposting Technology


(Pineda, 2011)

1. Survey the area for abundant source of animal manures

and/or organic farm wastes (sawdust, fermented rice straws,

shredded weeds, etc.) except chicken dung. Collect as many

of these materials and preferably sundry them for at least

three (3) days for handling convenience. For fresh cut

weeds, shredding or cutting them into finer structure makes

fermentation easier and worm inoculation earlier.

Note: Never attempt to incorporate fresh chicken dung in

the substrate as bedding material for earthworm. It

contains a high amount of uric acid and found very toxic to

worms.

2. Crush dried animal manure by the use of plank or bare feet.

3. If animal manure is the only organic waste available aside

from sawdust, mix three (3) parts of it by volume and one

(1) part sawdust thoroughly. When assorted organic

materials are available, mix them thoroughly and mix them

with saw dust at the same proportion/ratio as mentioned.

Make enough volume of the mixture according to desired

quantity following the mixing ratio.


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Sawdust is used to avoid hardening of the bedding materials

during rearing. Never use rice hulls to substitute

sawdust. Rice hull are not prescribed because it will

injure the worm as it move against it.

4. Moist the mixture by pouring in water until the moisture

level is approximately 50 to 80 percent.

5. Place the moistened mixture in a shed to avoid sunlight and

rain. Cover it with canvass or any material available and

allow it to ferment (decompose) for three (3) weeks. Turn

the heap once a week and check the moisture content as well

6. Check the temperature of the fermenting substrate materials.

The appropriate worm stocking temperature must be at the

range from 24 320C. Check it by burying a hand deep into

the center of the pile. If temperature can be resisted by

at least five (5) minutes, then the pile (substrate) is

ready.

7. Look for any container available which shall be filled with

fermented substrates in preparation for worm inoculation or

stocking. An old cracked basin or old used tires cut in

halves may be used for the purpose. An old plastic sack can
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be utilized for the purpose as well. Only half of it shall

be filled.

A wooden box with 50cm wide, 100cm long and 15cm thick

dimension maybe made for the same intention. This box

dimension can accommodate about 20 kilogram substrate

materials and 50 breeder worms.

If an old plastic sack is used, fill it with the substrate

half-full only. Do not fill it with substrate entirely.

Worms will not convert the bottom part into vermicompost.

Only the top portion.

8. For every square meter areas of the beds, stock breeder

worms of 50. Stock them by spreading them over the surface

of the substrate or by burying them into the center and

cover them after. Check water of the bed/container all the

time. Get a handful of the substrate and squeeze it between

the palms until water shall drip. If two or three drops of

water shall come out then the substrate is at the optimum

moisture level and does not need to be watered using a

sprinkler. If water content is low, obviously water must be

introduced.
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Never make the beds over wet during watering. The worms

shall not survive in it in 24 hours. They will crawl away

if the bed is too wet.

9. Cover the bed with old newspapers or the like after worm

stocking to protect the worms from predators like frogs,

snakes, crickets and chickens. The worms love darkness and

therefore it will induce them to feed on more.

10. After a month from stocking, harvest the fine castings

by sieving it through a mesh wire with the size of 3/16 of

an inch. For convenience, do not water the bed at least a

week before the date of harvesting the castings.

11. Separate the breeders from the juveniles. This activity

is called splitting.

12. With the succeeding fermented substrate materials ready,

stock breeders following step 8. Stock the juveniles

separately at another bed at the rate of one (1) to two (2)

kilograms per square meter area. Follow the same sequence

of rearing until splitting.


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13. With the harvested castings available, it can be applied

directly into the garden/field immediately following the

recommended amount. Normally, a farm is applied with two

(2) tons organic fertilizer per hectare more or less.

14. If vermicompost is to be stored longer, dry the product

under sunlight at least four (4) hours before storing.

Note: If worms are more than enough, it can be blanched,

dried and crushed. Vermimeal can be used to substitute

fishmeal in feed ration preparation for domestic animals and

livestock. It is comparable to Peruvian fishmeal in terms

of crude protein content approximately 65%.

Species of Earthworm

Earthworms are found in wide range of soils representing 60-

80% of the total soil biomass. Significantly, the worms lead to

total improvement in the quality of soil and land where they

inhabit and also enhance total plant growth and crop productivity

(Yvan et al, 2009) Earthworms restore and improve soil fertility

and boost crop productivity by the use of their excreta -

vermicast. They excrete beneficial soil microbes, and secrete

polysaccharides, proteins and other nitrogenous compounds into


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the soil. They promote soil fragmentation and aeration, and bring

about soil turning and dispersion in farmlands. Worm activity

can increase air-soil volume from 8 - 30%. One acre of land can

contain up to 3 million earthworms, the activities of which can

bring up to 8 - 10 tons of top soil to the surface every year.

Presence of worms improves water penetration in compacted soils

by 50% (Kangmin and Peizhen, 2010).

There are several species of earthworms like Eudrilus

eugeniae, Eisenia foetida, Perionyx excavatus and Lumbricus

rubellus (Garg et al., 2006; Suthar, 2007, 2009; Mainoo et al.,

2009) which are mostly used for vermicomposting. However, E.

foetida is the most common and favorable species of earthworms

for vermicomposting of vegetables waste as they have high

tolerance to environmental variables like pH, temperature and

moisture content (Kaviraj and Sharma, 2003; Garg et al., 2006;

Suthar, 2007, 2009).

In the tropical and subtropical conditions Eudrilus

eugeniae and Perionyx excavatus are the best vermicomposting

earthworms for organic solid waste management (Ismail, 2005;

Ansari, 2007). Eudrilus eugineae is a voracious feeders of

organic wastes, and their presence has been found to reduce the

time required for composting (Prabha et al. 2007; Guerrero 1983).


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In nature, epigeic earthworms live in fresh organic matter

of forest litter, in litter mounds, in herbivore dungs, and in

anthropogenic environments such as manure heaps, vegetal debris

and vermicomposting beds common in agricultural landscapes. These

habitats are hotspots of heterotrophic activity, where epigeic

earthworms intensively interact with microorganisms and other

soil fauna within the decomposer community, strongly affecting

decomposition processes (Swift et al., 1979; Monroy et al., 2006;

Sampedro and Domnguez, 2008).

Role of Microorganisms and Earthworm in Organic Matter

Decomposition

Vermicomposting is a non-thermophilic biodegradation of

organic material through the joint action of earthworms and

microorganisms (Suthar, 2009). Microorganisms are mainly

responsible for the biochemical degradation of the organic matter

during composting and/or fermentation process and, in the latter,

earthworms play a very important role in both microbial activity

and diversity (Laczano, 2008)

The biochemical decomposition of organic matter is primarily

accomplished by microorganisms, but earthworms are crucial


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drivers of the process as they are involved in the stimulation of

microbial populations through ingestion and fragmentation of

fresh organic matter, which results in a greater surface area

available for microbial colonization, thereby drastically

altering biological activity (Domnguez et al.,2010). Earthworms

also modify microbial biomass and activity through stimulation,

digestion and dispersion in casts (Aira and Domnguez, 2009;

Monroy et al., 2009) and closely interact with other biological

components of the vermicomposting system, thus affecting the

structure of microflora and microfauna communities (Lores et al.,

2006; Aira et al., 2007a; Monroy et al., 2009).

Earthworms are the most important of the large physical

decomposers in a compost pile. Earthworms ingest organic matter

and digest it with the help of tiny stones in their gizzards.

Their intestinal juices are rich in hormones, enzymes, and other

fermenting substances that continue the breakdown process. The

worms leave dark, fertile castings behind. A worm can produce its

weight in castings each day. These castings are rich in plant

nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus

that might otherwise be unavailable to plants. Earthworms thrive

on compost and contribute greatly to its quality. The presence of


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earthworms in either compost or soil is evidence of good

microbial activity (The Science of Composting 2011).

Microorganisms are the main agents of biochemical

decomposition, whereas earthworms are involved in the indirect

stimulation of microbial populations through comminuting of

organic matter, e.g. by increasing the surface area available for

attack by microbes. Earthworms also modify the microbial

populations through digestion, stimulation and dispersion in

casts (Edwards, 2004).

After ingesting microbes into earthworms gut, the population

of microbes proliferate to several times in its excreta

(vermicast) (Pramanik 2007).As composts are rich in microbial

activity, earthworms further stimulate extensive multiplication

of useful microbes in billions and trillions in the soil (Jack,

2010).Earthworms can modify soil microbial community structure

depending on the type of organic matter present in soil (Jack,

2010). Soil organic matter (SOM) is also the food source of

beneficial soil microbes and helps in improving microbial

population and diversity. Microbes are responsible for

transforming, releasing and cycling of nutrients and essential

elements. Microbes are also essential for converting nutrients


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into their plant available forms and also for facilitating

nutrients uptake by plants. Soil microbes also create the glue

that sticks soil particles together, creating soil crumbs and

pore spaces that make good soil structure decreasing soil

hardness. It is therefore advantageous to use beneficial

microbial inoculants whose population is rapidly increased for

rapid composting and also better compost quality (Pramanik 2007).

The impact of earthworms on the decomposition of organic

waste during the vermicomposting process is initially due to gut

associated processes (GAPs), i.e., modifications that the

decaying organic matter and the microorganisms undergo in the

intestinal tract (Aira et al., 2009; Monroy et al., 2009). Some

of this material will be digested, but earthworms also excrete

large amounts of casts that contain different nutrient and

microbial populations than those contained in the material prior

to ingestion (Knapp et al., 2009). The resultant earthworm casts

are mixed with material not ingested by the earthworms, which can

enable the better exploitation of resources, either because of

the appearance of microbial species in the fresh substrate or the

pool of readily assimilable compounds in the casts (Brown and

Doube, 2004). Upon completion of the GAPs, the ingested materials

undergo cast-associated processes that are more closely


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associated with aging processes, during which the effects of

earthworms are mainly indirect and derived from the GAPs (Aira et

al., 2007b). Therefore, the vermicomposting process includes two

different phases regarding the activity of earthworms: (i) an

active phase during which earthworms process the organic waste,

thereby modifying its physical state and microbial composition

(Lores et al., 2006), and (ii) a maturation-like phase marked by

the displacement of the earthworms towards fresher layers of

undigested waste, during which the microbes take over the

decomposition of the waste processed by the earthworms (Aira et

al., 2007b). The duration of the maturation phase is not fixed,

and depends on the composition of organic waste and the

efficiency with which the active phase of the process takes

place, which in turn is determined by the species and density of

earthworms (Domnguez et al., 2010), and the rate at which the

residue is applied (Aira and Domnguez, 2008).

Guts of earthworms are factories and storehouse of

beneficial soil microbes. Apparently, it is both the earthworms

and its microbes that plays combined role in growth promotion and

improved agricultural production. Worms and microbes secrete

growth promoting plant hormones gibberilins, auxins and

cytokinins which help mineralise the nutrients and make them


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bio-available to plant roots. Microbes also help in plant

protection from diseases (Compant et al., 2005). Plant growth

promoting bacteria (PGPB) directly stimulates growth by nitrogen

(N) fixation, solubilization of nutrients, production of growth

hormones such as 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC)

deaminase and indirectly by antagonising pathogenic fungi by

production of siderophores, chitinase, -1,3-glucanase,

antibiotics, fluorescent pigments and cyanide. There is also

substantial body of evidence to demonstrate that microbes,

including bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, yeasts and algae, also

produce plant growth regulators (PGRs) such as auxins,

gibberellins, cytokinins, ethylene and ascorbic acids in

appreciable quantities and as their population is significantly

boosted by earthworms large quantities of PGRs are available in

vermicompost (Sinha et al., 2009 a and b; Sinha and Valani,

2011).

Study indicates that vermicomposting leads to greater

reduction of pathogens after 3 months upon storage. Whereas, the

samples which are subjected to only thermophilic composting,

retains higher levels of pathogens even after 3 months.

Earthworms selectively kills all the harmful microbes including

Salmonella and Escherichia coli either by devouring upon them or


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by secretion of anti-pathogenic ceolomic fluids in the medium

in which they inhabit. Several studies have found that

earthworms effectively bio-accumulate or biodegrade several

organic and inorganic chemicals including heavy metals,

organochlorine pesticide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

(PAHs) residues in the medium in which it inhabits (Sinha and

Valani, 2011).

Vermicompost Importance and Significance to Agriculture

Relevant information about the usage and significant

contributions of the material in agriculture are presented in the

succeeding paragraphs. Pertinent topics anout v ermicompost as

soil conditioner (Physical, biological, chemical), natural bio-

active nutrient-rich and sustainable organic fertilizer, an

element to environmental protection, host of microorganisms, and

as germination enhancer or plant growth regulator.

The Kitchen-Garden Technology otherwise known as the KSS

Technology in 1983 compelled Dr. Raphael Guerrero III to oofer

the vermicomposting Technology in the country thereby introducing

the African Night Crawlers (Eudrilius eugenae) earthworm species

as the principal frontline valuable living creatures. Though

quite far by 28 years from its initiation until the present, the
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same claim is made. According to Guerrero III (2006),

vermicompost is an excellent enhancer and bioactive fertilizer

for organic farming. It can help protect the environment as well

by reducing disposal of organic wastes and promote sustainable

soil fertilizer. Furthermore, vermicompost is a high nutrient-

rich natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. In addition to

worms, a healthy vermicompost system host many other organisms,

such as insects, molds, and bacteria

(http://wikepedia.Org/wiki/vermicompost). It is 5-7 times more

powerful than all the conventionally produced composts. Moreover,

its use in farm soil eventually leads to generation of huge

population of earthworms from their cocoons in the

vermicompost. Earthworms are great soil and environmental

managers and add further to the agronomic, social, economic and

environmental values of organic farming (Sinha et al., 2011b).

The claim made by Guerrero (2006 has been validated further

by Sherman (2006) saying that vermicompost is better than

ordinary compost with its higher level of plant available

nutrients, beneficial microbial activity, seed germination and

plant growth stimulation ability to suppress plant disease and

pest. Vermicompost has low in carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N)


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compared to the ordinary compost. By the same context,

Agriculture Magazine (2005) also added by saying that it

a(vermicompost) is a pure humus (organic matter) in its regular

form and is more effective than other organic fertilizers, as

proven in various field tests. It can be used just like any

other organic fertilizer commercially available for ornamental

plants and field crops as top dressing or for basal application.

The amount of it to be applied depends on the kind and the soil

condition where plants are to be planted. As Antonio (2007)

recommended, putting vermicompost in the farm benefits both the

plant and the soil because it promotes better root growth and

nutrient absorption and improves soil aeration, texture and tilth

thereby reducing soil compaction. He further cited that it also

improves water retention capacity of the soil because of its high

organic matter content, improves nutrient status of the soil and

increases the number of beneficial organisms.

Observation made by Dugenio, (2005), showed that plants

grown for their leaves respond very well to the high levels of

vermicompost while fruit crops require lesser amount. He further

indicated that it contains auxin necessary for the formation of

roots, buds, fruits and leaves. As a matter of fact, not only as


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being highly nutritive material, it is scientifically proving to

be a miracle plant growth promoter and protector as well. It is

rich in NPK, micronutrients, beneficial soil microbes and also

contains plant growth hormones and enzymes secreted by earthworms

(Sinha and Valani, 2011). As Fernandez (1986) put it, plants

applied with vermicompost at the rate of 1 to 3 tons/ha. resulted

to better yield on pole sitao. Plants grow faster and produced

greater yield if applied with it as organic fertilizer (Serna,

1981).

Sinha and Valani (2011) reported likewise extraordinarily

good growth of potted cereal, vegetable crops, and flowering

plants (Forgate abd Babb, 1972) on vermicompost as compared to

conventional composts and chemical fertilizers. He also reported

good yields in farmed wheat crops grown on vermicompost

(comparable with chemical fertilizers) which progressively

increased upon successive applications of same amount of

vermicompost over the years. Interestingly, lesser amount of

vermicompost was needed to maintain the same productivity of the

previous years as the natural fertility of the soil was build

up over successive application of vermicompost over the years. He

also found that there is an optimal value of vermicompost for


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good crop productivity, below which the productivity is reduced

and above which there is no significant increase in productivity.

This optimal value may vary from crop to crop. Application of

vermicompost significantly reduces the demand for irrigation by

nearly 30-40%. According to Olsson (2006) as being scientifically

produce with recent knowledge in biotechnologies, biofertilizers

(composts) are much more nutritive and productive than those

produced traditionally by farmers in earlier days.

Vermicompost contains humus excreted by worms which makes

it markedly different from other organic fertilizers. It takes

several years for soil or any organic matter to decompose to form

humus while earthworms secrete humus in its excreta. Without

humus plants cannot grow and survive. The humic and fulvic acids

in humus are essential to plants in four basic ways: 1). Enables

plant to extract nutrients from soil; 2). Help dissolve

unresolved minerals to make organic matter ready for plants to

use; 3).Stimulates root growth; and 4). Helps plants overcome

stress. Presence of humus in soil even helps chemical fertilizers

to work better (Kangmin and Peizhen, 2010).

Vermicomposts are high in available nutrients, microbial

activity and humic substances, which have been linked to


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increased plant growth (Arancon et al. 2006). As a good additive

to the soil, it helps to increase soil structure while adding

nutrients. Organic matter added to soil help to give the soil

better structure (binding of soil particles together). Structure

increases the aeration of soil, which facilitates oxygen reaching

plant roots. This helps plants (crops) to have better growth

rates. Organic matter also increases the cation exchange

capacity of soil (CEC). This helps to hold cations in the soil

where they are available for plant uptake. Soils that have low

CEC values lose many nutrients through the leaching

process.http://forest.mtu.edu/pcforestry/resources/studentproject

s/nutrients.htm

As an explanation to being the best suggested amendment to

improve soil physical property, Nelson and Rangarajan (2011) said

that vermicompost has very high porosity, aeration,

drainage and water holding capacity. They have a vast surface

area, providing strong absorbability and retention of nutrients.

They appear to retain more nutrients for longer period of time.

Study showed that soil amended with vermicompost had

significantly greater soil bulk density and hence porous and

lighter and never compacted. Significantly, vermicompost works as


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a soil conditioner and its continued application over the years

lead to total improvement in the quality of soil and farmland,

even the degraded and sodic soils. Compost Australia (2011)

reported that vermicompost also increase the rate of water

infiltration and reduces evaporation, which means that less

salt accumulates at the surface and the top soil is less saline.

High soil salinity can also increase susceptibility to disease

and nullify the natural disease suppressive effects of composts.

Addition of vermicompost to soils increases water holding

capacity, maintain evaporation losses to a minimum and works as a

good absorbent of atmospheric moisture due to the presence of

colloidal materials the earthworm mucus. The worm vermicast

works as micro-dams storing hygroscopic and gravitational

water. The water stable aggregates of polysaccharide gums

produced by the bacteria inhabiting the intestine of earthworms

increases the general entry of water into the soil and

infiltration due to construction of cemented macro-pores

(Munnoli and Bhosle,2011).

Compost Maintains optimal pH value of soil. Most compost

have a neutralizing value of 5% calcium carbonate equivalent in

the dry matter (3 % in fresh compost) compared with 50 % for


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ground limestone. The neutralizing value of 30 tonnes of fresh

compost is roughly equivalent to 2 tonnes of limestone. With

repeated application at this rate, soil would either maintain or

slightly increase in pH over time. In loamy soil, compost applied

@16 tonnes /acre (35 t/ha) pH raised from 6.8 to 7.1(Compost

Australia, 2011).

Plant Disease Suppression/Repellant/Resistance

All composts have been found to suppress high levels of

soil-borne disease. Vermicompost is much more efficient. Ayres

(2007) reported that mean root disease was reduced from 82% to

18% in tomato and from 98% to 26% in capsicum in soils amended

with compost. Naturally-occurring microbes (bacteria and fungi)

can suppress organisms that cause diseases. Important plant

diseases suppressed by composts are wilt caused by Fusarium

spp.; damping off caused by Fusarium, Pythium, Rhizoctonia and

Sclerotium spp.; stem and root rot caused by Fusarium,

Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Phytopthora, Sclerotium and Aphanomyces

spp. Woody materials in composts that degrade slowly can provide

long lasting disease suppression for more than 3 years as they

release nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus slowly into the soil.

Nitrogen (N) is a key nutrient in disease suppression and


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nitrogen deficiencies in soil can make plants more susceptible to

diseases. There are several ways how the composts suppress crop

diseases. These are by competition, secretion of antibodies and

hormones, predation and parasitism, induction of systemic

defenses in plants against diseases and by boosting immune

systems (Hoitink, 2008).

There had been considerable reports and evidences in recent

years regarding the ability of earthworms and vermicompost to

protect plants against various pests and diseases either by

suppressing or repelling them or by inducing biological

resistance in plants to fight them or by killing them through

pesticidal action (Arancon et al., 2005; Compant et al., 2005;

Wang et al., 2007; Elmer, 2009 and Jack, 2010). Plants grown with

vermicompost which contain balanced nutrients and greater

microbial and faunal diversity compared to chemical fertilizers

are less susceptible to a number of arthropod pests and sustain

significantly lower pest populations. The mechanisms leading to

vermicompost-mediated plant defenses against insect pests has not

been deciphered but it may be due to the antagonistic microbes

found in vermicompost. (Hu et al., 2003). Another possibility is

the presence of fungivorous and bacterivorous nematodes or

insect-parasitic organism such as the entomopathogenic


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nematodes (EPN) in vermicompost. EPN are lethal parasites of

insects that are widely found in soils throughout the world.

Their ability actively to locate their insect hosts, specific

association with highly virulent bacteria, high reproductive

potential and mass production and harmless impacts on vertebrates

and plants make these nematodes highly suitable for the

development of friendly alternatives for the biological control

of insect pests instead of chemical control. A Bacillus like

bacterium appears to be associated with this nematode which does

the job. This nematode kills Galleria larvae within 5 days,

infects and kills two other insects Pieris rapae and Tenebrio

molitor quickly (Weimin et al., 2010). Study indicates that

vermicompost application significantly increase the

insectivorous and fungivorous nematodes while depress the

population of plant-parasitic nematodes in soils. The other

vermiproducts - vermiwash (liquid filtered through body of worms)

and vermicompost tea (vermicompost brewed in water) can be made

100 % effective bio-pesticides to replace the toxic chemical

pesticides.

Vermicomposts are consistently capable of conferring or

inducing plant resistance in economically important plants. It

has been shown to increase resistance in host plants against


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pests, pathogens, plant parasitic nematodes and a large number of

arthropods including jassids (Empoasca kerri), aphids (Myzus

persicae & Aphiscraccivora), spider mites (Tetranychus urticae),

mealy bugs (Planococcus citri) and caterpillars (Pieris rapae)

(Chaoui et al., 2002; Arancon et al., 2002, 2005 & 2007; Edwards

et al., 2010). Vermicompost amendments as low as 20 % have been

shown to decrease leaf consumption by caterpillars and population

growth of aphids on cabbage (Arancon et al., 2005). Yasmin (2011)

found that vermicompost was very effective in causing

Arabidopsis plants to become resistant to the generalist

herbivore Helicoverpa zea. Vermicompost causes plants to have

non-preference and toxic effects on insects. This resistance

adversely affects insect development and survival on plants grown

in vermicompost-amended soil. This resistance is possibly due to

the interactions between the diverse microbial communities in

vermicompost with plant roots, as is evident from the

sterilization assays of vermicompost.

It has been proven more that vermicompost can protect plants

against diseases. Hence, the use of pesticides on crops can be

reduced (M. Bavani and Phon, 2009). Most remarkable observation

was significantly less incidence of pests and disease attacks in

vermicompost applied crops. The vermiwash (liquid produced


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during vermicomposting) and vermicompost tea (solution of

vermicompost produced in water) are highly effective

biopesticides with 100% control of crop pest and diseases.

Vermicompost contains some antibiotics and actinomycetes which

help in increasing the power of biological resistance among the

crop plants against pest and diseases. Pesticide spray was

significantly reduced where earthworms and vermicompost were used

in agriculture (Sinha and Valani, 2011).

Edwards and Arancon (2004), Arancon et al. (2005 & 2007a)

and Yardim et al.(2006) have found that use of vermicompost

resulted in major suppression of all three types of insect pest

attacks whether sucking or chewing. Earthworms have also been

found to be directly involved in suppression of soil-borne plant

diseases (Elmer, 2009). Earthworms may also act as vector for

dispersal of disease-suppressive useful microbes in soils.

(Compant et al., 2005) In addition to stimulating the activities

of and / or dispersing disease-suppressive microbes, earthworms

may also directly decrease the viability of plant pathogens. The

tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) passed

through the gut of earthworms Eisenia fetida was significantly

reduced in its infectivity. Their proteins were completely

damaged. The polysaccharide in earthworms is also thought to


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perform anti-bacterial function on plant pathogen microbes

(Wang et al., 2007). Increasing the population of mixed species

of earthworms in soil can proliferate the population and

distribution of these bio-control microbial agents in farm soil

in billions and trillions. This may become the future safe and

non-chemical biological based strategies for crop disease

control and protection, completely eliminating the destructive

chemical based control. (Jack, 2010).

It has been observed that abundant use of nitrogen as in

chemical fertilizers attracts aphids more due to more free amino

acids. Crops fertilized organically are less or even not at all

affected by aphids. Organically grown plants have a more solid

collenchymatous thickening systems increasing the mechanical

strengths of cell walls and a decreased water contents in plant

tissues both favoring a protective effect against aphids. There

seems to be strong evidence that earthworm vermicasts repel hard-

bodied pests like aphids. Edwards and Arancon (2004) reports

statistically significant decrease in arthropods (aphids, buds,

mealy bug, spider mite) populations and subsequent reduction in

plant damage, in tomato, pepper and cabbage trials with 20% and

40% vermicompost additions. George Hahn (2011 a), doing

commercial vermicomposting in U.S., claims that his product


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repels many different insect pests and suppress pathogenic

bacteria, fungi and soil nematodes causing crop diseases. His

scientific explanation is that this is due to production of

enzymes chitinase by worms which breaks down the chitin in the

insects exoskeleton. Chitin degraders can also digest bacteria

and all other chitin based fungi. There are also cellulose

degraders enzymes in vermicompost that are able to digest

bacteria and cellulosic fungi e.g. Pythium and Phytopthora which

causes wide range of crop diseases. He asserts direct

relationship between efficacy of repellency and the number of

chitin degraders and the concentration of chitinase enzymes. At

25 million cfu/dwg of chitin degraders aphids were driven from

roses in 90 days; at 56 m cfu/dwg in 4 weeks and at 200 m +

cfu/dwg aphids were chased off in less than 1 week. Parasitic

nematodes were also suppressed. A 20 acre cauliflower infested

with centipedes saw elimination in 3 months. Some 30,000 pine

trees in the forest of San Bernardino, U.S. were being decimated

by the bark beetles. Upon treatment with chitin degraders and

chitinase rich vermicompost the mortality was reduced to less

than 1%. The neighbouring untreated pines are being lost at 80 +

% every year. In a Pecan research project in U.S., application of

chitinase rich vermicompost produced a 400 % increase in yield


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while also eliminating the pecan scab and pecan weevil. The

level of chitin degraders in vermicompost prepared from feeding

normal cattle dung and food wastes to the earthworms is generally

2-3 millions cfu/dwg which is below the 10 million cfu/dwg

threshold for effective action. If about 30 % chitin is added to

the feed material the level of chitin degraders can be

significantly increased to 200 million cfu/dwg in the

vermicompost. This can be achieved by adding shrimp or crab

shells, melted cow horns or even dead bugs to the worm beds.

Number of cellulose degraders in the vermicompost can be

increased by adding paper or saw dust in the feed materials

(American Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 2011).

Organic Farming Promotion/Healthy Food

The campaigns for preparing and using compost or

vermicompost for agriculture can promote soil fertility, quality

products and biodiversity. Organic farming enhances soil

fertility, minimize soil poisoning, protect agricultural lands

against many negative side effects of the use of agro-chemical

products. Organic farming also promotes food quality, good health

of people and good ecology. Method includes inter-cropping,

mulching, use of compost manure, crop rotation, using non-


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chemical pesticides, strictly limiting the use of synthetic

fertilizers and synthetic pesticides (Vaarst, 2010).Organic

farming systems with the aid of nutritive bio-fertilizer like

earthworms vermicompost can give very high food productivity

with significantly higher nutritional quality while also

improving the physical, chemical and biological properties of

soil. Organic foods have also been found to be protective to

human health even against colon cancer and breast cancer

(Olsson, 2006).

Nutritional Quality of Vermicompost

The nutritional quality of vermicompost is determined

primarily by the type of the substrate (raw materials) and

species of earthworms used for composting, along with microbial

inoculants, liming, aeration, humidity, pH and temperature. As

reported by Arancon and Edwards (2006), however, Vermicompost

contains most nutrients in plant-available forms such as

nitrates (N), phosphates (P), soluble potassium (K), and

magnesium (Mg) and exchangeable phosphorus (P) and calcium

(Ca). Vermicomposts have large particulate surface areas that

provide many micro-sites for microbial activities and for the

strong retention of nutrients.


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Vermicompost contains a higher percentage of macro and micro

nutrients than ordinary compost (Garg and Kaushik, 2005). It

contains 9.8-13.4% organic carbon, 0.51- 1.61% nitrogen, 0.19-

1.02% phosphorus and 0.15-0.73% potassium. Guerrero and Guerrero

(1999) also reported that vermicompost has 1.40% N, 2.53% P,

9.37% K, 0.04% Mg, 3.2% Ca, 1.5% Fe, 0.16%Mn, 0.02% Cu, 0.11% Zn,

and with 6.7 pH rating at 15%moisture content. On the other

hand, a substrate mixture of grasses and kakawate keaves

(Gliciredia sepium) contained 2. 74% N, 1.33% P, 3.54% k, 0.29%

Ca, 0.52% Mg, 0.43% Fe, 0.03% Mn, 0.05 Cu, and 0.01% Zn, with the

ph content of 7.2 (Villegas 1999). The nutrients present in the

vermicompost are in water soluble forms which are immediately

available for plant use (; Suthar, 2009).

Vermicompost is used in horticulture primarily as an organic

transplant media amendment partly due to its fine structure and

higher proportion of plant available N compared to other types of

compost made from the same starting materials (Leonard and

Rangarajan 2007). They are scientifically proving as miracle

plant growth promoters much superior to conventional composts

and chemical fertilizers.

It has been estimated that earthworms add 230 kg N/ ha/ year

in grasslands and 165 kg N/ha/year in woodland sites. Earthworms


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increase the nitrate production by stimulating bacterial activity

and through their own decomposition. There are reports that

concentrations of exchangeable cations such as Ca, Mg, Na, K,

available P and Mo in the worm casts are higher than those in the

surrounding soil. Vermicompost can not be described as being

nutritionally superior to other organic manures. Instead, it is a

unique way of manure production.

http://www.environmentalexpert.com/Files/0/articles/9047/Vermicom

posting_article_for_the_biofertilizer_people.pdf

Suitable Substrates of Earthworm

Organic matter is an integral component of soil which

comprises of plant and animal residues that are made up of

complex carbohydrates, starch, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin,

protein, fats, organic acids, oils resins etc. The importance of

organic matter in crop production is well known. Undoubtedly, the

amount of organic matter present in soil determines its natural

suitability for crop cultivation.

The farm wastes, animal wastes, garden wastes from homes and

parks, the sewage sludge from the municipal wastewater and water

treatment plants, the wastewater sludge from paper pulp and

cardboard industry, brewery and distillery, sericulture industry,


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vegetable oil factory, potato and corn chips manufacturing

industry, sugarcane industry, guar gum industry, aromatic oil

extraction industry, logging and carpentry industry offers

excellent feed material for vermi-composting by earthworms.

(Sinha, Rajiv K., Sunil Herat, Gokul Bharambe & Ashish

Brahambhatt, 2009).

Effective Microorganism (EM)

Identity

EM for Effective Microorganism was coined and developed by

Professor Teruo Higa(Horicultural Professor) 25 years ago, at the

University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, as an alternative to

agricultural chemicals. EM is one of the most popular microbial

technologies being used world-wide and is now used in over 120

countries. EM products have been on the market since 1983. EM

is a powerful pro-biotic and antioxidant and when given to

livestock boosts their natural immunity, helping to keep them

healthy and productive. It consists of a wide variety of

effective, beneficial and non-pathogenic microorganisms produced

through a natural process and not chemically synthesized or


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genetically engineered. It comes in a liquid form and has broad

application (http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.html).

Accordingly, EM is a combination of useful, regenerative and

beneficial microorganisms that exist freely in nature. They have

not been manipulated in any way. They comprise many different

kinds of effective, disease-suppressing micro-organisms, each of

which has a specific task to perform. The micro-organisms in EM

are both naturally occurring and are harmless to humans, animals

and plants. These microorganisms enhance each others working.

The application of EM Technology increases the natural resistance

of soil, plants, water, humans and animals and more importantly,

considerably improves the quality and fertility of soil as well

as the growth and quality of crops. EM is extremely efficient at

cleaning up pollution, be it of chemical or organic origin. It

is not a drug or a fertilizer. It is not harmful, pathogenic,

genetically-engineered/modified (GMO), nor chemically-

synthesized. . (http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.htm

EM technology has now become a major science, assisting in

the creation of sustainable practices for agriculture, human

health and hygiene, animal husbandry, nature farming,


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environmental stewardship, disaster relief, construction,

industrial, community activities and more. As identified, EM

effective microorganisms or efficient microbes, are a cluster of

beneficial organisms which ferment organic matter in an anti-

oxidative way. The essential basic technology of EM is a

consortium of five or more species of microorganisms, from across

at least three classes of organisms, in a synergistic culture

(called a consortium) which produces lactic acid under anaerobic

fermentation and which also produces an environment (in the

liquid or plant matter under fermentation, etc.) which is highly

antioxidative and regenerative, or syntropic (aka anti-entropic)

and which contains numerous powerful antioxidants, largely

produced by phototrophic anaerobic bacteria known as purple non-

sulfur bacteria (PNSB). http://tribes.tribe.net/effectivemicro

Their waste simply translates to a healthy environment for

us in which EM becomes inactivated, therefore, a mutual existence

can be had. EM only creates the condition for best results, that

is, the users should nurture the condition and provide the

resources for EM to perform optimally. Microorganisms exist

naturally throughout the environment from rock crevices to our

internal organs. In our present day environment, putrefactive


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microorganisms, those types responsible for the rotting of

organic matter to maladies in organisms, dominate much of the

sphere of the microorganisms. EM has the potential, given the

conditions, to suppress the putrefactive microorganisms and

dominate this sphere and creates re-animated surroundings, that

is, organics are transformed through the process of fermentation

as opposed to putrefaction, and living organisms, as well as,

inorganic materials are enabled with the means to impede

deterioration. Deterioration is here meant the activity of active

oxygen or free-radicals through which organisms degenerate and

inorganic materials corrode, as in iron rusting. EM can thus,

also, be considered as an antioxidant

(http://emrojapan.com/about-em/microorganisms-in-em.html).

It is all natural blend of beneficial micro- organisms that

do the work of cleansing and revitalization. This is a remarkable

discovery, which allows nature's little recyclers to restore the

health and balance of the ecosystems, without the negative side-

effects so often found in synthetic chemicals and suppressive

technologies. EM is safe and easy to use and is listed with the

Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). The secret to EM's

widespread success is its capacity to remove harmful toxins and


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restore regenerative balance to its environment - whether it be

on the soil, plant, animal, or human levels

(http://www.emearth.com/).

EM technology the use of a liquid culture of Effective

Microorganisms can also be used for composting. EM is

sprinkled during build-up of the compost heap layer by layer.

This type of compost can and should be used very fast within

two weeks - to achieve the maximum benefit from the organisms

inoculated into the heap. The fact that lots of organic matter

may not yet be decomposed is desirable in this case, as the

propagation and metabolic activity of the organisms depends on

the availability of carbon from organic matter

(www.auroville.org,2011).

EM is a trademarked product made by several different

companies. It is basically a liquid culture of microorganisms

consisting of yeasts, anaerobic bacteria, and photosynthetic

bacteria. There are many claims for EM uses, from enhancement of

agricultural production to wastewater treatment and remediation

of toxins. What sets it apart from compost tea is that EM

bacteria are facultative anaerobes. Unlike the strictly aerobic

bacteria found in compost tea, facultative anaerobes can survive


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in both oxygenated and oxygen-lacking environments. This allows

EM to be bottled with a long shelf life, unlike compost tea,

which must be applied shortly after being brewed.

http://library.csuohio.edu/promos/bioremediation.pdf

Microorganisms in EM

When mentioning the word microorganism or bacteria, one may

imagine harmful germs. However the microorganisms used in EM

production (Lactic Acid Bacteria, Yeast, Phototrophic Bacteria)

exclude any pathogenic and genetically modified microorganisms

that are harmful to humans, animals and plants. EM consists only

of safe microorganisms that have been used, either intentionally

or unintentionally, since ancient times

(http://emrojapan.com/about-em/microorganisms-in-em.html).

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic acid bacteria is, taxonomically, a generic term for

bacteria that convert large amounts of sugars into lactic acid

through lactic acid fermentation. Through the production of

lactic acid, lactic acid bacteria also inhibit the growth of

pathogenic microorganisms and other various microorganisms by

lowering the pH. Lactic acid bacteria are widely known in the
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production of fermented foods such as cheese and yogurt that can

be naturally preserved for a long period of time. Ever since

Louis Pasteur discovered lactic acid bacteria in 1857, it has

been noted for its beneficial effects on health and longevity.

Recent research indicates that besides regulating the intestines,

lactic acid bacteria also are known for being involved in

immunostimulatory activity; having antioncotic properties; their

antimutagenicity; lowering cholesterol; and for having a

hypotensive effect (http://emrojapan.com/about-em/microorganisms-

in-em.html). These bacteria are differentiated by their powerful

sterilizing properties. They suppress harmful micro-organisms and

encourage quick breakdown of organic substances. In addition,

they can suppress the reproduction of Fusarium, a harmful fungus

(http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.htm).

This family of bacteria makes yogurt and cheese. They

convert sugars into lactic acid. In doing so, they lower the pH

making conditions that inhibit growth of pathogenic microbes as

well as making it impossible for methane producing microorganisms

to survive. http://www.the-compost-gardener.com/em-

1.html#ixzz1fc3VvRoe
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Yeast

Known as a fermentation starter, yeast is a microorganism

necessary for the brewing of alcohol and the making of bread.

Yeast was discovered by the Dutch merchant Antony Van Leeuwenhoek

(1632-1723), who first discovered the world of microorganisms.

Taxonomically, yeast is a eukaryotic. It differs from fungus in

that it generally is unicellular throughout its life. Within the

microbial world it is a small group of microorganisms, yet it is

essential for human life. Yeast live in sugar-rich environments

such as in nectar and the surface of fruits. In EM1, yeast

produces many biologically active agents such as amino acids and

polysaccharides (http://emrojapan.com/about-em/microorganisms-in-

em.html).

Yeasts manufacture anti-microbial and useful substances for

plant growth. Their metabolites are food for other bacteria such

as the lactic acid and actinomycetes groups

(http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.html).

Yeast and some specific microorganisms are mainly

responsible for food fermentation and exist all around in air, in

water and on our body. Although such environment as fermentative


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microorganisms is superior in number from the perspective of our

food consumption, fermentative microorganisms oxidizing

microorganisms which decompose organic matter are, in fact, more

dominant in the air full of oxygen and oxidative decomposition

usually results in putrefaction. http://emrojapan.com/about-

em/em-in-ecosystem.html

Actinomycetes

These suppress harmful fungi and bacteria and can live

together with photosynthetic bacteria.

(http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.htm). Actinomycetes are

similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its

distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are

efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic

bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1

gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down

materials like tree bark, newspaper, and other hard organic

material(http://www.benefitsofrecycling.com/typesofcomposting.htm

l).

Actinomycetes are higher-form bacteria similar to fungi and

molds, are responsible for the pleasant earthy smell of compost.


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Grayish in appearance, actinomycetes work in the moderate heat

zones of a compost pile. They decompose some of the more

resistant materials in the pile such as lignin, cellulose,

starches, and proteins. As they reduce materials, they liberate

carbon, nitrogen, and ammonia, making nutrients available for

higher plants. Actinomycetes occur in large clusters and become

most evident during the later stages of decomposition (The

Science of Composting 2011).

Phototrophic Bacteria

Phototrophic bacteria (also known as photosynthetic

bacteria) are an ancient type of bacteria in existence from

before the Earth had its present concentration of oxygen. As its

name indicates, these bacteria utilize solar energy to metabolize

organic and inorganic substances. (http://emrojapan.com/about-

em/microorganisms-in-em.html

Phototrophic bacteria exist in rice fields and lakes, and

everywhere on Earth. In practical terms, the potential of

phototrophic bacteria is particularly seen in the environmental

fields. Because it decomposes organic materials well, among these

applications is its use in wastewater treatment. Research has


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also reported on its effectiveness in applied use in agriculture,

aquaculture, and animal husbandry. Research is also underway in

its use in hydrogen production and its ability to decompose

persistent substances. (http://emrojapan.com/about-

em/microorganisms-in-em.html

Phototrophic bacteria are involved in various metabolic

systems, and play a major role in nitrogen cycling and carbon

cycling. Because this role allows the other microorganisms in EM

to co-exist, phototrophic bacteria are the essential element of

EM (http://emrojapan.com/about-em/microorganisms-in-em.html).

These bacteria play the leading role in the activity of EM.

They synthesize useful substances from the secretions of roots,

organic matter and/or harmful gases (e.g. hydrogen sulphide) by

using sunlight and the heat of soil as sources of energy. They

contribute to a better use of sunlight or, in other words, better

photosynthesis. The metabolites developed by these micro-

organisms are directly absorbed into plants. In addition, these

bacteria increase the number of other bacteria and act as

nitrogen binders (http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.htm).


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These bacteria are the ones that allow the other microbes in

the mix to coexist. They use light to metabolize organic and

inorganic substances. Drs Higa and Parr, in a paper called

Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms for a Sustainable

Agriculture, say the photosynthetic bacteria perform an

incomplete photosynthesis anaerobically. They are especially

beneficial as they can transform substances like hydrogen sulfide

into useful substrates. As well, in the process water molecules

are split yielding oxygen in the root zone. http://www.the-

compost-gardener.com/em-1.html#ixzz1fc4e5suq

Fungi

Fungi are natures recyclers. Fungi excrete enzymes to

digest decaying matter and many fungi can break down stable

compounds such as lignins and cellulose.

http://www.starhawk.org/permaculture/NOLA_bio_basics.html

Like bacteria and actinomycetes, fungi are also responsible

for organic matter decay in a compost pile. Fungi are primitive

plants that can be either single celled or many celled and

filamentous. They lack a photosynthetic pigment. Their main


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contribution to a compost pile is to break down cellulose and

lignin, after faster acting bacteria make inroads on them. They

prefer cooler temperatures (70 to 75 F) and easily digested food

sources. As a result, they also tend to take over during the

final stage of composting (The Science of Composting 2011).

Fungi that bring about fermentation these break down the

organic substances quickly. This suppresses smell and prevents

damage that could be caused by harmful insects

(http://emsustains.co.uk/what_is_EM.htm).

EM in Ecosystem

The density of microorganisms in the soil and the water is

much higher than in the air and the ecological condition in the

soil and the water hugely depends on what types of microorganisms

dominate there. For example, crops tend to be diseased and insect

pests can be swarming in the field where putrefactive bacteria

are dominant. On the contrary, crops grow wholesomely in the

field where fermentative microorganisms (effective

microorganisms) are dominant (http://emrojapan.com/about-em/em-

in-ecosystem.html).
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More than one hundred to one thousand of microorganisms live

in one gram of soil and, as a matter of fact, it's impossible for

EM to be superior in number. What actually happens with

application of EM is that EM stimulate native microorganisms,

most of which are opportunistic, and make them work in

cooperation with EM in a good way for environment. EM technology

is based on the idea of coexistence with native and originally-

dominant microorganisms, not exclusion of them(http

://emrojapan.com/about-em/em-in-ecosystem.html).

Microorganisms in their natural habitats are crucial to the

functioning of the worlds ecosystems and they are major

contributors to the biogeochemical cycles. Beneficial

microorganisms in the soil are involved in decomposition of

organic matter, in remediation of pollutants and in increased

nutrient availability leading to improved soil fertility and crop

productivity (Dileep and Dixit, 2005; Weyens et al., 2009; Sindhu

et al., 2011).

Significance of EM in Composting

For centuries, one of the most eternal problems facing

mankind has been the dilemma of how to dispose of our waste. The

answer may lie in the adopted widespread use of Effective


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Microorganisms (EM) to detoxify our landfills, decontaminate our

environment, and promote highly sustainable, closed-cycle

agricultural and organic waste treatment methods worldwide.

(http://www.livingsoil.co.uk/learning/mmw.htm) Thus, proper

management of the crop residues by utilizing microorganisms may

result into availability of good quality manure and biofuels as

well as protection of environment from pollution (Sharholy et

al., 2008; Ulusoy et al., 2009).

The addition of EM into the composting process can stop the

odor problems and establish beneficial microbial growth by

preventing the anaerobic pockets from putrefying. When carefully

managed, EM has the potential to reduce the frequency of turning

the piles, saving you time and money.

http://www.nymusa.com/pro_em_app_1.htm

Effective Microorganisms helps to speed up the natural

composting processwithout many of the negative side-effects of

foul odors and pests. Adding compost to the soil and then

mulching it will help to hold in moisture, requiring less

watering, keep weeds down, and provide a home for worms and

microbes. http://www.emearth.com/NewFiles/Compost.html
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Microorganisms drive the composting process, so creating an

optimal environment for microbial activity is crucial for

successful and efficient composting. Assembling an appropriate

mix of organic residues or feedstocks and maintaining adequate

moisture and oxygen levels are all necessary. As soon as

feedstocks are compiled, the composting process begins. As

microorganisms begin to decompose the organic materials, the

compost pile heats up and the active phase of composting begins.

During this phase of rapid decomposition, temperatures in the

pile increase to 130150F and may remain elevated for several

weeks. Maintaining adequate aeration during this phase of intense

microbial activity is especially important because aerobic

decomposition is most efficient and produces finished compost in

the shortest amount of time. As readily available organic matter

is consumed and decomposition slows, temperatures in the compost

pile decrease to around 100F and the curing phase begins. At

this stage, the compost can be stockpiled.

http://www.extension.org/pages/18567/making-and-using-compost-

for-organic-farming

Points on Rice Straw Composting


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According to USDA (2009) as cited by Pandey et al. (2009),

rice is the main staple crop in the world, where 661.811 million

tons of rice was produced from 155.711 million hectares of land

in 2008. Annually a large amount of straw is accumulated as a

byproduct from rice cultivation, as straw makes up about 50% of

the dry weight of the rice plant. Farmers do not incorporate rice

straw in the crop field because of its slow degradation rate,

disease infestation, unstable nutrients, and reduced yield caused

by the short-term negative effect of nitrogen immobilization.

They usually dispose of it through open field burning.

As a consequence, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane,

nitrous oxide, and sulphur dioxide are emitted into the

atmosphere. This process also emits harmful air pollutants such

as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated

dibenzofurans (PCDFs), which have toxic properties and are,

notably, potential carcinogens that can cause severe impacts on

human health (Gadde et al. 2009).

Thus, proper management and disposal of bulky rice straw is

a serious concern all over the world. Attention has been focused

on nonhazardous, environment friendly and sustainable techniques

for safe disposal of rice straw in a short period of time.

Microbial composting is an effective environmentally sound


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alternative for the recycling of rice straw into compost. It

promotes sustainable agriculture and environmental protection,

improving the soils physical, chemical, and biological

properties (Perez-Piqueres et al. 2006; Rasool et al. 2008;

Mylavarapu and Zinati 2009), which ultimately results in better

plant growth and yield. H. Kausar et al.,2010)

Composting of rice straw arise as a safe alternative option

which results in reusability of the nutrients contained in the

residue. Therefore, management of paddy straw through composting

will avoid air pollution caused by residue burning and also

prevent loss of plant nutrients and organic matter (Sidhu and

Beri, 2008; Sneh Goyal and S.S. Sindhu, 2011).

Points on Cane Trash Composting

Sugarcane produces about 10 to 12 tonnes of dry leaves per

hectare per crop. The detrashing is done on 5th and 7thmonth

during its growth period. This trash contains 28.6%-organic

carbon, 0.35 to 0.42% nitrogen, 0.04 to 0.15% phosphorus, 0.50

to 0.42% potassium. The sugarcane trash incorporation in the soil

influences physical, chemical and biological properties of the

soil. There is a reduction in soil EC, improvement in the water

holding capacity, better soil aggregation and thereby improves


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porosity in the soil. Sugarcane trash incorporation reduces the

bulk density of the soil and there is an increase in infiltration

rate and decrease in penetration resistance. The direct

incorporation of chopped trash increases the availability of

nutrients leading to soil fertility. Sugarcane trash can be

easily composted by using the fungi like Trichurus, Aspergillus,

Penicillium and Trichoderma. Addition of rock phosphate and

gypsum facilitates for quicker decomposition.

The detrashed material has to be pooled together and

transported to the compost yard. If no compost yard is available

to farmer, anyone of the corner area in the sugarcane field

itself can be used for making composting. There is no necessity

to make a pit for composting. Composting can be done above the

soil.

Sugarcane trash is lengthy one. Handling and heaping the

trash will be more cumbersome. It is recommended to shred the

waste into small particles. This process reduces the volume of

material, increases the surface area of the waste. If the waste

material contains more surface area, more microorganisms work

effectively on the surface and degradation will be faster.

Shredder is the ideal instrument to shred all the sugarcane


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trash. Chop cutter machine can also be used for this purpose. If

no machinery is available manual shredding is recommended.

Without shredding the composting process will take long time.

http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/org_farm/orgfarm_composting.html

Though the composting is better option for sugarcane

decomposition but the time taken is little high. In recent years

integrated system of composting, with bioinoculants and

subsequent vermicomposting, to overcome the problem of

lignocellulosic waste degradation of different crop residues and

waste industrial by-products is receiving worldwide attention of

scientists (Shweta et al. 2010; Prasnthrajan Mohani et al, 2011).

Bioresource Technology Volume 101, Issue 17, September 2010,

Pages 6707-6711 stated that waste by-products of the sugar-cane

industry, bagasse (b), pressmud (p) and trash (t) have been

subjected to bioinoculation followed by vermicomposting to

shorten stabilization time and improve product quality. Press-mud

alone and in combination with other by-products of sugar

processing industries was pre-decomposed for 30 days by

inoculation with combination of Pleurotus sajorcaju, Trichoderma

viridae, Aspergillus niger and Pseudomonas striatum. This

treatment was followed by vermicomposting for 40 days with the


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native earthworm, Drawida willsi. The combination of both

treatments reduced the overall time required for composting to 20

days and accelerated the degradation process of waste by-products

of sugar processing industry, thereby producing a nutrient-

enriched compost product useful for sustaining high crop yield,

minimizing soil depletion and value added disposal of waste

materials.

Points on Corn Residue Management

Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society reported that corn

stalks remaining in the field after harvest 43 % polysaccharide

consisting mainly of hemi cellulose and cellulose, 29 % lignin,

7% proteins, 5% ash, and 16% others

(http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/pdf/475/47545207.pdf). The amount of

corn residue that can be sustainably harvested in the absence of

supplemental carbon (manure, sewage sludge, perennials or cover

crops) depends on the crop rotation and tillage system. While

corn varieties, soil fertility, growing conditions, and yield can

affect the nutrient value of corn residue, any form of residue

removal will result in nutrient removal from the field.

Eventually, these nutrients will need to be replaced in order to

maintain soil productivity. Corn residue is a source of many


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nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium,

sulfur, magnesium, copper, manganese and zinc. When calculating

the cost of removing residue, growers should consider the

fertilizer costs for replacing the nutrients removed with the

residue.

A large, round bale of corn residue contains approximately

11 pounds of nitrogen (Fixen, 2007), but this nitrogen would not

be readily available to the subsequent crop if the residue had

been returned to the soil. Instead, this nitrogen would slowly

become available over time as the residue decomposes. Another

consideration is that when residue is removed in continuous corn,

the nitrogen fertilizer rate for the subsequent corn crop can be

reduced, since corn residue promotes tie-up (immobilization) of

nitrogen by soil microorganisms. Research at three locations in

northern and central Illinois on dark prairie-derived soils in

2006 and 2007 showed that the economically optimum nitrogen

fertilizer rate in continuous corn was reduced by 13% when half

or all of the corn residue was harvested, and this was consistent

for both chisel plow and no-tillage systems (Coulter and

Nafziger, 2008 as cited by Jodi De Jong-Hughes 2009).

Dr. Erick Larson reported about Corn Residue Management,

that after harvest, producers face management decisions as they


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begin preparing fields for next years crop. High-yielding corn

may produce five to six tons of crop residues per acre.

Historically, growers perceive this residue as a problem which

must be destroyed by fire or tillage. However, crop residue

generated in crop rotation systems produces substantial long-term

benefits far outweighing any short-term savings accomplished by

destroying residue, particularly since our soils are naturally

low in organic matter. Kip Cullers, a Missouri farmer who is the

current world record holder for soybean yield (139 bu/a) and 2006

National Corn Growers Association yield contest winner (347 bu/a)

says when asked about burning, My opinion is that the soil

benefits from the return of both root tissue and above-ground

crop residues. We rarely use field burning in our high yield

fields. We do everything we can to maintain or increase the

amount of organic matter in our soils.

Burning crop residue eliminates a precious opportunity to improve

organic matter content and potentially can lead to substantial

nutrient loss. Nutrients normally recycled in residue can be lost

if either runoff water or wind displaces ash in a burned field.

The replacement cost could be nearly $70 per acre for phosphate

and potash loss alone, for high-yielding corn. Crop residues

improve soil water infiltration, improve soil water holding


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capability, improve soil tilth and reduce evaporation. In other

words, residue recycling can better accomplish the same goals we

annually attempt to temporarily fix using deep and/or intensive

tillage. Of course, crop residue also does an invaluable job of

soil conservation, particularly reducing soil erosion from runoff

water.

CHAPTER III

MATERIALS AND METHODS

This chapter presents the activities to be undertaken

during the experimental period. This also includes the materials,

tools, equipment and methods that will be used in the study.

Materials, Tools & Equipment

To ensure convenience in the conduct of this research and

to facilitate efficient gathering of necessary data, the

following materials, tools and equipment were provided.


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The materials used in this experiment were two hundred

twenty five (225) kg dried cattle manure, three hundred (300) kg

sawdust, one point two (1.2) liters (li) EM solution, two

thousand four hundred (2,400) African night crawler, two hundred

twenty five (225) kg corn stalks, two hundred twenty five (225)

kg sugarcane tops and two hundred twenty five (225) kg rice

straw, forty eight (48) empty sacks, old newspapers and canvass

or tent.

Tools and equipment used includes blunt bolo, spade,

knapsack sprayer or sprinkler, thermometer, weighing scale,

measuring cup, syringe, 3/16 mesh wire (sieve) and shredder

machine.

Experimental Design, Number of Replication and Treatment


Combination

A Factorial Experiment in Randomized Complete Block Design

(F-RCBD) was used in this study: For Factor A: Treatment A1

75% Animal Manure + 25% sawdust (control); Treatment A2 75%

Corn stalks + 25% sawdust; Treatment A3 75% Sugarcane + 25%

sawdust; Treatment A4 -75% Rice straw + 25%sawdust.

For Factor B: Treatment B1 25 earthworms; Treatment B2

50 earthworms; Treatment B3 75 earthworms. Each treatment


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combinations will be replicated four (4) times making a total of

forty-eight (48) variates.

Table 1.1-Combination of Treatments

FACTOR B
FACTOR A (Earthworm Density)
(Different Substrates) B1 B2 B3
25 worms 50 worms 75 worms
A1
Animal Manure A1B1 A1B2 A1B3
(Control)
A2
A2B1 A2B2 A2B3
Corn Stalks
A3
A3B1 A3B2 A3B3
Sugarcane tops
A4
A4B1 A4B2 A4B3
Rice Straw

Legend:

Factor A Factor B

A1 75% Cattle Manure + 25% Sawdust (Control) B1 25 worms

A2 75% Corn Stalks + 25% Sawdust B2 50 worms

A3 75% Sugarcane Tops + 25% Sawdust B3 75 worms


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A4 75% Rice Straw + 25% Sawdust

Randomization and Lay out of Beds

All treatments represented by letters of the alphabet were

distributed at random. Randomization was performed by drawing of

lots.

The vermi beds (sacks) were laid out in a Factorial-

Randomized Complete Block Design (F-RCBD). An area of forty

square meters (40 m2) was divided into four (4) blocks which

measures 7.2 m2 for each block. Each block was divided into 12

treatments with an area of 0.40 m2 per treatment (sack/bed).

Approximate distance between blocks and treatments is 0.45 meter

and 0.25 meter respectively.

Figure 1.1 Randomization and Layout of Vermi Beds

BLOCK II BLOCK III

A3B2 A2B3 A3B1 A3B3


9M
A3B1 A4B3 A4B1 A1B1

A4B2 A2B2 A2B3 A4B3

A1B3 A1B2 A1B3 A1B2

A2B1 A1B1 A2B2 A3B2

A3B3 A4B1 A2B1 A4B2

5M
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BLOCK I BLOCK IV

A2B1 A4B1 A2B3 A3B3

A3B2 A1B2 A4B3 A2B2

A4B2 A3B3 A1B3 A4B2

A2B3 A2B2 A3B2 A1B1

A3B1 A4B3 A3B1 A4B1


0.25m

A1B3 0.5m A1B1 A2B1 A1B2

0.8 m .45m

Shed Preparation

The experiment was conducted inside the Agrimechanic Shed of

NSCA Cauayan Campus. The area was vacated of all unnecessary

materials before the conduct of the experiment. The floor and

surroundings were thoroughly swept and cleaned to ensure

predators like ants, frogs, snakes, crickets and the like were

not present in the area.

Table 1.2 Substrates Tabulation

Substra Volume Volum Volume Volum Volum Total Total


tes of e of of e of e of Volum Volum
Combin Cattle Corn Sugarc Rice Sawd e of e of
ation Manure Stalks ane Straw ust Substr Substr
per per trash per per ates ates
treatm treat per treat treat Per per
ent ment treatm ment ment Treatm block
(kg) (kg) ent (kg) (kg) ent (kg)
(kg) (kg)
A1 18.75 6.25 25 300
A2 18.75 6.25 25 300
A3 18.75 6.25 25 300
A4 18.75 6.25 25 300
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Substrates Preparation and Combination

The substrate materials collected and prepared were as

follows: cattle manure, sawdust, corn stalks, sugarcane tops and

rice straws. Corn stalks, sugarcane tops and rice straws were

hauled from nearby fields and barangays. must at least be of the

same age after harvest or harvesting interval should not exceed

one (1) week. The substrate materials were sundried for three

(3) days for handling convenience. Except saw dust, all substrate

materials were separately shredded through a shredding (RU)

machine to obtain a more or less uniform and finer structure.

Three (3) parts by volume of each of the substrate materials

were thoroughly mixed with one (1) part saw dust using a spade.

Enough volume of each mixture was prepared according to desired

quantity for every treatment.

Upon mixing of the different substrate materials, a known

proportion of diluted EM solution (1li EM/50li H20) were

gradually and evenly sprayed onto each mixture using a knapsack

sprayer or a water sprinkler at a rate of one milliliter (1 ml)

per one kilogram (1kg) of substrate materials.

Pre-decomposition or Fermentation of Substrates

Moistened substrate materials were placed in the shed and

covered with canvas or tent and allowed to ferment for three (3)
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weeks. Turning of the heap as well as checking of moisture

content was done once a week. The temperature of the fermenting

substrate materials was checked on the third week of fermentation

by burying a hand deep into the center of the pile.

A thermometer was also used to determine the exact temperature

reading. Since the temperature of the substrate materials were

still hot to the hands and thermometer reading was still above 32

degrees Celsius, the fermentation period was extended for another

one (1) week. After a week when temperature has cool down to 30

degrees, worm stocking was done.

Sack Preparation and Filling

Forty-eight (48) pieces uniform-sized empty sacks (Hog feeds

sacks) were prepared. Each sack was filled with twenty-five

(25) kg of each substrate materials mixture according to

treatment combinations. After filling, the sacks were positioned

horizontally on the floor.

Procurement and Stocking of Worms

African Night Crawler (Eudrilius eugenae) species of

earthworm was used in the experiment. The earthworms were taken

from the vermicomposting project of Mrs. Tomias, Municipal

Agriculture Technician of Ilog, Negros Occidental who is residing

at Brgy. Tabuk-suba, Cauayan, Negros Occidental.


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A total of one thousand two hundred (1200) breeder worms

with more or less uniform size and length were distributed in

each sack according to desired stocking density for each

treatment. Stocking was done by spreading the worms over the

surface of the substrate materials. Moisture was then checked to

ensure it is at the optimum level of 50-80%. This was to enhance

the optimum performance of the worms in the achievement of

efficient digestion. The mouth/opening of the sacks were then

partially closed to avoid spilling over of substrates as well as

to protect worms from predators.

Table 1.3 Breeders Tabulation


Stocking Number of Number of Total number
Density Earthworm per Earthworm of earthworms
treatment (pcs) per block @ 4 blocks
(pcs) (pcs)
B1 25 100 400
B2 50 200 800
B3 75 300 1200

Care and Management

The entire experimental area was inspected from time to

time to avoid presence of predators. Moisture content of

substrates was also daily monitored to maintain recommended

moisture level at fifty to eighty percent (50-80%). Checking of

moisture content was done by getting a handful of each substrate


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mixture and squeezing it between the palms until water drips. If

two or three drops of water comes out then the substrate is at

the optimum moisture level. Water was added if moisture content

is low. Water was introduced using a knapsack sprayer or

sprinkler.

At about one week before harvesting, watering was suspended

for convenience in sieving the castings.

Harvesting and splitting

Harvesting of castings was done after one month from

stocking. Before sieving, the substrates were poured and

scattered on the floor matted with tent/canvass to facilitate

easy collection and separation of earthworms. Earthworms from

each treatment were then placed in separate containers for easy

counting and recording of data. Substrates for each treatment

were then individually sieved through a 3/16 meshed wire

separating the castings from large particles not consumed by

earthworms. Quartering of digested particles or earthworm

castings were done for each treatment to obtain a sample of 1.2

kg per treatment. Samples for each treatment were then

separately packed and labeled individually.


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Data Gathered

Necessary data were gathered right after harvesting of all

treatments. The data gathered were as follows: weight of casting,

weight of undigested substrates and number of earthworms.

1. Weight of castings (Digested Substrates) and weight of

undigested Substrates were measured using a 10-kg capacity

weighing scale.

2. Number of earthworms were determined by counting the number

of worms taken from each treatment.

Analysis

Relevant data as previously described were organized and

statistically analyzed using the F-Test in F-RCBD. Test of

Significance for the three major components was done using the

Least Significant Difference Test (LSD) or Duncans Multiple

Range Test at 5% and 1% levels of significance.