What are organic manures?

Organic manures are natural products used by farmers to provide food (plant nutrients) for the crop plants. There are a number of organic manures like farmyard manure, green manures, compost prepared from crop residues and other farm wastes, vermicompost, oil cakes, and biological wastes - animal bones, slaughter house refuse.

How are organic manures beneficial in the cultivation of crops?
• Organic manures increase the organic matter in the soil. Organic matter in turn releases the plant food in available from for the use of crops. • However, organic manures should not be seen only as carriers of plant food. These manures also enable a soil to hold more water and also help to improve the drainage in clay soils. • They provide organic acids that help to dissolve soil nutrients and make them available for the plants.

How are organic manures differing from fertilizers?
• Organic manures have low nutrient content and therefore need to be applied in larger quantities. For example, to get 25 kg of NPK, one will need 600 to 2000 kg of organic manure where as the same amount of NPK can be given by 50 kg of an NPK complex fertilizer. • The nutrient content of organic manures is highly variable from place to place, lot to lot, and method of preparation. The composition of fertilizers is almost constant. For example, urea contain 46% N regardless of which factory makes it any where in the world.

. How much of plant nutrients are provided by organic manures?
• Just as different fertilizers contain different amounts of plant nutrients, organic manures are also not alike. • Average quality of farmyard manure provides 12 kg nutrients per ton and compost provides 40 kg per ton. • Most of the legume green manures provide 20 kg of nitrogen per ton. • Each ton of sorghum/rice/maize straw can be expected to add 26 kg of nutrients.

What is compost?
• Compost is well decomposed organic wastes like plant residues, animal dung, and urine earth from cattle sheds, waste fodder etc. • Compost

Compost making

How good compost is prepared?
• Compost making is the process of decomposing organic wastes in a pit. Site for compost making is selected should be at a high level and water should not pond during monsoon season. Pit should be of 3’ depth and 6’ to 8’ width. Length may be of any convenient size. The process is as follows: Make slurry of the cattle dung with water. Prepare 6” layer of organic wastes – plant residues, sweepings from the cattle shed, waste fodder, dried plants stalks and leaves etc. and sprinkle water to just moisten it. (Over watering should be avoided). Cover with the layer with urine earth and cattle dung slurry. Add 5 to 10 kg of super phosphate for every 10 tons of organic wastes. Repeat the process of putting such layers till the pit is full. Close the pit with urine earth, waste fodder and then heap the soil till it gets convex shape (about 1 to 1.5’ above the ground) so that the rainwater rolls away. After six months compost is ready to apply to the fields. The pit can be filled up if sufficient organic wastes are available. Otherwise a temporary partition can be made in the pit with bamboos or stalks and the pit can be filled up over time filling each partitioned area as and when the material is available for composting.

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Why super phosphate is added in compost making?
• Due to quick heating and drying during the decomposition of organic wastes, nitrogen in the organic wastes will be lost due to volatilization. Addition of super phosphate decreases such nitrogen losses. It will also increase the phosphate content of compost.

What is vermicomposting?
• Vermicomposting is a type of compost making in which earthworms are used to convert organic wastes into valuable material to supply nutrients for crops. • Degradation of organic waste using earthworms is one of the recent developments in biological sciences. Earthworms break down complex organic residues into simpler water-soluble substances. In the biodegradation process, earthworms and microbes work together and produce vermicompost.

Earthworms Vermicomposting

• • • • • • • • • • • • • Earthworms help convert organic waste into valuable nutrients for crops, through a process we call “vermicomposting.” A healthier crop produces a better yield and will increase a farmer’s net profit. Why use Vermicompost? Promotes faster growth of plants, increases crop yield Produces crops with a better taste, luster and lasting quality, without toxic residues: crops can therefore fetch a higher price in the market Increases water-holding capacity of soil Easy to produce and low in cost Reduces salinization and acidification Reduces soil erosion Induces resistance to pest and disease attack Other benefits for farmers: Enhances soil productivity Increases crop yield with less irrigation Lowers risk of crop loss due to pest attack

• FIRST STEPS: PREPARATION 1.What materials are required to start a vermicompost? 2.What are some sources of useable organic waste? 3. What worms are good for vermicomposting? 4. What are good, suitable containers/places to start a vermicompost? • METHOD TO MAKE VERMICOMPOST (13 Steps)

• MORE INFORMATION 1. How long before the organic material can be used as fertilizer • 2.What are the additional precautions?

First Steps 1. What materials are required to start a vermicompost? Material Quantity

Cement ring ~90 cm diameter, ~30 cm 1 height(or pit or walled enclosure) Polythene sheet (big enough to cover the bottom of the cement ring) Dry organic wastes (DOW) Rock phosphate (RP) Earthworms (EW ) Water (W) Ratio of DOW : CS : RP : EW : W 1 50 Kg 15 Kg 500-750 worms 5 L every three days 5 : 1 : 5 : 0 : 2 : 50-75 : 0.5

2. What are good sources of useable organic waste?
• • Vermicompost can be prepared from all sorts of organic residues. Examples: Agricultural residues - dry organic wastes (like sorghum straw, rice straw after feeding cattle, dry leaves, pigeonpea residues, groundnut husk, and wheat husk.) - waste vegetables - soybean residues - weeds (particularly Parthenium Hysterophorus, also called Vayyaribhama or Pander full or Congress weed, before flowering) - sugarcane trash Sericultural residues from silk production Animal manures Dairy and poultry wastes Food industry wastes Municipal solid wastes Biogas sludge Bagasse from sugarcane factories Plants and herbs that are insecticidal or aromatic should be avoided. Residues rich in lignin, like stalk of woody plants, take relatively more time to degrade.

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3. What worms are good to use?
• The species of earthworms that are being used for compost production are Eisenia foetida, Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus, Lumbricus rubellus and Pheretima elongata. • Use the non-burrowing types (Eisenia spp, Eudrilis spp), available in local markets. They are red or purple, live on the soil surface and help digest 90% organic waste materials. • Don’t use the pale-coloured ones that live inside the soil and are generally seen in rice fields. These are the burrowing types (Pertima spp), which are not used for vermicomposting since they eat 90% soil.

The best worms for vermicomposting are red worms (Eisenia foetida or Lumbricus rubellus). The red worm is capable of reproducing quickly in captivity, while munching profuse quantities of food waste. If your bin is a 2x2' bin then use one pound of worms (1000 worms).

4. What are good, suitable containers or places to start at vermicompost?
• • • • Vermicompost can be prepared in different places/containers in a shady area. Some suggested places include: ABOVE GROUND: In cement rings (~90 cm diameter, ~30 cm height) In an enclosure with a wall (1 meter high) made with soil and rocks/bricks/cement The commercial model consists of four chambers enclosed by wall (3 feet high, 5 feet width, total of 15 feet length). The walls made up of different materials like normal bricks, hallow bricks, shabaz stones, asbestos sheets, locally available rocks etc. This model contains partition walls with small holes to facilitate the easy movement of earthworms from one chamber to another. Excess water can be collected by providing an outlet at one corner of each chamber. This technology reduces labor cost and saves water as well as time. On the floor in a heap BELOW GROUND: In pits (up to 1 meter deep)

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** Note: The same procedure can be followed using any container or place. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Step 1:Cover the bottom of the cement ring with a polythene sheet. (Or use the sheet to cover the ground of the area you’re using). Step 2:Spread a layer (15-20 cms) of organic waste on top of the sheet. Step 3:Sprinkle rock phosphate on top of the organic material (2kgs). Step 4:Prepare cowdung slurry (15kgs) and add the slurry as a layer on top of the mixture. Step 5:Fill the ring completely and evenly with the layered material. Step 6:Paste cowdung or soil over the top of the material. Step 7:Allow the material to decompose for 20 days. After 20 days, put the earthworms on top. They will find the cracks and enter the material. Step 8:Cover the ring with wire mesh or gunny bags to prevent birds from eating the worms. Step 9:Sprinkle water over the whole mixture at 3-day intervals for 2 months, to maintain adequate moisture and body temperature of the worms. * Note: when the compost is ready, it is black, quite lightweight and has a pleasant, earthy smell. Step 10:After 2 months, (or when the compost is ready), remove the ring and heap the material in a cone shape on the floor.Leave the heap undisturbed for 2-3 hours, to let the worms move slowly to the bottom. Step 11:Separate the upper portion of the heap. Step 12:Sieve the lower portion of the heap to separate the worms. They can be used again for preparation of more vermicompost. Step 13:Pack the compost in bags and store them in a cool place.

• Pit method: In the initial stage, go for a bed of size of 10x1x0.3 m. The beds should be treated with chlorpyriphos @ 2ml/litre of water to prevent ant and termite problem. After 15 days, fill the beds in layers with organic residues as explained: First layer—decomposable plant material (bottom of bed); second layer— cowdung/ farm manure/ biogas sludge; third layer—spread earthworms (1000-2000 in number); fourth layer—cowdung/ farm manure/ biogas sludge; fifth layer—dry crop residue/ green succulent leafy material, plus cowdung; sixth layer—thick layer of mulch with cereal straw (top of bed). Each layer, except the third, should be 3-4-inch thick, so that the bed material is raised above the ground level. Sufficient dry and green wastes should be used. The mulch at the top prevents loss of moisture and acts as a barrier to predators like birds. The beds should be in shade. Heap method: In this method, composting is done on the ground without the pits. Organic material is piled up on the ground, as in the pit method, the only difference is that the heap gets a dome shape. The suitable size for a heap is 10x1x0.6 m. Wooden box or brick column: Here rectangular wooden or brick structures (3x1x1 m) are erected above the ground level and the organic material is dumped inside serially as in earlier methods. These beds have to be watered regularly to maintain a moisture level of 6080 per cent till the harvest of compost.

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How long before the organic material can be used as fertilizer?
Vermicompost is ready in 2 to 2.5 months. When it’s ready, it’s black, lightweight and has no bad smell.

Multiplication of earthworms:
• : Earthworms are bisexual, but cross-fertilisation is the mode of reproduction. Adult worms, 15-21 days after copulation, lay cocoons, which look like coriander seeds. The eggs present inside the cocoon hatch into neonates in about 15-21 days. Neonates take 35-60 days to attain adulthood, which is characterised by a swollen band near the anterior part of the body. Eudrilus eugeniae, one of the species used for vermicomposting, completes its lifecycle in about 65-80 days. It lays 400 plus cocoons in about 60 days. • Vermicomposting can be tested from a small collection of pellets on the top of the beds around 45-60 days after start. This is indicative of good multiplication of worms in the beds. In about 60 days, the material is degraded completely and vermicompost is ready for harvesting. • The rate of degradation depends on the loading of worms. More the worms, faster the degradation. The heap method, however, has proved to be more effective than the pit system.

• After 60-70 days, the beds are ready for harvest. Seven days prior to harvesting, watering of the beds has to be stopped so that the earthworms in the top layers move down for want of moisture. • The beds should be disturbed and the material collected in pyramidal heaps for about 24 hours. The semidried compost from the top of the bed can be collected and sieved to remove any inert material. The concentrated vermiculture (earthworms) that remains at the bottom can be used again for vermicomposting. The compost can be dried in shade (12 hours), bagged and stored. • About 3 tonne of vermicompost can be harvested in two months from 10 beds of 10x1x0.6 m each.

• • • • • • • Put on your rubber gloves. Place a large sheet of plastic on the floor or on a table. Pour the entire contents of the bin onto the sheet. Shape the compost into cone-shaped mounds. Then shine a bright light above the mounds; this will drive the worms toward the bottom interior of each mound. Wait 5-10 minutes, and then gently scrape off the layers of vermicompost until all you have left is worms. Put the worms into a temporary storage container while you clean out the bin and fill it with fresh bedding. You may see tiny, lemon-shaped cocoons; these contain baby worms, so be sure to add them to the new bin. Bury food scraper for four months and you will get a nice box full of vermicompost after leaving the bin alone for three to four months.

Natural enemies:
• The important natural enemies of vermiculture are ants, termites, flatworm, centipedes, rats, pigs, birds, etc. Preventive measures include treating of the site with insecticide chlorpyriphos 20 EC @ 2 ml/ 1litre or mixing of neem cakes @ 30 g/ 1kg food while filling the beds. • Rainy and winter season favour faster multiplication of worms than summer. With manipulation of soil temperature during summer by providing shade and regular watering, the rate can be enhanced.

What are the additional precautions?
• Use only plant materials (such as vegetable peelings, leaves or grass) • Remove glass, metal and plastic materials from the organic material • Protect against birds by covering the rings with wire or plastic mesh • Sprinkle water regularly and maintain moisture levels • Prepare compost in the shade to protect it from sun and rain.

Which crops should vermicompost be used on?
Vermicompost can be used for all crops (agricultural, horticultural, ornamental and vegetable) at any stage of the crop development.

When and how should vermicompost be applied?
• Agricultural Crops: apply vermicompost by broadcasting when the seedlings are 12-15 cms in height. Irrigate the field(s). • Flowers, Vegetables and Fruit Trees: apply vermicompost around the base of the plant, at any stage of development, and cover with soil. Water regularly.

Quantity: How much is necessary to use?
• • • • General Agricultural Use: 3-4 tonnes ha-1 Fruit Trees: 5-10 kg per tree Vegetables: 3-4 tonnes ha-1 Flowers: 500-750 kg ha-1

• • • • • • • • 1. What are the costs? Costs for are quite low. Examples are as follows: Rock Phosphate: 2 Rupees per kg Worms: 50 Rupees per kg * Note: these are only examples of prices in India, noted in 2003, and are subject to change. 2. Where can the products be obtained or purchased? WORMS: The non-burrowing worms are often found in local markets. ROCK PHOSPHATE: Is available with local fertilizer dealers. It has been found in tests that the production cost for 1 tonne of vermicompost and 1,000 earthworms is around Rs 500 and 50, respectively. About 3 tonne vermicompost can be harvested in 10 beds.

• • • • • • • • • • • • For Industries: Cost-effective pollution abatement technology For the Environment: Increases groundwater recharge and reduces depletion of groundwater Reduces soil salinization and soil erosion Reduces pollution, since chemicals need not be purchased or used For the National Economy: Fewer imports of agrochemicals, saving valuable foreign exchange Boosts rural economy Increases export of agricultural product with lower pesticide residues Lowers expenditure on water supply and pollution control Lessens wasteland formation

Vermicompost is rich in plant nutrients. It provides vital macro elements such as N, P, K, Ca, Mg and micro elements such as Fe, Zn, Cu, etc. Apart from this, it contains plant growth-promoting substances such as NAA, cytokinins, gibberalins, etc. It also harbours beneficial microflora. Worms also have the capacity to store heavy metals and pesticides in their tissues. Thus, to a certain extent, they play a role in detoxifying polluted soils, too.

Scope In several experiments, results have indicated that vermicomposting can substitute inorganic fertiliser requirement up to 50-75 per cent when applied @ 10 t/ha. Vermiculture can be adopted in two ways: by applying vermicompost @2.5-5.0 t/ha at the time of sowing or insitu vermiculture, wherein earthworms are directly employed in irrigated crop fields. In case of horticulture, vermicompost can be applied at the time of planting and subsequently at regular intervals, depending on the age of the tree. In-situ vermiculture can be adopted in case of young as well as grown-up trees by releasing requisite number of earthworms at the tree basin or furrow, where adequate organic waste has to be previously dumped. In-situ vermiculture is gaining significance in irrigated horticulture crops. Earthworms are introduced in situ @ 50,000-2 lakh/ha in crops in the presence of sufficient organic waste. It is also a popular in sugarcane.

Reference: www.vasat.org


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