Worm farming, worm composting, vermiculture, humus. What do they mean?
All those terms are closely linked to one-another and most of them are simply synonyms:
- Worm farming = vermiculture
- Worm composting = vermicomposting
- Worm castings/droppings/manure/humus = vermicompost
More in detail:
- Vermiculture has it's focus on multiplying an initial worm population. The output is many worms, some vermicompost.
- Vermicomposting is the use of worms to transform biomass. The output is mainly vermicompost and a fair amount of worms.
- Vermicompost is pure humus.
What kind of worms are you growing?
The worms we breed and use for recycling purpose are:
- Eisenia fetida
- Eisenia fetida andreii
- Eisenia hortensis
These species are endemic to Europe and can be found in your backyard and compost heap
What is the average nutrient content in vermicompost?
If compared to an average sample of top soil, the available nutrients of vermicompost are the following:
Because vermicompost is a natural product, these values might slightly vary from batch to batch.
What is worm tea?
Under worm tea we understand vermicompost diluted in water.
Beside the use as a liquid fertilizer, worm tea has proven an effective natural repellent for harmful insects and also has fungicide and bactericide properties. It protects the plant while providing valuable nutrients.
Why is vermicompost better than compost?
- Faster process, meaning less nutrients are lost during conversion
- Higher humic acid content
- Higher nutrients and minerals content
- No "wash out" effect through watering
- Regulates the pH of the soil both upwards, if soil is acidic, and downwards if soil is basic
- Helps soil to retain moisture
- Makes soil lighter, thus helping plants to grow more roots
- Provides the plant with nutrients over a longer time
- Increased microbial activity and diversity
What makes vermicompost better than chemical fertilizer?
Vermicompost outperforms chemical fertilizer for mainly the same reasons it outperforms "normal" compost. Although the chemical properties of vermicompost are not as constant as for a chemical fertilizer (it is, in the end, the result of a natural process), there are also many ecological and economical advantages in vermicomposting.
- Vermicompost is mainly used on or in the close surroundings of the production site
- Reduces the need for mining, transforming and transporting chemicals
- Improves the quality of the soil in both short and long term
- By recycling local biomass, it reduces the amount of material being carried to waste processing facilities
- Reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses caused by landfills or incinerators
What is humic acid?
Humic acids (from humus) are the main components of humic substances and a result of microbial degradation of biomass. The discussion about how they work and form is still ongoing. Some humic acids, like potassium humate, can be extracted by chemical processing from brown coal and can be used as soil conditioner.
Research, made by Ohio State University in 2006 and published in the European Journal of Soil Biology, has shown that humic acids are stimulating plants to grow more lateral roots, increasing their ability to absorb nutrients. More roots lead to an increased size of leaves, and bigger leaves in return to more effective photosynthesis.
Can I still use chemical fertilizer while using vermicompost?
The simple and short answer is: yes.
Usually, while using vermicompost, the use of chemical fertilizer becomes unnecessary. Combining vermicompost with chemical fertilizer can, under certain circumstances, lead to a chemical root burn, a change in pH of the soil or both. Using vermicompost as a growth stimulant and chemical fertilizer in a subsequent step is more advisable then applying both at the same time.
What are available nutrients ?
Nutrients in their "pure" form are not usable by a plant directly. Composting processes such as vermicomposting transform those nutrients in a form that the plant can use. This is why we speak of available nutrients. For example, vermicompost has 11 times more usable potassium (see "Average nutrient content"), not total potassium content. The potassium in "unusable" form (about 3% of total) is partly transformed by microbial and animal activity, the rest is lost, washed out by water.
Can I still use chemical herbicide while using vermicompost?
Again, the simple answer is: yes.
If the production is not organic, using herbicides is an option. Although we do not encourage the use of herbicides, we understand that it might be necessary.