Vermiculture: Implementation of an experimental trial

in STEMGeeks3 months ago (edited)
Conventional agriculture is characterized by the use of synthetic products such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides of synthetic origin, which, although they allow to achieve adequate yields, can generate adverse effects on the soil of agricultural ecosystems. In that sense, the worm leachate is a natural organic fertilizer, which is obtained from the transformation of organic waste, by means of the California red worm, this type of alternatives could improve the fertility of the soil, since, the microbial colony increases, it has adequate qualities constituting itself as a fertilizer of excellent quality by the chemical and microbiological characteristics that it may present.

In Venezuela the breeding of the Californian worm (Eisenia foetida) has been booming in recent years, due to the difficult economic problems that are arising and that directly affects the agricultural sector, in addition to this, worm farming is an activity with which all kinds of organic matter can be recycled and two products are obtained, the worm compost and worm leachate, being an excellent organic fertilizer for agricultural production. In the specific area of the South of Lake Maracaibo, because it has a purely agricultural area, these alternatives are fundamental since there are endogenous organic resources that serve as substrates for the exploitation of these worms, such as bovine manure and vegetable waste, the latter are the ones that were used in the feeding of the worms in the present research.

Despite not being an innovative alternative, in the south of Lake Maracaibo there is not a wide knowledge about the management of this type of agricultural exploitation, because it requires adequate conditions for the survival of the worms and that they carry out the decomposition of the organic matter that is offered, among the variables to which great attention should be paid is the humidity of the substrate used, that is why, it is necessary to implement tests that allow evaluating, for example, the frequency of irrigation in the compost worm and its influence on the physical chemical characteristics of solid compost worm and the worm leachate that is obtained as an effluent that can be used for fertilizing, since it contains the substances that are washed from the solid composite worm and its quality will depend on the type of raw material used to feed the worms.

Taking into account the aforementioned, we implemented a where the variable irrigation frequency was manipulated in order to evaluate the effects they may have in relation to the biomass of the annelids and the chemical characteristics of the vermicompost leachate, for the execution of the test three (03) treatments were established in which the irrigation frequency was varied as follows:

To carry out the evaluation of the vermicompost leachate, three lombri composters were prepared in plastic containers of approximately 3 m3, which had holes made in the bottom to allow the leachate percolation, and in turn a container was placed for the collection of the liquid for each treatment. Once the containers were conditioned, a layer of coarse gravel was placed, to promote drainage into the worm house, followed by a plastic mesh to separate the bed from the worms, which was approximately 10 cm high composed of a substrate resulting from vegetable remains and cow dung in a state of decomposition.

For the preparation of the beds, a mixture of decomposed manure and vegetable remains was made, placing a layer of approximately 10 cm high in each composter. Approximately 700 worms were sown, in each container, they were fed every 8 days with fresh vegetable waste. Each container was identified to distribute the three treatments, which received an irrigation (1 liter of water) with the established frequency for each treatment.

The day after each irrigation, the emitted liquid was collected, which was stored for chemical evaluation. Additionally, each worm was divided into three equal parts, from which a random sample of 100 worms was taken for a total of 300 per worm, to which their live weight was recorded, for this, once collected the worms were washed with plenty of water, in order to eliminate the proportion of substrate, then drained to eliminate the water and take an adequate reading of the weight and record the data.

The methods for measuring the variables were as follows:

  • Evaluation of the biomass of the annelids
    The biomass was evaluated every 15 days, for this the quarry was divided into three equal parts and 100 adult worms (to which the clitellum was observed) were collected from each part, to weigh each group and thus estimate the biomass per quarry.

  • Evaluation of the temperature
    This variable was measured every 8 days. Using a laboratory thermometer which was placed at three points of the worm about 5 cm deep to take its readings.

  • Humidity assessment
    It was measured every 8 days at rt through the gravimetric method, for which a sample of the substrate was taken, weighed before and after drying to calculate its moisture content. The sample was considered dry when its weight remained constant at a temperature of 105°C.

  • Chemical evaluation
    The following parameters were evaluated: pH and Electrical Conductivity (E.C.) by Potentiometry. Soluble Cations: Potassium (K+) by ISE. Soluble Anions: Carbonates (CO3-2) and Bicarbonates (HCO3-1) Acid Titration; of BaSO4. Phosphorus by visible light spectrocolorimetry Vinasse phosphomolybdate complex.

Final considerations
Dear readers, as it could be evidenced, each step implemented to launch the trial was described and the methodologies used to obtain the necessary data, in the next publication we will be sharing with you the results we obtained, which we consider should be considered when implementing a worm farming system.

Bibliographic references
  • Canales, A., Solís, B., Panca, R. and Quispe, B. (2020). Breeding of Eisenia Foetida (red worm) in different substrates of biological development. Applied ecology. Vol. 19 N°2, pp. 87-92

  • Buran, L. and Henriquez, C. (2009). Growth and reproduction of the red carpet (Eisenia foetida) on five organic substrates. Agronomía Costarricense, 33 (2): 275-281.
    of doctorate. Valencia, Spain. 455 p.

  • Merino, E. and Love, J. (2019). Vermicomposting process for the production of bio-fertilizer in the forest reserve, Mameyales farm, municipality of Piojó. Atlantic. Applied project to opt for the title of environmental engineer/zootechnician. School of Agricultural, Livestock and Environmental Sciences. National Open and Distance University (UNAD). Department of Atlántico Republic of Colombia.

Thank you for reading our article, until a next installment.


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