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Worms Produce Superior Compost Say Researchers

Should you add vermicomposting to your methods of composting? A new study suggests the answer might be yes – and that it could help India with it’s waste problem.

That waste problem is huge, as India produces around 3 billion tonnes of organic waste annually. 

The disposal of this waste has had a huge adverse impact on human health and the environment – leading to water pollution, methane emission, and soil degradation. In turn, that has lead to falling yields in farms.

In the search for solutions, researchers Alpana Kusum, Shankar Jha, and Koshlendra Tedia at Vermicompost Production Unit, RPCAU, Pusa, experimented with different forms of composting to treat temple waste, food waste, household waste, and agricultural waste.

The scientists used different parameters to measure differences in quality between both materials and different ways of composting. These were:

  • moisture content
  • maximum water holding capacity
  • odour
  • bulk density

In news that will gladden the heart of worm composters, the study found that worm composting produced a superior final result compared to regular compost methods.

The best combination used cow dung with worms (Eisenia fetida) to produce the highest quality compost when measured by water holding capacity. 

The combination of temple waste with cow dung, composted without using worms, produced the least favourable result. 

The water holding capacity here was 16.39%, compared to 25.70% with the treatment using cow manure and worms.

Encouragingly, while there were differences in the quality of the final product, all the treatments lead to an improved final result, with the researchers noting:

“…regardless of the food materials utilised, physical attributes improved throughout the composting process for all treatment combinations and vermicomposting consistently recorded better qualities than ordinary composting.”

Do note that the researchers didn’t address the practical considerations of processing huge amounts of waste with worms. It’s also worth noting that, strictly speaking, vermicomposting produces worm casts rather than compost. 

Still, the study provides more evidence for the value of composting with worms.

For the full study see Alpana Kusum, Shankar Jha and Koshlendra Tedia, 2023, Changes in physical properties during composting

Read next:

How to Build a DIY Worm Bin
How Worms Help Compost
Should You Add Worms To Your Compost