Recycle waste and make organic fertilizer from farming red worms

The world is going organic with demand for chemical free farm produce steadily rising, however, stress levels of farmers are also rising as they try valiantly to find organic replacements for artificial fertilizers. Vermiculture – the practice of raising red worms for organic fertilizer, is a good place to start.

The type of worms bred to make fertilizer are a special breed known as red worms, scientific name Eisenia fetida. These worms possess two qualities that make them suitable for vermicomposting (making compost using red worms).

  • They have ferocious appetites.
  • Fast reproducers doubling in number every two months as both female and male worms lay eggs.

Feeding

Red worms feed on farm waste such as vegetables and animal manure. The worms require a mixture of green matter and some coarse material such as dried grass, cardboard or sand to help in digestion. Depending on what you will be using the fertilizer for, worms should be fed a variety of green matter.

If you feed them flowers or comfrey leaves (high in potassium), their excrement will contain more potassium which is good for flowering and fruiting plants. If you feed them Sukuma wiki, Tithonia and Cabbage leaves, they will produce more nitrogen rich manure.

Housing

You can modify their housing as per the resources at hand but as a general reference:

  • There needs to be a water outlet for the liquid manure,
  • Don’t use material that corrodes e.g. iron sheets
  • The worm beds should be raised for easier control of ant attacks.

To make a simple housing unit, cut a 180 litre super drum in half and use the two separate halves for housing. Make a small drainage hole at the bottom corner of each half and ensure they slant towards the holes.

At the bottom of the half drum, place dried grass; add some sand soil, followed by well-dried manure to about halfway or three-quarters full. This will be the worms’ bed.

Before bringing in the worms, pour in some water and observe if it comes out the hole you made, if it doesn’t, increase the hole’s size or loosen the arrangement of the worm bed materials in the areas around the hole.

Red worms can be bought at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at sh2, 500 per Kilogram.

1 COMMENT

  1. I am in Uganda and have read about red worm farming and picked interest in learning more so that I also become a vermiculture farmer. What advice do you have for me. Hoping to hear from you soon.

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