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Literature Review of Worms in Waste Management Volume 2


Second Edition

Recycled Organics Unit PO Box 6267 The University of New South Wales Sydney Australia 1466 Internet: Contact: Angus Campbell Copyright © Recycled Organics Unit, 1999. Second Edition. First Published, 1999. This document is and shall remain the property of the Recycled Organics Unit. The information contained in this document is provided by ROU in good faith but users should be aware that ROU is not responsible or liable for its use or application. The content is for information only. It should not be considered as any advice, warranty, or recommendation to any individual person or situation.

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Table of Contents

LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................................. (VOLUME 1) TABLE OF CONTENTS..................................................................................................................................3 1. GLOSSARY OF TERMS .............................................................................................................................5 2. INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................................7 2.1 PURPOSE 2.2 OBJECTIVES 2.3 DELIVERABLES 2.4 METHODOLOGY 2.5 SCOPE 3. VERMICULTURE INDUSTRY OVERVIEW .............................................................................................9 3.1 INTRODUCTION 3.2 VERMILOGICAL RESEARCH 3.3 WASTE MANAGEMENT 4. CURRENT STATUS OF VERMICULTURE IN AUSTRALIA .................................................................11 4.1 INTRODUCTION 4.2 INDUSTRY SECTORS 4.2.1 Primary Industry 4.2.2 Secondary Industry 4.2.3 Tertiary Industry 4.3 EARTHWORMS IN WASTE MANAGEMENT 5. VERMILOGICAL RESEARCH .................................................................................................................13 5.1 INTRODUCTION 5.2 EARTHWORM CATEGORIES 5.3 COMMON COMPOST WORM SPECIES 5.4 OTHER COMPOST WORM SPECIES 5.5 COMPOST WORM KNOWLEDGE 5.7 COMPOST WORM CONSUMPTION RATES 5.8 VERMICOMPOST/VERMICAST AS A MEDIUM 5.8.1 Microbial Populations 5.8.2 Structure 5.8.3 Nutrient Value 5.8.4 Pathogens 6. VERMICULTURE IN AGRICULTURE....................................................................................................17 6.1 INTRODUCTION 6.2 WORM FARMING 6.3 VERMICULTURE PRODUCTS 6.3.1 Livestock and Cocoons 6.3.2 Fishing (Live Bait) 6.3.3 Vermimeal 6.3.4 Vermicompost and Vermicast 6.3.5 Vermiliquid 6.4 FARMING WITH WORMS 7. VERMICULTURE IN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT ................................................................20

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7.1 INTRODUCTION 8. VERMICULTURE IN WASTE MANAGEMENT.....................................................................................21 8.1 ORIGINS OF THE INDUSTRY 8.2 SCALE CLARIFIED 8.3 VERMITECHNOLOGY 8.3.1 Windrow Systems 8.3.2 Continuous Flow Systems 8.3.3 Tray or Stacking Systems 8.3.4 Batching Systems 8.3.5 Wedge Systems 8.3.6 Vermiculture Ecotechnology Systems 8.4 VARIABLES IN VERMICOMPOSTING 8.5 KEY VARIABLES IN VERMICOMPOSTING 8.5.1 Management/Maintenance 8.5.2 Environmental Conditions 8.5.3 Feedstock Variables 8.5.4 Loading Rates 8.5.5 Carrying Capacity (Stocking Capacity) 8.5.6 Processing Capacity (Conversion rate) 8.6 OTHER VARIABLES IN VERMICOMPOSTING 8.6.1 Square Metre Surface Feeding Area 8.6.2 Bed Depth 8.6.3 Inputs 8.6.4 Outputs 8.6.5 Stabilisation 8.6.6 Transferability 8.7 ORGANIC MATTER TREATED USING VERMICULTURE 8.8 VERMICULTURE ORGANICS PROCESSING RESEARCH 8.9 AUSTRALIAN MID-SCALE VERMICOMPOSTING 8.9.1 Units Identified 8.9.2 Issues Impacting on Mid-scale Implementation 9. RECOMMENDATIONS ..........................................................................................................................43 9.1 Vermicomposting Trials 9.2 On-Site Technology Options 9.2 Particle Size Reduction Technology 10. REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................................46 11. APPENDICES ...................................................................................................................... (VOLUME 2) 11.1 DIRECTORY OF RELEVANT INTERNET SITES ................................................................................. 58 11.2 LIST OF RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS & MANUFACTURERS ................................................................ 60 11.3 ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................... 61 11.4 COPIES OF KEY LITERATURE ................................................................................... ATTACHMENTS 11.5 PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL FOR MID SCALE VERMICULTURE SYSTEMS ........................... ATTACHMENTS

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11.1 ­ Relevant Internet Sites

11.1.1 Research, CSIRO Earthworms (resources) Australia., The University of California, Santa Cruz - The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems., University of California, Davis - Sustainable Agriculture & Education Program - Earthworm Information., Vermiculture @ CCAT, Humbolt State University., (vermicomposting) - USA. The Compost Resource Page, City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Notes (vermicomposting) USA.

11.1.2 Businesses/Organisations, Association. Australian Worm Growers, Worm Digest (journal home page) - USA., Worm Digest (journal index) - USA., Vermiculture International (organic waste managem't) - Australia., Worms 'R' Us (retail) - Victoria, Australia., PAD Engineering & Vermiculture Resources International (engineering, organic waste management, retail), Australia.

11.1.3 Products, Eliminators (mid-scale vermicomposting units) Australia., vermicomposting unit) - Australia. Worm Wigwam (mid-scale, Vermi Converter (mid-scale vermicomposting unit) Australia., Easy Rota Worm Separator - Australia., Mid-scale vermicomposting unit specifications @ North Carolina, USA.

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Page 58, Worm Digest Issue 6: The Industrious Worm: Worms Hospitalized (mid-scale unit implemented in hospital) - USA & Canada., Yelm Worm Farms (commercial-scale units) USA.

11.1.4 Miscellaneous, Australian Vermiculture Resources Guide., The Vermicomposting FORUM., Cyber Worm's World Wide Worm Links! - Vermiculture Information (100's of global worm sites listed)., Worms on the Net (worm sites listed including mid-scale unit used at Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital, Nowra) Australia., AWGA article., AWGA Newsletter., Australian Worm Farms & Worms., Composting Toilets - USA.

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11.2 Australian Research Institutions & Manufacturers

11.2.1 Organisations/Research

· Mike Daniels, president, Australian Worm Growers Association. Woodville Worms in Waste Management, 56 Hastings Dr., Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324, Australia. Tel/Fax: 02 4987 1308, Mobile: 0419 404 228. Email: [email protected] John Buckerfield, CSIRO Land & Water, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia. Tel: 08 8303 8470. Katie Webster, CSIRO Land & Water, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia. Geoff Baker, CSIRO Department of Entomology, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Allan Mitchell, Department of Agronomy and Soil Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, 2351, Australia. Bob Holland, Vermiculture International, 44 Poppet Rd., Wamboin, NSW, 2620, Australia. Tel: 02 6238 3577, Fax: 02 6238 3017, Mobile: 0413 389 892, Email: [email protected]

· · · · ·

11.2.3 Manufacturers/Distributors

· · · · · · · Linda Holland, secretary, Squirmy Wormz Farm, 957 Pembroke St, Albury, 2640, Australia. Tel: 02 6023 2171, Fax: 02 6021 8136, Email: [email protected] Ron Moran, Tumbleweed, 3 Ingleby St, Oatlands, NSW, 2117, Australia. Tel: 02 Kym Mogridge, Vermi Co-operative, PO Box 1064, Bega, 2660, Australia. Tel/Fax: 02 6492 7206, Mobile: 018 277 249, Email [email protected] Darryl Jones, Vital Earth Company, PO Box 3, Lemon Tree Passage, NSW, 2319, Australia. Tel: 02 4982 6080, Fax: 02 4982 6278. David Ellery, PAD Engineering (SA), 360 North East Rd, Klemzig, SA, 5087, Australia. Tel: 08 8289 5213, Fax: 08 8369 0155, Email: [email protected] Steve Scott, The Worm Network, PO Box A598, South Sydney, NSW, 1235, Australia. Tel: 02 9380 9669, Fax: 02 9360 7960, Mobile: 0410 466 585. Graham Lewis, Worms 'R' Us (Vic), 384 Bridge Rd, Richmond, Vic, 3121, Australia. Tel: 02 9428 9944. Donna Scurr, Worms 'R' Us (NSW), 319 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt, NSW 2040, Australia. Tel: 02 9568 5215


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11.3 Annotated Bibliography


The bibliography is presented in several sections. These are topically arranged. The citations are accompanied by either, comment, or abstract, where they may be relevant to vermicomposting. This is not a complete listing of all published material on vermiculture and vermilogical research. It is however, a presentation of the published material that has been uncovered, by restricting investigation to the literature review objectives of vermiculture, vermicompost, vermicomposting, and mid-scale vermicomposting in particular. The annotated bibliography contains the following sub-sections: 11.3.1 Vermiculture Industry (Comment and Compilation texts) 11.3.2 Vermicomposting (Technology & Practice) 11.3.3 Vermiculture Organics Processing Research 11.3.4 Worm Farming (Domestic & Commercial) 11.3.5 Farming with Worms (Agroecosystems, Plant Growth, Potting Mixes etc.) 11.3.6 Vermicological Research (Biology & Ecology) 11.3.7 Environmental Management (Ecotoxicology & Land Amelioration)

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11.3.1 Vermiculture Industry (comment & compilation texts)

Abbott, J. and Atkins, I. (1997) Problems with vermiculture - where to for the industry? In Compost 97: green putrescible waste management beyond 2000. Proceedings of Compost 97 Conference held 14-15 July 1997, Brisbane. Waste Management Research Unit: Griffith University, Brisbane.

Comment: Gives an overview of potential waste streams for treatment by vermiculture. Specific Australian industry example of a meat processing plant and descriptions of vermiculture facility design options for this waste stream. Management practice and operations are described.

Applehof, M., Webster, K. and Buckerfield, J. (1996) Vermicomposting in Australia and New Zealand. BioCycle 37 (6): 63-66.

Abstract: In Australia and New Zealand, vermiculture is being implemented from home worm bins to large scale composting of municipal biosolids and yard trimmings. A thriving industry is evolving to support these developments. Research continues in both countries to further expand applications for earthworms and vermicomposting. At the household level, vermicomposting of food trimmings is becoming popular enough that a number of entrepreneurs have designed and are marketing home worm bins. Worm composting also is becoming more popular as an educational activity in schools. The largest vermiculture operation is done by the Hobart City Council in Tasmania, which uses wormsto digest around 66 cubic yards per week of municipal biosolids, which are mixed with green mulch to give a C:N ratio from 20:1 to 30:1.

Australian Worm Growers Association (AWGA) (1999) Draft Industry "Minimalist" Best Practice Guidelines.

Comment: The AWGA is developing best practice guidelines for all vermiculture practices in consultation with the public, industry and statutory authorities. It primarily concerns basic worm growing species, and the manufacture of solid & liquid vermiculture products.

BioCycle, (1998) Edwards, C.A., in, Report on the BioCycle West Coast Conference. Held March 1998, Seattle, Washington.

Comment: Presentation given by Clive Edwards on vermiculture and the species involved in vermicomposting.

Bonvicini-Pagliai, A.M. and Omodeo, P. (eds) (1987) On Earthworms. Proceedings of 3rd International Symposium Earthworm Ecology. Selected Symposia and Monographs 2. Mucchi Editore: Moderna, Italy.

Comment: ISEE 3 conference proceedings.

Buckerfield, J. and Wiseman, D. (1996) Earthworm research goes to school. Worm Digest 13: 6.

Comment: Outlines the co-operative development of a study between primary students and researchers to investigate effects on earthworm numbers and population recovery before and after potato cropping & harvesting farming practices.

Cheal and Lewis, (1997) Vermiculture - an industry perspective. In Compost 97: green putrescible waste management beyond 2000. Proceedings of Compost 97 Conference held 14-15 July 1997, Brisbane. Waste Management Research Unit: Griffith University, Brisbane.

Comment: This is a comment on the problems within the vermiculture industry. Going from "back-yard" hobby into large-scale waste management there are some teething problems with the lack of scientific knowledge on all aspects of best practice management and variables in vermicomposting. Entrepreneurs conducting "buy-back' schemes have created a lack of confidence in vermiculture. The need to link farming, research & marketing is highlighted.

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Edwards, C.A. (ed.) (1997) ISEE 5, 5th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology held in 1994. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 215-766.

Comment: ISEE 5 conference proceedings.

Edwards, C.A. (ed.) (1998) Earthworm Ecology. St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida.

Comment: Key note papers from all sections of the ISEE 5 conference.

Edwards, C.A. and Neuhauser, E.F. (eds) (1988) Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management. Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Comment: Conference proceedings highlighting the body of work to emerge from the Rothamstead Experimental Station, U.K. and the cross-disciplanry approaches to investigate the range of research needs for the implementation of worms in waste management as an industry.

Kretschmar, A. (ed.) (1992) ISEE 4, 4th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology held in 1990. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 24 (12): 1193-774.

Comment: ISEE 4 conference proceedings.

Reln, (1996) Better waste minimisation through better design. Worm Digest 13: 9, 13.

Comment: Highlights the use of the Reln domestic "Worm Factory" as an environmental education tool for the primary school classroom.

Riggle, D. (1998) Vermicomposting research and education. BioCycle, 39 (5): 54-56.

Abstract: In the world of worms, the amount of quality information available to specialists and novices alike is growing rapidly. At the university level, one of the most vigorous programs of research in earthworm ecology, vermiculture, and vermicomposting in the US today can be found at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Investigators at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, have been engaged in a series of trials to evaluate composting and vermicomposting as beneficial management practices for fish manure from aquaculture facilities. Examples of innovation and process improvement also can be found outside of academia. Interesting educational resources about worms and vermicomposting are also available.

Satchell, J.E. (ed.) (1983) Earthworm Ecology: from Darwin to vermiculture. Chapman & Hall: London.

Comment: ISEE 1 conference proceedings.

Satchell, J.E. and Martin, K. (1985) A Bibliography of Earthworm Research. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology: Grange-over-Sands, U.K.

Comment: An early bibliography on earthworm research compiling the amount of scientific investigation up to 1985.

Williams, T. (1994) Worm your way through waste: a financially viable, ecologically sustainable, practical alternative. In Compost 94: options for management of organic waste. Proceedings of Compost 94 Conference held 3-4 May 1994, Brisbane. Waste Management Research Unit: Griffith University, Brisbane.

Abstract: Worms have been eating waste since time began and are specialists in stabilizing waste and making its nutrients available to plants. Waste Organic Recycling Management Systems (WORMS) has brought together resources and expertise from both the scientific and farming communities to develop a system of converting organic waste into either organic fertilizer or a soil conditioner, thus reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and fully utilizing a valuable resource. The system is affordable and sustainable, without relying on markets for the end product for its success. The system has been tested with municipal waste, sewage, feedlots and high carbon wastes.

Williams, T.G. (no date) Worms in commercial waste management. In 3rd National Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention. Conference Proceedings of the 3rd National Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention & Trade Exhibition.

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Abstract: The concept of using earthworms to stabilise organic wastes (vermicomposting) is not new, and is in use on varying scales in a large number of both developed and underdeveloped countries. The capital cost of establishing systems has proven to be a barrier to the large scale use of vermicomposting, largely due to the high value placed on the worms themselves. Innovative approaches in Australia towards marketing commercial vermicomposting systems hinge on charging only for the physical plant involved, rather than the value of the worms, thus treating the worms as a regenerative natural resource. Three factors contribute to the economic sustainability of the system. The first is the provision of a sustainable waste stabilisation process, a service which can generate ongoing income but which, at the moment, is provided at minimal cost. The second is the creation of a saleable form of soil conditioner in the form of vermicast. The third is the production of protein in the form of wormmeal, a valuable source of amino acids, vitamins, long chain fatty acids and minerals for pigs, chicken and fish. This paper discusses the history, current status and potential of commercial scale vermicomposting.

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11.3.2 Vermicomposting (technology & practice)

Applehof, M. (1988) Domestic vermicomposting systems. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Abstract: Results of a survey of 126 users of household kitchen waste vermicomposting systems are presented and discussed.

Bhawalker, U. (1999) Vermiculture Ecotechnology. BERI: Pune, India.

Comment: Profiles the application, management, technology, ecological rationale and years of experience of Uday Bhawalker of the Bhawalker Earthworm Research Institute in Pune, India., through the implementation of the "Vermiculture Ecotechnology" method for vermicomposting and vermifiltration.

Campbell, A. (1998) The Raised Worm Ranch. Institute for Local Self Reliance, NSW: Newtown, NSW.

Comment: Design specifications and management manual for the "Raised Worm Ranch" for implementation in schools.

Carroll, P. (1999) If You Didn't Eat Your Greens: a practical guide for managing green waste in schools. SCRAP and the Insitute for Local Self Reliance, NSW: Liverpool, NSW.

Comment: Case studies highlighting the SCRAP program which implemented the "Raised Worm Ranch" in a number of Sydney metropolitan schools on a trial basis.

Cornish, P. (1998) The ASUC project: Berkeley worms. Worm Digest, 19: 4-5, 7.

Comment: Describes the process of a waste minimalisation program at Berkeley campus of the University of California. The highlight of this program is the application and modification of the mid-scale "OSCR" vermicomposting unit. This project successfully utilises several of these units to process a large scale amount of waste from the campus dormitories and shops.

Dominguez, J. (1997) Testing the impact of vermicomposting. BioCycle, 38 (4): 58.

Abstract: At the Soil Ecology Laboratory of Ohio State University, an experiment studied a continuous vericomposting process for different mixtures of pig manure slurries and agroforestry by-products. The research project analyzed the effects of earthworm populations on the process and also evaluated the vermicomposts produced at different times.

Dominguez, J., Edwards, C.A. and Subler, S. (1997a) A comparison of vermicomposting and composting. BioCycle, 38 (4): 57-59.

Abstract: A comparison is given between the 2 of the most efficient methods for converting solid organic residuals into useful products - composting and vermicomposting. Composting is an accelerated bioxidation of organic matter passing through a thermophilic stage where microorganisms liberate heat, carbon dioxide and water. The heterogeneous organic material is transformed into a homogeneous and stabilized humus like product through turning or aeration. Vericomposting is also a bioxidation and stabilization process of organic material that, in contrast to composting, involves the joint action of earthworms and microorganisms and does not involve a thermophilic stage. The earthworms are the agents of turning, fragmentation and aeration. Research in vermicomposting is not developed to the same level as for composting; it is neccesary to know and understand the whole process better in order to make it more efficient.

Edwards, C.A. (1995) Historical overview of vermicomposting. BioCycle, 36 (6): 56-58.

Abstract: The potential of utilizing earthworms for breaking down organic residuals has been explored only in recent years. The principles behind vermicomposting are relatively simple and related to those involved in

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traditional composting. Certain species of earthworms can consume organic residuals very rapidly and fragment them into much finer particles by passing them through a grinding gizzard, an organ that all earthworms possess. The retention time of the waste in the earthworm is short. Worms can digest several times their own weight each day, and large quantities are passed through an average population of earthworms. The major constraint to vermicomposting is that vermicomposting systems must be maintained at temperatures below 35 degrees Celsius.

Edwards, C.A. (1999) Interview with Dr. Clive Edwards - part two. Casting Call, 4 (2): 37.

Comment: Clive Edwards discusses in some detail the continuous flow vermicomposting system, its design and management issues and some key aspects concerning vermicomposting processes.

Edwards C.A. (forthcoming) Manual of Vermicomposting.

Comment: This publication will cover a variety of aspects of vermicomposting with contributions from around the globe. It will be a summary of the state of knowledge in vermicomposting, ranging from technologies in use to studies on vermicompost quality.

Edwards, C.A. and Steele, J. (1997) Using earthworm systems. BioCycle, 38 (7): 63-64.

Abstract: There is probably more interest and activity in vermicomposting in Australia and New Zealand than in any other region of the world. Regional conferences on vermiculture were held in 1997, supported by the Australian Worm Growers Association and the New Zealand Earthworm Association. The vermicomposting methodologies described by Clive Edwards of Ohio State University ranged from low technology methods, through improved wedge systems of vermicompost production, to high technology systems with completely automated continuous flow reactors, each capable of processing more than 1,000 tons of waste per year. The earthworm growers in Australia are producing a wide range of products, varying considerably in characteristics and performance.

Farrell, M. (1997) Growing worms with food residuals. BioCycle, 38 (7): 65-66.

Abstract: Worms at Flying Heart Farm are grown in a mixture of restaurant residuals and composted wood chips, manure, and yard trimmings that have been run through a chipper. The worms consume about 800 pounds per week. Every 4 days, 2 inches of food residuals are laid out over the worms and covered with 3 inches of compost which is first screened with a trommel. It takes 8 months for a row to get to the proper height for harvesting. The operation uses an electric, self-propelled harvester that straddles a row to collect and separate worms, worm eggs, and castings. In addition to selling worms wholesale, the farm has other ventures including retail sales of worm castings and worms, giving educational and technical tours, and establishing vermiculture programs at elementary schools.

Frankel, S.Z. and Boggess, J. (1997) Restaurants/food co-op plan a vermiprocessing demonstration site. Worm Digest, 16: 8-9.

Comment: A demonstration trial on mid-scale vermicomposting utilising the vermiculture ecotechnology method and an OSCR vermicomposting unit to treat food scrapes from 2 restaurants and a food co-op. This article discusses the project design.

Frankel, S.Z. and Boggess, J. (1998) Vermiprocessing demonstration site. Worm Digest, 17: 8-9.

Comment: As above. This article is an update on progress.

Ghosh, M., Chattopadhyay, G.N. and Baral, K. (1999) Transformation of phosphorus during vermicomposting. Bioresource Technology, 69(2): 149-154.

Abstract: In view of the growing awareness about vermicomposting technology in recycling a wide range of organic wastes, the behaviour of phosphorus during mineralization of different organic wastes in the absence and presence of epigeic earthworms was studied. The magnitude of the transformation of phosphorus from the organic to inorganic state, and thereby into available forms was found to be considerably higher in the case of earthworm-inoculated organic wastes, showing that vermicomposting may prove to be an efficient technology for providing better P nutrition from different organic wastes. The transformation of P into three

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major inorganically bound forms; Al-P, Fe-P and Ca-P also tended to change substantially during the process of vermicomposting.

Hand, P. (1988) Earthworm biotechnology (vermicomposting). In Resources and Applications of Biotechnology: the new wave (ed. R. Greenshields). MacMillan: London.

Abstract: Vermicomposting systems and the actual and potential application of earthworms in other areas are discussed. Applications in sewage sludges and agricultural and industrial wastes, products of vermicomposting and economics are covered.

Holcombe, D. and Longfellow, J.J. (1995) Oregon Soil Corporation Reactor: blueprint for a successful vermiculture compost system. Oregon Soil Corporation: Eugene, Oregon.

Comment: Design specifications for the mid-scale "OSCR" vermicomposting unit.

Jensen, J. (1998) The KISS plan for vermicomposting on modern dairy... horse... hobby or or farm. Worm Digest, 18: 1-3.

Comment: A description of vermicomposting management practices for on-site farm wastes (manures). This highlights the windrow vermicomposting system.

Kater, J. (1998) The Continuous Flow Worm Bed for On-site Organic Waste Management. Report of a project funded by the N.S.W. State Government as part of the Waste Reduction Grants Program. Green Waste Technology Unit, University of New South Wales: Sydney.

Comment: Profiles the potential of a prototype continuous flow mid-scale vermicomposting unit at the University of New South Wales' Green Waste Technology Unit. This unit was trialed using kitchen scraps off campus.

Natoli, J. (1996) Worming into the community. Worm Digest 13: 20-23.

Comment: The use of mid-scale vermicomposting units in schools in Victoria, Australia is identified.

Scott, S. (1998) Enterprise Bargaining - too far? Press Release by The Worm Network, 17th September, 1998.

Comment: The Worm Network's mid-scale vermicomposting tray system. Some basic details.

Snel, M. (1999) India: community-based vermicomposting in developing countries. BioCycle, 40 (4): 75-76.

Abstract: Two innovative vermicomposting projects have been developed in Hyderbad - the sixth largest city in India. One pilot has led to a series of small vermicomposting sites around the city, while another is a larger project next to a fruit and vegetable market on the city's outskirts. Both approaches can be applicable for managing specific fractions of the urban waste stream in developing countries. The economic objectives of the pilot study include establishing a house-to-house collection scheme with the help of waste collectors.

Slocum, K. (1999a) Worm composting system management. Worm Digest, 21: 16-18.

Comment: Identifies a range of vermicomposting systems in use and the "ideal" ways to manage these.

Subler, S. (1999) Interview with Dr. Scott Subler. Casting Call, 4 (3): 4-8.

Comment: Clive Edwards discusses in some detail the continuous flow vermicomposting system, its design and management issues and some key aspects concerning vermicomposting processes.

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11.3.3 Vermiculture Organics Processing Research

Albanell E., Plaixats, J. and Cabrero, T. (1988) Chemical changes during vermicomposting Eisenia-foetida of sheep manure mixed with cotton industrial wastes. Biology & Fertility of Soils, 6 (3): 266-269.

Abstract: Castings of Eisenia foetida from sheep manure alone and mixed with cotton wastes were analyzed for their properties and chemical composition every 2 weeks for 3 months and compared with the same manures in the absence of earthworms. The results showed that earthworms accelerated the mineralization rate and converted the manures into castings with a higher nutritional value and degrees of humification. The castings obtained from manure mixed with cotton wastes exhibited good agronomic quality, suggesting that this kind of industrial residue may be used in vermicomposting.

Allievi, L., Citterio, B. and Ferrari, A. (1987) Vermicomposting of rabbit manure: Modifications of microflora. Compost Production, Quality and Use,

Abstract: In order to study the modification of microflora during vermicomposting the authors first determined the number of microorganisms of the various groups, during and after the process carried out on rabbit manure, on full-scale, in a small earthworm farm, comparing it with those resulting from a parallel spontaneous maturation process of the same material. During the preliminary maturation process, before vermicomposting in order to render the material tolerable for earthworms, important changes, such as decrease in counts, were observed. The substantial decrease of fecal bacteria almost totally limited to this stage is particularly important.

Applehof, M. (ed.) (1981) Workshop on the Role of Earthworms in the Stabilisation of Organic Residues. Vol.1, Proceedings. Beech Leaf Press: Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Comment: Proceedings of a workshop.

Athanasopoulos, N. (1993) Use of earthworm biotechnology for the management of anaerobically stabilized effluents of dried vine fruit industry. Biotechnology Letters, 15(12): 1281-1286.

Abstract: Anaerobically stabilized effluents of dried vine fruit industry were successfully treated in earthworm filters. The species L. rubelus was used. At COD loadings of up to 0.2 Kg COD/m-2d the reactors responded well for an operation period of 15 months when experiments ceased. COD removal was 95% for loadings of 0.10 and 0.15 Kg COD/m-2d. Earthworm biomass seems to be in its upper bearing capacity of approximately 2 Kg/m-2 and did not increase seriously with time. Temperature change did not have any counter effect on the process.

Balasubramanian P.R. and Bai R Kasturi (1995) Recycling of cattle dung, biogas planteffluent and water hyacinth in vermiculture. Bioresource Technology. 52(1): 85-87

Abstract: The efficiency of recycling cattle dung, anaerobically digested cattle dung (biogas plant-effluent) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) by culture of the earthworm Megascolex sp. was studied. The growth of the earthworms was increased by 156, 148 and 119% in soil supplemented with water hyacinth, cattle dung and biogas plant-effluent, respectively. The growth rate of the earthworms was increased significantly by raw cattle dung and water hyacinth over that by biodigested slurry.

Benitez, E., Nogales, R., Elvira, C., Masciandaro, G. and Ceccanti, B. (1999) Enzyme and earthworm activities during vermicomposting of carbaryl-treated sewage sludge. Journal of Environmental Quality, 28(4): 1099-1104.

Abstract: The feasibility of vermicomposting pesticide contaminated refuses was evaluated. A mixture of sewage sludges was amended, at a ratio of 1:1 (v/v), with a garden refuse artificially contaminated with carbaryl, a carbamate insecticide commonly used in farming and gardening. Ten clitellated earthworms were then

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placed in this material. We determined the evolution of earthworm (Eisenia foetida, Savigny) biomass and changes in enzyme activities during an 18-wk period of sewage sludge vermicomposting. The carbaryl produced a chronically toxic effect on the earthworms, measured by weight gain and sexual maturity. The growth was slower in the presence of pesticide. In addition, carbaryl treatments showed inhibited enzyme activity in the first weeks of the vermicomposting process, slowing down organic matter biodegradation. The dynamics of the vermicomposting process can be followed by combining easily detectable parameters related to the global microbial metabolism: a traditional chemical (water-soluble C/water-soluble N) and biochemical (dehydrogenase activity/water-soluble C) index, were calculated. In particular, this last seemed more useful in characterizing the vermicomposting process even a longer maturation time (10-18 wk).

Benitez, E., Nogales, R., Elvira, C., Masciandaro, G. and Ceccanti, B. (1999) Enzyme activities as indicators of the stabilization of sewage sludges composting with Eisenia foetida. Bioresource Technology, 67(3): 297-303.

Abstract: Evolution of earthworm (Eisenia foetida, Savigny) biomass and changes in enzyme activities during 18 weeks of sewage sludge vermicomposting were studied. With time, hydrolase (beta-glucosidase, urease, BAA-hydrolysing protease and phosphatase) and dehydrogenase (DH-ase) activities decreased as available organic compounds (water-soluble carbon) decreased. A high correlation among all enzyme activities and between each activity and the water-soluble carbon (WSC) led to the conclusion that both hydrolytic and dehydrogenase activities could be feasible indicators of the state and evolution of the organic matter. The 'potential metabolic index' (DH-ase/WSC) enabled distinguishing between hydrolytic and maturation phases in a sewage sludge vermicomposting process.

Butt, K.R. (1993) Utilisation of solid paper-mill sludge and spent brewery yeast as a feed for soil-dwelling earthworms. Bioresource Technology, 44: 105-107.

Abstract: The potential for using paper-mill sludge enhanced with spent yeast from the brewing industry as feedstock for soil-dwelling earthworms was investigated. Using one such feed comprizing a 66:1 mixture, by mass, of wet paper waste and dry yeast extract, the lob worm (Lumbricus terrestris) was grown from the hatchling stage (50 mg) to maturity (3-4 g) within 90 d, with an acceptably low level of mortality. These large earthworms have potential value as agents in soil amelioration projects if they can be reared intensively, thus their utilization may be encouraged by using the type of superior feed described.

Carlile, W.R. and Wilson, D.P. (1993) Microbial activity in media containing wormworked duck waste. Acta-Horticulturae, 342: 1-13.

Abstract: Enhanced growth of horticultural species was observed in media containing worm worked duck waste as a nutrient source. This enhanced growth could be due to the release of nutrients by microbial activity in the media. Microbial activity was monitored in peat media containing varying proportions of WWDW. Activity was primarily measured by determination of CO2 evolution from media. Microbial activity was greater in media containing WWDW than in media containing inorganic sources of nutrients, and was directly proportional to the amount of WWDW in the media. No direct correlation was evident between microbial activity and the availability of major plant nutrients in WWDW amended media, although available nitratenitrogen levels increased slightly during storage.

Ceccanti, B. and Masciandaro, G. (1999) Researchers study vermicomposting of municipal and papermill sludges. BioCycle, 40 (6): 71-72.

Abstract: To evaluate the potential of vermicomposting as an economical/environmental alternative in sludge management, pilot and field scale tests were conducted at the CNR Instituto per la Chimica del Terreno in Pisa, Italy. The work dealt with the feasibility of transforming problematic wastes through the action of worms and the agronomic value of the vermicompost. The vermicompost produced is a high quality humic product to be used in the field as a soil organic amendment. At the present time, an industrial plant to process sludges through earthworms is being planned by a company in Lucca, Tuscany in central Italy.

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Cegarra, J. Fernandez, F.M. Tercero, A. and Roig, A. (1994) Effects of vermicomposting on some components of organic wastes: Preliminary results. Mitteilungen aus dem Hamburgischen Zoologischen Museum und Institut, 89 (SUPPL. 2): 159-167.

Abstract: Rabbit manure (M), M with 50% of city refuse (M + CR) and M with 10% of ferric phosphate (M + Ph) were left to transform with and without worms (W) (Eisenia foetida). Ash, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metal contents along with conductivity and pH were determined every month, (T). During the first three months, the W-effect was significant on ash for M + CR and C + Ph, on total organic carbon for M and M + Ph, on 0.1N KOH extractable carbon (C-ex) and hydrosoluble carbon (Ch) for M, on fulvic acid carbon (C-fa) for M + CR, on phosphorus for M + Ph and on pH for M + CR. The T-effect was also significant on all the parameters studied, except on C-ex for M and M + Ph and on C-fa for M+Ph. The W x T effect was significant on ash and C-fa for M + CR, on C-t and nitrogen for M, on pH for M and M + CR and on the conductivity also for M + CR and M + Ph. Solubility of heavy metals (Fe, Cu, Mn and Zn) in hydrosoluble fractions was lower, in generalterms, than in 0.1N KOH extractable fractions and fulvic acids. No very important changes in the solubility were observed along the time. Distribution of different metals in both fractions, humic and fulvic acids, depended upon the metal and the time. A slight increase of polymerization degree of humic substances along with a decrease of ammonium-N and an increase of nitric-N were also detected during the vermicomposting process.

Chan, P.L.S. and Griffiths, D.A. (1988) The vermicomposting of pre-treated pig manure. Biological Wastes, 24: 57-69.

Abstract: This paper reports the results of a study of vermicomposting of pre-treated pig manure in Hong Kong using the earthworm Eisenia foetida. Pig manure was first composted, supplemented with 4% calcium sulphate and then washed before feeding to worms. Worms fed untreated pig manure died within 24 h. Worms castings had a stimulating effect on the growth of Glycine max (soybean), with an increase in root length, lateral root number, shoot length, and internodal length of seedling plants. Local fish fed on boiled worm biomass tissue extracted with isopropanol, ethanol or isobutanol did not die. The boiling and solvent extraction are necessary to enhance the storage of worms. The results showed that fecund earthworm species, such as Eisenia foetida are suitable agents for biorecycling pre-treated pig manure; the worms grow rapidly and produce a humus-rich worm-cast which is odor-free.

Edwards, C.A. (1988) Breakdown of animal, vegetable and industrial organic wastes by earthworms. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Comment: Summary of research undertaken at Rothamstead Experimental Research Station, U.K. with particular attention to the suitability of Eisenia fetida to treat a range of agricultural wastes and some vegetable wastes. The source of these wastes include: pig; cattle; horse; chicken; duck; turkey; rabbit; mushroom compost; processed potato waste; spent brewery yeast; and, paper pulp. An overview of the optimum environmental conditions for this species is presented. Some data on growth, reproduction and population dynamics is presented. Touches on a comparison between vermicomposting systems for breeding earthworms.

Edwards, C.A. (1998) The use of earthworms in the breakdown and management of organic wastes. In Earthworm Ecology (ed., C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida.

Comment: Key note paper presented at ISEE 5. An updated overview into the state of play for vermiculture, and vermicomposting in particular, with much reference to Edwards earlier work.

Edwards, C.A., Burrows, I., Fletcher, K.E. and Jones, B.A. (1985) The use of earthworms for composting farm wastes. In Composting of Agricultural and Other Wastes (ed. J.K.R. Gasser). Elsevier Publications: Amsterdam.

Comment: An earlier study with more detailed data than the 1988 overview, above.

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Elvira, C., Goicoechea, M., Sampedro, L., Mato, S. and Nogales, R. (1996b) Bioconversion of solid paper-pulp mill sludge by earthworms. Bioresource Technology, 57: 173-177.

Abstract: Bioconversion of solid paper-pulp mill sludges and primary sewage sludge for 40 days at a ratio of 3:1 dw.dw was studied in containers with and without earthworms (Eisenia andrei). This mixture was a suitable medium for optimum growth and reproduction of the earthworms. Regardless of the presence of earthworms, degradation occurred during the bioconversion period, but the presence of earthworms accelerated the mineralization of organic matter, favored the breakdown of structural polysaccharides and increased the humification rate. Consequently, the C/N ratio and the degree of extractability of heavy metals were lower in the worm-worked end product.

Elvira, C., Sampedro, L., Dominguez, J. and Mato, S. (1997) Vermicomposting of wastewater sludge from paper-pulp industry with nitrogen rich materials. Soil-Biologyand-Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 759-762.

Abstract: The vermicomposting of pulp mill sludge mixed with sewage sludge, pig slurry and poultry slurry at different ratios was studied. Eisenia andrei (Bouche, 1972) showed high growth rates and high mortalities in all the mixtures considered.

Elvira, C., Sampedro, L., Benitez, E. and Nogales, R. (1998) Vermicomposting of sludge from paper mill and dairy industries with Eisenia andrei: a pilot-scale study. Bioresource Technology, 63: 205-211.

Abstract: We studied vermicomposting with Eisenia andrei of sludges from a paper mill mixed with cattle manure in a six-month pilot-scale experiment. Initially, a small-scale laboratory experiment was carried out to determine the growth and reproduction rates of earthworms in the different substrates tested. In the pilotscale experiment, the number of earthworms increased between 22- and 36-fold and total biomass increased between 2.2- and 3.9-fold. The vermicomposts were rich in nitrogen and phosphorus and had good structure, low levels of heavy metals, low conductivity, high humic acid contents and good stability and maturity. These sludges could be potentially useful raw substrates in larger commercial vermicomposting systems, and would reduce the costs related with the exclusive use of different types of farm wastes as feed for earthworms.

Frederickson, J., Butt, K.R., Morris, R.M. and Daniel, C. (1997) Combining vermiculture with traditional green waste composting systems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 725-730.

Abstract: Freshly-shredded green waste (yard waste) was composted for 16 weeks using a mechanically-turned windrow system. The rate of organic matter stabilisation was determined by measuring the reduction in the volatile solids content of the waste. Samples of the fresh material were also vermicomposted using Eisenia andrei (Bouche) and rates of growth and reproduction obtained which were comparable to published rates for other wastes. Vermicomposting for 8 weeks produced a material with a significantly lower volatile solids content compared to composting for a similar period (P < 0.01). A combined composting and vermicomposting system was investigated by extracting partially-composted samples from the compost windrow every 2 weeks and feeding these to E. andrei. Growth and reproduction were found to be positively correlated to the volatile solids content of the waste (P < 0.01). Vermicomposting partially composted waste (2 weeks), for a further 6 weeks, reduced volatile solids content significantly more than for composting fresh waste for 8 weeks (P < 0.001). It is concluded that E. andrei is capable of attaining good rates of growth and reproduction in fresh green waste and that vermicomposting can result in a more stable material (lower volatile solids content) compared to composting. Combining vermicomposting with existing composting operations can also accelerate stabilisation compared to composting alone. The duration of pre-composting will determine the subsequent rate of growth and reproduction of E. andrei. To ensure that the vermicomposting system operates at maximum efficiency, pre-composting should be kept to a minimum, consistent with effective sanitisation of the waste.

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Gandhi, M., Sangwan, V., Kapoor, K.K. and Dilbaghi, N. (1997) Composting of household wastes with and without earthworms. Environment-and-Ecology, 15 (2): 432-434.

Abstract: The composting of household waste by a traditional indian composting procedure was compared to vermicomposting in order to select a more efficient method of composting. Vermicomposting converted household waste into compost within 30 days, narrowed the C/N ratio and retained more N than traditional methods.

Greenscene, (no date) Report on the Patchetts Pies Vermicomposting Trial. Unpublished report for the Southern Sydney Waste Board, NSW. Greenscene Australia: Avalon, NSW.

Comment: Results of an unsuccessful vermicomposting trial on fatty pork pie pastries, in Sydney, Australia.

Gunathilagaraj, K. and Ravignanam, T. (1996) Vermicomposting of sericultural wastes. Madras Agricultural Journal, 83 (7): 455-457.

Abstract: Vermicomposting of sericultural wastes was studied in the laboratory during 1995 using Perionyx excavatus. Vermicomposting increased the N content of mulberry [Morus indica] leaf litter and silkworm larval litter. P content was increased in cow dung and sericultural wastes by vermicomposting. It also enhanced the K, Mn, Zn and Fe content of the mulberry leaf litter.

Haimi, J. and Huhta, V. (1986) Capacity of various organic residues to support adequate earthworm biomass for vermicomposting. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 2: 23-27.

Abstract: The potential of different kinds and combinations of wastes to support the biomass of Eisenia fetida capable of processing a given amount of waste in a period of ca. 1 month was tested. Mixed miscellaneous wastes and activated sewage sludge mixed with or embedded in sieved pine bark was capable of maintaining the required biomass for a long period. Wastes were converted into odourless castings of good physical structure, provided that a sufficient population was present from the beginning and fresh waste was added regularly. A horizontally working "worm bed compost" was designed to replace the usual "load-on-top" arrangement.

Haimi, J. and Huhta, V. (1988) Comparison of composts produced from identical wastes by "vermistabilisation" and conventional composting. Pedobiologia, 30: 137-144.

Abstract: The aim of the study was to make out what is the effect of the earthworm Eisenia foetida (Sav.) s.l. on decomposing organic residues, (1) when identical waste materials were kept with and without worms at room temperature, and (2) when identical materials were stabilized with worms at room temperature, or composted outdoors with conventional methods. Several characters of the resulting composts were measured. Miscellaneous wastes or sewage sludge added with pine bark were used as test materials. CO2 production in fresh sludge + bark was monitored. Provided the initial biomass was sufficient, worms were able to process the waste in a period of one month, producing a homogeneous mass of castings. A wormless sludge + bark mixture in the laboaratory remained in a compact clump, whilke a well managed garden compost was considered humidified and aerated in three months. Physical and chemical analyses revealed only minor differences between worm-worked and wormless wastes: thus "vermicompost" could be considered superior to ordinary compost only with regard to its physical structure.

Hand, P., Hayes, W.A., Satchell, J.E. and Frankland, J.C. (1988) The vermicomposting of cow slurry. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Abstract: The suitability of cow slurry as a substrate for vermicomposting by Eisenia fetida was investigated. Particular attention was given to the effects of the earthworm on the decomposition and stabilization of the slurry, and to the interactions between E. fetida and the microflora of the substrate. A comparison of two methods of vermicomposting showed that top-feeding of slurry was more efficient in promoting earthworm growth and

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cocoon production than the mixing of slurry with solid materials. Paper tissue waste was more effective as a bedding material than peat or soil. The presence of E. fetida increased the nitrate-nitrogen content of the substrate, but had no significant effects upon the other chemical and microbial constituents measured. Specific nutritional interactions were observed between E. fetida and micro-organisms. The earthworms were found to be feeding directly upon the cells of certain micro-organisms. Other species were found to be toxic to E. fetida. The seeding of vermiculture beds with the bacterium Acinetobacter calcoaceticus stimulated earthworm growth and consumption of the substrate.

Hartenstein, R. (ed.) (1978) Utilization of Soil Organisms in Sludge Management. National Technology Information Service: Springfield, Virginia.

Comment: Proceedings of a seminar, highlighting research into the use of compost worms for the treatment of sewage sludge.

Lotzof, M. (1998) Successful biosolids benefication with Vermitech's large-scale commercial vermiculture facility in Redlands. Waste Disposal and Water Management in Australia Sept/Oct: 3-13.

Abstract: The success of a large-scale commercial vermiculture facility that can process large quantities of waste weekly is reported on in this article. The Vermitech operation in Redlands, Queensland, has developed a cost-effective system that can consistently stabilise a large range of organic wastes on a large commercial scale.

Mitchell, A. (1997) Production of Eisenia fetida and vermicompost from feed-lot cattle manure. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 763-766.

Abstract: Significant reductions in total mass of feedlot cattle manure were obtained by the intensive activity of earthworms. The process yielded two products: residual vermicompost, and an increase in earthworm biomass. The most successful manure application was to a vertical surface, and this resulted in a reduction of 30% of the initial manure (dry) mass and the production of live earthworms to 4.9% of the initial manure mass (dry weight). The increase in earthworm biomass represented extraction of, respectively 7, 18, 7 and 2% of initial total carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus from the manure. The production of vermicompost from manure resulted in a pH shift toward neutral, a reduction in electrical conductivity, large increases in oxidation potential, and significant reductions in water soluble chemical species, which constitute possible environmental contaminants (A).

Neuhauser, E.F., Loehr, R.C. and Malecki, M.R. (1988) The potential of earthworms for managing sewage sludge. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Comment: Describes research engaged to identify the fundamental factors that affect the performance of the vermistabilisation process and determine design and management relationships for earthworms in manageing the treatment of sewage sludge. This study utilised five composting worm species: Eisenia fetida; Dendrobaena veneta; Eudrilus eugeniae; Perionyx excavatus; and, Perionyx hawayana. E. fetida had the highest reproductive rate, where reproduction and biomass increase are used to indicate suitability for sludge management.

Nogales, R., Thompson, R., Calmet, A., Benitez, E., Gomez, M. and Elvira, C. (1998) Feasibility of vermicomposting residues from olive oil production obtained using two stage centrifugation. Journal of Environmental Science & Health Part AToxic/Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering, 33(7): 1491-1506.

Abstract: A laboratory study was undertaken to examine the feasibility of using vermicomposting to stabilize the waste product - dry olive cake, for use as a soil amendment. Dry olive cake (C) is obtained from a new two stage centrifugation process used to extract olive oil from olives. Cattle manure (M) was examined as a comparison and as a co-composting agent. Anaerobic sewage sludge (ANS) and aerobic sewage sludge (AES) were also assessed as co-composting agents. Different ratios of cake to cocomposting agent were

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examined. The C:N ratios of the initial materials used were: C: 49, M: 14, ANS: 4 and AES: 8. Earthworm (Eisenia andrei) growth, clitellum development and cocoon production were monitored over 35 days. Dry olive cake alone was an inadequate substrate for vermicomposting on account of slow earthworm growth and infertility. The addition of manure or either sludge to the dry olive cake at certain ratios enhanced worm growth and reproduction so they were generally similar to that in the manure only. The most effective ratios were: C:M of 2:1 and 1:1, C:ANS of 16:1, 12:1 and 8:1, and C:AES of 16:1 and 12:1. Vermicomposting for 35 days reduced the dry weight of the substrates by 21-28%, and appreciably decreased their C:N. All final products had low contents of heavy metals. This study demonstrated that dry olive cake is a suitable medium for vermicomposting when combined with N rich materials such as cattle manure and sewage sludge in appropriate ratios.

Nogales, R., Elvira, C., Benitez, E., Thompson, R. and Gomez, M. (1999) Feasibility of vermicomposting dairy biosolids using a modified system to avoid earthworm mortality. Journal of Environmental Science & Health - Part B: Pesticides, Food Contaminants, & Agricultural Wastes, 34(1): 151-169.

Abstract: A laboratory study was conducted to examine the feasibility of vermicomposting dairy biosolids (dairy sludge), either alone or with either of the bulking agents - cereal straw or wood shavings, using the epigeic earthworm - Eisinea andrei. Earthworms added directly to these three substrates died within 48 hours. A system was developed to overcome the toxic effect of unprocessed dairy biosolids. The substrates were placed over a layer of vermicomposted sheep manure into which the earthworms were inoculated. Within two weeks, all earthworms were within the upper layer of substrate. Compared to sheep manure which is a favourable substrate for vermicomposting, the three substrates containing dairy biosolids were more effective in supporting earthworm growth and reproduction. The final products obtained after 63 days of vermicomposting had 39-53% less organic carbon than the initial substrates. Organic fractionation indicated that vermicomposting increased the stability of the materials to biological decomposition. The vermicomposts obtained from the three substrates with dairy biosolids had low heavy metal contents and electrical conductivities, and did not inhibit plant growth when compared with a commercial vermicompost in a bioassay.

Orozco, F.H., Cegarra J., Trujillo, L.M. and Roig, A. (1996) Vermicomposting of coffee pulp using the earthworm Eisenia fetida: Effects on C and N contents and the availability of nutrients. Biology & Fertility of Soils, 22(1-2): 162-166.

Abstract: In Colombia, more than 1 million tons of coffee pulp are produced every year. Its transformation into compost by means of turned piles has led to a final product with poor physical and chemical characteristics and vermicomposting has been suggested as an alternative method of transforming these wastes into a useful organic fertilizer. The ability of the earthworm Eisenia fetida to transform coffee pulp into a valuable compost was evaluated. The influence of bed depth and time on different C fractions, N content and availability of nutrients was studied. The results showed that the C and N contents were not affected by the depth of the bed, whereas time affected both. An increase in the fractionation ratio, determined by calculating the C in the fraction smaller than 100 mu as a percentage of C in the samples as a whole, and low values of humic-like substances were recorded during vermicomposting. After ingestion of the pulp by the earthworms, an increase in available P, Ca, and Mg but a decrease in K were detected.

Scarborough, J. (1999) BioGreen Castings: scientifically assessing the merits of vermicomposting biosolid and green waste mixes. Unpublished report for The Wast Challenge, EPA, NSW. Bathurst City Council, NSW.

Comment: Results of a successful trial to treat biosolids and green waste (chipped yard waste). Utilised batching mid-scale vermicomposting units. Resultant vermicompost & liquid carried no risk of pathogens, viruses or parasites, and a minimal accumulation of contaminants. Vermicomposting recommended over composting. Recommended mix of 55-60% biosolids to 45-40% chipped green waste.

Shanthi, N.R., Bhoyar, R.V. and Bhide, A.D. (1993) Vermicomposting of vegetable waste. Compost Science & Utilization, 1(4): 27-30.


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Vermicomposting is the degradation of organic waste through earthworm consumption, which converts the material into worm castings. Vermicomposting of vegetable waste was examined in order to identify suitable worm species and efficient levels of temperature and moisture. Laboratory experiments were conducted under controlled conditions using commonly available species: Pheretima sp.; Eisenia sp. and P. excavatus. Worms survived in the moisture range of 20-80 percent and the temperature range of 20 degree -40 degree C. Worm survival in decomposed and undecomposed organic wastes was also studied. Trials indicate that P. excavatus is the appropriate species for vegetable waste vermicomposting.

Sharma, S., Mathur, R.C. and Vasudevan, P. (1999) Composting silkworm culture waste. Compost Science & Utilization, 7(2): 74-81.

Abstract: To evaluate the usefulness of sericulture (silkworm culture) waste (silkworms ejected feces litter) for composting with other mixed plant residues and for raising earthworms Eisenia foetida, composting was done by aerobic (pit), anaerobic and vermicomposting processes. The litter proved to be as good for composting the mixed plant residues as cow dung and was also found to be the best feedstock to raise Eisenia foetida. Vermicomposted sericulture litter significantly enhanced the growth of mulberry varieties S146, K-2 and Mandley over other treatments.

Tamayo, V.A., Jaramillo, N.J. and Mazo, Q.J. (1997) Quality assessment of 16 vermicomposted vegetable residues. Actualidades-Corpoica, 11 (109): 7-12.

Abstract: Composts obtained from mixtures of lettuces-broccoli, lettuces-cauliflowers or cabbages-cauliflowers contained the highest amounts of organic matter, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn and B and had pH values ranging between 6.0 and 7.6. The largest earthworms populations were observed in compost mixtures including lettuces.

Werner, M. (1997) Earthworms team up with yard trimmings in orchard. BioCycle, 38 (6): 64-65.

Abstract: Anecic earthworms have vertical burrows that go deep into the soil. The worms come to the surface to drag organic matter below ground. A common example is the nightcrawler. Under a demonstration project at the Betty Van Dyke ranch funded by the California Integrated Waste Management Board to demonstrate various uses of municipal organics in commercial agriculture, a 5-inch thick layer of yard trimmings mulch, screened to pass a 3-inch mesh, was applied in September 1995. Eight orchard blocks had mulch applied, and in 4 of these blocks, inoculative releases of nightcrawlers were made in January 1996. Releases were also made in 4 unmulched orchard blocks. The mulch had a very beneficial effect on earthworms, whose numbers more than doubled in mulched plots relative to unmulched controls.

White, S. (1995) Vermifiltration of sewage. Worm Digest, 8: 10-11.

Comment: Article that identifies the use of the "Vermiculture Ecotechnology" method for the treatment of household and industrial sewage. Different sized system as appropriate.

Wong, S.H. and Griffiths, D.A. (1991) Vermicomposting in the management of pig-waste in Hong Kong. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, 7: 593-597.

Abstract: The treatment and disposal of pig-waste in Hong Kong has received much attention in recent years but, following any of the presently used treatment processes, solids remain to be further stabilized. Vermicomposting is a waste stabilization technique which converts waste into potentially recyclable materials such as worm protein and worm casts. The earthworm, Pheretima asiatica, can stabilize most of the solids arising from the treatment of pig-waste, including raw pig manure, suggesting that vermicomposting has a high potential as a unit process in the managment of pig-waste in Hong Kong.

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11.3.4 Worm Farming (Domestic & Commercial)

Applehof, M. (1997) Worms Eat My Garbage. Flower Press: Kalamazoo, Michigan. Applehof, M., Fenton, M.F. and Harris, B.L. (1993) Worms Eat Our Garbage: classroom activities for a better environment. Flower Press: Kalamazoo, Michigan. Boggess, J. and Frankel, S.Z. (1997) The art of small-scale vermicomposting and vermiculture ecotechnology. Worm Digest, 16: 24-25. Brown, A. (1994) Earthworms Unlimited: backyard earthworm breeding. Kangaroo Press: Kenthurst, NSW. Christenson, C. and McLachlan, S. (1994) The Reln Worm Factory Education Booklet: primary school. Reln Pty. Ltd. Edwards, C.A. and Neiderer, A. (1988) The production and processing of earthworm protein. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Grossman, S.C. and Weitzel, M.T. (1997) Recycle With Earthworms: the red wriggler connection. Shields Publications: Eagle River, Wisconson. Lambert, D. (1994) Earthworm Breeding for Profit: practical production and marketing of earthworms in Australia and New Zealand. David Lambert: Naremburn, NSW. Murphy, D. (1993) Earthworms in Australia: a blueprint for a better environment. Hyland House: South Melbourne. Payne, B. (1999) The Worm Café: mid-scale vermicomposting of lunchroom wastes - a manual for schools, small businesses, and community groups. Flower Press: Kalamazoo, Michigan. Petit, J.M. (1996) Getting Started in Commercial Worm Farming. Jacky M. Petit: Wandi, WA. Sabine, J.R. (1988) Earthworms as animal feed: an overview. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Slocum, K. (1998) Myriad worms: choosing the right one for the job. Worm Digest, 19: 1, 19-21. Slocum, K. and Frankel, S.Z. (1998) The art of small-scale vermicomposting. Worm Digest, 21. Stafford, E.A. and Tacon, A.G.J. (1988) The use of earthworms as a food for rainbow trout Salmo gairdneri. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Wilson, E. (1999) Worm Farm Management: practices, principles, procedures. Kangaroo Press: Sydney, Australia. Windust, A. (1994) Worms Downunder Downunder: for farm, garden, schools, profit and recycling. Allscape: Mandurang, Vic. Windust, A. (1997) Worm Farming Made Simple. Allscape: Mandurang, Vic.

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11.3.5 Farming with Worms (agroecosystems, plant growth, potting mixes, etc)

Acharya, M.S. (1997) Integrated vermiculture for rural development. International Journal of Rural Studies, 4 (1): 8-10.

ABSTRACT: The paper describes the development and organization of vermiculture composting (the use of worms) in India. It is argued that this will not only improve soil fertility and water retention, but will reduce the outlay on chemical fertilizers. Integrated vermiculture produces compost, but also vegetable vines (gourds, cucumbers, beans etc), as these are grown on the outside of the sheds where the worms live. Issues discussed are: earthworms and their habitat (epegeic type, endogeic type, and diogeic type); nutrients in vermicompost; production techniques; and the use of vermicompost.

Baker, G.H. (1998) The ecology, management, and benefits of earthworms in agricultural soils, with particular reference to southern Australia. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Buckerfield, J.C. and Webster, K.A. (1998) Worm-worked waste boosts grape yields: Prospects for vermicompost use in vineyards. Australian-and-New-Zealand-WineIndustry-Journal, 13 (1): 73-76.

Abstract: In field trials in 2 South Australian vineyards, surface applications of vermicompost derived from grape marc, spread under the vines and covered with a straw or paper mulch, increased the yield of Pinot Noir by 55%. At a second site, there was an obvious response to increasing rates of worm-worked animal manures under a straw mulch, with the highest rate of vermicompost (20 litres/m2) producing yields of Chardonnay 34% higher than normal vineyard practice. Yields with either straw, paper, marc, manure or vermicompost alone did not differ significantly from the untreated control. Yield responses at the first site would have provided a substantial return after the first season. At the other site, the additional yield would not reimburse the cost of materials and spreading, and economic returns would rely on residual effects in a subsequent harvest.

Curry, J.P. (1998) Factors affecting earthworm abundance in soils. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Donald, D.G.M. and Visser, L.B. (1989) Vermicompost as a possible growth medium for the production of commercial forest nursery stock. Applied Plant Science, 3 (2): 110113.

Abstract: Seedlings of Acacia mearnsii, Eucalyptus grandis and Pinus patula were grown in pure pine bark compost, pure vermicompost (abattoir waste reduced by worms), and 5 mixtures of pine bark and vermicompost. Assessment at 26 wk showed that survival and growth of A. mearnsii were significantly reduced by vermicompost. E. grandis grew equally well in pure pine bark and the 1:1 mixture. Survival of P. patula was not affected by vermicompost but growth was reduced. All 3 species required the addition of inorganic fertilizers for satisfactory growth, regardless of the compost mixture used.

Edwards, C.A. and Burrows, I. (1988) The potential of earthworm compost as plant growth media. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Edwards, C.A. and Shipitalo, M.J. (1998) Consequences of earthworms in agricultural soils: aggregation and porosity. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Handreck, K.A. (1986) Vermicomposts as components of potting media. BioCycle, 27 (9): 58-62.

Abstract: Seven vermicomposts produced by the action of worms on sheep manure, dairy manure, poultry manure, a mixture of wastes (underfelt, lawn clippings etc.), kitchen scraps, another mixture (carboard, wheat, meat

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etc.) and piggery solids were mixed at a rate of 30% by vol with a potting medium base (ground pine bark + sand, 4:1 by vol). These mixes were treated by acidification and/or the addition of various combinations of N, P, K, S and trace elements as basal fertilizer or in the watering solution. Matthiola incana (stocks) were grown in pots of the mixes. The growth of the plants and nutrient concentrations in the mixes and plants indicated that a vermicompost will supply the full requirements for trace elements and P, and will probably supply initial requirements for K and S, but will provide little or no N. There is a danger of toxicity from high levels of trace elements such as Zn, Cu and Mn.

Hendrix, P.F. (ed.) (1995) Ecology and Biogeography of Earthworms in North America. Lewis Publishers: Boca Raton, Florida. Hendrix, P.F. (1998) Earthworms in Agroecosystems: a summary of current research. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Ismail, S. (1995) Earthworms in soil fertility management. Organic Agriculture (ed. P.K. Thampan), 77-100. Peekay Tree Crops Development Foundation: Cochin; India.

Abstract: Trophic and ecological classifications of earthworms are outlined. Of the three ecological varieties of earthworms, the epigeics and the anecics have been used in vermicomposting processes. The endogeic and anecic earthworms associate with free living soil bacteria to constitute the drilosphere. Vermicomposting processes are outlined. The vermicompost produced using different species of earthworms shows variations in nutrient composition. The influence of earthworms on soil physical properties (pedogenesis, water infiltration) and chemical properties (translocations of organic matter, vermicasts, soil nitrogen) is reviewed. The effects of earthworms on plant growth (paddy and sugarcane, vegetables and fruit) are considered.

Kale, R.D., Mallesh, B.C., Bano, K. and Bagyaraj, D.J. (1992) Influence of vermicompost application on the available macronutrients and selected microbial populations in a paddy field. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 24 (12):

Abstract: The possibility of reducing the use of chemical fertiliser by using vermicompost as organic fertiliser was tested on the summer crop of paddy variety "HAMSA". The control plot received the recommended dosage of farm yard manure and the chemical fertilisers. The experimental plot received half the recommended dosage of chemical fertilisers and the vermicompost. At the time of seed setting and 2 months after the harvest of the crop, the soil samples were analysed for total microbes, N-fixers, Actinomycetes and spore formers. The percent Mycorrhizal colonisation in the plant system was also assessed. Significant increase in the colonisation of these microbes in the experimental plot over the control plot was observed. It could be deduced that the vermicompost application has enhanced the activity of these selected microbes in the soil system. There was high level of Total N in the experimental plot which comparatively received less quantity of fertilisers.

Madan, M., Sharma, N., Bisaria, R. and Bhamidimarri, R. (1988) Recycling of organic wastes through vermicomposting and mushroom cultivation. Alternative Waste Treatment Systems, 132-141. Elsevier Applied Science Publishers: Barking, Essex, UK.

Abstract: In India wastes such as crop residues, cattle dung and urine, poultry waste, sawdust, household refuse and night soil are abundant. Use of these residues for vermicomposting and mushroom cultivation is discussed.

Masciandaro, G. et al. (1997) Soil agro-ecological management: fertirrigation and vermicompost treatments. Bioresource Technology, 59 (2/3): 199-206.

Abstract: Vermicompost from biological sludges and sewage effluent were used in an ecological strategy for the conservation of arable soils. A soil sampled in the south of Italy and sown with oats was used in experiments on: (1) direct incorporation of vermicompost into the soil (VC treatment) and (2) fertigation with sewage effluent mixed with humic substances extracted from vermicompost (IH treatment). Soil biochemical activities (dehydrogenase and BAA-protease) were greater under IH treatment, in which the humic substances stimulated soil metabolic activity. At the end of the experiments (one month) a phyto-test (with Lepidium sativum) was carried out on the treated soils; a growth index was calculated. A positive

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correlation (P<0.05) between chemical and biochemical parameters showed that soil productivity was affected by nutrients derived from organic matter mineralization.

Mba, C.C. (1996) Treated-cassava peel vermicomposts enhanced earthworm activities and cowpea growth in field plots. Resources Conservation & Recycling, 17(3): 219-26.

Abstract: The peels of bitter cassava (Manihot utilissima) root, a major source of food carbohydrate in the tropics, though rich in nutrients, form toxic wastes lethal to soil invertebrates and can inhibit root growth. Recent investigations highlighted the ability of the earthworm, Eudrilus eugeniae (Eug) to partially detoxify the toxic wastes, and transform the cassava peels into valuable vermicompost. Vermicomposting and field investigations set up to assess the impact of three agricultural wastes: poultry dropping (Capo), cowdung (Caco), and guava (Psidium guajava) leaves (Cag) on Eug's ability to vermicompost cassava peel (Cas) and the biofertilizer value of the vermicomposts produced, highlighted the beneficial effects of the waste treatments and the efficacy of the biofertilizers in field plots cropped with cowpea. Cag and Caco induced 55% and 64% greater Eug fecundity than Cas alone while (Capo) induced a 23% reduction, Caco also induced 39% greater Eug biomass in compost cages. In the cowpea field all vermicomposts treatments similarly enhanced earthworm surface cast production, but differed in their effects on the diversity of the earthworm species: Capo and Cag induced 2120% and 390% greater Irridodrillus spp. (earthworm) cast productions, while Cas depressed Irridodrillus surfaceactivity. Capo induced 34% reduction on Aggrotoreutus nyongii (earthworm spp.) activity relative to Cas, though the vermicomposts enhanced this earthworm activity relative to the control. Cowpea aerial biomass increased significantly fivefold, twofold, and 1.6-fold with Capo, Cas and Cag, over the untreated field plots. Soils CEC was enhanced with Cag, and available phosphorous increased twofold with Capo.

Mitchell, A. (1995) Earthworms in the management of agricultural. In The role of earthworms in agriculture and land management: National Workshop, 20-22 June 1993, Launceston Tasmania. Department of Primary Industry: Kings Meadows, TAS.

Abstract: Earthworms are able to reduce the impact of agricultural wastes on the environment by immobilizing much of the more microbially available components of such wastes as their own body tissue. Vermicomposting operations are either extractive or applicative processes. The extractive process involves the action of detritus feeding or composting earthworms followed by the separation of earthworms or vermicompost, either as primary products or as byproducts. The applicative process involves the indefinite application of wastes onto sites inoculated with earthworms from several ecological classes, whose supportive activities, together with those of other biota, will reduce such wastes to innocuous forms. Future investigations might consider techniques to optimize the preconditioning stage required prior to vermicomposting, the utilization of the products produced and the efficiency and media of digestion within the digestive tract of the earthworm (A).

Murarkar, S.R., Tayade, A.S., Bodhade, S.N. and Ulemale, R.B. (1998) Effect of vermicompost on mulberry leaf yield. Journal of Soils and Crops, 8 (1): 85-87.

Abstract: An experiment was conducted on mulberry crop [Morus sp.] to investigate the effect of vermicompost in comparison with farm yard manure and fertilizers on the mulberry leaf yield during October 1993 and February 1994 at Akola, India. The treatment of full dose NPK fertilizers (300:120:120 kg NPK/ha) plus vermicompost of 6000 kg/ha and half dose of farmyard manure of 10 cart loads/ha was significantly better than the untreated control for increasing the maximum number of branches, height of the plant, number of leaves per plant, and leaf yield per plant.

Premuzic, Z., Bargiela, M., Garcia, A., Rendina, A. and Iorio, A. (1998) Calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C content of organic and hydroponic tomatoes. HortScience, 33 (2): 255-257.

Abstract: Two tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cv. were grown in 2 organic and 2 inorganic media to evaluate their effects on levels of Ca, Fe, K, P and vitamin C in the fruit. Platense tomato was grown in a glasshouse, on sand or peat-perlite (hydroponic substrates) irrigated with a complete solution of macro and microelements, or on 100% vermicompost or 50% vermicompost-50% soil (organic substrates) irrigated

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with water. Fruit were harvested at physiological maturity, and levels of P, K, Ca, Fe and vitamin C were determined. Fruit grown on organic substrates contained significantly more Ca and vitamin C and less Fe than did fruit grown on hydroponic media. P and K content did not differ between fruit from organic and hydroponic substrates.

Rani, R. and Srivastava, O.P. (1997) Vermicompost: a potential supplement to nitrogenous fertilizer in rice nutrition. International Rice Research Notes, 22 (3): 3031.

Abstract: Vermicompost (produced by earthworms from organic wastes) was tested in pot experiments for its ability to replace a proportion of the urea fertilizer applied to rice. Compared with N fertilizer alone, supplying one-third or one-quarter of N as vermicompost increased plant height, grain yield and yield components of rice.

Sharma, N. and Madan, M. (1988) Effects of various organic wastes alone and with earthworms on the total dry matter yield of wheat and maize. Biological Wastes, 25 (1): 33-40.

Abstract: Amongst the possible alternatives for improving the nutrient status of organic wastes, vermicomposting offers promise to increase agricultural bioproductivity. The present investigations were undertaken to assess the effect of organic wastes alone and in combination with earthworms on plant growth. Maize and wheat were grown as test crops. The best results were obtained with treatments T23 (2% poultry waste), T32 (2% poultry waste with earthworms) and T26 (2% cattle dung), T35 (2% cattle dung with earthworms) and wheat and maize, respectively.

Subler, S., Edwards, C.A. and Metzger, J. composts. BioCycle, 39 (7): 63-68.



Comparing vermicomposts and

Wild claims abound concerning the beneficial aspects of earthworm castings and vermicomposts when used on household plants or in the garden. Although the anecdotal evidence may be abundant, scientific documentation of the responses of plants to the application of earthworm castings to soil or container media has been poor. Over the past few years, the Soil Ecology Laboratory at The Ohio State University has been developing a comprehensive research program in vermicomposting, which includes studies into the effects of vermicomposts on plant growth. Recently, a number of studies related to the effects of vermicomposts on the germination and growth of flowering plants as well as bedding plants have been conducted. Consistently, the addition of relatively small amounts of worm castings to standard horticultural container mixes, and even to commercially prepared premium quality container media, has resulted in dramatic improvements in plant growth.

Venkatesh, Patil, P.B., Kumar, K.S., Patil, C.V. and Giraddi, R.S. (1997) Influence of in situ vermiculture and vermicompost on availability and plant content of micronutrients. Advances in Agricultural Research in India, 7: 179-183.

Abstract: In trials with grapes, in situ vermiculture increased both the availability and plant content of Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu significantly over controls. Application of chemical fertilizers + vermicompost resulted in greater availability and plant content of all micronutrients except copper, compared to application of chemical fertilizers without vermicompost.

Zende, G.K., Ruikar, S.K. and Joshi, S.N. (1998) Effect of application of vermicompost along with chemical fertilizers on sugarcane yield and juice quality. Indian Sugar, 48 (5): 357-369.

Abstract: In a field study, sugarcane cv. COC 671 was given 12 combinations of vermicompost and NPK fertilizers. Cane yield was highest (35.4% increase compared with controls) with 5 t vermicompost/ha + 100% of recommended NPK (250 kg N + 115 kg P2O5 + 115 kg K2O/ha). Juice quality was generally increased by fertilizer treatments, particularly by combinations of NPK and 10 t vermicompost.

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11.3.6 Vermilogical Research (Biology & Ecology)

Baker, G. and Barrett, V. Melbourne. (1994) Earthworm Identifier. CSIRO Publications: East

Baker, G. and Kilpin, G. (1992) CSIRO's Double Helix Science Club Earthworm Identifier. CSIRO Publications: East Melbourne. Buckerfield, J.C. (1994) Appropriate earthworms for agriculture and vermiculture. Technical Report, 2/1994. CSIRO Australia, Division of Soils: Adelaide. Byzov, B.A. Poljanskaja, L.M. and Vu Nguyen Thanh (1995) The role of yeast as growth stimulators for Eisenia fetida in vermicomposting systems. Acta Zoologica Fennica, 0 (196): 376-379.

Abstract: The effect of yeasts on growth and cocoon production of the compost earthworm, Eisenia fetida (Savigny) was studied. In the laboratory experiment small amounts of yeasts, Candida famata (Meyer et Yarrow) and Geotrichum candidum (von Arx) (2 mg/g dry weight), were introduced in the compost mixtures consisting of mushroom bed wastes and cow manure. The mean growth rate of the earthworms reared on the mixture of 20% cow manure and 80% mushroom bed wastes in 30 days after the yeasts were added was found to be 1.75 mg/day per worm, dry biomass. No gain in the earthworm biomass was observed without yeast addition. In the pot experiment the earthworms produced cocoons 2-8 times, and juveniles 2-3.5 times more when the compost mixture was amended with the yeasts. The additional forage by yeasts can provide no more than 10% of earthworm net weight gain. This phenomenon can be explained by the stimulation of yeasts by the feeding and assimilative activity of the worms due to vitamins.

Dominguez, J. and Edwards, C.A. (1997) Effects of stocking rate and moisture content on the growth and maturation of Eisenia andrei (Oligochaeta) in pig manure. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 743-746. Dominguez, J., Briones, M.J.I. and Mato, S. (1997b) Effect of diet on growth and reproduction of Eisenia andrei (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae). Pedobiologia, 41: 566576.

Abstract: The effect of some vegetable bulking agents (straw, pine needles, pine bark, oak leaves and fern fronds) in mixtures with pig slurry (1:1 dry weight) of the growth and reproduction of Eisenia andrei, Bouche 1972 was studied in cultures with either 1 or 8 individuals. Unlike individual cultures, with no food limitation and no competition, the cultures with 8 individuals represent a more real situation, with food competition and mating processes. The maximum growth and reproduction rates were achieved, both in the individual and in the group cultures, in the mixtures with straw and pine needles. The earthworms showed low growth rates and very low reproductive rates in the oak leaves and fern mixtures, both in cultures with one individual or 8 individuals. The high growth rates obtained here are in agreement with others in the literature indicating the high potential of pig wastes for vermicomposting. Our results also confirm that there is a direct relationship between E. andrei biomass and clitellum development so that the minimum weight for maturation is approximately 0.4 g. In addition, the remarkably high reproduction rate and cocoon production in the cultures with one individual suggests that mating is not an obligatory requirement for cocoon production.

Doube, B.M. and Brown, G.G. (1998) Life in a complex community: functional interactions between earthworms, organic matter, microorganisms, and plants. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Doube, B.M., Schmidt, O., Killham, K. and Correll, R. (1997) Influence of mineral soil on the palatability of organic matter for Lumbricid earthworms: a simple food preference study. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 569-575.

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Edwards, C.A. and Bater, J.E. (1992) The use of earthworms in environmental management. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 24 (12): 1683-1689.

Abstract: During the past 25 yrs, research by the authors at Rothamsted Experimental Station investigated many aspects of the utilization of earthworms in land improvement and environmental management. Results of some of these investigations are summarised in this paper with the aim of illustrating the general principles of how earthworm populations can be manipulated and managed for environmental improvement. The following three aspects are discussed: The use of earthworms inland improvement and reclamation; the use of earthworms in organic waste management; the use of earthworms in assessment of the environmental effects of chemicals.

Edwards, C.A. and Bohlen, P.J. (1996) Biology and Ecology of Earthworms. 3rd edn. Chapman & Hall: London. Edwards, C.A. and Lofty, J. R. (1972) Biology of Earthworms. Chapman & Hall: London. Edwards, C.A. and Lofty, J. R. (1977) Biology of Earthworms. 2nd edn. Chapman & Hall: London. Edwards, C.A., Dominguez, J. and Neuhauser, E.F. (1998) Growth and reproduction of Perionyx excavatus (Perr.) (Megascolidae) as factors in organic waste management. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 27: 155-161.

Abstract: The life cycle of Perionyx excavatus has been studied and the potential of this epigeic earthworm species for breaking down and processing organic wastes is well known. Understanding of its optimal environmental requirements is required in order to optimize and accelerate the vermicomposting process. The rates of growth and reproduction of P. excavatus, on a variety of organic wastes, were evaluated in these experiments. The time of maturation and the rates of growth of this species, under various population density pressures and temperatures between 15degreeC and 30degreeC, were also assessed. Increasing temperatures up to 30degreeC accelerated the growth of earthworms and lessened the time to sexual maturity. However, the highest rates of reproduction occurred at 25degreeC both in cattle solids and sewage sludge. The mean time to egg hatching decreased and the degree of hatching success increased with increasing temperature. Earthworms grew at similar rates in cattle solids, pig solids and aerobically digested sewage sludge, but the earthworms did not grow well in horse solids and grew only poorly in turkey wastes. The maximum individual growth rates as a function of earthworm population and the maximum earthworm weights as a function of time with a constant food supply at four different temperatures were assessed.

Elvira, C., Dominguez, J. and Mato, S. (1996a) The growth and reproduction of Lumbicus rubellus and Dendrobaena rubida in cow manure mixed cultures with Eisenia andrei. Applied Soil Ecology, 5: 97-103. Fayolle, L., michaud, H., Cluzeau, D. and Stawiecki, J. (1997) Influence of temperature and food source on the life cycle of the earthworm Dendrobaena veneta (Oligochaeta). Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 29 (3/4): 747-750. Haimi, J. (1990) Growth and reproduction of the compost-living earthworms Eisenia andrei E. fetida. Revue D'Ecologie et de Biologie du Sol, 27 (4): 415-421.

Abstract: Growth and reproduction of the earthworms Eisenia andrei and E. fetida were studied under identical circumstances. Both the growth and net production of hatchlings were somewhat higher in E. andrei. All organic wastes offered were accepted as food by E. andrei.

Hallatt, L., Reinecke, A.J. and Viljoen, S.A. (1990) Life cycle of the oriental compost worm Perionyx excavatus (Oligochaeta). South African Journal of Zoology, 25 (1): 4145.


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The lifecycle of the vermicomposting worm Perionyx excavatus was studied in cattle manure under controlled moisture and temperature conditions (76-83% and 25°C resp.). Mating was not a prerequisite for cocoon production, which started at a mean age of 24 d. Maturation was attained at the age of 21 d. The mean incubation period of cocoons produced by batches of worms was 18.7 d with a mean hatching success of 63.4%. The mean incubation period of cocoons produced by single worms was 20.4 d with a mean hatching success of 40.4%.

Huhta, V. and Haimi, J. (1988) Reproduction and biomass of Eisenia foetida in domestic waste. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands.

Abstract: Studies on the vermicomposting of organic household waste including garden residues and contents of a composting toilet using crushed bark, showed that E. fetida thrived well and reproduced in both summer and winter conditions.

Jefferies, I.R. and Audsley, E. (1988) A population model for the earthworm Eisenia foetida. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Kretschmar, A. (1998) Earthworm interactions with soil organisation. Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. In Earthworm

Lee, K.E. (1985) Earthworms: their ecology and relationships with soils and land use. Academic Press: Sydney. Manna, M.C., Singh, M., Kundu, S., Tripathi, A.K. and Takkar, P.N. (1997) Growth and reproduction of the vermicomposting earthworm Perionyx excavatus as influence by food materials. Biology & Fertility of Soils, 24(1): 129-132.

Abstract: An outdoor study was undertaken using polyethylene containers to assess the suitability of different organic residues, soybean straw (Glycine max L. Merril.), wheat straw (Triticum aestivum L.), maize stover (Zea mays L.), chickpea straw (Cicer arietinum L.) and city garbage, as food for the tropical epigeic earthworm Perionyx excavatus, and to assess the influence of this earthworm on the decomposition of these materials. Maize stover was found to be the most suitable of the food materials used. Population growth of P. excavatus was enhanced by addition of these organic materials in the temperature range 24 degree -30 degree C, while the population was adversely affected above 30 degree C in a vermiculture system. Addition of earthworms accelerated the breakdown of residues, which ultimately resulted in a lowering of the C:N ratio, water-soluble carbon and carbohydrates, and increased ash percentage and cation exchange capacity compared with their respective controls.

Mba, C. (1989) Biomass and vermicompost production by the earthworm Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg). Revista de Biologica Tropical, 37 (1): 11-14.

Abstract: E. eugeniae was cultured in plastic pots containing ground Paspalum digitatum [P. dilatatum] grass (Dallis grass). This medium was toxic to the worms, if not fermented. Fermented and aerated grass was palatable. The worms fed and grew on the fermented-aerated grass and voided black colloidal casts (vermicompost), similar to the casts normally voided on cassava peel diet. Transit of grass through the gut was rapid and varied with age: 4.5, 5 and 6 h for hatchlings, juveniles and adults, respectively. The rate of cast and biomass production (worm/d) was high and varied with developmental stage. Biomass and casting production was higher with both juveniles and hatchlings. Fermented-aerated and non-fermented grass was toxic to the cocoons. Cocoon coagulation took place within 3 d of exposure with moist ground grass fermented-aerated or unfermented, while Dallis (worm castings) compost allowed normal development and hatching of the cocoons.

Reeh, U. (1992) Influence of population densities on growth and reproduction of the earthworm Eisenia andrei on pig manure. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 24 (12): 1327-1331.

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Reinecke, A.J. and Hallat, L. (1989) Growth and cocoon production of Perionyx excavatus (Oligochaeta). Biology and Fertility of Soils, 8 (4): 303-306.

Abstract: The biology of the oriental vermicomposting species, Perionyx excavatus, is poorly understood. Quantitative observations were made at 25°C in urine-free cattle manure in order to study the growth of this species. The rate of maturation and cocoon production were studied under conditions of favourable moisture and nutrition over a period of 250 days. The results obtained showed that while P. excavatus grows relatively slowly compared to other vermicomposting species, it attains sexual maturity much earlier and maintains a relatively high cocoon production rate. The study revealed that copulation is not a prerequisite for production of viable cocoons, indicating that P. excavatus may be parthenogenetic and possibly capable of alternating between modes of reproduction.

Reinecke, A.J. and Viljoen, S.A. (1990) The influence of feeding patterns on growth and reproduction of the vermicomposting earthworm Eisenia fetida (Oligochaeta). Biology and Fertility of Soils, 10: 184-187.

Abstract: In order to study the role of feeding status on the growth and reproduction of Eisenia fetida, pre-clitellate specimens were kept for 180 days under controlled conditions. A control group was regularly provided with freshly produced cattle manure while the experimental groups were fed only sporadically and at some stage even starved by removing some of the substrate. Worm growth, maturation, and cocoon production were monitored. Both worm growth and cocoon production were correlated closely with the feeding pattern followed. Freshly produced, urine-free, cattle manure proved an excellent food source provided it was added in such a way as to prevent the development of anaerobic conditions. Regular feeding gave high growth and reproduction rates.

Reinecke, A.J., Viljoen, S.A. and Saayman, R.J. (1992) The suitability of Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus and Eisenia fetida (Oligochaeta) for vermicomposting in southern Africa in terms of their temperature requirements. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 24 (12): 1295-1307.

Abstract: Since the epigeic species Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus and Eisenia fetida have a potential as waste decomposers or as possible sources of protein, knowledge of their temperature requirements are required in order to cultivate them in large numbers under different environmental conditions. A study was undertaken outdoors as well as indoors of earthworm populations in artificial containers in order to access the influence of high, as well as low, temperatures on the different species. The results were compared with that obtained for control populations kept at a presumably favourable temperature of 25 degree C. The results showed that Eisenia fetida has a wider tolerance for temperatures than E. eudrilus eugeniae and P. excavatus which allows this species to be cultivated in areas with higher temperatures (often as high as 43 degree C) as well as areas with lower soil temperatures (often below 5 degree C). The other two species will have limited outdoor application in vermiculture systems. The winter temperatures in the southern subregion of Africa and not the summer temperatures seem to be the limiting factor in applying Eudrilus eugeniae and P. excavatus in outdoor vermiculture. The incubation period, development and cocoon production of the species at various temperature simulations were also investigated. Regions in southern Africa were identified, based on prevailing temperature conditions, where E. eugeniae and P. excavatus could be utilized in vermiculture systems.

Sheppard, P.S. (1988) Specific differences in coccoon and hatchling production in E. fetida and E. andrei. In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (eds, C.A. Edwards & E.F. Neuhauser). Academic Publishing: The Hague, The Netherlands. Slocum, K. (1999b) The worms themselves. Worm Digest, 21: 10-11. Venter, J.M. and Reinecke, A.J. (1988) The life-cycle of the compost worm Eisenia fetida (Oligochaeta). South African Journal of Zoology, 23: 161-165. Viljoen, S.A. and Reinecke, A.J. (1989) Life-cycle of the African nightcrawler, Eudrilus eugeniae (Oligochaeta). South African Journal of Zoology, 24 (1): 27-32.

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Abstract: In order to determine the potential of the earthworm Eudrilus eugeniae as waste processor and protein producer, the life history of this species was studied. The development, growth and reproduction of E. eugeniae were studied. Cattle dung was used as substrate with a moisture content of 70-80% and a temperature of 25 degree C. Data were gathered over a period of 300 days. It was found that cocoon production started within 24 h after copulation and can be sustained for at least 300 days. Cocoons are produced at an average rate of 1.65 cocoons per worm per day. The mean incubation period of cocoons is 16.6 days with a hatching success of 84% and 2.7 hatchlings per cocoon that hatched. Sexual maturity is attained by the offspring within 40 to 50 days after hatching. E. eugeniae is compared to other vermicomposting species.

Viljoen, S.A. and Reinecke, A.J. (1992) The temperature requirements of the epigeic earthworm species Eudrilus eugeniae (Oligochaeta) - a laboratory study. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 24 (12): 1345-1350.

Abstract: Juvenile specimens of the epigeic earthworm species, Eudrilus eugeniae were subjected to a range of different constant temperatures in a temperature gradient trough over a period of 80 days. Other environmental factors and food availability were maintained at a constant, optimal level. Survival, growth rate, maturation and cocoon production were monitored regularly. No worms survived at temperatures < 12 degree C and all succumbed after 50 days at temperatures of 30 degree C and above. A steady increase in growth rate was observed with higher temperatures and the highest mean biomass per worm was attained at 29 degree C. The highest maturation rate was obtained at 22 and 25 degree C was found to be the optimal temperature for cocoon production. The results indicate that this earthworm species is very sensitive to low temperatures and can survive temperatures up to 30 degree C. It was also noted that although higher temperatures favoured growth, fecundity would be higher at temperatures ranging from 22 to 25 degree C. It is concluded that this earthworm species would be a better candidate for vermiculture in regions with a tropical or moderate climate as it exhibited a fairly narrow tolerance range for temperature with a high degree of intolerance for temperatures below 16 degree C.

Viljoen, S.A., Reinecke, A.J. and Hartman, L. (1991) Life-cycle of the European compost worm Dendrobaena veneta (Oligochaeta). South African Journal of Zoology, 1991.

Abstract: The life-cycle of Dendrobaena veneta was studied to assess the potential of this species in vermiculture. The development, growth and reproduction were investigated by rearing worms at 25 degree C on urinefree cattle manure with a moisture content of 80% over a period of 200 days. It was found that cocoons are produced at a mean rate of 0,28 cocoons per worm per day and production can be sustained for at least 200 days. The mean incubation period of the cocoons is 42,1 days with a very low hatching success. The mean number of hatchlings per cocoon that hatched was 1,1. Sexual maturity may be attained within 20 to 35 days but some worms take up to 130 days. Dendrobaena veneta grew well on cattle manure. This species seems to be less suitable than some other epigeic species for vermiculture.

Whiston, R.A. and Seal, K.J. (1988) The occurrence of cellulases in the earthworm Eisenia foetida. Biological Wastes,

Abstract: Investigations into the influence of earthworms in the formation of soils and the conversion of farm manures into soil conditioners have led to the establishment of a commercial vermiculture industry in the UK, based upon the activity of Eisenia foetida . Earthworm activity stimulates an increase in the rate of decomposition of organic matter by increasing both surface area and aeration of the substrate. As a result of this comminution activity the substrate stability is increased, as are the number of bacteria and the worm biomass. Publications so far have been related to non-axenic worms and the aim of this communication is to report an endogenous carboxymethylcellulase activity from axenic and control specimens.

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11.3.7 Environmental Management (Ecotoxicology & Land Amelioration)

Eijsackers, H. (1998) Earthworms in environmental research: still a promising tool. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida. Greig-Smith, P.W., Becker, H., Edwards, P.J. and Heimbach, F. (eds) (1992) Ecotoxicology of Earthworms. Intercept Publishers: Andover, U.K. Reinecke, A.J. and Reinecke, S.A. (1998) The use of earthworms in ecotoxicological evaluation and risk assessment: new approaches. In Earthworm Ecology (ed. C.A. Edwards). St. Lucie Press: Boca Raton, Florida.

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