Vermicomposting is a form of composting that uses red worms to quickly breakdown food scraps, paper, and plants into high value excreta and a nutrient rich liquid called "worm tea." It is important to note that red worms are not the same as the typical earthworm (or nightcrawler) found in many gardens. Nightcrawlers ingest soil to extract nutrients and aerate the soil as they burrow through it. Red Worms, or composting worms, feast on the bacteria and microorganisms present on vegetative food wastes and soft organic materials (newspapers, etc).
Unlike traditional composting, vermicomposting requires both moderate temperature (55 to 77 degrees Farenheit) and light to create settings in which the worms can thrive.
For this reason, vermicomposting has proven popular for home users who can maintain a worm compost in moderate sized bins located indoors or on sites where many of the problems posed by extreme temperatures can be avoided.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Association (EPA) estimates that yard trimmings and food waste together make up 24 percent of the U.S. waste stream. In 2000, approximately 56.9 percent of yard trimmings were recovered for composting, but only 2.6 percent of food waste was composted. As such, composting offers a viable means of reducing the size and cost of landfills.
Vermicomposting can be ideal for apartment dwellers or small offices that do not have access to green space, but still want to use compost to reduce the amount of solid waste they send to landfills. It can also be used in classrooms as a learning tool to teach conservation and compost management.
Vermicomposting takes very little effort: select an appropriately sized bin, prepare bedding, add worms, and begin composting wastes. Bins must also be designed to drain the "tea" that accumulates, and when it is filled, the worms must be separated from their castings. This can be achieved by placing a large amount of food in one corner to attract them and then removing the rest of the compost.
- One pound of mature worms (approximately 800-1,000 worms) can eat up to half a pound of organic material per day
- Worm tea" is a high-quality liquid fertilizer for house plants or gardens
- Environmental Management Department
- Solid Waste Management/Recycling Department
For individuals to build and operate a vermicomposting bin is very cheap, and does not require any special siting as it can be done indoors. A city may need to invest in an education and outreach program to raise participation rates, and get residents comfortable with the idea of taking on this sort of project.
Waste disposal sites for solid waste from human activities.A mixture of decayed plants and other organic material that is used to enrich soil with nutrients.The collection, reprocessing, marketing, and use of materials that were diverted or recovered from the solid waste stream.