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Organic Farming

Vermicompost is an organic manure (bio-fertilize) produced as the vermicast by earth worm feeding on biological waste material; plant residue. Earthworms are small, soft, cylindrical bodied invertebrates that play a vital role in soil ecosystem maintenance. Aristotle referred to them as 'intestines of the earth' because of their habit of ingesting and ejecting the soil. Earthworms greatly influence soil properties and cast production, which results in the continuous turnover of the soil and mixing of minerals and organic constituents. Worms that live in the soil are the farmer's and gardener's friends. They consume dead organic matter and turn it into rich and fertile humus with added natural nutrients. One species of worm, the Californian Red Worm, is particularly productive at making humus, reproduces vigorously, is easy to breed and has good longevity. Through their feeding and burrowing activities earthworms incorporate surface organic matter, spatial distribution of soil, improve porosity and soil airation increase water infiltration, encourage plant root growth improve soil aggregate stability, enhance nutrient availability and reduce incidence of root diseases.

Vermicompost, the end product, is extremely useful for enriching and fertilising the soil. It is odourless and safe to handle. It is rich in hormones, antibiotics and vitamins that produce healthy plant growth. Although its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium values are not as high as for chemical fertilisers, it is a multi-purpose compost that provides all the ingredients needed to improve most soils and is much better for the environment as well. By contrast, to improve poor soils chemical fertilisers are not enough by themselves and other materials need to be applied as well.

Vermicompost is also seven times richer than compost that has been rotted without introduction of worms, so only one seventh of the quantity is needed to enrich the soil. Tests in India have shown that vermicompost application can double wheat yields and quadruple yields of fodder. For best effect vermicompost needs to be applied before the growing season over a two or three year period.

Vermicompost can be used for organic cultivation of crops as it do not have any toxic residue effect. It is cheap and easy to produce Vermicompost. It does not small like manure but just like healthy rich soil.

Casting of earthworms contain a high percentage of humus. Humus helps soil particles from into clusters, which create channels for the passage of air and improve its capacity to hold water. Humic acid present in humus, provides binding sites for the plant nutrients but also releases them to the plants upon demand. This also aids in the prevention of harmful plant pathogens, fungi, nematodes and bacteria. 

Earthworms are invertebrates, which means they have no back bone (unlike snakes, which do have a back bone). Earthworms are annelids and are members of the class Oligochaeta, because they crawl using circular and longitudinal muscles which are located under the epidermis. Each segment also has bristle like setae (see figure 1) which help to anchor their segments as they crawl. Unlike humans, earthworms do not have a well developed respiratory system. Instead of lungs, they breathe through their skin which needs to stay moist for breathing.
Earthworms are annelids, which means their bodies are segmented. Earthworms have bilateral symmetry, which means if you cut an earthworm down centre, you would find that the left and right sides the its body are identical (mirror images of each other).
The first segment is specially named the peristomium (see figure 1) and contains the mouth. There is a small tongue-like lobe just above the mouth called the prostomium (see figure 1). The prostomium is used by the earthworm to “see” its environment - as earthworms have no eyes, ears, nose or hands, it depends on the prostomium and skin to help it feel its way through the soil. As the earthworm tunnels through the soil, it excretes mucus from its body. This mucus reacts with the soil of the tunnel walls and forms a type of cement which makes the tunnel walls stable so that the tunnel can be reused.
About one third of the way down the earthworm (from the head) is the clitellum (see figure 1). The clitellum is a swelling of the skin and can only be seen in earthworms that are ready to reproduce. It may be white, orange-red or reddish-brown in colour. Earthworms are ready to mate when their clitellum is orange. Most of the material secreted to form earthworm cocoons is produced within the clitellum. The number of the segments to where the clitellum begins and the number of segments that make up the clitellum are important for identifying earthworms.
The very last segment is called the periproct (see figure 1) and contains the anus.
Except for the first and last segment all the other segments have eight setae located around each segment. The setae look like small bristles sticking out of the earthworm’s skin. The setae can be retracted and are for moving through the soil. The bristle-like setae anchor the segments as they crawl.


·        pH


·        Organic Carbon

17.50 – 30.31 %

·        Nitrogen

0.80 – 2.05 %

·        Phosphorus

0.70 – 1.93 %

·        Potassium

0.30 – 1.50 %

·        Carbon : Nitrogen

14-15 : 1 %

·        Calcium

1.50 – 4.5 %

·        Magnesium

0.2 – 0.7 %

·        Sodium

0.02 – 0.30 %

·        Sulphur 

Traces to 0.40 %

·        Iron

0.08 – 0.7 %

·        Zinc

0.028 – 0.036 %

·        Manganese

Traces to 0.40 %

·        Copper

0.0027 – 0.0123 %

·        Boron

0.0034 – 0.0075 %

·        Aluminum

Traces to 0.071 %

·        Cobalt, Molybdenum

Present in available form


Total bacter count of 2.5 ΄ 106 comprising of Azotobacter, PGPR, PSB, Actinomycetes. Also
contains Gibberalline, Auxins & Cytokinine in sufficient quantities.  Contains sufficient moisture (25-35%) at the time of packing.



Type of Culture Rate (Per Kg) Genetic Purity No. of Worms Eggs Percentage
Foundation Vermiculture F1 650/Kg 98% 1000/Kg 50%
Foundation Vermiculture F2 500/Kg 94% 1000/Kg 40%
Foundation Vermiculture Pedigee 350/Kg 85% Unpredictable 25%
General Vermiculture 150/Kg 60% Unpredictable 12%

Discount on larger quantities may be considered accordingly.


Advantages of Vermicompost

  Minimizes need for chemical fertilizers, makes the soil healthy
    with high NPK content and yields crops of better quality.
.   Agricultural and kitchen wastes are put to good use.
·   Can be done at a smaller scale and at a faster rate than other
    methods of composting.
·   Can be done for commercial purposes as well as for use on one's
    own farm.
·   Surplus earthworms can be converted into good livestock feed.

The Diverse Uses of Worms

Worms that live in soil are not just useful for making humus, or as fishing bait, which is another common use. Other uses include:

  • Drying and grinding of the flesh of the worm to produce a high protein powdered food additive used, for example, in hamburgers, sausages and other minced meat products, and as an additive to animal feed (for horses, rabbits and chickens, for example) to provide nutritional balance

  • As live food for rearing fish and frogs

  • Extracting collagen from the worms for pharmaceuticals

  • Making antibiotics from the ceolomic liquid (the fluid that transports nutrients and respiratory gases through a worm's body) extracted from the worms

  • Research into how the skin of worms repairs itself to discover if this can be used for repair of damaged skin for people and whether substances obtained from worms can strengthen a person's auto immune system


It can be produced in bins, pits or troughs either below or above the soil surface, using bricks or stone slabs or even plastics. If the pits are over it as moisture in the thatched roof should be built over it as moisture in the 40-50% range and temperature in the 20-30° C range need to be maintained. Any organic waste or agricultural residue can be used as feed mixture, etc. farmyard wastes, green wastes, sugarcane theash, kitchen wastes etc. They should be mixed with cow dung in the ratio of 8:1. Once the feed mixture is seen to largely contain casts, then it is dumped in conical heap for few hours. The worms collect at base and can be easily retrieved for reuse. The rest of the dried material is passed through a 3 mm sieve to collect the casts as vermicompost.


Vermicast vs. Chemical Fertilizers in Soil


Criteria for Comparison Chemical Fertilizers Vermicast
Macro nutrient contents Mostly contains only one (N in urea) or at the most two (N & P in DAP) nutrients in any one type of chemical fertilizer Contains all i.e. nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) & potassium (K) in sufficient quantities
Secondary nutrient contents Not available Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) & sulphur (S) is available in required quantities
Micro nutrient contents Not available Zinc (Zn), boron (B), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and chlorine (Cl) also present
pH balancing Disturb soil pH to create salinity and alkalinity conditions Helps in the control of soil pH and checks the salinity and alkalinity in soil
EC correction Creates imbalance in soil EC affecting nutrients assimilation Helps in balancing the EC to improve plant nutrient adsorption
Organic carbon Not available Very high organic carbon and humus contents improves soil characteristics
Moisture retention capacity Reduces moisture retention capacity of the soil Increases moistures retention capacity of the soil
Soil Texture Damages soil texture to reduce aeration Improves soil texture for better aeration
Beneficial bacteria & fungi Reduces biological activities and thus the fertility is impaired Very high biological life improves the soil fertility and productivity on sustainable basis
Plant growth hormones Not available Sufficient quantity helps in better growth and production


Economic Evaluation: Vermicast vs. Chemical Fertilizers

Generally cost comparisons for different fertility inputs are carried out on per unit of cultivated area basis. However, the correct methods for comparison should be either the cost per unit of output or the cost per unit of fertility inputs. Here a comparison has been made on the basis of cost per unit of fertility inputs provided through chemical fertilizers Vs. vermicast.

Cost of Chemical Fertilizer Use
Presently chemical fertilizers are used for providing nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potash. The cost of these chemical fertilizers in the context of their plant uptake i.e. fertilizers use efficiency are estimated as follows.


  • Say 100 kg of urea is used per hectare, containing 46% nitrogen.
  • Cost of urea is Rs.4.50/- per kg and thus cost of nitrogen is Rs.9.80/- per kg.
  • Plant uptake i.e. use efficiency is 15-40 percent (average 20%) for nitrogen.
  • Therefore, the cost of nitrogen actually used by the plants is Rs.49.00 per kg.


  • Say 100 kg of DAP is used per hectare.
  • This contains 18 percent nitrogen and 46 percent phosphorus.
  • Cost of DAP is Rs.8.50/- per kg and thus the cost of nutrients (combined for nitrogen plus phosphorus) is Rs.13.30/- per kg.
  • Plant uptake i,.e. use efficiency is 15-40 percent for nitrogen (average 20%) and 10-25 percent for phosphorus (average 15%).
  • The cost of nutrients actually used by the plants from DAP is Rs.75.94/- per kg.


  • Say 100 kg of SSP is used per hectare, containing 16% phosphorus.
  • Cost of SSP is Rs.2.60/- per kg and thus cost of phosphorus is Rs.16.25/- per kg.
  • Plant uptake i.e. use efficiency is 10-25 percent for phosphorus (average 15%).
  • The cost of phosphorus actually used by the plants is Rs.108.82/- per kg.


  • Say 100 kg of CAN is used per hectare, containing 20% nitrogen.
  • Cost of CAN is Rs.4.20/- per kg and thus the cost of nitrogen is Rs.21.00/- per kg.
  • Plant uptake i.e. use efficiency is 15-40 percent (average 20%).
  • The cost of nitrogen actually used by the plants is Rs.1005.00/- per kg.

Cost of Vermicast Use

In case of vermicast, over 70 percent is consumed by the farmers through their in-house production. For remaining, the farmers are buying vermicast from commercial production units at an average price of Rs.2000/- per metric tone.

1.      The average nutrients contents reported for vermicast are nitrogen-1.5 to 2.5 percent (average 2%), phosphorus-1.25 percent (average 1.75%), potash-1.00 to 2.00 percent (average 1.5%).

2.      In addition vermicast contains all micronutrients and trace elements, that would also add up to atleast one percent equivalent of nutrients.

3.      The vermicast has active biological life containing Azatobactor, PSB, PGPR, etc. During 90-100 days of crop duration they also add up to 1.5 to 2.5 percent nutrients (average 2%).

4.      Say 1000 kg of vermicast is used per hectare.

5.      The total nutrients provided by 1000 kg of vermicast will add up to 82.50 per kg (8.25%) and at an average plant uptake i.e. use efficiency of 65 percent will provide 53.60 kgs of nutrients.

6.      At an average cost of vermicast at Rs.2000/- per MT per hectare, the cost of nutrients is Rs.37.00/- per kg.


In addition to nutrients, vermicast will also provide better aeration, water retention capacity and many other benefits. Some of the major advantages of vermicast use are also the lower cost of labour (saving due to lesser weeds in the field) and saving from the cost of treatment for termites.

Vermicast on subsequent use has been found to provide at least 20-30 percent more nutrients. This ability can continuously reduce the quantities of vermicast used in the field over long durations.

From the above the actual nutrient used and the cost incurred for various chemical fertilizers, it clearly indicates that the chemical fertilizers are more expensive than vermicast.

The use of chemicals has also been promoted by large amounts of subsidies that enabled them to be used as nutrients for crops.


Economics (One Bed)

A. Capital Cost of 100 beds

Item Cost (Rs.)

Vermiculture cost@ Rs 600/kg for 100 beds 1500000

1 Construction of a temporary shed for setting up 400 tpa vermi-compost
unit 120,000

 Implement and Machinery for a 400 tpa unit 80,000

3 Office cum store 120000

4 Water source 40000

Total 1860,000


B. Recurring Cost

Item Cost (Rs.)

1 Feed stock & handling cost @ Rs. 30,000 per cycle for 6 cycle in a year 1,80,000

2 Rent on lease @ Rs. 8,000 per year 8,000

Total 188000

(Operational cost of two cycles is capatalised)

Total Project Cost : Capital cost - Rs. 1860,000

Recurring cost - Rs. 188000


Total Rs 2048000

5. Margin 20%

6. Bank loan :80%

7. Rate of interest : 12% pa

8. Repayment period : 8 years including grace period of one year

9. Income

Item Rs.

(I year)

1 Sale of vermi-compost 400 tons @ Rs. 2000 per ton 800000

Total 8,00,000

Net Benefit 8,00,000-2048000= -1248000

(II year)

C. Recurring Cost

Item Cost (Rs.)

1 Feed stock & handling cost @ Rs60,000 per cycle for 6 cycle in a year 36,0000

2 Rent on lease @ Rs. 8,000 per year 8,000

Total 3,68,000

1Additional Construction of a temporary shed for setting up 400tpa vermi-compost unit 1,20,000

Total input 4,88,000


1 Sale of vermi-compost 800 tons @ Rs. 2000 per ton 16,000,00

Less Total recurring cost 4,48,000

Net Benefit 11,52,000


Net benefit of 2nd years- recovery for the 1st year 11,52,000 – 1248000 =-96000

D. Recurring Cost Item Cost (Rs.)

1 Feed stock & handling cost @ Rs. 1,20,000 per cycle for 6 cycle in a year 7,20,000

2 Rent on lease @ Rs. 8,000 per year 16,000

Total 7,36,000

1 Additional Construction of a temporary shed for setting up 800tpa vermi-compost unit 2,40,000

Total input 9,76,000

1 Sale of vermi-compost1600 tons @ Rs. 2000 per ton 32,00,000

Less Total recurring cost 9,76,000

Net Benefit 22,24,000

   Overall profit after deducting recovery= 22,24,000 –96,000 = 21,28,000


note :

• Margin of 20% is assumed, but the actual margin will be as per the discretion of the banks.
• Interest rate of 12% is assumed, however, the actual rate will be as per banks' discretion.
• Similarly, the other economic / financial parameters such as the repayment period, DSCR, IRR, etc., may also vary depending upon the margin, interest rate, etc., taken into account by the bank.



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