VERMICOMPOSTING FOR EFFICIENT RECYCLING OF BIOMASS FOR ORGANIC CROP PRODUCTION IN NORTH EAST INDIA
Vermicomposting is an efficient method of recycling available biomass in and outside the farm. In most of the cases these unutilized biomass/wastes contributes to environmental pollution. Earthworms consume biomass and excrete it in digested form called ‘worm casts’ or ‘vermicast’. The casts are rich in nutrients, growth promoting substances, beneficial soil micro flora and having properties of inhibiting pathogenic microbes. In India a, huge amount of crop residues are available which is either burnt or removed from the field. In North Eastern region (NER) of India also, a considerable amount of crop residues, weed, forest litter and other biomass including livestock excreta are available. The climatic condition of the NER favours the luxurious growth of a number of weeds, shrubs and tree species. All these materials can be very well used for vermicomposting. Though more than twelve species are being used for vermicomposting across the globe, African night crawler (Eudrilus eugeniae Kinberg) and red compost worm (Eisenia foetida Savigny) are widely used species. Vermicompost (VC) is found to be superior to many other organic manures in terms of nutrient content. Application of VC gives better crop growth and yield compared to other manures, when applied in quantities equivalent to the nutrient requirement (N equivalent) of the test crops. The benefit of vermicomposts are better realized when it is produced within the farm itself. Vermicompost can play a great role for promoting organic farming in the country in general and NER of India in particular. Results of field experiments conducted during 2005-18 indicated that almost all the crops recorded higher yield with VC compared to farmyard manure (FYM) and integrated application of 50% FYM + 50% VC. The soil fertility and produce quality improved over the years due to application of VC. The life cycle of earthworms, process of decomposition of biomass, method of vermicomposting, effect on crop production etc. has been discussed in detail in this article.
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