Vermicomposting is basically a managed process of worms digesting organic matter to transform the material into a beneficial soil amendment. As per the USDA guidelines for compost practices (with effect from Oct 21, 2002), vermicomposts are defined as organic matter of plant and/or animal origin consisting mainly of finely-divided earthworm castings, produced nonthermophilically with biooxidation and stabilization of the organic material, due to interactions between aerobic microorganism and earthworms, as the materials pass through the earthworm gut.
Good quality compost production in ambient temperature can be accomplished in shorter time by the process of vermicomposting that involves use of proper species of earthworms. The native cellulase activity of earthworms and microorganisms in earthworm gut promote faster decomposition of ingested organic material. The combined effect of enzymatic activity and grinding of organic materials to fineness by earthworms produces the vermicomposting and this is not observed in compost pits without earthworm.
The earthworms being voracious eaters consume the biodegradable matter and give out a part of the matter as excreta or vermi-castings. The vermi-casting containing nutrients is a rich manure for the plants. Vermicompost, apart from supplying nutrients and growth enhancing hormones to plants, improves the soil structure leading to increase in water and nutrient holding capacities of soil. Fruits, flowers and vegetables and other plant products grown using vermicompost are reported to have better keeping quality. A growing number of individuals and institutions are taking interest in the production of vermicompost utilising earthworm activity. As the operational cost of production of this compost works out to less than
2.0/Kg., it is quite profitable to sell the compost even at 4.00 to ` 4.50/Kg.