The rainy season is finally here and it is already replenishing much needed water to our thirsty environment. Our work is also a bit lighter as our need for irrigating is supplemented by frequent rainfall. This continuous flow of water also comes with some challenges. Excessive leaching of nutrients is a key contributor to rising cost of production at this time of year.
The loss of essential nutrients directly affects plant health and its natural ability to resist pests and diseases. This heavy mobilizing of nutrients away from the root zone could also lead to increased soil acidiy and reduce plant available phosporus. Furthermore Aluminium and Managanesse toxicity could further compromise crop productivity.
The problem is not necessarily the rain but rather how well we manage these natural variables. Providing that rainfall frequency remains around average, there are cerain preventative approaches that we could consider to for better nutrient management.
Synthetic fertilizers are usually in a form that is readily absorbed by plants, consequently this also leads to rapid leaching away from the root zone, into our water ways. To achieve maximum yield farmers may often repeat fertilizer applications following prolonged rainfall.
Slow release fertilizers take the form of granules or as compost. These granules work similar to their synthetic counterparts, however they differ based on their rate of solubility over time. Similarly compost acts as a nutrient bank, slowly liquidating its valuable assets throughout the crop cycle.
Additionally compost conditions your soil’s physical structure and allows water to move freely while minimizing loss of topsoil.
There are also soluble fertilizers in either organic or synthetic forms.
These two types of fertilizer share some similarity as they both replenish essential plant nutrients. Additionally however compost tea also inncoculates benefical microorganisms and plant growth regulating substances (PGR’s) which aid in pathogen reduction, nutrient absorbtion and boosting plant’s defence mechanisms against pests and diseases.
We recommend our compost tea to be diluted using a 1:1 ratio with dechlorinated water and applied weekly. Also for top-dressing we recommend our vermicompost to be applied once every 2- 3 weeks.
Creepy Crawlies + Women= Scream and jump!
Well, at least not at our worm farm!
Our experience has been quite different and today we are quite happy and proud to celebrate with the rest of the world “International Women’s Day” Women are indeed pressing forward and progressing beyond that “glass roof ceiling”.
Most of the women and girls we have taught or just had a conversation with were never intimidated by earthworms. In fact, they have been the most enthusiastic about getting started and impacting our environment in a positive way.
Most of our customers are women and to be honest, based on our training and interactions we believe that there are more women doing worm farming than men! Fellas don’t take this personal!!!
Most women can now access information and freely use it to their benefit!
We will continue to do our part in ensuring that they are treated and respected equally!
Blessings to all Women and particularly our brave and proud women worm farmers!
Admittedly worm farming is no longer a secret in Trinidad and Tobago! We are continuously engaging the public in an informative way about the lowly earthworm, however, the future of this industry lies in the hands of those following our footsteps!
We have collaborated with “Germination Farms” owned and operated by Ms Kinda Campo to spread the good news about the hardworking but humble earthworm.
Our excitement was superseded by the energy brought on by the students and staff of Ortoire St. Joseph RC.
Their eagerness to touch and tend to these gentle creatures meant that they learnt something!
They have the full support of their teacher and likewise, she has their willingness to get involved.
The time spent with them was quite fulfilling and we are certain that we have sown a positive seed in their minds.
A little bit really goes a long way with our ‘Vermi-fertilizer’! Our goal is to provide you with a superior product that could sustain your farming needs.
Our entire plantain experiment did not last until the end due to some unforeseen circumstances, however, we are still pleased to share with you some of our success.
Most conventional farmers remain convinced that organic farming would not be able to sustain yields comparable to non-organic farming! However, we are constantly trying to challenge this notion by putting our products to the test!
It is important that you start off with healthy planting material. likewise, a soil test is as good as a health check because it provides you with a status report of the potential of your soil.
Furthermore, you should prepare your soil by feeding it with materials that would naturally stimulate both macro and microorganism activity.
Our ‘Soil Builder‘ did exactly that for us and gave our plantain trees that extra boost with no negative effects on our soil or plant.
A moderate ‘Top-Dress‘ at midway and just before fruiting with some pure vermicompost completed the job!
Vermicompost reinvigorates the soil by nourishing and inoculating it with microorganisms that engage in solubilizing nutrients and pathogen reduction.
We feel confident that we can produce and consume food that is free of synthetic chemicals.
Stay tuned as we will be providing you with more results on some of our other experiments.
If you are interested in trying some of our products or getting your soil tested then leave us a message and we will get back to you.
This was not the typical world soil day celebration that one would expect! On days like these we are accustomed to high-level celebrations with dignitaries and very modest ‘hello’s and hi’s coupled with firm handshakes and smiles. We also should not forget the philosophical speeches which can have us dreaming occasionally!
World soil day celebration was due to the efforts of The UWI, Faculty of Food and Agriculture and FAO. The celebration started with a folk dance and dramatization of man’s origin and his ongoing relationship with the soil and environment. The involvement of soil in the carnival art-form was very enlighting.
The aroma of cocoa boiling brought some excitement to the taste buds however persons were really surprised to find out that it was a flavoring used to enhance the appeal of soil for body painting.
Please be mindful that not all soils are good for J’ouvert! the science and preparation process requires experience!
The use of soil and by extension agriculture to stimulate behavioral change was another highlight of the day.
Mr. Francis shared some life-changing experiences through the continuous work being done by the prison officers in helping to reintroduce changed individuals back into society.
Ms. Chen also shared some of the work being done by the Green Market to help create a social safety-net for school students using agriculture.
Other aspects of the day included different sessions focused on the agronomic and environmental relevance of soil.
All in all! I say a job well done by The UWI and FAO for raising the awareness on a neglected natural resource that needs to be urgently protected or else we all perish!
As we continue to expand on our future farmer base we would like to introduce to you Five Rivers Secondary (FRS)
FRS seems to be no stranger to the spotlight as it has a winning track record in a number of events.
Teacher Jeanette Browne has contributed her fair share to this winning streak by challenging her students to be creative and this push has placed them first on several occasions.
They have built on the knowledge and ideas that we have shared with them and created technologies that could partially automate vermicomposting as well as saleable products.
Semi-Automatic vermicomposting system
Several of Ms. Browne’s projects have awarded her first and second place prizes locally and internationally. Furthermore, her students are able to tangibly experience simple sustainable environmental technologies.
We are happy to have helped stimulate some thought and as we continue to work together we will train more future worm farmers.
Future farmers at work!
Investing in ourselves is something we rarely do! Our excuses are often time and money! We ‘never have the time’ to exercise because we have ‘very important things’ to do! We could sacrifice to purchase that new LCD Smart T.V, however, we would have to check our budget to treat ourselves to a healthy meal.
” A stitch in time saves nine”
We see worm farming as a short-term investment with long-term benefits for generations to come.
We can continue to hope that the government will do something about the environmental problem that we are perpetuating or we can try and treat it within our homes or communities and eat healthier and live cleaner.
In this video, we are sharing some feedback from our valued customers on their ‘self-investment.’
The work of the humble earthworm is not possible without the hands of many friends!
Whether you are actively composting or you are just allowing your materials to rot in that special pile somewhere in your backyard, the presence of these moldy, and sometimes spore-like structures might have caught your attention. Their role in the decomposition process is undoubtedly very important.
Organic matter is naturally complex and this complexity cannot be fully unraveled alone by the earthworm, given its lack of teeth or similar functioning appendages.
The rate of organic matter degradation is also dependent in part, on the type and amount of cellulose and lignin which comprise the material. In layman terms the Carbon: Nitrogen ratio.
Saprophytic organisms thrive on dead and decaying organic matter (where would the world be without them?) by solubilizing complex organic compounds into simple sugars, amino acids and nutrients. They ( bacteria and fungi) offer that extra hand which the earthworms need to initiate the decomposition process.
Microorganisms, though small, express themselves in a variety of distinct ways.
These microbes are able to induce decomposition at the cellular level however without the intervention of macro-organisms to fragment these organic materials decomposition would have been slower. Therefore fragmenting increases the contact surface for microbes and the rate of decomposition.
The grazing activity of earthworms also perpetuates the presence of these beneficial organisms as they are ingested and redeposited throughout the soil or compost via their castings.
All of these beneficial interactions contribute to a healthier soil environment. Furthermore, good soil management practices such as organic mulching will encourage a rich diversity of micro and macro-organisms; whereas bad soil management practices, such as land burning will interfere with these natural processes.
In our subsequent articles, we will take a closer look at how farmers can maintain and promote a mutually beneficial relationship with the soil environment.
The ability to produce holistic students is what most schools dream of, however, achieving this reality requires action. Waiting for that grand opportunity to get started often amounts to naught because they very rarely present themselves.
Holy Faith Convent Couva recently introduced Agriculture to its curriculum with the goal of producing a more versatile individual. Convincing the students to adopt this new subject area, however, will require the support of people who believe in it. That’s where teacher Carina comes in!
While Agriculture is not her field she understands its value and has decided to show her support by getting involved and encouraging the students to adopt the subject. She supports the vision of the school of developing holistic students.
“We are able to sell all of our produce right here on the compound and the nearby supermarkets are willing to take whatever we have,” these are the sentiments of teacher Carina.
But what if she could grow her produce organically? What if her students could have the opportunity to learn about sustainable farming and reduce wastage?
What if those students could see waste as an unexplored opportunity?
What if there’s an opportunity to help create future farmers?
Well, that’s where we come in! Holy Faith Convent has embraced vermicomposting and it is our mission to help answer these burning questions as we continue to help secure food producers for the future.
A firm believer in agriculture! An innovator and also a teacher at Tabaquite RC.
The level of agriculture displayed at this primary school is commendable. The students are exposed to a variety of livestock, crops and agricultural techniques which set the tone for a technology-based agriculture program. The addition of vermicomposting has further diversified and expanded the technological experience for the students.
All of this lovely work is maintained by Mr. Bent and his loyal ‘Future Farmers’! He is continually in search of new ideas to optimize his operations and reduce the cost of production. His ability to recreate and tweak ideas that he often finds online saves time and money.
Enjoy the slide show which highlights ongoing work at the school.
We are currently expanding the number of schools that we have introduced to the practice of worm farming. Our core mission is to raise future farmers with a greater appreciation for human health and the environment.
People are becoming more conscious of what they eat today and this naturally creates a demand for healthier food. Likewise, bad agricultural practices stemming from poor soil management and over dependence on synthetic agrochemicals can over time erode the natural ability of the environment to sustain itself.
Vermicomposting can reverse this by returning valuable nutrients and organic matter to rejuvenate and revitalize our soil. Furthermore, we believe our future farmers can help us challenge the issue of poor organic waste management which is plaguing this beautiful paradise. Through a variety of educational activities, we will increase their awareness in order to make more informed decisions about waste disposal at home and school.
During the rest of the year, we will be constantly updating our page with the progress of future farmers of the various schools we are working with.
We are now taking this opportunity to introduce you to the students of Brasso RC Primary School and their teacher Mr. Dave Marcus, a very enthusiastic group with a teacher who believes that everyone must eat! He ensures that it’s a positive learning experience by teaching his group how to do things the right way. Their agro-plot is beautifully laid out and has a variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s more than just growing food for this club as they also sell their produce to raise needed funds.
Our Brasso Future Farmers are not shy to worms at all! They could not wait to get their hands wormy! Enjoy the slide show which is a synopsis of our visit to the school.
Just in case you might be wondering where this place is located? Well, the school is in Brasso which is a small village nestled in the central area of Trinidad. It is on the way to Tabaquite if you are passing through Chaguanas or Gran Couva, along the Brasso Caparo Valley Road.
If you would like to adopt a school in your area then feel free get in touch with us and we’ll work with you.
In one of our earlier articles about “all earthworms not being created equal”, we highlighted the role of epigeic type earthworms and their importance in managing high volumes of organic waste. Without them, our health and the environment would have been under serious threat.
Occasionally, however, we are often asked by the general public “why can’t I just use the earthworms in my backyard?” We would like to take this opportunity to share some knowledge on the ideal composting worm. As we indicated earlier epigeic earthworms are preferred for vermicomposting because of their habitat and diet preference. However, not all epigeic species are a qualified for vermicomposting. Suitably qualified earthworms should, therefore, possess the following characteristics:
1. The selected earthworm should be able to survive the vermicomposting environment. This is a controlled environment which is mainly characterized by high levels of organic matter. The suitable applicant should, therefore, be able to acclimatize very quickly to slight variations in humidity, temperature, salinity, and pH.
2. The selected earthworm must be able to efficiently bio-convert varying types of organic wastes. Candidates will be exposed to a wide variety of waste streams and are therefore expected to recycle these wastes in the shortest time possible, producing a finished product that is environmentally safe.
3. The selected earthworm must also display adaptive survival strategies such as rapid breeding without the use of any artificial enhancing stimulants. The success and growth of the vermicomposting system are solely reliant on the rapid development of successive generations. It is therefore imperative that the suitable applicant is able to reproduce exponentially. Please note that more rooms will be built to mitigate overcrowding. Applicants who display a slow-growth and low waste-conversion rate will not be considered.
4. The suitable applicant should also demonstrate a high resistance to pests and pathogens that would tend to affect earthworms.
5. The selected earthworm must be culturable, the behavioral traits of selected applicants in response to handling by hand or any form of mechanization is also very important. The selected earthworm should, therefore, allow for easy sorting and separation of worms from castings. Earthworms are also expected to remain at their place of work at all times as mass departures could be an indication of unfitness for the job.
Please be mindful that, it is based on the aforementioned characteristics that three known epigeic species (Eisenia fetida, Perionyx excavatus, and Eudrilus eugeniae) have been reported as most suitable for vermicomposting.