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Our excitement was superseded by the energy brought on by the students and staff of Ortoire St. Joseph RC.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.
All earthworms are not the same! Really? Yes really! 🙂 I often find myself clarifying this notion during my encounters with different people but don’t worry, I once held the same view.
There are currently over 3600 species of earthworms reported and they also vary in colour and size. These are further subdivided based on their distribution in the soil profile and how they feed. Epigeic earthworms live in the uppermost 5-10 cm of the soil surface and are considered as phytophagous because they feed primarily on decaying organic matter. They are typically found in areas with high organic matter deposits and good soil cover. They are usually dark pigmented and sensitive to light and touch. They are not considered as the burrowing type because they have minimal direct influence on soil structure. Epigeic earthworms are however highly suitable for vermicomposting. Endogeic earthworms live beneath the soil surface in lateral burrows as deep as 30-40 cm and a are considered as geophagous because they primarily thrive on humus rich soil. They play an important role in detoxing the soil of contaminants and excreting pH balanced soil which helps improve soil fertility. Anecic earthworms live in vertical burrows which go deep (90cm) into the soil profile. They consume both soil and organic matter and are therefore regarded as geo-phytophagous. Their feeding behavior greatly contributes to soil fertility as they continuously pull organic matter to lower soil horizons. Some studies have mentioned their use in the field of vermicomposting, however, the most suitable are epigeic. It is important to note however that not all epigeics are suitable for vermicomposting. I guess you may be asking, “Which ones are the best for vermicomposting?” Well, look out for our subsequent article which will characterize these worms.
Worm farming opens the door to many possibilities. Two immediate products derived are earthworms and vermicompost. Earthworms can be used as fishing bait, fish food, chicken food or it can be processed into a powder as a source of livestock protein (value-added). Vermicompost can be used as a soil amendment and an organic fertilizer. It could also be used for making a liquid plant supplement commonly known as compost tea. This is a great way to start if you are thinking organic food production.
This concept has been embraced by a group of farmers who have something in common, organic farming. OASATT, the Organic Agriculture Stakeholders Association of Trinidad and Tobago are involved in a variety of production activities such as livestock production, bee keeping, herb and vegetable production and composting. They all share the view that foods can be produced without the use of synthetic agricultural inputs. Is that really possible? Can we really grow food without synthetic inputs? Well OASATT believes that if you are serious about your health and the environment, then you should start working with nature.
A key ecosystem service of earthworms in our environment is that of organic waste recycling. The concept of vermicomposting is based on this fundamental service. Our vermiculture course at Boissierre Greens Earthworm Farm has pushed OASATT one step closer to sustainable farming. They will soon be able to transform their crop and livestock waste into vermicompost, which is a natural source of essential plant nutrients, growth regulating compounds and beneficial microbes. They will also have earthworms for protein and to help maintain their soils. Lastly, they will have our support in becoming successful worm farmers 😉