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Objectives Introduction Organic Resources Available for Manuring and Composting Compost and Composting Stages of Composting
2.4.1 2.4.2 2.4.3 Mesophilic Stage Thennophilic Stage Curing

Principles of Composting Types of Composting

2.6.1 2.6.2 2.6.3 2.7.1 2.7.2 2.7.3

Aerobic Decomposition Anaerobic Decomposition Vermicomposting lndore Method Bangalore Method Coimbatore Method Mechanical Compost Plants NADEP Method Other Methods of Composting C/N Ratio of the Bedding Materials Blending and Shredding Moisture Temperature Oxygen or Aeration pH

Methods of Composting

2.7.5 2.7.6 2.8.1 2.8.2 2.8.3 2.8.4 2.8.5 2.8.6

Factors Affecting Composting

Vermicompost (Worm Compost) External Features of Earthworm Life Cycle of Earthworm Types of Earthworm Used for ~ermicom~osting Characteristics of Vermicompost
2.13.1 Chemical 2.13.2 Physical

Vermicompost Preparation Advantage of Manures and Compost Disadvantages of Manures and Compost Organic Manure (other than Composts)

2.17.1 2.17.2 2.17.3 2.17.4

Farm Yard Manure (FYM) Gobar Gas Slurry Poultry Manure Green Manure

Composting and Manuring

Concentrated Organic Manures

2.18.1 Oilcakes 2.18.2 Meal Group Manures

Liquid Manures
2.19.1 Liquid Farm Yard Manure 2.19.2 Vermiwash

Let Us Sum up Key Words Further References Model Answers

After going through this Unit, you will be able to learn: Compost, composting and methods of composting; and Types and characteristic of Organic manures (other than compost).

We know, good soil fertility is an important factor in farming. Every organic farmer is keen to build up long term soil fertility and appropriate tilth by adding a variety of natural amendments to the soil. The regular addition of appropriate compost and other suitable organic manures are best to enhance the organic and humus contents in the soil. This help build a fertile soil structure in which the plants make better use of water and nutrients. It is also easier to till and ensure optimum crop yield on a long term basis. Microorganisms make soil alive and productive besides aiding disease and pest resistance. The compost enhances the population of such microbes in the soil.

Composting is the microbiological decomposition of organic matter into a relatively stable humus-like material. Some definitions also include controlled conditions andor final use (as an amendment for plant growth). Composting is a common practice to dispose of and recycle the agro-wastes to valuable organic manures. Organic manure favourably influences the plant growth and development through supply of essential nutrients. It also improves soil structure, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), and water holding capacity. This Unit deals with organic manures that are familiar to the farmers. Large quantities of organic matters are used at present in anunscientific manner can be usefully exploited to add to the productivity and wealth of the nation.

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management


India has a vast resource of manurial and composting material. Cattle dung and urine, sweepings from cattle shed and streets, forest litter, poultry, sheep and goat droppings, sewage, sludge, biogas slurry, industrial effluents, fish pond effluents, press mud, coir pith, weeds, seaweed residue, tannery waste, by products of slaughter houses, urban and rural solid wastes, agro-industry byproducts such as oil cakes, paddy husk and bran, bagasse and saw dust, fruit andiegetable wastes, cotton; wool and silk wastes, tea and tobacco wastes, marine wastes, tank silt, green manure etc. The nutrient contents of some of the organic manures are given in Table 2.1.
Table 2.1:,AverageNutrient Content of Different Organic Materials Animal
Cow dung fresh Urine


0.10-0.20 Trace

0.10-0.30 0.5-1. O

I Sheep and goat dune fresh

Urine Horse dung fresh Urine Poultry dropping

0.90- 1.20 0.7-0.7 1.5-1.7 0.4-0.5 1.2- 1.50 1.0-1.80 0.36 0.40 0.42 0.65

0.4-06 Trace 0.30-0.40 Trace 1.4-1.80 0.08 0.23 0.57 0.75

1 0 . ~ . ~ 1
1.8-2.0 0.30-0.40 1.30-1.50 0.80-0.90 0.7 1 2.17 1.65 2.50

.Straw or Stalks
Paddv Jowar Maize Bai ra

1 Banana drv leaf



0.61 0.44


0.12 0.10


1. O 0.66


I Dhaincha
(Sesbania aculeata) Sunnhemp Green gram




0.5 1 0.53 0.53

0.75 0.72 0.85

0.12 0.18 0.18

Black gram

Handbook of Agriculture (ZCAR, New Delhi, 1980)


You may say that 'compost' is the final product obtained from composting. Here we shall define both words 'compost' and 'composting' separately. The

compost is a dynamic, earthy, smell less, granular, humus rich and stabilized (no further decomposition) material obtained after the composting.As organic matter begins to decompose, it passes through a sequence of changes. The end product of this natural decomposition is the compost. This product is stable and can be stored without emitting foul odour or attracting insects. The product can be directly applied to the soil. The unstable organic compounds in immature compost will begin the composting process in the soil again when it is applied in the soil. As a result, the soil temperature will rise and may adversely affect the plant growth and development. In this process, the available nitrogen in the soil may get consumed by the microbes, rendering nitrogen deficiency (temporary) in the soil. This phenomenon is called nitrogen immobilization. Though this process is temporary, it affects the initial growth of plants. In India, pioneering work on compost was carried out by Howard and Wad in 1931 at lndore (Madhya Pradesh) and by Fowler at Bangalore (Karnataka). Fowler worked out the process of "Activated Compost". This compost is prepared by adding fresh raw material in the already fermenting heap to hasten the microbial activities. This process is useful for offensive material like night soil. Acharya (1939) had also done pioneering work in the area of pit manure preparation. The method is suitable for composting the village wastes and night soil through hot fermentation. The process is called "Bangalore method of compost preparation". Now let us define 'composting'. In simple tenns 'Composting is microbiological decomposition of organic matter into a relatively stable humus-like material'. It is a natural biological process, carried out under controlled aerobic conditions (need oxygen). In this process, various microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, break down organic matter into simpler substances. The effectiveness of the composting process is dependent on the environmental conditions present within the composting system i.e., oxygen, temperature, moisture, material disturbance, organic matter and the size and activity of microbial populations. Composting is not a mysterious or complicated process. Natural recycling (decomposing and recycling of organic matter) occurs on a continuous basis in the natural environment. Organic matter is metabolized by microorganisms and consumed by invertebrates. The resulting nutrients are returned to the soil to support plant growth.

Composting and Manuring

The composting process is carried out by three classes of microbes


Psychrophiles - low temperature microbes Mesophiles -medium temperature microbes Thermophiles - high temperature microbes

Generally, composting begins at mesophilic temperature and progresses into the thermophilic range. In later stages, other organisms and insects (for examples detritivorous) including actinomycetes, centipedes, millipedes, fungi, sowbugs, spiders and earthworms assist the process.

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

Heat Water Vapor

4 .


+COe Gas


Organic Matter Finished Compost


0 2

Fig. 21 Composting Process .:

What Happens During Composting?

Composting may begin as soon as the raw materials are mixed together. During the initial stages of the process, oxygen and the easily degradable components of the raw materials are rapidly consumed by the microorganisms. The temperature of the windrow or pile is directly related to the microorganism activity of the windrow and is a good indicator of what is going on inside. The temperature of the composting materials generally follows a pattern of rapid increase to 120140F (49-60C). This temperature remains for several weeks depending on the materials. The active composting slows down the temperature and will gradually drop and the compost reaches at ambient air temperatures. A curing period usually follows the active composting period. In this phase, the materials will continue to decompose slowly and continue to break down until the last easily decomposed raw materials are consumed by the remaining microorganisms. At this point, the compost becomes relatively stable and easy to handle. During composting, nitrogen is lost as gaseous ammonia. This process is referred as volatilization.


You have learnt that the composting is a complex process involving a number of microbes and physical conditions. The composting consists of the following stages: Mesophilic Thermophilic Curing Now let us elaborate these stages in detail.

2.4.1 Mesophilic Stage

As soon as we pilekeap the wastes and ensure proper conditions, the heap begins to heat up right away and the composting begins. This first phase of composting is called mesophilic stage. In this stage, the temperature remains below 45OC and microorganisms multiply and break down easily available carbohydrates. The pH begins to drop as acids are produced. The pile become active and a series of processes are set in motion.


2.4.2 Thermophilic Stage

After mesophilic, the nest stage is thermophilic. It can last for several weeks. As active composting takes place, temperature in the centre of pile rises to about 50-65OC. At this temperature range, heat loving (thermophilic)bacteria vigorously degrade the organic materials. Temperature will remain in this range as long as decomposable materials are available and oxyg,en is adequate for microbial activity. Many important processes take place during this stage. As the organic matter degrades, its particle size is reduced. Pathogens are destroyed as the heat in pile is more (above critical temperature 55 OC). Fly larvae and weed seeds are C destroyed when the temperature rise above to 63 O .

Cornposting and Manuring

2.4.3 Curing
During this stage, the stability comes in the decomposed materials. The growth of actinomycetes and fungi which digest hemicelluloses is enhanced. This stage is critical'for developing disease-suppressivenessof composts.



The biodegradation process is carried out by different group heterotrophic microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and protozoa). The role of cellulytic and lignolytic microorganisms in decomposition of crop wastes is of prime importance. Microorganisms involved in the process derive their energy and carbon requirements from the decomposition of carbonaceous materials. Fungi are more efficient in carbon assimilation than bacteria and actinomycetes. of In the process of composting, 2/3rd carbon is evolved as CO, and remaining 11 3rd combined with nitrogen in the living cell of the microbes. In organic fanning, is emphasis should be given to prepare compost using the on-farm agro-wastes. The preparation and use of composts for raising the crops under organic farming should comply with the standards prescribed in NPOP (National Programme on Organic Production). If we need to get the composts from out side, the quality and hygiene should be ensured. There is a list in the NPOP(Nationa1 Programme for Organic Production) document of 'permitted' and 'restricted' products for the compost preparation. You may refer the Appendix of Unit -1 of Course -1 Block for detail information about the restricted and permitted products for composting. Compost derived from night soil is not permitted in organic farming. The farmer should comply with the standards and produce evidence before the Inspection agency during certification.


Generally the composting of organic residues is accomplished using any of the following techniques: 1) Aerobic

3) Verrnicomposting

2.6.1 Aerobic Decomposition

When organic materials are broken down in the presence of 0, (Oxygen) the

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

process is known as aerobic decomposition. Under these conditions microorganisms which utilize O,, decompose organic matter and assimilate carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and other nutrients for synthesizing their cell protoplast. Heterotrophic organisms take energy from the decomposition of organic matter (OM), resulting in production of CO, and humus and releases some of essential plant nutrients. Carbon functions as energy source required for cell protoplast. In the aerobic process, there are no nuisance problems such as foul odour as it happens under anaerobic conditions due to the presence of intermediate compounds. Exothermic energy released during the oxidation of carbon to CO, is equivalent to 484 - 674 K Cal/glucose mole. The major reactions occur under aerobic decomposition: Sugars, cellulose, hemicellulose, (CH,O) X + XO, + XCO, lignins, proteins Organic N Organic S +XO Organic Phosphate (Phytin, Lecithin)
+ NH3

+ XH,O + Energy

+NO, -+NO, +SO, +H,PO, +Ca (HPO,),

Some of the features of aerobic decomposition are as follows:

Reduces weight and volume of the pile by about 50%. Can kill weed seeds and pathogens and degrade pesticides. It persists for longer time . The pile must be turned to aerate. Loss of carbon and nitrogen. Nitrogen may not be available (due to immobilization) .

2.6.2 Anaerobic Decomposition

Anaerobic microbes breakdown organic matter through a process of reduction in the absence of 0, (oxygen). First, the acid producing bacteria (facultative heterotrophs) hydrol;ses organic materials into fatty acid, aldehydes and alcohol. After that, a group of bacteria transforms the intermediate products to methane, ammonia and CO, .And H,O(water) is also needed for anaerobic process. As in aerobic process, the organisms use N, P and other nutrients for developing cell protoplast. In this process CH, (methane) production will be more than CO,. Such fermentation takes place in Gobar gas plants also. Foul odours (H,S, hydrogen sulfide) is produced during putrification (here only 26 K cal of energy1 gram molecule of glucose is released). The energy of carbon is in the form of methane gas and the resultant energy from gobar gas plants is also utilized for cooking purpose and for running engines. CH,O+ 0, + CH,COOH + CH4+C02 Organic N + NH,. 2H2S+ CO, + light -+ (CH,O) x + S, + H,O organic P -+ reduced P


Similarly, anaerobic decomposition has the following characteristics: Odor get emitted during this process. Gaseous by-products can be made use of. Product can be more concentrated source of nitrogen. Heap temperature is lowered. Produces gases. Organic acids may be phytotoxic, hence it should not be directly used.

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2.6.3 Vermicomposting
The Vermicomposting is a technique of producing organic compost using earthworms. The detailed description of Vermicomposting has been given separately in this Unit. Vennicompost is highly suitable for organic farming.


Now let us examine the different methods of preparing the compost. We shall be describing the best practices in the practical manual of this Block. The theory of the different methods is given below:

2.7.1 Indore Method

This process was developed by Howard and Wad in 1931 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh. In this method, waste materials such as plant residues, animal wastes, weeds, street refuse and other organic wastes can be composted. The waste materials are cut into small pieces and spread in layers of 10-15 cm thickness either in pits or in heaps of 1 m wide, I m deep and of convenient length. It is properly moistened with cow dung using earth. To ensure 50 % moisture sufficient water should be sprinkled to wet the composting materials. Periodically three to four turnings are given. To get proper aeration, the material is covered with a layer of 2 to 3 cm soil. Under the aerobic process of decomposition 40 to 50 % organic matter and nitrogen are lost at initial stage. This method of composting, however, involves considerable labour in preparing heap and periodic turning and becomes labour intensive and impracticable when large quantitiesof materials have to be processed. Further, the turnings of materials are not always necessary and even decomposition can go on to the desired extent if adequate level of moisture is maintained. The site of composting should be at the high level to avoid rain water stagnation. The average composition of compost prepared by Indore method has been found to have 0.8 % nitrogen, 0.3% phosphorus and 1.5 % potassium.



" for Turning

Empty Space

Fig. A: Pit for lndore Method

Fig. B: Filling Method of Plt

Fig. 2.2: Indore method

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

Advantages and Limitations

The Indore process is not the best method due to the relatively high labour requirement and inadequate protection from rain, sun and wind. Loss of nutrients is rapid. Upper portion of heap gradually dries as a result of poor decomposition.


Bangalore Method

Acharya (1939) had initiated the work of composting the town refuse and night soil. This process is also called Hot Fermentation Mechanism of composting or the Bangalore method. It has been adopted to solve effectively the problems of safe disposal of night soil and producing high quality compost in the bargain. In this process, compost production points are located just on the outskirts of city for convenient transport of night soil and other refuse to the pits. The compost depot should accommodate about 200 trenches with 1 to 5 m spacing between the trenches. Roads of suitable width are provided between rows for the convenience to approach and unload the materials inside the trenches. To begin, the city wastes are dumped into the trenches to make a layer of 15 cm. Then night soil is discharged over this and spread to a layer of about 5 cm. The trench is filled with town waste and night soil in alternate layers, until it reaches to 15 cm above the ground level, with a final layer of town refuse on the top. It could be made dome shape and covered with a thin layer of soil to prevent breeding of flies and moisture loss. Sewage water may be sprayed over the layer of refuse. This system provides a method of disposal of various kinds of waste including slaughter house waste, sewage, sludge etc. This heterogeneous mass is allowed to remain as such without turning and watering for about 3 to 4 months. The decomposition of dumped wastes in pits take place largely in the absence of sufficient oxygen except in the surface layer or so. The anaerobic decomposition is comparatively slow but markedly less wasteful. High temperature will develop in the lower layers. As the material does not receive turning, homogenous decomposition of compost does not take place. Even then, the C: N ratio is reduced to less than 20 : 1 in about 5 to 6 months and the compost is then ready for use. Since there is no turning and watering, this method is suitable to the areas where water and labour availability is scarce. In the absence of pits and trenches, the town refuse can be composted in above ground heaps of 1 m width, 1 m height and of convenient length with refused materials and night soil placed in alternate layers in pits and trenches and placing the final refuse on the top (Gaur et al. 1990). Through this process, the materials decompose faster than in the pits and trenches and can be ready by 3 to 4 months for use. The composted material obtained by this method will contain 1.5 % nitrogen, 1.0 % phosphorus and 1.5 % potassium.

Advantages and Limitations

In this method, night soil handling is great problem. Sometimes, it is unhygienic for human and animals. Negligent handling can cause skin diseases. Under anaerobic decomposition, the loss of nitrogen is relatively lower than aerobic decomposition.

Cornposting and Manuring



Fig. A: Trench for Banglore Method

Fig. 6: Filling Method of Pit

2.7.3 Coimbatore Method

This is an anaerobic decomposition. First crop residues as well as farm wastes are filled in pits of 2m wide, 4 m length and 1 m depth to a thickness of about 15 cm. A five cm cow dung slurry is spread over this layer to increase its biodegradation. Over this layer 1 kg ground rock phosphate is applied to minimize nitrogen loss. In this way application of farm wastelcrop residue, cow dung slurry and rock phosphate is applied in alternate layers till the height reaches 0.5 m above ground level. After that the piled up material above ground is covered with soil or mud to prevent the entry of rain water. After 35 to 40 days turning of material is done to make it an aerobic process. Thereafter the compost will be ready within 4 to 5 months.

2.7.4 Mechanical Compost Plants

Indore and Banglore methods are suitable for small cities1 towns to decompose the garbage. Mechanical compost plants of 200 tonnes day and above capacity have been made for converting the city waste into compost. The refuse received is first passed through primary grinder. Before that, the non compostable matehal such as bricks, stones, iron pieces, broken glass pieces, rubber, plastics etc. are removed. The processed refuse is then kept in pre fermentation yard for 7 to 10 days. Decomposition of the organic matter in the waste takes place under aerobic condition, resulting reduction in weight, volume and moisture content as well as killing of harmful pathogens. This partly fermented garbage is then passed through a secondary grinder or pulverizer and a mechanical vibrating sieve for separating rubber, plastics and other tough non-decomposable organic materials, and brought to the final fermentation area. Thereafter, it is subjected to aerobic decomposition for 3 to 4 weeks. The compost produced this way is rich in NPK contents. Mechanical compost takes less time than the Banglore trench method and there is no nuisance of flies and foul smell. Though the cost is slightly higher than the trench method, it is more suitable from the hygiene point of view. The compost contains 0.5 to 0.6 % nitrogen, 0.6 % phosphorus and 0.5 % potash with a C : N ratio of 20 : 1 (Gour 1979).

2.7.5 NADEP Method

In this method, pits of size 15'x 6' x 6' (L x W x H) is made from bricks with provision of 6 holes per square meter in the walls. Alternate method layers of

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

wastes i.e. rural wastes ( 8 inches) followed by FYM (Farm Yard Manure) (4 inches) and soil ( 4 inches) are put in the pit and the moisture about 60-70 per cent is maintained. In NADEP method of composting, plant residues, dung slurry and soil are used as raw materials.

Advantages and Limitations

This method is cost effective and easy to handle.

2.7.6 Other Methods of Cornposting

These composting techniques are not practiced in India but are a potential tool for decomposition of organic residues. Some of them are as follows: a) b)

Barkley Method : Developed in 1953 at University of California, USA,

Barkley campus. This method is also called

Two Weeks Method".

Windrow Method: It is one the In Connecticut, the most successful municipal composting method developed in Connecticut, USA . It employs
the windrow process.

c) d)

Beccari Process: This technique is common in Italy, France, and USA.

Rodale and Staff (1971) developed this method.

Indore Process of USA: Wiley in 1976 refined the Indore process and named as Indore process of USA.


Some of the important factors in decomposition of organic materials are carbon/ nitrogen ratio, blending, moisture and aeration, temperature etc. Now let us examine these factors in detail.

2.8.1 C/N Ratio of the Bedding Materials

The ratio of per cent carbon to per cent nitrogen (C: N ratio) defines the relative quantities of these two elements in the crop residues. The process of converting organic materials into the manures is chiefly microbial and therefore influenced by the proportions of carbonaceous and nitrogenous materials those are present in the organic materials to be used. Wider C: N ratio materials will take long duration to narrow down its C: N ratio. The C: N ratio of organic materials used range from 30: 1 to 80: 1 (given in Table 2.2). The C: N ratio of manures and composted materials is less than 20: 1. Thus, the time of composting can be reduced by adding an organic nitrogen source, viz., activated sewage sludge or blending by organic residue richer in nitrogen such as legume residues and green leaves. Further, Trichoderma harzianum as a Cellulolytic fungus reduces wider C: N ratio and narrows it. The cereal straw can be decomposed easily with the help of such microbes. They will not only produce nitrogen rich compost but also reduce pathogcnic burden of the resulting compost.

Table: 2.2: C: N Ratio of Selected Organic Materials Organic Substance

Soil microorganisms Cornlsorghum residue Wheat straw Cow dung fresh Digested slurry Digested cattle dung Compost

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C :N Ratio
8:1 60 : 1 80: 1 37 to 40, : 1 23 : 1 <20: 1 <20: 1


2.8.2 Blending and Shredding

The blending refers to mixing of different types of organic residues to create favourable bedding for decomposition. Microbial decomposition of organic matter occurs on the. surface of materials. The smaller the particles size, the greater surface area. Verv small particles size mav not compost easily, because the small particles pack and compact which inhibit the inflow of air in the pile. Too large particles compost slowly, decreases temperature and lose moisture often. The desirable size of organic matter particles is around 5 cm. The shredding may involve lot of labor.

2.8.3 Moisture
Moisture is essential for the microbial action. The moisture acts as an aid for the microbes to draw nutrients required for the synthesis of protein. Optimum range of moisture for the composting is between 50 to 60 per cent. If moisture exceeds 60 per cent in the pile, the structural stability of the compost pile is reduced, material begins to compact, oxygen transfer get inhibited and anaerobic condition develops within the pile. If moisture content of heap is below 40 % (wlw) decomposition will be aerobic but slow. Final product usually contains moisture in the range of 20-40 per cent.

2.8.4 Temperature
This is a key environmental factor influencing biological activities in the composting process. Temperature should be monitored closely. When it reaches more than 60-62C within the pileheap, it should be turned or aerated. This will help to brini the temperature down. With the increasing microbial activities there is increase in the temperature. If temperature reaches beyond 40C then mesophilic bacteria are replaced by thermophilic bacteria. Temperature may go up to 55 "C to 70 "C for 2 to 5 davs and then it cools down to ambient temperature. High temperature'is essential for killing pathogenic organism and weed seeds. Decomposition is faster in thermophilic stage. Optimum temperature range for composting is between 55-60 "C.

2.8.5 Oxygen or Aeration

Aerobic conditions are essential for decomposition.Aerobes are micro-organisms that predominate in air rich environment. If the content of oxygen falls below 5

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

per cent in the piles, the aerobes starts dying. The amount of oxygen required during composting depends upon:

1) 2)

Stage of process-high 0, levels required early in the compost process. Types of feedstock- the higher nitrogen content in the feedstock, the greater is oxygen requirement. Moisture content- materials with high moisture levels will require large quantities of oxygen.


pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Aqueous solutions at 25C with a pH less than 7 are considered acidic, while those with a pH greater than 7 are considered basic (alkaline). The concept of pH was first introduced by a Danish Chemist S. P. L. Sorensen in 1909.The name, pH, has have come from several sources likepondus hydrogenii, potentia hydrogenii (Latin), potentiel hydrogine (French), and potential of hydrogen (English). The optimum pH rage for most of the biological reactions is between 5.5 to 8.0. As the biological decomposition proceeds, the pH increases to neutral. At lower pH, fungi are most dominant organisms facilitating the decomposition. At pH 6.5 to 7.5, bacteria dominates. At high pH, ammonia gas may be generated and this may cause adverse odour, microbial population decline and poor quality compost. Check Your Progress Exercise 1 Note: a) Space is given below for the answer. b) Compare your answer with that given at the end of the unit. 1) What do you mean by composting?


How does nitrogen immobilization takes place during the decomposition of high CN ratio material?

Compostingand Manuring


How' compost is prepared?


What do you mean by verrnicomposting?

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management


Verrnicompost or worm compost is the most preferred manure in organic farming. It is the final product obtained after breakdown of organic matter by earthworm. The most common earthworm species recommended for vermicomposting are Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellus. Earthworms eat organic materials, pass it through its digestive system and excrete in the form of small pellets called Vermicompost. It is rich in Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S), Cobalt (Co), Boron (B), Vitamins and growth IEarthworms in action promoting hormones. The municipal waste, non toxic solid and liquid waste of the industries and house hold garbage can also be converted into vermicompost. Worins not only convert garbage into valuable manure but also keep the environment healthy. The conversion of organic wastes by earthworms into compost and their (worm) multiplication are simple process and can be easily hand.led by the farmers. The word Vennicompost originated from Latin word "Vermes" which means Worms. Earthworms are an important component of soil fertility. They are called "Natural Bio-Reactor". To emphasize their importance in soil fertility, several quotations are available. For example; Charles Darwin said that "all the parts of fertile land must have at least once passed through the bodies of earthworms". Aristotle said that "Earthworms are the intestine of the earth". Sometimes it is said that "earthworms are the pulse of the soil, healthier the pulse, healthier the soil". The method to prepare Vermicompost and other associated activities will be dealt in the practical manual. In this Unit, we shall be describing the theoretical aspect of the earthworm like life cycle, taxonomy and characteristics of different species of earthworms recommended for vermicomposting. Now, let us understand physiology and other associated features of earthworms. The earthworm body and its internal organs are illustrated below :

Fig.2.3: Sketches of Internal Organs of Earthworm

Composting and Manuring




Female Generative Male Generative Rows of Setae


(A) Ventral View of Earthworm, (B) Magnified View of Anterior Three Segments


The common features and body parts are described below.

Earthworms are invertebrates. This means that they do not have a backbone. Insects, spiders, jellyfish, and millipedes are some examples of invertebrate animals.

Segmented Body
You will notice that earthworms have long, cylindrical body that is divided into similar segments. The number of segment varies from 85-111. However, 90 segments are found in many species. The grooves that extend around the body of the worm show the arrangement of the segments. In some species of earthworms, the body may be composed of over 100 segments. Two pairs of male pore (spermethical pore) are situated in 17h segment while female pore is single one opening generally in 14h segment.



Earthworm body has bilateral symmetry. This means that if you cut the earthworm down the centerline, the left side of the body would be identical to

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

the right side. Body Colours One of the key features of an earthworm is the colour of its body. Some species of earthworms have a dark-red or red-violet body while other species are muddy-green. This is an important characteristics to identify different species.

Dorsal viewof apmstorniurn
Epllobic tygolobld

PrOStomium Some species of earthworms have a tongue-like lobe above the mouth called prostomium. The prostomium is a sensory device. Earthworms do not have nose, eyes, ears, or hands to gather sensory information about their environment. Instead, they depend on their prostomium and sensory receptors in their skin to "feel" their way.

,1 :;,


- -2y.7 -, :-*;

-,:-:.l... :,.!h&.., &L.-A.!~l..<L&k&; .




[ ; Y., ,

, ;.I


' I

.-, . r.~~:,,, Peristomium ;: : The first body segment (mouth) !.3{. is called the peristomium. The peristomium contains the mouth parts.


;TTTY- ,
> ;

-,Ti:y'-y.! : t.rrT, && dkL# L,;L2 ,..c

, , &

, , . ;.

Clitellum ( indicated by arrow)


Adult (sexually mature) earthworms have a distinct swelling called clitellum. The clitellum is often white or orange in colour. It produces most of the material secreted to form earthworm cocoons. The clitellum forms a band that can be flared, non-flared, saddle-shaped, or annular. It is generally found between segments 26 and 33.
The Clitellum can have any combination of the following shapes: (Cross sectional view)

li!?i 0
Non-flared (Lateral View) ventral view

The clitellum is only found on adult worms. Young or juvenile worms do not have a clitellum. The clitellum of different species of earthworm has a distinct colour, size, and shape. Another key structure found on the clitellum is the tubercula pubertatis.

Tubercula Pubertatis (TP)(indicated by arrow) The Tubercula Pubertatis (TP) is another structure used to identify earthworms. The TP are glandular swellings located on both sides of the clitellum. The shape and location of the Tubercula Pubertatis (TP) on the clitellum are key features used to identify mature earthworms.

Genital 'Ibmescences (GT)(indicated by arrow) The Genital ~ e s c e n c e(GT) are the areas of modified s epidermis (skin) that do not have distinct boundaries. These are the openings through which follicles of genital setae open.

The pattern and location of the GT are important clues to identifying different species of earthworms.

Cornposting and Manuring

Located on the clitellum of a mature earthworm, it is the anterior or head -end of the worm (the shorter region to one side of the clitellum). This end of the worm is usually more pointed than the posterior end of the animal. The prostornium is the first segment at the anterior of the animal.

Located at the clitellum of a mature earthworm. The longer region is the posterior or tail end of the earthworm.

The top-side of any animal is called the dorsal surface. The dorsal surface of some species of earthworms is darker than its ventral surface.

The bottom-side of the earthworm body is called the ventral surface.

Periproct: The periproct is the last segment of an earthworm body.

(Cross Sectional View)

closely Paired

Each segment, egcept the first and last, have tiny bristlelike structures called setae. These structures help the earthworm to move and act to sense the environment. The number and arrangement of setae are important clues to the identification of earthworms.

The epidermis is the name for the skin of an earthworm. It is the outer layer of worm and it secretes a mucous.



Earthworms are segmented elongated tubular apodous, hermaphrodite creature, which crawl on the surface. Two individuals copulate by putting their heads opposite directions to each other. There is a spinal shaped structure over male and female pore called Clitellum. Its size and color varies with species to species. After some time of copulation, clitellum is shed out as Cocoon. Each Cocoon contains-1-5 eggs. After two to three weeks, young worm emerge out and start living freely. Maturity takes place in about 1 '/2 to 2 months. Thus, a worm completes its life cycle in 3 and 3 '/2 months. In case of Eisena foetida, the cocoons are laid out during March to October.

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management


The earthworms belongs to five families: Lumbricidae, Eudrilidae, Megascolecidae, Octchaftidae and Monilicastridae. Out of these five families, first three (Lumbricidae, Eudrilidae and Megascolecidae) are important for vermicomposting earthworms species. Eisena foetida, Eudrillus eugenae and Perionyx excavatus are the important earthworm species used for vermicomposting. The Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, West Bengal may be approached for the identification of earthworm species.
A classification of the earthworm has been presented below based on their habitat and feeding habits:


Epigeics : Surface dwelling worm. Feed

primarily on litter and excreta of other organisms. These are more energetic and quick in action. These are best suited for vermicomposting. The example of this class are : Eisena foetida, Eudrilus eugeniae:


Anecics : These are sub-surface dwellers ,

makes vertical burrow, feeding extensively on litter, animal waste, and other organic residue, help in soil aeration and improvement. They are partially suitable for the vermicomposting. Lampito mauritii is earthworm species of this group.


Endogeics : These feed on organically rich soil and make horizontal burrowing. The earthworms of this group live in deep soil sub-surface. They are soil formers. Not suitable for the vermicomposting. Octochaetona thurstoni belongs to this group. Mix species culture of earthworms is recommended for best result in vermicomposting.


2.13.1 Chemical
Characteristics1Nutrient Percentage

EC (electrical conductivity) 28.14 OC (Organic carbon) 11.03 Nitrogen 7.37 Phosphorus 0.37 Carbon 4.58 Potassium 0.4 Magnesium 0.38 Zinc 0.16 Iron 0.38 copper 0.025 Enzymes (phosphatase),vitamins, antibiotics, PGRs (GA3, IAA,cytokinin- in traces

2.13.2 Physical
1) 2) Porous, having particle size of 0.2-2.2mm. Dark brown in colour.

Composting and Manuring


Odour less. High CEC 9cation Exchange capacity). High water retention capacity.


Advantages of Vermicomposting
Vermicompost is an ecofriendly natural fertilizer prepared from biodegradable organic wastes and is free from chemical inputs. It does not have any adverse effect on soil, plant and environment.

It improves soil aeration, texture and tilth thereby reducing soil compaction. It improves water retention capacity of soil because of its high organic matter content. It promotes better root growth and nutrient absorption. It improves nutrient status of soil-both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients.


The detailed methodology for preparing the Vermicompost shall be described in the practical manual. The Windrow Method is the best method for the commercial Vermicompost preparation. The windrows are prepared on a cemented floor and a shade is provided over it to protect against the sunshine.

Check Your Progress Exercise 2 Note: a) Space is given below for the answer.
b) Compare your answer with that given at the end of the unit.


What do you mean by Anecics species of earthworms and why these are not suitable for vermicomposting?

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management


Enumerate the advantages of vermicomposting?



3) What are the concentrated organic manures, elaborate?


What is liquid manure; are they more suitable in comparison to that of solid organic manures, explain?


Most plant nutrients in compost are in an organic form. Although compost is not high in nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium, (about 2% only), these nutrients are released slowly over a period of time. Nutrients become available to plant roots at a slower rate with compost compared to inorganic fertilizers. Therefore,

the nutrients are less likely to leach out. Only a fraction of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium applied as compost is usable by the crop during the first year and more becoming available in the years that follow. The real benefit of adding compost to the soil lies in its ability to increase soil organic matter levels. Research studies have shown that if one inch thick layer of leaf compost is annually applied and incorporated into the soil over a 12 year period, the organic matter content increased from 5.9% to 12.6%.And water holding capacity of the soil went up from 1.3 inches to 1.9 inches of water per square foot of soil after seven years of compost applications. Other advantages: Excellent soil conditioner. Improve soil structure, decreases soil bulk density and increases infiltration rate of water. Increases soil buffering capacity. Reduces A1 (aluminum) and Fe (iron) toxicity in acid soils. Increases carbon dioxide in plant canopy or in plant with restricted air circulation. It supplies growth promoting substances such as hormones. Acts as a source of food for soil microbes and maintains microbial activity. Increases soil organic, humic matter contents and overall fertility. Reduces soil bulk density, plants manage deeper root penetration. Improves the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), which increases nutrient availability and reduces leaching. Lead to overall soil aggregate stability, which allows the soil to function at optimum levels and get optimum yield.



There is not any disadvantage in using the composts but it may cause detrimental effects if not produced and used correctly. For example: Addition of raw organic materials could invite termites.


Disease organisms may remain active in the organic matter.


2.17.1 Farm Yard Manure (FYM)
The Farm Yard Manure (farmyard manure, cattle manure) consist of a mixture of cattle dung, urine, bedding materials and unutilized cattle feed. These materials are collected and placed in a trench of 6 m long, 2 m wide and 1 m deep. The trench may be divided in 1 m sections. When each section is filled up to a height of about 0.5 m above ground level, the top of the heap is rounded off to the


Soil Fertility an* Nutrient Management

shape of a dome and plastered with earth and cow dung slurry. Five to six buckets of water may be sprinkled before plastering to ensure sufficient moisture. The plastering will save nitrogen and moistur:: and prevent fly nuisance. The pit should be protected from rain. Within 4 to 5 months, manure will be ready for use. Well rotten manure will contain 0.5 % nitrogen, 0.25 % phosphorus and 0.5 % potash. The farmers' practice of storing dung and litter in exposed heaps above ground is defective and leads to loss of manurial ingredients, such as nitrogen. Such losses are prevented by the pit method.

2.17.2 Gobar Gas Slurry

As we know, that use of cattle dung as a source of fuel without losing its manurial value is the basic objective of a Gobar Gas plants. Its gas is used as a source of energy and slurry can be used as manure. The anaerobic digestion of cattle dung and litter in the Gobar Gas plant yields a combustible gas (a mixture of methane and acetylene) useful for lighting and cooking purposes as well as good quality manure containing 1.99 % nitrogen, 0.76 % phosphorus along with a C: N ratio of 23: 1 (Gaur et al., 1990). A sketch of Gobar gas plants is shown below:

B C D E F G H i J N P R S T V W

Counter Poise Weight Supporting Wire Iron Pulleys Feeding Pipe Pver-Flow Channel Feeding Pipe Casholder Suporting Pipes GI. Pipe Condensed Water Trap Pit Fermention Well Ledge Wheel Cock GI. Bend with Wheel Cock Hose Pipe Spent Slurry Receiving Pit

Source: Z.A.R.Z., New Delhi, Information Leaflet, 1962 Fig.2.4: Gobar gas plant

2.17.3 Poultry Manure

Poultry dropping can be transformed into potent organic manure in the deep litter built up system. All that is required is to raise the birds on litter of chopped up straw, leaves or saw dust, turned over once a week. Deep litter is built up from the bacterial breakdown of litter material and droppings from the birds. Bacteria get to work in the mixture and a year later the manure is ready for use. One ton of manure can be produced by keeping 33 to 40 birds over a year time span. Ready poultry manures contains 3 % nitrogen, 2 % phosphorus and 2 % potash along with other trace elements and growth hormones. The nitrogen in

poultry manure is more quickly available compared to other organic manures. Therefore, it should not be applied to the crops much in advance as we apply the FYM.

C~mposting Manuring and

2.17.4 Green Manure

Green manuring may be defined "as a practice of turning green plants tissues grown in the field or taken from outside for improving the structure as well as fertility of the soil". There are two type of green manure.

Green manuring in situ: When green manuring crops are gown in the field and buried in the same field is known as green manuring in situ. Commonly grown crops for green manure are Dhaincha (Sesbania aculeata), sunnhemp (Crotolaria juncea) and guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), mung (Vigna radiata), cowpea (Vigna sinensis). The practice of green manure is adopted in various parts of India according to soil and climatic conditi'ons. Green leaf manuring (ex situ): Tender green leaves and twigs are collected from shrubs and trees grown on waste lands and bunds. These green materials are spread on the field and kcorporated in to the soil. The commonly grown shrub is Glyricidia (Glyricidia malulata) and karanj tree (Pongamia pinnata) etc.
The growing of green manure is ideal during the monsoon season. The desired crop is grown and turned into the soil at the flowering stage. The vegetative mass should be succulent by nature. Before sowing of the crop, the green biomass should be fully decomposed.

Effect of Green Manuring on the Soil

Supply nutrients particularly nitrogen to the crops. Improves soil health. Improves soil organic matter content. Improves microbial activities in the soil. Since only leguminous plants are preferred, it adds more nitrogen.

An Ideal Green Manure Crop should Posses the Following Traits:

Show early establishment and high seedling vigor. Tolerant to drought, shade, flood and adverse temperature. Possesses early onset of N fixation and its efficient sustenance. Have an ability to accumulate large bio mass and nitrogen in 4-6 weeks. Leguminous plants are largely used as green manure due to their symbiotic N fixing capacity, some non-leguminous plants are also used if they are locally available. Easy to incorporate in the soil. Quickly decomposable.

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Manaerement


The concentrated organic manures are the byproducts of the animal and plant industries. They are organic in nature and contain higher amount of primary plant nutrients compared to bulky organic manures. Common concentrated manures are oilcakes, blood, meat and fish meal etc. They are also known as organic fertilizers.

2.18.1 Oil Cakes

You know that cakes are obtained after extraction of oil. Some cakes are edible such as groundnut, sesame and mustard cakes, often used for cattle feed, which are normally not used for manuring. The non-edible cakes like mahua (Madhuca indica), karanj, neem, castor and jatropha (Jatropha curcas ) are not suitable for cattle feed due to the presence of some toxic substances. These non-edible cakes can be used as manure. The oil cakes are fast mineralizing manures; even then they should be applied well before the crop is seeded. The nutrients content of various oil cakes are given in the Table 2.3

Table 2.3: Average Nutrient Content of Oil Cakes

Materials a) Non Edible Oil Cakes 1) Castor cakes 2) Mahua cakes 3) Karanj cake 4) Neemcake 5) Safflowercake b) Edible Cakes 6) Cotton seed cakes (decorticated) 7) Cotton seed cakes (un-decorticated) 8) Groundnut cake 9) Linseed cake 10) Niger cake 11) Rapeseed cake 12) Sesame or ti1 cake 13) Jatropha
(Handbook on Fertilizer Usage 1986)


N (%I
5.5-5.8 2.5-2.6 3.9-4.0 5.2-5.3 4.8-1.9 6.4-6.5 3.9-4.0 7.0-7.2 5.5-5.6 4.7-4.8 5.1-5.2 6.2-6.3 4.4

Phosphate P,O,(%)

Potash &O(%)

1.8-1.9 0.8-0.9 0.9- 1.O 1.0-1.1 1.4-1.5 2.8-2.9 1.8-1.9 1.5-1.6 1.4-1.5 1.8-1.9 1.8- 1.9 2.0-2.1 2.09

1.0-101 1.8-1.9 1.3-1.4 1.4-1.5 1.2-1.3 2.1-2.2 1.6-1.7 1.3-1.4 1.2- 1.3 1.3-1.4 1.1-1.3 1.2-1.3 1.68

2.18.2 Meal Group Manures

Meal group of manures are horn meal, blood meal, bone meal, hoof meal, fish meal, meat meal etc. Bone meal is prepared by treating crushed animal bones with steam, dried and powdered. It is a good source of phosphorous. Horn and hoof meals are prepared by grinding them after roasting and drying properly.

Blood meals are prepared by evaporating its water to dryness. When completely dried, it is powdered and bagged. Fish meals are prepared by drying and powering the fish. The average nutrient content of these manures are given in table 2.4.
Table 2.4: Nutrient Content of Meal Group Manure Materials Nitrogen (N %) Phosphate (P,O, %) Potash (K,O %)

CornPosting and Manuring

Dried blood Fish manure

Bird guano Hoof and horn meal

10.0-12.0 4.0-10.0 7.0-8.0 14.0 5.0-6.5 2.0-2.5

1 .O-1.5 3.0-9.0
1 .O

0.6-0.8 0.3-1.5 2.0-3.0


Activated sludge Settled sludge

1 .O-. 12

0.5-0.7 0.4-0.5

Handbook on Fertilizer Usage (F.A.Z., New Delhi).


Liquid manures are prepared for direct use on the plant as foliar application.They are required in less quantity in comparison to that of solid manures. The efficacy of these liquid manures is more as the plant can absorb them directly from the leaves. It has been observed in various experiments that plants absorb nutrients 20 times faster through leaves compared to the roots. Liquid manures can also be used to mitigate the nutrient deficiencies in standing crops. Sometime the adverse soil physiographic conditions also encourage application of liquid manures.

2.19.1 Liquid Farm Yard Manure

The liquid farm yard manure can be easily made and applied as foliar application. Five to seven kilos of cow dung along with equal quantity of green leaves of leguminous plants are filled in a gunny bag and immersed in a drum containing fresh water. The water of the container is to be stirred for five minutes every day. After a period of 20 to 25 days liquid manure is ready for spraying on the plants. Remove gunny bag from the drum and add 200 to 250 g of molasses. The addition of molasses increases the adhesiveness hence improves the efficacy. The content is diluted with equal amount of water before application.

Fig. 2.5: Preparation of liquid Farm Yard manure

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

2.19.2 Vermiwash
Vermiwash is the liquid fertilizer collected after the passage of water through a column filled with worm (earthworm). The vermiwash is prepared by putting the isolated earthworms from composts and subsequent washing of them. While washing, the wash water is collected in a storage structure. This wash water is called vermiwash. The vermiwash contains the body stickers, enzymes and other secretions of earthworm. The vermiwash is a very good foliar spray. Detailed methodology to prepare the vermiwash shall be dealt in the practical manual.
Table 2.5: Characteristics of Vermiwash

PH Electro conductivity dSIm Organic Carbon % Total Kjeldhal Nitrogen 5% Available Phosphate % Potassium (ppm) Sodium (ppm) Calcium (ppm) Copper (ppm) Ferrous (ppm) Magnesium (ppm) Manganese (ppm) Zinc (ppm) Total Heterotrophs (CFU/ml) Nitrosomonas (CWIml) Nitrobacter (CFUIml) Total Fungi (CFUIml)
Eco-science Research Foundation, Chennai

7.48 + 0.03 0.25 -+ 0.03 0.008 0.001 0.01+0.005 1.69 -r- 0.05 25 -r- 2
8? 1

3*1 0.01 & 0.001 0.06 & 0.001 158.44 -+ 23.42 0.58 2 0.040 0.02 2 0.001 1.79 x 103 1.01 x 103 1.12 x 103 1.46 x 103


We have seen .in this Unit that composting and manuring helps to improve the soil fertility under organic farming. The organic residues are decomposed adopting a number of techniques. Several forms of organic manure are available, which can applied in organic farming. Vennicomposting is an ideal method for compost production. The vermicomposting has been found most suitable technique of compost production. Other organic manures like oil cakes, poultry manures, blood meal, green manures etc. may also be used in organic farming. The NPOP document contains lists of permitted and no-permitted matters for compost production and utilization in organic farming. The students may be able to learn different dimensions of composting and manuring with the help of this Unit.


Aerobic Anaerobic

Composting and Manuring

Conditions with oxygen gas as a part of the environment. An organisms that survives in the absence of air or molecular oxygen. These manures are bulky in nature and supply, plant nutrients in small quantities and organic matter in large quantities. A mass of rotted organic matter made from waste or a product obtained by the controlled decomposition of organic wastes, finally used as organic matter. A biological process in which microorganism of both types, namely aerobic and anaerobic, decompose the organic matter and lower the C:N ratio of the refuse. The final product of composting is well rotten manure known as compost. Any crop or plant grown and ploughed under when succulent to improve the soil especially by addition of organic matter. This refers to turning under of green leaves and tender green twigs collected from shrubs and trees grown on bunds, waste lands and nearby forest areas. The common shrubs and trees useful for this purpose are glyricidia, sesbania, karanj and subabul. A crop grown and ploughed down while still green to add dry matter and nitrogen to the soil. A practice of ploughing or turning in to the soil un decomposed green manure crops in the same field where the crop is grown. The excreta of animals dung and urine, with straw or other materials used as the absorbent. The decomposed manure is called farmyard manure or farm manure or barn yard manure. The average composition of well rotted FYM is 0.5 % nitrogen 0.3 % P20, and 0.5 % K20. This refers to the residual beneficial effect of application of farmyard manure on the succeeding crops. This beneficial effect is due to improvement in the physical condition of the soil and also due to unutilized plant nutrients. It is estimated that only one third of nitrogen present in FYM is utilized by the first crop.

Bulky Organic Manures :



Green Manuring

Green Leaf Manuring

Green Manure Crop Green Manure in Situ

: :


Residual Effect of Manure

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

Similarly about two third of the phosphate is effective but most of the potash is available for the first crop.


The solid potion of sewage. The sludge is obtained by treating sewage by different methods. Accordingly, sludge of different types is formed. Various types of sludge are settled sludge, digested sludge, activated sludge, digested activated sludge and chemically precipitated sludge. On an average, sludge contains 1.5 to 3.5 % nitrogen, 0.75 to 4.0 % phosphorus and 0.3 to 0.6 % potash. It is the inherent capacity of a soil to supply nutrients to plants in adequate amount and in suitable proportion. It is the present capacity of a soil to produce crop yield under a defined set of management practices. It is measured in terms of the yield in relation to the input of production factors. The biological degradation and stabilization of organic wastes by earthworms and microorganism is termed vermicomposting. The well decomposed, more of less stable part of the organic matter of the soil.

Soil Fertility

Soil Productivity




Das,P.C.(1998). Manures and Fertilizers. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi.

Yawalker,K.S.,Agrawal,J.P.and Bokde, S. (1992). Manures and Fertilizers, AgriHorticultural Publishing House, Nagpur (Maharashtra).
Gaur, A.C., Neelakantan, S. and Dargan, K.S.(1990). Organic Manures. I.C.A.R. New Delhi. Tarnhane,R.V., Motiramani, D.P., Bali,Y.P. and Donahue, R.L. (1970). Manures, Compost, Green Manures, Sawdust and Sewage. (In) Soils their Chemistry and Fertility in Tropical Asia. Prentice-Hall of Private Limited, New Delhi. Gupta, P.K. (2000). Hand Book of Soil, Fertilizer and Manure. Agro Botanica, Bikaner (Rajasthan). Vaidya, V.G and Sahasrabuddhe, K.R. (1970). Organic Manures (In) Introduction to Agronomy and Soil and Water Management, Continental Prakashan, Pune (Maharashtra). Srivastava, O.P. and Khanna, S.S. (1974). Organic Manures as Supplement to N Fertilizer. Fertilizer News 19(12):39-43. Seetharaman, S., Biswas, B.C., Maheshwari, S. and Yadav, D.S. (1986). Hand Book on Fertilizer Usage. The Fertilizer Association of India, New Delhi.

Gupta,P.K. (2003). Vermicomposting: Sustainable Agriculture, Agrobios (India) Jodhpur(Rajasthan). Chawla, O.P. (1986). Advances in Biogas Technology, I.C.A.R., New Delhi Palaniappan, S.P. and Annadurai, K. (2003). Organic Farming: Theory and Practice, Scientific Publishers (India), Jodhpur (Rajasthan). Biswas,T.D.and Mukherjee, S.K. (1994). Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Use (In) Text Book of Soil Science, Tata McGraw- Hill Publishing Company Limited, New Delhi. O.P. Lal, Y.N. Srivastava and S.R. Singh (2003). Vermicomposting. Indian Farming 53(12):6-9. ;

Composting and Manuring


Check Your Progress Exercise 1 1) Composting is a process adopted decomposition of organic residues to generate a product called compost. The composting involves microbial and chemical degradations of organic residues. After proper composting, the compost is stable, earthy and odour less.
2) The compost is prepared adopting a number of techniques as described in this Unit. These techniques are like Indore Method, Bangalore Method, NADEP Method, vermicomposting etc. And any technique may be used to decompose the organic residues on farm. There are some other techniques which are not prevalent in India like Indore Process of USA, Beccari method etc. but are other potential methods of decomposing the organic residues. During microbial action on high C N ratio, the microbes start taking up available nitrogen in the soil for their maintenance. As we know that to perform action, we need energy. In the same line, the microbes while in action of decomposition, take up the nitrogen available after decomposition and also from soil (available form). This way the plants are starved and a temporary deficiency of nitrogen exit. Vermicomposting is a technique of producing compost with the help of earthworms. The earthworms are spread over the beddings (which consist of different organic residues). The worms eat the organic matter and excrete in the form of small pellets known as Vermicast. This is also called Vermicompost. The vermicompost is rich in nutrient content and is more favourable for application in organic crop raising (organic farming).



Check Your Progress Exercise 2

1) These are sub-surface dwellers, makes vertical burrow, feeding extensively on litter, animal waste, and other organic residue, help in soil aeration and improvement. They are partially suitable for the vermicomposting. hmpito mauritii is earthworm species of this group. They are less suitable for vermicomposting because they have tendency of going down and down, away from light.

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management


Vennicompost is rich in all essential plant nutrients. Provides excellent effect on overall plant growth. It also encourages the growth of new shootsfleaves and improves the quality and shelf life of the produce. The product obtained after application of Verrnicompost has been found tastier in comparison to that or products obtained after application of inorganic fertilizers. The concentrated organic manures are organic in nature and contain higher percentage of essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potash than other organic manures. These concentrated organic manures are slow releasing in nature as they undergo decomposition after application. Commonly used concentrated organic manures consists of oil cakes and meal group manures. Liquid manures are prepared for the direct use on the plant as foliar application. They are required in less quantity in comparison to that of solid manures. The efficacy of these liquid manures is more as the plant can absorb them directly from the leaves. It has been observed in various experiments that plants absorb nutrients 20 times faster through leaves compared to the roots. Liquid manures can also be used to mitigate the nutrient deficiencies in standing crops. Sometime the adverse soil physiographic conditions also encourage application of liquid manures.