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VERMICOMPOSTING FOR DOMESTIC WASTE

ABSTRACT
One of the main task faced in the country, is the management of solid waste. The
concern for its safe disposal is paramount importance for the society. This problem is
increasing day by day with an increase in population and with generation of solid waste.
Solid waste arising out of domestic, commercial and industrial activities is thrown out. Its
unscientific management thereafter leads to serious environmental problems.
In the present study the waste from the canteen and dairy was collected which
comprises variety of the materials like food waste and other vegetable waste. This waste was
than mixed with some sand and cow dung in proportion of 50-50 %. The plastic bins were
prepared. Earthworms with waste were added in the bin. The samples were analyzed after
one month and found favorable results. Then now the study is further extended for industrial
waste. The organic waste form the industry is to collected and composed in plastic bin and
surface bed system. After composting complete the samples will be analyzed to know the
nutrients concentration and compared with the standard vermi compost and synthetic
fertilizers. The experiments will be performed at the campus by following the same procedure
given in the literature for both plastic bin and for surface bed system. The results will be
discussed in the paper. By this method the solid waste generated in the industry can be reuse
as a fertilizer.
Key words: Earthworms, Vermicomposting, Bioconversion, solid waste, safe disposal

INTRODUCTION: One of the major tasks faced in the country is, the management of solid
wastes the concern for its safe disposal is of paramount importance for society. This problem
is getting more complex day by day with an increase in urban population and with the
generation of new types of wastes. Solid wastes arising out of domestic, commercial and
industrial activities are thrown out of site from the premises to the nature. Its unscientific
management thereafter leads to serious environmental problems.
COMPOSITIONS OF SOLID WASTE: In Guntur today total 400 tones municipal waste is
generate per day which is disposed in land filling sites only. Compositions of solid waste are
as follows
Table -1 : Compositions of solid waste of Guntur City
TYPE OF MATERIAL COMPOSITION %
Organic fraction / Bio 35
mass
Woody bio mass 15
Paper 5
Rugs / Textiles 5
Plastics 0.05
Rubber etc. 4.85
Glass 0.05
Metal 0.05
Sotnes 20
Sand 15
EXISTING SOLID WASTE TREATMENT PROCESSES:
1. Land filling
2. Incineration
3. Composting
4. Anaerobic Digestion
VARIOUS METHODS OF VERMICOMPOSTING: In recent times, the potential role of
earthworms in decomposition of solid organic waste is assuming a great potential.
Vermicomposting facilitates bioconversion of solid urban waste. This enables to regulate and
utilize solid organic wastes in production of nutrient rich manure, which can efficiently be
used as an agricultural input. This can reduce the problem caused of land filling. Some of the
vermicomposting techniques used world wide are as below.
1) CONTINUOS FLOW SYSTEM:- Continuos flow system technology was first
developed and tested in 1981 at the Rothamstead experinmental research station, silsoe,
Uk. A continous Flow reactor is a high tech end of feeding and collection. The basic
aspects of design are the vermicomposting container is raised on legsabove the ground and
it enables top feeding of feed stocks. Continous flow reactors are most common mid-scale
vermicomposting systems in use.
2) TRAY OR STACKING SYSTEM:- Tray or stacking system , vermicomposting
systems are another popular method. These systems along with bacting systems are the
most common technologies used for small scale applications although they are also used
in some mild scale operations. A tray system involves taking several trays of depth
150mm on top of one another. Feed stocks are applied to the bottom most tray and when
the tray is full of vermicompost the next tray is added and the feed stocks are applied to
the next upper most tray to encourage the worms to move out of the bottom tray and
consume fresh feed. Similalry third tray is added. By this time the first tray should be free
of worms enabling the harvesting of casting. This tray is then emptied and ready to be
used again. The advantages of this method is that it achieves greater efficiencies in a small
place.
3) WEDGE SYSTEMS: These systems are largely unexplored in the literature and
identified the need for trials with this system to investigate its potential. In a wedge
system the horizontal feeling method is used where feed is applied to an open face of the
bedding usually at a 45* angle, in an even layer. Even though a spare well system may be
allocated to use this method for on site vermicomposting the waste treatment process is
not contained and would utilize too much space.
4) BATCHING SYSTEM (BIN DETAILS):-
This method is relatively popular and simple design for small scale vermicomposting
unit. Batching systems have been experimented with on all scale, but many of the
disadvantages associated with the tray systems are also applicable for the batching
systems. Due to the labour intensive methods required for harvesting a byproduct from
the batching system these systems are used for mid scale applications. They are generally
preferred for very little start-up capital and not by profit organizations such as schools and
hospitals.
EXPERIMENTAL SET UP:Collection of Solid Waste: the presence study the wastes are
collected from different locations like hotel, garden, houses, farm etc. The biodegradable
wastes comprise a variety of materials that include vegetable waste, food waste etc.
Earth Worms: As a part of this study earthworm, namely Euripus Eugenia, Eugenia fetid and
Octohetiona dichogaster can be used for vermicomposting. In the present study an attempt
has been made to utilize biodegradable solid waste for beneficial purpose using redwigler
earth worms.
Setting of Bed: In this experiment plastic dustbins are used as bin. Total 27 numbers
of holes are made on the bin to provide aeration to earworms which is essential for survival.
Bin consist of bedding materials, earthworms and canteen waste, some amount of cow dung
and grass. The temperature was maintained nearly 200C to 250C and pH was also checked
regularly.
Table -3 Experimental Requirements
Plastic bin 1 2
Wt. of Canteen waste (Kg) 1 1
Wt. of Earthworms (Kg) 0.5 0.5
Wt. of other base materials
(Kg) 0.5 0.5
( cow dung, grass, sawdust)
Thickness of bedding (inches) 2 2
pH in bin 8.55 8.27
Temperature (0C) 20– 23
Plastic Bin
20 – 23

2.5ft

Vermiwash collection tank

PRECAUTIONS:
1) TEMPERATURE:- Temperatures referred to relate to temperature of substrate,
or bedding mass not to ambient temperature. The decomposition of organic matter will
heat up the system from the metabolic process of microorganisms. A balanced
vermicomposting sysetdm is usually 15-25*C. The optimum temperature for Eisinia spp
is generally regarded as 20*C and for E fetida having the broadest tolerance can survive
till 45*C. Constant temperature above 30*C are deadly for all species of composting
earthworms.
2) MOISTURE:- Compost worms can function in moisture as low as 40%. The
optimum range for E. Andrea is 80-90 and the best growth is achieved at 85%, E.Fetida
is 70-80% and P excavtus is 76-83%. Literature suggests that 80% moisture level is
recommended for these systems.
3) AERATION AND STRUCTURE:- Worms absorb oxygen through their skin
and require well oxygenated environments to enable air flow to dissipate heat and
prevent anaerobic conditions from developing. Good substrate structure is required to
allow oxygen penetration and good moisture retention. Castings support good structure
and aerobic and earthworms selectively cull anaerobic bacteria while aerating the
substrate by moving through it.
4) SALT AND AMMONIA:- Salt and Ammonia levels should not exceed
0.5mg/lit. Above this level earthworm survival drops off rapidly. Ammonia is less
likely to cause problems if a substrate remains below a pH of 8 because it is in the solid
form of NH4. Ammonia above a pH of 8 becomes prevalent and this ammonia state will
cause problems if the concentrations are high.
5) P H:- The pH for most waste streams decreases to the acidic range as the
microorganism decompose organic residues. All earth worms species have a fairly broad
range of tolerance to ph levels between pH of 4.5 to 9.
6) ODOUR:- Odour is an indicator that the system is out of balance. It is often a
sign that the system is going anaerobic because of the odour produced by anaerobic
bacteria.

MAINTAINING WORM COMPSOTER:


PREPARING THE BIN:- The vermicompost bin will consist of two, 10-gallon Rubbermaid
(or similar) containers stacked on top of each other, with a third bin being added later
on. Holes, one half-inch in diameter, will be drilled into the upper sides and bottom of
the top bin (which will contain the bedding) to allow for aeration and drainage. The
bottom bin will be used to catch leachate drainage, materials falling out through the
holes, and escaping worms. When the material in the initial bin has been sufficiently
processed, a third bin with fresh bedding is added on top. The worms will migrate up
through the holes to the fresh material, leaving behind vermicompost in the bottom bin
to be harvested
PREPARING THE BEDDING:- Bedding is necessary for worms to burrow, bury food
scraps, and also for moisture retention. Bedding material must be a non-toxic, fluffy material
that holds moisture and allows air to circulate. Popular bedding materials include shredded
newspaper, computer paper, decaying leaves, grass clippings, peat moss, or some mixture of
the above. Our own bedding consists of a mixture of peat moss (approximately 3.0-3.5 lbs
dry) and one of the following: chopped wheat straw, shredded newspaper, or dried coffee
bean hulls (approximately 0.65 lb dry). Dry bedding materials are mixed and slowly wetted
with approximately 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of distilled water, mixing the materials as the water
is added. Once worms are added to the bedding, the moisture level should remain
approximately that of a wrung-out sponge.
WORMS:- The best composting worms are red wigglers (Eisenia foetida) which can be
obtained from a local bait shop or through mail order. Generally, they cost about $20 a pound,
not including any shipping fees. Regular garden and compost worms will not survive in worm
bin conditions and therefore should not be used. Red wigglers can typically consume about a
half-pound of food scraps per one pound of worms in a 24-hour period (one pound of worms
equals roughly 1,000 worms). You can adjust your bin size and worm population to
accommodate your food-scrap load. Keep in mind that in about two weeks the worms will
begin reproducing, increasing the population. One pound of worms should be a good starting
population for the 10-gallon bin.Once you have your worms, place them on top of the
moistened bedding and they will quickly burrow in.
FEEDING:- Worms eat all kinds of food including coffee grounds, tea bags, vegetable and
fruit scraps, egg shells, and yard waste. Worms are known to particularly enjoy broccoli,
watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin. It's best to avoid bones, dairy products, meats, garlic,
onions, and spicy foods. Citrus foods should also be avoided as they can cause the bin
environment to become too acidic (an over-acidic bin can be corrected by adding crushed
eggshells). To speed the decomposition process, food should be chopped or shredded before
being added to the bin.
To feed, pull back the bedding, put in the food scraps, and then re-cover with bedding. This
will minimize mold, flies, and other pests.
WHERE TO PUT THE BIN:- The main concern when deciding on a location for your
worm bin is temperature. The ideal temperature for red wigglers to grow in is 55-75? F.
Popular indoor spots include the kitchen, garage, laundry room, or basement. If you want to
keep your worm bin outdoors, you must shade it in the summer and insulate it in the winter
(with hay bales or other material) to maintain the proper temperature range. Also, if your bin
is outdoors remember to protect it from flooding conditions as worms can easily drown inside
the bin.
HARVESTING THE VERMICOMPOST:-You can harvest vermicompost after about three
months. To do this, prepare your second bin of fresh moist bedding exactly as you did the
first. Place the second bin on top of the first, making sure that the holes in the bottom of the
second bin are flush with the surface of the bedding in the first bin (worms cannot crawl
through air).The worms will then begin to migrate up to the new bin, leaving behind
vermicompost. From our experience, the process may take up to two weeks, and adding fresh
food scraps to the new bin will encourage the migration. harvested vermi compost can be
added to potting mix or garden soil to provide an excellent source of readily-available plant
nutrients and organic matter. As long as you maintain a healthy worm-bin environment (i.e.
proper temperature, moisture, pH, and food), the worm population will stabilize itself and
there will be no need to either purchase additional worms or remove surplus worms.
Results: After 15 days of experiments the sample taken from both the bins and tested using
various analytical techniques for various constituents, the results obtained are compared with
the ordinary garden waste and standard vermicompost as produced by literatures.
Table -4 : Experimental results
Parameters Unit Garden Vermi Compost Result 1 Result 2
Compost (Bin 1) (Bin 2)
PH 7.8 6.8 7.12 7.03
Phosphate gm/kg 0.35 0.47 0.762 0.842
Potassium gm/kg 0.48 0.70 0.075 0.055
Calcium gm/kg 2.27 4.40 0.34 0.28
Magnesium gm/kg 0.57 0.46 0.167 0.124
Total Nitrogen gm/kg 0.8 1.94 5.23 4.68
Organic Carbon % - - 0.134 0.112
Total Chromium ppm - - nil nil
Copper ppm 17 27 21.37 9.37
Iron as Fe ppm 11690 7563 5950 3200
Nickel ppm - - nil nil
Lead ppm - - nil nil
Zinc ppm 128 278 76.7 46.87
Manganese ppm 414 475 333.33 78.75
Boron ppm 35 24 - -
Conclusions:Canteen waste collected from Vignan’s Engineering college and vadlamudi
Dairy is tested for vermicomposting and the results obtained are compared with garden
compost and standard vermicompost, the results shows that canteen waste is converted to
fertilizer as some of the nutrients and micronutrients are present in vermicompost. This
experiment can be further extended for the study of the decomposition of the industrial solid
waste which leads to solve disposal problem of industrial solid waste.
References:
[1] Arvind kumar,”verms & vermitechnology”, A.P.H. Publishing Corporation
[2] S.K.Agarwal,” Environment scenario for 21st century”, A.P.H. Publishing
Corporation, P.G. no.273.
[3] Metcalf & eddy,” Waste Water Engineering”, Tata-Mc Graw hill, 3rd addition.
[4] G.N.pandy,” Environmental Engineering”, Tata-Mc Graw hill
[5] lancaster.unl.edu/enviro/pest/factsheets/107-97.htm