Vermicompost is an organic fertilizer or soil enhancer produced from farm wastes such as crop residues and animal manures through the action of earthworms. Vermicomposting results in a better quality product that is produced in only 4 to 6 weeks compared to ordinary compost that is produced in 8 to 12 weeks. Vermicompost is purely organic. It has plant growth-promoting and disease-preventing properties in addition to containing major and minor plant nutrients (concentrations of which depends on the materials used).
Vermicomposting can be applied throughout the year where raw materials (farm wastes) are abundant and use of organic fertilizers for food and ornamental plant production is encourage. Use of vermicompost will significantly reduce the cost of inputs for chemical fertilizers by farmers while enhancing soil fertility and providing efficient use of farm wastes which otherwise can pollute the environment.
In commercial vermicomposting, a mechanical shredder is required. Unused farm waste as rice straw, animal manures and weeds (e.g., field grasses and water hyacinths) are the raw materials. A source of water supply, particularly during the dry season, is also needed. The African nightcrawler (Eudrilus eugeniae) is the recommended earthworm species used for commercial vermicomposting in the Philippines.
Depending on the locality and availability of raw materials, the cost of producing vermicompost is P2-3 per kg. There are now more than 20 commercial producers of vermicompost in the country. Because of its superior qualities compared to ordinary compost or organic fertilizer, vermicompost sells from P5 to P25 per kilo in retail markets. Commercial organic fertilizer sells at only P3 per kilo on the average. A 1,000 sq. m. production facility requiring an operating capital of P100,000 can produce 6 tons of vermicompost in a 45-day cycle with a gross ex-farm value of P30,000. The pay-back period is less than 6 months.