Worm castings are one of the amazing products from Mother Nature that serve a multitude of purposes, some active and others more passive in their impact on the food production process. Consider this, composting with worms can reduce the waste that makes it into the landfill by 30% for a single household. That would include paper, food scraps, and yard waste.
The process of using worms to transform food and yard waste into vermicast is mostly a passive one. Other than checking the moisture levels in worm bin regularly and feeding the worms – a process that combined takes less than 5 minutes a week – there is really not much that you need to do. Just give worms the environment and food that they want and then let them do what they do best.
But the magic that happens in the worm bin is anything but passive. The worms, along with their microbial friends, are transforming our scraps and waste into an amazing end product. The finished vermicast, the nutrient rich worm castings, truly are black gold with a variety of beneficial uses. The impact of worm castings on the food production process is truly extraordinary.
The Nutrient and Microbial Value of Worm Castings
- Increased NPK concentrations – 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphate, and 10 times more potassium of average topsoil.
- Increased microbial colonies – castings include thousands of bacteria, enzymes, and undigested organic matter that all become food for the existing soil biota.
- Humic acid stimulates plant growth – Humic acid detoxifies the soil of heavy metals and stimulates plant growth, specifically triggering the production of biomass.
Worm castings provide a broad spectrum of benefits to the soil in terms of nutrient delivery. They also play a role in supporting the development of the biota by providing a food source for the microbes that are already present in the soil. But there are other benefits that castings provide beyond just the nutrient delivery.
Benefits of Using Worm Castings to Amend the Soil
- Contains bacteria, enzymes, and organic matter
- Promotes increased water retention
- Buffers soil by binding with heavy metals
- Locks up acid-forming carbon which increases nitrogen levels
- Discourages plant pests and helps plants resist disease
- Suppresses damping-off in seed starts
The red wiggler worms typically used in vermicomposting systems truly are miracle workers. They turn our waste into nutrient recapture systems that keep on giving. They save waste from the landfill which reduces the amount of methane that’s released into the environment. They recapture nutrients that can be applied back to the soil. They provide support to the microbial community in the soil allowing the biota to operate as a much more efficient system.
The composting process and the worms that make it all happen are one of the many wonders of the natural world.