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Livestock excreta management through vermicomposting using an epigeic earthworm Eisenia foetida

Abstract

In India, millions of tones of livestock excreta are produced. Our study explores the potential of an epigeic earthworm Eisenia foetida to compost different livestock excreta (cow, buffalo, horse, donkey, sheep, goat and camel) into value added product (vermicompost) at the laboratory scale. Vermicomposting resulted in lowering of pH, electrical conductivity, potassium and C:N ratio and increase in nitrogen and phosphorus contents. Total K was lower in the final cast than in the initial feed. C:N ratios of the vermicomposts ranged from 16.2 ± 2.17 to 75.4 ± 6.84. Microbial activity measured as dehydrogenase activity in buffalo, donkey and camel wastes increased with time up to day 90. But in sheep and goat wastes, maximum dehydrogenase activity was recorded on day 60 and decreased thereafter. The cocoons and hatchlings production by Eisenia foetida in different excreta were also investigated. The greatest number and biomass of hatchlings was recorded in horse excreta followed by cow, goat and sheep excreta. Thus, cow, horse, sheep and goat excreta show potential as good substrates in vermicomposting using Eisenia foetida, although further research is required to explore the feasibility of use of buffalo, donkey and camel excreta in combination with cow/sheep/goat excreta.

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Correspondence to V. K. Garg.

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Garg, V.K., Yadav, Y.K., Sheoran, A. et al. Livestock excreta management through vermicomposting using an epigeic earthworm Eisenia foetida . Environmentalist 26, 269–276 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-006-8641-z

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Keywords

  • Eisenia foetida
  • Livestock excreta
  • Vermicomposting
  • Cocoon
  • C:N ratio