Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10577–10595 | Cite as

Optimizing the vermicomposting of organic wastes amended with inorganic materials for production of nutrient-rich organic fertilizers: a review

  • Hupenyu Allan Mupambwa
  • Pearson Nyari Stephano Mnkeni
Review Article


Vermicomposting is a bio-oxidative process that involves the action of mainly epigeic earthworm species and different micro-organisms to accelerate the biodegradation and stabilization of organic materials. There has been a growing realization that the process of vermicomposting can be used to greatly improve the fertilizer value of different organic materials, thus, creating an opportunity for their enhanced use as organic fertilizers in agriculture. The link between earthworms and micro-organisms creates a window of opportunity to optimize the vermi-degradation process for effective waste biodegradation, stabilization, and nutrient mineralization. In this review, we look at up-to-date research work that has been done on vermicomposting with the intention of highlighting research gaps on how further research can optimize vermi-degradation. Though several researchers have studied the vermicomposting process, critical parameters that drive this earthworm–microbe-driven process which are C/N and C/P ratios; substrate biodegradation fraction, earthworm species, and stocking density have yet to be adequately optimized. This review highlights that optimizing the vermicomposting process of composts amended with nutrient-rich inorganic materials such as fly ash and rock phosphate and inoculated with microbial inoculants can enable the development of commercially acceptable organic fertilizers, thus, improving their utilization in agriculture.


Biodegradation fraction Microbial inoculants Vermi-degradation Nutrient enrichment Rock phosphate Fly ash 



The authors wish to acknowledge the constructive comments made by the anonymous reviewers.

Funding information

The study was financed through a postdoctoral fellowship to Dr. H.A. Mupambwa by the Govan Mbeki Research and Development Centre (GMDRC) of the University of Fort Hare, South Africa.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hupenyu Allan Mupambwa
    • 1
  • Pearson Nyari Stephano Mnkeni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Science and AgricultureUniversity of Fort HareAliceSouth Africa

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