India’s agro-industrial sector contributes immense resources of plants nutrients in the form of wastes like animal manure, sewage sludge, food wastes and industrial organic wastes which is either terrified away or buried or burnt causing environmental pollution. Due to its terrible smell, costs involved in transport and fear that its appliance might lead to crust formation, pollution problems, pH variation, farmers are reluctant to apply it to their land (Karimi et al. 2017). Conventional composting of press mud takes about 6 months, does not remove the bad smell completely, has less nutritive value and is compacted. Vermicomposted pressmud using Lampito mauritii, Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus, Eisenia foetida can be converted into an eco-friendly organic fertilizer soil amendment and this pressmud vermicompost shows plentiful nutrient content and enzymatic microbial activities facilitating the easy uptake by the plants (Parthasarthi and Ranganathan 2002).
Innovative agriculture develops a rich food at reasonable rate, all year round. They are expected to be harmless and nutritious particularly fruits and vegetables, not having any blemishes. Over the year, growers and farmers have changed the way they develop food production to meet the anticipation of peoples, supermarket and governments (Ansari and Hanief 2013).
Vermicompost is a nourishing organic fertilizer having high amount of humus, nitrogen—2–3% phosphorous—1.55–2.25%, potassium—1.85–2.25%, micronutrients, more beneficial soil microbes like ‘nitrogen-fixing bacteria’ and mycorrhizal fungi. Vermicompost has been scientifically proved as miracle plant growth enhancer (Chaoui et al. 2003; Guerrero 2010). Ansari and Ismail (2012) reported that worm’s vermicast contains 7.37% nitrogen and 19.58% phosphorous as P2O5.
Microbial population of N2-fixing bacteria and actinomycetes increases by the application of vermicompost. The amplified microbial activities improve the availability of soil phosphorous and nitrogen. Vermicomposting is an aerobic, biological method and is proficient to convert eco-friendly humus like organic substances (Chanda et al. 2011).
Vermicompost stimulates to influence the microbial activity of soil, increases the availability of oxygen, maintains normal soil temperature, increases soil porosity and infiltration of water, improves nutrient content and increases growth, yield and quality of the plant (Arora et al. 2011).
Among the insect pests, defoliators and pod borers during vegetative and post flowering stage are economically important causing significant yield loss (Singh et al. 2011); Extensive usage of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture has lead to environmental issues like pesticide residuum in food commodities, bioaccumulation and biomagnifications of pesticides in food web and deprivation of soil health. Owing to wide spectrum of problems with the use of chemical insecticides, organic farming is fast becoming popular among the scientists and farming community. Vermicompost and vermiwash (a liquid fertilizer) play a vital role in organic-based unindustrialized system such as organic farming, sustainable farming or eco-friendly farming and in numerous ways account for crop nourishment, pests fighting processes and soil fertility enhancement (Varghese and Prabha 2014).
Plant growth regulators are known to control plants physiological and biochemical processes. These include control of dormancy, organ size, crop development, flowering and fruit set, regulations of chemical composition of plants and control of mineral soil (Elumalai et al. 2013).
Phytohormones play an important role in inducing and enhancing, various physiological activities in the plant. Synthetic growth regulators which include promoters as well as inhibitors have a significant role in raising the yield of the crop plants by increasing the process of transpiration. Most widely available plant growth regulator is gibberellic acid, which induces stem and inter node elongation, seed germination and fruit setting and growth (Ouzounidou et al. 2010).
Application of foliar spray in agriculture has been a popular practice with farmers since the 1950s when it was erudite that a foliar fertilizer was effective (Tejada and Gonzalez 2004). Growth enhancers of plant in general are organic compounds which bring about an increase or alteration of plant growth. Growth regulators are new generation of agrochemicals; when added in small amount as foliar sprays, they modify the normal growth, from seed germination to senescence in crop plants. The use of GA and NAA is of considerable interest in different fields of agriculture studies in various crops have inducted the beneficial effects of growth regulators on crop growth, fruit yield, seed yield and seed quality (Manjunath Prasad 2008).
Previous studies have reported that GA regulates cell division and elongation, and also shows growth promoting effects (Naeem et al. 2004). Indole acetic acid, GA and kinetin increase cell division (Fathima and Balasubramanian 2006). The effect of growth enhancers on the exo-morphological characters of Abelmoschus esculentus and various combinations of plant growth enhancers when used as a foliar spray on A. esculentus plant showed maximum increase in height, internode length and diameter (Fathima and Balasubramanian 2006).
Growth and development events in plants are controlled by growth regulators and these phytohormones are found naturally in plants. Manufacturing and production of synthetic phytohormones are not economically feasible and the optimum conditions under which they can function efficiently are also difficult to ascertain (Gemici et al. 2000). Due to environmental pollution, health problems and reactions caused by artificial growth enhancers and their low biodegradability have urged us to search for new bio-fertilizers with growth regulating activities. In the present investigation, vermicompost was used to study the growth pattern of Capsicum annum in comparison with synthetic plant growth regulators such as GA, IAA.