Advertisement

Environmentalist

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 261–268 | Cite as

Vermiculture and waste management: study of action of earthworms Elsinia foetida, Eudrilus euginae and Perionyx excavatus on biodegradation of some community wastes in India and Australia

  • Rajiv K. Sinha
  • Sunil Herat
  • Sunita Agarwal
  • Ravi Asadi
  • Emilio Carretero
Article

Abstract

The practice of vermiculture is at least a century old but it is now being revived worldwide with diverse ecological objectives such as waste management, soil detoxification and regeneration and sustainable agriculture. Earthworms act in the soil as aerators, grinders, crushers, chemical degraders and biological stimulators. They secrete enzymes, proteases, lipases, amylases, cellulases and chitinases which bring about rapid biochemical conversion of the cellulosic and the proteinaceous materials in the variety of organic wastes which originate from homes, gardens, dairies and farms. The process is odour free because earthworms release coelomic fluids in the decaying waste biomass which has anti-bacterial properties which kills pathogens. The species used in India were Indian blue (Perionyx excavatus), African night crawler (Eudrilus euginae) and the Tiger worm (Elsinia foetida). E. foetida was used in Australia. E. euginae was found to have higher feeding, growth and biodegradation capacity compared to other two species.

Earthworm action was shown to enhance natural biodegradation and decomposition of wastes (60–80 percent under optimum conditions), thus significantly reducing the composting time by several weeks. Within 5 to 6 weeks, 95–100 percent degradation of all cellulosic materials was achieved. Even hard fruit and egg shells and bones can be degraded, although these may take longer.

organic wastes biodegradation vermicomposting secondary decomposers 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agarwal, S. (1999) Vermiculture biotechnology for ecological degradation of kitchen wastes and growth of vegetable crops on thebiodegraded waste products (Vermicompost). PhD Thesis, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.Google Scholar
  2. Asadi, R. and Carretero, E. (2000)Biodegradation of kitchen wastes by earthworms Elsinia foetida. Project report, School of Environmental Engineering, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  3. Bhawalkar, V. and Bhawalkar, U. (1994) Vermiculture Biotechnology. Pune, India: Pub. of BhawalkarEarthworm Research Institute (BERI).Google Scholar
  4. Ceccanti, B. and Masciandaro G. (1999) Researchers study vermicomposting of municipal and paper millsludges. Biocycle Magazine, June.Google Scholar
  5. Collier, J. (1978) Use of earthworms in sludge lagoons. In Utilization of Soil Organisms in SludgeManagement (R. Hartenstein, ed.), pp. 133–137. Virginia.Google Scholar
  6. Dash, M.C. (1978) Role of earthworms in the decomposer system. InGlimpses of Ecology (J.S. Singh and B. Gopal, eds.), pp. 399–406. New Delhi: India International Scientific Publication.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, B. (1971) Laboratory studies on the uptake of dieldrin and DDT by earthworms. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 3, 221–223.Google Scholar
  8. Edwards, C.A. (1988) Breakdown of animal, vegetable and industrial organic wastes by earthworms; In Earthworms in Waste and Environmental Management (C.A. Edwards and E.P. Neuhauser, eds.). The Hague, Netherlands: SPB Academic Publication.Google Scholar
  9. Frederickson, J. (2000) The worm' turn. Waste Management Magazine, August.Google Scholar
  10. Graff, O. (1981) Preliminary experiment ofvermicomposting of different waste materials using Eudrilus euginae Kingberg. In Proceedings of the workshop on ‘Role of Earthworms in the Stabilization of Organic Residues’ (M. Appelhof, ed.), pp. 179–191. Michigan: Malanazoo Pub.Google Scholar
  11. Gunathilagraj, K. (1996)Earthworm: An Introduction. Coimbatore: Indian Council of Agricultural Research Training Program; Tamil Nadu Agriculture University.Google Scholar
  12. Gunathilagraj, K. and Ramesh, P.T. (1996) Degradation of coir wastes and tapoica peels by earthworms. In Training Program inVermiculture. New Delhi: Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).Google Scholar
  13. Gunathilagraj, K. and Ravignanam, T. (1996)Vermicomposting of sericultural wastes. Madras Agricultural Journal pp. 455–457.Google Scholar
  14. Hand, P. (1988) Earthworm Biotechnology. InResources and Application of Biotechnology: The New Wave (Greenshields, R. ed.). MacMillan Press Ltd. US.Google Scholar
  15. Hartenstein, R. and Bisesi, M.S. (1989) Use of earthworm biotechnology for the management of effluents from intensively housed livestock. Outlook Agriculture 18, 72–76.Google Scholar
  16. Ireland, M.P. (1983) Heavy metals uptake in earthworms. Earthworm Ecology. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  17. Kale, R. (1991) Vermiculture: Scope for New Biotechnology. Calcutta: Zoological Survey of India.Google Scholar
  18. Kale, R., Bano, K. and Krishnamoorthy, R.V. (1982) Potential of Perionyx excavatus in utilization of organic wastes. Pedo-Biologia 23, 419–425.Google Scholar
  19. Kale, R., Seenappa, S.N. and Rao, J. (1993) Sugar Factory Refuse for the Production of Vermicompost and Worm Biomass. V InternationalSymposium on Earthworms, Ohio University.Google Scholar
  20. Lotzof, M. (2000) Vermiculture: an Australian technology success story. Waste ManagementMagazine, February.Google Scholar
  21. Pierre, V., Phillip, R., Margnerite, L. and Pierrette, C. (1982) Anti-bacterial activity of the haemolytic system from theearthworms Elsinia foetida andrei. Invertebrate Pathology 40, 21–27.Google Scholar
  22. Rao, J. (1997) Management of municipal urban wastes: someinnovative strategies. PhD Thesis, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.Google Scholar
  23. Seenappa, S.N. and Kale, R. (1993) Efficiency of earthwormEudrilus euginae in converting the solid wastes from the aromatic oil extraction units into vermicompost. Journal of IAEM 22, 267–269.Google Scholar
  24. Seenappa, S.N., Rao, J. and Kale, R. (1995) Conversion of distillery wastes into organic manure by earthworm Eudrilus euginae. Journal ofIAEM 22(3), 244–246.Google Scholar
  25. Senapati, B.K. (1992) Vermitechnology as an option for recycling of cellulose waste in India. In NewTrends in Biotechnology (Subba Rao, N.S., Balgopalan, C. and Raman Krishna, S.V., eds.), pp. 347–358. Oxford and IBH Pub. Co. Pvt. Ltd.Google Scholar
  26. Sinha, R.K. (1996) Vermiculture biotechnology for waste management and sustainable agriculture. In Environmental Crisis and Human' atRisk (R.K. Sinha, ed.), pp. 233–240. India: INA Shree Publication.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajiv K. Sinha
    • 1
  • Sunil Herat
    • 1
  • Sunita Agarwal
    • 1
  • Ravi Asadi
    • 1
  • Emilio Carretero
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental EngineeringGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations