vermiculture binThe byproduct of vermiculture is vermicompost, a soil amendment rich in microbes, bacteria and fungi, each of which play an integral role in breaking down minerals in the soil.

These microbes are constantly eating tiny rocks, minerals, and each other!  As they eat and are eaten, they release compounds in plant available nutrients.  Plants take up these nutrients, and create their own food from the sun as well.  Plants die, and fall into the soil, where macroorganisms and microbes can start the process all over again.  This is precisely why natural ecosystems, forests, grasslands, and savannahs do not need “fertilizers”.  The biology in the soil [albeit, at a much slower rate than Sacramento State composting] is constantly breaking plant and animal waste down and making the compounds available to plants.  By contrast, synthetic fertilizers, which are salts, kill the beneficial soil biology by dehydrating these microbes.  This why table salt is used as a preservative.  Synthetic fertilizers turn soil into dirt.  By contrast, compost, and vermicompost turn dirt into soil.

Sacramento's State's compost program is a seven-step process

  1. Campus food and landscape waste are collected and chopped into small pieces.  Small material composts at a faster rate than large material because of the increased surface area.
  2. The materials are combined into a “pile”.  Microbes immediately begin to eat, digest, excrete, and reproduce.  These microbial processes heat the pile quickly.  Once the pile reaches a temperature of 130 – 140 degrees F for 5 days, the pile will be free of weed seeds and of pathogens as well. 
  3. As a precaution, the pile is turned after these first 5 days, and allowed to reach 130 – 140 degrees one more time.
  4. At this point, the pile will be ready for the worms because it will not overheat them.  The pile is ready for human use, because any potential pathogens have been eliminated through the compost’s initial heat process.
  5. The material is now turned over to the worms, which eat and live in this material.  They will process the same material several times.
  6. Each pass through a worm’s tract enhances the microbial content.  In essence, they refine this soil amendment.  As they eat, they reproduce.  Managed and harvested properly, our worm supply is inexhaustible.
  7. After several passes, the material and the worms are separated.  The worms can be added to new material as composters, or used as a high quality protein source for fish.