Witnessing the high need for a material that could regain the natural physical, chemical, and biological health of the soil, IFFCO set up several units of vermicomposting in different regions of India.
But before that, they did something more important than this. IFFCO did detailed research on if this approach was feasible, accessible, and profitable for the poor farmers. So, they divided themselves into groups and went to several areas to know if the farmers were aware of vermicomposting.
What came out was more amazing than this. IFFCO felt that the farmers were not only fully aware of the high use of earthworms, but few among them were already using this compost in their fields. To pose an example of Vinod Kumar, a proud farmer of Kushwali village of Uttar Pradesh, who is into the business of selling earthworms to the farmers. Vinod gave a detailed explanation on how to make vermicomposting at home, and use it on farms. IFFCO, impressed by his detailed knowledge, brought his video in front of the media, and IFFCO themselves too duly noted all the requisites in making vermicompost.
So first, let us understand the requirements for making vermicompost beds. Cow dung and compostable kitchen waste are the key ingredients for making vermicompost. Even the cow dung is the best kind of manure but it takes one to one and half years to become ready for the fields, whereas the vermicompost can be prepared in just 30 days. The dung used must be 15-30 days old. Fresh dung, being rich in various gases like methane, and having a higher temperature is not good for the growth of earthworms.
If the purpose is self-consumption, then the compost could be prepared in any shady place like beneath the tree or under the shade. But if raised for commercial purposes, then preferably Pucca or kuccha shade must be chosen for maintaining the temperature and humidity of the bed. The temperature required for its preparation is 25-30 degrees Celsius. Also, a polythene cover must be spread beneath so that the earthworms do not dig into the earth. The length of the bed could be decided up to our own wish, but the breadth of the bed should be kept preferably low of an average of three feet. This is to make ourselves comfortable while working in the raised bed, and also, a shorter breadth will lead to an easy pathway of gases and proper aeration.
Now begins the process of vermicomposting by leaving a bag of earthworms on top of the compost. Earthworms, by nature, dig deep into the soil, decomposing the above material. The vermicompost must be covered with a gunny bag, a jute bag, or even banana leaves so that even the topmost layer of the waste gets completely decomposed. Also, this leads to maintaining the humidity of the compost.
The bed needs to be turned upside down at a regular interval. Once the decomposition has properly started, we would notice that the temperature of the bed is higher than the atmospheric temperature due to the release of heat. One of the best ways to check if the vermicompost is ready to be used is if by pressing and moulding by hands, the compost turns into rolls, which means it contains sufficient moisture and could be used.
The vermicompost has a good shelf life and could be stored for a longer time by simply spreading water over it to retain the moisture and humidity of the compost.
IFFCO got in-depth knowledge and information by connecting with the farmers. But they were still concerned that not all the farmers would get a timely and sufficient supply of cow dung to prepare compost. Also, maintaining temperature was another hefty and skill-required task. So, they set up vermicomposting units in villages of India and have already been successful in setting up two units in Madhya Pradesh, one in Uttar Pradesh and in Gujarat.
IFFCO’s vermicomposting product is widely known as ‘IFFCO Nutri Rich Vermicompost’ that comes at a very nominal price of INR 60 per kg or INR 300 per 5 kg. The specialty of the product is that it is fortified by seaweeds which are highly rich in nutrients, and is very good for the rapid and healthy growth of earthworms. It also keeps the soil alive and full of microbes.
IFFCO has also started the “Save the Soil” Campaign, which mainly focuses on soil rejuvenation and crop productivity enhancement. They took the soil samples of various places for doing soil testing, application of nutrients, soil conservation, and showed the farmers the importance of integrated use of nutrients, crop diversification, farm mechanization, etc. in their fields. Their efforts resulted in an increase of productivity by 15-25%, and therefore, again a minor success for IFFCO.
Hence one says, IFFCO stands with those who work in acres.
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