Vermicompost is the controlled cultivation of certain worms (annelids), in order to obtain ecological fertilizers of a climax character, and as a secondary benefit, the production of high quality proteins and fats, all this, as a consequence of the combined metabolism of microorganisms and worms that transform organic waste by turning them into high demand materials, avoiding the concentration of pollutants.
That earthworms are useful for agriculture, aerating the soil and releasing nutrients, has been known since ancient times, almost from the beginning of cultivation. Homer, Aristarchus, Aristotle, the Bible, cite worms as benefactors of agriculture and forest development (see references). From then until today, knowledge about earthworms has been accumulating, in order to make better use of its biological characteristics that can transform the results into economic benefits in line with excellent ecological practices, although biological history has sometimes been exaggerated, which does not at all detract from its obvious value to humanity.
As in any crop, once the utility, benefit or application of a biological system is verified, it is tried to perfect them, trying to favor their food, reproductive and environmental behavior. As is known, most of the species adapted to captivity, live longer and produce more materials than their wild homonyms, which is not always synonymous with welfare. It is clear that in a zoological scale, due to its plasticity, it is easier to adapt small and prolific animals than large ones (with a lesser fertility rate). Hence, worms, insects, molluscs, crustaceans and even fish, are easier to breed and adapt to captivity than birds or mammals, although, by cultural tradition, some birds (chickens, turkeys, birds) and mammals (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, etc.), are easily raised and well adapted to captivity.
Earthworms are adapted to soils with high humidity. They live in a limited space between the soil surface up to 2-3 meters deep, continuously sucking the organic matter from the soil and transforming it into a semi-gel substrate, called earthworm humus, similar to the compost that bacteria produce with decaying matter. However, earthworms also add other materials found in the ecosystem, giving the substrate its climax characteristics.
Several species of worms are cultivated in captivity to produce humus, but the best known is the Red Californian Earthworm Eisenia fetida (Savigny, 1826). Its denomination is due to the fact that California was where the cultivation of this worm began, but actually it is an Eurasian species. The species is very common in Mediterranean environments, especially today, because due to the importance it has for crops, it is intentionally added to the soil, being a fundamental agent in the regeneration of edaphon and in greenhouses. It is a beautiful paradigmatic example of what trophic ecology means for ecosystem stability.
If you take a little care, the domestic cultivation of red earthworm is very easy and brings great benefits to the land. Another very different matter is industrial cultivation for the production of humus from different sources. This requires specialized staff and proportional investments. Hence, more frequently than desired, many investors have focused on the cultivation of earthworms for the manufacture of humus, and the system has failed due to lack of knowledge, population control, and poorly qualified staff, leading to a product of low value, contaminated and useless for agriculture.
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