KISS Plan for Vermicomposting on horse and dairy farms

OVERVIEW: The KISS (Keep It Simple & Save) plan for vermicomposting integrates established farming methods with new farming technologies to process and convert large volumes of compost into vermicompost.
The primary focus of the plan uses a proven method to save farmers both time and money without compromising the quality of the final end product.

BENEFITS: Both farmers and consumers benefit when following this proven method to convert organic materials to vermicompost:

• Straightforward, simple approach that requires minimal training.

• Start-up costs are minimal and your existing equipment can be utilized to begin the process right away.

• The worm’s process and convert organic compost to vermicompost naturally in a relatively short period of time. There’s little or no turning and no foul odors.

• The end product (vermicompost) is extremely rich in worm castings. Worm castings are far more valuable to farmers, landscapers and home gardeners than raw manure. Vermicompost provides rich organic matter which conserves water, supports a thriving ecosystems and ultimately results in faster growth with higher yields for most types of plants. The market value for vermicompost ranges from $29-$89 per cubic yard.


STEP 1: PREPARING THE WINDROW

To create a windrow, spread a 1-foot layer of manure with bedding across one end of the available space you’re working with. Add (inoculate) high quality Red Worms to the windrow. We suggest you add 16 oz. of Red Worms per square foot of windrow surface area. Add 3” layers of manure every week (up to 5” during winter months) to increase the depth of the windrow. All windrows should be big enough to handle new layers of material every seven days. As you monitor the windrows, make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed 92°F.

Keep the following in mind:

• This KISS plan is for processing large-scale quantities of manure. By using larger volumes, worms are protected from harsh weather conditions and predators. If you intend to create vermicompost for your home or small-scale testing, we recommended using composting bins.

• It’s recommended you use a concrete surface as opposed to dirt or other materials. During wet weather, you should have a surface that can easily divert water runoff, to aid in maintaining an optimal moisture level for your worm population. Too much moisture is not good.

• Make sure as you extend the windrow, you have easy access to the finished castings after you complete the process.

• The KISS plan minimizes exposure to heat. This is ideal for both dairy and horse manure. Be sure to monitor the compost when the weather starts warming up. Be proactive about controlling pathogens and/or weed growth with temperatures above 75°F.

STEP 2: INCREASING THE LENGTH OF THE WINDROW

Once the first windrow is established and layered at least 2 feet thick, the next step is to increase the length of the windrow. Add new layers of manure to the sides, next to the first windrow. You’ll observe the worms in the first pile begin to migrate to the fresher feed. Every week add additional manure alongside the first windrow until you’ve formed a new second windrow. You can replicate these steps to create however many windrows you want, given the amount of space available. You’ll observe the Red Worms migrating from windrow to windrow. As they do, they’ll leave behind a rich source of high quality castings called Vermicompost.

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