Vermicomposting vs Composting


What are the similarities and differences in composting systems that can be operated in open or in-vessel systems - with or without worms?
Reference and sighting researched by: Tanya Vece

(Re-print of media material from BioCycle April 1997, pages 57-59)

THE IMPORTANCE of biological processes in the management of animal organic wastes has been widely recognized. Within the broad range of bioprocesses available, this report deals with the two which are the most efficient for converting solid organic residuals into useful products - composting and vermicomposting. The purpose is to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two processes.

Composting is an accelerated biooxidation of organic matter passing through a thermophilic stage (45 to 65oC) where microorganisms (mainly bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes) liberate heat, carbon dioxide and water. The heterogeneous organic material is transformed into a homogeneous and stabilized humus like product through turning or aeration. Vermicomposting is also a biooxidation and stabilization process of organic material that, in contrast to composting, involves the joint action of earthworms and microorganisms and does not involve a thermophilic stage. The earthworms are the agents of turning, fragmentation and aeration.

Application of composting and vermicomposting has often been unsuccessful due to the mythology that these are "natural processes" and need little management. Successful composting and vermicomposting require adequate processing systems and control criteria. Moreover, research in vermicomposting is not developed to the same level as for composting; it is necessary to know and understand the whole process better in order to make it more efficient.

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