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