Cow horns (about 20-40) are collected, cleaned by removal of residues from within the horns. Fresh cattle dung is collected from a healthy female lactating cow. A pit of dimension 12x18x12 inches is dug in fertile land (shady area will be preferred). Soil dug out of the pit is mixed with dried cattle dung with little added moisture to make the soil enriched (Figure 12.4). Cow horns are then filled with fresh cow dung and place in upright position tip of horn pointing upwards, in the pit. The soil mixed with dried cattle dung and moisture is placed into the pit and covered with natural materials to prevent the soil from getting diy. The moisture in the pit is maintained at an appropriate level by sprinkling water on and around the pit once a week except during the rainy periods, till the time of harvest (November-December). This is continued until the six month period is up. After six months (March-April), the horns are retrieved from the pit, and biofertilizer is harvested (Proctor, 2006). BD 500 acts inoculum of soil microbes and can be added to the soil (at the rate of 1 gram per hectare) by diluting with chemical-free water along with the use of organic compost for the cultivation of crops.

A detailed design of a vermiwash unit

FIGURE 12.3 A detailed design of a vermiwash unit.


Organic waste such as Water hyacinth and Bermuda glass (used as waste); along with dried cattle dung, are collected. Cattle dung is mixed with water to make a liquid solution. Water hyacinth is placed on a flat surface longitudinal about 48 inches in length and 5 inches high, then another layer of Bermuda grass with the same measurement as the water hyacinth. Cow dung solution is then added uniformly after each layer. Step 3 is repeated two more tunes to make a total of three layers, and then the compost material is covered with a plastic sheet, ensuring all edges are kept down. Temperature is monitored every week for a period of three months. After eveiy 15 days, the compost heap is turned so that the top layer will be at the bottom, and the bottom layer on top, also the heaps are sprayed with cattle dung solution after turning of each layer. Biodung compost is harvested after three months.

Biodynamic preparation 500 set-ups

FIGURE 12.4 Biodynamic preparation 500 set-ups.


Organic amendments like vermicompost, BD 500 and biodung compost promote humification, increased microbial activity and enzyme production, which, in turn, increase the aggregate stability of soil particles, resulting in better aeration (Tisdale and Oades, 1982; Dong et al., 1983; Haynes and Swift, 1990; Periled, 1990). Organic matter has a property of binding mineral particles like calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the form of colloids of humus and clay, facilitating stable aggregates of soil particles for desired porosity to sustain plant growth (Haynes, 1986). Soil microbial biomass and enzyme activity are important indicators of soil improvement as a result of the addition of organic matter (Pemcci, 1990). Apart from these, earthworm castings are repotted to contain plant growth promoters, such as auxins and cytokinins (Krishnamoorthy and Vajranabhaiah, 1986). Vermiwash, a liquid fertilizer produced by the action of earthworms, contains soluble plant nutrients, some organic acids, mucus, and microbes, that have proved to be effective, both as a biological fertilizer (as a foliar spray) as well as a pesticide (Pramoth, 1995; Ismail, 1997; Kale, 1998).

The high content of organic matter in compost and the resultant effects of the organic matter on the humic fractions and nutrients in soil effectively increase the microbial population, activity, and enzyme production, which in turn increases aggregate stability (Tisdale and Oades, 1982; Dong et al., 1983; Haynes and Swift, 1990; Perucci, 1990). Humic acid and fulvic acid are important as persistent binding agents in mineral organic complexes, and 52 to 92% of soil organic matter may be involved in these complexes (Edwards and Bremner, 1967; Hamblin, 1977). Increased plant litter incorporation, improved aggregation, better aeration, and water relationships and the development of mull characteristics can be observed soils amended with organic inputs. These improvements in soil structure were confirmed by soil morphological studies, as illustrated by Rogaar and Boswinkel (1978). On the contrary there was reduction in organic carbon in plots treated with chemical fertilizers which may be due to negligible organic matter as input, moreover chemical inputs cause degradation of the soil structure resulting in unfavorable conditions for crop growth in an already difficult soil (Pagliai et al., 1983a, b; Shipitalo and Protz, 1988).

Vennicompost, one of the important types of compost, contains earthworm casts that are reported to be higher in available nitrogen (De Vleeschauwer and Lai, 1981) which enhance the activity and number of microorganisms (Stewart and Chaney, 1975; Satchell and Martin, 1984; Satchell et al., 1984). An increase in soil nitrogen through the application of vennicompost is likely to be due to the stimulation of microbial activity specifically through increase in the colonization of nitrogen fixers and acti- nomycetes (Kale 1998; Borkenet al., 2002). Much of the effect of application of compost on crop yield and productivity is derived from the plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen in composts (Woodbury, 1992; Maynard, 1993; Ozores-Hampton et al., 1994). Reports indicate that adequate quantities of phosphoms and potassium were supplied by compost application to the soil (Smith, 1992; Maynard, 1993; Ozores-Hampton et al., 1994). Vennicompost is reported to contain desired quantity of phosphoms (De Vleeschauwer and Lai, 1981) which enhances the activity and number of microorganisms producing acid-phosphatases in the soil (Satchell and Martin, 1984; Satchell et al., 1984). Synergistically, these specific effects appear to raise phosphorus availability in soils amended with vermicom- post (Buchanan and Gliessman, 1990).

Vennicompost application in the wheat-paddy cropping system has been reported to increase crop yield (Sharma and Mittra, 1991; Ismail,

1997). This is because nutrients present in vennicompost are readily available to the plants (Ismail, 1997; Rajkliowa et al., 2000). The effect of application of organic amendments like vennicompost on crop yield and production is derived from the plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen (Woodbury, 1992; Maynard, 1993; Ozores-Hampton et al., 1994). Organic phosphorus solubilized by microbial activity in composts like the vennicompost is more effective for plant absorption (Mishra and Banger, 1986; Singh et al., 1987). The reduced cost of cultivation, less cost-benefit ratio and higher net income has been recorded in wheat and paddy cultivation through vennitech compared with the use of chemical fertilizers along with the other economically important crops like peanut (Arochis hypo- gaea) and brinjal (Solatium melongena) by organic methods (Ismail, 1997). Organic fanning has proved to be environment-friendly, sustainable, and cost-effective (Reganold et al., 2001).

Experiments on the effect of earthwonns and vennicompost on the cultivation of vegetables like tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum), brinjal (iSolarium melongena), and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) have yielded significant results (Ismail, 1997). Vennicompost, as an organic input, has been applied to grow vegetables and other crops successfiilly (Ismail, 1997). The application of composts like vennicompost could contribute to the increased availability of food (Ouedraogo et al., 2001). This is attributed to better growth of plants and higher yield by slow release of nutrients for absorption with additional nutrients like gibberellin, cyto- kinin, and auxins, by the application of organic inputs like vennicompost in combination with vermiwash (Raviv et al., 1998; Subler et al., 1998; Lalitha et al., 2000). The yield of potato and the average weight of potato tubers were significantly higher in plots treated with vennicompost. This may be attributed to the increased bioavailability of phosphoms by the application of the organic amendment in the form of vennicompost (Erich et al., 2002).

Organic manure like vennicompost and venniwash, when added to soil, augment crop growth and yield (Lalitha et al., 2000). The yields of spinach and onion in response to diluted venniwash along with vennicompost was highly significant which may be due to increased availability of more exchangeable nutrients in the soil by the application of vermiwash along with vennicompost (Ponomareva, 1950; Finck, 1952; Nijhawan and Kanwar, 1952; Nye, 1955; Atlavinyte and Vanagas, 1973, 1982; Czerwinski et al., 1974; Watanabe, 1975; Cook et al., 1980; Tiwari et al., 1989). Concern about the environment and the economic and social impacts of chemical or conventional agriculture has led to many thinking groups seeking alternative practices that will make agriculture more suitable. Biodynamic fanning practices and systems have shown promise in mitigating some of the detrimental effects of chemical-dependent, conventional agriculture on the environment (Reganold et al., 1993).


Soils are critical to productivity of both agriculture and natural ecosystems. Soil is an integral system, which is to be maintained through the sustainability of nutrient resources. The continuous worldwide soil degradation by erosion, chemicals, acidification, and physical abuse requires management in terms of soil quality. The use of organic amendments augmented with venniteclmology could be adopted as a means for crop production and soil stability. The use of combinations of organic amendments such as vermiwash, and vennicompost can effectively bring about an improvement in soil quality; enhance microbial population and impact crop productivity, thereby bringing about long term sustainability. Considering all aspects, such as studies on soil health, the yield of crops, and the cost-effectiveness of venniteclmology as a means of microbial innovation, it is concluded such technology could be applied for sustainable soil enrichment and crop productivity.


  • • biodung composting
  • • biodynamic farming
  • • biofertilizer
  • • chemical fertilizer
  • • microbial activity
  • • microorganism
  • • organic input
  • • organic matter
  • • soil fertility
  • • soil health
  • • soil quality
  • • vermicompost
  • • vermitechnology
  • • vermiwash


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