Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation

Not an early bird? You can still catch these red worms

The 53-year-old keeps the worms which he uses to make organic fertiliser that he sells to other farmers and uses on his farm. He also sells the worms.

“My research is based on the production and use of vermi-compost, the organic fertiliser made from the worms. I was interested in the project because it has the potential of making farmers use locally available materials to produce quality organic fertiliser.”

“Earthworms can feed on any organic waste, including that from kitchen. They dislike meat, oily substances, fried foodstuff, and citrus fruits, among others. But anything else can be chopped and placed in the vermi-bedding to make the composting process faster,” he recounts.

“Once you start and you are enthusiastic about it, you will find that you keep on improving as the earthworms increase with time,” says the father of three.

He took a sample of the vermi-compost to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) to test its nutrients and found that it has a pH of between 5-6, nitrates 2.5 per cent, phosphates 1.8-2.9 per cent and potassium 1.4-2 per cent. Other notable nutrients include iron, magnesium, manganese and calcium.

The redworms which Wafula keeps in his Kitale farm. Red worms are the most preferred in making the compost since they have a high appetite, thus, are able to feed on large compost bins. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA | NMG

“People are now getting concerned with what they are consuming and they are moving away from the use of chemical fertilisers to organic farming. Organic fertilisers are the way to go,” he offers, adding he uses the fertiliser on his spinach.

“Red worms are the most preferred in making the compost since they have a high appetite, thus, are able to feed on large compost bins. They also breed very quickly and that means that they are able to multiply very first so that they can work on organic waste,” she offers.

“If a farmer has good amount of compost, they can produce up to five to 10 tonnes of vermi-compost per year. The farmer can be able to use the vermi-compost for different purposes such as foliar feed for what is called vermity or vermi-compost tea. The resulting compost can also be used in the gardens like the normal compost farmyard manure and it can further be used as a soil conditioner,” she explains.

“The fertiliser increases the level of carbon in the soil. Most of the soils have little organic matter and the use of the technology is highly recommended to improve the amount of organic matter in the soils,” she says.

She notes that most of the time nutrients in vermi-compost is not enough to meet all the crop needs unless one is engaging in horticulture farming alone.

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