by Bea Elisha Apa-ap and Toni Krizia Vivares
The Bureau of Plant Industry Los Baños National Crop Research and Development Center (BPI-LBNCRDC) introduced the earthworm Eudrilus euginae or the African Night Crawler to students visiting their SyenSaya booth on September 10, 2014.
The visitors were mostly elementary and high school students who crowded at the booth of BPI-LBNCRDC to see and touch the earthworms encased in a small glass case as the exhibitors explained and gave out leaflets about vermiculture and vermicomposting. Vermiculture is the production of earthworms while the vermicomposting is the production of quality organic fertilizer through vermiculture.
Eugenia Buctuanon explained that vermicompost is a first-class fertitizer because it gives the soil higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Vermicompost also enhances the growth of plants and prolongs plantlife.
Buctuanon further explained that the technology of vermicomposting is environmental friendly and can be adopted by families in their homes to eliminate a huge bulk of household biogdegradable wastes.
Using the term “kaibigang bulate,” research assistant Melinda Mondenogo encouraged the children to hold the African night crawler while telling them that farm wastes are still helpful when converted to farm by-products like animal feed and organic fertilizer.
Bianca Looise Marie, 10, screamed when she was asked to hold the worm, but with Mondenogo’s encouragement, she enjoyed the feel of the animal on her hands.
Mondenego said, “Malamig [yung bulate], lalo na kapag gumagapang sa kamay kasi sa malamig din syang environment nag go grow. Minsan kasi natatakot ang mga bata kapag nakikita pa lang nila. So pinapaliwanag natin na ito ay kaibigang bulate, na hindi naman sila masama, at ginamit ito para sa organic farming.”
The earthworms are used in vermicomposting as organic fertilizer. “Iyan yung ginagamit sa vermocompo. Kasi, yung mga farm waste imbis na itapon na lang natin, maganda na gamitin na lang natin. Base sa results ng experiments natin mas marami yung nutrients ng soil kumpara sa inorganically fertilized,” she added.
Eggpplant, cabbage, cauliflower , tomato, onion, cucumber, pole, sitao, and okra exhibit outstanding growth because of this earthworm. Grasses and kakawete leaves fertilized by vermicompost contained nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, pH(7.20), magnesium, manganese, copper, and zink.
Mondenego said that this earthworm could be housed on a rectangular box with plastic sheet for a floor and placed in a shaded area. They can be fed sawdust which are said to be best in earthworm production. She also stressed that many farmers are already producing vermicompost. “Simula nung na generate ang technology, marami ng farmers ang gumagamit. Mabilis lang din silang i-produce.”
The starting capital is Php 500 for 1,000 pieces and Php 360 per wombin. 220 kilos of vermicompost and 30000 earthworms are produced in six months.