Envirofert’s WormacompostTM comprises the best of both thermophilic cooking and vermicast.
After an initial thermophilic cook process, where temperatures range from 55 – 75 ºC, the compost is colonized by worms to further process and stabilize the product.
It thus has an appearance intermediate between vermicast material and normal thermophilic compost. In the following it is referred to as vermicompost. The benefits can be summarized as follows:
- Stability. A high ammonium-N content indicates on-going decomposition that could lead to N tie-up in the 4-6 weeks following application. Vermicompost is a reliably matured compost. Maturity tests, including seedling germination and plant growth-rate tests, show that some thermophilic composts can slow down plant growth despite testing well for C:N ratio and nutrient content. Properly made vermicompost nearly always performs well. Envirofert’s own trial work has shown the same trends as other reported trial work in that the vermicompost produced by Envirofert has given faster plant growth-rates than other composts in plant growth trials.
- Safety. High ammonium-N levels can damage sensitive plants; vermicomposts with low to undetectable ammonium N levels pose no such risk. Some thermophilic composts also have high electrical conductivity levels indicating that they have the potential to stunt or kill salt-sensitive plants which limits the rate at which they can be applied; vermicomposts rarely if ever have high EC levels.
- Less pollution risk. The higher soluble N levels in some thermophilic composts could lead to pollution – losing the N through leaching into the ground-water or to run-off water after rain. Note that NZS 4454 only requires that 10ppm of the N be present in soluble form. Vermicomposts rarely have high ammonium N levels.
- Steady nutrient release. The more stable vermicompost product will only release N and other nutrients when conditions are right for plant growth, as it will mainly be released via microbial activity. Microbes only get active under the same conditions as plants, so if its too cold/hot/dry for plant growth, the bugs won’t be releasing plant nutrients from the compost,
- Particle size. Vermicompost tends to have a finer particle size than thermophilic compost, so it reacts faster than thermophilic material as it has more surface area for bacteria and fungi to work on. These multiply up using the compost as food.
- Microbial diversity. Vermicomposts tend to contain a wider diversity of bacterial and fungal families, which means that they have the potential to enhance a wider range of soil environments than thermophilic composts as they are more likely to contain species that are active under any particular set of conditions than composts with a smaller range of families. As a consequence vermicompost with a more diverse range of bugs than thermophilic compost is more likely to have beneficial effects.
- compost is not just “organic nutrients” – it is cheaper to add nutrients as fertiliser if that was the only benefit
- compost improves soil microbial life leading to:
- improved soil structure, so rooting depth tends to increase, water infiltration is improved, and the plants can access nutrients stored in the soil more readily
- better moisture retention, reducing the need for irrigation
- reduced cultivation requirements
- increased soil organic matter levels – not just from the added compost but through the increase in plant growth and the microbial activity resulting from that increase (remember 60% of the carbon absorbed by plant leaves ends up in the soil as root growth and plant root exudates, so improving plant growth will help increase soil organic matter).
Plants need a wide range of nutrients to be healthy and to grow healthy fruit. The addition of fertilisers is a necessary requirement to maintain adequate plant nutrition.
Why then do plants not always perform with the simple addition of fertiliser?
The answer lies in the way plants absorb chemicals and this is where fungi and soil bacteria play their part in utilising and converting fertiliser chemicals into molecules that can be more readily absorbed through plant roots.
Good compost provides the environment where fungi and soil bacteria can feed and thrive, and in doing so, busily manufacture those readily absorbed nutrients. Good compost will contain a range of concentrated minerals & organic matter (or humus), as a product of the long breakdown process used to make it.
Collectively, fungi and soil bacteria are the main contributors to soil biology. They operate in a way similar to the digestive system of humans and animals. If humans lack the benefits of healthy E-coli bacteria they are less able to digest and absorb nutrients resulting in poor health.
The more active the fungi and soil bacteria are, the more fertiliser components are incorporated into the complex energy and building block molecules that healthy plants require.
‘Fertiliser lock-up’ is where nutrients are present in the soil in adequate amounts but not in a form that plants can absorb, resulting in poor performance. A soil test will show the fertiliser components are there but simply not getting into the plant.
The action of the fungi and soil bacteria change soil conditions and help turn insoluble chemicals into more soluble plant available forms, through the process of ‘bio-activation’. So for healthy plants, not only must all the nutrients, minerals and trace elements be present in balance, they must also be in a form that plants can readily absorb. Good compost will feed the fungi and soil bacteria which in turn bio-activate the soil.
WormacompostTM is good compost. Made over a period of 1 – 2 years, it is fully stabilised meaning it has completed the cooking phase that compost goes through in its making, and won’t burn plants. It is mature, and highly mineralised. WormacompostTM, is compost that has gone through an extra phase, after cooking, of further material breakdown through a commercial worm farm generating highly beneficial worm castings, the best nutrient-rich, organic fertiliser and soil conditioner, to the compost.
Good compost will feed the fungi and soil bacteria, bio-activate the soil, and in turn produce healthier fruit and vegetables.