Thursday, July 19, 2007

Benefits to Vermiculture

One of the drawbacks of raising redworms is the speed at which food scraps are processed into castings. Before the worms can begin their feast, it is necessary for the beneficial micro-organisms to begin breaking down the scraps - redworms do not eat fresh foods, only ones that are decomposing. This can take a great deal of time, especially on new setups. The surface to volume ratio is also a factor that affects the rate of digestion. The smaller the particle size, the faster the decomposition. Most organic kitchen waste is not ground up sufficiently to maximize decay, and thus the transformation into casting can be painfully slow.

BSF larvae are notably different that redworms because they will actively consume fresh scraps immediately, without the need for pre-decomposition. BSF digestion is focused on the proteins and fats in the waste pile - most of the cellulosic materials do not get eaten by the larvae, though physical chopping into smaller pieces does occur. The remaining cellulose fraction is targeted quickly by fungi and composting bacteria at the lower levels of the pile. The black, friable residue that remains after digestion by the larvae is of ideal consistency, particle size and nutrient balance to be fed directly to an active vermiculture system. The end result of this two-tiered processing is the production of redworm castings at a faster rate than using redworms alone.

8 comments:

Patricia (Pat) Hartman said...

How would you introduce the BSF larvae or pupae to the red worm set up? I have a tiered system and am having a lot of trouble with it being an ecosystem to mites, little black flies, fruit flies, etc.

Kristian Stokholm said...

I would like to start a BSF composting unit on my homestead in Denmark (Europe).
I am raising a little flock of chickens, some carrier pigeons and a some other livestock.
I cannot use the chicken manure directly in my garden, as it damages the plants. Neither can I toss it into the vermicomposter, as the red worms do not seem to appreciate it either.
Will the BSF grubs really take on fresh unadulterated (and abrasive!) chicken manure?

Felicia said...

I'm interested in setting up a 2-tiered system this summer. I get bsfl in my bins each summer as it is so I'm thinking of a dedicated bsf bin then finishing the compost with my redworms. I have not had bsf in numbers to throw off the balance of my worm bin so to speak. But they really do go through the scraps quickly and I often back off on feeding them to maintain the balance. Any diy suggestions?

Ivan Belen said...

Excellent idea for worm feed!

Greenie said...

@ Patricia - we wouldn't recommend adding BSF to a red worm system - they will out-compete the redworms and eat all of the food waste! They will not eat shredded cardboard, which worms love. So competition and dominance all depends on what food(s) you are currently feeding your worm bin.

Greenie said...

@ Kristian - BSF will eat fresh bird poop as long as it is new and has not gone anaerobic. If you mix it with food waste you will achieve even better results.

Greenie said...

@ Felicia - we always recommend separate bins for worms and BSF - they don't mix well due to BSF's voracious appetite. But will they harm each other? Not that we are away of - the issue has more to do with food resources than anything else. Worms LOVE BSF waste material - so that is ideal food for your worm bin where it will be readily converted to castings!

Samadhan Agrotech said...

Good work ! good continuation :)
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