Vermicomposting provides an alternative method of managing waste that is ecofriendly and cost-effective. The Environmental Technology Centre (ETC) at Murdoch University and St. John of God Hospital (SJOG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to install a vermiculture system in SJOG to treat some of the organic waste generated by the on site kitchen facility. This is an effort made by SJOG to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfill each year and to treat the waste on site as part of a recycling/reuse program.
The study is aimed at scientifically monitoring vermicomposting process and to understand the optimum management requirements to improve the operation of an institutional scale worm farm. In addition, an experiment was conducted to investigate the suitability of bedding materials: horse manure, cow manure, peat coir, and natural bedding (vermicast). The species of earthworms used in this experiment were Red (Lumbricus rubellus), Tiger (Eisenia fetida), and Blue (Lumbricus excavatus). The pH, temperature, worm population and quality of castings were tested in different beds.
Results indicated that vermicast was the best bedding for vermicomposting, and there were no significant difference between the performances of the other three beds. However, it can be concluded that the bedding material of horse manure, cow manure, and peat coir were successfully established well within the experimental period of eight weeks, and cow manure with the lowest C:N ratio produced the best quality bedding. As using vermicast for the initial bedding creates a very high capital cost these organic substrates provide cost-effective alternative. Therefore they would be quite appropriate to initiate an institutional scale worm farm.