Adding chemical fertilisers to soil has immediate benefits but in the long run, chemical fertilisers affect the productivity of soil. Soil becomes acidic and it cannot retain moisture. One way to improve soil productivity is by using vermicompost. It is an organic compost made by using earthworms to feed on organic residues. The result of which is a nutrient-rich soil.
The National Soil Services Centre, NSSC, urges farmers to use organic fertilisers. The centre says using chemical fertilisers not only affects soil health but human health as well.
Officials from the soil centre said that a temperature of 30 to 35 degree Celsius is required to make vermicompost. The soil should also have a moisture content of about 60 per cent.
“In this vermicomposting, the earthworm converts organic matter or any waste into black colour and stable vermicast that plays a vital role in enhancing biological and physical properties of the soil. For instance, it will enhance the nutrient content, especially nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium content of the soil. It will enhance the water-retaining capacity of the soil and it will also maintain the PH of the soil. So, in the long run, it will make the soil loose and highly productive,” said Ameeta Adhikari, Asst. Laboratory Officer of National Soil Services Centre.
She added that the soil centre is currently focusing on rearing earthworms to distribute them to other centres and interested clients.
One of the recipients of such service is 60-year-old Deepak Chhetri. The father of two started his firm, Flora Bhutan, in early 2018.
Deepak said that support from various organisations has helped him cater to people’s need for vermicompost.
Last year, Deepak expanded his vermicompost production business in about 80-decimal of land in Begana, Thimphu.
Deepak’s business produced about 18 metric tonnes of vermicompost in the first three years.
However, finding raw materials to make the compost, and people not willing to do manual work is a challenge for him.
‘‘It is a challenge to get the right species of earthworm. Since we are not allowed to import it from India and other countries. Initially, the National Soil Services Centre provided me with worms. It was difficult to get raw materials for vermicompost. And yet another big challenge was to get employees to work in my firm. This is because the work needs to be done manually,” added Deepak Chhetri.
BBS talked with the users of vermicompost, and they shared the benefit of using organic compost.
‘‘When I was young, the crop yield was not much. It is running for five years since he arrived here. After that, the yield of crops and flowers is good,” said Tshewang Dema, a vermicompost user.
‘‘When we use urea and suphala fertilisers every year, we have to use them time and again. And at the same time, our soil gets destroyed by urea. Once we use the vermicompost, the yield is better and the soil will not be destroyed. Even if we plant potatoes in buckets on our balcony, the harvest is good compared to urea. Flowers are also growing well,” said B.B. Mongar, another vermicompost user.
According to Deepak, vermicompost takes about four months to become market ready.
Currently, Flora Bhutan has 10 metric tonnes of vermicompost ready for market. He is expecting to make more than Nu 500,000 from the sale of this product.
He expects to produce more than 50 metric tonnes of vermicompost in the future.
Today, there are nine vermicompost producers registered with the National Soil Services Centre in the country.
Edited by Sherub Dorji