Crop production no doubt constitutes most of the agricultural activities in Zimbabwe. We have been seeing many interesting new approaches to crop production in Zimbabwe and the world in general. One of the most interesting global approaches is vertical farming which I feel will be a big thing in Zimbabwe soon. Locally we have also been noticing a steady rise in the uptake of hydroponics which is quite commendable. Personally, I am a huge proponent of organic farming especially due to the need to have healthy organically produced food. In this article, I talk about one interesting organic product being used in crop production in Zimbabwe.

What Is Vermicompost?

Some of you might be the first time hearing of it but you do well to acquaint yourself with it. Vermicompost is arguably one of the most notable natural fertilizers (can also call it a bio-fertilizer) globally. It primes the soil to have optimal qualities and also augments the robustness and growth of crops or plants. It is a product of a process called vermicomposting.

What Vermicomposting Is All About

This is basically the conversion or breaking down of organic waste by the use of earthworms. The vermicompost that is obtained at the end is superior to ordinary compost or basic manures. The conversion process is both chemical and biological – because the earthworms work alongside various kinds of microorganisms.

Products Of Vermicomposting

There are a couple of products that can be realized from vermicomposting. Some of them are Vermiwash, Vermifoliar, and of course Vermicompost.

Vermifoliar is obtained when water is washed through soils that have been acted upon by earthworms. Basically, when that worm action occurs, burrows are created and these burrows will be housing a wide range of enzymes and hormones that enhance plant growth. Thus as the water washes those burrows it transfers those elements to the roots of the plants. Alternatively, the Vermifoliar can also be used as a spray for the crops – this is made easy by its being water-like in nature. That would mean it would have been obtained after water washes through. You will find that 20 litres of Vermifoliar can produce 300 litres of foliar spray.

Vermicompost is somewhat like your usual compost but it is much different though. It has superior qualities that far outweigh the ordinary compost. It has literally all the microbial elements necessary for enhanced plant growth. It also has all the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium a plant would ever. This essentially eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizers which usually have undesirable effects on the environment and people. You will usually find it being sold in 45-kilogram bags.

Vermiwash again is obtained from water passing through areas where worm action will be occurring. Vermiwash is nutrient-rich and has been found to augment the resistance of crops to diseases, amongst other things.

Commercially, you will likely find 3 basic products being sold namely, Vermicompost, Vermifoliar, and what is called Earthworm Poop Tea. Earthworm poop tea is used to coat seeds or seedlings before sowing or transplanting. It is usually packaged in 1-litre bottles and basically increases plants’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Benefits of Vermicompost

The benefits are so many and crop producers should seriously consider using this instead of synthetic fertilizers. Of course, vermicompost or its products can be used in combination with synthetic fertilizers if you choose to. Though I feel it would be best to use them alone as that would constitute organic production of crops.

Vermicompost primes soil to have qualities necessary for optimum growth. It creates the right nutrient balances, promotes soil fertility, and detoxes soil that is laden with contaminants. Soil gets improved in its ability to retain water. It also goes further to promote plant health and disease resistance coupled with accelerated growth.

Crops get to absorb and appropriate nutrients more effectively. The biggest benefit of vermicompost is that it does not contain any harmful synthetic elements. Not only does this promote eco-friendly farming practices but it enables the production of organic food which is healthy and sought-after.

One of the noteworthy players in this field is Zim Earthworm Farms. You can find their vermicompost products at Farm & City outlets and National Tested Seeds outlets, amongst others. The products are quite affordable as well. The other thing to note is that you can actually acquire the knowledge and skills to actually do vermicomposting on your own. You can contact Dr Whingwiri at +263 772 764 132 or email for more on that.