Vermicomposting of domestic waste by using two epigeic earthworms (Perionyx excavatus and Perionyx sansibaricus)

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The composting potential of two epigeic earthworms (P. excavatus and P. sansibaricus) was studied in 2002 to breakdown the domestic waste under laboratory conditions. The experimental container with P. sansibaricus showed maximum mineralization and decomposition rate than that of P. excavatus. Except for exchangeable K (it was higher (P = 0.004) in a container with P. excavatus), the domestic waste processed by P. sansibaricus showed about 6% more total nitrogen (P = 0.002) and about 7% more available P (P = 0.269) at the end than by P. excavatus. As compared with the initial level organic C content as well as C:N ratio showed a considerable reduction that was noted higher in substrate with P. sansibaricus than those by P. excavatus (organic C, t-test: P = 0.870; C:N ratio, t-test: P = 0.002). The growth (biomass increase) and reproduction parameters such as mean individual live weight, maximum individual growth rate (mg wt./worm/day), number of cocoons and reproduction rate (cocoon/worm/day) were higher in bedding with P. sansibaricus. The maximum earthworm mortality was in vermibed having P. sansibaricus (~50% higher than by P. excavatus) (t-test: P = 0.423), since both species did not show a drastic difference in waste mineralization rate, but comparatively, P. excavatus exhibited better growth and reproduction performance, which further support the suitability of the species for large scale vermiculture operations.

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