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Vermiculture Programs and Soil Restoration

8th April 2014

EcoPlanet Bamboo uses vermiculture to increase the organic content of depleted soils, and assist the establishment and growth of young Guadua bamboo.

Tropical rainforests are highly productive ecosystems, in part due to the high levels of organic matter found within the upper layers of the soil. Ideal climatic conditions of warm temperatures, relatively long hours of sunshine and abundant rainfall leads to high growth, which in turn leads to a high turnover of leafy vegetation and other organic matter. This organic matter decomposes quickly on the humid forest floor, resulting in soils that are rich in nutrients.

However, removing the forest ecosystem results in the loss of this compostable material and exposure of the soil to the elements, resulting in compaction, erosion, and often soils that are low in organic matter and associated carbon. Soils that are not only depleted, but cannot support intensive agriculture, or often, the regeneration of forest cover.

EcoPlanet Bamboo's mission is to convert degraded and marginal lands into commercial bamboo plantations. Bamboo's intricate root system can break up compacted soils, restoring filtration and soil permeability, and reducing leaching and further erosion of the topsoil. The plants' dense canopy cover provides further protection of the soil acting as a rainbreak and subsequently filtering water through to the lower levels.

However, working on such degraded lands requires intense management and processes to restore soil functions. Worms have long been used to assist with increasing the productvity of soils. In ancient Greece, Aristotle manifested that the worms were the intestines of the soil intestines and that they contributed to its fertility.

EcoPlanet Bamboo's vermiculture program uses the Californian red worm (Eisenia foetida) to break down cow manure and other bio matter, which is then returned to the plantation soils to increase the organic and carbon content of the soil, as well as improve soil structure. The program has been found to be effective, and assists young Guadua aculeata particularly in the early stages of establishment.

Vermiculture in History - Random Facts

In Ancient Egypt worms were considered a valuable asset contributing with the fertility of the soil. Persons found to be exporting worms outside the Kingdom to other lands would be punished by death.

The Incas of Ancient Peru appreciated the importance of worms within their farmlands, naming one of the most fertile and sacred valleys "Urumba". From Quechua origin: “Urur”- Worm and “bamba” – Valley (Valley of Worms).

It was Carl Von Linneo in 1758 who included a worm species Lombricus terrestris for the first time within a natural system.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) dedicated 40 years to annelid studies and published a book about the formation of organic material (humus) through the digestive actions of the worm.

Dr. Tomas Barret (1930-1936) in Los Angeles, USA; by Dr. Tomas Barret first domesticated worms, after observing them for 10 years. His observations were published as “Harnessing the Earth Worm”.

In 1947, North America Hugh Carter began to raise worms in a coffin. 25 years later he had the capacity to supply fish and hunting stores with 15 million of worms per year. 

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