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Worm Farming Reference Data

NPK Nutrient values for some common worm foods

High N:
Blood Meal (NPK 13-1-0)
Coffee grounds (NPK 1,99-0,36-0,67)
Felt (NPK 14-0-0)
Hair (NPK 14-0-0)
Tea grounds (NPK 4,15-0,62-0,4)
Worm Meal (dried & ground worms) NPK 10-1-1
Greens, leaves & meals, alfalfa, stinging nettle

High P:
Bone Meal generic NPK 4-21-0,2
* steamed NPK 13-15-13
* burned NPK 0-34,7-0
Shrimp Waste NPK 2,87-9,95-0
Tea Leaves ash NPK 0-1,66-0,4
Wheat bran NPK 2,65-2,9-1,6
Oats, Chicken Manure

High K:
Banana skin NPK 0-3,08-11,74
Molasses NPK 0,7-0-5,32
Potato skin NPK 0-5,15-27,5
Wood Ash NPK 0-0,15-7,0
Wood ash (broadleaf) K 10%
Wood ash (coniferous) K 6%
Alfalfa, ashes, potato wastes, peel & skin (-ashes, too)

High Calcium:
Poultry manure (0,5-0,7% dry), dolomite lime, egg shells, bone meal
Note that its usually thought that worm castings is high in calcium (perhaps with the presumption that lime or eggshells are added during the process).

High Iron:
Stinging nettle (Also high N)

High Magnesium:
Dolomite lime, poultry manure, epsom salts


Vermicomposting by Numbers

Facts from a technical compost quide, section 'Vermi-stabilization' (of composted communal waste). (Komposti, WSOY 1984).

They are talking about the red wriggler Eisenia Fetida:

  • Optimum pH range 5-8. The worms die under pH 4,5 and over pH 9.

  • Optimum Humidity 80-85%.

  • Dissolved salt leves should not exceed 0,5 % (5000 ppm?). Ammoniumacetate is toxic to the worms when concentrations exceed 0,1% (1000ppm).

  • Greatest growth rate in temperatures between 20 and 25 C degrees, greatest feeding rate in 15-20 C degrees. Temperatures above 37 C degrees cause worm deaths. Can adapt to live in temperatures close to 0 C degree.

  • "Its been theorized that with optimum temperatures and sufficient food source the worms would achieve maturity in 5-9 weeks, meaning that a population of 100 worms could produce an offspring population of 250 000 worms in a year."

  • "..up to 20% of the waste materials weight can become wormbiomass ." (worm biomass is the worms themselves, not the worm castings)

  • "The will never be a problem with overproduction of worm- biomass, as the worms can always be dried and ground to produce a plant fertilizer. The NPK value of the dried worms is approxemately 10-1-1. The worm-biomass also contains 0,8% sulphur, 0,6% calcium, 0,3% magnesium and minerals that benefit the growth of plants."



Worm Species Data

Eisenia fetida (foetida)/Eisenia andrei
Common names: redworm, tiger worm, manure worm

Maximum reproduction under ideal condtions:
3.8 cocoons per adult per week
83.2% hatching success rate
3.3 hatchlings per cocoon
Net reproduction of 10.4 young per adult per week

Maximum growth rate under ideal conditions:
32-73 days to cocoon hatch
53-76 days to sexual maturity
85-149 days from egg to maturity

Temperature requirements ?C (?F):
Minimum 3?C (38?F)
Maximum 35?C (95?F)
Ideal range 21-27?C (70-80?F)

Eisenia hortensis (Dendrobaena veneta)
Common names: Belgian nightcrawler, European nightcrawler

Maximum growth rate under ideal conditions:
40-128 days to cocoon hatch
57-86 days to sexual maturity
97-214 days from egg to maturity

Temperature requirements ?C (?F):
Minimum 3?C (38?F)
Maximum 32?C (90?F)
Ideal 15-21?C (60-70?F)

Heat tolerance is dependant on moisture level. This worm is very tolerant of environmental fluctuation and handling, but has a slower reproductive rate and requires very high moisture levels, relative to other worm species.


Other common composting worm species

Bimastos tumidus - often found in compost piles, tolerates medium C:N ratios and cooler temperatures better than Eisenia foetida , multiplies rapidly in old straw and spoiled hay, hardy to Z-5 and will survive in ordinary soil conditions hence once established it would survive without extensive preparations. Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America

Eudrilus eugeniae: (African nightcrawler) do well but cannot withstand low temperatures.(composter or surface worker species)

Lumbricus rubellus: (common redworm or red marsh worm), used in Cuba's vermicomposting program, (composter or surface worker species), native to U.S.

Lumbricus terrestris: nightcrawler, native to U.S. Not suitable for vermiculture.

Perionyx excavatus: (Asian species) do well but cannot withstand low temperatures. (composter or surface worker species).