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investigations among tribes in Madu-

rai District of Tamil Nadu (In-




dia). Journal of Ethnobiology and

acknowledge the DST NRDMS (2016 to

Ethnomedicine, 2, 25.

2018) project to Ramani Bai, R. We are

Kavitha, V.J. (2008). Studies on the ge-

also thankful for the UGC MRP (2015-

nomic diversity of Southern Indian

2018) project to Kavitha, V.J. We are




grateful to all the tribes of Tamil Nadu for




their vast knowledge in Traditional Medi-

Tamil Nadu, India.


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and Arthi, H. (2005). Ethno Medical

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Knowledge of Plants Used By Irula

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with special reference to mother and

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© 2017 by the authors. Licensee, Editors and AIMST University, Malay-

sia. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and

conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


ISBN: 978-967-14475-3-6; eISBN: 978-967-14475-2-9 40

Biotechnology for Sustainability

Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives

Biotech Sustainability (2017), P41-50

Vermitechnology – An Eco-Biological Tool for

Sustainable Environment

Mahaly Moorthi1, Koilpathu Senthil Kumar Abbiramy1,*, Arumugam Senthil Kumar2

and Karupannan Nagarajan3

1PG and Research Department of Zoology & Wildlife Biology, A.V.C. College (Autono-

mous), Mannampandal - 609305, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam District, Tamilnadu, In-

dia; 2PG and Research Department of Zoology, Chikkaiah Naicker College, Erode – 638

004, Tamilnadu, India; 3PG and Research Department of Zoology, Sri Vasavi College,

Erode – 638 316, Tamilnadu, India; *Correspondance: / ksab-; Tel; +91-8526385977

Abstract: The word vermi, typically indicates earthworms. Vermitechnology is a simple

process, which uses earthworms to produce earthworms, good quality compost (vermicom-

post) through organic waste recycling and other products involving earthworms. This tech-

nology is inevitable in managing biodegradable wastes, biomass or organic material that

can be degraded or composted thus contributing to the environment indirectly. Solid waste

management through Vermitechnology contributes more for the sustainability of the envi-

ronment. The major components of Vermitechnology can be considered as Vermiculture

(mass production of earthworms), Vermicomposting (production of vermicompost) and

Vermiwash (the extract of vermicompost). In 1996, „Vermitech‟, the vermicomposting

technique was developed by Mr. A. Thimmaiah at the Indian Agricultural Research Insti-

tute (IARI), New Delhi, India. As IARI is also known as „Pusa Institute‟, this innovative

technology was dedicated to the institute and named „Pusa Vermitech‟. „Pusa Vermitech‟

was developed to provide a simple solution to poor farmers. This method has now become

popular in Bhutan, Costa Rica, India, Italy, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It appears that Ver-

mitechnology is going to play an important role for the sustainability of agriculture and en-

vironment. This chapter is highlighting the Vermitechnology, as an eco-biological tool for

the sustainable environment.

Keywords: Solid waste management; vermicomposting techniques; vermiculture; ver-

mitechnology; vermiwash

1. Introduction

manure comes in handy especially for

small-holders who do not have the money

The advent of organic farming has

to buy expensive, chemical fertilizers.

made farmers innovative and nature

The manure is used rampantly for all sorts

friendly. Vermitechnology, an effective

of crops. The biggest beneficiaries are

replacement for chemical input is the

women who have formed themselves into

most sought after due to its cost-

NGO-trained Self-Help Groups (SHGs).

effectiveness and quality of enriching the

These women can easily prepare the

soil. Vermicompost is becoming the prin-

Vermitech products in their backyard and

cipal manure for crops in the field of or-

sell the excess one left after their own use

ganic farming. The market crisis for agri-

to neighbouring estates or farmers. The

cultural products has also contributed to

NGO-run institutes like these are assisted

the popularity of vermicomposting. The

by the local bodies like grama pancha-

ISBN: 978-967-14475-3-6; eISBN: 978-967-14475-2-9 41

Biotech Sustainability (2017)

Vermitechnology – An Eco-Biological Tool for Sustainable… Moorthi et al.

yats, zilla panchayats, which organize

cessed potato; wastes from supermarkets

seminars and teach farmers the methods

and restaurants; wastes from poultry,

of Vermitechnology. Government agricul-

pigs, cattles, sheeps, goats, horses (Ed-

tural departments also buy earthworms in

wards and Bater, 1992) as well as horti-

bulk from these SHGs to conduct their

cultural residues from dead plants and

own projects on vermiculture. In fact, the

spent wastes from mushroom industry

Supreme Court‟s ruling criteria is that to


decide on metro status would be the par-

The degradable organic matter

ticular district‟s level of participation in

from these wastes when dumped in open

organic farming.

undergoes either aerobic or anaerobic

But the low sense of awareness




still remains a problem even within the

dumpsites permit fine organic matter to

municipalities that have undergone semi-

become mixed with percolating water to

nars on Vermitechnology. Neither the

form leachate. The potential for this

Boards nor the local bodies have ideas on

leachate to pollute adjoining water and

the perspectives of Vermitechnology.

soil is high. India where a lot of solid or-

Technical expertise alone does not make

ganic waste is available in different sec-

organic farming. Unless there is a uni-

tors with no dearth of manpower, the en-

formity of procedure, the advantages of

vironmentally acceptable Vermitechnolo-

organic farming – low cost, more soil fer-

gy using earthworms can very well be

tility and eco-friendliness - will not come

adopted for converting waste into wealth.


Considerable work has been carried out

After all, by preparing Vermitech

on vermicomposting of various organic

products, the farmer is making the soil

materials and it has been established that

healthy. In turn, he‟s supplying healthy

epigeic forms of earth-worms can hasten

crops into the market. The content of or-

the composting process to a significant

ganic carbon, the index for the presence

extent, with production of a better quality

of humus in the soil, is in high Ranges. So

of composts as compared with those pre-

the farmers must contribute considerably

pared through traditional methods. The

more towards ecology and food produc-

viability of using earthworms as a treat-

tion. He deserves all the support he can

ment or management technique for nu-

get. With the right financial support from

merous organic waste streams has been

the Government and a more organized

investigated by a number of workers

network of cultural units, Vermitech

(Logsdon, 1994; Madan, 1988; Singh,

products, as a form of enrichment can

2002). Similarly a number of industrial

generate a steady source of income for the

wastes have been vermicomposted and

impoverished folk of agricultural areas.






There are numerous sources of

(Sundaravadivel, 1995). Hand et al.

waste produced in India where degradable

(1988) defined vermicomposting as a low

organic matter is either partially or fully

cost technology system for the processing

generated. Solid waste consists of the dis-

or treatment of organic wastes.

carded portion of the households, dead

A growing awareness of some of

animals, trade, commercial, agricultural

the adverse economic and environmental

and industrial waste and other large waste

impacts of agrochemicals in crop produc-

like debris from construction site, furni-

tion has stimulated greater interest in the

ture etc. Solid wastes are generally cate-

utilization of organic amendments such as

gorized as domestic, industrial and haz-

compost or vermicompost for crop pro-

ardous or biomedical waste. Studies were

duction (Follet, 1981). Therefore, the sus-

made on some solid wastes like sewage

tainability has to be restored by some

sledges and solids from waste water

means of regular food security. Utiliza-

(Mitchell et al., 1980); wastes from pro-

tion of earthworms may be an answer as

ISBN: 978-967-14475-3-6; eISBN: 978-967-14475-2-9 42

Biotech Sustainability (2017)

Vermitechnology – An Eco-Biological Tool for Sustainable… Moorthi et al.

an ecologically sound, economically via-

id wastes (John Paul et al., 2011), as a

ble and socially acceptable technology.

source of live feed in poultry and aqua-

The present chapter reviews on various

culture industries. Worms have a number

aspects involved in Vermitechnology and

of other possible uses on farms, including

thus managing the organic waste leading

value as a high quality animal feed. The

to a sustainable environment.

earthworms are also used as bait in

freshwater sport fishing. They are also

2. Vermiculture

sold to small scale business people who

maintain garden at home and to nurseries

The process of culturing of earth-

that do organic gardening and composting

worms using scientific methods is known

and sell saplings. Also there are demands

as Vermiculture. Earthworms are known

for the pure form of vermicastings in var-

as biological indicators of soil health. In

ious places.

soil earthworms‟ activity and their casting

support a lot amount of microbial popula-

2.1. Methods for Vermiculture

tions. Microbial populations such as bac-

Vermiculture is the culture of

teria, fungi, Actinomycetes and protozo-

earthworms. The goal is to continually

ans grow well, also insects like spiders,

increase the number of worms in order to

millipedes, and other nematodes that are

obtain a sustainable harvest. The worms

essential for sustaining the soil fertility

are either used to expand a vermicom-

grow well. Presence of soil biome enrich-

posting operation or sold to customers

es the soil fertility. Thus earthworms

who use them for the same or other pur-

which form the base for the survival of

poses. If the goal is to produce ver-

other organisms can be cultured artificial-

micompost then we want to have maxi-

ly and used for many purposes. The ulti-

mum worm population density all of the

mate goal of this technology is the bet-

time. If the goal is to produce worms then

terment of soil fertility and health of hu-

we keep the population density low

man beings.

enough that reproductive rates are opti-

In recent years considerable atten-

mized. Vermiculture as a business must

tion has been focused upon the potential

be started in a small scale units. After

role of intensive earthworm culture, or

learning the technique of culturing, one

vermiculture. It is now accepted that the

can start his business at large scale. Cul-

economic value of vermiculture lies in (i)

turing of earthworms needs minimum re-

reduction of noxious qualities associated

quirements and care on a regular sched-

with organic wastes, e.g. elimination of

ule. Culturing can be done by two meth-

smell; (ii) generation of a useful compost;


and (iii) production of earthworm bio-

i. Container method.

mass. Various Vermiculture systems,

ii. Tank method.

which have been designed primarily for

The first method consists of cul-

biological waste control, are producing

turing earthworms in containers made of

earthworms in large quantities. This chap-

plastic and the medium or their bedding

ter covers the production of the earth-

(commonly called as vermibeds) can be

worms which can be used as a source of

done in it. Containers in the shape of rec-

food, primary proteins, and as drugs.

tangular boxes or tubes of one foot width,

Now-a-days, people are very

3 feet length and 2 feet height can be uti-

much eager in culturing earthworms as a

lized. The shape of the containers can

part time business, as a source of income.

change according to the availability in the

The culturing of worms becomes a prom-

area of culturing. These containers with

ising business because of its need in

vermibeds must be placed in a proper en-

enormous amount in organic farming, in

vironment. Either it can be placed in sepa-

big municipalities for the treatment of sol-

rate thatched roof shed if economically

ISBN: 978-967-14475-3-6; eISBN: 978-967-14475-2-9 43

Biotech Sustainability (2017)

Vermitechnology – An Eco-Biological Tool for Sustainable… Moorthi et al.

viable or can be placed in spaces availa-

organic matter for partial decomposition,

ble inside the house itself. Thus depend-

care must be taken that, both the organic

ing on the economical status, the place

matter and the cow dung are shad dried.

can be selected. The conditions in main-

This is because; wet organic matter and

taining the vermibeds are, direct sunlight

cow dung may contain the cyst and larvae

must be avoided and it must be safe from

of other microorganisms and insects. So if

insects and rodents.

implemented wet, they may grow along

The second method of culturing

with earthworms and do hindrance.

earthworms is by tank method. By this

The alternate layers of organic

way multiplication of earthworms can be

matter and cow dung are arranged in the

done in large scale. For this method, ce-

form of heap and 50% moisture must be

ment tanks of dimensions one meter

maintained. Cover the heap with thatched

width × one meter height × 3-5 meter

coconut leaves. This set up must be kept

length can be constructed. Th