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A comparison of composting and vermicomposting for the disposal of poultry waste
journal contributionposted on 21.07.2021, 03:11 authored by Toya N Joshi, Dainik B Nepali, Ramashish Sah, Tilchandra Bhattarai, David MidmoreDavid Midmore
Context: Poultry products, mostly meat and eggs, provide affordable quality foodstuffs to human populations in Nepal. However, the poultry industry's by-products, such as litter and offal, also generate potential environmental and human health issues and need a sustainable method of management. Aims: The present study compared the effectiveness of vermicomposting by using an exotic earthworm species Eisenia fetida, or effective microorganism-based (EM) composting, of poultry litters in the Terai region of Nepal. Methods: Four types of poultry litter, namely, broiler cage litter (parent stock litter), broiler deep litter, commercial layer cage litter and layer deep litter, each combined with earthworms (vermicompost) or effective microorganisms, were subjected to decomposition in beds. A completely randomised design in a 4 × 2 factorial arrangement (poultry litters by Eisenia fetida or effective microorganism) with three replicates per treatment was applied. Key results: Macronutrient concentrations, and reduction of the carbon: nitrogen ratio were significantly greater in vermicompost than EM compost. In addition, reduction of the carbon: nitrogen ratio was more significant following vermicomposting for broiler and layer cage litter than in other treatments. The highest initial concentration of N was found in layer cage litter (2.1%) and the lowest in layer deep litter (1.3%) and these increased to 1.5-3.4% and 1.7-1.8% in vermicompost and EM compost respectively. Available phosphorus increased by two- to three-fold in most vermicomposted poultry litters in comparison to initial poultry litters, and a two-fold increase in potassium was likewise achieved. Consistent with these results, worm biomass was significantly higher in layer cage litter and broiler cage litter than in deep litter. More cocoons were evident in layer cage litter, and lowest numbers of cocoon formation were observed in broiler deep litter. Conclusions: This comparative study showed that vermicomposting is superior to EM composting for bioconversion of poultry litters into value-added compost. Implications: With the adoption of this result, the poultry industry in Nepal could become more sustainable.