Promoting the use of compost to enhance an integrated production system

One of the main activities at the CARDI Sam Motta Demonstration and Training Centre (SMDTC), is that of crop/ livestock integration. Crop/ livestock integration is a form of mixed farming that utilizes livestock and cash crops in ways that can complement each other through time and space. Forages are planted and fed to the animals (goats and sheep), manure is harvested and composted, the compost is added to the soil (as an ameliorant to help rehabilitate the mined-out bauxite soils during the production of crops and forages (feed for the animals).

 

Composting is a major component of this production system, and at the SMDTC stock / pile composting and vermicomposting are practised. Stock and pile composting is made up of layers of manure, crop residues, “left over forages” and grass bedding. The breaking down of the pile is dependent on micro-organisms and air. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes account for most of the decomposition that takes place in a compost pile. They are considered chemical decomposers, because they change the chemistry of organic wastes. Many microorganisms, including aerobic bacteria, need oxygen in order to produce energy, grow quickly, and consume more materials.

 

The vermicompost is produced by using California Red Worms (Eisenia foetida) to break-down, goat and sheep manure. The manure is placed in 2-feet deep concrete bins and worms are added. The entire process takes six weeks to convert to compost, as compared to to the stock and pile technique which takes up to five months depending on the type of crop and forage residues used.

 

During the months of June through August, the DTC experienced dry conditions, therefore the bins had to be kept adequately moist through watering. A total of 9,900 kg of vermicompost was harvested from 10 bins of goat and sheep manure, over nine cycles. The vermicompost is reused on station and samples given to stakeholders.

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