Harvesting Composting Worms On A Large Scale

“I’m in Botswana and manage an organic farm. We have been using earthworms (Eisenia foetida) to make vermicompost using rumen content and manure from our local abattoir, for about 7 months. We’re ready to start harvesting, but we’re doing it on a large scale and have been scratching our heads trying to figure out how to do it rapidly and labour-efficiently. Any ideas?” ~ Maryam

Hi Maryam –

I’m not sure what sort of worm beds you are using, but would imagine that it might be windrows of some sort. What I would recommend is letting your beds dry out for a period of time, then adding some moistened food stock on top.

By the next day this will undoubtedly be crawling with worms and you can simply remove the uppermost layers of your windrow and use them to stock brand new windrows. This process can be repeated as desired so as to maximize the removal of worms from the castings.

Another approach you might want to consider (for future use) is known as the ‘wedge technique’.

Essentially it involves creating continually growing windrows. Simply start by building up a nice heap of food materials (and bedding, if necessary), then add your worms. Once they have been allowed to settle in and start converting the materials into castings, you can slowly start adding new food materials to one side of the heap, gradually building a windrow over time.

The worms will tend to follow the food source, and at a certain point you will then be able to start harvesting finished compost (with few worms in it) from the other end of the windrow.

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