The study was conducted to develop and assess the feasibility of the low-cost mechanical interface as an alternative to the conventional land-based bin type vermicomposting process. The idea was to reduce the drudgery, enrich the nutrient status and reduce the cost of preparation of vermicompost.
A smart vermicomposting bin comprising of Arduino, feeding hopper, shredding rollers, spiral mixing unit, degradation bin and harvesting gate was fabricated for the preparation of vermicompost from Dal Lake aquatic weed in Kashmir valley. Eisenia fetida earthworm facilitated the degradation process.
The Dal lake aquatic weed was degraded in the smart vermicomposting bin. The turning frequency was set as 10 days and 20 days. The performance parameters at 10 days turning interval were pH 7.05, electrical conductivity 0.837 dSm-1, available nitrogen 1.15%, available phosphorus 0.06%, available potassium 1.91%, organic carbon 26.2% and C:N ratio 16.3:1 after 60 days degradation period. The comparative evaluation revealed that increase in available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium at 10 days turning interval was higher by 4.01%, 6.06%, 4.94% than 20 days turning interval. The benefit – cost ratio was 0.45 in first year and 1.78 in second year with a pay-back period of 19 months. The unit cost of vermicompost production was Rs. 13 per kilogram.
The involvement of mechanical intervention in vermicomposting can help in reducing the dependence on scarce land and addressing the issue of peak labour shortage. Moreover, the automation of the system can reduce the human errors.
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