WTERT-India is co-founded by the National Environmental Engineering Research
Institute (NEERI) and the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University.
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Vermicomposting of Wastewater Treatment Plant Sludge, Cow Dung and Weeds

In developing countries like India, the generation of food industrial sludges (FIS) is increasing enormously. The sludges are generally disposed off in agricultural fields, open dumps, along the roadside or railway tracks and poorly designed landfills, causing public health and environmental hazards by causing air and surface or ground water pollution. Water hyacinth (WH) tops the list of most dreaded aquatic weeds and now spread to all around the globe. Several attempts have been made for its prevention, eradication and control, but to date without success. Parthenium hysterophorus (PH) is another weed of global significance causing severe economic, environmental, human and animal health problems in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific. Vermicomposting has been arising as an innovative technology for the decomposition of the organic solid waste having the domestic, agricultural and industrial origin. That’s why vermicomposting might be a useful alternative to convert these trouble some weeds in to vermicompost that could be used as soil conditioner and can be used as manure in agricultural fields. This paper reports the vermiprocessing of food industry sludge (FIS) mixed with different bedding materials including cow dung (CD), water hyacinth (WH) and parthenium (PH) in different combinations employing Eisenia fetida. Eight vermibins containing one kg waste mixture (on dry weight basis) were established for 13 weeks. The results indicated that studied wastes can be converted into good quality manure by vermiprocessing if mixed in appropriate ratios. The final vermicomposts was rich in important plant nutrients (NPK) and their C: N ratio was <20 which indicate their agronomic importance. After worm processing there was a significant increase in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium contents of the vermicomposts. But a decrease in pH, organic carbon and C: N ratio was recorded after vermiprocessing. The heavy metals’ content in vermicomposts was higher than initial values but within permissible limits. The waste substrates composition determined the physico-chemical characteristics of vermicomposts. The results indicate that vermicompost can be as one of the technologies for converting industrial waste and weeds into value added products. The higher concentrations of PH and WH affect the growth and fecundity of worms. The results of present investigation indicate economic utilization of weeds and industrial sludges by vermicomposting.

Key Words: Vermicompost, Food Industry sludge, Parthenium, Water hyacinth, Eisenia fetida, Heavy metals

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