Vermicomposting of sugar industry waste (press mud) mixed with cow dung employing an epigeic earthworm Eisenia fetida.
In India, millions of tons of press mud (PM) are generated by sugar mills every year. This paper reports the potential of vermitechnology to convert sugar industry waste PM mixed with cow dung (CD) into vermicompost, employing an epigeic earthworm Eisenia fetida. A total of six different reactors were established having different ratios of PM and CD including one control (CD only). The growth and fecundity of E. fetida was monitored for 13 weeks. Maximum growth was recorded in 100% CD, but earthworms grew and reproduced favourably up to 1:1 PM and CD feed composition. However, greater percentages of PM in different reactors significantly affected the growth and fecundity of worms. Vermicomposting resulted in a decrease in carbon concentration and an increase in nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium concentrations of the vermicompost. Investigations indicated that vermicomposting could be an alternative technology for the management of PM into useful fertilizing material, if mixed at maximum 50% with CD.