Vermicomposting Process for Treating Agricultural and Food Wastes

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

Handbook of Environmental Engineering: Waste Treatment in the Biotechnology, Agricultural and Food Industries: Volume 1


Vermicomposting is a novel municipal/agricultural sludge and solid waste treatment process that uses earthworms (oligochaete annelids) for the biodegradation of the sludge and/or organic solid wastes, such as agricultural and food wastes. This novel biological system is alternately called earthworm conversion, vermicomposting, vermistabilization, worm composting, or annelidic consumption. The worms maintain aerobic conditions in the organic substances while accelerating and enhancing the biological decomposition of the organic substances. The main product of the vermicomposting (earthworm conversion) process is the worm’s castings. In some process arrangements, there may be a net earthworm production. The excess earthworms may then be sold for fish bait or animal protein supplement. Earthworm marketing is a complex problem; for municipal sludge applications, surplus earthworms may be considered a by-product, while the principal product is the castings, which can be a resource, called vermicompost, compost, soil conditioner, or compost fertilizer.

This publication presents the following: (a) an introduction and review of the vermicomposting process; (b) technology development, technical problems, legal problems, and technology breakthrough of the process; (c) current status and resources; (d) vermicomposting process design considerations; (e) process applications with special emphasis on agricultural and food waste treatment; and (f) future development and directions of the process. Recent advances in vermicomposting process research and new process applications are reported.