Why Is the Worm Industry Expanding?
Most people probably believe that worms are grown commercially for bait. While this has been the case for dozens of years, new applications for vermiculture–breeding earthworms–are now in use, and the demand for redworms is soaring. The tiny redworm, principally the species Eisenia fetida, is a powerful resource in waste reduction. Capable of consuming up to its own weight daily in organic waste, worms are now in use in the U.S. and around the world at landfill diversion sites, converting yard trimmings and other organic waste into worm castings–worm “manure”–which is a highly-prized soil amendment. Some sites are currently using 100,000 to 500,000 pounds of worms to convert tons of composted waste into vermicompost–a highly valuable product, sold to nurseries, landscapers and home/garden centers.
The uses of earthworms are many. Earthworms are used for fish bait, composting, a protein source for animal feed, and in producing pharmaceuticals (particularly in China). Earthworms in soil provide abundant benefits in increasing water infiltration, soil structure, and nutrient cycling. While taken for granted over the years by many, it has been only recently that scientists, soil ecologists, horticulturists, educators, and waste managers have led the way in expanding our understanding of these remarkable creatures.
Within the past couple decades earthworms, particularly the species Eisenia fetida (redworm, red wiggler), have been found capable of transforming huge quantities of garbage into something akin to gold. Earthworm excreta, known as earthworm castings, are now known to contain plant growth regulators and other substances that make them nature’s most remarkable form of bio-fertilizer and bio-pest control agent.
Over the years we have come to learn that there are a wide variety of interest groups within our worldwide customer base. While we haven’t been introduced to each one, we know our clients and customers include state regulatory agencies, waste management boards, non-profit corporations, schools, teachers, students, US and foreign composting facilities, earthworm growers, worm bin manufacturers, agricultural extension offices, state and local recycling agencies, environmental consultants, universities, libraries, farmers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In fact, this is just a fraction of the many different types of backgrounds and interests that our customers and clients represent. Whether it has been a commercial airline pilot or engineer considering a new venture, or a family helping one of the kids for a school science project, we’ve tried to offer something that will increase your understanding of and involvement with earthworms.
Decide For Yourself
Getting involved in the challenging and stimulating world of earthworm discovery can be as easy as ordering a book, a dvd and a pound or two of earthworms. You can get started right away. Build a simple worm bin for your kitchen scraps or buy a specially-designed unit we’ll ship directly to you. When you subscribe to our Casting Call newsletter you’ll get the latest news of the earthworm industry brought to you every 60 days. Be sure to check out our discounted package deals for extra savings.
Whether your interest is in home vermicomposting, starting a classroom or school-wide project, installing an institutional or commercial system, or becoming an associate grower and joining our distribution network, there is something here for everyone who has an interest in earthworms.
There are, perhaps, few people who realize that Charles Darwin, the famous biologist, conducted a lifelong study of earthworms. At the end of his life he penned these words: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly organized creatures.” We hope that at least a part of his fascination with earthworms might one day become your own.
Waste: A Hidden Resource of Plant Energy
Because of the current landfill crisis–over 4,000 landfill sites have closed in the U.S. since 1988–most states have instituted 50% waste reduction goals. Cities in California, for example, must reduce their waste by 50% of 1994 levels by the year 2000 or face penalties of up to $10,000 per day. Since 40-60% of all waste is biodegradable and compostable, many communities are diverting green waste, shredding and composting it, and selling the compost back to the public. A superior product, worm castings, is being produced at some sites and is sold in bulk for anywhere between $36 and $100 per cubic yard. Worm castings are also bagged and sold to retail outlets where prices of $1.00 per pound ($2000 per ton) have been reported. Some have sold “worm tea,” the leachate or percolate from the castings, as liquid organic fertilizer.
Turning Garbage Into Dollars
The money-making potential of vermiculture is so attractive that it is rapidly becoming a growth industry. There are three key components of commercial vermiculture which explain its present appeal and future potential: First, redworms are capable of transforming huge amounts of waste which is of growing concern in our society. For those who are raising worms for profit, this means the feedstock is generally plentiful and free. (Landfill diversion sites charge “tipping fees” for green waste to be brought to them, ranging from $15 to $75 per ton.) Typical feedstocks also consist of manure from a variety of animals: horses, cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits, etc. Second, the worm population can double in 2 to 4 months. Thus, after acquiring an initial inventory as breeding stock, sales of worms can be realized in a relatively short time, particularly when comparing their prolific breeding rates to other forms of livestock. And, third, the production of castings (“worm manure”) is a highly-prized soil amendment, sought by landscapers, gardeners, and horticulturists. Studies about the nutrient-rich vermicompost have proven its preferred value over ordinary compost and synthetic fertilizers. According to one source, “Castings contain the plant nutrients which are encased in mucus membranes which are secreted by the earthworms. They dissolve slowly rather than allowing immediate nutrient leaching. The product has excellent soil structure, porosity, aeration and water retention capabilities. The product can insulate plant roots from extreme temperatures, reduce erosion and control weeds.”
Worm Growers Urgently Needed
Currently, demand for worms, in some areas, exceeds supply. This demand, which has always been the case for baitworms, is now even more critical as greater numbers of vermicomposting operations are being started. It is common for some of these sites to start with 75,000 to 100,000 pounds of worms, yet the largest worm growers, many of whom have been in business for up to 20 years, are only able to supply 5,000 pounds at a time. These growers also have their own existing accounts to supply and are hard-pressed to meet huge demands.
How Can We Be of Service to You?
VermiCo is bridging the gap between insufficient supply and growing demand by offering the information and marketing resources to individuals who may desire to enter the potentially lucrative worm industry. Our business exists to help the worm-grower at every turn, from start-up to marketing the end product. We provide instruction, in our literature, dvds, workshops, tours, and consultation. Having visited many of the major worm growing operations, we are in contact with the significant industry leaders in vermicomposting and waste management. One of our objectives is to establish networks of independent growers who will learn the basics of vermiculture to provide the millions of earthworms that will be needed in the coming years.
At VermiCo, we’ve tried to fill the information void in several ways. First, we offer over 30 books about earthworms and the earthworm business. Second we have a variety of dvds that take you to places it might cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to see yourself. Each video serves a unique purpose in telling an important part about some aspect of vermiculture or vermicomposting. Third, we publish a bi-monthly subscription newsletter that keeps readers informed about the growing earthworm industry. And fourth, we offer conferences, seminars and workshops where you can receive abundant information, meet industry leaders, tour exciting facilities, and network with like-minded and energetic people who want to have an impact on their environment and on their world.
Taking Vermiculture into the 21 st Century
In this site you will find all the resources you need to get started. We offer a wide-range of instructional material that will help you begin a vermiculture project, whether for residential, educational, or commercial purposes. Our home vermicomposting bins and tools and dvds/videos make an excellent starting point for those who want to get acquainted with vermiculture gradually. We also invite entrepreneurs to consider marketing this and all our other products through their own businesses. Our package offers give you sizable discounts for buying in quantity.