In this day of growing concern regarding sustainable development, environmental preservation, and a healthy lifestyle, the demand for organic food is on the rise for decades. And therefore, the popularity of modern organic food production methods such as Alternate Hydroponics or Vermiponics(Worm) Farm Business keeps rising simultaneously.
According to the OTA (Organic Trade Association), the organic food sales rate has increased by 6.3% within only one year (2018-2019) in the US. And even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the sales rate of the costlier organic foods (4.6%) surpassed that of the general food market (2%). Sadly though, it simply is not possible to grow a huge amount of crops needed to fulfill the ever-growing needs of the billions with our current land capacity.
Though water-based organic modern farming methods like Hydroponics and Aquaponics have helped us a lot in dealing with the land-shortage problem, these types of food production methods are also not without faults. Therefore, the search for an alternate Hydroponics has always continued. Vermiponics, a more suitable version of alternate Hydroponics, is the fruit of these countless efforts. Though hard to believe, this method of farming has added numerous benefits to the modern food production system. And in today’s article, we will discuss exactly what benefits can starting a Vermiponics Worm Farm Business can bring for you.
Hydrophonics vs. Aquaponics vs. Vermiponics
As you can guess from the name, Hydroponics is a water-based food production method. The plants grow in a soil-less medium where synthetic nutrients supply the nutrients needed for the plants’ growth.
Aquaponics uses the same theory, but instead of synthetic nutrients, it uses fish waste. Use of fist waste offsets some costs of Hydroponics but includes some new ones as well. Moreover, these methods require a large investment, making the production procedure unsuitable for ones without necessary capital.
Vermiponics farming, on the other hand, uses worm casting tea in the Hydroponics system instead. So essentially, Vermiponics is just a mixture of Hydroponics and Vermiculture. This minor change brings forward more benefits in agricultural production than regular Hydroponics. As a result, Vermiponics is becoming more popular among organic farmers day by day.
Why Start Vermiponics(Worm) Farm Business: 21 Reasons
It may seem that Vermiponics’ is not much different from Aquaponics. But in reality, this Alternative Hydroponics System comes with many added benefits the other two methods don’t have. Here you will find out 21 good reasons for starting a Vermiponics Worm Farm Business.
First of all, Vermiponics farming method doesn’t need any addition of chemicals for food production. As a result, there are no risks of chemical residue being washed into the environment and harming it. Not to mention that this is a soil-less farming method. Since the very beginning of agriculture, the strict dependence on land is one of the primary reasons behind deforestation. But the rise in Vermiponics farms can help in lessening the level of deforestation.
You will need a batch of worms to start the worm farm. Then as long as there is enough food, those worms will keep growing and reproducing by themselves. The new ones will replace the old ones and the cycle will keep continuing.
More yield than land-based production
The main difference Vermiponics has from Hydroponics is the use of worm tea instead of synthetic nutrients. It means that like Hydroponics, you can grow the plants in vertical multiple-layered racks. As a result, you will be able to grow more vegetables in the same amount of space compared to soil-based farming. You can find the proof from a UN research conducted in 2017, where Hydroponic farming systems are found out to have 2–5 times higher productivity and 20–25% higher yields than the traditional soil-based cultivation.
Easy to maintain
Worms are sturdier than fish. They require less to no maintenance. Unlike fishes, they can withstand sudden changes in pH and temperature. In Aquaponics, you will have to keep strict attention to maintaining the water pH level within 6.8 to 7.6, and the water temperature level within 76F to 80F. Otherwise, your fishes’ health will fall and in extreme cases, they will die in droves.
On the other hand, red worms will be able to thrive as long as your soil’s pH level is within 4.2 to 8.0. In some cases, even at higher pH, the worms can stay alive. As for the temperature, 55F to 77F is the best. You’ll only need to make sure that it doesn’t fall below 40F, and all will be fine. Therefore, you will not need workers to watch over your worm farm 24/7. All you will have to do is to ensure the timely supply of food and water, and your worms will keep maintaining themselves.
Lesser dependence on electricity
You will need to maintain an optimum temperature for fish maintenance. Therefore, you will be dependent on electricity. There are records of fish death due to power outages. But with worms, you won’t have to spend money to keep their habitat warm unless everything is frozen solid.
Lower maintenance cost
In Vermiponics, the worms use food waste as their food and produce worm tea as the plants’ nutrients source. You can feel the worms your food waste which is free. 1lb/500gm of food waste can feed about 1lb/ 1000 worms. These 1000 worms are capable of producing 2lb/1000gm worth of nutrients. So the more your family’s food intake is, the more worms you can raise. On the contrary, 1lb/500gm of fish can produce only 10gm of nutrients. What a major difference!
A 100sqm vegetable field usually needs about 44lb/20000gm of nutrients. Thus, you will need only 20 pounds of worms to fulfill your plants’ needs. And what’s best is that these nutrients are freely being produced by your worms on a daily basis! Therefore, you won’t need to spend money on pricy synthetic nutrient solutions or fish-food.
Not to mention that your electricity cost will get low as well, meaning significantly lower maintenance cost than hydroponics. The cost will vary depending on many factors, but here we present a general analysis about how much it can make a difference.
In Aquaponics, if you use a 60-watt pump for 24 hours, you will have a yearly cost of about $65. Also, to keep a 30 to 50 gallons aquarium at optimum temperature throughout the winter (4 months), your electricity bill can rise up to $24 to $65 depending on the local supply charges. For fish food, you will need about 50 dollars more. Altogether, you will spend about 130-170 dollars every year.
On the other hand, in Vermiponics farming, you can keep the water pump off for 45 minutes per hour. Thus, in a day, you will have to pump water for 6 hours and your yearly cost will be around $15 to $18. You also won’t need to spend too much in heating the bins in cold weather if your worm bins are well-insulated. Overall, you will save around $110-$120 dollar solely on electric bills and food costs!
No need for a specific place/location
Unlike soil-based cultivation, you can control the environment in Vermiponics farming business if you do so in an enclosed space. So you won’t need any specific location for your farming. As long as you can meet the conditions, you can grow your vegetables even in a metropolitan area. You can never do so in a traditional soil-based farming setup.
Organic fertilizer improves production
According to the UCCE (The University of California Cooperative Extension), worm castings have an NPK rating: 5.5.3. They are richer in iron, sulfur, calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compared to even compost. Truly, an efficient fertilizer for plant growth.
Unlike the fish used in Aquaponics, the worms live in the soil. So, there is no need for a massive water supply or regular water changes. As a result, this method for crop production needs a far lesser amount of water.
Vermiponics is based on supplying worm tea in a Hydroponics production system. Worm tea is rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and sulfur. Worm tea replaces the synthetic solution due to this reason. Therefore, no chemical fertilizers are needed for the plants.
No loss of food waste
Every day we throw away a lot of inedible parts of food ingredients as waste. But what is inedible to us is perfectly edible to some other beings such as red worms. This means that you can easily utilize these parts as worm food in your Vermiponics farm. And they are free and environment friendly!
Vermicompost and Vermicast provides extra income
There is also an ever-growing market for organic fertilizers due to the popularity of organic foods. Your worms are perfect sources for organic fertilizers as Vermicompost, and Vermicast (worm casting and worm tea). If you need some extra cash, you can also make a side business of selling these products. One pound of Vermicompost can be sold for $5-20. But remember to maintain care so that the plants don’t fall short in nutrient supply.
After you buy the small worms, they will reach the mature breeding age within just two weeks. After that time, from each worm, you will be able to get around 200 baby worms in a year. Compared to fish, extremely fast-paced!
Easy disposal of pet-waste
Just like the food waste, the worms can live on the animal waste as well. If you have any pets, you can just dump their waste there and save yourself the trouble of disposing of the smelly waste.
No need for a sterile environment
In Hydroponics, you will need a sterile growing medium. But the worms used in Vermiponics farming don’t need such an environment to thrive. This means lesser work and lesser spending of money.
A controlled, yet relaxed environment control
As Vermiponics can be set up indoors, you can ensure a controlled growing medium for the plants. But unlike fishes, worms are resilient. So even if you fail to maintain the ideal living condition for some time due to some reasons, your worms have a high chance of survival despite the changes.
Suitable for smaller setups
For Aquaponics, you will need a large space for your fish tank. The tank needs to be spacious enough to provide a healthy space for the fishes. But when you will grow worms for Vermiponics, they won’t need such a great amount of space. 1lb/ 1000 worms will need only 1 cubic foot of space to stay healthy. So you will be able to grow them in a relatively compact space with ease and save up on the land price.
Worms fertilize garden soil
You can also add some worms to your garden soil for better plant growth. According to National Geographic, earthworms transport nutrients and minerals from below to the surface. Also, NKP and micronutrient-rich Vermicompost adds more to the soil fertility.
From the previous discussions, you can see that the Vermiponics farm business requires lower maintenance costs compared to Hydroponics or Aquaponics. You won’t need to spend money on chemical nutrient solutions, and fish food. Unlike the fishes, you won’t need a regular water change or maintain a strict temperature and pH level in the worms’ habitat. The feeding of the worms will cost you very little. Overall, this alternate Hydroponics will save your money a great deal.
Worms can be used as fish-baits
If you like fishing, you can use your worms as fishing bait. With an ever-growing worm population, you won’t ever need to buy fish-baits from markets. You can even sell some to other fishing lovers if you feel like it.
You may fear that growing worms will produce a bad smell, but the reality is different. Despite the rotting food and other organic materials, a properly kept worm habitat will have an earthy smell, not a rotting one. In fact, the use of food waste as the worm food will keep your garbage can free of the rotten smell.
In spite of its similarity to Hydroponics and Aquaponics, Vermiponics farm business is more cost-effective and more resilient. While the setup of a medium level Hydroponics structure might require about $200-$500, after the setting is done, you will be able to use it for quite a while. The worms themselves will require next to no maintenance cost. On the contrary, they will help you in earning some extra cash as well as preserving our nature. All things considered, despite this method’s newness, Vermiponics indeed is a perfect system for any organic farmer.