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We have already established that organic farming is better not just for consumers but also for the soil and ecosystem. And one of the hallmarks of organic farming is natural or organic fertilizer.
Organic fertilizers feed the soil and sustain plants using nutrients sourced from organic materials such as plants or animals. Common organic fertilizers include animal manure, compost, green manure like cover crops, and plant-based fertilizers like molasses and seaweed.
The organic matter present in these fertilizers improve soil quality in several ways:
Unlike synthetic fertilizers, the nutrients in organic fertilizers are released at a slower rate. It’s not an instant fix. But this slow process also means that the plants will not be overstimulated or burned, which often happens with chemical fertilizers.
The short-lived burst of nutrients from synthetic fertilizers also typically results in run-off or leaching. Because the nutrients in organic fertilizers are released at a rate that plants can use, you get minimal to no run-off. This means fewer applications and less work over time.
One of the best examples of organic fertilizers is vermicast.
Vermicast is the organic by-product of the composting activities of earthworms. Here, earthworms are placed in a container of compost. The worms eat biodegradable waste and excrete castings, or what we call vermicast. This process is 100% natural and produces dark, odorless, and organically-rich soil granules that make an excellent soil conditioner.
Worms are some of the best recyclers in nature, breaking down vital nutrients into forms that can be easily absorbed by plants. These nutrients are naturally and gradually released into the soil.
Studies have shown that vermicast has amazing effects on plants:
The Philippines has a few producers of organic fertilizers. Among them is Kahariam Farms, an organic farm certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP).
Kahariam has the largest earthworm farm in the Philippines. Their OCCP-certified Vermicast is also approved and registered with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management, as well as the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.
Every day, the farm processes over10 tons of horse manure and rice straw for vermicomposting. The farm has over 10 tons of African nightcrawlers (an earthworm species), producing 200 tons of vermicast per month.
A little vermicast goes a long way.
Kahariam Farms recommends sprinkling a handful of vermicast on the top layer of potted plants every month.
For direct potting mix, a ratio of 80% soil with 20% vermicast is suggested. It can also be used as foliar fertilizer by mixing with water and then spraying directly to the leaves.
Healthy soil leads to healthy plants. There’s virtually no downside to using vermicast so consider adding it to your soil and start seeing the benefits.