Worms, worms, worms... (vermi-composting for faecal matter)
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TOPIC: Worms, worms, worms... (vermi-composting for faecal matter)

Worms, worms, worms... (vermi-composting for faecal matter) 21 Jun 2012 09:42 #1701

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    DavidAlan
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  • David Crosweller
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We have a pleasant problem where one of our community ecosan units in Sierra Leone is overwhelmed with users. It is a basic double chamber system (each circa one cu.m.) and the second chamber is filling before the first one is composted.

I thought that we should use worms to help the composting process, but of course the wetness/dryness will vary depending on the oldest/newest usage. Working on the premise that the worms will need to work on some quite wet faeces can anybody tell me the best species of worm to use?

Thank you for your help.
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 21 Jun 2012 14:16 #1705

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    cecile
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Dear Alan,

Generally, the best kind of worms is the one you will find close to the premises of you project in a compost heap. They are already adapted to the local conditions.
In France, users of urine diversion and vermicomposting toilets usually use Aesenia Foetida ("red worms" or "manure worms"). They are the most common earthworms in France.
Nothing is added to the feces (no ash, no sawdust).

Humidity is one important factor so when your composting heap gets too dry you need to add water.
Another important factor is that worms don't like Fresh feces. One possible solution is to creat 3 piles in your vault : one for fresh feces, one for vermicomposting and one for storage / maturation (if not enough space you couls store outside the vault). You can move the compost from one pile to the other every 6 months, depending on the space you have. You could check Ecodomeo's website. They use vermicomposting as a composting technique. Check out their userguide in the "documents" section, it is very well explained.

Cecile
Cécile Laborderie
MAKATI Environnement
Last Edit: 21 Jun 2012 14:18 by cecile.

Re: Worms, worms, worms... 21 Jun 2012 17:27 #1706

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    DavidAlan
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Thank you.

Re: Worms, worms, worms... 21 Jun 2012 18:27 #1707

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    christian.rieck
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Dear Alan,
I have just met with Elmer Sayre in the Philippines and he has a lot of experience on vermi-composting. It is like farming or breeding livestock - you need to feed the worms with what they like to eat in any ideal environment. If you do something wrong the worms just leave and disappear. Get in touch with Elmer through WAND Foundation.

An immediate solution to your problem would be to change the mode of operation of the UDDT from double vault to single vault with containers. Then you would not have to worry about the rate of filling, but remove or replace the full container as soon as it gets full. You would need to store the container for an additional time to dry up and then compost it or simply dispose it in the ground. Alternatively you can use plastic bags which allows you to empty the containers immediatly in a safe and confortable way. Just tight the bags up with a nod and finish. You should also further store the bags for several months. Elmer from the Philippines uses the bags after storage for coconut trees. He buries the bags in the soil, cuts or slits open the bag and covers with soil. That way you do not have to touch the material, thus transmission of pathogens is very much limited.

All the best
Christian

Cheers
Christian
GIZ Uganda
Reform of the Urban Water and Sanitation Sector (RUWASS)
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 21 Jun 2012 18:34 #1708

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    DavidAlan
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Christian, surely you know I am David! That's a really good idea., thank you.

Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 03:09 #1709

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    Marijn Zandee
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I agree with Christian's (or actually Elmer's) observation that worms can be quite picky about their environment. I am working on vermi composting of farmyard manures and somehow in one location it works fine and in another one not. If you can get them to work they are brilliant composters.

Another thing that should be mentioned is that according to the literature on worms the vermi composting does not destroy ascaris eggs, so it does not provide complete sanitation. This point was brought up by Christoph in the "benefit of dry feacal matter reuse-is it worth the cost/efford of processing" discussion on this forum.
Dear all,
just two aspects I saw in some previous posts and this last one.
a) some years ago I consulted an earthworm sepcialist because the subject was discussed - Ascaris is NOT destroyed by Vermicomposting. The eggs leave the "vermis" without damage. So vermicomposting does not make the material save.
the reference:
Edwards C A, Bohlen P J (1996) Biology and Ecology of Earthworms. Chapmann & Hall p.224
For instance, the eggs of Ascaris suum and Ascaridia galli passed
through the intestine of individuals of 1. terrestris without damage
(Bejsovec, 1962). In this way, the eggs are spread throughout the soil,
wh ich facilitates infection of domestic animals and birds. The virus that
causes foot-and-mouth disease can persist in the musde tissue of earth-
worms for 7-8 days and remain virulent.


b) treated drinking water (if not treated very badly) is ascaris free. A filtration is an effective mean to eliminate Ascaris.

Yours Christoph


Kind regards

Marijn
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Last Edit: 22 Jun 2012 03:10 by Marijn Zandee.

Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 07:24 #1711

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    DavidAlan
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Ok, so now I have updated my details and it is clear who I am.

Thank you for the posts, they are very clear. For no other reason than for people's interest I show below the response I had from my colleagues in India, which reiterates much that has been said:

1. Generally most of the earth worms prefers a temperature between 15 and 20°C. Only the wild ones which are the African natives can survive beyond 20°C but not more than 30°C. The picture attached is a variety from West Africa and is called “EUDRILUS EUGENIAE”, which can survive with higher temperature up to 30°C, but the best condition is in around 25°C.
2. There are two phases of processes taking place while we are making compost – irrespective any wastes we use. The phases are a) Thermo phase and b) Meso phase. During the thermo phase the temperature inside the heap goes up to 30 to 35°C; during this period no worms can survive. Generally this phase is for about 45 days. This duration can be much less – say about 25 days provided if there is air circulation and watering is done. However, one can consider the meso phase starts after 45 days. During the Meso Phase, though there will be temperature inside the heap it is much less and between 15 to 25°C; which is the most suitable condition for the worms.
3. Generally the temperature in a heap of human wastes is more than any other organic wastes. It goes beyond 35°C in twenty days and remain for a week to ten days. Afterwards, gradually the temperature goes down to 20 to 25°C. The research conducted shows that adding a small quantity of cow dung makes a change in the temperature and it was observed the temperature is less than 25°C in forty days.
4. Further, it was observed that the survival rate of the worms is much better when cow dung is added with the human wastes.
5. The above mentioned variety is found to be the most suitable one to compost human wastes together with cow dung and the life period is 300 days.
6. For to compost one tonne human waste, 200 Kgs of cow dung will help the worms to survive and the composting process is much faster.
7. 3 Kgs of worms required to treat one tonne.
8. Compost will be ready in 3 to 4 months. More the aeration and under the shade faster the composting process.

Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 07:32 #1712

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    Marijn Zandee
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Dear David,

Thanks for the information from India, I have a few more questions to further my worm knowledge.

1.) Cow dung helps worms to survive, I would strongly suspect that is because the cow-dung is less compact and contains a lot more grass / straw residue. Have your colleagues in India also tried adding straw (or another carbon source) to human excreta and if so what did they find?

2.) For the human waste composting temperatures, did the mix contain the urine or was it feces only? I think that would have a significant impact on the temperatures because of the C/N ratio

Thanks

Marijn
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 07:54 #1713

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    DavidAlan
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I have asked the questions. I will post when I receive answers.
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 09:59 #1715

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    cecile
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Hi,

The University of Harburg Hamburg (TUHH) has worked on this subject.
There are two interesting dissertations :
- Christopher Azaah Buzie-Fru, Development of a Continuous Single Chamber Vermicomposting Toilet with Urine Diversion for On-site Application
- Vermicomposting of Faecal Matter as a Component of Source Control Sanitation von Moataz Shalabi
You can find them on internet (I couldn’t attach the files which were too heavy)

As far as urine is concerned, it seems that worms are not keen on urine, I suppose because of the nitrogen it contains. Therefore if urine and feces are mixed, worms will not go into the pile, unless there is some kind of dilution. Some manufacturers of non separative toilets use vermi composting and I think it is made possible because they use a water sprinkler over the heap and gravitation (urine percolates vertically through the heap and is collected underneath).
There is another source on the effect of vermicomposting on ecoli resilience.
Vermicomposting of source-separated human faeces for nutrient recycling, YADAV Kunwar D. ; TARE Vinod ; MANSOOR AHAMMED M.

Here is the summary (Source : Waste management (Elmsford) A. 2010, vol. 30, n° 1, pp. 50-56 [7 pages] [bibl. : 3/4 p.]
The present study examined the suitability of vermicomposting technology for processing source-separated human faeces. Since the earthworm species Eisenia fetida could not survive in fresh faeces, modification in the physical characteristics of faeces was necessary before earthworms could be introduced to faeces. A preliminary study with six different combinations of faeces, soil and bulking material (vermicompost) in different layers was conducted to find out the best condition for biomass growth and reproduction of earthworms. The results indicated that SVFV combination (soil, vermicompost, faeces and vermicompost - bottom to top layers) was the best for earthworm biomass growth indicating the positive role of soil layer in earthworm biomass growth. Further studies with SVFV and VFV combinations, however, showed that soil layer did not enhance vermicompost production rate. Year-long study conducted with VFV combination to assess the quality and quantity of vermicompost produced showed an average vermicompost production rate of 0.30 kg-cast/kg-worm/day. The vermicompost produced was mature as indicated by low dissolved organic carbon (2.4 ±0.43 mg/g) and low oxygen uptake rate (0.15 ± 0.09 mg O2/g VS/h). Complete inactivation of total coliforms was noted during the study, which is one of the important objectives of human faeces processing. Results of the study thus indicated the potential of vermicomposting for processing of source-separated human faeces.

Hope this helps.

Cecile
Cécile Laborderie
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 22 Jun 2012 10:06 #1716

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    emmanuel
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Hello,

I can add few points :
Vermi-composting is an aerobic process so it is realy important to bring air in the heap.
The second thing is that human feces do no contain mineral elements. It is important that worms have it to survive. So you can add earth also to bring what worms can not find in the feces.

Emmanuel Ecodomeo
Emanuel Morin
Ecodomeo - France
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Re: Worms, worms, worms... 23 Jun 2012 18:43 #1723

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    smecca
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Earthworms are one of the macroorganisms used in the Biofil/Microflush toilets we have been prototyping in Ghana. The toilets flush with a (patent pending) microflush valve on just 150 cc of water The variety of worms that appears to work really well is e fetida. There are many factors that influence the appropriate habitat including: temperature (which has been mentioned by another responder), moisture, pH, oxygen and of course the food/nutrient composition.
Good luck.
..Steve Mecca
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