Vermi-Composting

Assessment of vermicomposting techniques for the treatment of dairy processing waste water treatment sludge.

Summary

Research on vermicomposting (use of earthworms) of dairy wastewater sludge is ongoing in the Department of Environmental Science.

Milk production in an important industry in Ireland. The dairy processing facilities have wastewater treatment facilities, which treat the milk washings, and from this treatment process sludge is generated. On a national scale the industry generates approximately 75,000 tonnes of dairy sludge each year, which is currently landspread.

In comparison to composting, vermicomposting is the breakdown of organic material that involves the joint action of earthworms and microorganisms at temperatures below 35OC and does not involve a thermophilic stage. As agents of mixing, fragmentation and aeration, the earthworms consume organic wastes such as leaf litter, food waste, animal wastes and sludges and a by product of this activity is worm castings (vermicompost) which can be used as a soil nutrient and conditioner.

Institute of Technology, Sligo is researching vermicomposting as a technology to divert dairy sludge from landspreading. The project is also investigating the use of vermicompost as a soil nutrient/conditioner using plant growth trials. The research is being conducted in association with Glanbia Ingredients.

The Research Team

Dr. Billy Fitzgerald Joint Researcher Department of Science, IT, Sligo.

Dr. Don Cotton Joint Researcher Department of Science, IT, Sligo.

Ms. Paula Neilan Associate Researcher Glanbia Mr. Percy Foster Research Student Department of Science, IT Sligo.

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