Indian scientists find earthworms can be used to produce compost from 'textile sludge'

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Washington, July 17 (ANI): In a new research, scientists at the Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, in Haryana, India, have determined that earthworms could be used to produce compost from the huge volumes of solid sludge produced by the textiles industry.

The team of scientists included Vinod Garg, Renuka Gupta and Priya Kaushik of Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology.

Sludge from the textiles industry is usually difficult to dispose of. Landfill and incineration are not viable options given environmental concerns and expense.

As such, the industry in India is under pressure to find a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to disposal of industrial sludge.

Garg and colleagues have now tested vermicomposting of solid textile mill sludge that has been spiked with urine-free cow and horse dung, collected from local farms, in a six-month pilot-scale experiment using Eisenia foetida, a particular species of earthworm.

Eisenia foetida thrives in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. This species is grown commercially for composting because of their skills at converting organic waste into rich compost.

The team found that the composting process changes the physical and chemical properties of the test mixtures significantly.

The vermicomposts are much darker than the original materials and form compost-like, homogeneous mixture after just 180 days.

The team also found that the earthworms grow well in this manure-enhanced sludge.

They lower the pH of the alkaline sludge, free up mineral ions, including potassium, decrease the ratio of carbon to nitrogen of the material, and boost the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus available for plant growth within a matter of weeks. (ANI)

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