Vermicomposting of Mucuna bracteata – a Fast Spreading Troublesome Weed in Kerala, India
Mucuna bracteata DC. is one among the common weeds spreading rapidly in Kerala. The spread of this weed becomes an environmental nuisance and a threat to the local biodiversity. Conversion of this troublesome weed into nutrient rich manure through vermicomposting with native earthworm species of Perionyx ceylanensis was attempted in this study. The phytomass of M. bracteata was subjected to precompost along with cattle dung in the ratio of 6:1 for a period of 15 days. The resulting precompost – partially decomposed phytomass – was fed into vermireactors. The vermireactors fed with 37.5 g (dry weight) precomposted weed mass and 10 adult earthworms were operated for 15 days. These experiments were repeated for six times. The vermireactors performed with 14–21.3% recovery of vermicast with a C/N ratio of 23.7, which is comparable with the reported values in the literature. The findings of this study indicate that the earthworm species P. ceylanensis is potential enough to convert the phytomass of M. bracteata into nutrient rich manure. Also, the worms multiplied and grew well by gaining weight. Hence, these reactors with precomposted phytomass of M. bracteata can be operated sustainably.