The use of compost can make a crucial contribution to the maintenance and improvement of soil fertility. Composting is an ancient method of organic fertilisation used in agriculture and gardening: in south-east Asia, for example, soil fertility has been maintained in this way for the past six thousand years. Worm compost (also known as vermicompost, from “vermis”, the Latin for “worm”) is an especially high-grade and nutrient-rich fertiliser. This black substrate is what remains of organic matter after being broken down by micro-organisms, and especially by worms. Many tea and coffee growers keep small herds of cattle for extra income and use the dung produced as feed substrate for worm composting.
The valuable and nutrient-rich worm compost is then employed as a fertiliser on the tea and coffee plantations, thereby achieving sustained increases in harvest yields (just one example of how recycling management is possible in a very confined space).