Research Activity

Title:Production, application, and evaluation on the effect of vermicompost on tobacco yield and quality

     In response to the call to restore soil productivity as embodied in the Philippine Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) had distributed facility assistance to farmers and government sector partners for small-scale organic fertilizer production.  The facility components included a unit of tissue shredder, needed for the construction of a 1m x 10-meter composting bed, and a 10 kg of African night crawlers, a species of earthworm known to turn plants and animal waste into a high quality vermicompost.  This is important for the office to respond to the demand of international tobacco buyers that local partners should venture into viable programs which are responsible  for environmental stewardship particularly with the increasing diversity in forest and soil. This was also the reason why the NTA was recommending the use of organic fertilizer in rice and tobacco.

     The most important components of vermicompost are the different species of microorganisms which act as nutrient concentrates that will allow the conversion of organic nutrients into readily available form for plant use.  The NPK contents of the vermicompost can only reach a maximum of 7 % as shown by the analysis of the BSWM. However, important micronutrients like iron, manganese, zinc and magnesium are quite high and maybe enough to correct zinc deficiency in rice and iron deficiency in tobacco in some areas where these problems were documented. 

     The amount of vermicompost produced had totaled to 4,787 kg (160 bags).  Aside from vermicompost, the project also supplied 3 kg of worms to MMSU and 1 kg to NTA-Batac for the start of their culture.

     Preliminary experiments on the effect of vermicompost on different dry season crops was done in CY 2010-2011.  Below is the summary of the results of the trials:

 Tobacco var. NC 2326- 15 bags (450 kg) of vermicompost could replace 50% of the fertilizer requirements of traditional Virginia tobacco without reducing its yield and quality. Although the variety used was NC 2326, the 

a. technology used was for neutral flavor.  The plants were allowed to flower for seed production purposes as the water resources at  Tabug experiment station was very limited during the later part of the dry season.

b. Corn – 10 bags (300 kg) of vermicompost could replace 50% of the fertilizer recommendation without reducing the grain yield of a white glutinous open pollinated corn variety.

c. Watermelon - 10 bags (300 kg) of vermicompost placed in the planting hole was enough to replace 50% fertilizer requirements of the Sweet Gold watermelon variety planted in February.

d. Pechay - application of vermicompost alone produced a  slightly lower weight on a per plant basis (105 g per plant with vermicompost only vs 111.5 g per plant for those with inorganic fertilizer) than those applied with inorganic fertilizer under greenhouse condition.  Both were harvested at 25-30 days after planting. Health conscious buyers, however, prefer to buy those that were raised on pure vermicompost.