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Sustainable Use of Vermicomposted Hog Waste: The Use of Worm Castings as Nursery Growing Substrates Amendment To Increase Water and Nutrient Efficiency in Containerized Nursery Plant ProductionEPA Grant Number: FP916410
Title: Sustainable Use of Vermicomposted Hog Waste: The Use of Worm Castings as Nursery Growing Substrates Amendment To Increase Water and Nutrient Efficiency in Containerized Nursery Plant Production
Investigators: McGinnis, Michelle
Institution: North Carolina State University
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004
Project Amount: $102,914
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Environmental Engineering , Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry
The objectives of my research are to address water quality issues for two important agricultural commodities, the hog and nursery industries, and propose a sustainable approach to mitigate the potential nonpoint pollution sources associated with these industries. Research will be conducted using pine-bark substrates amended with vermicomposted swine waste (worm castings) to potentially increase water and nutrient efficiency in containerized crop production.
Current research is underway to determine the optimal vermicompost amendment rate to maximize water use efficiency in containerized crop production of herbaceous perennial and woody species. Proposed research includes conducting Total N and Total P nutrient budgets. Irrigation will be applied using low volume emitters, and leachate from each treatment will be collected and measured daily to maintain a 0.2 leaching fraction (LF = irrigation volume leached from container/irrigation water applied). Grab samples from the leachate of each treatment will be collected daily for N and P analysis. Upon completion of the experiment: (1) the plant roots, shoots, and leaves will be dried, ground, and subjected to N and P analysis; (2) the fertilizer prills will be recovered and analyzed for remaining nutrient content; and (3) the substrate will be subjected to chemical analysis. These data will allow the construction of the nutrient budgets. From these results, conclusions of nutrient and water efficiency and buffering capacity of the vermicomposted-amended substrates can be drawn. Recommendations can then be made to the nursery and waste management industries regarding potential benefits and markets for the worm castings produced from a sustainable hog waste management technology.