Vermiculture [Nicaragua]


technologies_1022 - Nicaragua

Completeness: 67%

1. Informação geral

1.2 Detalhes do contato das pessoas capacitadas e instituições envolvidas na avaliação e documentação da tecnologia.


SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Gómez Martínez Julio César



Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Book project: where the land is greener - Case Studies and Analysis of Soil and Water Conservation Initiatives Worldwide (where the land is greener)

1.3 Condições em relação ao uso da informação documentada através de WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaração de sustentabilidade da tecnologia descrita

A tecnologia descrita aqui é problemática em relação a degradação da terra de forma que não pode ser declarada uma tecnologia sustentável de gestão de terra?


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Descrição da tecnologia de gestão sustentável da terra

2.1 Descrição curta da tecnologia

Definição da tecnologia:

Continuous breeding of earthworms in boxes for production of high quality organic compost.

2.2 Descrição detalhada da tecnologia


Vermiculture is a simple and cheap way to produce a continuous supply of organic compost of high quality. Eisenia foetida, the Red Californian earthworm (also called ‘the red wiggler’) is ideal for vermiculture since it is adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Under culture, the worms are kept under shade, in long wooden boxes filled with earth, cattle manure and an absorbent material (eg straw). The box is covered by sheet metal (or wood, thick plastic sheeting, or banana leaves) to protect the worms against UV radiation and birds/chickens, and also to maintain a favourably humid microclimate. Fresh cattle manure is a perfect food for the worms, but rotten coffee pulp can also be fed. Chopped crop residues (eg cowpeas, leucaena leaves or other legumes) may be added.

The compost produced by the earthworms has a dark colour, no smell and a loose and spongy structure. It is a high value, high quality product which is very rich in nutrients, and in a form that makes them readily available to vegetation. The content of a full box can be harvested every 3-4 months, and is used for crops -mainly coffee and vegetables, but also maize and beans. It is very effective in increasing soil fertility and thus crop production. It also improves soil structure, infiltration and water storage capacity.

The compost can either be applied directly to coffee, mixing it with an equal amount of earth and applying 1 kg to each plant. Alternatively it can be sprayed: for preparation of liquid fertilizer 50 kg compost are mixed with 50 litres of water and left to soak for 5 days. The concentrated solution produced is mixed with water at a ratio of 1 to10 and applied to the crop using a knapsack sprayer. The earthworms reach their reproductive age after three months and live for many years. In perfect conditions an earthworm produces up to 1,500 offspring per year. Thanks to their rapid reproduction, new cultures can easily be established, or earthworm stocks can be sold according to the farmer’s needs. A certain amount
of earthworm compost is kept back and being used instead of fresh earth to reinitiate the whole process, or to start new cultures.

The area is characterised by humid climate, steep slopes and low soil fertility. Farmers are mainly smallholders with individual properties. Earthworm culture does not depend closely on the external environment, but it is essential to maintain favourable conditions inside the box - namely continuous feeding and wetting. That’s why it is usually recommended to keep cultures near the house and the home-garden. Ants, the main enemy of earthworms, can be controlled standing the boxes on poles in cans filled with water.

2.3 Fotos da tecnologia

2.5 País/região/locais onde a tecnologia foi aplicada e que estão cobertos nesta avaliação



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Matiguas, Pancasán


Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 5 m2.

2.7 Introdução da tecnologia

Especifique como a tecnologia foi introduzida:
  • através de projetos/intervenções externas

3. Classificação da tecnologia de gestão sustentável da terra

3.1 Principal/principais finalidade(s) da tecnologia

  • Preservar/melhorar a biodiversidade

3.2 Tipo(s) atualizado(s) de uso da terra onde a tecnologia foi aplicada

Terra de cultivo

Terra de cultivo

  • Cultura anual
  • Cultura perene (não lenhosa)
Número de estações de cultivo por ano:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 300, Longest growing period from month to month: May untill February


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion):
- low crop yields due to soil fertility decline
- water and wind erosion
- small landholdings

3.4 Water supply

Abastecimento de água para a terra na qual a tecnologia é aplicada:
  • Precipitação natural

3.5 Grupo de gestão sustentável da terra ao qual pertence a tecnologia

  • Gestão integrada de fertilidade do solo
  • apicultura, aquacultura, avicultura, cunicultura, sericicultura, etc

3.6 Medidas de gestão sustentável da terra contendo a tecnologia

Medidas agronômicas

Medidas agronômicas

  • A4: Tratamento do subsolo

Type of agronomic measures: manure / compost / residues

3.7 Principais tipos de degradação da terra abordados pela tecnologia

Deteriorização química do solo

Deteriorização química do solo

  • Cn: declínio de fertilidade e teor reduzido de matéria orgânica (não causado pela erosão)

Main causes of degradation: soil management, deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires), overgrazing (on a single cattle farm), poverty / wealth (lack of capital)
Secondary causes of degradation: over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use, other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (impacts of hurricane Mitch), governance / institutional (lack of strenght of law and authorities), inter-generational subdivision of land

3.8 Redução, prevenção ou recuperação da degradação do solo

Especifique o objetivo da tecnologia em relação a degradação da terra:
  • Reduzir a degradação do solo

4. Especificações técnicas, implementação de atividades, entradas e custos

4.1 Desenho técnico da tecnologia

Especificações técnicas (relacionada ao desenho técnico):

Detailed view of wooden box for compost production by earthworms. Cover (corrugated iron or alternative) is important to protect worms from light, from birds and other natural enemies, and to maintain moisture in the box.

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate
Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: increase of surface roughness, improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…)
Secondary technical functions: increase of infiltration

Manure / compost / residues
Material/ species: compost


Mats Gurtner

4.4 Custos e entradas necessárias para a implantação

Especifique a entrada Unidade Quantidade Custos por unidade Custos totais por entrada % dos custos arcados pelos usuários da terra
Mão-de-obra labour ha 1,0 6,0 6,0 100,0
Material de construção wood ha 1,0 50,0 50,0 100,0
Material de construção Sheet metal, plastic ha 1,0 6,0 6,0 100,0
Outros earthworms (kg) ha 1,0 60,0 60,0
Custos totais para a implantação da tecnologia 122,0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 122,0

Duration of establishment phase: 0.07 month(s)

4.5 Atividades recorrentes/manutenção

Atividade Calendarização/frequência
1. 1. Feeding: add another layer of cattle manure(1 kg earthworms eat 1 kg manure per day). no specific timing for maintenance / every 3–5 days
2. 2. Maintain humidity at 80%, water frequently in dry season, maintaintemperature between 15–30°C: do not exceed 42°C. no specific timing for maintenance / frequently in dry season
3. 3.The worms migrate into the fresh manure. After 2–3 days take out thesieve and gather the ready, worm free compost. no specific timing for maintenance / every 3–4 months
4. 4. Apply compost to the crops (1 kg/coffee plant, see description). no specific timing for maintenance / every 3–4 months
5. 6. Possible improvement: add lime to raise pH to a optimum level of 7.0. no specific timing for maintenance /

4.6 Custos e entradas necessárias pata a manutenção/atividades recorrentes (por ano)

Especifique a entrada Unidade Quantidade Custos por unidade Custos totais por entrada % dos custos arcados pelos usuários da terra
Mão-de-obra labour ha 1,0 60,0 60,0 100,0
Custos totais para a manutenção da tecnologia 60,0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 60,0

Machinery/ tools: hammer, nails, buckets/wheelbarrow, shovel, possibly water hose, hammer, nails, buckets/wheelbarrow, shovel, possibly water hose

60% of the land users have their own cattle, others get manure free from their neighbours. The cattle manure has no commercial price in the region - there is no market for it. The inputs and costs are estimated for the production of approx. 4,000 kg of worm compost, which is enough for one hectare of coffee per year (note figures from India for vermiculture suggest higher input-output ratios: in other words less output for the same amount of input).

5. Ambiente naturale e humano

5.1 Clima

Precipitação pluviométrica anual
  • <250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1.000 mm
  • 1.001-1.500 mm
  • 1.501-2.000 mm
  • 2.001-3.000 mm
  • 3.001-4.000 mm
  • > 4.000 mm
Zona agroclimática
  • úmido
  • Subúmido

Thermal climate class: tropics

5.2 Topografia

Encostas em média:
  • Plano (0-2%)
  • Suave ondulado (3-5%)
  • Ondulado (6-10%)
  • Moderadamente ondulado (11-15%)
  • Forte ondulado (16-30%)
  • Montanhoso (31-60%)
  • Escarpado (>60%)
Formas de relevo:
  • Planalto/planície
  • Cumes
  • Encosta de serra
  • Encosta de morro
  • Sopés
  • Fundos de vale
Zona de altitude:
  • 0-100 m acima do nível do mar
  • 101-500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 501-1.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 1.001-1.500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 1.501-2.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 2.001-2.500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 2.501-3.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 3.001-4.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • > 4.000 m acima do nível do mar

5.3 Solos

Profundidade do solo em média:
  • Muito raso (0-20 cm)
  • Raso (21-50 cm)
  • Moderadamente profundo (51-80 cm)
  • Profundo (81-120 cm)
  • Muito profundo (>120 cm)
Textura do solo (solo superficial):
  • Fino/pesado (argila)
Matéria orgânica do solo superficial:
  • Baixo (<1%)

5.6 Características dos usuários da terra que utilizam a tecnologia

Orientação de mercado do sistema de produção:
  • Subsistência (autoabastecimento)
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Rendimento não agrícola:
  • Menos de 10% de toda renda
Indique outras características relevantes dos usuários da terra:

Off-farm income specification: nearly all land users are fully occupied with agricultural activities, very few are involved in commerce or are employed

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0,5 ha
  • 0,5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1.000 ha
  • 1.000-10.000 ha
  • > 10.000 ha

5.8 Propriedade de terra, direitos de uso da terra e de uso da água

Propriedade da terra:
  • Indivíduo, não intitulado
  • Indivíduo, intitulado
Direitos do uso da terra:
  • Arrendado
  • Indivíduo

6. Impactos e declarações finais

6.1 Impactos no local mostrados pela tecnologia

Impactos socioeconômicos


Produção agrícola


Produção de forragens


Qualidade da forragem

Renda e custos

Rendimento agrícola


Impactos socioculturais

Atenuação de conflitos


Impactos ecológicos


Umidade do solo


through improvement of soil water storage capacity

Biodiversidade: vegetação, animais

Controle de praga/doença


the compost attracts pests like ants, chickens, moles

6.2 Impactos externos mostrados pela tecnologia

Poluição de água subterrânea/rio


lower inputs of chemical fertilizers

6.5 Adoção da tecnologia


88 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
6 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support
There is a little trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology. As ADDAC (the Association for Agricultural Community Development and Diversification) has a permanent and longterm presence in the approach area, most interested farmers are directly involved in the programme activities: this explains the fact that only 5% of the technology users (6 people) took up earthworm culture without incentives (see approach).

6.7 Pontos fortes/vantagens/oportunidades da tecnologia

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Additional economic income through commercialization of earthworm stocks
Health: clean products without chemical treatment.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Continuous and increasing production of organic and very effective compost with high nutrient content (replacing chemical fertilizers)
Appropriate for different crops (though in different forms – direct application
or spraying).
Simple and cheap technology; low labour input
Increased crop yields
Earthworm culture is becoming an integrated part of the production system, especially for land users who have cows.

6.8 Pontos fracos, desvantagens/riscos da tecnologia e formas de superá-los

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Requires permanent access to water A close fitting and secure box cover, as well as placement of the box in the shade reduces loss of humidity. Roof-top rainwater collection helps to get over dry periods.
Requires continuous availability of manure to feed worms. Improve the construction of the boxes (close holes and cover the box tightly).
Attracts natural enemies like ants, chickens, moles, flies; needs protection

7. Referências e links

7.1 Métodos/fontes de informação

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users
When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 Referências às publicações disponíveis

Title, author, year, ISBN:

PASOLAC. Guía Técnica de Conservación de Suelos y Agua.. 2000.

Available from where? Costs?

PASOLAC, Managua

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Ferruzzi C. Manual de Lombricultura. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa. Madrid, Spain. 1986.

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Castillo H . La lombricultura. in Altertec. Alternativas de Mejoramiento de Suelos.Proceso de Capacitación para Profesionales. Modulo II. Altertec, Ciudad de Guatemala. 1994.

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