Worms love coffee too!

Julie Lightfoot
March 16, 2018

Coffee addicts come in all shapes and sizes – and now include worms.

Hundreds of thousands of wrigglers are enjoying their daily fix on a Mirriwinni farm thanks to a grazier striking-up a novel partnership with Cairns business Cruze Coffee.

Mick Kruckow relies on coffee grounds – a coffee house waste product – to keep 120,000 worms well fed so they can produce a natural fertiliser for pastures.

His wife Julie collects about 20 kilos of coffee grounds a week from the business.

“It keeps the grounds out of landfill and keeps our worms happy,’’ Mick says.

“When we feed them, the worm farm smells like coffee but it doesn’t take long, just three to four days, for that to change as the worms turn over the beds and eat the grounds.”

His army of tiny workers produce about 250 litres of worm juice a week, which he sprays on his paddocks as liquid vermicast.

The natural fertiliser has improved his soil biology, doubled organic matter and created thicker, greener pastures for his cattle.

Mick says he began researching and practising vermiculture eight years ago, and Terrain NRM workshops and field days helped him to learn more about soil health and organic matter.

He initially used horse and cow manure to feed his worms. The switch to coffee grounds has reduced the threat of weeds spreading in his paddocks.

Cruze Coffee owner Gilberto Risa said it is a win-win situation.

“We think it is a great idea,’’ he said.

“The Kruckows have given us bins to fill at the back of the store. We reduce our rubbish quantities and our costs and it is improving their pastures. We’re really happy with the result.”

Terrain NRM’s Fiona George said helping to make science and innovation available to farmers in the Wet Tropics region was an important role of the natural resource management organisation.

“Many farmers are trialling new ideas to improve productivity and profitability, and to reduce runoff to the Great Barrier Reef,’’ she said.

Mirriwinni banana farmers Dereck and Stacey Devaney have also been trialling worm juice since a ‘Digging Deeper’ Terrain NRM soil health initiative began in 2014.

Stacey said the results were promising, and had led to compost trials as well.

“We have a normal fertiliser regime for some rows of bananas, we add worm juice on other rows and have rows where we only use worm juice,” she said.

“We are seeing significant improvements in our product in the combined fertiliser and worm juice rows.”