We use worm juice as a fertiliser in gardens so why not on farms?
There have been great results at a banana plantation near Innisfail where grower Dereck Devaney is seeing a big difference in both soil health and crop growth.
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In Dereck’s trial area of the farm the soil is more aerated, he’s getting more bananas off his bunches and he’s noticing less pest problems. With all the benefits he is looking at extending the trial to his whole farm.
Worm juice is an organic fertiliser that contains microbes and trace elements to stimulate the soil.
Mirriwini cattle farmer Mick Kruckow has been producing 400-500 litres of worm juice a week as part of the trial on cane, banana and grazing properties. He breeds compost worms in more than 30 worm farms on his property, and uses the natural liquid fertiliser on his grazing paddocks.
His diversification has paid off for both his own farm and other businesses.
“The cattle seem to prefer the areas where the vermicast has been spread,’’ he says. “I am coupling the vermicast application with rotational grazing and now my paddocks and cattle are in good condition all the time, with healthy strong calves being produced."
Mick has had a series of soil tests over several years and he has been able to demonstrate that the soil biology on his farm has improved. The organic matter has doubled and he has thicker, greener pastures as a result of the vermicast application.
He says he’s learned a lot about soil health and the need for organic matter from Terrain NRM’s soil health workshops and field days. And the multi-farm trial is a result of Terrain NRM’s Reef Rescue Innovation Funding program, thanks to the Australian Government.
“I am achieving more carbon in the soil due to the improved root structure of the grass,” Mick says. “My application costs are minimal, with small equipment being used to apply the liquid solution. In addition, apart from the set-up costs, the product is free to produce.
“The soils did not provide enough nutrition for the grass without extra feeding. I want to feed the soil to feed the grass to feed the cows – without chemical fertiliser.”
Another bonus is a great partnership with a Cairns coffee shop. Mick originally used horse manure to feed his compost worms, collecting it from his own horses and from a friend’s property. In a novel win-win situation, he largely feeds his worms coffee grounds now which are the waste product from coffee-brewing…