Influence of moisture on the activity of perionyx excavatus (perrier) and microbial–nutrient dynamics of pressmud vermicompost
India’s agro-industrial sector contributes huge potential resource of plant nutrients in the form of wastes, which is either thrown away or buried or burnt causing environmental pollution. Pressmud (filter cake), a major-by product of sugarcane processing is produced 12 million tones annually. It is a spongy and dark brown material, contains sugar, fibre, cane wax, inorganic salts, soil particles and rich micro and macro nutrients, enzymes and microbes (Yadav, 1995; Parthasarathi and Ranganathan, 1999). Because of its bad smell, costs involved in transports and fear that its application might lead to crust formation, pH variation, pollution problems, farmers are reluctant to apply it to their land. Conventional composting of this pressmud takes about six months, does not remove the bad smell completely, has less nutritive value and is compacted. We had already vermicomposted this pressmud by using Lampito mauritii, Eudrilus eugeniae, Perionyx excavatus and Eisenia fetida into an eco-friendly organic fertilizer/soil amendment and had found that this pressmud vermicompost shows rich enzymaticmicrobial activities and nutrient contents in available form facilitating the easy uptake by the plants (Parthasarathi and Ranganathan, 1999; 2000; 2002). Vermicomposting being a biological process depends on worm and microbial activity which in turn is dependent on temperature, moisture, O2 supply and availability of degradable organic wastes as feed substrate for earthworms (Edwards and Bohlen, 1996). During vermicomposting process, the temperature and moisture can act synergistically (Gunadi et al., 2003).