Vermicast (worm castings or manure) is one of the richest natural fertilizers available. It contains the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, amongst others, and is highly beneficial to soil and plant life. Vermicast also improves soil structure, which helps retain moisture in the soil.
So says Thato Lekonyane, a self-taught worm farmer who runs Daddy’s Worm Farm, based at Kwalata Adventure Camp in Hammanskraal. The farm is operated as a recycling program for food waste, and Lekonyane also hosts groups of schoolchildren to teach them about the importance of recycling in the food value chain.
AM EARLY INTEREST IN FARMING
Lekonyane grew up in Nokaneng village in Nkangala District Municipality, Mpumalanga, where he lived with his grandparents, Moses and Mary Ntlhoro until he matriculated in 2008. His grandfather was a pig and cattle farmer and sparked Lekonyane’s interest in agriculture.
In 2009, Lekonyane moved to Kanana in Hammanskraal, where he currently lives with his parents, to do an electrical engineering course. Financial problems, however, forced him to give up his studies and look for employment.
In his search for work, he began considering different farming ventures. While researching poultry farming, he stumbled across an article on crops that mentioned earthworm farming. “The farmer in the article explained how to breed worms and how he used them to create his own fertiliser,” he recalls.
Lekonyane started researching vermiculture and composting, discovered its role in the green economy, and learned the basics of how to establish a worm farm.
‘’I started my worm farm in early 2017, hoping this would serve as a stepping stone towards a career in agriculture, as I lacked the resources to pursue more popular forms of farming. I just took a leap of faith.”
HOW IT WORKS
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Soil sampling basics
A soil sample should represent a homogeneous area where there are no visible soil differences.