The new Nutrient Management Act and regulations may have created another
headache for farmers, but they have created a new opportunity for local
environmentalist and vermicomposting enthusiast, Cathy Nesbitt.
Nesbitt, owner of Cathy's Crawly Composters, has partnered with Kathy
Wood of Kingston to undertake new research on the effectiveness of vermicomposting
in reducing the volume and pathogen content of manure.
The stars of the research project are Nesbitt's red wiggler worms, E.
foetida. The worms have been shown to have pathogen- killing characteristics,
especially for such bacteria as E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella and
Shigella, all of them linked to disease in humans. The worms are also
voracious, not only rapidly reducing the volume of compost or manure,
but transforming the material into worm castings, which have better
structure and a nutrient content that is more readily absorbed by plants.
Nesbitt and Wood are looking for at least 10 cattle producers in the
York Region-Simcoe County area to participate. Each farm will require
2 pits, each measuring 25' long by 6' wide and 1' deep. Manure will
be added to the pits weekly. One pit will be the "control";
the other will receive 50 Ibs. of red wigglers. The manure in both pits
will be tested at the start of the project, and will be regularly monitored,
for the next 2 to 3 months. The goals: to determine how well red wigglers
reduce manure piles, eliminate bacteria and other pathogens, and stabilize
nutrients, hoping to come up with a new, low cost way to provide better
The project should begin in mid-April. Producers interested in participating
are asked to contact Cathy Nesbitt at
or Kathy Wood, toll-free at 1-866-805-3335, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nesbitt and Wood hope to find funding to cover at least part of the
cost of testing. There is also the possibility that the study could
qualify for funds as part of an Environmental Farm Plan.
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