Earthworm intervened nutrient recovery and greener production of vermicompost from Ipomoea staphylina - an invasive weed with emerging environmental challenges.
The invasive weed, Ipomoea staphylina (IS) with cow dung (CD) and mushroom spent straw (MS) in four different combinations (IS:CD:MS), V1 (1:1:0), V2 (2:1:1), V3 (1:0:1) and V4 (1:1:1) were pre-decomposed for 21 days followed by 50 days vermicomposting using Eudrilus eugeniae in triplicates in order to alleviate and to utilize the weed biomass in an environment-friendly manner. The contents of organic matter, organic carbon, cellulose, lignin, C/N and C/P ratios showed a decrease, while electrical conductivity, total NPK, calcium, sodium, and nitrate-nitrogen showed a significant increase in vermicompost over control. Water-soluble organic carbon to organic nitrogen ratio and C/N ratio in V1 (0.52 and 17.55) and V4 (0.43 and 16.56), respectively, were in conformity with the maturity of vermicomposts. Scanning electron micrographs of the end products clearly showed more fragmented, fine, and porous particles in vermicompost. Copper, chromium, cadmium, lead, and zinc in vermicomposts were below the permissible limits. Dehydrogenase, acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, cellulase, and protease activities were significantly higher in V4 than other treatments, implying the role of MS and CD addition during vermicomposting. Though V3 combination supported worm biomass, V4 combination was found to favor the fecundity of Eudrilus eugeniae. Results reveal that 1:1:1 combination of SI + CD + MS (V4) is suitable for utilizing the weed biomass for vermicompost production and nutrient recovery. From the biomass of environmentally problematic weed, Ipomoea staphylina, nutrient-rich vermicompost can be produced through vermitechnology for sustainable environmental management and agriculture.