The recycling of biomass involves playing with many factors. Moisture, gasses, temperature. Our little helper, in the process of transforming "waste" material into nutrient rich worm castings, is the common European compost worm. This fascinating but misunderstood creature is endemic to Europe, but nowadays it is to be found on every continent around the globe. Because of their healthy appetite and sociable behaviour, they are the "weapon of choice" for worm farmers.
A look back
Using worms or other organisms to trigger a change isn't a new idea. Nowadays, this process is labelled as biotechnology. But most hobby gardeners do know that the earthworm has always been their "best friend", because of it's ability to improve soil quality and growth of the plants. But worms aren't the only example of successful collaboration between men and other living organisms. Looking back at history, we find signs of a close relationship between us and beeings of all sizes: bacteria, insects, fungi. Didn't yeast help us to make our bread fluffy and our beer sparkling? Or fungi help us grow a crust upon our cheese? Ladybugs fighting aphids, bees pollinating our crops... This list can be carried on endlessly.
Of men and worms
As already mentioned, earth and compost worms aren't a new discovery. The first signs of "modern" worm farming trace back to the late 1960's and early 1970's. Several modern worm farming businesses, that were started back in those times, are still active today. Like for any other farm animal (although we can't speak of a proper domestication of worms), we first had to learn the needs of compost worms: what do they eat, how do they mate, when do they feel comfortable. Now that we can look back upon almost 50 years of modern worm farming, the lesson seems to be learned. And it was an easy one, since our friends are really undemanding.
The next step
Obviously, there is always room for improvement, even with the simplest things. But what can we take from this over-technicized era we're living in? And what do smartphones or IoT (internet of things) have to do with something as low-tech as worm farming? As always, the answer is simple: it's not about the resources you have, but how you use them. Real time monitoring and reporting, improvement of working processes, quality management. All those things are only a few clicks away and can help to make a worm's life better and a farmer's work easier.