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NC State Extension

Agenda for 20th Vermiculture Conference (held in 2019)

Day 1: Saturday, October 26, 2019

9:15 a.m. Registration (you must check in)
10:00 a.m. Conference Welcome Rhonda Sherman
NC State Univ.
Vermicompost Effects on Plant Growth, Suppression of Diseases and Pests Norman Arancon
Univ. Hawaii
LUNCH (provided)
Compost Tea: Everything you need to know to set up, brew, and apply Troy Hinke
Living Roots Compost Tea
Our Family Worm Farm Journey Kristen Beigay
Earthen Organics
Large-Scale Vermicomposting of Dairy Manures in a Process-Controlled System Tom Herlihy
WeCare Organics
Large-Scale Continuous-Flow Vermicomposting in Turkey: An Update Ali Calikoglu
UNC-Chapel Hill
6:00 p.m. Conference adjourns for the day
6:30 Unsponsored networking social at Sammy’s Tap & Grill, 2235 Avent Ferry Road, Raleigh (1 mile from conference venue)

 Day 2: Sunday, October 27, 2019

9:15 a.m. Second day of conference begins
Worm Farm Logistics Josh Walker
Life Cycle Organics
Pest & Disease Suppression Using Aqueous Extracts from Vermicompost (‘Teas’) Norman Arancon
Univ Hawaii
Lunch (provided)
Biodynamic Aeration System: Worms Used for Wastewater Treatment John Garn
Advances in Modern Microbiology and the Potential Benefit to Sustainable Agriculture Zack Jones
Rocky Mountain Soil Stewardship
Selling Worms, Vermicast, Compost, & Soil Amendments Mark Purser
The Worm Farm
4:00 p.m. Conference presentation portion adjourns
4:15 p.m. Field Trip to Compost Learning Lab
This Conference is approved for up to 10 Professional Development Hours for the USCC Professional Credentials Program, CCOM and CCP. Download the continuing education credit tracking form. Go to the United States Certification Commission’s frequently asked questions for more information.

Troy Hinke will cover details of compost tea/extract brewing, application, and what to focus on to get the most microbes per brew; and results from compost tea use and applications.

John Garn will present the Biodynamic Aeration System (BIDA System), BioFiltro’s patented wastewater system, and explain how worms are incorporated in wastewater treatment. He will briefly explain the science behind the system and then provide case studies across various industries to demonstrate how worms are being used to treat water from wineries, food processors, rural communities, etc and how the water is reused or safely discharged of after. He will also demonstrate, via lab samples and UC Davis study, how their system generates worm castings while treating water and, in cases particularly like their dairy farm application, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the operations due to the rapid treatment of water.

Norman Arancon, Ph.D., (University of Hawaii-Hilo) will give two presentations at the conference. His first one will cover the effects of vermicompost (worm castings) on soils and plant growth, disease and pest resistance. His second presentation will address the effects on plants using aqueous extracts of vermicompost.

Kristen Beigay of Earthen Organics will describe her worm farming operation that she operates primarily by herself with help from her family. She composts horse manure in an aerated static pile composting system and feeds it to worms in a continuous flow-through mechanized worm bin. She sells vermicompost and potting mixes.

Josh Walker of Life Cycle Organics in North Carolina will describe how to physically and logistically start a worm farm. He will cover what their operations look like weekly and their production outputs.

Ali Calikoglu, MD, will describe the worm farm he started with five other physicians in Turkey. Their model for a sustainable farm includes cows, chickens, black soldier fly larvae, and earthworms. You’ll be amazed by their high-tech continuous flow-through reactors.

Tom Herlihy will present “Large-Scale Vermicomposting of Dairy Manures in a Process-Controlled System.” Large-scale vermicomposting of manures has been proven to produce an exceptionally high-quality plant growth and plant protection product that can maintain a consistent set of product specifications. A case study will be presented of what is believed to be the world’s largest process-controlled vermicomposting facility. The facility is located outside of Torreon, Mexico on a large dairy farm and is designed to annually process over 25,000,000 lbs of separated manure solids. The presentation outlines the siting, design, construction, commissioning, and first three years of operations. Numerous design and operational factors will be discussed that strongly impact the volume and quality of vermicompost materials produced, as well as the economic and environmental sustainability of large-scale vermicomposting operations.
A key aspect of the case study includes the integration of the vermicomposting operation into an existing 20,000 head Holstein dairy operation. Design and operational issues affecting worm husbandry will be discussed. A mass balance of raw material to finished product and vermicompost processing equipment and end-product requirements will be examined. A brief overview of end-uses and end-users of the vermicompost material will also be discussed. Best methods that have worked for commercial agricultural/horticultural adoption will be described, as well as brief anecdotal information from field uses of the vermicompost produced.

Zack Jones, PhD: In the last 15 years, the field of microbiology has been transformed by modern DNA sequencing technology combined with advances in computational power and programming complexity. This combination of technology generated two sub fields called Bioinformatics and Microbial Ecology. This technology allows for the identification of every organism down to the genus or species level and it’s relative abundance in the sample to the 0.1%. This talk will explore how this technology might be able to benefit vermicompost producers and how they can help participate in an exploratory study.

Mark Purser co-operates The Worm Farm in Durham, California, with his wife Arlita and son John Stewart. Since 1994, they have raised earthworms in 1.5 miles of outdoor windrows for harvesting and shipping throughout the continental U.S and Canada. They also supply over 4,000 tons per year of compost/casting mixes, as well as custom mixes to various farmers and other agricultural users. They ship about 250-300 pounds of worms weekly, throughout the U.S. and Canada.The Worm Farm also sells coconut coir, peat moss, bat guano, perlite, lava rock, cow and chicken manures, rice hulls, and other organic soil amendments.