man’s best friend

Element - - Planet -

The num­bers are in­cred­i­ble; 1.2 bil­lion earth­worms, turn­ing 100,000 tonnes of or­ganic waste into worm cast­ings. And 35 hectares, the size of the com­bined worm farms run by My Noke, a New Zealand com­pany turn­ing or­ganic waste into valu­able re­sources.

The worm farms, based in Kaw­erau, Toko­roa, Maketu and Taupo, re­ceive the or­ganic wastes be­ing pro­duced in their re­spec­tive area – wood pulp from Kin­leith Pa­per Mill, for ex­am­ple – and put their worms to work on them.

The prod­ucts in­clude the worm cast­ings – an ideal nat­u­ral fer­tiliser for farms – loaded with plant growth stim­u­la­tors such as auxin, which trig­gers root growths of plants. The earth­worms also de­stroy pathogens, and con­vert po­ten­tial toxic ele­ments into com­plex or­ganic com­pounds which are less harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment.

The other prod­uct is, of course, the earth­worms them­selves, which can be in­tro­duced to pas­tures or or­chards and which My Noke claims will in­crease pas­ture yield by up to 70%.

What many peo­ple are un­aware of is that over 20 species of earth­worms were in­tro­duced to New Zealand, and those in­tro­duced species are more preva­lent on our farms com­pared to our na­tive species. Large parts of the North Is­land, how­ever, have low num­bers of earth­worms, and mi­gra­tion to new ar­eas is slow.

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