man’s best friend
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.