Collembolacomposting – Update

Back at the end of January, I started up my “collembolacomposting” experiment – with the aim of determining whether or not springtails can do much in the way of “composting” on their own.

Judging by the ecosystem that seems to be dominating the habitat in the bin these days, I think “acarinacomposting” might have been somewhat more appropriate! The springtail population hasn’t even really taken off for some reason, yet there is an incredible population of mites.

Worm Bin Mites

Worm Composting Mites

In thinking about all of this some more, and witnessing how little in the way of processing seems to be occurring in the bin, I’ve concluded that, apart from the microbes, the worm DO indeed deserve the lion’s share of the glory when it comes to vermicomposting (somehow I doubt that will surprise too many people – haha). Just the physical activity and fragmentation of waste materials alone likely plays a very significant role in speeding up the composting process.

I think it’s only natural that the next step should be to set up a comparison experiment. Worms vs no worms, so we can see for sure just how much of a difference there is. This may help to demonstrate the value of adding composting worms to a “regular” backyard composter as well!

Anyway – I will let everyone know once I’ve set up the experiment!

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    • Peter
    • August 29, 2010

    Did you ever work out why it switched from springtails to mites?

    I’m wondering if it’s a PH thing. While I don’t have a ton of mites I do have a ton of whiteworms with a corresponding drop in springtail population. Worms don’t seem to mind either way :P.

    Switched when I started adding coffee grounds, whiteworms seem to love that stuff. As I don’t cook much the grounds make up a good portion of the stuff going into the bin (plastic bin with lots of aeration). Not a problem, just miss the springtails, much nice to look at than those whiteworms ;).


    • Bentley
    • August 31, 2010

    Interesting theory, Peter!
    I am not really sure what happened, but moisture may be another contributing factor. I know springtails don’t seem to like it really well (while mites DO seem to like it wet), so perhaps that contributed to it as well.

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