Food waste refers to food that was not consumed by humans that is discarded and wasted. Today, an estimate of one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. That is equal to 1.3 billion tons of food that are wasted or thrown out. Theoretically, it could be enough calories to feed every single person on the planet (WWF). Wasting food isn’t just a social or humanitarian concern, but an environmental one too. When food is wasted, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. Additionally, when food rots, it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide (WWF). This results in the contribution of global warming and climate change, which may create global impacts. Without change, experts predict that waste may grow to as much as 70% of all food by the year 2050 (Power Knot).
In this work, we attempt to design and create a vermicomposter that is able to self-maintain itself using a moisture sensor and sprinkler.
A vermicomposter is a method of using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into castings. Castings are the products of worms, and they can be used as fertilizer for gardening. They provide healthier benefits than traditional compost because it is richer in nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other elements, and contains microbes that help plants grow. The general idea of the design is to build up a multiple-stacking system of connected worm bins. This way, the worms can keep moving up and leave the castings behind. Castings are collected in the middle bin and the worm food is placed in the top bin. When the middle bin is almost full, the castings are harvested and it will be emptied, filled with new bedding and food, and rotated to the top, and the process repeats
Automatic Moisture System
The moisture system will use 5 components: sensor, chip, sprinkler, light signals, and a pump. A power source will power the chip (esp32), which will control when the pump will send the water to the sprinkler according to the moisture sensor. This will be monitored accordingly by using light signals.
When the compost is getting full, swap over the upper two bins by putting bin 1 in the middle and bin 2 on the top. Set up the new bin with more bedding and add some food. Over a few days, the worms will start to migrate upwards toward the food, leaving behind all the compost. The process just requires the top two bins to be swapped every time the compost is ready.
Automatic Moisture System
As a way to create an automatic regulator for water, the chip is able to control at what times the water needs to be pumped to the sprinkler. The design utilizes a moisture sensor to detect the amount of moisture in the soil, which will then send a signal to the chip and display a light depending on the soil moisture. The chip will also then activate the pump if the light goes red (meaning that the soil is too dry) and stop if the moisture level is perfect (turning green). If the soil is too wet, the light will be colored yellow.
Produces a stable, nontoxic, and nutrient-rich material that could be used as a soil conditioner.
Experiments and results show that vermicompost include greater economic yields, faster germination rates, earlier flowering, larger yields, better quality crops, greater leaf areas, higher plant weights, increased root lengths, better establishment of cuttings and higher vitamin content of plant.
Vermicomposting can also be used to earn profits for the user. In addition to promoting social responsibility, the compost has proven to have a better benefit-cost ratio along with better net profits, with a feasible financial viability.
Maintains balance in the eco-system by improving both plant and environment quality
The Spikoo is a vermicompost that takes up minimal space, looks good, and is clean and convenient to use. It minimizes the use of manual labor to care, since it uses an automatic sprinkler and the worms can migrate on their own. It could also act as a great way to teach younger children the importance of recycling food to save the planet. It is also a very effective way to recycle food waste, at least 500g per week if in the optimum level.
The Spikoo was tested for multiple days and observations were made. It is observed that it is able to maintain the moisture level of the soil without having to check on it. It is seen that it produces a lot of water (or worm tea) in the water bin after a day. Moreover, the worms are also observed to stay in the container and not escape through the air holes. This shows that the worms are compatible with the bedding material and are able to thrive in the soil. In addition to that, the food that is placed inside the vermicompost can quickly degrade within a few days. The worms are able to quickly clean up the food waste, which results in castings being produced. In a few months, the castings can be harvested and used for plant fertilizer. In the future, the product can be further improved by adding more sensors that can measure factors that can affect rate of biodegradability, such as temperature and pH. An application to view the moisture level of the compost can also be convenient for the user to be able to easily track the status of the bin.
In this work, Clayton determined to create a compost system which is easy to operate and maintain.
Vermicomposter with Automatic Hydration Control