Plant Growth-Promoting Microbes from Herbal Vermicompost
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Overreliance on chemical pesticides and fertilizers has resulted in problems including safety risks, outbreaks of secondary pests normally held in check by natural enemies, insecticide resistance, environmental contamination, and decrease in biodiversity (Lacey and Shapiro-Ilan 2008). The increasing costs and negative effects of pesticides and fertilizers necessitate the idea of biological options of crop protection and production. This includes the use of animal manure, crop residues, microbial inoculum (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, and blue green algae), and composts. They provide natural nutrition, reduce the use of inorganic fertilizers, develop biodiversity, increase soil biological activity, maintain soil physical properties, and improve environmental health (Hue and Silva 2000; Vessey 2003). On the other hand, a progressive increase in world’s population, intensive industrialization of food and beverage processing, and animal husbandry production leads to the generation of large volumes of organic wastes. As per the estimation of World Bank, municipal solid waste alone from the urban areas of Asia is projected to be 1.8 million tonnes/day in 2025 (Chandrappa and Das 2012). These can be disposed by landfilling, pelletization, incineration, biomethanization, and composting. Organic wastes act as a major source of environmental pollution and create serious disposal problem, release odor and ammonia into air, contaminate groundwater, and thereby pose health risks (Inbar et al. 1993). This problem can be solved by vermicomposting, a process of decomposing organic wastes into a valuable product of organic fertilizer and soil conditioner by the use of earthworms.