The interactions between earthworms and microorganisms activity has prompted several researchers to evaluate the potential of artificially inoculating vermicomposts with additional specific microbes, with the intention of enhancing the vermicomposting process. This study evaluated the potential of inoculating fly ash (F)-cow dung-paper waste (CP) mixture (F-CP) with a specialized microbial cocktail called Effective micro-organisms (EM) during vermicomposting using Eisenia fetida earthworms. Inoculation with EM alone did not result in significantly (P>0.05) different changes in C/N ratio and dissolved organic matter (DOC) compared to the control with no EM and E. fetida. A significant interaction between EM and E. fetida presence resulted in greater changes in C/N ratio and DOC, which were not statistically different from the E. fetida alone treatment. It was also noteworthy that the activity of ß-Glucosidase was not influenced by the presence of EM, but was significantly influenced (P=0.0014) by the presence of E. fetida. However, the EM+E. fetida treatment resulted in a rate of weekly Olsen P release of 54.32mgkg(-1) which was 12.3%, 89.2% and 228.0% more that the E. fetida alone, EM alone and control treatments, respectively. Similarly, though higher in the E. fetida plus EM treatment, the phosphate solubilizing bacteria counts were not significantly different (P>0.05) from the E. fetida alone treatment. It is concluded that inoculation of F-CP composts with EM alone may not be beneficial, while combining EM with E. fetida results in faster compost maturity and significantly greater Olsen P release. It would be interesting to evaluate higher optimized rates of EM inoculation and fortifying EM cocktails with phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) on F-CP vermicompost degradation and phosphorus mineralization.
Keywords: Dissolved organic carbon; Enzyme activity; Extractable phosphorus; Microbial activity; Phosphate solubilizing bacteria.
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