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Update On Planting Earthworm "Eggs"
Illinois farmer Bill Kreitzer has been featured twice in FARM SHOW for his work with an automated process for putting earthworm eggs into capsules (Vol. 26, No. 3 and Vol. 14, No. 2). He recently contacted us with an update.
  Kreitzer, who farms near Elliott, Ill., "plants" earthworms in fields, using "melt away" gelatin capsules containing earthworm eggs. He markets the earthworm egg capsules under the brand name VermipodsÍ.
  Earthworms reproduce by laying a cocoon with eggs inside it. Under ideal laboratory conditions, earthworm eggs hatch in 3 to 6 weeks. However, the eggs hatch only when soil temperature is right. Kreitzer devised an automated process to encapsulate mass quantities of earthworm cocoons in a way that keeps the eggs viable for over a year.
  He says Vermipods are gaining widespread acceptance in the horticulture industry, and that he's now ready to sell to farmers providing they understand the research is still not complete.
  "We sold more than 1 million Vermipods last year to the horticulture industry," says Kreitzer. "We plan to encapsulate 2 to 3 million cocoons this year."
  His original idea of mixing the capsules with seed in planters or drills has changed. "We now recommend sticking a probe in the ground, the same kind used for soil testing, and dropping the capsules in the hole. We're working on an ATV-mounted device that will do the job automatically."
  Vermipods are currently being sold by several mail order companies, such as Gardens Alive (www.gardensalive.com; ph 513-354-1483), which sells a package of 50 capsules for $12.95. Kreitzer is working on a program that will make it possible to repopulate farm fields with 300 Vermipods per acre for a cost of about $30 an acre. Research on migration of earthworms hatched from Vermipods is planned at the University of Ohio later this year.
  Kreitzer says building up the earthworm population on his own farm has really paid off. "I have a 5-acre field that I haven't fertilized in 10 years but in the last three years I've still been getting 200 bu. corn yields and 60 bu. bean yields. Some parts of our farm have about 500,000 earthworms per acre. Even in last year's drought, what little rain we got was able to soak into the ground and was retained better than on conventional ground."
   Kreitzer notes that other companies sell earthworm cocoons but cautions that you get what you pay for. "We use an earth dwelling worm that will go below the frost line and survive. It's a worm that handles real well in storage and when it's planted in agricultural soils, it will survive."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Kreitzer; ph 217 781-4367 or 480 970-1903; BillKreitzer@Advanced Prairie.com; www.AdvancedBiotechnology.com).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #1