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Earthworm "Seeds" Now In Production
We've been telling you for years about Bill Kreitzer's mission to boost earthworm populations by "planting" them right along with crops. He recently called to tell us he's now in production on his earthworm "seeds".
  In 2004 Kreitzer invented and patented VermiPodsÍ, small "cocoons" about the size of a soybean that contain from 1 to 10 worm eggs, something that was previously thought biologically impossible. The pods can be planted right along with seed. The eggs inside are ready to hatch and multiply.
  Kreitzer's research first appeared in FARM SHOW way back in 1990 (Vol. 14, Issue 2), but his first encapsulating method was not economically feasible. Since then, the Elliott, Ill., entrepreneur has worked with USDA grants, investors and earthworm expert and professor of entomology, Dr. Clive Edwards from Ohio State University.
  Over the years worms in test plots have multiplied to about half a million worms/acre on a 5-acre research plot. Soil that yielded 159 to 179 bu/acre corn before now produces more than 200 bu/acre - with nitrogen applications every other year and no phosphorus and potassium applications for the past 10 years.
  Kreitzer's patent covers his method for encapsulating worm eggs in the VermiPods. He raises breeder worms at a production facility in Gibson City, Ill. VermiPods can keep up to six months refrigerated and three months without refrigeration.
  The focus of Kreitzer's work is to make it easier for landowners to "plant worms". The easiest way is to mix VermiPods in with seed at planting time. VermiPods can also be dropped into holes as soil samples are taken.
  Kreitzer recently patented another method using injection equipment, such as a liquid nitrogen applicator with tank. An agitator circulates water in the tank so suspended cocoons are injected into the ground ¨ any time of year the ground is not frozen.
  For example, to plant 300 VermiPods/acre on 160 acres, 48,000 VermiPods would be put into a tank with 500 gal. of water and injected at 3.125 gal./acre. At 14 cents/VermiPod the cost would be $42/acre.
  Kreitzer offers a discounted price of 10 cents/VermiPod for orders of 1 million or more.
  "There is no minimum number of VermiPods that one needs to plant per acre," says Kreitzer. "However, the more you plant, the quicker the results will be. The key here is to get started so God's lowly earthworms can get to work."
  The use of anhydrous ammonia since WWII, along with pesticides and other modern day farming practices, has depleted many soils of earthworms. Earthworms chew up organic material and also aerate the soil and create burrows to improve water infiltration and reduce run-off.
  Kreitzer's VermiPods are available with five different worm species suited for different soil conditions and types. It depends on how many VermiPods are planted, but it takes at least three years to see some benefits from the worms multiplying in a field, Kreitzer says. The eventual goal is to get 1 million worms/acre, or about 25/sq. ft.
  After nearly 20 years of research and development, Kreitzer hasn't lost his enthusiasm or belief in the rejuvenating value of earthworms. He remembers the more than 300 FARM SHOW readers who contacted him after the original article. Many financially supported him.
  "If they donated money to the University of Illinois toward our research at that time, we want to send them some free VermiPods," Kreitzer says. He has the names of original donors but has lost the addresses. He invites donors to contact him.
  VermiPods can be purchased directly from the Kreitzer's website for buying in bulk. Smaller amounts are available from distributors such as Gardens Alive!, Insect Lore and Territorial Seed Company.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Kreitzer, VermiPod Inc., P.O. Box 1, 104 W. Market St., Elliott, Ill. 60933 (ph 217 781-4367; BillKreitzer@vermipod.com; www. vermipod.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2