2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 7 Aug 2002 19:56:31 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] The worms turn: Air Force base gets into composting
The worms turn: Air Force base gets into composting
By James Hannah, Associated Press
Tuesday, August 06, 2002

DAYTON, Ohio ? Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has thousands of new
recruits that roll around in the dirt and love to eat. 

They're not the human variety. They're soldiers of the soil: slimy,
wriggling earthworms that devour food scraps and produce waste for

"I've been trying to get a worm farm for quite some time," said Bill
Meinerding, manager of the base's recycling program. 

For the past three weeks, Wright-Patterson has been using worms to
compost fruit and vegetable waste from the commissary. There are
currently about 300,000 worms, and base officials expect the population
to grow to 500,000. 

Wright-Patterson got the worm farm free from Arnold Air Force Base in
Tullahoma, Tenn. Arnold concluded that the base didn't generate
enough waste to make it cost-effective there, Meinerding said. Arnold
could only generate about 250 pounds of food scraps for the worms
every three days, he said. Wright-Patterson produces about 500 pounds
a day. 

The worms are kept inside a composting bin, which is divided into three 
layers. The worms work in the middle layer; spoiled fruit and vegetable 
trimmings from the commissary are placed on top; and the bottom layer 
collects worm waste, known as castings. 

"We'll put three or four inches of food layer on the bin, and you'll
come back the next day and it's gone," Meinerding said. Over the past 
three weeks, the worms have devoured 7 tons of food scraps. Before the
worms, it had cost the base $100 a ton to dispose of the scraps. 

The worm farm is kept inside a building in the dark where temperature
is maintained at between 70 and 80 degrees. It takes one person an
hour a day to take care of the worms. "It's very low maintenance,"
Meinerding said. 

The worm castings are high in nitrogen and make excellent lawn
fertilizer. Officials are testing the castings at the base golf course
and may eventually use it to enrich the soil all around the base's 8,000 
acres. Meinerding said he hopes the worm castings will replace the use 
of chemical fertilizer, which would save money and reduce fertilizer 
runoff into streams and groundwater. 


For full story see
Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
102 Robertsville Road, Suite B, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Toll free 888-770-3073 ~ www.local-oversight.org

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