As you establish your fishing worm market, you will gradually develop as a natural corollary the bulk worm beds with a population of assorted sizes and ages ail together in the same bed, You can, of course, start a bulk worm business without entering the fishing worm market.
You can sell the bulk worms (which are also called bed-run worms) to would be worm farmers and to established growers who want to expand their existing beds quickly or to meet a particularly large order, but the most significant market is to householders, gardeners and farmers for creating castings.
It must be remembered, however, that the commercial worms grown in the bulk worm bed are not the agricultural-type worms needed by farmers.. However, my personal experience is that the bulk worms introduced into soil will, before they die, create an environment which will encourage the more suitable agricultural worms to establish.
The most efficient way to sell is by weight, but you may be asked to quote a price on a per thousand basis. This used to be the standard way of selling worms and some customers will ask for it. Sometimes you will find as many as 6000 worms per kilo in a bulk worm bed, while fishing worms may number only 1000 per kilo. You should therefore make some small sample weighing of perhaps 50 grams taken at random from your worms and, using the flour or garden lime method, count them. By multiplication, you can calculate roughly how many worms there are to the kilo. If you find they weigh more than 4000 per kilo (say 5000 or 600, it may be wise to sell on a price per thousand, as it k reckoned that one kilo of worms will be 4000 in number.
The only difference between ‘Bulk Worms’ and ‘Compost Worms’ is in the size of the orders. For bulk worm sales you can expect to receive orders for as much as 100 to 250 kilos. As compost worms, these same worms sell in lots of approximately 250 grams.
It takes almost as much time to separate and weigh one kilo of worms (about 4000) as 250 grams (1000). Further, it costs almost exactly the same amount of money to pack 1000 worms as it does to pack 4000. You are therefore entitled to charge proportionately more per thousand for the lesser quantities.
In Australia, each year, we produce just under 14,000,000 tonnes of garbage in our towns and cities and, in every case, the method used for disposal is that of landfill. This is probably the greatest single cause of present and future pollution practiced by our society. The pollution from our tips will last for generations to come. The injustice of the system is monumental. Our children and theirs will have to deal not only with the problems they create for themselves, but also with providing a solution to the consequences of our sloppy disposal methods.
Take, for example, one Victorian country city. Its landfill tip has been proved to be responsible for the pollution of an artesian basin which used to supply drinking water. Now water drawn from bores in the basin can be used for irrigation only. If the tip could be removed tomorrow, the pollution of the groundwater would continue for another one hundred years — three full generations. Being aware of the damage we are doing, how long in conscience can we allow the situation to continue?
Landfill tips are a direct cause of groundwater pollution through leaching, surface water pollution through run-off, and atmospheric pollution through the constant emission of methane and other toxic gases. Besides these, they are a breeding ground for flies, they smell, they are an eyesore and they are costly to operate. The groundwater, run-off and atmospheric pollution are caused by the anaerobic breakdown of organic matter contained in the waste. Anaerobic decomposition occurs only in the absence of oxygen and is a very slow process. At this time organic waste forms a massive 68 per cent of what goes to landfill. That is around 10,000,000 tonnes per year.
Recently our state governments have been promoting the goal of reducing organic waste going to landfill by 50 per cent by the year 2000. As part of this programme, householders and gardeners have been encouraged to make compost of their kitchen scraps and garden waste. As a result, there is a rapidly increasing demand for worms for domestic composting, as just about all this organic waste can be used for worm food on a domestic scale, which is far more constructive than using it for filling a hole in the ground. If all householders established an earthworm composter in their backyard with a starter population of only 1000 worms, it would only be a short time before they would stop sending their organic wastes to the tip. Our single biggest source of pollution would be closed off at the source!
As more and more local governments are promoting the use of worms, the unrealised potential is enormous. Just try to imagine how many worms you would need to supply every home within at kilometre of you with just 1000 worms! Even supplying 10 per cent of them would keep you very busy.
There would still be some circumstances where an earthworm composter would not be practicable. Commercially-sized machinery has been patented in Australia that would allow domestic waste, collected as part of the normal garbage service, to be converted into agricultural-grade compost. This would be at a lesser cost than putting the waste to landfill.