Red earthworms from California 'made in Mantua'

Red earthworms from California have no lungs, five hearts and six kidneys. But what really counts is that they transform waste material such as manure into one of the greenest soil improvers found on the market, so much so that it can be used for organic cultivation. What is more, they are the stars of Pierpaolo Pizzi's project, who breeds them to produce "vermicompost".

Everything started in 2010: "my father had thought about it in the 1980s, but my wife and Manuela and I decided to try our hand at it."

Pierpaolo Pizzi in front of the compost produced by the earthworms

Between February and May 2010, they set up a plot just a few km from Udine. Earthworms live in litters inside their food, manure. Prolific, tough and voracious, they suck the manure, expel it and compost it creating small galleries. Nowadays, Pizzi manages two plots directly and has a network of partners in Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia and Liguri, producing around a thousand quintals of compost a year.

"There is a lot of demand, mainly vegetable, flower and fruit producers employing organic cultivation techniques, and supply is not enough. "Our compost has no smell and a high fertilising power. It doesn't burn the roots and is produced without exploiting animals. For the future, I'm working to become a consultant to help set up new plots."

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