Hong Kong is a tiny island. So the pile up of manure and stable waste from the upcoming 2008 Olympic Equestrian Games could pose both an environmental problem and a health risk to the people and animals living there.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club's solution is an innovative manure treatment program. Each day, stable waste will be collected from the stables and "processed", then "aged" for a week or so, at which time the organic matter will be turned over (literally) to some 80 million earthworms which Hong Kong is importing from Australia.
(No word yet why local Chinese earthworms can't fill the job. Perhaps Australia has a thriving earthworm breeding industry?)
The numbers are staggering. According to Liu Daping, a spokeswoman for the Chinese affairs division of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), the worms' castings (excrement) will be harvested and shipped to farms as fertilizer. Each day, 40 tons of fertilizer can be produced from 80 tons of stable waste and that is enough to fertilize a 20-hectare farm for a year.
During the 2007 Test Event in Hong Kong, the system processed 10 tons of stable waste per day. Presumably a new wave of immigrant earthworms will be headed to Hong Kong this summer. Currently 30 tons of stable waste from racehorses in Hong Kong is being recycled each day.