This helpful book has been provided free of charge by the Aloha House to the wider network. ECHO Asia believes that these resources are well researched and useful to the majority of ECHO Asia network members. For more information, please contact Keith Mikkelson, the author.
This book is an important work for tropical agriculture. There are very few resources that are truly “organic” and practical for the everyday farmer in the tropical setting. This book covers material that is extremely useful for the day-to-day operation of a farm or garden. It contains planning material that takes into account logistics as well as timetables.
This is not a guide for the agronomy student. I have identified several species that work well for us, but I do not have a planting guide for rice or corn or vegetables. These guides are readily obtained from seed suppliers and general horticultural works. If the reader looks carefully, he will find that I have given a system for natural fertilization in place of the chemical recommendations by traditional methods. Some creative adaptation will be required if your conditions and climate vary. We have a high acid clay soil that was rainforest at one time. Over the years a cogan grass has established itself. That is our starting point and our formulas can be changed for particular challenges that the reader may be facing.
This is not a How-to-do-it manual. Rather, this is a HOW-WE-DO-IT book based on my “Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics” manual. It has been used to train and equip hundreds of small-scale farmers and gardeners in the natural farming adventure. It is an adventure worth taking, as few things in life will improve general health and well being as much as quality food products grown to their full potential.
Keith O. Mikkelson – Fall 2005
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The rice industry in the Philippines has gone through various challenges and will benefit from EM technologies. Growing, harvesting and processing rice creates high volumes of waste that can be captured and converted back into fertilizer for the next crop. It is important to understand the various grades and different types of mills for rice. The waste from small mills is different than the waste from the larger mills. To keep costs down we want the best value for the money we are spending. We use different grades of rice mill by-products depending on the availability from the mill in our area. We never use the expensive grades for fertilizers. We always try to get the best grades; the higher protein will
pay off in weight gain and genetic maximums.
In our training seminars, every student gets a bottle of EME. We teach them by making it in class. They also are trained on how to use their bag of five different soil amendments. This encourages students to use them in the project that they have already started. Some students are just starting
out with a new plot. They really appreciate the fertilizers and are encouraged by the results once their plants start to grow. They can see what is succeeding as they learn how each item performs for their soil.
Soil conditions can improve rapidly when the right ingredients are added. You have to learn what to add. The quantities in nutrients run a range of effectiveness from a maximum to a minimum. It’s equally important to know how to add your amendments. Lime, Ash and Carbonized Rice Hull (uling) all require soil tests to keep the PH range where it should be. You will develop an eye for it as you see how your plants respond, but a little science never hurts.
With all the instant gratification available to the consumer these days, nature seems to take a long time. Stabilizing your soil, pasture and livestock areas don’t happen over night. Nevertheless, Microbial Management with foliar sprays and fertilizers can help in the transition.
Bokashi is the Japanese word for fermented plant matter. There are thousands of types of bokashi for you to make and explore. Once you learn the fundamentals of bokashi production you will find many creative ways to capture seemingly worthless organic materials and turn them into a powerhouse of nutrients and beneficial inoculants for plants and livestock.
Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) has made steep worthless lands usable. This is a practice valuable to the tribal community. They are learning to stabilize topsoil with the proper selection of species. They can maintain their ancestral lands without having to destroy them through shifting cultivation, otherwise known as slash and burn farming.
The real hands on school of success is to intern with a working farm. Then you can learn first hand from experience. You will appreciate the land, soil and even the process of efficient food production more.
Plans should be drawn up before any effort is wasted. Think through your traffic routes and flow of materials. Integrate your resource recovery plan in this process. Set your goals and lay down the steps that you think are needed as you see it now. Write it down; it will be a flexible starting point. Even the best laid plans can fail, but remember, you are gathering data from your experience and can progress even when you make a mistake or are broadsided by unforeseen circumstances.