Keith O. Mikkelson, executive director of an orphanage and children’s home called Aloha House in the Philippines, shares some of the ways EM is used on their farm in his book A Natural Farming System for Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics. On his farm, EM is used in the form of bokashi (fermented plant matter). According to Mikkelson, anaerobic composting, or fermentation, results in material that is fermented but not yet decayed (as would happen with aerobic composting).
Mikkelson describes the process of making bokashi: “We mix one sack of copra meal to three sacks of low-grade rice bran and three sacks of charcoal. We charcoalize rice hull in a specialized process ahead of time. These ingredients are mixed dry with shovels on a cement floor.
Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) is another oft-used Natural Farming input. It can be made in the following way: Collect plants that have defenses against the cold and that grow well in the spring. Other good plants to use are ones that are fast-growing and vigorous (these contain very active growth hormones). Bamboo shoots can be used; collect them while small, and remove the soil but not the outer skin. Other good plants to use for FPJ are strawberry, kiwi or cucumber (use lateral buds of cucumber; it grows quickly, though it is not very tolerant of cold and disease). For cucumber, cut “50 cm above…roots during last part of harvest season, then hang cucumber’s stem upside down in a bottle.” Juice will seep out. It is said to last for three years. Banana sprouts/shoots and morning glory (Ipomea aquatica) are also good ones to use.
Andy Cotarelo shared, “Recently we obtained some recipes of EM and IMO from network members in Thailand and in the US, all of whom are using the soil organisms and have seen positive results in their gardens and farms. Some network members are using EM, a purchased product, while others are creating their own versions of IMO. We are now experimenting with these recipes of IMO and testing them against the EM purchased product to see if they perform worse, as well or better.
Matthew Bakker commented, “In some of the literature that I am familiar with (having to do predominantly with the use of microbes to prevent plant disease), there has been a shift from inoculative approaches toward what is often called ‘microbial community management.
Higa, Teruo and James F. Parr. 1994. “Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms for a Sustainable Agriculture and Environment.” International Nature Farming Research Center, Atami, Japan.
Because the approach outlined by Higa and Parr in this paper is so different from what I (DRB) have previously read on the subject of soil microorganisms, I thought I would summarize some key points. If you would like more details, I encourage you to read the paper.
Indigenous microorganisms (IMO) are harvested and produced in various ways for natural farming. Out of five types of NF IMOs, IMO 1 refers to the group of indigenous microorganisms that are produced from microbes collected from forest settings, from around the stubble of harvested rice and directly from forest leaves.
EDN 96, published in July 2007, featured an article by Danny Blank called “A Fresh Look at Life below the Surface.” The article, written after Danny attended a week-long workshop by Dr. Elaine Ingham, discussed composting and the importance of using it to build up the Soil Food Web—the community of microorganisms that live in the soil.
When the word ‘chia’ is mentioned, it may bring to mind—especially among North Americans—the “chia pets” that are sold as a novelty item. But chia (Salvia hispanica L) has a long history as a food crop, both for humans and animals, and is being “rediscovered” for its nutritional value and health benefits.