Down on the Farm ….What is EM?
Bokashi and Mud balls!, and recycling food waste
The idea of seeding matter with desirable bacteria to give us the product we want
is nothing new. We do it commercially all the time. We do it in the home and even on the
farm. Successful silage making is dependent on getting the right “starters”. Wine makers
seed pulp with their chosen yeast to get a good tipple and your home yoghurt maker relies
on carefully selected bacteria.
That is the principle behind EM (Effective Microorganisms) technology as well.
From a practical point of view there are several ways we can go about it, on the farm, in
the garden or orchard. Last month I looked at how to extend concentrated EM and how
the resultant liquid could be used.
This month, let us go a step further and see how we can mix EM liquid with
organic matter and apply a bulk of fermenting nutrients to our land. The combination will
have an even greater positive effect on our soils.
Bokashi (pronounced pickaashee) is like a super fast super charged compost.
This can be made using the organic materials we have on hand. In Thailand the most
widely available drymatter is rice husk and rice bran. During the workshop we mixed
these two with a portion of chicken dung and dampened it all with extended EM. We
mixed all the ingredients by hand and shovel on a clean concrete floor and built tidy little
heaps about a metre square and 200mm high. These were then covered in jute sacks.
All this work and all in 40 degrees C heat. Boy did we sweat! But if we thought
we were getting hot, then so was the heap. Within 12 hours it was almost painful to touch
and needed stirring to bring the temperature down to the ideal 25 to 35 degree C. More
work! It soon showed the unfit office wallahs from the “poor farmers” amongst the
conference delegates. The trickiest part was getting the right degree of dampness with the
extended EM solution. The ideal is a mix that holds together when squeezed in a ball but
does not ooze excess moi