EMPOWERING YOURSELF WITH EM-POWER HEALTHY SOIL FOR HEALTHY PLANTS AND HEALTHY FARMERS
I LEARNED from a recent workshop at the EM Kyusei Nature Farming Center in Saraburi, Thailand, about how kitchen wastes are fermented for one week then applied below garden plots for vegetables with the use of an EM (effective microorganism)-activated solution (EMAS) and bokashi(fermented organic matter) to improve soil quality and enhance soil fertility in three weeks. When we were doing field practice, I realized how many opportunities we have lost back home by throwing away these biodegradable wastes. My second workshop at Kyuseifirmed my firm resolve to educate our farmers on how to apply this simple agronomic technology developed by Dr. TeruoHiga of Japan in the 1970s which is now used widely throughout Asia—particularly Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Myanmar—in addition to Japan and in Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. This adds up to over 140 countries using “EM power”in agriculture, aquaculture, environmental remediation, sanitation, and human health.
Today, we shall focus on the magic of EM and how these minutest of farmers’ friends can establish and sustain healthy soil for our crops. Modern agriculture has indeed gone a long way in understanding the soil and how we should care for it to produce quality vegetables, herbs, fruits, root crops, and ornamentals.
WHO ARE THESE MINUTE FARMERS’ FRIENDS? The principal micro-organisms in EM are:
• Phototrophic bacteria: Also known as photosynthetic bacteria, these are an ancient type of organism that has been in existence from the time the Earth achieved its present concentration of oxygen. They utilize solar energy to metabolize organic and inorganic substances.
They have the ability to decompose organic materials like farm wastes and wastewater. The breakdown of organic wastes into compost has wide applications in agriculture, converting manure into fertilizers, conditioning fishpond water by breaking down excess feed and dead fish into amino acids and recycling biodegradable community and industrial wastes.
Phototropic bacteria are involved in various metabolic systems, and play a major role in nitrogen cycling and carbon cycling. This role allows the other microorganisms in EM to co-exist. It is thus an essential element in EM-1.
• Lactic acid bacteria: This converts large amounts of sugars into lactic acid through fermentation. Through the production of lactic acid, these bacteria also inhibit the growth of pathogenic and other various harmful microorganisms by lowering the pH.
Lactic acid bacteria are widely used in the production of fermented food such as cheese and yogurt, which are naturally preserved for a long period of time. Since Louis Pasteur discovered lactic acid bacteria in 1857, it has been noted for its beneficial effects on health and longevity.
• Yeast: Due to its popularity as a fermentation starter, yeast is a microorganism necessary for the brewing of alcohol and making bread.Yeast was discovered by the Dutch merchant Antony Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), who first identified the world of microorganisms. Taxonomically, yeast is a eukaryote. It differs from fungi in that it generally is unicellular throughout its life. Within the microbial world, it is a small group of microorganisms, yet it is essential to human life.
Yeast lives in sugar-rich environments such as in nectar and the surface of fruits.In EM-1, yeast produces many biologically active agents such as amino acids and polysaccharides.
The ‘Three Musketeers’ of EM-1: The different species of microbes in EM—photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeast, aside from the smaller colonies of microbes—have their respective functions. However, photosynthetic bacteria could be considered the pivot of EM activity.
Photosynthetic bacteria support the activities of other