Microbial Inoculants: Effective Microorganisms (EM) & Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO)

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  • Microbial Inoculants:Effective Microorganisms (EM) &Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO)

    Resilient Farmer Workshop

    April 27, 2013

    Steve Diver, M.Sc.

    Agri-Horticultural Consulting


    April 27, 2013

    Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture

    Poteau, OK

  • Kerr Centers morning Field Day, ResilientFarmer 2013 workshop:


    Thermophilic compost


    Fermented sweet potatoes for worms (IMO)

    Aerated Compost Tea

    Solo backpack bio-sprayer modifications

    Fermented Plant Juice (IMO)

    No-till vegetables with cover crops &

    bio-intensive crop rotations

  • Without living organisms and organic matter, the birthof soil is not possible Kyoichi Kumada (1987)

    Objectives for 1st afternoon seminar, ResilientFarmer 2013 workshop:

    1. Mini review of soil organic matter (SOM) &1. Mini review of soil organic matter (SOM) &soil foodweb processes from 2012 workshop

    2. Soil biology principles

    3. Microbial inoculants in perspective

    4. Effective Microorganisms (EM)

    5. Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO)

  • Foodweb pyramid in one square meter of soil

    James B. Nardi, Life in the Soil, 2007

  • Soil Foodweb Diagram

  • Soil microorganisms live in association with plantroots and excrete nutrients & sticky substances

    VAM mycorrhizal fungi onplant root: Paula Flynn

    Alfalfa root with bacterialrhizosphere: Jennifer Fox

  • SOM = Soil Foodweb HabitatSOM = Soil Foodweb Habitat

  • Biochar for Improved SOM + SoilFoodweb Habitat in 2013 Workshop

  • Charcoal addition to thesoil provides nutrientand water storagecenter for mycorrhizalfungi

    Charcoal is sought out by AM fungi


    Their hyphae invadecharcoal pores andsupport sporereproduction

    OgawaKansai Environmental

    Fungi on New Char

    Fungi on 100 Yr Old CharPhoto: www.eprida.com

  • Rapid colonization of charcoal surfaceby fungal hyphae (7 days old)


  • Beneficial Properties of Biochar

    Habitat for soil microorganisms (e.g.,Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi)

    Increased soil carbon

    Increased CEC (cation exchange capacity) Increased CEC (cation exchange capacity)

    Increased AEC (anion exchange capacity)

    Mimicking terra preta soil regeneration

  • Terra Preta soils, Amazonian Black Earth

    Transformed terra preta Nutrient-poor Oxisol in tropics

  • Soil Biology Principle

    The Number and Diversity of soil micro-organisms is both an indicator & a driverof soil fertiliy, biocontrol, and other soilfunctions.

    Soil Fertility, Disease Suppression,Soil Structure, Humus, Soil Moisture

  • Lower Bacterial Diversity Higher Bacterial Diversity

  • Biological Control Concept

    General Suppression

    Abundance & Diversity of soil micro-organisms promotes soil fertility andbiological control; e.g., soil health (i.e.,biological control; e.g., soil health (i.e.,compost extracts)

    Specific Suppression

    Specific microbes are antagonistic to plantpathogenic organisms; e.g., biofungicides(i.e., microbial inoculants)

  • Worm Gold vermicompost tea extract

    Photo: BBC Labs

    Pathogen Inhibition Assay

  • Graeme Sait



    Field Applications:


    Blends & Brews



  • Microbial Inoculants in Perspective

    Tool to manage soil biology, soil fertility,organic wastes, and create bio-fertilizers

    Can be used to manipulate the rhizosphere &phyllosphere (e.g., biological control of plantphyllosphere (e.g., biological control of plantdisease organisms)

    Increases the efficiency of deliverednutrients; can reduce fertilizer rate (e.g.,MEND concept)

    Not a silver bullet; still need minerals andSOM management for healthy crops

  • Introduction to EM and IMO

    Probiotics for human, animal, andenvironmental health

    Fermentation technologies

    Understanding aerobic & anaerobic systems Understanding aerobic & anaerobic systems

    Multiple uses for treating soils, crops,livestock, organic wastes

    Transform raw materials into bio-fertilizers

  • Probiotics = Organisms or substances whichProbiotics = Organisms or substances whichcontribute to intestinal microbial balance and health

    i.e., beneficial and effective microorganisms

    Lactobacillus casei, L. brevis, L. kefir, L. acidophilus,Saccharomyces cerevisae, S. unisporus, S. turicensis,Steptococcus thermophilus

  • Fermented Probiotics = Kombucha & Water Kefir

  • EM (Effective Microorganisms)

    Phototrophic bacteria Yeast

    Lactic acid bacteriaActinomycetes

  • EM = Effective Microorganisms

    Developed by Dr. Teruo Higa, Univ. ofRyukyus in Okinawa, Japan

    Liquid microbial inoculant (shelf-stable)

    Mixed culture of naturally-occurringMixed culture of naturally-occurringbeneficial microorganisms

    Fermentative anaerobic + aerobicmicroorganisms co-existing symbiotically

  • Main Species of EM Microorganisms*

    Lactic acid bacteria

    Lactobacillus plantarum

    Lactobacillus casei

    Lactococcus lactis

    Photosynthetic bacteria


    Streptomycetes albus

    Streptomycetes griseus

    Fermenting fungiPhotosynthetic bacteria

    Rhodopseudomonas palustrus

    Rhodobacter spaeroides


    Saccharomyces cerevisiae

    Candida utilis

    Aspergillus oryzae

    Mucor hiemalis

    *early EM literature

  • Key Properties of EM

    Fermentative anaerobics

    Microbial functions

    Multiple farm uses Multiple farm uses

    Antioxidative action of microbes

    Microbial metabolites

  • Putrefactive & FermentativeAnaerobics


    Production of odors and harmful substances (hydrogensulfide, mercaptan, ammonia, oxidation substances) viaanaerobic microbial metabolism; pathogenic organisms.anaerobic microbial metabolism; pathogenic organisms.


    Production of useful substances (enzymes, amino acids,organic acids, anti-oxidative substances) via anaerobicmicrobial metabolism; beneficial organisms.

  • Microbial Pathways in Organic MatterDecomposition

    1. Aerobic

    E.g., Thermophilic compost

    2. Putrefactive anaerobic2. Putrefactive anaerobic

    E.g., Stinky organic wastes (non-managed)

    3. Fermentative anaerobic

    E.g., EM bokashi (managed)

  • Two Suppliers of EM & EM-like Cultures

    TeraGanix (Texas)


    Effective Microorganisms (EM-1)Effective Microorganisms (EM-1)

    SCD Probiotics (Missouri)


    ProBio Balance mother culture

    Bio Ag ready-to-use

  • Activated EM Recipe (AEM)

    1:1:20 Recipe for AEM

    Per 1 Gallon Per 5 Gallon

    EM 3/4 C 4 CEM 3/4 C 4 C

    Molasses 3/4 C 4 C

    Water 14.5 C 72 C

    Ferment = 2 weeks

    pH = 3.5

  • Fermentation Box keep it warm

    Fermentation technology: bucket,airlock, sample thief

  • Using AEM in Agriculture

    Soil, organic mulches, cover crops

    Foliar fertilization & plant protection

    Fermented plant extracts

    Vermicompost integration Vermicompost integration

    Food waste handling & composting

    Livestock probiotics: water & feed

    Livestock remediation: stalls, manures,lagoons

  • AEM Application Rates

    Use AEM at Following Dilutions

    1:50 manures, stalls

    1:100 composts, stalls

    1:250 soils1:250 soils

    1:500 soils & foliar

    1:1000 irrigation

    1:2500 animal drinking water

  • Bokashi kitchen bucket tokeep food scraps fresh; thenadd to compost pile, or bury insoil, or feed to worm bin

    EM Bran Bokashi

  • EM Bran Bokashi

  • Organic farm with packaged salad mix, Switzerland

  • Salad packing-shed waste, treated with EM

  • EM-treated salad waste, compost windrow feedstock

  • EM Bokashi Balls for bioremediation of pond waterin Africa

    Photo: Ibo Zimmerman, Polytechnic of Namibia

  • Photo: Ibo Zimmerman, Polytechnic of Namibia

  • EM Microbial Cultures

    AEM = Activated EM

    FPE = Fermented Plant Extract

    EM-5 = Foliar Pest Control

    FF = Fermented FishFF = Fermented Fish

    Bokashi = Fermented Organic Matter

    EM-X = EM Antioxidant Beverage

    EM Ceramics = Embedded EM

  • FPE = Fermented Plant Extracts

    Stinging nettle



    Also called:

    Herbal teas

    Liquid manures

    Plant-based pest control


  • Plant Species for EM-FPE, Auroville

    Turmeric Ginger

    Tobacco Papaya

    Custard Apple Vitex

    Neem CalotropisNeem Calotropis

    Onion Garlic

    Aloe Tulsi

    Pongam Euphorbia

    *Table of EM-FPE for 64 different insects & diseases

  • EM-FPE for Pest Control

    *Margarita Correa, Auroville in India

    15 liters water

    3 kg neem leaves3 kg neem leaves

    250 g selected plant leaves (previous table)

    450 ml EM

    450 ml molasses

    Close tight and ferment 5 days

    Filter and store for 90 days of usage

    Apply diluted 1:500

  • IMO = Indigenous Microorganisms

    Korean Natural Farming: IndigenousMicroorganisms and Vital Power ofCrop/Livestock

    Han Kyu Cho and Atsushi KoyamaHan Kyu Cho and Atsushi Koyama

    Korean Natural Farming Association, 1997.172 p.

  • Chos Global Natural Farming (IMO)

    IMO = No. 1, No. 2, No. 3

    FFJ = Fermented Fruit Juice

    FPJ = Fermented Plant Juice

    FFJ = Fermented Fruit JuiceFFJ = Fermented Fruit Juice

    FAA = Fish Amino Acid

    LAS = Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum

    OHN = Oriental Herbal Nutrients

    BRV = Brown Rice Vinegar

  • Farm bamboo for multi-purpose agroforestry: IMO microbial culture

  • Bamboo leaf mulch and root exudates: IMO microbial culture

  • Farm-made Biofertilizers: Managing forFermentative Substrate & MicrobialCulture

    Substrate (Raw Organic Biomass)

    + Microbes (Local or Purchased)

    + Microbial Food Source (Sugar)+ Microbial Food Source (Sugar)

    = Fermentation & Extraction

    = Bioavailable Nutrients

    = Bioactive Substances

    = Beneficial Microbes

  • Fermented Plant Juice (IMO) from Kerr Center herbs

    Bioavailable nutrients + Bioactive substances + Beneficial microbes

  • Summary for 1st afternoon seminar, ResilientFarmer 2013 workshop:

    1. Microorganisms perform multiple functionsand produce beneficial substances (enzymes,organic acids, hormones, anti-oxidants)

    2. Managing SOM and thereby soil foodweb2. Managing SOM and thereby soil foodwebhabitat is the fundamental approach to soilhealth (plus soil testing and minerals)

    3. Microbial inoculants are multi-purpose tools

    4. EM and IMO are easy-to-use fermentativemicrobial systems with multiple on-farm uses

  • Thank You!Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture

    and USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation

    Steve Diver, M.Sc.Agri-Horticultural Consulting



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