Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Compost Tea vs EM1 Microbial Inoculant


Why is it that people are always looking for which thing or gadget is better? It might be human nature to look for the "next best thing" or "which is the best". I often find myself looking at how to combine things and "get the best of both worlds". There are always pros and cons for everything. Let's take a look at compost tea vs EM1 Microbial Inoculant.

This is fresh in my mind because it kept coming up at the Organic Growers School. For home owners, brewing tea properly does not seem like a cost-effective or practicle route.

This is a compost tea brewer (pictured above, right) used at a golf course in San Francisco. They make the tea and add AEM1 before they apply it to the course.

Compost Tea (Pro)
  • Low cost to produce.
  • Great way to get beneficial fungi and protozoa for soils and plants.
  • Can be brewed on site.
  • Easy to apply.
Compost Tea (Con)
  • Could brew pathogens without knowing.
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Requires an aeration unit and tank to brew
  • Very short shelf life. ( 24 hours or less)
  • Almost entirely aerobic microbes, lacks facultative microbes.
EM1 Microbial Inoculant (Pro)
  • High quality, consistent product.
  • Easy to brew/increase populations (Activation)
  • Can be brewed on site or shipped ready-to-use
  • Easy to apply
  • Contains large populations of facultative microbes, enzymes, trace minerals, vitamins, and organic acids
  • Long shelf Life (about 1 year with the EM1 and 30+ days on the Activated product)
  • Multiple uses beyond horticulture (inoculate compost, odor control, improves water clarity in irrigation ponds, etc)
EM1 Microbial Inoculant (Con)
  • Does require repeat purchases of "seed" product (EM1)
  • Does not contain much fungi (yeasts only) or any protozoa
  • Requires the purchase of a sugar source
Get the Best of both! Combine the two. Here's how:
  1. Following compost tea brewing instructions
  2. After aeration cycle is complete (up to 24 hours), turn off aeration.
  3. Add Activated EM1 Microbial Inoculant at a rate of 1 part AEM1 to 50 parts Tea.
  4. Follow suggested tea application rates
This gives you the facultative microbes, aerobic micorbes, beneficial fungi, and protozoa groups in one inoculant. The other benefit is that the tea is now going to be good for up to a week, as long as it is kept in an airtight container. You can simply mix in a drum or larger tank with a lid.

If you are expericened with compost tea already, you will notice improved results. EM America has heard from several growers that they have had higher levels of nutrient values in a variety crops. You'll see why Dr. Higa has answered the question, "What is the best inoculant?" with "All of them mixed together."

Dr. Higa's coming to Town...

We are working on setting up two different presentations in May with Dr. Higa presenting. We still have to finalize the times and places. Here is what we have so far:
  • May 11th: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Higa and two other EM experts will present on farming applications with Effective Microorganisms(TM) This event will be open to the public and will be and "EM" event, meaning all presentations will be on EM Technology(R). We'll post more details when we have them.
  • May 13th: In the Naples/Ft. Myers Area of Southern Florida. Dr. Higa be one of several presentations in the evening. He will present to farmers in the area on the large-scale applications of Effective Microorganisms(TM) for building soils.
Both of these events are directed at farmers and agricultural professionals. They will, however, be open to the public for those who are interested in coming to hear presentations on EM Technology in regards to farming (large scale and small scale). We will send out notice to all our customers once we have the details finalized.

Revist to Sleeping Frog Farm

I made another trip to Sleeping Frog Farms yesterday (March 25th, 2009) to get some photos. Here are some photos of the lovely crops their growing...and, we can't forget the people who make it all happen!

Tony was out yesterday. Adam, Debbie, and CJ were working. Adam and CJ were getting ready for the farmer's market this afternoon. They were picking some radishes here.




They have about 50 chickens...some beautiful varieties of birds that produce several different colored eggs. The eggs are sold at the St. Phillip's Farmers Market on Sundays. My son was going around picking wild mustard and feeding it to them the entire time we were there. He even got to pick up a few of them.



On the East side of the property, they are preparing several new rows of crops. We pulled up the covers to take a look at the new Osaka, flat parsley, baby bok choy, and other greens. When we were there last week, they were just seedlings. Man, did they grow fast!


Gaia Herbs

While In Asheville, I stayed at Jackie Greenfield's home. Jackie works for Gaia Herbs in Brevard, North Carolina. We were able to take a tour of their production plant and their farm where they produce nearly 5 million plants annually for their botanical extracts.
California Poppy and Echinacea fieldsThis photos is from their website, showing herbs in full bloom. They have a full photo gallery of the farm on their site.

Gaia Herbs, Inc. has a Certified Organic facility and Certified Organic Farm. They grow Certified Organic herbs on their farm as well as purchase certified organic herbs from local farms. They also produce wild harvested products. They have very high standards for growing to ensure potency of their extracts and have on-site labs to test for quality and improvement of formulation.

A program they are very proud of began recently (in the past year or two), is that they produce vegetables for their staff on their farm. This program has helped their staff get several high quality certified organic vegetables, saving them money and giving them healthy food. The property is absolutely gorgeous. Walking paths on the property encourage staff to get out and exercise. I am sure during the height of the season, the 50+ acres of echinacea and other herbs is breathtaking.

Of course, I went and took pictures of their compost piles.

Organic Growers School II

The Organic Growers School is a lively event held in Asheville, North Carolina. People come from miles around for two days of intensive workshops taught by knowledgable professionals. Several classes were taught by college professors and Agriculture Extension Agents. The classes range from Organic Pest Management to Canning and Preserving to Wholesaling Crops to Retailers to Seed collection. Over the past few years homeowners have been coming to learn about growing their own foods so there is a nice mix of farmers and gardeners. This year, about 1400 people came to the two-day event.

On Sunday afternoon, 4 workshops were held Jifasa farm from 1pm to 5pm. The common theme between the workshops stressed the importance of beneficial microbes: Bio-char, Effective Microorganisms™, Compost Tea, and Worm Castings. A discussion on Bio-char was conducted by Patryk Battle (top left).

Bio-char is microbially-active charcoal. The charcoal provides a home for beneficial microbes and has a host of benefits to the environment. Patryk is working with a product that includes compost and other nutrients. They have done several grow-out trials (on this farm and at a couple universities) and can demonstrate improved growth of plants grown with the char. The char is a "carbon negative" technology that encourages the activity of soil microbes that pull carbon into the soils.

The production of the charcoal (made from high carbon materials) may offer multiple resources including energy production as well as production of fuels.

In the greenhouse the Compost Tea Making workshop (right) was taught, showing this simple method of brewing aerobic bacateria, pseudomonads, and fungi. The tea is made from high quality compost, aerated for up to 24 hours, and applied through a drench, irrigation line, or sprayed onto plants with a mister. The instructor discussed the importance of getting the tea applied in about 6 hours after the aeration cycle is completed as the aerobic microbes begin to die off once the air is turned off. He also suggested mixing in some fish emulsion (liquid fertilizer) and some yucca extract (soap) to feed and provide some sticky-ness to keep the microbes on the leaves for a while after the application.

This is another picture of the green house that is treated on a weekly basis with compost tea mixes.


We also did a class introducing EM Technology (sorry, I couldn't take a picture of myself). I discussed how EM1 Microbial Inoculant can be added to the Bio-char, the compost tea, the worm castings, and to accelerate composting. For one group I did have enough time to show them how to activate the EM1 and turn one liter of EM1 into 5 gallons of ready-to-use product.


For anyone that is in the area in the Spring, I highly recommend attending this event.

An EM Farm in the making

Sleeping Frog Farm is a new farm in Tucson, Arizona. My wife purchased some of their produce at a local farmer's market and told me about them. It turns out I know one of the owners, CJ Marks. CJ has been passionate about learning all the ways EM Technology can help in the production of food and has told me that he always wanted to start an EM Farm. He's doing it now, right here in Tucson!

I visited the farm this week and they have quite a bit growing already. They are growing heirloom varieties of veggies and now working on developing about another acre of soil to expand their offerings. Most of what they have growing now is various types of lettuce, chards, kales, and some herbs. They have about 50 chickens, really neat looking breeds, and are selling about 25 dozen eggs per week. Their customers include some high end restaurants in town, who have noticed that their lettuce stays fresh longer than anything else they buy.

They have lots of plans for doing workshops at the farm to educate people about organic agriculture...and Effective Microorganisms™. If you're in the area, they sell their produce at the

St. Phillip's Plaza Farmer's Market on Sunday Mornings 8am-Noon (Southeast Corner of River and Campbell),
The Santa Cruz Farmer's Market on Thursdays 3:00pm-6:00pm (NE Corner of Speedway & Riverview between AZ School for the Deaf and Blind & El Rio Center), and the
Marana Farm Stand on Mondays 3:00pm-6:00pm (12375 N Heritage Park Drive).

I'll get some photos up soon

Organic Growers School

I'm off to North Carolina tomorrow to speak about Effective Microorganisms™ at the Organic Growers School in Ashville, North Carolina. I am pretty excited about this. I haven't done more than a couple workshops on EM1 since last summer at the Health & Wellness Expo. I enjoy getting up in front of people and discussing the many applications of this great technology. We hold something than can make such a difference in the world and it seems like more and more people are opening their minds to the idea that microbes have a place in the world as problem solvers.

The gist of this meeting is to stress the importance of microbes in farming and gardening. EM America does have a few customers in the area including some naturopaths and homeowners. I'm nut sure how many people already know about EM Technology in the area. What I'll do is a general overview lecture on EM Technology and its impact on farming, home, and the environment. After that, I will be doing a couple workshops on practical applications of EM1 such as making activated EM, EM5, and Fermented Plant Extracts.

I'll write a little after I get back.

Another Green"er" Economy

The biggest buzz word in the news today is "Green". I get the feeling that green is being so overused by companies. It is so much so that I do not want to associate EM Technology with the word. There are still many people who are not sure what the difference is between organic and natural. It is so easy to be duped by word association. Many die-hards have been looking for an alternative to organic as the USDA got involved. Doing a quick search, one can find terms like "beyond organic" being used by people who want to take things to the next level.

The current administration is supposedly pushing a green agenda, which attracts the masses who have been trying to offer safer, more effective products that do not have a negative impact on the earth. Effective Microorganisms(TM) has been beyond these regulations and certifications since it hit the market in the early 1980's. On so many levels this technology offers solutions to environmental problems. The lists keep expanding as people keep experimenting with the various products.

With the economic crisis we are in and continue to delve deeper into, EM Technology shines as it can make so many industries be more efficient, saving operation costs and reducing environmental impact. More than half of the states in the US are on the verge of bankruptcy. Many of their budgets include areas that EM Technology can help. In the areas of waste treatment (solid and liquid) EM1 Microbial Inoculant can increase digestion rates of wastes, increasing capacity of operations, and reduce costs associated with treatment. In solid waste (landfill) management, over 40% of the materials going into the landfills can be diverted if the public were educated on the food waste recycling program we promote (Bokashi food waste recycling. Existing landfills could be treated with EM1 Microbial Inoculant, increasing the digestion of organic matter, making leachate non-toxic, and to prevent the production of methane. The valuable space these landfills take up could be reclaimed in a quicker time and the wastes discharged from them could be converted into resources.

Wastewater treatment is an essential part of our water supply. (what comes in must go out.) Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on wastewater, rates are increasing and infrastucture is in need of repair. Chemical treatment has proven to be inefficient, costing billions of dollars in damage to equipment and to the environment. It does not take too much thought to wonder if it is right to add some chemical to water that is eventually going to be discharged to a waterway. I find myself often thinking, "if it isn't in there naturally, it shouldn't be added." The microbes in EM1 Microbial Inoculant are found in varying concentrations in wastewater. Chemical also have some type of residual or side reaction, not to mention the cost. Chemicals added to wastewater do nothing to improve the efficiency of the treatment. They only increase the cost of treatment. The residual effects of most of them also increase the corrosion of equipment which will result in increased infrastructure costs over time. It makes more sense to add ingredients that prevent corrosion, have no negative residual, and increase the efficiency of treatment...all at a lower cost.

If citizens want to have a cleaner world, save their state budgets, and save themselves from dramatic increases in taxes, EM Technology offers a solution to all these issues. It is right here under their noses and available for anyone right now. The technology has proven itself on six continents and has over a 25-year track record. Before a municipality issues a tax hike because they need to build a new landfill or treatment plant, check to see that they have looked into what EM Technology can do for them.

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