[permaculture] Compost tea and EM cultures used in aquaponics systems

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Tue Oct 9 23:31:17 EDT 2012

Compost tea and EM cultures used in aquaponics systems

Keywords to Google for endless results:

IMO  Indigenous Microorganisms
EM Effective Microorganisms (Dr. Teruo Higa)
Korean Nature Farming
Compost Tea
Activated Compost Tea
Aerated Activated Compost Tea
Fermented Plant Extracts
24 Hour Compost Tea
Biodynamic Preparations

How to Prepare a Beneficial Microorganism Mixture
Make a liquid formula buy mixing in proportions of 1 part mixture to
parts water and 0.5 part molasses. After 24 hours it is ready to use. The
liquid should be used within two weeks. You can spray it on your veggies
and it will be absorbed through the leaves. Spray on a meadow and your
animals can benefit from it as well.

Forgot to mention that Gil Carandang of Herbana Farm in the
Phillipines has written an excellent document on making and using a
of cultured microbial preparations for use in many aspects of
agriculture (probably aquaponics too). Some of his recipes are similar
to the

one above, others involve rice, field and/or forest soil, milk, molasses, etc.

Google his name and you will find out more about his research,
lectures, workshops and publications.


Robert Verzola, also from the Phillipines has written another useful
document on preparing cultured effective microorganism amendments for
agricultural use.

I first found out about his work in the sanet-mg mailing list which we
are both subscribed to.

There is a lot of good information and excellent advice in Robert's website
plus a recipe for an IMO preparation which uses cooked rice:

Ecology, technology and social change <http://rverzola.wordpress.com/>
Notes on Green theory and practice by Roberto Verzola
Indigenous microorganisms (IMO)

Indigenous microorganisms (IMO)

A new concoction is becoming increasingly popular among farmers. Usually
called indigenous microorganisms (IMO), this concoction has been
successfully tried by government agriculturists, academic researchers and
non-profit foundations alike. They have found it useful in removing bad
odors from animal wastes, hastening composting, and contributing to crops’
general health.

To make your own IMO, follow these simple steps:

1. Cook a kilo of rice, preferably organic. After cooling, put the cooked
rice in a wooden, earthen or ceramic container. Avoid plastic or aluminum.

2. Cover the mouth of the container completely with cloth or paper, fixed
in place with a rubber band, to prevent water or small insects from getting

3. Put the covered container, protected from possible rain, under the
trees, in a bamboo grove, a forest floor, or wherever a thick mat of leaves
has formed. Leave it there for three days.

4. After whitish moldy filaments have formed, transfer the entire contents
of the container to a larger glass or earthen jar and add one kilo of brown
sugar or molasses, preferably organic.

5. Cover the jar with clean cloth or paper, fixed with a rubber band. Keep
the jar in a dark, cool place. Let it ferment for seven days, until it
appears muddy. This is your IMO concoction.

To use, mix two spoonfuls of the concoction with a liter of water. Spray
the diluted solution around chicken coops and pig pens to remove unpleasant
odors, on your compost pile to hasten decomposition, or on your crops to
improve their general health by controlling pests and serving as foliar

By making their own IMO, farmers can free themselves from the need to buy
inputs for their farms. By reducing their costs, using IMO keeps them away
from debt and improves their income.

Truly, these tiny beneficial organisms are a farmer’s friend.


This entry was written by Roberto Verzola
<http://rverzola.wordpress.com/author/rverzola/>, posted on October
31, 2008 at 8:14 am, filed under Agriculture
<http://rverzola.wordpress.com/category/agriculture/> and tagged
Farming <http://rverzola.wordpress.com/tag/farming/>, indigenous
microorganisms <http://rverzola.wordpress.com/tag/indigenous-microorganisms/>,
organic <http://rverzola.wordpress.com/tag/organic/>. Bookmark the
permalink <http://rverzola.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/indigenous-microorganisms-imo/>.
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Roberto Verzola Posted March 31, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

 I haven’t done it myself but I know people who have used it on chicken and
pig manure with very good results. We’ve used it on household compost and
dog poop. The manure must be spread out for best effect (the greater the
surface area of the manure exposed to the spray, the faster the
microorganisms can act on the organic matter, preventing the creation of
foul odors. My wife, who has more experience with IMO, says to mix 10 table
spoonfuls of IMO and 2 spoonfuls of red sugar in 1 gallon of water (1/2
gal. is enough if the manure is wet) and let the IMO multiply for 24 hrs.
That should be enough for 50 kg of manure. I would add that even a smaller
amount would probably work, as the IMO will multiply rapidly, with the
manure as their food.

   1.  Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm |

   I will ask those who have a lot of experience with them, in case some
   have tried it on rice hulls, and get back to you. Quick comment: IMO simply
   help to hasten decomposition. Also, you don’t even need to decompose rice
   hulls. Some have incorporated them directly to clay soils to loosen up the
   soil. Others turn them into carbonized rice hull (CRH) — the same process
   as charcoal-making — before applying them to the soil. But I don’t have
   much experience myself with rice hull, except for a few days of using them
   as fuel, with some CRH as by-product.
     2.  Roberto Verzola
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 8:19 am |

   Here’s a comment about my quick reply to you, from someone who has had
   more experience with rice hulls:

   You are correct to your answers, at least from my point of view. Rice
   hulls are decomposed easily when incorporated in the soil. Rice hull helps
   loosening the soil and keeping moisture. It will be good to spray directly
   the IMO in the soil mixed with rice hulls to increase its population.

   My two cents.


Roberto Verzola
 Posted May 25, 2009 at 8:23 am |

It doesn’t have to be aseptically clean or sterilized. Just make it as
clean on the inside as a clean kaldero. What we are trying to avoid is
gross contamination. We want to collect the microorganisms on the soil
surface which hasten decomposition and to culture these. In my experience,
you can see these as very thin whitish filaments on the rice. My guess is
that the suspended particulates in the air just above the soil surface
contain spores, bacteria and various beneficial microorganisms from the
soil, and these are what we want to collect and culture.

By the way, there are two different methods of culturing these organisms.
The IMO approach is anaerobic (you let the culture and the sugar solution
ferment in a closed container). But there is also another approach, which
is aerobic. This one uses an air pump (just like the one used to aerate
aquariums) in an open container to increase the dissolved oxygen in the
solution. I have very little experience with this second approach, but it
is also supposed to be quite effective. Search the Web for “compost tea”,
if you want to learn more about it. There seems to be an ongoing debate
whether the anaerobic or the aerobic approach is better. I would imagine a
mix of the two is best.


Obet Verzola
Roberto Verzola
 Posted May 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm |

That’s ok. Remember that the IMO will consume all the rice and the final
result will look like liquefied mud. Ok lang magpawis ang lalagyan, Huwag
mo lang punuin dahil baka umawas. Hindi lang magbabasa, kundi magiging
liquid pa nga yung rice eventually. Make it closed para hindi mapasok ng
langgam, insekto, etc. but not so airtight na hindi makasingaw ang hangin.
Cloth or paper wrapped with rubber band or string around the rim of the
container is fine. The fermentation will generate carbon dioxide and high
pressure inside the container. Keep on experimenting. Farmers should be
experimenters, trying out every idea on a small-scale to test it
themselves, before applying the useful ones on a larger scale.
Roberto Verzola
 Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm |

You can treat IMO like the “mother yeast” in wine- or bread-making. Prepare
another sugar solution, add a tablespoonful of IMO, and they will keep
Roberto Verzola
 Posted December 3, 2009 at 6:11 am |

I don’t have his contact info, but try getting in touch with Prof. Ted
Mendoza of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture in Los
Banos, Laguna. I believe he is in the Agronomy Department. He has been
doing research on IMOs.

 Roberto Verzola
 Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |

Yes, I know farmers who have mixed IMO in the drinking water for chicken.
The effect is a better feed conversion ratio and less smelly manure. I’ll
have to ask others about their exact measurements, although I’d say that
you can start with 20 parts of water to 1 part IMO, and then experiment by
first halving and doubling the concentration (40:1 and 10:1) and compare
their effects. If you work with IMO you need to have an experimental mind,
because the concept in work-in-progress.
Roberto Verzola
 Posted June 6, 2010 at 6:33 am |

Left to itself, the soil will keep improving its fertility as organic
matter builds up. There are two major reasons for loss of fertility:

1. the use agro-chemicals kills or hampers the growth of soil organisms
which are the real engines of soil fertility

2. the continuous export of agricultural products from the soil, so that
organic matter does not return to the soil anymore but goes elsewhere.

To reverse this loss of fertility, you need to do two things:

1. stop the use of chemicals, to allow the soil organisms to recover and
reproduce naturally. In the case of microorganisms, you can hasten this by
taking some samples of soil microorganisms (usually called indigenous
microorganisms or IMO), putting these in a sugar medium (molasses for
example) so they can reproduce rapidly, and spraying the IMO back into the
organic matter you put on the soil. Doing this, however, is useless if you
continue to use chemicals.
Stopping chemical use is the first and most important step.

2. put back into the soil at least as much amount of organic matter as you
take away from it. If for instance you bring to the market 2,000 kilos of
rice and 500 kilos of vegetables, try to bring in at least 2,500 kilos of
organic matter from the outside to put into your soil.

Roberto Verzola
 Posted October 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm |

Re liquid organic fertilizers, pls search the Web for “indigenous
microorganisms”, “Korean nature farming”, and also “compost tea”.

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