Thursday, April 10, 2008

Think of EM•1® Bokashi as a fertilizer

Compost, is broken down organic matter. It is actually rotten material. Many methods of making compost exist: static pile, aerobic, sheet composting, etc. It has a place in gardening and is a great way to recycle or turn waste into something useful. However, as for nutrients, it is lacking. This is why bokashi is such a boon.

If you garden, you know that manures are great for plants and soils. You also know that you can't apply fresh manure to soils where plants are growing because you'll burn the plants. Why? The high amounts of nitrogen. A couple other problems come from using fresh manure. Fresh manure has high levels of ammonia (NH3) that can leach into soils or gas off causing odor. The problem with the leaching is high levels of nitrates in the groundwater can cause blue baby is a toxin. A more mundane problem with fresh manures is the amount of weed seeds..mostly a problem in cow manure and horse manure. If you've ever made the mistake of applying horse manure to soil without fully composting it, you know that you just planted a new lawn! So, for safety and to save yourself of the headaches of excess weeding, you need to compost manures...or so you think.

The addition of EM•1® Microbial Inoculant to conventional composting methods is beneficial as it helps increase aerobic microbial populations, controls, odors, and produces a complete product faster.

Enter EM•1® Bokashi

All organic matter/wastes has lots of nutrients and sugars to feed microbes. Animal manures contain NPK, minerals, cellulose, and lots of microbes. The conventional way to make manures usable is to compost them. You often use ratios of Nitrogen to Carbon at 1:20 1:30 and so on. Moisture content is high because you will be turning and creating heat (mostly coming from the nitrogen and the microbial activity). EPA standards for composting require high temperatures to control pathogens, attraction to pests, and for breaking down toxins.

Fermentation of these manures is pretty easy, more economical, and faster than turning. With EM Technology™, we refer to this process as "bokashi" making. The finished product is called EM•1® Bokashi. Instead of referring this to compost, we often find ourselves explaining this is a fertilizer-making method where one is able to preserve nutrients in the organic wastes, prevent burning of plants, and save lots of money. The fermentation process produces various enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids. There also is not much heat produced during fermentation. This means that the weed seeds are not killed. Actually, the exposure to the EM•1® causes the seeds to germinate more quickly, so if the wastes are spread on the surface, there will be a tremendous amount of weed seeds germinating. This, when managed properly, is a great thing because you have produced a "free" green manure that can be turned in in about 2-3 weeks.

The conclusion is that each process has its benefits. EM•1® Bokashi methods are great for faster production, but are best to be incorporated in the soil or covered by top soils and compost is great to add lots of organic matter and to use a mulch.

Please visit EM America for more information.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Difference Between Bokashi and Compost

I have seen a lot of discussion on the net where people are confused/wondering about the differences between compost and bokashi. Since Bokashi is a foreign terms (it's Japanese, meaning fermented organic matter), I can understand. Some visuals would help. Luckily, our sister company in New Zealand loaded a video showing how to use the food waste right out of the buckets. You can see it is quite different than compost. Here are some simple explanations that should help get people get the idea.

Composting is the aerobic breakdown of organic material. In order to make a proper compost, materials are turned, causing microbial activity to raise temperatures. During this process, temperatures can go above 160F degrees and, possibly, catch on fire. The heating process causes gases to release. These gases are mainly methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and Ammonia (NH3). As you can see, these gases result in a loss of both carbon and nitrogen (a major plant food). Finished compost is very good to use as a soil amendment and mulch for plants. It will not burn when mature as the nitrogen is mostly burned off or fixed during curing.

Bokashi, is a fermentation method, which preserves the nutrients in the organic materials, leaving more material to feed plants and build soil than compost. Fermentation does not cause dramatic heat increase, which pasteurizes the materials. During the fermentation, microbes begin to break down the lignin in plant materials and start to synthesize enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, and also make minerals bio-available. When Bokashi is fully fermented (which takes about 2 weeks in an airtight container), it makes a great soil additive. Since these food waste buckets contain various food materials that are pickled, they can't be spread on the surface of soil as they will begin to rot and attract pests. They can, however, be buried in the soil, in a compost pile, or added to planters and will add lots of nutrients, organic matter, and lots of live microbes.

Both items have their place. A combination of both at homes across the country would seriously get us all toward zero wastes. You can add meats and dairy products to bokashi without problems. In compost, they can attract animals, but since the bokashi process is done in a sealed container, this is not a worry. Schools around the world are keeping much of their cafeteria waste from being landfilled, growing veggies to supplement their school lunch, or selling the bokashi and the veggies for fund raising.

The Buzz About Bokashi

A buzz in going on about EM•1® Bokashi and the food waste recycling program. EM America is a seeing a surge in demand for the fermenter buckets and the Organic Rice Bran Bokashi. Last year I received an email from someone in Dave's Garden ( that there was a lot of talk about EM Technology™ and someone from EM America should join in to help with the technical advice...I couldn't resist! There are now 3 separate forums on various applications of EM Technology™. For the gardener, Dave's is the ultimate internet community.

About two weeks ago, a Seattle Washington newspaper ran an article about the Bokashi food waste recycling program. Ann Lovejoy wrote the article. Being Seattle, I am sure people jumped at the "new" idea.

People are catching on...