Organic Farming - Effective Microorganisms Technology

By TamilNadu Agricultural University on 27 Dec 2018 | read

EM or Effective Microorganisms is a consortium culture of different effective microbes commonly occurring in nature. Most important among them are: N2-fixers, P-solubilizers, photosynthetic microorganisms, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, plant growth promoting Rhizobacteria and various fungi and Actinomycetes. In this consortium, each microorganism has its own beneficial role in nutrient cycling, plant protection and soil health and fertility enrichment.

Benefits of EM use

•Improve seed germination, seedling emergence, growth of plants, flowering, fruiting and ripening of grains and fruits. 

•Improves photosynthetic potential. 

•Increase tolerance in plants against pest attack. 

•Improves physico-chemical and biological properties of soil. 

•Help in control of soil borne pathogens. 

•Interdependent biological activity of different EM organisms creates a congenial environment for growth and spread of soil's flora and fauna. They also promote the   growth and colonization of VAM, which further help in plant growth promotion. 

•Help in quick degradation of organic matter. With the use of EM the requirement of compost can be reduced or dispensed with. Just recycling of crop residue with EM can give similar results as with good compost. This saves lot of labour and space required for compost preparation. 

•Improves soil biota and makes the soil soft and porous 

How to use EM

•Application of EM in agriculture involves four steps as follows: 

•Procurement of primary EM- available in market 

•Preparation of secondary EM – to be carried out by the farmer 

•Appropriate dilution of the secondary EM solution 

•Application to plants, soil and organic matter as spray

Preparation of secondary EM solution Depending upon the requirement and its end use, various EM formulations have been developed. Even among one formulation depending upon the place and climatic conditions some variations have been incorporated and recommended by promoting institutes and agencies. Some of the widely used and popular formulations are described below. Water used in all formulations should be either rainwater or fresh tube-well water. Tap water is not to be used.

EM-1 formulation

This formulation is used for seed treatment, soil enrichment and for spray in field after the emergence of seedlings.

•Dissolve 5 kg jaggary (chemical free) in about 100 lit of water 

•Add 5 lit of EM 

•Mix thoroughly and pour into a plastic carboy. Seal the carboy and allow to ferment for 7 days 

•Dilute this solution in a ratio of 1:1000 and spray over soil or crop residue. For seed treatment soak the seeds in this diluted solution. 

EM-5 for control of insects and pests
  • Dissolve 100gm of jaggary in 600 ml of water

  • Add 100 ml each of natural vinegar, wine or brandy and EM

  • Mix thoroughly and transfer the contents in a plastic bottle or carboy and seal the container.

  • To increase the potency few cloves of garlic and chilly paste can also be added to this suspension before sealing the container.

  • Allow the contents to ferment for 5-10 days under shade.

  • Release the gas daily

  • Within 10 days the EM solution will be ready for use. This can be stored up to 3 months at normal room temperature in a cool and dry place. 
  • Dilute the contents in a ratio of 1: 1000 and apply as foliar spray with the help of a sprayer. 
Fermented Plant Extract (FPE)

In this formulation fresh green weeds are fermented with EM to obtain a fermented plant extract.

  • Cover the drum and tie with a rope.

  • The drum should be filled up to the top, leaving very little space for air.

  • Fermentation and gas formation process will start slowly.

  • Mix the contents at repeated intervals.

  • Finished FPE having a pH of 3.5 with pleasing smell will be ready in 5-10 days time.

  • Filter the solution through a cloth and collect the filtrate.

  • For spraying on soil dilute the FPE in a ratio of 1 : 1000 with fresh water.

  • For spraying on crops dilute FPE in a ratio of 1 : 500.

  • Spraying should be done after germination of seeds in early morning hours once or twice a week. 
EM - Bokashi

Bokashi is a type of compost prepared by fermentation of waste organic matter with the help of EM. Bokashi is mainly used for improving the fertility status of soil and for enhancing the degradation of crop residue.

  • Collect sufficient quantity of different organic matter (such as rice bran, fish meal, animal waste etc) equivalent to 150 lit drum volume.
  • Mix 150gm of jaggary and 50 ml of EM in 15 lit of water.
  • Mix this solution with organic waste thoroughly in such a way that entire contents get uniformly moistened.
  • Grind 2.3 kg of fresh green weeds to a coarse paste. Dilute with 14 lit of water.
  • Dissolve 42 gm of jaggary in some water and mix with weed suspension.
  • Add 420ml of EM
  • Transfer the contents to a plastic drum and with the help of a thick plastic sheet
  • Transfer the contents in a plastic bag and seal the bag.
  • To ensure the anaerobic conditions put this bag into another polythene bag and seal
  • Allow the contents to ferment for 3-4 days in a cool shade place
  • Bokashi will be ready after 4 days.
  • This can be used immediately.
  • In plastic air tight bags Bokashi can be stored up to 6 months.

How to use Bokashi

Bokashi can be used directly as compost in poor fertility soils. It can also be used along with the crop residues. For 0.1 ha mix 100-150 kg Bokashi with sufficient quantity of finely chopped crop residue. Spread this mixture over 0.1 ha area and mixed with soil a day before sowing. Spraying of 5-10 lit of 1:500 diluted simple EM-solution over this mixture can further boost the degradation process. By using Bokashi+crop residue+ EM-solution the requirement of compost can be dispensed with. This can save lot of labour, time and space required for compost process.

Application of EM formulations at the time of land preparation

Dilute 5-10 lit of simple EM solution in 50-100 lit of water and sprinkle/spray over 0.1 ha of land, when soil is wet a day before sowing.

For seed treatment

Soak seeds for 5-6 hrs in 1 : 100 fold diluted EM solution and sow immediately.

As foliar/ soil spray

After seedling emergence, 1 : 1000 diluted EM solution or FPE should be sprayed at the rate of 500 lit per ha, 4-5 times at an interval of 7-10 days. In fast growing crops such as vegetables, spraying should be done twice a week. In transplanted crops 1 : 500 diluted FPE can be sprayed after 5 days of transplanting @ 750-1000 lit per ha.

For soil enrichment

For every 0.1 ha mix 100-150 kg Bokashi with crop residue and mix with soil just before sowing. Simple EM solution @ 5-10 lit can also be used as spray over this residue-Bokashi mix. Spraying the soil with 5-10 lit of FPE mixed in 500-1000 lit of water per ha also add to the fertility of the soil.