The use of microorganisms to promote soil fertility has many forms, EM is probably the best example, a Japanese technique now widely available in Thailand and probably many other places
The Thai Agricultural extension offices give away various types of microbial mixes that are used for making fermented juices for fertilizing, pest control etc.
At MaeJo University in Chiang Mai, Dr. Arnat Tancho has introduced another technique based on a Korean system, that emphasises the use of microorganisms collected from the immediate vicinity of one’s own land, a nearby forest for example. I have had the information around for a while but never found the right moment to do my own experiments.
Following to the arrival of two new volunteers we finally got on with the job. Grace is a chemist from the Philippines and she went through the instructions and was in charge of the job, Aaron is a friend of ours who lives in town who will be spending a few weeks with us.
We take some freshly cooked rice and we place it in a piece of bamboo trunk split in half, the rice is covered in paper and a metal mesh is added to protect it from animals. The rice should then be colonised by whatever bacteria are around in a few days and the resulting bacteria can then be collected and processed further in order to keep them alive and to allow them to multiply.
So off we went to the edge of the site and to a nearby forested area, while Aaron was collecting some fruit from a tree we came across, Suphan dug a small hole, placed the bamboo container, covered it with leaves and a bit of plastic to protect it from the rain, we repeated this three times in different spots. We then went back home and ate the fruit.
After a few days we went back to collect the bamboo containers. Interesting to see how different the colonised rice trays looked after just a few days, there were marked colour variations, I assume as a result of different predominant bacteria. The rice was mixed with molasses and then left in the container for a week, after which it was diluted in water, strained and bottled for later use.
- Clay Jar (approx. 10-12 in.)
- Freshly cooked rice
- Bamboo cut lengthwiise
- Paper and a piece of string or a rubber band
- Wire mesh (to protect from rats and other animals)
- Plastic sheet (to protect the culture from rain)
- Freshly cooked rice was placed inside bamboos cut lengthwise.
- The bamboo was covered with paper, sealed with a string on each end
- Wire mesh was secured around the bamboo
- Three bamboo cultures were prepared. Each bamboo was burried 2-3 inches deep in the soil where lots of dry/decomposing leaves are found (underbamboos, under a tree, in the forest).
- The bamboos were covered with dried leaves and plastic sheets were placed on top to protect from rain.
- The bamboos were left for 3 days.
- The bamboos were collected and white molds in predominance were observed on the surface, this is the IMO 1. If white mold is sparse, burry it back in its place and wait for another 2 days.
- IMO2 was prepared by mixing 1 part IMO1 to 1 part molasses in a clay jar.
- Stir the mixture throughly. Sugar slows down microbial activity and food for the microorganisms.
- The jar was covered with paper and sealed with a string or rubber band. Leave atleast 2/3 of air space in the jar.
- The mixture was left to ferment for 7 days in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight
- After 7 days, the mixture was diluted with water (1 part IMO2 : 3 parts water) and stirred well. The liquid was drained.
- Cover the clay jar with paper, sealed with a string or rubber band
- The IMO2 prepared can be stored for 1 year in a cool and dry place
- Mix IMO2 and water at a ratio of 1:500, use with a watering can or with a sprayer.
A more professional post, with lots of good information on this and other similar procedures can be found here. Following an online conversation with the author of the post, when extracting liquid calcium, I have tried using kombucha instead of vinegar, as a homemade and cheaper alternative, with good results.