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Natural Farming - IMO (Indigenous Micro-organisms) and other Inputs  RSS feed

 
Aljaz Plankl
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Hello soil enthusiasts.
IMO's are great inputs to boost soil biology.

A little review on IMO process and natural farming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW9cqgRij08

Here are videos with details on IMO 1-4 process.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOO1_jNKbKw
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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First , I haven't viewed the videos......BUT I did attend the Natural Farming seminar that Dr Cho presented at Hilo, Hawaii a few years back. While I came away with many great ideas, I don't embrace the system verbatim. I took mountains of notes, bought the book, and followed up visiting Dr Cho's deciples here on the island.

The method to creating his IMO formula has good logical steps, but I find it to be time and resource consuming. My own homestead farm is based up in low input and efficient use of time (I operate a 21 1/2 acre farm by myself without heavy equipment). So I took Dr Cho's ideas and modified them to my own situation.

To harvest the IMO starter organisms, I simply took shovelfuls of the soil and the plants from those spots where plants were thriving around my region, areas that matched the wind, sun, moist conditions on my farm. That soil was used when making my compost. A simple way to introduce and grow the micro organisms that might have a competitive edge. By harvesting the plant growth and adding that to the compost piles, I would also be adding any beneficial surface and root organisms.

Next, I regularly feed those organisms. IMOs are treated like any other livestock on my farm. They are provided food, adequate water, protection from weather that may harm them (sun and wind), and housing/shelter (compost/mulch and minimum tillage).

Since I utilize many different inputs into my growing areas, it's hard to say how beneficial the gathering of local IMOs has been. My gut feeling is that they made a worthy improvement. Therefore whenever I create another area for growing, I add these to the new beds. But I take the effort to rematch the organisms to the growing area. I suspect one size does not fit all. So what starts up the hugelkultur banana bed is different from the sun exposed veggie area, from the semi-shade orchard, from the partial shade sweet potato/taro beds, etc. While Dr Cho's Natural Farming followers don't make the IMO distinction, I believe that it might matter. Thus the reason I take the effort to gather my original IMO starts from a region that matches my growing conditions.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Su Ba, that's great.
Modifications are always good.

What sources of food do you use to keep microbes happy?

I also think in a way of using stuff that's local and free in long term.
Sugar cane molasses or brown sugar are not one of them for me.
So at the moment i'm doing some apple syrup from fresh apple juice (we have it in abundance), that stuff is really sweet and i wonder if it's going to work as alternative to molasses or brown sugar.
Instead of rice i now experiment with homegrown wheat and rye for starch food to collect the microbes.
I'm going to experiment with this sources to do IMO 1-4 process, which i find really interesting to boost soil biology when using the end product.

Our soils here are in really good shape, but i see good reason to introduce IMO's when preparing new veggie gardens and planting trees.

I like IMO's so much because there are so many ways to collect, multiply and use them!
IMO 1-4 process is simple but as you said a bit time and material consuming.

 
Aljaz Plankl
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Just to make it clear for others who don't know the subject.
IMO's are indigeneous micro-organisms which we can collect, multiply and use.
Collecting, multiplying and using can all be done in different ways.
IMO1-4 is just one of many ways and is described in the videos in first post.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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What do I feed IMOs? Simple. Organic material. And I use a wide assortment. Compost. Grass clippings mulch, chopped weeds, manures, etc. I happen to grow my own sugar cane, so the waste goes into the garden. The excess juice goes into the "tea" barrel.

Tricks I use:
...keep sun exposure of the soil to an absolute minimum. Mulch. Even when I've freshly seeded or planted an area a cannot apply my usual mulch, I'll apply a very light dusting of grass clippings to provide a bit of shade to the surface. The depth of mulch depends upon the crop and type of mulch. It can vary from 1 inch to 3-4.
...never let the soil dry out. We can get some really long droughts here, so it can be an effort. But mulching helps as does the regular addition of soil amendments between crops.
...provide soil amendments but avoid over abundance of any one particular ingredient. --- crushed coral, burnt bone, lava sand/dust, biochar, compost, manures, etc.
...till shallowly 2-3 inches at most, unless the crop does better with deeper. Try to restrict deep tilling in any particular spot to once a year.
...avoid using products that kill IMOs, such as material contaminated with or high in salt.
... In hugelkultur beds, "seed" the area with not only IMOs but also mushrooms.

Just some ideas for you to ponder.
 
John Elliott
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Aljaz Plankl wrote:
What sources of food do you use to keep microbes happy?

I also think in a way of using stuff that's local and free in long term.



I wouldn't go out of my way buying stuff to feed the microbes, after all, they are pretty adaptable critters. If you look in your trash can, there's probably something there that the microbes would be happy to eat. It's only when you grow them in the laboratory and want repeatable results that you have to take care to make their cuisine uniform. If you're not in the lab, you can follow the advice of that great philosopher, Moe Howard:

 
Aljaz Plankl
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Going for IMO1-4 process in a real local homegrown kind of way.
No rice, no molasses and sugar for me.
Wheat bran is no problem.

First step - collecting IMO's.
I cooked some homegrown wheat and rye, let it cool, put them in a basket and buried them on top of leaf mold pile and covered with leaves.
I hope i will see some white fuzzy stuff in couple of days.

John, i had to google the quote, i had no idea what he is saying, what language is that? :)

Su Ba, i'm happy they are not ideas for me anymore.

 
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