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!!!!!!! My Journey through Fermentation, LAB, Cheesemaking, Korean Natural Farming, Humanure and Bokashi  RSS feed

 
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I may be posting prematurely, because I'm still trying to gather my thoughts and wrap my head around certain things, but....

I've been doing some research/experimentation that's led me down some interesting paths lately.

It started for me with this thread:
Homemade Lactobacillus Serum

This sounded like a pretty useful substance to create, so I decided to try and make some, part of which I documented here:
Lacto Bacillus - growing it, using it on a farm (Somewhat unrelated side note: I was also concurrently doing my first experimenting with making sourdough starter from scratch.)

I ended up doing a lot of reading on the site The Unconventional Farmer and if I understand everything correctly, what I made, called "Lactobacillus Serum" in the first post I gave here is also called whey, and that the recipe I followed came from the discipline called Korean Natural Farming.

This brought me to the thread These are the stories that microbes tell in which I learned that Korean Natural Farming was developed by Dr. Cho Han-Kyu, aka Master Cho.

Around this time, I happened across this thread:
Cheese made from the curds when making lactic acid bacteria serum

So I discovered what I could do with the curd and I "accidentally" made cheese as a byproduct of what I set out to make, which was the LAB serum, or whey (which is different than the whey produced when turning cream into butter; LAB whey is biologically separated whereas butter whey is only mechanically separated).

The Unconventional Farmer blog also talked about how to make bokashi bran, so I started looking into that, and I found several permies threads, youtube videos, and so on that suggested that I could create my own bokashi bran using the serum I made and a substrate, so I did that using pine shavings I got from a pet store which we use in our composting toilet.

That led me down a veritable rabbit hole, and I still have unanswered questions about optimal use of various wastes.  (I wish I had a flowchart that could help me determine what to do with which materials: "Are there fecal pathogens?" "Are there meat/dairy products?" ""Are there irritants such as onion or citrus peels?" with arrows that would point me to "hot compost" "Cold compost" "worm compost" "feed to BSFL" "feed to chickens" "Add to anaerobic digester/biogas system" "Add to bokashi bin" etc. Anyone want to create such a chart or know of one?)

A bit further research and I discover that what I've made isn't "really" bokashi bran, because I used the LAB serum, and Lactobacillus is only one component of what Dr. Teruo Higa discovered and called Effective Microorganisms. The other components include Photosynthetic bacteria and yeasts.  It seems I found a thread here in which geoff lawton said that these other bacteria can be found on the bottom of duck ponds but I can't seem to find that any more, so maybe I made that up in my head or dreamed it.  Also, I read in another thread that they can be found in the liquid inside carnivorous "pitcher-style" plants, but it could very well be that I'm confused about this and don't know what I'm talking about yet and am mixing something up.

Effective Microorganisms, often called EM-1 seems to be a different beast than the LAB or BIM or whatever other name of a microbial solution (FPJ, FFJ, FAA, FMC, ACT, AnCT) that comes from Korean Natural Farming.  Of course, Dr. Higa is Japanese, and Master Cho was Korean so perhaps these fields/disciplines/developments are entirely unrelated?

In my research, I came across this page, which was hyperbolically BEYOND fascinating, in which the case is made that EM is essentially a cure-all. It's quite a long read, but VERY interesting, and I don't know how much of it I should believe.


...


So here I am at a point where, I feel like I have questions but don't really know what the questions are. I think mostly, I'm hoping for anyone who has more knowledge and experience than me to come along and tell me what I understand correctly versus what I may have misunderstood up to now. The last few weeks have been self-education by machine gun.

For now, here's some preliminary questions:
Is there a connection between Cho's KNF and Higa's EM? I would love more information about the history of these two areas/men.
Is there a significant difference in the bokashi I have made and that made with EM-1? Or rather a slight difference?
Does anyone have any evidence to substantiate any of the claims made in the last link I shared? I'm fine with anecdotal evidence.
Do I seem to have understood everything correctly?
Anyone have that flowchart?

And to the forum moderators, I have no idea how to classify this one. Under Growies (Compost? Soil? Permaculture?), Critters (there's no Microbes subforum), Kitchen (Fermentation?) Artisans?  There are plenty of other directly-or-tangentially related fields/subfields here.


 
Chad Sentman
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Incidentally, as I tried to post just now, I was prevented because I used I.M.O. as an abbreviation. In this case, I was not meaning "In my opinion" but rather "Indigenous Microorganisms" which is fairly standardly called I.M.O. without periods after each letter. Perhaps this aspect of the forum software needs attention?
 
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So, I don't have any answers for you, just some recent thoughts...

Just went down a rabbit hole about Mycoplasma. It's a tiny bacteria that scientists are starting to link to some chronic/terminal illnesses - rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, mad cow, and infertility. Citation = Wikipedia so take this with a grain of salt.

Certainly makes me more inclined to believe the health claims about EM-1 and fermented foods.

Edited to include a non-peer reviewed link: https://rawlsmd.com/health-articles/mycoplasma-the-most-common-lyme-coinfection
 
Chad Sentman
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That is very interesting, not to mention quite alarming.

For those unfamiliar with some of this, here's my understanding so far.

1: Take steamed rice and bury it in a breathable box in the woods for a couple days. The rice becomes inoculated with Indigenous Microorganisms. Add the rice to water and the water becomes the new breeding ground for the Microorganisms and is called I.M.O.-1, which because of the content filter on the forum software, I will henceforth call BIM-1, meaning first stage Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms.

2: Stabilize this solution with a sugar source (molasses, specifically Black Strap Molasses, often abbreviated to BSM, seems to be most often recommended, along with jaggery, though I have no clue what jaggery is or why BSM specifically is recommended). This sugar-stabilized solution I will call BIM-2, again because of the forum software issue.

3: Add this solution to a substrate and let it ferment, and in my understanding, this is what I will call BIM-3.

I'm still learning so this is where my knowledge ends, but I believe there is another step and that is what I will call BIM-4.

Similarly, EM-1 seems to be a proprietary property for purchase, and a search for DIY EM-1 will get you many results for the "knockoff" LAB version I also made.

Add EM-1 to something else and it becomes EM-2, aka AEM, or Activated Effective Microorganisms.

There are further steps to create EM-3 and EM-4, but I don't know them yet.

Taking this format as standard, my "fake" bokashi would more accurately be called LAB-4, if I may invent such terminology.

The LAB recipe is quite easy, and you can find it everywhere.

1: Rinse rice in water and set the rinse water aside for about a week, until it separates into three layers. It has become inoculated with local bacteria, etc. in much the same way as sourdough starter gets naturally inoculated.

2: Take the middle layer, add as 10 parts milk for every part rice rinse water. Set it aside until it separates milk into curd and whey. This isolates and propagates lactose-loving bacteria from the rice water, making them the dominant species of bacteria and establishing a bacterial equilibrium. Remove the curd and filter the whey.  This would be called LAB-1, if anyone were to use that term.

3: Add sugar at a 1:1 ratio (1kg sugar for every liter of whey, or if you're using Imperial units, pound per pint). This would be called LAB-2. Shelf-stable, no need for refrigeration.

4: Dilute this 20:1 in water. This would be called LAB-3. Like AEM, limited shelf-life so only make as much as you need.

5: Use LAB-3 to moisten a substrate, seal it in a container and ferment it for a few weeks and you have LAB-4, aka poor-man's bokashi, which I have described making myself.

Oddly enough, the Germans use the word LAB, but my translation dictionary translates it as rennet, which is an enzyme from inside the stomachs of ruminants used in cheese making, and while I did make cheese, I definitely didn't use rennet.

That's a condensed version of my learning so far. It's only been about three weeks since I started, but I started with zero actual experience and a small amount of book knowledge, which, I have to say, pales in comparison to having the experience of doing it yourself and seeing the results.
 
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hau Chad, it is good to see you on a journey of discovery.

When you make butter the technical name for the left over liquid is "Butter Milk" not whey.
Whey comes from the process of cheese making, in most places the whey is the by product of making cheese.

When you make butter you save the butter milk for either drinking or baking.
When you make cheese, you save the whey and that is your lactobacillus serum (fancy name used to differentiate only one use of this by-product) Whey is also used as a hog food and can be used in chicken feed formulas too.

When you are gathering bacteria with the cooked rice method you need to make sure where you are putting the rice into the ground has the bacteria present that you want to gather.
Molasses is used to feed the bacteria not stabilize it, this is the real food that grows the bacteria to high enough numbers to be able to be a good inoculant for your soil.

I have found a lot of misunderstanding published on the net as fact. This creates a situation of people trying things without knowing the exact method to succeed the best way possible.
Instead they get less desirable results than what they read, that can lead to discouragement or a repeat of methodology mistakes.
There are a few sites that do have accurate information, but it is best to locate the original information to use as reference.

I have had to turn around some customers solutions because they were growing bad bacteria by following a not accurate formula and methodology.

 
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So Bryant what is the exact method and what are the misunderstandings in the net?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Any solution formula/methodology that does not want air to be introduced at some point is a solution that will have far more ciliates (a non-beneficial predatory organism that feeds on the very bacteria we want in our soils) present since these organisms thrive in an anaerobic environment.
The one time that keeping a compost in an anaerobic state is desirable (start to finish) is when you are composting animals, the reason for that is keeping animals from digging up the compost heap. Once you have finished the animal composting it's time to add that heap to a working hot heap to finish it off.
I have seen many methods where they state it is ok to use an animal compost heap directly into your soil. Once again this introduces far more "bad" organisms than beneficial organisms. That means you are going in the wrong direction for soil health in the microorganism world.

When you are brewing compost teas or cow teas, air needs to be injected into the solution, many people state you need a specific type of sugar (molasses usually) however, any of the more complex structured sugars will do as well.
What you don't want to do (ever) is only add simple sugars, think of using simple sugars as giving someone a diet of only "fast foods" like McDonalds and setting them on the couch all day and night.
The bacteria don't have to break down anything to get the foods they want, they get lazy and fat and that makes it hard for them to do any of their work when all the "fast food" is gone.
When this happens, the bacteria and fungal counts go down so steeply that we now have to make a new batch of tea or extract to get the counts back to where they were when we first added our initial batch of compost tea or extract.
Teas are usually meant to be sprayed on the leaves of plants, the consistency of most teas is a little sticky so the nutrients can hang onto the leaves, the organ that takes in nutrients in leaves is the stoma, sticky teas can clog up these stoma and that causes a reduction in the leaf's ability to respire, this can kill the leaf, kill enough leaves by suffocation and the whole plant dies. The better choice is to use extracts (stronger solutions than teas) or teas directly on the soil around the plant, that way you are not able to harm the plant by clogging up the pores it uses to breathe and you are putting the microbes exactly where they will do the most good for the longest period of time.

Far to much of the information floating around the net sounds good, but a lot of it ignores the facts of how plants work and or how soil works, that makes those sites far more likely to spread misinformation and lead people to do things that are not going to give them the results they are wanting.
This is especially true when you want to find out about biodynamics and how to use them, far to many people think these were developed by a scientist when they were actually developed by a philosopher that had no scientific background in soil or plants. Some of these formulations do work but many times they include things that are not able to do the things they are reported to do, they do however function in other ways. The people that have convinced themselves that there is only the biodynamic way to good gardening are not doing others any favors by insisting the methods must be followed exactly to get any good results.
That just isn't so, there are many methods out there that work very well, to limit yourself to only one methodology is to ignore what nature teaches us which is "there are many roads that lead to the city", all will get you to your destination, how quickly they get you there depends on how straight they are from where you began.

If you are going to use a medium (such as rice) to gather up and begin growing bacteria for the purpose of adding these organisms to your garden soil, so your plants will reap the benefits of a teaming microbiome soil, then you should not only read the original book (it is available both online and in bookstores or libraries), instead of using someone's interpretation of the original text. This is the growing problem with our current dependence on electronic devices to get our information, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that what you read is what the real author wrote.  Fake News is just one example of how we can be tricked, and misinformation is rampant on the internet.
When we read something that has to do with any of the many disciplines that are available to us as farmers/gardener/orchardist. We now have to discern that the information we read is correct and not someone's "version" or "interpretation".
As an example Biodynamics has quite a few  websites devoted to this methodology for improving soil. Many of these sites will post differing formulas but call them all the same name, then you find a copy of the writings of R. Steiner or E. E. Pfeiffer or H. Koepf, who are the recognized founders of biodynamic theory and practice and find out each formula has a specific name and way to apply it. From there you need to use your own knowledge and experimentation to discover what works best for your land, since two farms that are next door to each other can have vastly different conditions in the soil, you have to find what works the best for each piece of land. On my farm, I have something like 7 different soil zones, that I know of, but I also have a lot of land that I have done nothing with as yet.

Redhawk
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
If you are going to use a medium (such as rice) to gather up and begin growing bacteria for the purpose of adding these organisms to your garden soil, so your plants will reap the benefits of a teaming microbiome soil, then you should not only read the original book (it is available both online and in bookstores or libraries), instead of using someone's interpretation of the original text.
Redhawk



I am a bit confused about this whole new (to me) world of microorganisms, but quite interested in it. There are many books on the subject. Which book are you referring to when you talk about the original one?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Kolisko, E. and L. Kolisko. 1978. Agriculture of Tomorrow. 2nd edition. Bournemouth, U.K. Kolisko Archive Publications.
This is the first actual book that was not just Steiner's Lectures reiterated, they were the inspiration.

The following are actual Steiner papers put into book format by others.

Steiner, R. 1910. Occult Science: An Outline. Translated by George and Mary Adams. Rudolf Steiner Press 2005.

Steiner, R. 1996. The Boundaries of Natural Science. Eight Lectures. 1920. Dornach. Foreword by Saul Bellow.

Steiner, R. 1993. Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture. A Course of Lectures. 1924. Translated by C.E. Creeger and M.Gardner. Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association. Kimberton, Pennsylvania.

These two are also very good books for the person wanting to get into the depths of biodynamics

Koepf, H.H., Shouldice, R., and W. Goldstein. 1989. The Biodynamic Farm: Agriculture in the Service of the Earth and Humanity. Anthroposophic Press. Hudson, NY. 245 pp.

Koepf, H. 1993. Research in Biodynamic Agriculture: Methods and Results. Bio-Dynamic Farming & Gardening Association.

Now, the above books are all based in biodynamics not microbiology. These books do give many good ideas on how to build the microbiology of the soil you have but as in everything, you first need to observe your specific soil(s) and determine what microbes are already there and which ones you need aren't there.
That is the starting point. Also, keep in mind that the easiest way to increase the microbiology of any soil is to grow plants in it all year long so the ground is always covered with growing plants or at least dormant plants, waiting for spring.
 
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Extremely good information on natural farming/Korean farming


Introduction to natural farming/korean farming


Making natural farming inputs.
Hope that helps.
 
Chad Sentman
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Thanks for those links, Harry.

I'm working my way through the videos with Drake. I found the length intimidating and daunting at first but it's so informative and interesting.

In the meantime, my "faux-kashi" bran has finished fermenting and has been dried.

I also purchased a liter of EM solution, which includes the missing ingredients (i.e. Not ONLY lactobacillus but also photosynthetic bacteria and yeasts).

The instructions say that the one-liter bottle should be diluted into 1000 liters and then sprayed onto plants.

I would be very interested in learning how to take this bottle and create my own supply so as not to have to keep buying more bottles. If it's biological, they should be able to reproduce and multiply, but the instructions also say that the pH is quite low and should stay low so I guess if I dilute it, the pH would approach 7.

I'm beyond my depth here (I'm far more familiar with biology than chemistry/biochemistry), so if anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be awesome.
 
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I have before purchased EM from Teraganix. Their website is very informative. The formula for stretching your solution can be found on this page.

My journey began here after reading A story of microbes, how they can accomplish seeming miracles and how to culture or buy them - by Charlotte Anthony. In my thread, when I refer to "my notes from a certain thread that used to be on this site", Charlotte's is that thread. It was absent briefly to be tweeked to satisfy quoted text and returned to the forums.

The experiment I did was not a proper experiment with control groups. It was pretty much everything thing gets all products and let's see how it goes. Not very scientific.

Your journey is an impressive one. Congratulations on how far you've come. Your experience has far surpassed mine, I will be following your way. Good luck and keep us updated.

 
Chad Sentman
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Hi Karen,

I definitely also came across the thread you mention, but decided to mention the other one because of the controversy.

My understanding is that AEM is also called EM-2, but what I want to create is more EM-1. Does that make sense?

I'm not really all that scientific either. I'm just a bit "high" on trying new things. And I LOVE learning.

As Bryant Redhawk mentions, there's lots of information out there, most of it conflicting and inaccurate.

One day I'll get serious and use a microscope.
 
Chad Sentman
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So on the topic of stretching and reproducing the EM-1, I had an idea which may be genius or utter foolishness:

1. Use the EM as a soil conditioner over a small area, maybe one square meter, so the application is pretty though and not spread too thinly but is fairly concentrated.

2. Collect BIM (Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms) from that area immediately following.

This will presumably allow me to reproduce the "full-spectrum" EM, instead of JUST the Lactobacillus. Additionally, instead of JUST the EM species, I will also be harvesting and propagating wild indigenous soil bacteria for a more complete, complex culture of local/native microorganisms.

On the other hand, I guess there's always the argument (often applied to plants and macro-organisms) about the unintended consequences of introducing non-native species.

In that regard, my acronym BIM would mean Beneficial Introduced Microorganisms as much as Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms.

Thoughts from the experts?
 
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hau Chad,  I will share with you one of my secrets for making great EM-1 and 2, buy some "Ridex" and use 1Tbs per Liter of warm water (think of proofing yeast) then add that to your EM brew.

Ridex is bacteria, more specifically the same bacteria you produce when making EM, so it is a way to boost the numbers of those bacteria we really want in our soils.

Redhawk
 
Chad Sentman
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The Saga Continues...

It's so funny to read through this not-so-old thread.

Bryant Redhawk and I each posted about the amount of misinformation that abounds online, and yet, older and wiser me recognizes where I myself was misinformed in my earliest posts here.

A wise man once said, "Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good; impatience will get you into trouble."

When I started this thread, I had not yet finished Rohini Reddy's book.

Since then, I've watched this video series , which was intense and long, but oh so worth it:

(Thanks again for the links Harry!)

I also watched several other videos from Drake as well as many videos from Chris Trump.

I feel like I now have a far deeper, much more thorough understanding about soil and microbiology than I ever have, and that the things I had done until now (Berkeley Method composting, chickens on deep litter, Hügelkultur, aquaponics, good old regular gardening) were somehow not much more than anecdotal guesswork.

One thing that I learned is that KNF first started gaining popularity, not because of the results in growing plants, but with raising animals. Oft-cited is the example of https://permies.com/mobile/t/69798/critters/Deep-litter-system-KNF-progress" target="_new" rel="nofollow">raising pigs on deep litter with no smell.

Once I started learning more about that, wheels started turning in my mind.

I knew the benefits and advantages of raising chickens on deep litter, but never considered pigs before.

Pigs are notoriously stinky, so to be able to raise them in a healthy way without neighbors knowing is pretty remarkable.

And if the soil microorganisms break down manure so quickly and completely that there is no smell or pathogen problem, that's got to be a big benefit, not just for the animals but for the entire soil system on the farm.

I started wondering if maybe it would work just as well with humanure. I started digging, asking around and the basic consensus was, yes, you can do a humanure bokashi where a fermentation process helps eliminate pathogens.

I started looking more into sanitation and related issues.

A search for "deep litter" and "composting toilets" brought me across http://eautarcie.org/en/index.html" target="_new" rel="nofollow">this website and I read through it in detail.

There's a lot of good insight there, but as I mentioned in this thread, some things I found myself in disagreement with.

One thing I learned is that the term "composting toilet" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing to me as it might to anyone else: some people might say "composting toilet" and mean "pit latrine" and others might be referring to a urine-diverting toilet where decomposition (not really what I would call composting) takes place in the collection chamber.

My understanding of "composting toilet" has always been a urine-diverting dry toilet to which carbon litter is added with each use.

It wasn't until I read The Humanure Handbook in 2012 that I became aware that there are people who advocate NOT separating urine.

So while Eautarcie was very interesting and informative, in my opinion, it was not really the best solution as far as toilets are concerned.

A bit more searching and I found this https://rooftopecology.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/black-soldier-fly-combined-with-biochar-earthworms-and-korean-natural-farming-em/" target="_new" rel="nofollow">blog entry.

This was right up my alley. You could say that worm composting and black soldier fly larvae were my gateway to permaculture.

I knew from previous years of learning that BSFL were also known as latrine flies because of their propensity for handling human excrement, and also that they were a very hygienic solution.

This combined with KNF and biochar seemed like a winning combination, and a rather robust system capable of handling nearly everything you could imagine putting into it, and probably with fairly large quantities as well.

But then I arrived at what I now consider the gold standard: https://www.sswm.info/water-nutrient-cycle/water-use/hardwares/toilet-systems/terra-preta-toilets" target="_new" rel="nofollow">Terra Preta Sanitation.

This seems to be the most cutting-edge advanced development in the field and here's how it works:

Urine and feces are separated. Both are lactofermented, urine in a storage container with Lactobacillus/EM, feces in a bokashi-style dry litter container, with Lactobacillus/EM as well as BioChar.

The fermentation of the urine prevents the process in which urine is broken down and nutrients are lost to the atmosphere.

After 30 days, both fermentations are vermicomposted for an additional 30 days (although some recipes call for varying processing time; the longest I've seen is nine months).

The combination of anaerobic fermentation and aerobic digestion by compost worms removes pathogenic threats while preserving soil nutrients. The result is Terra Preta soil.

Not technically difficult, and can be implemented at large or small scale, urban or rural, first world or third world.

This has several major positive outcomes that lead to a more sustainable world, including removing valuable nutrients from the waste stream, adding carbon sequestration capacity/water retention/other benefits to the soil, restoring damaged ecosystems, increasing plant health/crop yields, and so on.

The TPS concept can be combined with other concepts like the arborloo (for those of you who like planting trees/orchards) or to convert existing systems with unpleasant or unsanitary conditions (like pit latrines) into something far better.

I'm not saying it's a magic bullet, but it's certainly closer to one than anything else I can think of. And while it shouldn't be the only tool in your toolbox, I thoroughly believe that no toolbox is complete without it.

I encourage you to look into it and see if you can think of anything that comes close to addressing so many ecological crises of our time as Terra Preta Sanitation.

One last thing I want to say on the subject:
I can't say how many times I've stumbled across this video and thought, how cool, that sounds really interesting, let's check it out, only to turn it off again a few minutes later. The presentation leaves a lot to be desired and only recently did I make it past the first six minutes successfully. It doesn't get better. But the content of the other videos in the series seem better, mostly because they are shorter.  Check it out, and if you're bored, try to get through it anyway:



(The whole series can be found here: https://permies.com/t/53982/Terra-Preta-Sanitation)

So that is my update on where my journey of discovery has taken me the last few weeks.
 
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In regards to BIM, I'd say there are other things that would be better to invest yourself into. BIM is a simplified inferior offshoot to KNFs I.M.O. (Indigenous Micro Organisms) and the I.M.O. will produce better results. There are other easy and effective methods that offer alternatives to BIM. I.M.O. is an aerobic collection and composting process, and BIM doesn't follow the same final aerobic processesess. JADAM is an anaerobic system, created by Hankyu Cho's very own son, Youngsan Cho, and the JADAM Microbial Solution (JMS) is a compost tea of leaf mold, potato (for food), and sea salt (micronutrients). BIM appears to be a fusion of a JMS and I.M.O., and doesn't achieve the effectiveness as either, neither does it appear to be based on any apparent scientific reasoning. Overall, I feel the owner of the unconventionalfarmer.com tried to pass off Korean Natural Farming as his own by renaming things and changing the instrutions of the ingredients and pass off BIM as his original system. It works, but not as effective as KNF, and I would say invest yourself into KNFs I.M.O. or JADAM over BIM. Gil, the owner of the website, is a natural farmer from the Phillipines and many farms in the Phillipines, as well as Southeast Asia and Asia, farm similar to these methods. But on a side not, many farms in the Phillipines are adopting JADAM into there farm.
 
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So many interesting topics!  A big read.
I am still mulling over a statement of Redhawk way at the top:

When you are gathering bacteria with the cooked rice method you need to make sure where you are putting the rice into the ground has the bacteria present that you want to gather. 


What would that be? If I want to plant veggies do I select the best spot in my veggie garden or do I go deep in the bush, say around a creek with lush vegetation or what?
 
Chad Sentman
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It's a bit like the advice that sepp holzer is known for giving: select seeds from the strongest plants growing in the worst soil in the harshest environment.

Not exactly the same but similar.

When you gather Indigenous Microorganisms, you want the toughest, most robust species.

Some advise gathering from North, South, East and West of your property, from higher elevations, not lower.

Some emphasize a good diversity, gathering from sunny spots, shady spots, wet and dry, winter and summer.

I've also heard that you should find healthy, stable, established ecosystems that have no human disturbance.

Then there are some who advise AGAINST going offsite, saying that everything you need is already in your soil and only needs to be cultivated.

Honestly, I don't think there are many ways to go wrong, and action is better than inaction. If things go bad, start again, nature is very forgiving.
 
Chad Sentman
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jars lyfe wrote:In regards to BIM, I'd say there are other things that would be better to invest yourself into. BIM is a simplified inferior offshoot to KNFs I.M.O. (Indigenous Micro Organisms) and the I.M.O. will produce better results. There are other easy and effective methods that offer alternatives to BIM. I.M.O. is an aerobic collection and composting process, and BIM doesn't follow the same final aerobic processesess. JADAM is an anaerobic system, created by Hankyu Cho's very own son, Youngsan Cho, and the JADAM Microbial Solution (JMS) is a compost tea of leaf mold, potato (for food), and sea salt (micronutrients). BIM appears to be a fusion of a JMS and I.M.O., and doesn't achieve the effectiveness as either, neither does it appear to be based on any apparent scientific reasoning. Overall, I feel the owner of the unconventionalfarmer.com tried to pass off Korean Natural Farming as his own by renaming things and changing the instrutions of the ingredients and pass off BIM as his original system. It works, but not as effective as KNF, and I would say invest yourself into KNFs I.M.O. or JADAM over BIM. Gil, the owner of the website, is a natural farmer from the Phillipines and many farms in the Phillipines, as well as Southeast Asia and Asia, farm similar to these methods. But on a side not, many farms in the Phillipines are adopting JADAM into there farm.



I'm learning as I go. Honestly, I haven't really looked into JADAM yet, and I'm a little skeptical of it, perhaps mostly because in KNF, all the inputs (except for I.M.O. and Seawater) derive from human food sources and are non-toxic, totally safe for human consumption, and in one JADAM video, people were applying solutions wearing something similar to hazmat suits and warning against certain points of contact (don't remember if it was eyes, mouth, skin, or lungs).
 
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Reading through JADAM, I've come to realize that it is perhaps one of the oldest methodologies of farming in the world. The fertilization regiments are not unlike the fermented leaf mold from 1000s of years ago in India. Very, very old school.

Youngsan Cho went to school as a chemist. His JADAM has natural fertilization and inoculation programs, but his IPM incorporates modern chemistry. JADAM has a wetting agent that you can make, from lye and canola oil, and it basically makes a basic liquid soap. This liquid soap, JADAM WETTING AGENT (JWA)when combined with boiled down plant material from pest resistant plants (artichoke etc), is the JADAM solution for IPM. Insects breathe through their carapace/ shell, and coating them with Jadam Wetting Agent will cause them to drown. The repellent properties of the boiled down herbs is just a bonus. The wetting agent is also broken down by the microbial activity of JADAM Microbial Solution and even the soil.

Jadam also has a nuclear option as a last result. The JADAM Sulfur (JS). Back in the day, sulfur was a disinfecting agent for a lot of things. In Youngsan Cho JADAM, when you're a farmer backed up against the wall with maybe some local fungus disease or PM or something, you spray the jadam Sulfur mixed with the wetting agent. That will disinfect the plant, but leave it vulnerable at the same time, so a JMS is prescribed immediately after a sulfur application.

JADAM is really great. It is so effective and goddang simple. Like, so simple anyone can do it. Many many SE Asian countries, the Phillipines and Hawaiian farmers are taking it up. The only thing wrong with it, is that it is everything that Dr. Ingham advises against.
 
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Here is a PDF file I created out of what is available on the internet off the subject of Korean Natural Farming

I am updating this from time to time based on feedback coming from the facebook Korean Natural Farming group


Filename: Asian-Natural-Farming.pdf
File size: 5 megabytes
 
Angelika Maier
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I still don't get it. There is one school JADAM, where everything is fermented. No aeration. The other (around Bryant) says aeration is absolutely necessary. So who is right? CAn you combine both methods? Is JADAM only about saving the pump away?
 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Angelika Maier wrote:I still don't get it. There is one school JADAM, where everything is fermented. No aeration. The other (around Bryant) says aeration is absolutely necessary. So who is right? Can you combine both methods? Is JADAM only about saving the pump away?



JADAM is created by the son of Dr. Han Yu Cho (KNF inventor) and eliminated sugar from the recipes. JADAM took leaf mold as the main ingredient to carry required microbiology and uses potato as the main starch. Because there is a greater amount of mold and mycorrhiza in the recipes aeration is somewhat not required.

People implement combination of methods depending on what is available around them as the ingredients. If you have rice leftover, use that, if you have potato readily available use that.

The important thing is no matter what method you use, they all work. Either Elaine Ingham's recipes, KNF or JADAM, Japanese Natural Agriculture etc. they all work.

Just keep an eye on soil pH, humidity and microbiology in the sense of a ratio between bacteria and mycorrhiza. Don't overthink the method and who says what, just implement the method and see if you like it.
 
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Thanks for this thread; it's very interesting.

I'll just tell my experiences with LAB (which I learned as EM, but whatever... looking at your directions, it's LAB).  I learned from two of my "milk ladies" in Oregon.  They both raised their cows on non-GMO feed, lots of pasture, and a little sprouted grain.  We all used the raw milk from their cows for making the LAB.  The rice water, milk, curd, then serum + molasses way you mention above.  No aeration.  A small group of friends ended up each making this version.  I ate the curds or fed them to my dogs.

We had some astonishing results with the LAB.  My first milk lady had a poor pasture, the sort with minimal topsoil over lots of clay.  She had one steer out on it to fatten up for awhile, and he never did.  He was thin and bony. She was concerned it was something wrong with him, but then thought about trying the LAB.  She watered it down a bit, and then took a sprayer out and sprayed the field...running out about halfway through.  Then she forgot about it a couple weeks...

The grass on the half she sprayed grew about twice as tall as the other grass, leaving a clear line where she ran out of LAB.  And the steer fattened up.  She was also using it on her manure piles, and had improved odors.

We had ducks, and at night they stayed in a chainlink pen with cement pavers on the ground.  (Major predator pressure. It worked though; we never lost any, though creatures tried their hardest!) Even though the ducks were led out every morning, the pen smelled terrible in that way that fish eating bird poo can and had to be washed out a lot.  Until we sprayed it with some of the LAB.

The remarkable thing was that it only took one spray and the smell was gone overnight.  And we only had to repeat it once a year!  That was astonishing.  We told other friends, and they started using it in chicken coops as well.

Lastly, we lived on a lake with a bad cyanobacteria problem.  The year prior to discovering LAB, a huge toxic algae bloom had erupted right along our shoreline, killing fish and birds.  And made me really really sick!  the next year, we thought to try the LAB.  I went out and sprayed/sprinkled it as far as I could off the dock, each day through the summer.  The algae didn't bloom there that year -even though it did heavily offshore in the lake.  Of course, I know there is no way to be certain that the LAB was to credit for this, but it's worth telling and repeating, I think.  Cyanobacteria explodes in population due to increased phosphorus, primarily.  I wonder if the LAB did something with that mineral?

Thanks for sharing your EM adventures!

 
Chad Sentman
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Now that I have acquired a bit more knowledge and experience about methods of Korean Natural Farming, I'd like to share a bit of what I've learned in the meantime with those of you who are as unfamiliar with the subject as I was a few months back.

In my mind, the centerpiece of Korean natural farming is the nutritive cycle theory. The idea behind it is, you give the plants what they need, when they need it, in the appropriate amounts.

The comparison can be made with human nutrition. Even if you wanted to, it would not be possible for you to consume today all the nutrients you need for the rest of your life.  Your nutrients must be supplied to you in the appropriate amounts several times daily. Additionally your body has different nutritional needs based on the various stages of life you encounter from birth until death. 

If you see a baby which is very thin, it's a good indication that something is wrong nutritionally.  A fat baby is a healthy baby.

However if you see a fat teenager, that's also an indication that something is wrong nutritionally.  And as a child grows older, it should be growing taller and thinner.  They should be developing skeletal structure and muscular strength. As they enter puberty their body has again developed a need for a different nutritional profile. Their body begins changing into a fully fertile adult.

And when an adult female becomes pregnant, her body imposes a whole new set of nutritional demands.

In the same way, plants have different nutritional needs in each stage of life, whether they are putting out leaves, roots, flowers, or fruit.  To meet these nutritional needs, we observe the plants, but feed the soil microorganisms.

That is the essence of the nutritive cycle theory.

At each stage of plant development, there are different formulas for solutions comprised of a handful of inputs, each with their own recipes. It is all very precise and specific, but collectively, is a very elegant system.

At the core of each formula are the same three inputs, which are Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ), Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN), and Brown Rice Vinegar (BRV). (When the plant is in the fruiting stage, replace FPJ with FFJ, or Fermented Fruit Juice, which is the same recipe as FPJ but made specifically from fruit.)

FPJ is concentrated plant food, containing all the nutrients, growth hormones and enzymes from the original plant.

OHN is plant medicine, compromised of five specific ingredients which are all anti-pathogenic.

BRV is a stimulant and activator.

These three together are sometimes called Maintenance Solution, the idea being that if your plant doesn't indicate a specific need, these three inputs are sufficient as a sort of irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide, all made from non-toxic, human food-based, inexpensive materials you probably already have in your kitchen.

...

I once heard Maintenance Solution compared with a simple salad made from a few ingredients. What breaks up the monotony of eating the same salad every day is mixing in a different flavor of salad dressing each time.

If Maintenance Solution is the salad, then the three options for salad dressing are Fish Amino Acid (FAA), Water Soluble Calcium Phosphate (WCP), and Water Soluble Calcium (WCA).

FAA is what makes the baby plant fat and leafy, producing biomass from the biological building blocks.

WCP is what makes the teenager plant tall, thin, and strong, adding structure and ensuring that it is able to carry the weight of the next generation.

WCA helpful in the production of fruit.

...

We've talked about LAB already so I won't go into it here, except to say that it is biologically active and very useful for restoring and maintaining balance and order in the microbiome, something like the police or national guard do for humans. A little goes a long way, but too much can be problematic.

...

For trace elements and minerals, KNF prescribes diluted Sea Water (SW). If you think of minerals in terms of a supply chain, you might say that all (or most) minerals find their origin in volcanoes, and that over time, various processes like the flow of wind, water, digestion, and so on, the minerals get distributed across the earth. Eventually they find their way into our waterways and end up in the ocean.

Not everything gets evenly distributed, but they all start and end in the same place, which is why garden supply stores sell products of volcanic origin like rock dust, as well as products of oceanic origin like kelp meal.  They have a broader spectrum of minerals than other soils and ecosystems.

One problem is that the minerals aren't always in a plant-available form.

In the case of sea water, trace minerals such as manganese, boron, molybdenum, and so on have been ionically-bound to salt molecules in the ocean. My understanding is that by diluting the sea water, these minerals are released from those salt molecules and become plant-available.

Additionally, there seems to be benefits not only from mineral nutrients, but also the unique biological profile of micro organisms in the sea water. It's a bit like the "edge-effect" in that, the highest biodiversity and the most interesting things occur where two systems interact.

In my next post, I will go into more detail on the recipes for the Korean Natural Farming Inputs and the amounts of each needed to make the formulas. In the meantime, I'd be happy to discuss or answer questions.
 
Chad Sentman
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Recap:

"Maintenence Solution" (for whatever reason abbreviated as SES) = OHN + FPJ + BRV

*Note*
Some people dislike the notion of pre-portioning Maintenance Solution as it is something of a shortcut from the prescribed recipes, and the alcohol from the OHN can affect the livelihood of the microbiology in the FPJ and BRV.



Soil prep = SES + FAA + SW + LAB
Seed prep = Soil prep - 1/2 LAB
Leaf stage = SES + FAA
Flower stage = SES + WCP
Fruit Stage = SES (with FFJ instead of FPJ) + WCA

*Note*
At each stage where FPJ is involved, it is best to use an FPJ made from that stage, from that plant. This is especially true for grapes and citrus, which should be used exclusively for grapes and citrus respectively.  For example, in the leaf stage of a strawberry plant, use an FPJ from strawberry leaves, in the flower stage use an FPJ from strawberry flowers, in the fruit stage, use an FFJ from strawberries.  If, for example, you don't have an FPJ from strawberry flowers, try an FPJ from the same stage from a different, similar plant.  Matching the stage is more important than matching the plant, except in the cases of grapes and citrus, were matching both is important.

*Note*
Some people dislike the notion of pre-portioning Maintenance Solution as it is something of a shortcut from the prescribed recipes, and the alcohol from the OHN can affect the livelihood of the microbiology in the FPJ and BRV. Also, SW and LAB should be added as needed, in the proper amounts, but CAN be added at each stage.

*Note*
With the exception of IMO and SW, every KNF input derives from human food and is non-toxic. Even IMO and SW are probably fine for you to consume, if that's your thing.  The inputs are intended to boost plant and soil fertility and health, but in addition to being non-toxic, they all taste delicious, and many people use KNF inputs in the kitchen as well as in the field.

***
Recipes:

Although I started my journey with LAB, it is probably far easier to begin with FPJ/FFJ.

1. Harvest plant material (ideally before sunrise) and put it into a container with a lid.
2. Whatever the weight of your harvested material, add the same amount of brown sugar.

That's basically it. You can use anything. If you use leaves, roots, stems, flowers or UNRIPE fruit, it's considered an FPJ, if you use RIPE fruit, it's an FFJ.

If you want, you can lightly massage the sugar into the plant material, but it's not really necessary. Just wait.  The dryness of the sugar will pull the liquid content of the plant material directly through the cell walls through osmosis.  After probably less than half a day, the plant material will be swimming in a pool of its own juice, although one batch I tried took closer to two weeks.

I was delighted to discover that this is exactly the same recipe that Pascal Baudar recommended for making Green Pinecone Syrup in his book about brewing fermented drinks.


This is also essentially the same recipe as FAA, except instead of using plant material, you use animal material, usually fish, heads and guts included.

Put it in a container, add equal weight brown sugar, and wait.  The sugar pulls the FAA out of the fish and you have a nice liquid nutrient. 



Once the liquid is extracted, wait a week or two before straining it off into another container (like a bottle, for example). Don't throw away the plant material.  Refill the original container with the plant material leftovers with water, and it will turn into a delicious, wonderful vinegar. In a pinch, these vinegars can be a substitute for BRV. Not perfectly ideal, but doable. best recommended substitute seems to be Banana vinegar, made with the whole banana and peel.



WCA is simple to make.
Keep the shells from about a dozen eggs. Mash them up and put them into a dry skillet on a medium heat.  Stir the egg shells and keep breaking the pieces smaller.  As the egg shells become slightly browned from the heat of the skillet, blow gently to remove the egg membrane, similar to how you might blow into a bowl of amaranth seeds to separate them from the chaff. Once you are membrane-free and all the egg shell pieces are nicely browned, put them into a container and add vinegar SLOWLY. The chemical reaction will be a bit turbulent at first. A few times a day, or at least once a day, bump the jar to see if there is still bubbling activity. If nothing happens, try adding more egg shell pieces. After about two weeks, you can strain off the pieces of egg shell and the liquid is your WCA.




WCP is similar, but instead of using egg shells, you use charred bones. Apparently bones from birds aren't as good as bones from mammals or fish.  Put them on the grill and cook them until they are black.  Drop them in vinegar and wait a few weeks, then strain them off. The leftover vinegar is WCP. It will taste and smell like a sort of sweet and sour sauce. Vinegary tang mixed with smoky BBQ flavor.


SW should be diluted 30:1. This is enough to set the trace minerals free. It also is approximately the same salinity as your blood.  If for whatever reason the marine microbiology are unimportant to you or seawater is difficult to come by, you can still get the nutrient boost by using sea salt. for every liter of water, add 1 mg of sea salt.


OHN is the most complicated, most expensive input of them all. It also takes the longest to produce, though technically, you could be up and running after two weeks.

You will need six jars (or containers with lids), AND six MORE jars with double the capacity of the first six.

OHN is made from exactly five herbs/spices: Angelica Root, Licorice Root, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Garlic.  Angelica Root has a double portion, which is why you need six jars of each size.

Each jar starts out as a sort of FPJ, but finishes as a tincture.

AR, LR and C are considered dry ingredients, and Gi and Ga are "wet" ingredients.

The first step is to hydrate the dry ingredients. Add them to their respective jars (the smaller ones) and add beer until the volume is about 1/2 capacity and wait a day.

Next, like in the FPJ recipe, add sugar to all jars. In the case of Gi and Ga, this is exactly like the FPJ process.  In the case of the two AR jars, the LR jar and the C jar, since they have beer inside, add sugar until the liquid surface is about 66-75% capacity. This is the fermentation phase, and lasts one week.

After the fermentation phase comes the extraction phase.  Add vodka to all jars until they reach about 90-95% capacity.

Stir all six jars clockwise once a day for two weeks.  After two weeks of stirring every day, you can pour off 1/3 of the liquid into the larger jars.  This is the first of five extractions.

Top off the jars with fresh vodka, and begin again, stirring every day for two weeks. Pour off 1/3 and replace with fresh vodka. This is the same for extractions 2, 3, and 4.

After the fourth extraction, replace the poured-off portion with fresh vodka and again stir clockwise every day for two weeks.  For the final extraction, pour off all the liquid, not just 1/3 of it.

*Note*
In the video, he also uses Turmeric. Don't.



 
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Angelika Maier wrote:So many interesting topics!  A big read.
I am still mulling over a statement of Redhawk way at the top:

When you are gathering bacteria with the cooked rice method you need to make sure where you are putting the rice into the ground has the bacteria present that you want to gather. 


What would that be? If I want to plant veggies do I select the best spot in my veggie garden or do I go deep in the bush, say around a creek with lush vegetation or what?



Using this method you collect a lot more than bacteria. you collect a biological community containing several bacteria and fungi that thrive at ambient temps.

Generally the idea s to go into a healthy forest without a lot of visible disease and to find a place in the duff where you can see lots of visible colonies of,microbes n the leaf litter, mycelium, actenomycetes etc.

Master Chos methods a largely aerobic due to the safety of using them and due to the fact that in General were growing and wanting to promote aerobic conditions. Chos methods do include the usr of both aerobic and anerobic organisms and organisms such as labs that can thrive in both conditions but tend to promote an aerobic soil even when an anerobic one.

Youngsang Cho, his sons system places no emphasis on there being good or bad microbes so includes both.

The truth is that IMO which is made from the rice in the box contains plenty of anerobic organisms as well but microbes are condition dependent. if you provided aerobic conditions the aerobic organisms will flourish. If you apply it to anerobic conditions, anemones will thrive.

That is why I ad IMO#2 along with LAB, yea as, live vinegar and even FPJ to the mix when I make Bokashi.

by th way, Bokashi is much much  older than EM has been around, and Bokashi made with LAB is probablly closer to the original
 
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