Composting with EM

Tags: organic farming organic gardening EM effective microorganism composting soil fertility sustainable agriculture
altComposting with Effective Microorganism has some advantages; it saves energy and manpower since there is no need to turn over the heap, it regulates the temperature, it is easy to handle and available at low costs.

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Advantages of composting with EM 

(1) It saves energy (for machinery) and manpower by reducing the need to turn the material. 

(2) It regulates the temperature in the heap or pile, has less heat or energy losses than ordinary composting methods, and hence yields increased volumes of the final compost product. 

(3) It creates value-added compost. While values of macronutrients in EM compost are comparable with the values in other composts, the yields in crop cultivation with EM compost are higher and of increased quality.  

(4) It is easy, and not sensitive to minor management defaults. EM is safe to handle. 

(5) EM is available at low costs. 


Practical procedure 

Inoculation of a compost pile with EM needs to be done once or twice, i.e. at the begin-ning and once again during the process, best during turning of the pile. EM application on the compost might have to be done more frequently, depending on the type and the sizing of raw materials.

EM composting can be done primarily as an anaerobic process, thus there is no need for frequent turning; in general one turning – after two weeks – is enough. It should be noted however that the effect of turning primarily has the effect of breaking twigs and fibres open and thus facilitates microbial access into the material. 

The compostable material can be heaped in huge piles, i.e. up to 3-4 m high, and 4-5 m wide, and at any length. 

Inoculation of a new compost heap with mature compost is always recommended. If there is time pressure, it is recommended to mix the new materials with up to the same amount of mature compost; in this way new compost will be ready after two weeks. 

In particular in large-scale operations, composting on the site of crop production might be desirable. In this context it is recommended to thoroughly treat the composting site with EM and then build up the compost heap. After removal of the matured compost the soil will be ideally prepared for cultivation. 


Technical details of EM application 

Extended EM solution (EMa) needs to be diluted with water to spread the inoculate throughout the compost heap. The amount of water to be used depends on the moisture contents of the compost raw materials, but at least 10 liters total volume are required to inoculate one ton of compost materials. The moisture contents of a compost pile are to be about 40%. (Test: A handful of compost when squeezed in the palm of the hand should just stay together in a lump, but should not give off any water.) If water requirement of the whole operation needs to be diminished while simultaneously preserving moisture contents, plastic sheets may be used to cover the pile against evaporation losses, thus facilitating the circulation of the micro-organisms within the pile. 

Inoculation of the compost heap has to be done with the aim to reach everywhere, by spraying or sprinkling from all sides and/or by injecting into the pile. Subsequent appli-cation(s) of EMa in the heap are best done while the heap is being turned. (Diminishing turning procedures to one time, requires an equally ideal particle size of the raw materials, i.e. in the range of 1 to a few cm, or 0.5 to 1.5 inch.) 

The required amount of EMa is about 5 liters per ton compost materials applied at least twice, or anything between 2 to 10 liters per ton compost materials (or per 2-3 cu.m.) several times. Thus a compost heap of 1.5 m width, 1.5 m height and 5 m length (11.25 cu.m.) will require at least 10 liters EMa mixed into larger amounts of water, twice to three or four times. 

Ideal composting depends not only on EM or any other particular input, but on other parameters such as control of moisture and protection from heavy rains or scorching sun-shine, on the type of biodegradable materials and their balanced proportions, and on size, shape and surface of the organic waste material. In general, a mixture of two-thirds plant material with one-third animal manure is recommended. 



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