A key component of Natural Farming methods is Soil Health. Beneficial micro-organisms help "Dead Soil" become"Living Soil". Micro-organisms decompose and ferment organic parts ofthe soil system, converting them into humus containing nutrients and releasinghormones facilitating plant growth. In addition, they improve soil aggregatequality and soil stability, enabling it to retain nutrients and moisture (Kengoand Hui-lian, 2000).
EM stands for Effective Micro-Organisms(EM). EM Solution is a liquid solution that contains natural micro-organisms, which help in decomposing the organic matter. It speeds up the decomposition process in the soil.
The addition of EM Solution to the soil helps suppress soil-borne pathogens, speed up the decomposition of the organic matter and increase the availability of plant nutrients. This process helps plants absorb the required nutrients quickly. (Singh et al., 2003).
In addition, EM solution also encourages beneficial indigenous micro-organisms activity in the soil. For example, mycorrhiza is a symbiotic relationship between fungus and plants. This relationship helps fix atmospheric nitrogen in the plant and helping the farmer replace the use of chemical nitrogen fertilizer. EM Solutions encourage such micro-organisms to thrive and create similar symbiotic relationships. When established well and consistently as part of plant care, there appears to be a positive impact on plant growth, flowering, fruit growth, ripening, and crop yield.
The introduction of a population of beneficial micro-organisms through EM Solution application in the soil supports reducing soil-associated microbiological diseases. EM Solution also stimulates the "Rotation effect", an inoculation occurrence that comes from there generation of beneficial organisms and eliminating pathogenic bacteria.
Components of EM Solution include active Micro-Organisms such as photosynthetic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas spp.), lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus spp.) and yeasts (Saccharomyces spp.) (Zuraini etal., 2010).
Many photosynthetic bacteria are independent, self-sustaining micro-organisms that harvest energy from the sun and soil heat. They use it to convert exudates (a glue-like substance to hold the soil together) from root systems and improve soil aggregate. They transform organic matter and gases (such as ammonia) into amino acids, nucleic acids and sugars, building materials of plant cells. Different species of organisms in EM solution complement each other and establish a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants in the soil ecosystem.
While it is possible to make EM Solution at home using a Mother Culture as a starter, we find it easier to use store-bought EM Solution and then dilute it before application. 10ml of EM solution is mixed with 40ml of organic jaggery and then diluted in 950ml of water. This solution is then lid-ed and allowed to ferment for 5-10 days based on temperature. Allow any gas released to escape by periodic uncapping and recapping. When the pH value drops to 4, the EM solution is activated and ready for use. 1 L of EM solution is sufficient to cover 1sq.m pit or patch. Because the microbial activity deteriorates over time, using the solution within one month of preparation is essential.
Three applications of EM solutions at 8 to10-day intervals during the first 3 to 4 weeks after planting a crop helps improve soil health and plant health. The frequency matters as it will ensure that EM populations remain consistent throughout a critical period of seedlings and sapling growth. The growth stage is crucial because seedlings and saplings tend to be vulnerable to environmental stresses (drought, heat, weeds, and pathogens) and impacts crop yield and quality.
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