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Re: Beneficial Soil Microbia
Fermentative anaerobic is a beneficial microbial pathway.
See Higa and Parr's paper for a microbial explanation:
Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms for a Sustainable
Agriculture and Environment. 1994. By Higa,Teruo, and
James F. Parr. International Nature Farming Research Center,
Atami, Japan. 16 p. http://www.agriton.nl/higa.html
"Fermentation is an anaerobic process by which facultative
microorganisms (e.g., yeasts) transform complex organic
molecules (e.g., carbohydrates) into simple organic compounds
that often can be absorbed directly by plants. Fermentation
yields a relatively small amount of energy compared with
aerobic decomposition of the same substrate by the same
group of microorganisms. Aerobic decomposition results in
complete oxidation of a substrate and the release of large
amounts of energy, gas, and heat with carbon dioxide and
water as the end products. Putrefaction is the process by
which facultative heterotrophic microorganisms decompose
proteins anaerobically, yielding malodorous incompletely
oxidized, metabolites (e.g., ammonia, mercaptans and indole)
that are often toxic to plants and animals."
It may be that aerobic and fermentative anaerobic
processes are not exclusive; rather, they happen
simultaneously, alternating back and forth. Rather,
one is more dominant under the management system
praticed by the farmer.
One of the common indicators of good soil health with
EM (Effective Microorganisms), as well as IM (Indigenous
Microorganisms), is the rod test. It is a common sight
in Japanese and Korean natural farming systems to push
a rod into the soil to observe changes in soil structure,
following adoption of the soil management system.
Scientists, using digitial meters, call that a penetrometer test.
Farmers just push a rod into the soil. After you work with
EM or IM a few years, loaded with lactobacillus, you
can see observe a difference in soil structure, with reduced
compaction and enhanced friability.
Mulch, organic matter, low-till management, microbial
inoculation.... all these are part of the organic management
approach that results in soil improvements like this.
Seemingly, there is conflict between the composters
heralding aerobic compost and the EM people heralding
fermentative anaerobic composting.
Yet, I'm not sure there really is conflict. They both work.
They both focus on beneficial microorganisms and beneficial
microbial pathways. Perhaps one is just more dominant at a
given point in time, and also, the composters understand what
they are doing within the approach they take.
Besides, conflict is a mental construct. Nature has
multitudes of pathways. If we simply provide the conditions,
the terrrain -- by practicing humus management, for
example -- then the microbes flourish and do their work.
Yet, aerobic composting does have a goal and that is
well humified compost.
Fermentative anaerobic composting results in fermented
Both are the result of digested organic matter, they are
stable, they retain nutrients etc. But they are not exactly alike,
and that is normal.
Biodynamic + EM research in India says that EM compost
provides plant-available food for the current growing season,
while humified compost provides slow-release fertililzer as
well as helps build long-term soil structure.
If you have a high-end microscope setup with UV light
and specialized lens, you can see the difference in
humus crumb structure and related microbial architecture.
The microscope setup I refer to is based on Siegfried
Luebkes work in Austria.
In the U.S., Bob Pike at Pike Agri-Lab Supplies has
duplicated this microscope setup within a commercial
Here is an image of clay-humus crumb under the microscope.
This is from an organic farm that has practiced humus
management for many years. Farms that neglect humus
management and replenishment of organic matter will
have flatter, less developed architecture.
Perhaps that is helpful.
David Menne wrote:
> Following some recent postings and material/sites they refer to :
> (a) It would appear that for application to soil and crops, aerobic bug
> production is the good and healthful way to go.
> However :
> (b) Dr. Teruo Higa's Effective Microbe [EM] Technology [University of The
> Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan; http://www.embiotech.org] very clearly prescribes
> ANaerobic bug production.
> Any wise comments ?