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[SANET-MG] aerobic bokashi


To summarise the story, if you?ve worked with (aerobic) bokashi, I would
really appreciate to get some feedback. I?ll tell a bit of the background
story and then explain my doubts.

Last year I worked with small producers in Bolivia where we carried out on-
farm trials using bokashi. Farmers in the region are very much embedded in
what could be called a ?chemical paradigm? and did not think twice before
using whatsoever agrochemicals they could find in the local shops. For the
fertilizers, the use of pure NPK 18-46-0 was quite common. Farmers in the
region are very poor, most of them illiterate and highly indebted to the
local shop owners. The project was very broad and dealt with the human
capital in agriculture as well. The trials carried out together with
farmers aimed in part to check whether bokashi would be a viable
alternative in the local context.

The recipe we used to prepare bokashi was adapted from an IICA publication
(1) in Spanish. The components used were: 100 kg of soil, 100 kg of fresh
cow manure, 100 kg of rice bran, 50 kg of ground charcoal, 20 kg of rice
hull, 5 kg of ashes, 5 kg of mature bokashi, 1 kg of molasses, 250 g of
yeast and water. All components were mixed homogeneously while water was
added to the mixture. The heaps were turned twice and then once a day
until the temperature stabilized. The composts were considered ready to
use after 20 or 21 days.

It goes without saying that we tried to use as much as possible what was
locally available and at the lowest possible cost. It would be completely
out of out of touch with the local reality to use a commercial inoculant

The project is now over and I?m trying to figure out what happens in
bokashi production. As far as I?ve seen, there?s not much about (aerobic)
bokashi in scientific publications while there?s quite a lot about it on
the net but almost everything is about what is sold on the market such as
EM inoculants and the like.

I?ve seen that, some sources refer to ?bokashi? as a biofermented
fertilizer. As far as I remember from chemistry courses a long way back,
fermentation is an anaerobic process. Or can it be aerobic as well? The
production of the compost itself is an aerobic process so maybe bokashi is
called ?fermented organic matter? because Japanese farmers, who
first ?discovered? it, made first a fermented anaerobic inoculant which
was then added to the substrate mixture? Have you got a better clue on why
bokashi is called a fermented organic fertilizer?

Microorganisms exist everywhere. In this case I reckon the soil, the
manure, mature bokashi and the yeast will mainly provide the
microorganisms which will mineralize N from the composted material and
also enhance availability of other plant nutrients. The molasses here will
provide the ?energy? or feedstock for microorganisms boosting their
growth. Looking back, what we did was to get the microorganisms we wanted
to do the job in contact with a substrate which we wanted to be decomposed
(mineralized) at the same time that we provided something that made the
microorganisms multiply much faster. From what I?ve experienced, there is
indeed no need to buy a special inoculant. If you?ve been working with
(aerobic) bokashi what is your experience on that?

Apart from comments, articles or internet links shedding some light on it
would be very much appreciated.


(1) Restrepo, J. R., 2001, Elaboración de abonos orgánicos fermentados y
biofertilizantes foliares: experiencias con agricultores en Mesoamérica y
Brasil, IICA, San José, Costa Rica.

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