About twenty years ago a group of five of us here in New Zealand brought effective microorganisms (EM) into the country from Thailand.

Now what is EM?   Twenty five years ago, backed by the Buddhist faith in Japan, a Professor Higa isolated eighty of the most effective microorganisms out of the thousands in the soil, largely as an egalitarian effort to help developing countries grow more food without poisonous fertilizers and sprays, also to break down large and small wastes faster and more efficiently.

Recently, while in Thailand, I was lucky enough to join a conference on EM at Sara Buri at the main research farm three hours north of Bangkok. There was a wonderful group of people attending from ten different Asian nations plus Australia, New Zealand, Britain, USA, the Thai staff and Japanese managers.  A great mix of people and I made many friends.

Sara Buri is a four hundred acre research property for EM, growing many products totally sustainably, both to prove the poin, and to support the many workers and volunteers.  They grow cattle, goats, pigs, hens, fish, frogs and a vast variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables. No artificial fertilizers, sprays or antibiotics are used at all, with virtually no disease.  We participated in all aspects of the EM process such as multiplying the product, introducing it to the land, spraying it on pigs, fowls, mushrooms etc.

This is on a large scale, but we also learnt the small household system which I have working in my house here in New Zealand. This involves a custom made, airtight, two bucket system which sits in the same place as the old scrap bucket under the sink bench. Food scraps are put in and once a day a handful of ‘bocashi’, EM impregnated sawdust, is sprinkled on top. This is an anaerobic process so the scraps are compacted and kept airtight.  Once full a benevolent mould forms with no offensive smell, flies or putrefying aspects.  In a way it is akin to the silage process.  One of the members, Tim Chamberlain, sprays EM through his irrigators onto crops on his large scale organic cropping farm at Leeston.  Also, other members, The Mallards spray it onto the vegetables on their large organic market garden in Marshlands Rd.

Another member, scientist Mike Daly, now manages the products as a business from Christchurch, and we buy the EM/bocashi from him.

For some years the Christchurch City Council used EM on their large organic waste business to help break down said waste.  In Asia some of the biggest dumps in the world are doing the same.