Our story with Using EM and Native Microbes

We live on a small farmstead in a location that has very alkaline soils that were quite neglected. The initial approach was to bring in a variety of animals and begin making compost to amend our soil. This is nature's way to improve soil and increase the water holding capacity of our topsoil. My research led us to a composting technique that is designed to be quicker than aerated composting, and produce a final product that has a lower pH. This difference in pH will help us balance the alkalinity at our farm.

Compost Inoculated with our Adapted Biological Products

We started by inoculating our compost piles with a product called EM or Effective Microbes. It was expensive to start with, but through the research and trials we did, we are now producing a mixture of EM where we add native organisms from two different collection techniques. This means the chance is higher that the inoculant is well adapted to our climate. 

In February 2023 we had a 250lb calf die on our farm. We put it in our compost and let it freeze. In April when we moved the pile for the first time the carcass was beginning to thaw. To keep it from attracting wild animals we covered it with a foot of bedding manure, and then added several gallons of the inoculant we had made. By the end of May when we finally had all our other compost ingredients ready to mix together we were surprised to find only a few bones and the teeth of the dead calf. After 2 months it almost completely decomposed, and there was only a smell for about 2 days after moving it in April. 

Pond water treatment with EM to Reduce Salinity

The next experience we had was to test the value of this inoculant as a treatment of our pond water. We use a dragline and pump to fill our pond several times per year, and then we have a salty well that we use to add extra water until the salt levels get to the limit for good plant growth. We began to add 5 gallons per month to our pond to try to treat the salt in the water. The effects were surprising again. 

We really did not know what to expect, but our research suggested that it could help reduce the salt’s harmful effects to plants. What we noticed first was that the pond became nearly crystal clear. And that the smell of dirt in the water was gone. We also pushed the salt levels to the limits (1200 ppm TDS) and we did not notice any negative effects on our garden that was receiving weekly irrigation. Our pond is a lined pond, and we expect that as a sediment layer builds up from blowing dust that we will need to increase that rate.

Odour Control on the Farm with our Biological Inoculant

There is also a claim, as well as some studies to prove it, that odours can be controlled with the regular use of EM. Many farms even use EM as a fly control because with less odours there are fewer flies reproducing, and the manure also decomposing faster because of the inoculation with EM. We spray EM in our chicken coup regularly now to control the odour. We noticed that it worked quickly, but we have not been able to use this for a full season to see if it works for flies. 

Our final test to prove its effect is to tackle our worst odour source. Our farmstead has had a bad smelling septic system since the day we moved here. We heard that by using lots of probiotic liquids (Ferments, Brews, Whey etc.) that the smell would be reduced. We did this regularly, but we never really noticed an improvement. On windy days we would always smell it while sitting on our front deck. Since I had started making larger amounts of our inoculant for some friends, and for our own use, I figured I should just put a full 5 gallon pail of the inoculant down a toilet. IT WORKED! Six weeks later we smelled the septic again for the first time. We are now treating our system with monthly doses of 3-5 gallons, and we enjoy our front deck a lot more.