There is a ton of information available on the web about bokashi. Some of it good, some of it excellent, and of course the usual jungle of me-too posts.
Here’s a few of the more helpful places to start looking. Have a look on the Bokashiworld Facebook page too, I regularly post links there to some of the great things that are happening in the bokashi and EM world, and other news on the environmental front that ties in with what we’re doing.
The primary source of information on EM and bokashi is, of course, EMRO Japan. Lot’s of good application stories there, and a huge database of scientific research. It’s also the best place to check for EM suppliers around the world, there’s one in every country.
Read more: EMRO Japan
EM∗ is a people-friendly and environmentally safe product of EMRO (EM Research Organization) that achieves synergistic effects by combining beneficial microorganisms which exist in nature, such as lactic acid bacteria, yeast and phototrophic bacteria. It was developed by Professor Teruo Higa in 1982. EM∗ activates local and native microorganisms that live in soil and water and maximizes their natural power. EM∗ brand represents a line of microbial products that are used in numerous fields including agriculture, animal husbandry, environmental purification and health care in more than 100 countries around the world.
EM∗ is a trademark and a brand name owned by EMRO, and is used on a variety of products.
Research and literature
There is a wealth of scientific reports and case studies behind bokashi and EM. Here’s a few links that may help you get started:
Effective Microorganisms (EM) are mixed cultures of beneficial naturally-occurring organisms that can be applied as inoculants to increase the microbial diversity of soil ecosystem. They consist mainly of the photosynthesizing bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi.
Gideon Towett (2016), Permaculture Research Institute: What are Effective Microorganisms?
Rhodopseudomonas palustris is among the most metabolically versatile bacteria known. It uses light, inorganic compounds, or organic compounds, for energy. It acquires carbon from many types of green plant–derived compounds or by carbon dioxide fixation, and it fixes nitrogen.
Nature Biotechnology: Metabolically versatile photosynthetic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris
A scientific study from Madrid, Spain, on soil improvement and mineralisation using EM. The conclusion was that the biological activity in the soil is intensified due to the EM with a faster conversion of fresh organic material to humus as a result.
Valerini & Alvarez (2003): Assessment of soil properties by organic matter and EM microorganism incorporation
Research from China on wheat production, a positive result for EM after 11 year’s research. “This study indicated that application of EM significantly increased the efficiency of organic nutrient sources.”
European Journal of Agronomy: Long-term effective microorganisms application promote growth and increase yields and nutrition of wheat in China
Research from Feed Innovation Services in the Netherlands from 2013 shows that large-scale bokashi composting has a significantly lower impact on the environment than traditional composting.
Feed Innovation Services, Wageninen: Fermentation versus composting
Higa’s book from 1994 on EM: Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms. A valuable read.
Professor Teruo Higa (1994): Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms
Dan Woodward writes about Effective Microorganisms as regenerative systems in earth healing. A highly informative article with a long list of sources.
Dan Woodward (2003): Regenerative systems in earth healing
EM enhances the diversity of microorganisms
Healthy soil and clean water are maintained by the diversity and balance of the community of microorganisms within them. For example, when the balance of microorganisms in the soil is disrupted, soil will be impoverished and crops will not grow well. However, if native microorganisms are activated, soil conditions will improve. When the soil microbiology is in balance, plants will be healthy, thus more resistant to damage caused by stressors such as disease or harmful insects.
In polluted rivers, species that cannot survive in a degraded environment die out and the ecosystem becomes degraded. Conversely, if the diversity of microorganisms is rich, nature’ s self-purifying ability is enhanced and clean water will return. The reason that EM can solve the problems it does is that EM restores a healthy balance of microorganisms in the ecosystem, thereby increasing its self-purification ability.
Good microbiomes are the key to good personal and environmental health
In recent years, many researchers have been focusing less on the activity of single-strains of microorganisms and more on aggregates of microorganisms called microbiomes. In agriculture, it has become apparent that when soil microbiomes are healthy, they will enrich the soil. Healthy aquatic microbiomes will help maintain the environmental purification capabilities of rivers and other bodies of water.
Microbiome studies have shown that quadrillions of microorganisms live within and on the human body and that these microorganisms make a significant difference to human health. Many of them live in the human gut and affect not only people’ s physical health, but also their mental condition.
EM can be used anywhere in the world
EM, which treats microorganisms as aggregates, was developed long before microbiome science caught the world’ s attention and its effectiveness has been demonstrated for three decades across the globe on fields in tropical and cold temperate regions. The beneficial effects of EM is produced when the groups of microorganisms in EM・1, including lactic acid bacteria, yeast and phototrophic bacteria, activate native microorganisms in the environment and harness their intrinsic power.