Thoughts On Indigenous Microorganisms

Darren, at Daruma, September 2019

Recently at Daruma, I spent a Saturday reading about Indigenous Microorganisms including Cho’s Global Natural Farming by Rohini Reddy (SARRA), and flicked through Organic Farming by Youngsang Cho (JADAM), as well as a couple of ECHO Development Notes (issues 96 & 110). Reddy’s is a book filled with easy-to-follow recipes to breed & multiply microorganisms, and for varieties of fermented juices. The JADAM book is also full of useful info, and the ECHO issues provide further information backed with reports on their own experiences using IMO etc.

I’m fairly new to experimenting with IMO myself. Perhaps one of the reasons I liked Reddy’s book. Very easy for a novice to get to grips with, and progressive structurally – each step building in relation to the last. It makes sense. So, this is not an article on ‘how to’ for IMO.

Myself and Jolie, an intern here at Daruma, went ahead & made some test batches of Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ), to see what happens. A few of the other volunteers jumped in and got a bit curious about what was happening, and why. And even more curious when we made a test batch for Fish Amino Acids (FAA)!

As a ‘natural’ input, IMO can be made on site very inexpensively, or in the case of EM (Effective Microorganisms), purchased also very inexpensively. And a little, goes a long way.

Within permaculture circles, IMO (and EM) are commonly used. Everybody needs to make their own decision on what to use, but at Daruma, we use both, along with manure from our integrated animal systems, and compost of course.

During our recent Permaculture Design Course, we made IMO-1 using bamboo & split rice, which were collected from various areas of the farm to give us a diverse population of starting microorganisms. This prompts an interesting question when thinking of using IMO in urban / suburban locations: “Where to get your IMO-1 from?”.

In the books, regardless of your location, it is suggested that nearby valleys, hilltops, and forested areas are good possible sources of other kinds of microorganism. With soil health being so central to a lot of permaculturists’ thinking, I can see the value of taking a trip somewhere else and filling up on microbes at that location. The potential for having a greater diversity of microorganisms, and therefore more resiliency in the system, seems at least worth a try.

I will definitely be keen to try this as part of my learning about IMO. Although I suspect that as ‘everything gardens’, including the existing flora on site at Daruma, that those flora will naturally encourage the microorganisms they require in & around their own root systems. At least there is a chance of reintroducing any species of microorganism that may have been wiped out for whatever reason on site here.

I didn’t mention Elaine Ingham earlier, but now the Soil Food Web is again brought to mind, and that is another resource well worth putting a little time into for anyone interested in natural farming, or natural alternatives to chemical agriculture, organic farming, etc.

We’ll keep on making & applying different kinds of IMO, EM, and other inputs such as Fermented Plant Juices (FPJ), and see what works. If that’s the kind of thing that interests you, by all means follow us on Facebook, or check out the website for our permaculture, natural building & farmlab courses.

References for further reading:

Cho’s Global Natural Farming by Rohini Reddy (SARRA)

Organic Farming by Youngsang Cho (JADAM)

ECHO Development Notes (EDN issues 96 & 110)

The Soil Food Web (Elaine Ingham)