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    Kakamega farmer raises yields with homemade organic fertilizer solution

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    By George Munene
    Rita Nangira, a mixed farmer at Mureko, Kaka­mega County has im­proved plant growth by over 30 per cent using ef­fect­ive mi­croor­gan­isms (EM) and ef­fect­ive mi­croor­gan­ism ac­tiv­ated solu­tion (EMAS). EM is af­ford­able to farm­ers with one liter of cost­ing just Sh350-375 in agrovets and cap­able of being util­ised on 30 hec­tares of farm­land. EMAS is even cheaper as a liter of EM1 can be mul­ti­plied into 20 liters.
    “I have been using EMAS for six months now after being in­tro­duced to it by a neigh­bor farmer and be­com­ing bet­ter con­vers­ant with its for­mu­la­tion from my own re­search. It has en­hanced the per­form­ance of fer­til­iser I apply while also sup­press­ing soil-borne dis­eases which have al­most halved my ap­plic­a­tion of pesti­cides,” says the 38-year-old who grows hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duce and fruits on her 4.5-acre farm.
    Ef­fect­ive mi­croor­gan­isms tech­no­logy (EM) was de­veloped in Japan by ag­ri­cul­ture sci­ent­ist at the Uni­versity of Ry­ukyus and uses safe and hu­man-friendly mi­croor­gan­isms. It is now in use in over 140 coun­tries in the world to sup­ple­ment grow­ing media with be­ne­fi­cial mi­croor­gan­isms that stim­u­late com­post­ing, sup­press harm­ful mi­crobes and im­prove the re­sponse of fer­til­iser as well as restor­ing the qual­ity of water.

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    EM is a mixed-cul­ture solu­tion of ef­fect­ive mi­crobes that works to get nat­ural pro­cesses to func­tion more ef­fect­ively by stim­u­lat­ing bio­lo­gical activ­ity in the soil and plant. EM also serves as a mi­cro­bial or soil in­ocu­lant—ag­ri­cul­tural amend­ments that use mi­crobes to pro­mote plant health. It is yel­low to brown in color with a sweet-sour fer­men­ted smell and has a PH value of 4 and below.
    Ef­fect­ive mi­croor­gan­ism ac­tiv­ated solu­tion (EMAS) is an ac­tiv­ated EM solu­tion for­mu­lated to trig­ger and mul­tiply the be­ne­fi­cial mi­crobes in EM1 which ex­ists in a stag­nant state.. It is in­tu­it­ive—easy to un­der­stand and use as well as able to heal the soil and en­vir­on­ment or­gan­ic­ally.
    “To make EMAS which is an­aer­obic­ally fer­men­ted (without air) I use a clean plastic con­tainer that is tightly covered and stored in a cool dry place away from dir­ect sun­light with an ideal tem­per­at­ure range of 20-35°C. To make one liter of EMASS it is re­com­men­ded you use 90 per cent, 900 mil­li­liters of un­chlor­in­ated water (chlor­in­ated water kills both harm­ful and be­ne­fi­cial bac­teria); five per­cent, 50ml of EM1 (use genu­ine EM1 sourced from re­li­able dis­trib­ut­ors) and an­other five per­cent, 50ml of clean molasses. My EMAS mix­ture is usu­ally fer­men­ted after five days to one week; if tem­per­at­ures are low you will need extra days for it to ‘ripen’. I open the lead to my solu­tion at least once a day to re­lease gas that forms 2-3 days after mix­ing. On day seven once fer­ment­a­tion is com­plete there will be no gas. The mix­ture is usu­ally dark to light brown and gives off a sweet-sour smell with no odor,” ex­plains Rita.

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    The mi­cro­bial activ­ity in EMAS is higher within the first month and dis­sip­ates gradu­ally after that. EMAS is ap­plied as 10m (one ta­ble­spoon) in one liter of water and is sprayed dir­ectly on leaves once or twice a week. The best time for ap­plic­a­tion is between 5 am-9 am in the morn­ing or in the af­ter­noon between 3 pm-6 pm. This is the ideal spray­ing time plant sto­mata is open­ing up and ready to ab­sorb avail­able mi­crobes. EMAS solu­tion can also be dir­ectly ap­plied to the soil. Mixed in with water at 10ml of EMAS for a liter the mix can also be used as a pro­bi­otic to bol­ster the im­mune sys­tems of an­im­als such as chick­ens, pigs and rab­bits. Once it is mixed with water, EMAS, es­pe­cially if fed to an­im­als should be used within 24 hours to avoid con­tam­in­a­tion.
    The main mi­crobes present in EM1 are lactic acid bac­teria, yeast and pho­to­trophic bac­teria. Lactic acid bac­teria de­com­pose or­ganic mat­ter by fer­ment­a­tion and acts as a bar­rier that keeps off harm­ful mi­crobes by lower­ing PH in­hib­it­ing the growth of patho­gens. Yeast for its part de­com­poses or­ganic mat­ter through fer­ment­a­tion and pro­duces bio­act­ive sub­stances that are con­ver­ted into plant food. Yeast also im­proves the im­mune sys­tems of an­im­als and plants. Pho­to­tropic bac­teria neut­ral­ises pun­gent smell by de­com­pos­ing harm­ful gases such as am­mo­nia and hy­dro­gen sulf­ide chan­ging them into odor­less gases.

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