Category: friendly microorganisms

How to make and use Biosa bokashi in large quantities.

By , 25 March 2007 21:15

Edited from an email sent to a customer:

There are a number of options available:

1) Mix the Biosa, molasses and water with bran using this recipe*. Let it ferment in a warm place for a few weeks then dry. 1L of Biosa, molasses and water will make 160Kg/350lb of bokashi. 1Kg of dried bokashi can last 8 – 16 weeks, so it encourages use for composting household waste indoors [even during the winter.:-)]. It can also be used in larger settings such as school/community center lunch rooms and as a kitty litter deodorizer.

2) Mix the Biosa with molasses and water. This creates an Activated Biosa that can be diluted as low as 2%. 1L of Biosa will make 34L Activated. At a 2% solution, this is enough to use with 1700L with water. There is a limited shelf life to this product, 2 – 4 weeks, but it would be the best solution for dealing with a lot of post-consumer waste. You don’t have to make it all at once. Smaller quantities – as little as 500ml – make it accessible for use in restaurants, cafeterias etc. It can also work as an odour control agent; if you know what the smell of a fat rendering collection truck is like during the summer, this would be a big help if they washed their trucks with it.

*includes link to a list of suppliers all over the world, including me.

On this site, you can order here.

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Response to Ben about making your own EM

By , 4 February 2007 09:04

Added 12 April 2007: The lactic acid cultures provided by various companies around the world are a combination of bacteria that work together. The information provided in this post refers to only one of the seven bacterial cultures
contained in Biosa and similar products. The results you get from making your own lactic acid culture may differ greatly from what you have read here and elsewhere. On this site, you can get order information here. Comments welcome.

Update: [Added additional lines indicated by italics.]

Ben you ask a good question:

Thanks to your reply I understand how to make the bokashi but I am still wondering whether or not it is possible to make EM without purchasing the original first.

I had the same question, Ben. Biosa™, EM and all similar products can be compared to homebrew kits. You can buy all the equipment & ingredients for making wine or beer separately and experiment on your own with mixed, and sometimes toxic, results. But if you buy a kit and follow the instructions, you have a fair chance of making a perfect beverage all the time.

Dr. Higa’s formulations, while not public domain, are made from naturally occurring elements.

I found three information sites that may be helpful in answering your question:

[Unedited from the original]

Beneficial Indigenous Organisms (BIM)

Lactic acid bacteria is also known to produce enzymes and natural antibiotics aiding effective digestion and has antibacterial properties, including control of salmonella and e. coli. To farmers, what are observed are the general health of the plants and animals, better nutrient assimilation, feed conversion and certain toxins eliminations.

Here’s a simple method of collecting this type of microorganism. Lactic acid bacteria can be collected from the air. Pour rice wash (solution generated when you wash the rice with water) on a container like plastic pot with lid. Allow air gap at least 50-75% of the container. The key here is the air space. Cover the (not vacuum tight, allowing air still to move into the container) container with lid loosely. Put the container in a quiet area with no direct sunlight. Allow the rice was to ferment for at least 5-7 days. Lactic acid bacteria will gather in 5-7 days when temperature is 20-25 degrees C. Rice bran will be separated and float in the liquid, like a thin film, smelling sour. Strain and simply get the liquid. Put this liquid in a bigger container and pour ten parts milk. The original liquid has been infected with different type of microbes including lacto bacilli. And in order to get the pure lacto bacilli, saturation of milk will eliminate the other microorganisms and the pure lacto bacilli will be left. You may use skim or powdered milk, although fresh milk is best. In 5-7 days, carbohydrate, protein and fat will float leaving yellow liquid (serum), which contain the lactic acid bacteria. You can dispose the coagulated carbohydrate, protein and fat, add them to your compost pile or feed them to your animals. The pure lactic acid bacteria serum can be stored in the refrigerator or simply add equal amount of crude sugar (dilute with 1/3 water) or molasses. Do not use refined sugar as they are chemically bleached and may affect the lactic acid bacteria. The sugar or molasses will keep the lactic acid bacteria alive at room temperature. One to one ratio is suggested although sugar, regardless of quantity is meant simply, serving as food for the bacteria to keep them alive. Now, these lactic acid bacteria serum with sugar or molasses will be your pure culture. To use, you can dilute this pure culture with 20 parts water. Make sure water is not chemically treated with, like chlorine. Remember, we are dealing with live microorganisms and chlorine can kill them. This diluted form 1:20 ratio will be your basic lactic acid bacteria concoction. [this is the same recommended dilution ratio [.doc file] with Biosa/EM-1 etc. – Al] Two to four tablespoons added to water of one gallon can be used as your basic spray and can be added to water and feeds of animals. For bigger animals, the 2-4 tablespoons of this diluted lactic acid bacteria serum should be used without diluting it further with water. Lactic acid bacteria serum can be applied to plant leaves to fortify phyllosphere microbes, to soil and compost. Of course, it will help improve digestion and nutrient assimilation for animals and other applications mentioned before. For any kind of imbalance, be it in the soil or digestive system, lacto bacilli can be of help.

Yikes! Wouldn’t you rather just pour it out of a bottle? The article continues:

One of the popular beneficial microorganism innoculants from Japan (EM) contains lactic acid bacteria as its major component, including photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi. These are pure culture imported from Japan and can be subcultured through the use of sugar or molasses. These other microbes can be cultured in several ways by farmers themselves.

There is a lot more. Read it all….

The good thing about a pre-packaged product is that you can make smaller batches successfully. 250ml of Biosa/EM with 250ml of molasses and 12L of water will make 40Kg/100lbs of bokashi. Another advantage is that it has a guaranteed shelf life – at most 1 year – which you can’t be certain of with the lactic acid you make on your own.

It is a lot simpler than what they do in Latin America:

[Unedited from the original]

Tue, 31 Oct 2000 17:23:15 -0600
Reply-To: Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group
Subject: Bocashi

SEveral people have asked me about bocashi, the japanese ‘biofermented’
compost. Here is a recipe we use. Rapidly translated from Spanish so
pardon the spanglish.

This fertilizer has been tried by many Mexican and other Latin American Farmers. In each place the ingredientes vary, the result of trial and error and local knowledge.


To prepare 200 kg (about 12 gunny sacks) of bocashi

v 5 sacks of manure
v 5 sacks of rice hulls or 4 bails of oat or barley straw.
v 5 sacks local soil, without clods or rocks
v 1 sack charcoal dust or small pieces (this can be made from corn husks,
v 10 kg rice polishings, wheat bran or pig feed.
v 10 kg of agricultural lime
v 1 lbs bread yeast.
v 4 liters of molasses
v 200 liters water


Gather to appropiate quantity of ingredients in an area that is protected from sun and rain, near a water source. Otherwise the prepared fertilizer should be covered with a large sheet of plastic or equivalent. A cement floor is good.

1. The ingredients are layered in the following order: rice hulls, soil,manure, charcoal, bran, lime.

2,- Se coloca por capas los ingredientes en el siguiente orden:cascarilla de arroz o paja, tierra, estiércol, carbón, pulidora de arroz o salvado o concentrado, cal.

3. – The molasses and yeast is mixed with (luke warm) water and then added to the water to be used.

4 – The water mix should be applied uniformly as the pile is made. NO FURTHER WATER SHOULD BE ADDED.

The ‘fist test’ for the right amount of humidity: firmly squeeze a handful of bocachi. When released it should stay in a ball that falls apart easily. If it falls apart water is lacking, if water drips out, its too wet. Too much water is corrected by adding more dry matter.

5. We recommend turning the heap at least 2 or 3 times so that it is uniformly mixed.

6, Once mixed, it should be extended in a pile about 50cms high.

7. Cover with sacks or a plastic tarp.

During the first three days the fermentation is intense and temperature can reach above 80º C, which should not be permitted. Try and keep temperatures below 50º C by turning the heap twice a day, morning and evening.

As it heats up over the first three days it is a good idea to extend the heap more to a height of around 20 cms. After about 4 days, one turning per day is sufficient. Between 12 and 15 days (depending on climate and specific ingredientes) the compost should be ready. It will be at ambient temperature and will be copletely dry, gray in color with a sandy consistency. It has a pleasant smell (like a Japanese nursery).

Bocashi has many uses. Aged, (2-3 months) and sifted (with the charcoal pulverised) mixed with 60 to 90% loam, it is used in seed boxes. A small handful can be placed in the hole and covered with a little soil for transplanting vegetables. It can be applied in a band during the growing
phase. For corn, a motoroil can spread in a circle around each hill, just before flowering- etc.

See also:
Microbial Fertilizers in Japan

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