The mainstays of EM are the photosynthetic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas spp), lactic acid bacteria, (Lactobacillus spp) and yeasts (Saccharomyces spp). Photosynthetic or phototropic bacteria are independent self-supporting microbes. They use the energy of sunlight and soil heat to convert secretions from plant roots, organic matter and harmful gases into plant useful substances like amino acids, nucleic acids, sugars and other metabolites. These can all be absorbed directly into plants to promote plant growth and also increase other beneficial microorganisms. For example VAM fungi increase in the root zone in the presence of amino acids secreted by these bacteria. In turn the VAM fungi improve the plant’s absorption of soil phosphates. The VAM can live alongside Azotobacter and Rhizobium and increase the capacity of plants to fix Nitrogen.
EM also includes lactic acid bacteria. These produce lactic acid from the sugars and carbohydrates the photosynthetic bacteria and yeasts produce. This is a strong sterilizing compound and can suppress some disease inducing microorganisms and nematode populations. It also contributes to the fermentation and breakdown of the tough cellulose and lignin. Here’s our soil digestive processes getting a help along. The yeasts in EM have other uses. They produce hormones and enzymes that promote plant cell and root division. They use the amino acids and sugars secreted by the photosynthetic bacteria and plant roots and in turn give off substances which are good growing compounds for the Lactic acid bacteria. So all three species have a separate role to play, and help each other. They also have a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship with the roots of plants. So plants grow exceptionally well and root structure is significantly improved in soils dominated by these Effective Microorganisms.
While we were in Estonia we got to view some wonderful farmers who are getting great results using EM. This farmer treated one Soyabean Crop with EM and left part of the crop EM free as a control. The results are easily visible with left side being the crop treated with EM and the control on the right. This shows the power of what EM can do when applied to the soil and the impact it can have on developing crop root structure. For more about Using EM in arable farming visit or arable webpage.
The second image shows the difference between a paddock of clover treated with EM and one without. The main differences are the improved root structure and many nodules on the treated paddock. There was also a much better breakdown of organic matter in the soil.