Great benefits to the Home Gardener

Having so much success with EM I not only informed other passioned gardeners about it  but would like to share with you one particular test I've made. My broccoli had the usual caterpilars at this time of the year and instead of throwing them out I sprayed EM 1:5. After some time I was surprised to see that the broccoli had new healthy leaves and was growing vigrously. I harvested the stems 2 days ago and realized there were no caterpilars in them at all. Beautiful!! The other success story was with an old lime tree that had many leafes covered  black. (I don't know what it is called) I sprayed it with EM 1:5 and the black stuff is nearly gone after one week!!

Just amazing.

  • Erika Studer

EM stopped wilt in my Tomatos

Have long been a fan of EM - I use it in my compost loos and septic tank and food garden.

This purchase was specifically to keep soil borne wilt at bay in my tomatoes. I lost a couple to it so I drenched the soil with em weekly in an attempt to keep it at bay. it worked! No more tomatoes keeled over!!

Kind Regards 


The Use of EM in a Calf Shed

We live on a 200ha Farm on the West Coast and milk 350 cows. In spring, we rear about 80 to 100 replacements in a four bay shed.

In good weather, they soon go on to a calf paddock during the day. Living on the coast means that quite often in spring we have longer periods of rainy weather so the calves have to stay indoors. This leads to a rather overcrowded situation and a fast bacterial build up. In previous years, I have noticed that the late calves give me the most troubles concerning scouring. Of course, it is always a combination of factors. Towards the end, the calf milk contains less colostrum and in wet weather, the pathogenic pressure seems to be higher. In previous years, I have tried to overcome this by spraying an antibacterial and fungal spray (VirdonS). Sometimes I wondered if it made any difference...I can’t see how our calf shed could possibly be free of bacterial and fungal contamination with all the birds nesting in there, not to mention that I would have to change constantly my clothes and boots!

So it made complete sense when I heard of EM, to give it a try and, rather than kill every organism in the shed, try to suppress the “bad bacteria” and support the good ones. Which is what I did: I’ve produced a bucket of EM, as instructed (1 part EM, 1 part Molasses, 18 parts water, for 7 days) and diluted this “extension” 1:100.  I sprayed the entire shed (including walls, bays, gates) in the beginning once a week, later when the shed was full and with wet weather I went on spraying every second day. During an outbreak of diarrhoea, I sprayed every day. I have had a case of navel infection last year, despite spraying the navel area with iodine at arrival. This year I had no problems at all. I also used a much-diluted form of EM to rinse the big 40-teat feeder.

Apart from some light scouring which probably was caused by overfeeding and colostrums-poor milk, I lost one 3 week old calf which was bloated and must have died from wrong fermentation. I also found that the smell was reduced. Not to mention the great compost for my garden next year!

I certainly recommend the use of EM strongly - but as a fine tuning tool and not with a fix-it-all approach. The basics still need to be in place: In the case of calf rearing,  enough Colostrums in the first hours and a dry,  draught free environment.

Christine Korner

  • Christine Korner
  • Arko Farms, Waitaha Valley, Southwestland

Excellent Results Treating Disease on Flowers and Trees

We have had excellent results in treatment of Botrytis on Peonies. I treated with Bacilus Subtilus twice as new shoots appeared and then weekly initially with EM (1%) then fortnightly as spring progressed. No sign of the disease which had been there every year when treated only with Bacilus Subtilus. Our clients have said that they are looking the best ever.

We have also treated our Peach tree which is looking better. There is a crop on the tree this year and the disease didn’t result in dropping all leaves like last year. Not sure if fruit will fully ripen or not. Newer growth this year appears to be disease free, but the older leaves still quite diseased. (was treating initially weekly at 1% but now fortnightly at 1%). This followed copper spray at dormancy and then 2 copper sprays prior to bud burst .

  • Roy Smith

Amazing EM

We have had amazing results with EM on our plants and seeds and chook health and in their pen, we even spray the chooks weekly with EM and their coats are healthy as and our veges are neigh on perfect. 

  • Claire Mummery

Excellent Waste Water Results in a Vineyard

We have been using EM in our waste water environment for about 5 years, it has helped us to control odour, reduce sludge build up on pipes and tanksand helps keep our BOD below the required levels. I would recommend everyone try EM and see the results for yourself. - Bruce Walker - Winery Operations Manager Spy Valley Wines

  • Bruce Walker
  • Spy Valley Wines

Great Results in the Garden and with Chickens

This was the first time I've used your products and am seeing the results within 10 to 14 days, both in the vegetable garden, composting and with the chickens, their egg shells hardened and yolks become vibrant and the 'off' chicken smell has gone along with the flys. I'm looking forward to trying the EM in my parents motorhome toilet system rather than the chemical hit.

  • Jason Cullen

Home Gardener have success with EM

This was the first time I've used your products and am seeing the results within 10 to 14 days, both in the vege garden, composting and with the chickens, their egg shells hardened and yolks become vibrant and the 'off' chicken smell has gone along with the flys. I'm looking forward to trying the EM in my parents motorhome toilet system rather than the chemical hit.

I would love to hear about other applications.

Have a great day,

Jason Cullen

  • Jason Cullen

Canterbury Farmer Russell Rudd discusses how he has used EM on his farm to aid organic matter breakdown, crop growth, and as a seed treatment on Maize, Fodder Beet and other Crops.

Canterbury Farmer, Russell Rudd discusses how he has used EM on his farm to aid organic matter breakdown, crop growth, and as a seed treatment on Maize, Fodder Beet and other Crops. See the video -

Transcript of Video

EMNZ: What have you done with this paddock in particular with regards to EM?

Russell: We started off with a large pile of Manure from our shed which we winter 150 head of Cattle and they were on a bed of Barley straw. Almost 400 tonne was left in a heap over winter and sprayed with EM before being brought out to the paddock spread and worked in. The paddock was also sprayed with EM before planting. We’ve used Viafos Guano when planting the maize and other than that it has only had a little dose of Ammo 36 as far as nitrogen goes.

EMNZ: Its look pretty good compared with Last year?

Russell: Yes we are happy with it. It’s been a really difficult growing season with the hot winds and almost no summer rain. It’s been watered 4 times this season and we’ve probably got just as good a crop as any other year.

EMNZ: We’ve also done a bit with Pasja and some other Fodder Crops. What have we done there?

Russell: We drilled 55 ha of dry land Pasja this spring and it was all planted after an application of EM with Roundup at 10L per ha and we’ve had at least 3 grazing’s off all of the Pasja despite the lack of summer rain. Its performed particularly well on the clay downs and we haven’t had to sell any lambs early, they have all been killed in that 18-21 kg weight range so it’s really kept us going well. The Kale has also had the same.

EMNZ: You also tried a bit of a seed treatment as well?

Russell: Yes, the paddocks which didn’t need spraying with roundup we mixed the seeds with EM and treated them that way. 

  • Russell Rudd

EM Effect on Black Spot

I now have used EM1 as a foliar spray with great effect on black spot with which our garden is infected.  I should say “was infected” since after one spray it has mostly disappeared.  I have also made bokashi and am using it in my layered compost.  Too early to say if it is making a difference since I have only been using it for a week.

  • Christine Flowers

Client who uses EM in grease trap and septic tanks of large restaurant in Auckland

Dear Mike

I just thought I would drop you an email to explain my experience with your eco bacteria (EM) product. When I first started working at Snowplanet we used to get our grease traps and septic tanks emptied professionally approx. every 4 months.

Since using your product now for the last 8 months we have not had to have either one emptied. All we do is put 100ml down each drain and 500ml down the toilet every other day and since doing this regime we have not had a single compliant of any smells nor have we noticed any smells.

We also used to have problems with drains blocking and backing up this has also now stopped, so with that said I would recommend this product to anyone considering the potential uses and benefits.

Just to add to that is that I have been a chef now for 23 years and have worked world wide and I have not before come across any product that produces results as fast as this has done. Well done and great product.


Alan McGee

  • Alan McGee
  • Head Chef at Snowplanet

Use of EM in Hybrid toilet systems

To Whom It May Concern,

The Department of Conservation’s Golden Bay Area Office is responsible for maintaining some of the facilities on the Heaphy Track and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, two of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. Included in these facilities are some Hybrid Toilet systems, of which more information can be found here.

Because of the nature of the open septic primary tank, which the toilet sits on, we had experienced significant odour issues. Also, due to the high volume of waste on our Great Walks we had also experienced significant system digestion issues. As a consequence of these issues I had researched possible additive solutions and have found that an EM-A mix has significantly assisted. The mix we have used has been: 1 litre Naturefarm’s EM1, 1 litre molasses, 18 litres water – left to ferment for 5 days and then added to each of our Primary tanks.

The results have been so positive that we intend to role this mix out to all our containment toilets this summer to help with odour issues and assist in digestion to prolong the time between pump outs.

Yours Sincerely

Richard Brown
Ranger–Visitor Assets, Great Walk Hut Warden Supervisor

  • Richard Brown
  • The Department of Conservation, Golden Bay Area

Waste - an 80% reduction in malodour, using EM

To whom it may concern,

Interclean Industrial Services operates a liquid waste disposal business from an open air site in South Auckland. This business deals primarily in septic tank and grease trap waste disposal.

Due to ongoing odour complaints from neighboring businesses, and subsequent council involvement, I took it upon myself to research a solution.

In March of 2010 I initiated a trial of Effective Micro-organisms “EM”, having learned about the product from a friend. It is fair to say, that the staff working at our liquid waste plant were less than enthusiastic about trialling yet another product recommended by someone with less experience than their own in the field. However it did not take long to change this attitude.

The effect on the first truck load of “EM” dosed product brought into the plant was so remarkable that none present could deny this was likely to be the solution we were looking for. This tanker had been pre loaded with 50 litres of “EM-A” prior to leaving the plant 4 hours earlier. It had been filled over the next 3 hours with 16,000 litres of septic tank waste, and then driven back to the plant for discharge into the processing plant.

Those present at the time of discharge were in agreement that there was possibly an 80% reduction in malodour over this short time. An immediate commitment was made to continue to use “EM” for odor control.

During the subsequent few months it was observed that the general malodour of the site had reduced considerably, as the microbes naturally spread to wherever there was a food source available to them. It was also noted by spouses of the operators that they themselves and their vehicles had lost the distinctive odor associated with this industry.

A good deal of the cost of using “EM” has been recovered through the cessation of the practice of spraying chemical masking agents along boundary fences.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Pattison

  • Mike Pattison
  • Contracts Manager at Interclean Industrial Services, Auckland

Use of EM at a liquid waste processing plant

Email received 28/2/11: 

Dear Mike, 

I would like to take this opportunity to summarise my experience to date with your product Effective Microorganisms “EM”, and ask that you please feel free to use this email as an endorsement with future potential users. 

“Interclean Industrial Services” is a multi faceted company for whom I work as a contracts manager, looking after mostly, city council run contracts, cleaning streets and drainage assets. Part of our business includes a liquid waste processing plant, which deals with large volumes of septic tank and grease trap waste. This plant is an open air operation, which was attracting ongoing odour complaints from neighbouring businesses. 

While researching to find an effective solution to this odour problem, it was suggested to me by a friend that I look into using “EM”. Through his own experience he had found the “EM” based product “Bokashi” to work extremely well in his domestic composting toilet, not only in the control of odour, but also with the mitigation of pathogenic organisms. 

It was decided to ship a few hundred litres of “EM” to Auckland, and to run a short trial. Understandably, the staff at our liquid waste plant were less than enthusiastic at the prospect of trialling what they expected would prove to be yet another waste of their time. 

Due to this, I decided to initiate the trial without their knowledge. This was done by dosing 40 Litres of activated “EM” into the tanker which collects 16,000 Litres of septic waste per day. The resulting reduction in odour when discharging this tanker into our holding tank 4 hours later was so remarkable that I have never had any issues getting our staff to use the product since. 

Over a period of a couple of months, the effect of “EM” has spread itself right around the entire site, an area of at least 1 acre in size. This has happened without deliberate application of “EM” anywhere other than in the tankers collecting the waste. The effect of this has been to reform the site from one which smelled quite offensive at all times, to one where you would not guess it was a waste treatment plant if you didn’t already know. 

Recently “Interclean” has managed to negotiate a very attractive rate for the disposal of the refined waste, on the basis that it is now so well processed by the time it reaches landfill that it can be used as top cover and therefore no longer attracts the waste disposal levy previously paid. 

  • Mike Pattison
  • Contracts Manager at Interclean industrial Services, Auckland

How effective microorganisms can save the world – Lessons from Thailand, By Bronwen Evans

To harness the abundance of the tropics, the soil needs humus, lots of it. I was thrilled, therefore, when I discovered piles of palm flower heads for sale at a nearby mushroom farm and took home a truckload.

My sister-in-law Sula, who manages the place, wasn’t impressed. “Look at these snails!” She held out one, which almost filled her palm: "And look here!” She lifted up a palm head to reveal a muddy scab of dust and scampering lice: “Termites! Don’t buy those palms any more,” she huffed. As for cow manure, the other option I proposed – “too smelly! The guests won’t like it.”

So I had a problem. Fortunately a New Zealander, Trish Allen of Rainbow Valley Farm, gave me a solution - Effective Micro-organisms or EM. She had come to Thailand to attend a workshop about this system which is a natural way of increasing the fertility of the soil while managing pests and diseases.

EM is a mixed culture of micro organisms, in three categories: photosynthetic bacteria, lactobbacilus and yeasts. In layman’s terms photosynthetic bacteria fix the sun’s energy into useful acids, sugars and metabolites, lactobbacilus helps suppress some disease inducing microorganisms and pest populations and yeasts promote cell and root division.

The principles of EM were laid down by Mokichi Okada, the founder of Nature Farming or Kyushei in Japanese, which means “save the world.” In addition to helping individual farmers, it would enhance human health and well-being, create sufficient production to feed an increasing population in a sustainable way and help to conserve the environment. Mokichi Okada died in 1955 but his mantle was assumed by Professor Teruo Higa of the Agricultural University of Okinawa. Professor Higa developed and trademarked Effective Microorganisms, or EM, and in 1989 the Asia Pacific Natural Agricultural Network (APNAN) was born in Thailand. 

Thanks to APNAN, local Thai farmers began using EM on their crops, in animal husbandry and aquaculture. The government used it for waste management, water and soil pollution control and even to reduce the smells of corpses after the 2004 Tsunami. My EM experiment began with a truckload of rice straw, piles of leaves, bags of cow manure, EM and molasses that I bought from APNAN, a 100 litre drum and Pon, my husband’s 20-something nephew who had learnt about making EM in school.

We made bokashi, a special EM compost that doesn’t generate as much heat as regular compost and is ready for the garden within days. This was for my new vegetable garden. My beans, which I had soaked in EM before planting in the bokashi, shot up like triffids waving their tendrils in the sky. Before long the housemaids were asking me for bean seeds to plant in their own gardens.

I also began making EM tea following the same recipe of EM, molasses and water. It needs to be left for 7-10 days to ferment and then it can be diluted with water and sprinkled on the garden. The water by the way must be pure, not chlorinated. The first point to remember when making EM tea, otherwise know as secondary EM, is to use your nose. Primary EM from APNAN has a sweet-sour smell, somewhat like fermented  kikoman sauce. This is what you are aiming for with your secondary EM.

Everything must be kept clean – so scrub out the drum each time. Left too long and the brew smells like an over-ripe Chardonnay. If there are bacterial residues in the drum, it pongs like a grubby Bordeaux. Since the effectiveness of EM is reliant on the balance of the micro organisms, APNAN advises you to throw it away if it doesn’t have the correct sweet-sour smell. 

EM for pest control

To tackle pests such as termites, snails and ants I make a natural pesticide, which is a brew of bitter or insect-repelling herbs such as neem, citronella, chiretta and marigolds mixed with EM tea. This has a dual benefit, as the more fertile the garden becomes, the more it will attract natural predators such as birds, fish, frogs and lizards. The wildlife also helps to keep down the mosquitoes which pleases us and our guests.

Since I began using EM the garden has became more lush, the flowers more prolific. Little sunbirds dart in and out of the bushes to make nests while butterflies sip the nectar. Encouraged by such success, I have expanded the initial weekly drum of EM to two, then three, the EM trail around the garden marked out by piles of worm casings. 

We tip EM down the drains to keep them clean and disinfect our grey water tank and flush it in the toilets for our septic tanks. The hibiscus flowers, which are watered from the grey water tank, have never looked better. I clean out the cage of my pet lorikeet with EM and regularly add a splash to his bath water - his exuberant health and glossy feathers, a sign of its goodness. 

The EM message is spreading around the world. It is a boon for poorer countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos as farmers can produce more with less. It is also gaining a following in wealthier countries such as Australia, the United States and New Zealand. A New Zealand Nature Farming Society has been set up in Christchurch, Lincoln University is conducting EM trials and there are many distributors of EM and bokashi kits around the country, with Neville Burt of Bokashi NZ and Trish Allen of Rainbow Valley Farm keen advocates for the system.

For me, EM has become an addiction. It is not just that it produces quick and dramatic results, as it did with the beans. But even more deeply satisfying is seeing the steady transformation of the soil and the abundance of life that flows from the invigorated earth. 


Our Bokashi recipe

Mix up a tea of 500 mililitres of EM, 500 mililitres of molasses and 50 litres of water. Sprinkle this over the other materials such as straw, manure and leaves, which you have also mixed up until they are nicely damp, leave it in a pile and within a few days or weeks you will have black and friable bokashi, ready for the garden. 

Benefits of EM

  • EM promotes germination, growth, flowering, fruiting and ripening of crops
  • EM enhances the photosynthetic capacity of plants
  • EM enhances the efficacy of organic matter or fertilizer
  • EM develops resistance of plants to pests and diseases
  • EM improves the efficacy of organic matter as fertilizer
  • EM improves the physical, chemical and biological environment of the soil
  • EM suppresses soil borne pathogens and pests

About the author

New Zealander Bronwen Evans, is a former journalist with Radio New Zealand. She now lives in Thailand with her Thai husband Surin Laopha, and is the owner of Faasai Resort and Spa, an eco-resort in Chanthaburi, Thailand. The resort has three and a half acres of gardens and is a finalist in Wild Asia’s 2008 Responsible Tourism Awards. Their organic gardening effort was one of the factors considered by the judging panel when choosing finalists for the awards.

  • Bronwen Evans
  • Faasai Resort and spa, Thailand