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Aug 2001

Micro-organising the environment

At the end of May Auroville hosted for Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry farmers the first workshop on the use of Effective Micro-organisms (EM) in agriculture. Tineke talked to Margarita Correa, one of the two Aurovilians involved in EM research.


Effective Micro-organisms (EM) were discovered in Japan in the late sixties. It is a liquid product which combines lactic acid bacilli, photosynthetic (or phototropic) bacteria, yeast, ray fungi, and actinomycetes. It can be used to treat waste water and solid waste, to increase milk production and to improve cattle health. Dr. Lucas and Margarita, who introduced Effective Micro-organisms (EM) in Auroville in October 1999, have been monitoring its use.
The success has been remarkable. Take, for example, Discipline farm, where allopathic medicines had failed to cure cows of a necrotic fungus. After using EM, the cows not only returned to full health, but also remained healthier and showed fewer flies and ticks. Other dairies that fed EM to their animals noticed that the milk production increased, and that the milk products improved their taste. A few Auroville farms spray EM on their vegetable gardens, paddy fields and fruit trees. One of the successes observed is the eradication of the rhinoceros beetle in coconut trees.

EM is also successfully used to improve compost and enhance an organic fertiliser called 'Bokashi', a dry mixture consisting of oil cakes, rice, millets, salt and jaggery. Its effective use as a bio-pesticide is being tested.
Also in the treatment of kitchen waste the use of EM has proven effective. A foul odour produced by Auroville's Solar Kitchen waste water treatment plant had become intolerable for diners and nearby residents. It caused a nuisance of flies and mosquitoes. A daily cup of EM in the drain points and toilets proved sufficient to solve the problem.

Concludes Margarita: "After a trial period of nearly two years, the results in agriculture, animal husbandry and waste water treatment are very positive and highly encouraging. Our activities have now spread out into India. We attend seminars and give consultancy across the country. To keep informed about world-wide developments, I recently attended an EM International Workshop in Thailand, and will represent India in the 7th International Conference in Kiusei Nature Farming and Effective Micro-organisms in New Zealand later this year.


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