Bocashi as a type of compost (rural) (Honduras)

January 9, 2011

HONDURAS – Making Bocashi Fertilizer

…  The basic recipe is to take a source of dry manure (chicken and goat) and mix it with a source of carbon (coffee hulls) and some soil and then start adding the extras. … three bags of ground charcoal, a bag of rice germ, a bag of agricultural lime, a gallon of molasses, and also a bag of finished bocashi as a starter. You mix it all together with enough water for 50% moisture and then you mix and monitor over then next 7 days. Essentially you have made a big pile of pickles for the earth. Not only does the bocashi add activated minerals, but the main function is to improve the microbial balance in the soil. It is sort of like an acidophillus pill for the soil. …  

Source: Farmer to Farmer Blog

Natural Fertilizer. Bocashi in Central America

September 27, 2010

The soil’s second chance

One strategy to replenish and maintain soil fertility involves the creation of bocashi. This highly effective and inexpensive natural fertiliser can be made from readily-available materials, including manure, coffee pulp, or rice hulls, together with yeast and molasses. These are then mixed with healthy soil. The yeast feeds on the molasses during a 15-day fermentation and decomposition process, aided by mixing manually twice-a-day. The bocashi mix is then added to crops, and yields either match or improve upon those obtained with chemical fertilisers – at a fraction of the cost.

A young farmer inspects his maize crop, which has benefited from the application of bocashi


Source: Learning not to burn – transforming land and livelihoods in Central America

(Note: This is another example of “cutting the EM hype”, as the method described is a simple farm compost recipe. It involves fermenting to avoid putrefaction. No more, no less. In this case, using yeast.)

Bokashi Compost (Nicaragua)

May 27, 2010


ingredients for making 16 sacks of compost in 15 days.
5 sacks rice hulls or dried grass or leaves
5 sacks fertile soil
5 sacks cow or chicken manure or both
1.5 sacks carbon (charcoal from fire)
23 lbs. semolina
10 lbs. lime
5 lbs. sugar
172 lb. yeast
optional: spent coffee grounds

choose a spot protected from the sun, wind, and rain or prepare outdoors and cover with black plastic. Work in a site with firm ground bemeath.

Layer the materials, keeping in mind a good mix between green and brown materials. Water should be added to drier layers, not building the pile higher than 50 centimenters.
Mix the sugar and yeast in water and pour lightly and homogenously over the top of pile and mix to spread the mixture to all parts of pile, thus beginning the fermentation.
Once finished, begin to turn the pile twice daily for 5 days and then once daily for 7 days.
Let the pile sit for 3 days.
The pile should always feel moist and warm in the center.
Test pile to make sure everything is well mixed and decomposed.
Place compost into sacks, protected from sun and rain until used.
The compost should not be left for more than 3 months.

Source: Puddle Jumping in Nicaragua Abono Bocashi

(Note: This is another example of “cutting the EM hype”, as the method described is a simple farm compost recipe. It involves fermenting to avoid putrefaction. No more, no less. In this case, using yeast.)

Foliar Fertilizer (Nicaragua)

May 27, 2010


12 lbs. fresh cow manure
1/2 block of sugarcane, or 1 lb. white sugar, molasses
3 litres milk (fresh from cow if available)
4 oz. ash from fire

1 5- gallon bucket with lid
syphon or ruber tubing

Dilute cow manure, sugar, milk, and ash in enough water to fill at least half the bucket.
Mix well, removing any clumps from the mixture.
Once mixed, fill the rest of the bucket with water.
Cover with lid. In the lid carve a hole just the right size to place the syphon or rubber tubing.
Place one end of rubber tubing in the lid so it is in contact with the water.
Place other end of tubing in a 1 or 2 litre soda bottle.
Leave bucket in a cool dark space.
Mix daily for 7 days and then let sit 3 days without stirring.
After 10 days, strain the solid material and pour the liquid into a pump sprayer.
Apply 2 or 3 litres to one pump sprayer and dilute with 18- 20 litres water.
Apply every 8 days to the foliage of crops to give them a boost of N, P, K.

The application of this fertilizer has best results when applied in the early morning or evening, when the sun and hot temps cannot burn the fertilizer applied to the leaves.

Source: Puddle Jumping in Nicaragua – Fermentation and Fertilization

(Note: This is another example of “cutting the EM hype” with the use of milk and molasses, out on the farm. Beneficial indigenous microorganisms.)

Bokashi. Not exactly composting. More like ensilaging.

April 21, 2010

[start quote] 
[cab] (…) Bokashi, as it has come to mean (…), is not a composting process. At all. It doesn’t make compost, but it does convert material that can’t be composted because it’ll go rancid or attract beasties into something that you can bury and ignore, and it also produces a nutritious liquid plant food. 

But the magical ‘effective microorganisms’ of which the sales pitch would have you believe are, in my view, rather spurious. 
The best results I’ve obtained have been by taking a fresh load (a little kitchen composter pot sized amount) of mixed kitchen waste, mixing in a tablespoon of glucose from a health food shop, and some Lactobacillus bacteria powder, of the type that you get from a health food shop (and which a home salami maker may have lurking in the fridge!). Mix up, put in a tightly sealed filled plastic container (a bokashi composter) with a tap on the bottom, and leave it for three weeks. 
When it works (which has been all but twice) you’ve basically got a bacterial de-proteination of the waste. Or, in other words, the Lactobacillus bacteria have gone nuts, eaten the glucose, and then gone looking for more goodies. The pH has dropped to a point where much of the protein has lysed out of the food waste and is sitting in the liquid (tap that off as plant food, needs diluting a lot of course), and the solid matter smells just a little unpleasantly sweet. Bury the waste in a corner of the allotment somewhere and ignore it. It’ll rot down, and worms will eat it. 
When it doesn’t work, it goes rank and horrid and you’ll need a strong stomach to deal with it. 
Using the bokashi ‘bran’ has been no more or less successful than a spoonfull of bacteria powder and some glucose. 
I conclude, therefore, that the process (at least with the waste we’ve been producing!) is very much akin to ensilaging.
[end quote]  
Date: Jan 27, 10    

Simply kickstarting the composting process.

April 20, 2010

[start quote] So, this Bokashi thing. 
It works well for starting off the composting process on anything you wouldn’t normally be able to compost, but the hype about the ‘effective microorganisms’ doesn’t convince me. Works very well (…) to start off the composting process for such things as meat, fish, cooked waste, etc; the pH falls to the point where proteins dissolve out as a rich liquour that makes a decent plant food supplement, the remaining material isn’t pleasant to smell but it isn’t totally sickening, and it breaks down at a reasonable speed in compost or just buried. [end quote] [cab: Not an expert. An informed dabbler perhaps.] Jul 01, 09          Source:

Those magic EMs are simply ensilaging.

April 19, 2010

Apr 29, 08 
[start quote]  [cab] (…) a simple ensilaging process for cooked food will be better and easier to control, [in] that the ensilaged, low pH waste will have most of the protein in it dribble out simply in the liquor, making for a handy high nitrogen plant feed, and that the ensilaged food waste should degrade marvellously when buried. It would be an easier approach, if it works.  [[It does.]]

Question:   What would an ensilaging process be – simple or otherwise?
Answer:   [cab] Crudely, in this instance it would mean selecting an appropriate lactic acid producing bacteria and giving it a carbon source it can use (probably glucose, although I’m sure it would do fine on ordinary sugar). It uses the sugar and other nutrients from the mix, outcompeting the other bacteria quite readily in this environment as long as you keep it close to anaerobic. The production of lactic acid eventually drops the pH to a point where the bacteria stop doing a great deal and not a lot else can grow either, and at a low pH most of the available protein in the waste will be lysed out. The remaining solid matter should be a bit spongier, and far more readily degraded by organisms in the soil such as assorted fungi and actinomycete bacteria, i.e. it’ll rot down pretty quickly and not fester with nasty smelly bacteria. [end quote]  
Date: Apr 29, 08            

Many thanks to long gone !!

April 17, 2010

The original site for Newspaper Bokashi Secrets and an alternative to the expensive bran and EM Hype, was  http : / /   It  was temporarily down during March and April 2010, but  is now definitely gone. In its place is just another site selling that expensive bran and bucket hype. In appreciation of the work of the author of that  original site,  see his Original posts (Google cache for February 2010) below, reorganized.  OR download  Bokashicomposting.pdf    

For a more comprehensive  version on bocashi, rural and urban (in Spanish)  
see  Bokashi (Pre) Compostaje domiciliario


March 15, 2010

September 12th, 2008
This website he original http : / /] is dedicated to the use and promotion of Bokashi composting using FREE naturally occurring beneficial indigenous micro-organisms (BIM)! Bokashi composting need not be expensive! No need for expensive commercial starters, expensive cultures, expensive bran or fancy buckets!

Download Bokashicomposting.pdf

Getting started (Part One) Collecting wild lactobacillus.

March 14, 2010

September 30th, 2008                 Source: the late  http : / /  (extinct)


Making your own bokashi starter culture in place of commercially available EM is incredibly easy.

My goal from the start was to produce bokashi compost without the use of expensive EM, bran or fancy buckets.

The most important component of the commercial EM in relation to bokashi is lactobacillus bacteria, the others are secondary (if at all necessary) and can be cultured in the bucket when conditions are favorable.

I culture my own lactobacillus serum starting with a rice wash water solution.

Making the serum is amazingly simple.

I mix one part rice thoroughly with two parts water (1/2 a cup to one cup). Mix thoroughly and vigorously. Drain. The resulting water should be cloudy.

Place the rice water in a container with 50-75% head space allowing plenty of air to circulate. Cover lightly (air should be able to move in and out of the container) and place in a cool dark spot for 5-8 days.

At the end of the wait the mixture should smell mildly sour.
Strain out any particles.

Download complete instructions: Bokashicomposting.pdf