From the community

Humus per la Biosfera – Microorganisms for Humus Growth

by Laura Serra and Theresa Jäger, Humus per la Biosfera 

Within our humus project, microorganisms are a central element of our research work as they play an important role in the conversion of organic matter to humus.

Together with international volunteers and students, we are experimenting with commercial “Effective Microorganisms” (EM) to derive recommendations for action in agriculture and domestic composting. EM are used in agriculture, households and for nutrition to shift the milieu of bacteria, microalgae and fungi in favour of the beneficial organisms. They shall contribute to a quick organic transformation in humus.

In Sicily, the organic waste of many households ends up in the trash and is no longer part of the natural soil cycle. With the right methods, the organic materials could be transformed into valuable nutrient-rich humus by creating compost or bokashi (the anaerobe process of organic material). To do so, kitchen scraps are added to a bin and after some weeks the end product is a pre-compost and bokashi juice or liquid fertilizer.

Photo collection of volunteer filling the bokashi, the organic material in the bokashi bucket and the extracted bokashi juice

To experience and test the suitability of the space-saving alternative to a large compost, our volunteers use different types of them in their household with the aim to spread the method throughout the project region. Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte

Next steps will be the distribution of knowledge and experience exchange within our project region around the Etna, in order to reach all of the addressed 140,000 inhabitants.

Volunteers working on the analyses of EM-worm-sauerkraut experiment.

Our French trainee Antoine Vallée grew EM and conducted a four-week experiment, comparing the influence of EM and sauerkraut on earth worms. The result showed no significant effect in this particular experiment, only a slightly higher multiplication in the EM-treated culture than in the sauerkraut and the 0-sample. Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte

Volunteer spreading EM solution on field for analyses.

A second experiment with the self-produced EM solution on GV’s mixed fruit and olive grove investigate its influence on crop yield and root systems. Plants of a treated and untreated area will then be compared. Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte

We also use microorganisms to create Terra Preta (see our article “Terra Preta” for Carbon Sequestration) and they are one of the topics during our regular indoor lectures in school classes (see our article Humus per la Biosfera – Indoor Environmental Education).

Slide within our educational power point presentation in schools.

Slide of our educational PowerPoint presentation in schools. Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte

The results of the studies can be found on Terre della Biosfera’s website.

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