EM•1® Effective Microorganisms for Organic Gardening, Organic Farming, and Personal Health

EM•1® is a specific set of powerful microorganisms isolated 30 years ago by Dr. Teruo Higa in Japan. These particular species of organisms are very human-friendly, as they have the ability to consume environmental toxins, human pathogens, and plant pathogens, while remaining non-toxic to humans.

The agricultural uses for EM•1® are many, as it has proven very effective against plant diseases and destructive fungi.


How does EM•1® differ from compost tea?

The kind of compost tea we are promoting is termed aerated aerobic compost tea, which contains billions of beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, and protozoa per liter.

EM•1® is a different coalition of allied microbes; lactic acid bacteria, phototropic bacteria, yeasts, fermentative fungi, and actimomycetes. Some of the bacteria are actually faculative anerobes–that means that they may prefer a low oxygen environment but can function in the presence of it.

We hope this is not confusing to the readers, because in the book Compost Tea Making by Marc Remillard we repeatedly stress the importance of incouraging aerobic [oxygen loving] organisms and discouraging anaerobic [oxygen avoiding] organisms in your compost piles and compost tea brews.

EM•1® is a different animal [or it contains different animals!]

While compost teas need to be brewed and used fresh, EM•1® can be purchased and used [diluted] right out of the bottle. You can also culture EM•1® yourself easily and make more.

As stated above–if you really want to play hardball–you can make a batch of compost tea out of good compost or worm castings, then mix in some EM•1® before diluting and applying it to your plants.

EM•1® is marketed by TeraGanix. Click on the banner add on top of the page to visit their site

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35 Responses to EM•1® Effective Microorganisms for Organic Gardening, Organic Farming, and Personal Health

  1. Tia says:

    I’m confused about the difference between EM and compost tea. Which is better, or should I use both?

    • admin says:

      Hello Tia
      That is a very good question.
      EM1 contains a specific set of microbe species that are kind of the superheroes of the microbial world. Mostly bacteria and yeasts. EM1 products are used in agriculture but have other uses as well, such as for toxic cleanup, and human health.
      Compost teas tend to be very broad spectrum, because they contain microbes that are in the compost or worm castings that they are cultured from. There can be thousands of species of bacteria in a compost tea. Depending how a compost tea is made, and what it is made from, the beneficial fungal population can be high. They say that there can be 5000 species of fungi in one gram of compost tea–most of which do not even have species names. Teas with high fungal pupulations are good for trees, perrenials, and for arresting fungal problems, such as mildews.
      We are finding that by blending compost tea and EM1 together, we not only have a more effective tonic for the plants, but the very short shelf life [4 hours] of compost tea is increased to perhaps 24 hours.

  2. An interesting factor that we found while testing EM•1® in aerobic composting trials is that using EM•1® increased the populations of aerobic bacteria. This was due mainly to the increase in digestion of lignin and cellulose in the piles which allowed for greater air transfer in the piles. Pretty neat, huh?

  3. admin says:

    Thanks Eric

    You are talking about adding EM1 to aerobic thermal compost piles. That is, compost that is turned regularly to add oxygen. We are aware that EM1 can quickly digest many divers types of composting materials, and much quicker than typical composting microbes.

    I heard that you were working with the St. Clair vineyard, using EM1 and Bokashi.

    I have been managing a much smaller 2 acre Pinot Noir vineyard in experimental western Washington state.
    When I first stepped on site a year ago July their was a serious botrytis infection and observable powdery mildew as well. Nothing had ever been sprayed on the vineyard to combat fungus and diseases. Pinot Noir is fussy.

    We first applied Lime-sulfur. Then we sprayed compost tea and EM1 several times, sometimes mixed together. That year we made wine out of the grapes, but they had already been affected by the botrytis.

    After dormant pruning, we sprayed the typical copper-sulfate. Copper sulfate and lime-sulfur are considered “organic”, but since they are fungicides, are certainly hard on any fungal population. We continued with compost tea [fungal dominated] and EM1 applications spring through summer right up until harvest. I must confess that we also did one application of Rubicon [son of an evil galactic emperor] and two of Rally [his younger, nicer brother with a cute name]. We did not want to loose the vineyard. Now we are talking about one gorgeous, hand weeded, immaculately pruned and trellised vineyard.

    During the growing season, we began to notice an improvement in the quality of the soil. More earthworms arrived. By the time we harvested, we did observe a few grape clusters with bits of botrytis mold, but it was minimal. The greenish-black mold that had covered the shoots and stems the year before was gone. We considered it a real triumph, especially since this year was unusually cool and wet.
    Our intent is to cut back on the non organic sprays and use more EM1 and compost teas
    I must admit to being concerned about vigorous vines and over cropping, because, as you know, better wine is made out of low-vigor, lower yielding vines. By all agricultural standards the healthier the vines the more vigorous they would tend to be. In dry climates, the vigor can be controlled by deficit irrigation techniques, but here we rarely irrigate mature vines because there is plenty of rainfall.
    Using that same caveat though, the healthier the vines the better tasting the fruit should be–so one would think the wine would be better as well.
    Keep me posted

  4. Anna says:

    OK, I have not bought your book, “Compost Tea Making” yet, but I will. You guys are talking about mixing the prepared compost tea WITH another product called EM1, right? Do you think this will help with some of the mildew problems I have with my Bonsai plants?

    • admin says:

      Yes, we are talking about mixing the two together. Compost tea and EM1 are each powerful on their own, but together we are finding even better results by blending the two together. Your bonsai plants will definitely benefit from CT/E applications. A fungal-dominated compost tea would be best–for two reasons; 1. a fungal dominated tea is more effective on fungal issues than a bacterial dominated tea, and 2. a fungal dominated tea would tend to encourage less vigor in a bonsai.

  5. Michael Mickey says:

    I am interested in using EM1 in combination with compost tea that I currently brew. I have also read “compost tea making” and the section on EM1 on page 107. I am following the 5 gallon “basic bacterial compost tea” recipe on page 85. I do not see a specific amount specified when introducing EM1 to finished compost tea. I have not done much research by searching this site and likewise I have not reread the book to see if maybe I missed this, I am hoping that this question can simply be answered here. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Michael
      Good question, and one that I did not answer in the book. The chapter on EM1 could have been much larger. In particular, a recipe for brewing your own EM1 [out of EM1] would have been handy. If you follow the link to the Terraganix site from this site, you can find the instructions in there if you look hard enough. Its easy. Here are the recommended application rates for EM1.
      Spray greenhouse glazing with AEM•1® diluted to 1oz per gallon of water (1:128) weekly or bi-weekly to clean glazing and maximize light transfer.
      Hydrate potting soil (same for soil less mixes) with 4 ounces of AEM•1® Agricultural per 100 pounds of soil mix.
      Foliar spray every week at a rate of 0.5-1oz AEM•1® per gallon of water.
      If irrigating daily, inject at a rate of 1/7oz AEM•1® per gallon per day (about 1:1,000).
      Compost plant residues at a rate of 1 gallon AEM•1® per cubic yard of materials.

      1 ounce per gallon should work well. Keep me posted as to how it works for you!

  6. Todd says:

    Very interesting about mixing the two together. Do you suppose that the prolonged shelf life is simply a function of the fairly acidic EM1, which must kill a fair amount of the non-lacto organisms in the compost tea? Another way to ask would be, do you feel they’re more effective together or can you see a reason to use them separately?

    I’m dabbling in ‘capturing’ local beneficial microorganisms and am working out strategies on how to use them in conjunction with other products.

    Finally, do you know if EM1 has a shelf life? I have a bottle that’s still at pH3 but it doesn’t seem to be ‘working’. Can I jump-start it with some molasses or is it time to make a new bottle? Thanks for all your great work and reporting!

    • admin says:

      Great questions that I will not pretend to know the definitive answers to,
      The pH differance between any given batch of compost tea and EM1 could certainly be a contributing factor to the lengthened shelf life of the combined products, but as I think you are suggesting, there could be more complex factors involved as well.
      That said, I think we would agree that the two different products (compost tea and EM1)would be more effective if applied independantly of one another. In practice we all know how convienient it is for busy gardeners to mix the two products together.
      The shelf life for EM1 is 45 days. As to restarting it, that would be a question better answered by Eric from TerraGanix. You can follow the link on the front page of compostteamaking.com
      Capturing local beneficial organisms? Yes, Yes, Yes.
      Keep up the good work, and keep us posted about your research if you can.

  7. Todd says:

    Sorry, I meant to say EM-A! Please edit my post if you have the time.

  8. Eric L says:

    Reply to shelf life of EM•1®: The product has a Best Used As date on the label. It is roughly 1 year from the date of shipment/purchase.
    Shelf life of Activated EM•1® is about 45 days.
    Recipe for Activated EM•1®: TeraGanix.com>Downloads>Recipes>Activated EM•1®.

    Try out EM5 and FPE recipes as well and alternate applications between the three of them for best effects in foliar sprays.

    As for mixing/combining them. It would likely be best to tank mix and apply within a few hours of mixing. Especially with the short shelf life of tea, it would be best to not store the product for any extended period of time.

    Hope this helps.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Eric
      How is it coming with the large vineyard applications of EM1?

  9. Ron Kirk says:

    I have been vermicomposting for some time using horse manure and red wigglers. Before the manure is fed to the worms it goes through a thermal composting of around 150 degrees to kill eggs and seeds and also rid it of any medication given the animals. Recently there was a huge die off of worms which I believe was some drugs got through. The Worm Book suggests washing the manure first to leach out harmful things in it. Would spraying Em1 on the manure break down these meds?

    • admin says:

      Hi Ron
      That is certainly worth a try. As you know, it could warrant extensive studies concerning the relationship betwen various drugs, compost, and Effective Microorganisms (EM products). Shooting from the hip however, I would say yes, the EM1 should be effective in breaking down some of those compounds.
      This is such a good question that I will see if I can get a couple of others involved. One is Eric from TerraGanix (EM products), and another is a friend who knows more about worms that what is found in the books. I keep trying to encourage him to write a new, worm book.
      Stay tuned

      • admin says:

        Eric from TerraGanix (EM1) wrote back concerning my request via e-mail. I copy & pasted the letter here:

        HI Marc,
        Life has gotten incredibly busy! It seems like I am on the road every week now as the company is experiencing tremendous growth.

        I think this guy contacted the office yesterday. I had the same exact question emailed to me from someone in California. I recommended making the manure into bokashi first and then feeding it to the worms.

        How are things going for you?

  10. Mr Wormswrangler says:

    Hello Ron,
    I was the driving force behind the creation of the composting worm business many years ago. I am the person that Marc refers too. I love worm growing. I think the die-off might be from another source. I have a few questions. How long did you keep the thermal composting going. Did it go to completion? Meaning, did the temperature naturally drop from finishing? What changed, if anything, in your food source and environmental conditions? Did the supply come from the same animals? Horse manure, by itself, is a poor worm food unless heavily thoroughly composted. Or mixed with other food items. Email me and I can call you to help save the worms. Thx Mr Wormswrangler

  11. Pingback: The Landscape of Urban Farming: Bokashi Fermenting System | God of the Sparrow

  12. Pius Lwande says:

    I planted tomatoes and have been applying/spraying insecticides,sytemic/contact with the hope of preventing and managing any plant diseases against my crop. unfortunately in the 3 weeks i have lost 60 stems to wilting just when the fruits have formed. Can EM.1 help me stop the wilting? If so how do I apply it.

    • admin says:

      Hello Plus Lwande
      As you are aware, one never knows what will work when it comes to diseases, especially since they mutate. Try EM1. The 1:50 standard EM to water solution can be much stronger if you choose. It will not hurt the plant. I am not sure about applying a strong solution in direct sunlight though. TerraGanix (maker of EM1) makes another related product just for diseases. Check it out by using the link on the top right hand side of the compostteamaking.com homepage.

  13. kristen says:

    Could you make compost with bokashi then make compost tea with that compost and have both sets of microbes in the tea?

    • admin says:

      Hi Kristen
      Yes, and it would be worth a microscope study to see what the dominant organisms are. I put all of my excess EM in my 5 yard worm compost bed, so I guess I have been doing something similar, but thermal compost inoculated with Bokashi would probably end up EM dominant, or certainly EM influenced.

  14. Susie Fitzgerald says:

    Could you please explain the benefits to human health. I presume you drink EM.1.
    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Susie
      I cannot recommend ingesting EM1 due to legal reasons.
      However, I am crazy enough to use it in and on my body. If I have too much gas or other intestinal issues I will drink a glass of water with 1-3 spoonfuls of EM1. 3 spoonfuls may be too much, and induce loose bowels in some people. Today, I am finishing up the tenth monthly liver cleanse (The Amazing Gall Bladder & Liver Cleanse by Andreas Moritz){everyone should do this!}. Today, after I am cleaned out, and the last of the 4mm-12mm pea-green and black liver stones come out, I will take some EM1 in water to help if any toxins released by the liver are lingering in the intestines.
      I have also used EM1 full strength topically for yeast infections or itchiness.
      As far as I know, there have been no independent studies as to the mechanism of how the complex set of organisms affects the body. There is almost zero funding for independent studies concerning products or processes that could potentially compete with big pharma. Terra Ganix, and those testimonials are our primary resource, depending on how much one chooses to adhere to them.

  15. jamal says:

    1 – How to test the validity of EM1
    2 – How to multiply EM1

    • admin says:

      Hi Jamal
      Sorry about the delay–having the website improved.
      The validity of EM1 can really best be affirmed by your own observations. With so many claims to products it comes down to a Missouri-style “show me”. There certainly are testimonials–my own as well.
      The product is easy to make:
      1 cup of un-sulfured molasses
      1 cup of fresh EM1
      Heat 3 quarts or liters water and dissolve the molasses
      When the solution is about 81F/27C add the cup of EM1
      Put in a gallon jug with an airlock or cloth rubber-banded to the top. Do not fill jug. Allow headspace for fermentation foaming
      Incubate in a warm place until fermentation has ceased.
      About 3 weeks @85F, or 4 weeks @75F

  16. Ginun says:

    Where can i get em1

    • adminelf777 says:

      To purchase EM1, There is a link to the company on the upper right side of the compostteamaking home page for the TerraGanix corporation

  17. Hubert says:

    Hi folks. This is amazing. I own 80 acres north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I would like to incorporate Compost Tea EM1 to my garden. I am ready to quit work and work from home in my garden. Eventually supplying people and commercial customers with great organic products. Can you help?

    • adminelf777 says:

      Bonjour Hubert
      Those with a tractor front loader etc. really have an advantage when it comes to making worm compost, and even more so with thermal compost. The ability to mix and add with a machine makes it all very do-able, particularly on a larger scale. One can never have enough compost! I would recommend pouring a 48” tall concrete retaining wall with a big concrete slab in front of it as an formal thermal composting area.
      In Manitoba you may need an indoor area for worm beds to stay warm in the winter. Under-the-slab bottom heat would be ideal, with a thermostat. If you can control the temperature of a worm bed you will have much greater yield and quality.
      Good luck on your endeavor!

  18. ELston Dirks says:

    You can buy em1 from me ELston Dirks 660-679-1120 I am a licensed manufacturer for teerraganix in the state of mo.

  19. Catherine says:

    I made an EM1 wash for my Bokashi Composting bin according to the directions. I put it in a clear plastic bottle to ferment for a week. The directions say to pop the lid once a day to let the pressure out. I have done that for 5 days but don’t hear any release of pressure or see anything that looks different. Should I throw this out and try again?
    Thanks for your help.

    • adminelf777 says:

      Hi Catherine
      Well there could be many resaons why a fermentation is not occuring: How fresh was the starter culture? Temperature. It seems EM1 like it pretty warm, say 80F. Are the sugars {molassess) acceptable for microbial health, nutrients. If those bases are covered within reason, then my best guess would be an inactive starter culture. Hope that helps.

  20. Navid Fazil says:

    I want to add cow manure to the EM activation solution at the start of fermentation process ? Is it ok

    • adminelf777 says:

      Hi Navid
      Sure, why not? It cannot be much different than adding EM1 TO a manure based compost pile. However, since there are so many different micoorganisms in EM1, it really is a guess as to how each one deals with the manure. As long as your product doesn’t smell anaerobic it should be good.

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