The Advance of our Understanding of Microorganisms
The uniqueness of microorganisms and their often unpredictable nature and biosynthetic capabilities, given a specific set of environmental and cultural conditions, has made them likely candidates for solving particularly difficult problems in the life sciences and other fields as well.
The various ways in which microorganisms have been used over the past 50 years to advance medical technology, human and animal health, food processing, food safety and quality, genetic engineering, environmental protection, agricultural biotechnology, and more effective treatment of agricultural and municipal wastes provide a most impressive record of achievement.
Many of these technological advances would not have been possible using straightforward chemical and physical engineering methods, or if they were, they would not have been practically or economically feasible.
Nevertheless, while microbial technologies have been applied to various agricultural and environmental problems with considerable success in recent years, they have not been widely accepted by the scientific community because it is often difficult to consistently reproduce their beneficial effects. Microorganisms are effective only when they are presented with suitable and optimum conditions for metabolizing their substrates including available water, oxygen (dependingon whether the micro-organisms are obligate aerobes or facultative anaerobes), pH and temperature of their environment.
Meanwhile, the various types of microbial cultures and inoculants available in the market today have increased rapidly because of these new technologies. Significant achievements are being made in systems where technical guidance is coordinated with the marketing of microbial products. Since microorganisms are useful in eliminating problems associated with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they are now widely applied in nature farming and organic agriculture (Higa, 1991; Parr et al.,1994).
Environmental pollution, caused by excessive soil erosion and the associated transport of sediment, chemical fertilizers and pesticides to surface waters and groundwater, and improper treatment of human and animal wastes has caused serious environmental and social problems throughout the world. Often engineers have attempted to solve these problems using established chemical and physical methods. However, they have usually found that such problems cannot be solved without using microbial methods and technologies in coordination with agricultural production (Reganold et al.,1990; Parr and Hornick, 1992a).
For many years, soil microbiologists and microbial ecologists have tended to differentiate soil microorganisms as beneficial or harmful according to their functions and how they affect soil quality, plant growth and yield, and plant health. As shown in Table 1 (p. 14), beneficial microorganisms are those that can fix atmospheric nitrogen, decompose organic wastes and residues, detoxify pesticides, suppress plant diseases and soil-borne pathogens, enhance nutrients.
Taken from "Beneficial and effective microorganisms for a Sustainable Agriculture and Environment"; Dr. Teruo Higa, Professor of Horticulture, University of the Ryukyus
Okinawa, Japan, and Dr. James F. Parr, Soil Microbiologist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland, USA.
EMNZ Online Store and Re-Brand
Please note that our EM range of product is still available on the rebranded EMNZ website. We have rebranded and Naturefarm will focus on working at the Corporate level developing relationships with other companies around microbial technologies for product enhancement.
This means that products you formerly purchased from Naturefarm will still be available but will now be sold under the EMNZ brand.
Our product previously named EM1 has also been re-branded.
For our agricultural, horticulture, and viticulture customers we have:
- EM Soil and Crop - this is the same great product that is a concentrate form of EM which can be activated and expanded on farm to make it super economical.
- EM Environment - is designed for composting, cleaning up water ways and using in Septic tanks
- EM “Ready to Use” is our activated expanded product prepared by us, for you to use without further preparation.
For our home gardeners and household use we have:
- EM Garden (general use around home and garden)
- EM Environment (septic tank, compost, odours)
- EM Home (a cleaning product)
All About Microbes
Bad Guys? Rarely!
150 years ago, it was hard for people to believe that living things too tiny to see—microbes—could cause major human diseases. Today, it might seem equally astonishing to learn that microbes are actually essential to keeping us alive. Of the millions of types of microbes on the planet, disease-causing microbes (pathogens) make up only a very tiny fraction.
What is a microbe?
The term microbe (which is often used interchangeably with microorganism, bacteria, germ, and even bug) includes bacteria, viruses, some fungi, and other life forms too tiny to see. Microbes are found in almost every environment on Earth.
Trillions of Friends...
Humans depend on microbial communities in more ways than you can imagine. For example, microbes:
- Make air breathable
- Keep us healthy
- Provide sources of new drugs
- Help us digest food
- Clean up hazardous chemicals
- Support and protect crops
Partners for life.
From the moment we were born, microbes began living in and on our bodies. These early colonizers helped to "educate" our immune systems to differentiate good microbial partners from pathogenic microbes. Amazingly, only about 1 out of 10 cells in the human body is actually a human cell: most of the cells that make up our bodies are microbes!
In fact, humans couldn't have evolved without microbes. Billions of years ago, microbes converted the Earth's entire atmosphere from nitrogen-based to oxygen-based, making it possible for larger forms of life to evolve. Human evolution has been inextricably linked with the microbes that have surrounded us from the very beginning.
Some of the microbes living in our bodies actually help us fight against pathogens by competing against them for space. This mutually beneficial relationship helps to protect us from getting diseases while giving the microbes a place to live.
Invite a microbe to dinner.
Many of the foods we eat would be indigestible without the 10-100 trillion microbes living within our guts. Bacteroides the taiotaomicron, for example, helps our bodies process complex sugars. Microbes also play a major role in creating many of the foods we love, such as cheese, yogurt and bread.
Nature's master chemists.
Hundreds of drugs available today were derived from chemicals first found in microbes. Scientists can use the amazing variety of chemicals microbes naturally produce to create new medicines.
Without microbes, we wouldn't have oxygen to breathe. Plants aren't the only things that carry out photosynthesis: photosynthetic microbes are responsible for about half of the photosynthesis on Earth, simultaneously increasing the amount of oxygen and decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Through this process, microbes are helping to mitigate some of the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.
Microbes living in the soil provide plants with natural protection from pests and diseases. They are also essential for converting nitrogen and other nutrients into forms that plants can use to grow.
Because of their special adaptations, some microbes actually degrade-and thereby render harmless, chemicals that are extremely dangerous to humans. These microbes can help clean up gasoline leaks, oil spills, sewage, nuclear waste, and many other types of pollution.
Humans aren't the only ones that depend on microbes for digesting food, fighting disease and maintaining a livable planet. No plants or animals could live without microbes.
It takes a village.
Most of the things microbes do for our world could never be done by a single type of microbe alone, but require a complex community working together. These communities are like a "bucket brigade"-each individual does just one part to help the whole group function.
The information on this Web page was derived from the poster Our Microbial Planet and the brochure The Vital Role of Microbes on Earth.
Smart Farming: How Microbes Help Our Crops
The microbial communities on and around plants are critical to manufacturing the nutrients that plants need in order to grow. Certain bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a form that is readily usable by plants and animals. Other soil microbes recycle nutrients from decaying plants and animals, while still others convert elements, such as iron and manganese, to forms that can be used for plant nutrition. However, it takes a community to perform these critical biotransformations. For example, no one microbe is capable of converting ammonia to nitrate, yet teams of microbes do this very efficiently.
Keeping Crops Healthy
One of the most valuable but least understood mysteries of farming is the "suppressive soil" phenomenon. In suppressive soils, plants stay healthy even when disease-causing organisms are present in high densities. If this soil is sterilized, killing helpful and harmful microbes alike, plants can become sick and die once the pathogens find their way back into the soil. Scientists speculate that microbes living in the suppressive soil actually protect plants from diseases—and if these microbes disappear, plants are far more susceptible to infection. Despite decades of research, scientists have only been able to pinpoint the microbes responsible for suppressing disease in a few locations. Scientists believe that a complex microbial community is responsible for suppressing disease, because no single microbial species can do it alone. The activities of suppressive soil communities are enormously beneficial to agriculture.
While scientists have been able to glimpse the complex microbial communities that help keep crops healthy and productive, much about those communities remains mysterious. What we do know is that by using certain microbes we can get improve soil fertility and improve plant yield, making an effective organic fertiliser.