EM Bacteria

EM Bacteria

What is EM Bacteria?

EM Bacteria stands for effective microorganisms. There are three main types of bacteria that make up this probiotic formula, photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and yeast. They are most commonly used to bring back the bacterial balance to depleted soils and to aid the decomposition of organic materials.  These beneficial microorganisms are said to increase the plant’s resistance to disease, enhance growth and increase the bioavailability of food webs in the soil. Healthy soil means protection against soil associated disease caused by parasites and other pathogenic microorganisms.

Photosynthetic Bacteria

Photosynthetic bacteria creates a process that uses various sources of energy like heat and light to produce nutrients that are absorbed directly by the roots almost like nitrogen fixers. They also absorb secretions from the roots and recycle them.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic Acid bacteria has been cultivated for years in the form of yoghurt and pickling. The strong sterilising properties it holds mean that harmful bacteria and fungi are kept at bay.


Yeast is most commonly found in bread and beer but acts as a feed to other beneficial bacteria like lactic acid bacteria. It also has anti-microbial properties.

How Does EM Bacteria Work?

Due to the vast amount of bacteria in EM inoculants, pathogenic microorganisms struggle to survive in an environment of exhausted resources. This basically means that there are more beneficial bacteria banqueting on the organic material and the poor little pathogens have nothing left to eat, thus succumbing to starvation and keeping their production at a low. This feeding frenzy starts a chain of food webs to come to life and as the fungi ferment they increase their production of antimicrobial substances, one of which being alcohol. This process dispels odours and speeds up the breakdown of organic materials. In turn, the suppression of such smells deter insects that target certain plants when they smell the ‘scent’. In other words, the bacteria feeds on the organic matter releasing nutrients and alcohol. The nutrients are fed directly to the plant and the alcohol or esters act as a deodorizer. This also means that the compost pile will work faster and without all those funky smells.

Why Use EM Bacteria?

  • EM Bacteria is 100% natural and doesn’t affect pollinating insects.
  • Although these beneficial bacteria can be found in natural environments all over the world, there is a steep decline in their presence due to bad farming practices, like the use of chemicals and rigorous farming rituals. EM bacteria also speeds up the rate of decomposition when applied to organic matter and helps to release hormones that promote plant growth. This is achieved by releasing a usable form of nutrients directly to the roots.
  • EM bacteria can be used in small amounts to treat water and even fish ponds.

How to Activate EM Bacteria

EM bacteria

Most EM Bacteria products arrive dormant and require activating. This means waking up the bacteria so that it can multiply by feeding it with a form of sugars like non-sulphate molasses. As the bacteria feed they multiply tenfold. Once activated it can be diluted to a ratio of several thousand to one making it a cheaper, safer and more efficient method in comparison to using chemical

Over the years I have used this simple recipe;

  • EM Bacteria
  • Molasses
  • Non-chlorinated water
  • Squeeze of citrus (optional)

For this 5-liter wine bottle that I recycled, I use:

  • 250ml EM bacteria
  • 220ml Molasses
  • 4.5 l of water.

Firstly, clean out the bottle. Then prepare the molasses. This comes in a syrup like form and is difficult to mix directly into the bottle. I like to take some of the water and heat it up until its warm, then mix the required amount of molasses. This will help to kickstart the bacteria’s alarm clock and make it a lot easier to combine later. Next, add all of the ingredients into your desired bottle. Some people like to use plastic bottles as the bacteria will produce gas in the early days of activating. I just give the cap a twist every day to relieve any pressure. Keep the bottle in a warm place and monitor the activity. The EM bacteria should be producing small amounts of gas like when you open a fizzy drink. It will also produce bubbles and sometimes even a mould. There will be a light brown residue building up at the bottom as the bacteria are nearly ready. Every couple of days, give the bottle a shake to help the mix and combine the bacteria. After 10-15 days the EM bacteria will be ready. Once activated, dilute 1 part EM bacteria to at least 250 times water and again, this must be non-chlorinated. This means that potentially, 1 litre can cover up to 1/2 acre of land.

Final Notes

*Do not spray EM bacteria on plants that are in flower and are expecting fruit.

I like to use EM bacteria with cow manure for nitrogen loving trees like citrus.

Mixtures are not an exact science but try not to use more than 1/2 a tablespoon per gallon of activated bacteria.

EM Bacteria can be sprayed around the garden or watered directly into the soil. I tend to do both around 3-4 times a year.