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INDIGENOUS MICRO-ORGANISMS (IMO) COLLECTION SITE Maximizing Effectiveness

Updated: May 3


rainy season not good for collecting IMO
Raindrops in the forest

Maximizing Effectiveness: Other Aspects for IMO Collection Sites

 

SEASON

Microbes change with the seasons throughout the year. Collections are best in spring and fall, when biology peaks and it is easier to collect successfully. It’s good to get a new collection each year. Some people collect both spring and fall regularly.

 

It is unwise to collect in rainy weather or from perpetually damp locations, as this will lower oxygen levels, increase anaerobic conditions, and promote mold growth.  

 

This does not mean that anaerobic microorganisms cannot be used, as anaerobic microbes are also indigenous. If anaerobic microbes are the majority, however, it is best to try again and find collection sites with less moisture.

 

DIRECTION

Directional differences can help you acquire microbes that are adaptable to harsh conditions. For example, a south-facing slope during the summer (northern hemisphere) will be subjected to higher amounts of solar radiation, and the soil ecosystems there will be more tolerant of hot, sunny conditions.

 

Conversely, a north-facing slope in the winter (again, northern hemisphere) is blocked from winter’s reduced sunlight, making soil ecosystems here more tolerant of cold, dark conditions.

 

Adding these cultures of more extreme-tolerant soil ecosystems to planting soil can enhance the adaptability of the microbes where food is grown.

 

BRING IT HOME

During the rainy season or when other factors make collecting IMO difficult, leaf mold can be collected and brought home. The collection is done in much the same way as in the wild. This technique is helpful for collecting during the rainy season, for those living in rain forests, and for those who have other issues, such as wild animals or fire ants.

 

When collecting in dry climates, water the collection site a day or two before setting up the collection to activate soil biology. In extremely dry climates, the bring-it-home technique can be used. Having the collection close at hand makes it easier to keep it humid, either by providing better protection from drying out or by keeping it lightly misted. If the weather or climate is very dry, collect anyway. In the absence of moisture, the microbes will be dormant, but they will be there. The leaf mold can be kept moist (but not wet).

 

To collect IMO at home, collect leaf mold in a bucket from the top 6 inches of an appropriate collection site. Include some of the surface soil and any visible mycorrhizal fungi. Prepare a protected site at home, on a deck, or in a garage, for example, and put the collected leaf mold on top of the lunch box of hard-cooked rice as would be done in the wild Cover and secure properly as needed. Collected leaf mold can be stored in a bucket, covered with a breathable material, and reused for up to a year.

 

On one farm I worked with, the animal pressure was so great that I ended up putting the entire collection, the lunch box of rice covered with leaf mold, in a larger woven basket that I hung in a tree. It was successful, and the quality of the collection was superb. I would never have been able to get a collection undisturbed on the ground, even next to the house.

 

SUMMARY

The following list is a summary of considerations for choosing the best collection site. Keep in mind that the best site will change due to factors such as season, or choice of crop.

 

IMO COLLECTION SITE CRITERIA:

1.     LOCAL

2.     MATCH ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION to SPECIFIC CROPS

3.     UNDER PLANTS WITH SUGAR IN THE ROOTS & IN AREAS THAT ARE SLIGHTLY BARREN

4.     OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

                        SEASON

                        DIRECTION

                        BRING IT HOME


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