Effective micro-organisms grow success from the ground up
A natural technology called EM – Effective Microorganisms – is making good on its name in agricultural systems around the world, including right here.
Used in 150 countries, the microbial inoculant is a safe and effective tool for enhancing soil and crop health and promoting disease resistance. It is available in New Zealand through Christchurch-based company EMNZ.
EMNZ is run by the Daly family. Mike Daly, a research technologist, first heard about EM at a conference in Brazil in the early 1990s. Intrigued by the product’s varied applications, he transitioned from a 20-year career with AgResearch to set up EMNZ.
EM’s unique combination of bacteria, yeasts and fungi work to activate and balance the naturally diverse microbiology of healthy soil.
This increases levels of nitrogen fixing bacteria, improves mycorrhizal activity and encourages the growth of clover, beneficial fungi and worms.
These improvements to soil health can be seen in improved root structure below ground and better crop and pasture yields on top. The products also enhance the growth response from fertiliser inputs. EMNZ’s products have a wide range of applications within the agricultural sector.
The company’s client base covers the full spectrum – from dairy, sheep and beef farmers, to crop operations, vineyards, orchardists and market gardeners.
Mike’s son, Paul Daly, who manages business development at EMNZ, has seen big changes in the company’s client base over time.
“In the early days, green-oriented producers were the most open to technology like this. But it’s evolved significantly, so that today around 80% of our business comes from conventional operators.”
A substantial part of the company’s trade is now business to business. “We deal with a lot of fertiliser and agricultural consultants who use EM as a base for products.
They might add or combine with other biological products like guano, fish or seaweed, depending on use.
Or they might blend our granulated form of EM to enhance traditional NPK blends” While the quality of yields is key for all producers, Paul believes a mindset shift has seen producers considering the big picture.
“In intensive farming, we hit soil hard. Farmers are increasingly looking below the surface, not just maximizing yields on top.”
He thinks farmers often get a bad rap in the press, and believes most take their role as guardians of the land seriously.
“EM helps to look after the soil and people are searching for these tools. They want to do the right thing by their land and add benefit without reinventing their whole system.” Paul says EMNZ’s customers report a long list of benefits after using EM.
“Dense, healthy crops and pasture, more worm castings, clover growth. In New Zealand we get issues with compaction and EM really helps to open soil up. Farmers who dig down see more friable soil with better structure.”
All the microbes used by EMNZ are found in New Zealand, so they come ready- adapted to this country’s unique conditions.
The company’s products also have proven applications in water treatment, waste management and animal health. The range is certified organic by BioGro NZ.
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