Journal article
The role of "effective microorganisms" in the composting of banana (Musa ssp.) residues

Publication Details
Formowitz, B.; Elango, F.; Okumoto, S.; Müller, T.; Bürkert, A.
Publication year:
Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
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Journal acronym:
J Plant Nutr Soil Sc
Volume number:

"Effective microorganisms" (EM) are a poorly defined mixture of supposedly beneficial microorganisms that are claimed to enhance microbial turnover in compost and soil. In Costa Rica, EM are used to produce organic compost (bokashi) from banana residues (Musa ssp.). Given the scarcity of scientific data about the effects of EM on the mineralization of plant residues, this study aimed at investigating the effects of EM addition on the decomposition of banana residues during Bokashi production. To this end, the following non-EM treatments were compared to EM Bokashi: Bokashi produced with water (W), with molasses (M) as an EM additive, and with sterilized EM (EMst). Subsequently, the effects of the resulting Bokashi treatments on the growth of young banana plants were evaluated. Compared with non-EM controls, the effect of EM on the mineralization of banana material was negligible. Dry-matter losses of the composts with different EM treatments were similar, with about 78% over 5 weeks. Ergosterol concentration was highest in EM Bokashi (77 pg mu g dry soil)(-1)) and lowest in EMst Bokashi (29 mu g (g dry soil)(-1)). Microbial biomass carbon (C-mic) and microbial biomass nitrogen (N-mic) were both lowest in EM (C-mic = 3121 mu g g(-1); Nmic = 449 mu g g(-1)), while C-mic was highest in Bokashi produced with molasses (3892 mu g g(-1)) and N-mic was highest in EMst (615 mu g g(-1)). Treatment effects on adenylate concentrations and adenylate energy charge were negligible. Application of all Bokashi variants to young banana plants significantly increased shoot growth under greenhouse conditions compared to plants grown in a control soil without amendments. However, these effects were similar for all Bokashi treatments, even if EM Bokashi increased the K concentrations in banana leaves significantly compared to Bokashi produced with EMst and the control. Bokashi produced with only molasses and EM Bokashi decreased the number of root nematodes under greenhouse conditions compared to the control. Overall, the results confirmed the expected influence of composting on the degradation of organic material and the effect of compost application on plant growth. Hower, under the conditions of this study, EM showed no special effects in this, except for increasing the K concentrations in the leaves of young banana plants.

Last updated on 2019-01-11 at 16:04