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Inputs - Section 10 - IMO to IMO 2 - How to Capture and Cultivate Indigenous Microorganisms

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Natural Farming Inputs



Inputs - Section 10

IMO - Cultivated Indigenous Microorganisms

Natural farming is based around creating a soil environment and healthy microbiology which enables the Microorganisms to play an important role in making quality soil for growing plants.  These microorganisms can also be collected and cultured.


photo.jpgEnigmaVEVO - Enigma - Return To Innocence


Microorganisms have two major functions in farming

Microorganisms decompose complex organic compounds such as dead bodies of plants and animals and wastes into nutrients, making them easily absorbed by plants.

  • They can create compounds such as antibiotic substances, enzymes and lactic acids that can suppress various diseases and promote healthy soil conditions.
  • Act as a catalysis for natural chemical processes in the soil.

IMOs are used primarily to create fertile and healthy soil condition that is ideal for farming and to prevent plant diseases. In Natural Farming, IMOs are used in treatments applied to the soil in order to improve its fertility and health.  By collecting and making IMO's we can create not just healthy growing media but also heal sick land and begin to restore nature at its core.


All about IMO by Chris Trump

photo.jpgChris Trump - All about IMO


       :working-on-a-computer-smiley-emoticon:                                                                                    :books:

Cho Global Natural Farming(CGNF) - Dr. Hoon Park                    PDF - IMO from University of Hawaii



Indigenous Microorganisms: Grow Your Own Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms and Bionutrients In Natural Farming



Dear Future Generations, Sorry

photo.jpgGabriel Greiner - Dear Future Generations, Sorry.


About collecting IMO

Indigenous microorganisms from the environment

Natural farming promotes the use of Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs). The microorganisms that have been living in the local area for a long time are best for farming because they are very powerful and effective.

  • They have survived and can survive the extreme climatic conditions of the local environment much better than artificially produced microorganisms
  • Microorganisms (microbes) may be cultured at any time of the year; however, avoid wet, rainy seasons.

The collection process takes approximately 7–10 days in cooler weather (Below 68°F, 20°C) and 3–4 days under warmer conditions ( above 68°F, 20°C).

  • Organisms that are found under the heat of the sun are largely different than those found in shaded areas such as under the bamboo trees.
  • Dr. Cho advocates that it is better to culture microorganisms from different areas in order to collect different kinds of microorganisms.

Beneficial microbes are highly concentrated under undisturbed forests or other vegetated areas.  Combining microbes collected from multiple sites will likely result in a more robust culture.

  • It is also good to culture microorganisms at different weather conditions and to mix different types of microorganisms.

It will take 3 days in summer and 5 days in winter.

  • Black molds on the steamed rice indicate that you have exceeded the number of days.

The collected IMO should smell like yeast.


Excellent illustration and overview of collection & making of IMO 1 and 2, the videos below are more detail.

photo.jpgChris Trump - How to: IMO 1 and 2 on our farm


Selecting collection sites

Collect from a variety of sources and areas, going higher up in elevation from the planting area.  This works to ensure that you are collecting stronger microbiology.

  • Select areas in forests and fields.
    • Old trees
    • Old areas of growth.
    • Areas of good mycelium growth.
  • Collecting from sites that are not nutritionally rich is better than high nutrient areas.
    • This is how to collect stronger microorganisms as only the stronger microbes can survive those areas. 
      • Collect near the roots of bamboo and leaf molds from broad leaf trees and plants.
      • Leaf molds showing white hypha. 
  • Avoid places of regular human activity.  Secluded areas are best.
    • The idea of taking from famous sites may not be an ideal location if the microbiology is not healthy and strong.  Select locations for merit only.


Making of a collection box

  • Made of Wood or Bamboo is recommended, preferably made of cedar.
    • A small wooden/bamboo box, 12 x 12 x 4 inches deep.
    • Cedar is preferred as it helps against pest.
  • Ensure small holes or gaps on the bottom to promote microbiology ease to rice.


Collection Box Building videos

AATXAJz_P5ftZ9wD3GKYypbaRcCE0AougZyTD-ZPKNF Journey

  • Special thanks for not just illustrating how to build the IMO box but also stressing tool safety!



photo.jpgGuardeners of the Land - IMO box build


How to: IMO 1

photo.jpgChris Trump - How to: IMO 1

IMO Collection Process

  1. Fill the wooden box with 3 inches of steamed rice.
    1. Prime the rice (optional)
      1. Add 1ml of OHN and 2ml of FPJ
  2. Ensure rice is not overly wet but more not quite done or harder.
    1. Allows adequate air supply by not stuffing the rice higher than 3 inches.
    2. Excessive moisture promotes growth of fungi that are less desirable for the intended uses.
  3. Fill rice half way with rice.
  4. Cover the box with white paper towel, being careful not to let the towel touch the rice.
  5. There should be at least an inch or so of air space between the rice the paper towel.  
    1. Loosely place rice in the box ensuring not to press the rice hard into the box.
    2. Without sufficient supply of air, the anaerobic IMOs will get collected.
  6. Use rubber bands around the top of the box to secure the paper towel in place.
    1. Label date and area collected.
  7. Cover the top of the box with wire screen to prevent animals from tampering with the rice.
  8. Top the wire with a sheet of clear plastic to protect the box from rain, and place it under trees or in another secluded area.
  9. The box should not be in direct sunlight or water.
    1. Cover with leaves or plastic.
  10. Mark an area 12 inches x 8 inches in the soil and make a 2 inch pit into the soil.
  11. Place the rice-filled wooden box in this pit, where IMOs abound, such as in a forest and/or field or at the site where many decomposed leaf molds are found. Cover the box with leaves.
  12. Cover the box with fallen leaves from the harvest location.
  13. Anchor the plastic sheet on all sides with small rocks to prevent it from being dislodged by wind.
  14. Leave the box undisturbed for a minimum of 4–5 days.
    1. After that time, check to see whether the moist rice is covered with white mold.
    2. It will take 3 days in hot summer and 5 days during cooler time periods.
  15. If mold growth is sparse, re-cover the box and wait an additional 2–3 days before re-checking.
    1. If the mold is a color other than white (other colors indicate growth of less effective fungi).  
      1. Multi colors are normal and usable. 
      2. You want to more white and grey like with spider web or cotton candy growth is ideal.
      3. Collected IMO should smell like yeast.
        1. If rain has entered the box, the contents should be discarded and the process repeated.
    2. Black molds on the steamed rice indicate that you have exceeded the number of days


How to make IMO2 by Chris Trump

photo.jpgChris Trump - How to:  IMO2

Culturing and making IMO 2

Once collected this is referred to IM01.  The next step is to culture and increase the population of this collection of Indigenous Microorganisms and create IMO2.

Materials to use:

  • A clean clay pot (hard-fired, glazed, or terra cotta)
  • A wooden spoon
  • white paper towels
  • rubber bands
  • A large clear bowl, big enough to hold contents of rice mixture
  • A small food scale
  • A straw mat
  • A shovel
  • A composting thermometer
  • Raw, granulated brown sugar is advisable, but crude and unrefined sugar (jaggery) is better.
    • The closer the state of sugar is to nature, the better. The less process the sugar has undergone, the more effective it is. Therefore, white refined sugar is not recommended.
  • Wheat mill run* or, if available, mushroom growth medium waste.


Mixing Process

  1. Tare the scale for the mixing jar.
    1. Weigh the filled bowl and calculate the weight of the rice mass by subtracting the weight of the empty bowl from the filled bowl.
  2. Weight out equal amounts of sugar to the amount of molded rice.
    1. The use of sugar is used for osmotic pressure and not as a food source.
  3. Gradually mix 1 to 1 with sugar or Jaggery.
    1. You can mix IMO collections.
      1. Diversity is a strength in natural farming.
    2. This will put the microbes into a dormant state for later use.
    3. Hand knead and massage, not smashing hard the sugar and rice until the material has the consistency of gooey molasses.
      1. It is ok to mix in more brown sugar if the mix is too wet.
      2. If it starts to bubble you have lost quality and will not be as effective.
        1. This is from being too wet and it started to ferment.
    4. Place the mixture in jar 2/3 full.
      1. Use the wooden spoon to move the molded rice into the jar. 
      2. The 1/2 air space is necessary for the process.
    5. Clean the top of the container with vinegar.
  4. Cover it with paper towel secured in place with rubber bands.
  5. Store the pot in a cool area away from direct sunlight for 7 days.
    1. This will allow the mixture to ferment.
  6. Working in a shaded area: 
    1. Add a small amount of water to the fermented rice mixture in a 1:500 ratio.
  7. Then, slowly blend in wheat mill run (or used mushroom medium) until mixture is of semi-moist but not wet consistency
    1. 65–70% moisture content of the media mixture.
  8. Place a mound of the mixture on a soil surface and cover it.
    1. Use a tarp, straw mat or leaves, protecting it from sunlight.
  9. Allow the microbes to propagate for 7 days.
  10. Periodically examine the external surface of the pile for white mold growth,
    1. monitor internal temperature of the pile with a composting thermometer so as not to exceed 122°F (50°C),
    2. Turn the pile with a shovel (a minimum of three to four times during the week) to keep fermentation temperatures from getting too high.
  11. When the fermentation process is finished,
    1. internal temperature will stabilize, indicating cultivation is complete and ready to use.


Application and use

This biological soil amendment is expected to enhance soil microorganism activity.  This is a concentrated inoculate.

  • Dilute the final product (1 to 1 by volume) with soil and incorporate this mixture into the surface soil as a topdressing for crop production,
  • Add it to your compost pile. 
  • Further processing into into IMO3.



Congratulations for learning about IMO 1 & 2




Natural Farming Inputs




~ A Proud Cultural Healing and Life Compilation

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Just got my cedar in the post for my boxes , the wood smells lovely lol ?

going to use metal nails or screws to assemble them I think ? Or should I use wooden dowels and some wood glue ?





Im thinking screws will grip better and help keep the box from warping / twisting over time and if I need to fix the boxes for any reason , the screws will allow for easy dismantle 

i shall see what the finest thin one inch screws the shop sells and if there is nothing suitable I shall use fine gripper type nails

( like normal nails only ribbed for extra wood pleasure lol )

: )

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Nails or screws are fine.  I like screws for better stability over time.  The boxes get bumped and moved and with cheap nails can become flimsy but this is not an issue if box is not in danger of falling apart, I speak more out of caution than practical issue that I have seen.  

Remember to leave a bit of a gap on the bottom as to help facilitate easier microbe movement to the rice food source but they can travel through the wood no problem anyways.  

  • I speak on that due to Chris Trumps advice.  I have no gaps in the ones I had and worked as it should!

Making the box is a neat thing as it makes it more personal and feels more you did this than if bought.  Bravo!!!!

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I have enough wood for 5 boxes and three lids 

so I can leave two and when I come back a week later I can exchange for another two ( cycle ) 

the extra box I shall experiment with ( holes etc ) 

i got 3 lids too , two for the coming home boxes to protect the contents and the spare I shall put on my experimental box  , to see if I get a good collection with a wooden lid instead of paper towel  If it works with a wooden lid that means no anti animal cage would be required and it would make them more rain proof ( easier to set up on site  ) 


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