Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bokashi Composting: Less Labor, Better Results & a Healthier Method Overall

Without a doubt, the easiest way to engage in eco-friendly recycling food and green waste is to participate in some form of composting. Over the past several decades, the practice of composting has caught on with homeowners and eco-friendly individuals all around the world. Its roots, though, are firmly in the agriculture industry. Agriculture has always relied on composting to eliminate green waste efficiently, to create healthier soils, stronger crops, and better overall results. Today, the Bokashi method of composting is favored by farmers and laymen alike because it actually involves less time, fuel costs due to less turning- and therefore less work - than traditional composting. The Bokashi method is faster and helps to return more nutrients to the soil from the green waste that is being decomposed by the process.

Leaving the Dirt Behind: The Benefits of Less Turning and More Pickling Any farmer familiar with the traditional composting knows that waste must be turned quite often in order introduce the oxygen to feed the microbes (aerobic microbes and fungii) that essentially breaks the waste down. Meanwhile, as the waste decomposes, the compost emits foul smelling gasses and attracts various pests.

The Bokashi method, on the other hand, does not use decomposition to break down materials and therefore does not rely on oxygen and thus requires little to no turning. (The main turning is just mixing in the inoculant and water for proper moisture) The first benefit of this is that there is simply less labor involved. You mix the Bokashi, you add the materials to be broken down, and at the end of the process you add it to the garden... that's it.

A secondary benefit is the Bokashi process emits no offensive smell and - because it occurs in an airtight Bokashi bucket - the process does not attract unwanted pests. These two aspects make the process far more appropriate for families in suburban and urban environments. (An alternate version of this can be conducted on a large scale for farmers.)

But perhaps the biggest benefit of Bokashi is one that directly deals with nutrients that result from the process. Rather than breaking down the compost into a dirt-like substance, the Bokashi method of composting actually pickles the green waste during the process. This preserves a great deal more nutrients than traditional composting, and makes the waste more readily available for worms, beneficial fungi, and future crops. The resulting nutrients from the wastes become “slow release" nutrients, meaning the nutrients are more stable and will last for longer durations. The nutrients are tied up into vitamins and amino acids as well as in the actual microbes themselves. With more nutrients retained during the process, Bokashi composting actually benefits future crops by allowing them to be healthier, more resilient, and more fruitful.

Summary of the Advantages to Bokashi

  • Easier, faster and less labor intensive than traditional composting
  • Highly scalable – you can use the Bokashi method in an apartment or a commercial farm
  • Does not result in foul odors – making it ideal for people living in more urban environments.
  • Produces higher quality, “slow release” nutrients for gardens and farms.
  • It can be used to recycle a variety of wastes that cannot be composted, including meat and dairy.

Bokashi composting allows for more nutrients to be returned to the soil, all while requiring less time and labor than traditional methods. In a world that is becoming more focused on natural ways to provide nutrients, rather than synthetic chemicals that perform the same task, it's easy to see why Bokashi itself is becoming so widely implemented.