IMO: Indigenous MicroOrganisms

SQWorms does not currently have any Indigenous MicroOrganisms (IMO) available for order. Anyone wanting some IMO; can request an order; or is welcome to cultivate their own, by following recipe’s provided below.




Large: IMO: Indigenous Micro Organisms
Large: How to Make IMO-5

– Source: Agri Pinoy.


How to capture, cultivate, preserve, and use Indigenous Microorganisms – IMO – using the techniques of Korean Natural Farming. Using materials readily at home or off of the grocery store shelf I will demonstrate step by step the process. Indigenous Microorganism are collected and used to re-populate the soil’s micro-sphere and the plant’s surfaces – bringing them back into balance. This balance serves as the foundation for a healthy soil biology, productive nutrient recycling, and optimized plant growth/production. IMO are naturally occurring, indigenous, non-GMO, organic microbes from bacterial and fungal sources that have uniquely evolved to thrive in your particular area. They can be cultivated to even support specific plants and crops. Through “Bio-Mimickery” you can use IMO to work with nature and achieve results in the garden and its soil in days/weeks/months that would take years/decades – even centuries – otherwise.

There are several sources that describe in writing and pictures how to do the process; however, I have not found one video that shows step by step the “How and Why” of making your own Indigenous Microbes. Thanks to the teachers whom I have never met (Master Cho – Cho Global Natural Farming, Mr Gil Carandang of Herbana Farms – Philippines, Mrs. Kim C.S. Chang and Dr Hoon Park, MD -retired – Hawaii). Their writings have allowed me to learn, use, and now show you all the technique.
– Source: ProKashi.



Past trends in conventional western agriculture, including monoculture without crop rotation, overuse of inorganic fertilizers, and wide-scale applications of broad-spectrum organophosphate pesticides, have hindered the role of naturally occurring microorganisms in promoting biological nitrogen fixation and decomposition of organic matter, microbiologically enhanced plant nutrient uptake, and other natural soil processes that depend on active soil microbe populations.

The current trend in U.S. agriculture, including Hawai‘i agriculture, is toward less chemically intensive, more biologically based practices, in the hope that they may improve soil health and agricultural production and be less harmful to the environment than conventional agricultural production methods. In Asian countries, including Korea, deliberate collection and culturing of naturally occurring soil microorganisms has been a common agricultural practice for centuries, and application of these cultures to crop soils is believed to minimize the need for applications of inorganic soil amendments.

However, little scientific documentation of the benefits of these practices exists. This publication outlines the principal steps in culturing naturally occurring microorganisms in a process similar to one used on farms in Korea. Those wishing to culture and utilize microorganisms in this way should be aware that the value of the techniques and applications described has not been verified in Hawai‘i by controlled experiments. Therefore, the practices described in this publication should be considered as suggested, rather than recommended.

Although the people shown in the following photos are not wearing protective equipment, anyone following the procedures outlined should carefully consider their personal health situation and wear appropriate protective apparel.


Collecting microorganisms from the environment

When is the best time to collect microorganisms?
Microorganisms (microbes) may be cultured at any time of the year; however, avoid wet, rainy seasons. Excessive moisture in the environment promotes growth of fungi that are less desirable for the intended uses.

How time-consuming is it to collect these microbes?
The collection process takes approximately 4-5 days in cooler weather (about 68°F, 20°C) and 3-4 days under warmer conditions (> 68°F, 20°C).

Where are the best places to collect 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.

What collection supplies will I need?
Collection materials are relatively inexpensive and readily obtainable.

  • a small wooden box, 12 x 12 x 4 inches deep, preferably made of cedar (photo 1)
  • steamed white rice
  • white paper towels, enough to cover the wooden box
  • two to four large rubber bands
  • a sheet of clear plastic, large enough to completely cover the wooden box
  • 1 ⁄4-inch mesh wire screen large enough to completely cover the wooden box.


How are collection supplies assembled?
Fill the wooden box with 3 inches of steamed rice (photo 2). Cover the box with white paper towel, being careful not to let the towel touch the rice (photo 3).

There should be an inch or so of air space between the rice the paper towel. Use rubber bands around the top of the box to secure the paper towel in place.

Cover the top of the box with wire screen (photo 4) to prevent animals from tampering with the rice. 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. The box should not be in direct sunlight.
Partially bury the box in the soil (photo 5). It should be buried at least 2 inches deep for best results. Cover the box with fallen leaves from the harvest location (photo 6). Anchor the plastic sheet on all sides with small rocks to prevent it from being dislodged by wind. Leave the box undisturbed for a minimum of 4-5 days. After that time, check to see whether the moist rice is covered with white mold. If mold growth is sparse, re-cover the box and wait an additional 2–3 days before re-checking. If the mold is a color other than white (other colors indicate growth of less effective fungi) or if rain has entered the box, the contents should be discarded and the process repeated.


Culturing the microorganisms

Once the desired microbes have been collected, the next step is to increase their numbers.

What materials are necessary for culturing?

The basic supplies for microbe culturing are

  • a clean clay pot (hard-ired, 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
  • wheat mill run* or, if available, mushroom growth medium waste.

*Wheat mill run (WMR), also called “wheat midds” or “middlings,” is the materials remaining after lour, or semolina, is extracted from wheat or durum during milling. WMR generally includes ground screenings from cleaning; remnant particles of bran, germ, and lour; and other offal from the milling process. In Hawai‘i, the basic source of WMR is Hawaiian Flour Mill in Honolulu (808 527-3215), a subsidiary of Pendleton Flour Mills; they sell it by the truckload or containerload, and in palates of various sizes of packaged containers (60-pound bags, and larger) to the livestock industry (for feed), garden supply stores (for bokashi compost), and mushroom farms (for growing medium).

How are the materials assembled to cultivate microbes?

  • Weigh and record the weight of the large bowl.
  • Use the wooden spoon to move the molded rice from the wooden box into the bowl (photos 7, 8). Weigh the illed bowl and calculate the weight of the rice mass by subtracting the weight of the empty bowl from the illed bowl.
  • Gradually add an amount of granulated brown sugar equal to the weight of the rice mass (photo 9). Handknead the sugar and rice until the material has the consistency of gooey molasses (photo 10). Protective gloves are suggested.
  • Fill the clean clay pot two-thirds full with the rice/sugar mixture (photos 11, 12). Cover it with paper towel secured in place with rubber bands (photo 13).

  • Store the pot in a cool area away from direct sunlight for 7 days. This will allow the mixture to ferment.
  • Working in a shaded area (photo 14), add a small amount of water to the fermented rice mixture in a 1:500 ratio. Then, slowly blend in wheat mill run (or used mushroom medium) until mixture is of semi-moist but not wet consistency (roughly 65–70% moisture) (photos 15–17).
  • Place a mound of the mixture on a soil surface and cover it with the straw mat or leaves, protecting it from sunlight (photo 18). Allow the microbes to propagate for 7 days. Periodically examine the external surface of the pile for white mold growth, monitor internal temperature of the pile with a composting thermometer so as not to exceed 122°F (50°C), and turn the pile with a shovel (a minimum of three to four times during the week) to keep fermentation temperatures from getting too high.
  • When the fermentation process is inished, internal temperature will stabilize, indicating cultivation is finished. Your culture of naturally occurring microorganisms is now ready for use (photos 19, 20).



What do I do with the fermented mixture?
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, or add it to your compost pile. This biological soil amendment is expected to enhance soil microorganism activity. For more information, please contact the author (

* Kyu, Cho Han. Natural farming. 2003. Janong Natural Farming Institute, Chungbuk, Republic of Korea.
* Szmanski, N., and R.A. Patterson. 2003. Effective microorganisms (EM) and waste management systems in future directions for on-site systems: Best management practice. Proceedings of the On-site ’03 Conference, University of New England, Lanfax Laboratories Armidale. ISBN 0-9579438-1-4 p. 347–354.
* Mazzola, M. 2004. Inluence of plant genotype on development of interactions with non-symbiotic plant beneicial soil microorganisms. Research Signpost: Research Developments in Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 37:103–122.
* Kirk, J.L., L.A. Beaudette, M. Hart, P. Moutoglis, J.N. Klironomos, H. Lee, and J.T. Trevors. 2004. Methods of studying soil microbial diversity. Journal of Microbiological Methods 58:169–188.

– Source: University of Hawaii.


Alternative Liquid Based IMO Recipe

Mr. Cho’s son has created his own methodolgy of Natural Farming which is even cheaper. His basic recipe for introducing indigenous mycorrhizae to the soil and increasing micro-biological activity on one-quarter acre of land follows. Into 125 gallon container of water, put 5 gallons of ocean water, 6-7 lbs. of sugar, 2 liters of agricultural mineral water (water which has had an aquarium pump circulating the water or has been dropped from 10 feet onto mineral stone or azomite).  Now go to a naturally fertile, shaded spot on your land and scoop up a handful of soil off the top ½”: soil that has it’s own mycorrhizae already present and thriving. Add to this, a handful of soil from three different naturally fertile spots. Mix these soils together and take one handful and drop it into a pint of water. Add to the 125 gallons of water. The last ingredient you make in a blender with wild grasses. Pack a blender with wild grass and a little water and blend. Make 2 quarts of this and add it to the 125 gallons of water/mix. Let this mixture sit for 18 to 20 hours. To apply it directly onto the soil, dilute it 10 times. To foliar feed, dilute it 20 times. Apply it during rain or right before rain or in the evening or early morning. This solution can be applied 8 to 10 times a year for the best results.
– Source: Kalapana Organics.