Indigenous microorganisms (IMO)

A new concoction is becoming increasingly popular among farmers. Usually called indigenous microorganisms (IMO), this concoction has been successfully tried by government agriculturists, academic researchers and non-profit foundations alike. They have found it useful in removing bad odors from animal wastes, hastening composting, and contributing to crops’ general health.

To make your own IMO, follow these simple steps:

1. Cook a kilo of rice, preferably organic. After cooling, put the cooked rice in a wooden, earthen or ceramic container. Avoid plastic or aluminum.

2. Cover the mouth of the container completely with cloth or paper, fixed in place with a rubber band, to prevent water or small insects from getting in.

3. Put the covered container, protected from possible rain, under the trees, in a bamboo grove, a forest floor, or wherever a thick mat of leaves has formed. Leave it there for three days.

4. After whitish moldy filaments have formed, transfer the entire contents of the container to a larger glass or earthen jar and add one kilo of brown sugar or molasses, preferably organic.

5. Cover the jar with clean cloth or paper, fixed with a rubber band. Keep the jar in a dark, cool place. Let it ferment for seven days, until it appears muddy. This is your IMO concoction.

To use, mix two spoonfuls of the concoction with a liter of water. Spray the diluted solution around chicken coops and pig pens to remove unpleasant odors, on your compost pile to hasten decomposition, or on your crops to improve their general health by controlling pests and serving as foliar fertilizer.

By making their own IMO, farmers can free themselves from the need to buy inputs for their farms. By reducing their costs, using IMO keeps them away from debt and improves their income.

Truly, these tiny beneficial organisms are a farmer’s friend.

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66 Comments

  1. Posted February 10, 2009 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    Sir,
    Will you please add when to best apply it for green manuring
    Thank you.!!! It’s urgent.

  2. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 10, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I’ll have to ask the farmers who use it regularly for a definite answer. But I’d say the best time is to spray the IMO on the plants just before you plow them under. The IMO will speed up the decomposition process. Greetings,

  3. cicada
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    elow sir..can this IMO be sprayed on raw chicken manure so that we can remove the unpleasant odor of the manure? how many liters of IMO can be applied to every 50 kg of chicken manure?

  4. Roberto Verzola
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t done it myself but I know people who have used it on chicken and pig manure with very good results. We’ve used it on household compost and dog poop. The manure must be spread out for best effect (the greater the surface area of the manure exposed to the spray, the faster the microorganisms can act on the organic matter, preventing the creation of foul odors. My wife, who has more experience with IMO, says to mix 10 table spoonfuls of IMO and 2 spoonfuls of red sugar in 1 gallon of water (1/2 gal. is enough if the manure is wet) and let the IMO multiply for 24 hrs. That should be enough for 50 kg of manure. I would add that even a smaller amount would probably work, as the IMO will multiply rapidly, with the manure as their food.

  5. cicada
    Posted April 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    _thnx sir! i have other questions to ask..
    _whats the role of the muscovado/sugar in the fermentation process of the IMO?
    _why do we need to use clay or earthen jars instead of other containers?

  6. Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Sugar serves as food for the IMO, so that they can multiply very rapidly. Avoiding aluminum containers, plastics and other containers made of synthetic materials is part of the standard practice of organic farmers.

  7. caren ybnez
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    ahmm..Sir, i have a question..is there any standard amount of IMO that will be sprayed to the plants? because i’ll use it as basis for our rsrch..thank u..

  8. Posted April 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    sir can i use imo for composting ricehull? what is the time duration for its decomposition?

  9. Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I am not aware of a standard. Most farmers work it out by themselves from experience. That is also because an IMO mix would probably not have a standard composition either. If you are doing research about this, you might want to look at how various IMO mixes differ based on where/how the IMO mix is created.

    Let me repeat: the basic principle of IMO is to collect friendly microorganisms in your area, and culture them rapidly using a sugar medium, then spray them where they are needed.

  10. Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I will ask those who have a lot of experience with them, in case some have tried it on rice hulls, and get back to you. Quick comment: IMO simply help to hasten decomposition. Also, you don’t even need to decompose rice hulls. Some have incorporated them directly to clay soils to loosen up the soil. Others turn them into carbonized rice hull (CRH) — the same process as charcoal-making — before applying them to the soil. But I don’t have much experience myself with rice hull, except for a few days of using them as fuel, with some CRH as by-product.

  11. Roberto Verzola
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Here’s a comment about my quick reply to you, from someone who has had more experience with rice hulls:

    You are correct to your answers, at least from my point of view. Rice hulls are decomposed easily when incorporated in the soil. Rice hull helps loosening the soil and keeping moisture. It will be good to spray directly the IMO in the soil mixed with rice hulls to increase its population.

    My two cents.

    Regards,
    ElmerB

  12. carren ..
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    ahmmm…tenk u for the reply Sir..ahmm..should the container be really clean? without dusts? how about if there are insects like ants on molded rice..can it still be used?

  13. Roberto Verzola
    Posted May 25, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t have to be aseptically clean or sterilized. Just make it as clean on the inside as a clean kaldero. What we are trying to avoid is gross contamination. We want to collect the microorganisms on the soil surface which hasten decomposition and to culture these. In my experience, you can see these as very thin whitish filaments on the rice. My guess is that the suspended particulates in the air just above the soil surface contain spores, bacteria and various beneficial microorganisms from the soil, and these are what we want to collect and culture.

    By the way, there are two different methods of culturing these organisms. The IMO approach is anaerobic (you let the culture and the sugar solution ferment in a closed container). But there is also another approach, which is aerobic. This one uses an air pump (just like the one used to aerate aquariums) in an open container to increase the dissolved oxygen in the solution. I have very little experience with this second approach, but it is also supposed to be quite effective. Search the Web for “compost tea”, if you want to learn more about it. There seems to be an ongoing debate whether the anaerobic or the aerobic approach is better. I would imagine a mix of the two is best.

    Greetings,

    Obet Verzola

  14. carren ..
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    thankz Sir..ahmm..im making now the IMO and im going to transfer the molded rice in a clay jar..but its not that spacious..is it ok? masikip po ung lalagyan? and…ahmm..nagmomoist po ung lalagyan ko..ok lang po ba mabasa ung rice? and,..kailangan po bang closed talaga ung lalagyan such that there’s no air that will enter?God bls..

  15. Roberto Verzola
    Posted May 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    That’s ok. Remember that the IMO will consume all the rice and the final result will look like liquefied mud. Ok lang magpawis ang lalagyan, Huwag mo lang punuin dahil baka umawas. Hindi lang magbabasa, kundi magiging liquid pa nga yung rice eventually. Make it closed para hindi mapasok ng langgam, insekto, etc. but not so airtight na hindi makasingaw ang hangin. Cloth or paper wrapped with rubber band or string around the rim of the container is fine. The fermentation will generate carbon dioxide and high pressure inside the container. Keep on experimenting. Farmers should be experimenters, trying out every idea on a small-scale to test it themselves, before applying the useful ones on a larger scale.

  16. carren ..
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    tenk u po ulit..ahmm..ano po..pwde ko po bang tagalan pa yung seven days na fermentation ng IMO? kc..ngaun ung 7thday nia peroo d ko pa gagamitin ngaun eh..oki lang poh ba? o dapat ko nang kumuha ng liquified IMO at ihalo sa tubig?God bles.

  17. carren ..
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    nakz..napunu ko po ung conatiner taz may tumagas sa cellophane kc po nilagay ko po sa cellophane ung clay jar..oki lang ba gamitin un?ihihi

  18. carren ..
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    ah..ang ratio po pala ay 2 spoonfuls:1 liter tubig… so pwde ko pong lagyan ng 12 spoonfuls ung 6 liters..na gallon

  19. carren
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    anyways po..kung sa mga pananim ko po i-aaply specifically sa aplan kang kong po..san po b mas better sa leaves i-sspray o sa soil po?

  20. Roberto Verzola
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Depende sa purpose mo. We are still talking about IMO, right? Kung para mapabilis ang decomposition ng organic matter, then sa soil. Kung gusto mong i-try kung makakatulong sa problema sa dahon, then siyempre sa leaf.

  21. carren
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    ah..ung purpose ko po ay para maging healthy at mataba po ang plants ko..ahmm..ok lang po buh pahabain pa ung fermentation habang d ko pa gagamitin ung IMO?pwd sa jar po muna yun?

  22. carren
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    excuse me po..ahmm..may alam po kayo tungkol naman sa FPJ(fermented plant juice as food for the IMO? pano po buh un?plz reply..tnx.

  23. lekym
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    greetings,

    sir,is there another way of not using rice?
    rice is a commodity which has price, i am doing my proposal and i prefer to make imo but not using rice.
    i have read that imo is a foliar fertilizer!?
    does it treat to leaves? so how this fertilizer can get into the leaf if there is cutin in the surface of the plants?
    ty

    i need your reply asap.

  24. lekym
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    hey, my comment is gone!
    where is it?

    i have read that IMO serves as a foliar fertilizer, then how is this IMO can pass through the surface of the leaf?

    if leaf in its abaxial epidermis has cutin materials…

    i need a response. please.

  25. Nem
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Sir,

    how long is the effectivity of the IMO after fermmenting for 7 days?

    thanks

  26. Roberto Verzola
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    You can treat IMO like the “mother yeast” in wine- or bread-making. Prepare another sugar solution, add a tablespoonful of IMO, and they will keep multiplying.

  27. Posted October 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    hello sir, may i ask the specific purpose and fuction of the different concoction made
    and what are the different components of the raw materials in the formulation and production of concoctions.
    what are their importance in plants and soil?

  28. Posted October 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    hello sir, may i ask the specific purpose and fuction of the different concoction made
    and what are the different components of the raw materials in the formulation and production of concoctions.
    what are their importance in plants and soil?

  29. batang farmer
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    pwede poh bang ihalo ang IMO sa pagkain ng baboy or manok?

  30. Roberto Verzola
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Puwede. Iyan ang ginagawa ni Dr. Ted Mendoza ng UPLB. Ayon sa kanya, nababawasan daw ang amoy ng dumi ng hayop kapag inilahok ang IMO sa kanilang pagkain.

  31. Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    may IMO daw w/ sorghum na maka dissolve ng chicken feathers?

  32. Roberto Verzola
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Possibly, although I haven’t heard about this one.

  33. lyr
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    hi! sir gud eve..
    is there alredy a study conducted using IMO as pest control?
    i ned ur reply ASAP! cuz ryt now i’am conducting a short study rgarding IMO,this wil help me as my references…thanks.

  34. Roberto Verzola
    Posted December 3, 2009 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t have his contact info, but try getting in touch with Prof. Ted Mendoza of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture in Los Banos, Laguna. I believe he is in the Agronomy Department. He has been doing research on IMOs.

  35. lyr
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    hi! s’r nice sunday afternoon,what particular organism’s that will be found in this IMO? thanx and more power . . .

  36. Posted January 12, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    gud am sir. pwede po bang ihalo ang IMO sa drinking water ng mga broilers? anu po ung measurement na pwedeng gamitin? magco-conduct din po kami ng aming research using IMO na panghalo ng inumin ng mga broilers

  37. Roberto Verzola
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I know farmers who have mixed IMO in the drinking water for chicken. The effect is a better feed conversion ratio and less smelly manure. I’ll have to ask others about their exact measurements, although I’d say that you can start with 20 parts of water to 1 part IMO, and then experiment by first halving and doubling the concentration (40:1 and 10:1) and compare their effects. If you work with IMO you need to have an experimental mind, because the concept in work-in-progress.

  38. Jafer
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    gud day sir!
    Just want to know the ratio of IMO for dried leaves decomposition? and how long is the process? tnx and more power!

  39. mohd hanis
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    hai..
    i want to ask, what is the suitable rate of indigenous microorganisms (IMO to apply for decomposition of agriculture waste for example empty fruit bunch or paddy straw.. i will be doing research on it, but i could`t find the common rate or ratio for it.. if possible, can u give any research related to that particular research…thanks

  40. dulce alison
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Sir,
    I’ve been searching for IMO for Kangkong, can I apply your IMO for kang kong?

  41. dulce alison
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Sir,
    Pwede ba ma e apply ang IMO mo sa Kang kong?

  42. Posted June 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    hello.. i am currently studying about the usage of indigenous microorganisms in organic farming..and i’m starting to plan to plant corns and coconuts in our farm.. what should my first step.. to redeem the nutrients in the soil in a short period of time.. thanx!

  43. Roberto Verzola
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Left to itself, the soil will keep improving its fertility as organic matter builds up. There are two major reasons for loss of fertility:

    1. the use agro-chemicals kills or hampers the growth of soil organisms which are the real engines of soil fertility

    2. the continuous export of agricultural products from the soil, so that organic matter does not return to the soil anymore but goes elsewhere.

    To reverse this loss of fertility, you need to do two things:

    1. stop the use of chemicals, to allow the soil organisms to recover and reproduce naturally. In the case of microorganisms, you can hasten this by taking some samples of soil microorganisms (usually called indigenous microorganisms or IMO), putting these in a sugar medium (molasses for example) so they can reproduce rapidly, and spraying the IMO back into the organic matter you put on the soil. Doing this, however, is useless if you continue to use chemicals.
    Stopping chemical use is the first and most important step.

    2. put back into the soil at least as much amount of organic matter as you take away from it. If for instance you bring to the market 2,000 kilos of rice and 500 kilos of vegetables, try to bring in at least 2,500 kilos of organic matter from the outside to put into your soil.

    Greetings,

  44. vicente p. fernandez
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    gusto ko pong matutunan ang pag gawa ng mga liquid organic fertilizer, pwede pong malaman kung saan website.

    salamat po

  45. Roberto Verzola
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Re liquid organic fertilizers, pls search the Web for “indigenous microorganisms”, “Korean nature farming”, and also “compost tea”.

  46. Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    good morning…can u please help me,on how to make project proposal with indigenous microorganism if okey with you.reply please ASAP!

  47. depressed
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    greetings sir,
    I’m doing a research on IMO’s for my thesis. I was wondering if there are other uses o IMOs that are not yet proven. I’m really interested in this but I don’t know what to do with these. Can you recommend me some possible uses of IMOs? please sir.
    This would be a great help.
    thanks and more power!

  48. Rolando Cataylo
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I have been following the discussions of the use of IMO in agriculture and start to like to engage myself in agricultural production using it. Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong mga kontributions sa teknolohiyang ito. Nakaseguro po ako na ito na ang solution sa mga problema sa sakahan sa ating bansa.

  49. roceilito c. bebit
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    sir pwede po bang gamitin ang IMO in treating wastewater?
    tnx..

  50. roceilito c. bebit
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    specially in aeration pond…

  51. Posted May 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Good day,.pag napadami ba ang pag apply ng IMO sa plant nakakasunog ba sya sa halaman, sir?

  52. kristine
    Posted August 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    SIR;

    aside from rice, what are other materials from which IMO may be produced/harvested?
    please answer..im currently doing my undergrad thesis..
    thank you po :)

  53. Johnny
    Posted January 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    is this still active,gusto ko sana itanong regarding s IMO kung papano ang paggamit s paginom ng manok at s pagtanim sa mais at palay…

    Palay at maisan….
    1. ilan ang paghalo ng IMO s tubig?
    2. s isang hectaria, ilan po solution igamit dito?
    3. Tuwing kailan ko iaapply un IMO? At ilan beses s isan season ang paggamit ng IMO?

    S Manok at baboy…..
    1. Ilan ang paghalo ng IMO s tubig?
    2. S 10,000 hds n manok ilan solution ko bigyan, s baboy gano karami painumin?
    3. Tuwing kailan ko iaapply un IMO? At ilan beses s isang grow ang paggamit ng IMO?
    4. ano idad bago ibigay un imo s manok at baboy?

  54. Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Heya, thanks for the great piece of writing, it’s just a pretty good one. My opinion is that I have got a substantial amount of close friends that will be keen on perusing this. Cheers!

  55. kj
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    good day sir!
    accrdg to some researches IMO can be used as foliar fertilizer..
    i spray IMO directly to the leaf of the plant..but next morning ive found out that my plant withered.. what would be the implications of this sir?
    my treatments are 10ml of IMO/90ML h2o, 20ML,30ML AND 40ML..
    could it be because of the concentrations i used..
    thank you po!

  56. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Your concentrations are too high. Our trainers recommend 2 tablespoons per liter (1000 ml) of water, or 32 tbsp per 16 liters (the capacity of a standard sprayer).

  57. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Paki-search po sa Web ang “SRI Pilipinas text lessons” at idownload ito. Basahin po nyong mabuti ang parte tungkol sa KNFS at IMO. Mag-post ulit kayo dito kung may mga tanong pa kayo.

    Ang rekomendasyon ng trainers namin sa timpla ay 2 tablespoon kada litro.

    Iyon pong ibang tanong nyo, itatanong ko muna sa mga trainers namin.

    Mukhang malaki po ang operasyon nyo. Ang mga nabibigyan namin ng payo ay mga maliliit na magsasaka na marami na kung may 100 manok ang alaga nila. Ang ganyan kalaking operasyon ay maaaring may mga partikularidad na hindi matutugunan sa long-distance o online na palitan. Kailangan po siguro nyo ng payo ng isang consultant. Ang SRI Pilipinas po ay hindi pumapasok sa ganyang kaayusan, pero may alam ako sa U.P. Los Banos na puwede nyong kausapin, si Dr. Ted Mendoza. (Bilang paglilinaw, hindi po siya kunektado sa SRI Pilipinas pero nasusubaybayan ko ang gawa niya.)

    Obet Verzola
    SRI Pilipinas

  58. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Sorry, my answer is probably too late for your purposes. If you ferment sugar with other materials, they are called by another name under Natural Farming Systems: fish amino acid (FAA) if you use fish head, fin, tail, innards etc.; fermented plant juice (FPJ) if you use maaterials from fast growing plants like kangkong, alugbati, banana, labong, etc.; fermented fruit juice (FFJ) if you use fleshy fruits like mango, papaya, etc. The keywords to search for are: “Korean natural farming system”.

    Obet Verzola

  59. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Tama po kayo. Sa katunayan, kahit anong bagay na maganda, pag nasobrahan, puwedeng pagmulan ng problema.

    Obet Verzola

  60. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Hindi ko pa po narinig na ginamit ang IMO sa wastewater. Pero alam kong ginagamit ito sa mga kulungan ng baboy at bahay ng manok para maalis ang amoy nila.

    Ang alam ko pong kailangan para sa wastewater ay ang tinatawag na aerobic decomposition. Kayat ang maaaring babagay po dito ay ang mga mikrobyong pinarami habang pinabubulaan ng hangin. Ang karaniwang tawag po dito ay “compost tea”. Pareho rin ang prinsipyo sa IMO (magpaparami ng mikrobyo sa pamamagitan ng fermentation o pagbuburo sa asukal). Ang diperensya: ang paggawa ng IMO ay kapos sa hangin, samantalang ang paggawa ng compost tea ay mayaman sa hangin. Ang kadalasang ginagamit po sa paggawa ng compost tea ay ang aerator na ginagamit din sa aquarium. Kaya habang nagbuburo kayo, katakut-takot na bula ang humahalo sa tubig, kayat dumarami nang husto ang mga aerobic microorganisms sa tubig.

    Isearch po nyo sa Web ang keyword na: “compost tea”

    Obet Verzola

  61. Posted March 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    anu po yung madaling madecompost sa tatlo??? yung Indigenouse microoragnism alone, african nighr crawler alone,or both ANC and IMO in one compost bin.. tanx

  62. Posted March 20, 2013 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    sir. i need your reply tanx and GOd bless you

  63. Roberto Verzola
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Medyo magkaiba po ang timing ng dalawa. Gamitin ang IMO sa sariwang organic matter para mabulok agad. Gamitin ang earthworms sa half-composted. Ibig sabihin, sa IMO muna, pagkatapos, sa bulate. Sa katunayan, puwede rin na pag ang composted material ay nakasako na, lagyan ito ng 2 o 3 bulate, para maging vermicompost. Ang vermicompost ay maituturing na very high quality organic fertilizer.

  64. shara
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    hello Can anyone tell me how to mix IMO with FPJ ? I need the amount of each

  65. Roberto Verzola
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    According to Jun Garde, our North Luzon coordinator, 2 FPJ to 1 IMO.

  66. Fel Anthony Azarce
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the information sir


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  1. [...] Ecology, technology and social change Notes on Green theory and practice by Roberto Verzola Indigenous microorganisms (IMO) http://rverzola.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/indigenous-microorganisms-imo/ [...]

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