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June 24, 2020 2 min read

A while back, we mentioned Korean Natural Farming and its potential as a viable solution for transitioning from modern confinement pork operations. We've recently mentioned it again as a means for biosecurity - at least, in the form of biosecurity against actively breeding super bugs within manure slurries connected to these confinement facilities. 

We practice Korean Natural Farming as part of our overall system of farm health - it fits right in with our vision of the farm as an organism, or at least the farm as a unique ecosystem. Our main winter shelter for our pigs has been a functioning Inoculated Deep Litter System pig house for over 6 years now. This year, we're adding two more shelters into the IDLS setup - another winter house and our "nursery house." Right now is the PERFECT time of year to collect microbes!

Time to take the kids for a hike! Our goal in KNF is to use the native microbes from our local soil populations to break down bedding and manure to keep pigs healthy, happy, dry and clean in their shelters. So step one is collect those little critters from the forest! 

IMO stands for Indigenous MicroOrganisms, and it's exactly what it sounds like - the local bugs unique to our climate, soils, and geography that do the job of breaking down leaves and other carbon in the forest. Since this whole process is now a DCNR-approved manure storage technique, much has been written about how to collect and store these guys, but the basics are as follows for IMO1:

  1. Make some rice
  2. Set the rice in some undisturbed soil at the right level
  3. Leave it for a week (protected)
  4.  Bring it back and propagate

In pictures with kiddos it looks like this:

In the back of the last picture, you can see where the rice is covered and weighted with stones. This is so none of the little mammals in the woods can snag our rice before we get our cultures!

After a nice hike and a trip into the creek, we headed home and waited for a week. Those little bugs did their thing, and we ended up with some really wild colors! A nice white fuzz covering everything and then mixes of blue, green, red, white and more clumping the rice all together. Here's what our IMO1 looks like:

Next week, I'll show you how we turn this IMO culture into the next two - IMO2 and IMO3 - for use in our IDLS pig houses!

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