Bokashi composting is a method of intensive anaerobic composting through which food waste is fermented in an air tight container through a bran that is inoculated with effective microorganisms (EM). Once fully fermented, the food waste is then typically buried in a garden where it breaks down quickly producing nutrient rich soil.

History

Originally developed and practiced in Japan, the process of bokashi fermentation has been known for hundreds of years. It was popularized by Professor Teruo Higa who recognized the correct composition of microbes needed to best break down organic matter.

Bokashi Bran

BokashiBokasi bran is commonly comprised of wheat bran, water, molasses and microorganisms.

When Bokashi bran is added to organic food waste, the microbes begin to grow causing the material to ferment and break down.


Applications

Bokashi composting can be practiced by consumers and businesses.

In home applications, food scraps are placed in an airtight container and the bokashi bran is added. Over the course of a few weeks, the bran and EMs begin to ferment and break down the food waste. Once the food waste is matured it can be placed in a compost pile, buried in trenches, or in a garden where it will quickly break down.

Fermented Food Waste with BokashiBenefits of Bokashi Composting (vs Traditional Composting)

Bokashi composters cite a range of benefits to using bokashi composting as opposed to traditional composting methods, including:

Speed:
Food waste ferments using bokashi bran for a period of a few weeks and is then ready to be planted in trenches or soil. Composting typically takes longer (thought it depends on your method of composting) and takes place over the course of a few months.
Smells: Because bokashi composting is anaerobic, the fermentation process must take place within an airtight container. As a result, there is no putrid smell associated with bokashi composting.
Animal Attraction: Matured Bokashi food waste is kept indoors in an airtight container or buried in the ground and thus, unlike some backyard compost piles, does not typically attract animals or rodents.
Greenhouse Gases
: No greenhouse gases are produced during bokashi composting. This is different from traditional composting in which C02 and methane are produced.
Soil Health: The moisture content in soil embedded with bokashi fermented food waste is typically higher than that of normal compost. As such, bokashi composting allows for increased conservation of groundwater. The organic nutrients in the soil after bokashi fermentation are also not as water soluble as are the nutrients derived from composting (by oxidation) and thus are less likely to leach away due to run-off after rains.

Disadvantages of Bokashi Composting (vs Traditional Composting)

Cost: You must purchase bokashi bran or mix from a vendor such as BokashiCycle.
Packaging: Bokashi fermentation is unlikely to break down and ferment compostable packaging.