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Mud Balls: Cost-Effective & Natural Solution to Fish Farming Water Pollution

Dr Freddie Acosta, a Senior Lecturer of Technology and Innovation Management and a Consultant of Agribusiness and EM Technology at Strathmore Business School, recently announced that after many failed attempts, he was successful in formulating the right mixture of indigenous materials and EM (Effective Microorganisms) to form mud balls which are rich with beneficial microbes.


Dr Acosta has been studying EM Technology and its application for many years. EM Technology was developed by Dr. Terou Higa of the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan in the early 1980’s. Since then, EM has been introduced and used in more than 140 countries.


EM is made up of beneficial and highly efficient organisms. These microorganisms are not harmful, they are non-pathogenic, they are not genetically modified, nor are they chemically synthesized. “Originally, EM was developed as alternative for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, however, the use of EM technology in the last two decades, has expanded from agriculture to effluent and waste water treatments, control of foul odors, farms and animal health, human health and innumerable industrial treatments,” Dr Acosta said.


One sector that could benefit from EM is the fish farming industry. Fish farming in Kenya has grown tremendously over the past 5 years through a stimulus support from the Government. As an economic activity earning people a living, the industry is very important to fishing communities, fish traders, fish processors and fish farmers. The sector supports about 100,000 Kenyans directly and about 1,000,000 others indirectly. However, cost and quality of commercial feeds posed as a challenge. In addition, intensive farming uses commercial feeds, which if not completely consumed, together with fish wastes, will settle at the bottom of the pond. This in turn will produce ammonia and other compounds which are toxic to fish. In his survey, Kenyan farmers had used various solutions to arrest the situation like UV water treatment or daily change of water in their fish tanks. While others, because of costs, changed water only after harvest.


Dr Acosta explained that microorganisms have much to do with the process of water purification in nature. Even in the latest water purification technology such as the activated sludge process, microorganisms play a major role.


Self-purification power of water works well under the indigenous ecosystems functioning properly with a rich aquatic ecosystem pyramid. In polluted pond water with sludge accumulating at the bottom and foul odors, self-purification power decrease as the result of the dominance by putrefactive microorganisms. This leads to decrease of nutrition necessary for ecosystems to function and keep their purification.


Applied to polluted and putrefactive water, EM holds a dominant position in the layer of microorganisms and help ecosystems revive and reduce sludge and foul odors. The purpose of EM application is not to create clear water by chemical means but to revive the native function of aquatic ecosystem. In this sense, depending on the overload of drainage and the volume of water, the amount and the frequency of application of EM should be various.


Due to the absence of traditional ingredients, Dr Acosta made experiments to test other substrates and after many weeks of failed attempts, he finally succeeded in culturing the microbes using locally available materials. “EM Mud Balls are a mixture of clay, bokashi and EM which is mixed together and then allowed to ferment before being dried,” Dr Acosta explained. “As a result, the mud balls are enriched with EM and when applied to ponds or lakes, they will slowly break down, allowing the EM to escape into the water.”

EM Mud Balls will both inhibit the growth of algae and break down any sludge and silt in the pond – giving farmers beautiful clear and healthy water.
EM Mud Balls will prove beneficial to fishes in the pond, as the EM will control ammonia levels and suppress any pathogens present.

Dr Acosta advised that EM mud balls should be applied at the rate of 1 ball per cubic meter of water. “The economic potential of this innovation is huge as it can also be used to treat polluted rivers, lakes, ocean and dams,” Dr Acosta remarked. In the UK, one ball is sold at £5.50. Dr Acosta also revealed that he almost simultaneously discovered some indigenous plants/ferns rich in crude protein as alternative to animal-based ingredients found in commercial feeds. Through fermentation and the use of EM, nutritional value of each plant can be multiplied. This in turn will save farmers up to 40-50% in costs.


For any interested farmer or potential investor willing to try the technology, please contact Strathmore Business School or email Dr Acosta at facosta@strathmore.edu.


Watch video below on EM Mud Balls