How to turn imo native microorganisms into microbes

Korean Natural Farming - the trending topic for 2020

Why should I use KnF?

Our environment is not looking particularly good, be it due to climate change, overused pesticides or overexploitation for fertilizers.
A major influence are the large monocultures that make up a large part of the world's annual crops. In the graphic below we can see that corn makes up almost a third, the majority of which is used for animal feed.

This intensive land use results in an enormous depletion of phosphorus from the soil. This, paired with a steadily increasing world population, confronts conventional agriculture with hard facts, because from around 2050 they will no longer have enough mineral phosphate fertilizers available to meet global demand. Below we have included a small comparison between phosphorus stocks and consumption.

The resulting lack of phosphorus also has the effect that there is less yield per plant. Which again increases the demand for agricultural land, but which is being decimated by the increasing sealing of land. The question now arises, how do we combat this trend?
A promising possibility is the combination of conventional methods in a weakened form with a sustainable, regenerative farming style such as Korean natural farming. We can counteract this trend primarily through the use of local, adapted microorganisms and the very effective composting / recycling of organic waste.
It should be clear, however, that not only natural farming methods can be used on a large, global scale, since one has to secure a basic security or basic yield with fertilizer salts.

However, we as cannabis growers and “small producers” can work entirely with these methods and thus reduce our carbon footprint. Because our beloved indoor cultivation method in particular is unfortunately very resource-intensive.
Although this is usually essential for reasons of legality, you can save a lot with KNF and Living Soil methods.
How to do this and still keep your rate of return or even increase it, we will take a closer look in the next articles

What exactly is Korean natural farming?

The origin of this concept can be found in, as the name suggests, in Korea. South Korea to be precise. Here the inventor Cho Han-Kyu, also called Master Cho, thought about how to achieve good results in horticulture / agriculture with old techniques, implemented in a modern way. As a result, a holistic concept was created, which owes its extraordinary results to the interaction between native microorganisms and fermentation processes.

Particular attention was paid to minimizing costs. By using locally available inputs and waste recycling, Knf is one of the cheapest ways to get good results.
Master Cho got the basic idea behind the local inputs from his studies in Japan, which he previously completed over a number of years with highly respected horticulturalists such as Yasushi Oinoue.
Back in South Korea, he combined these with the "old" techniques of the Koreans, who had already done a lot of research in this area through kimchi and other fermentation products.

This gave rise to the concept that is now in trend with sustainable farmers around the world.
These work so well that Master Cho has already been arrested under pressure from agricultural corporations in South Korea and jailed for a short time. However, his teachings were spread around the world and he was eventually released

How do you exploit the full potential?

As already described in the previous chapter, KNF works through a combination of different preparations that take on different tasks.
This division makes it possible to create the perfect mix in every phase of growth. But what do you absolutely need, what is optional and how do you get your preparations?
This and much more will be described in more detail in the coming articles. This article is intended to convey the basis and the basic idea of ​​Korean Natural Farming so that you can search out which mixtures should be applied at what time.

The basics

We have already said several times that the interaction between living beings and parts of the soil plays the most important role in KnF, but why shouldn't I just take bottles from fertilizer manufacturers who promise the highest possible yield with their mixture?
Although these can also bring good results, the workload and the environmental aspect are decisive here.
In order to get the same yield and quality standards on a hydroponic system as on a Living Soil, you have to grow the same clone more often in order to meet the respective nutritional requirements and not to exceed them.
Because mineral nutrients actually mean nothing else than that they are already in their charged (ionized) form. For example, nitrogen is found in fertilizers as nitrate (NO3-) (-> good for annual plants) or ammonium (NH4 +) (-> perennial plants). Due to the charge, the nutrients are more or less “pressed” into the roots, as substances are absorbed here via charge gradients.
Many compare this procedure with "force-feeding", since the plant has no chance to reject excess nutrients and thus the famous "fertilizer burns" occur.

In “organic” cultivation, on the other hand, the symbiosis between plants and microorganisms / fungi is used. It is true that the term “organic” is difficult because rock flour is also used here to supply minerals. These are partially ionized and therefore immediately available.
However, the majority, like other inputs, is only gradually mineralized. How fast this works depends on the mineralization rate, which in turn depends on many factors.
In the Living Soil article I will break this down in detail, but here I have written down a small list of influencing factors.

  • Soil pH (6-7 is best)
  • Temperature (20-25 ° C optimal)
  • Microorganism Composition
  • Amount of microorganisms
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil structure

All of these factors can be positively influenced by adding a KNF product. These either directly promote the microbe population, provide food or displace pathogens (harmful organisms). The soil structure is also positively influenced, as the bacteria release a kind of slime, which cement the soil particles together and thus produce better water-holding properties and nutrient storage.
These microorganisms can be supplied exogenously (from the outside) in order to push the mineralization in a certain direction. However, this is not an immediate solution, the goal should always be a balanced population of different species.
If you have a complete biotope, the plant controls the amount of certain bacteria via its root exudates. Root exudates are sugar compounds that microbes can feed on. The plant exchanges these for nutrients and this promotes the particular type of microbe that supplies the desired nutrient.
Small example: the plant wants more potassium, then it releases a specific exudate matrix, which is discovered by the potassium-releasing bacteria and these are then stimulated to exchange.

In addition, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and organic acids are emitted for defense against pathogens and the release of nutrients

The importance of local raw materials

Why do I talk about native inputs all the time? I know I sound like a broken record, but this factor has a serious impact on the success of KNF products. We use the full range of organisms that are perfectly adapted to our location. In other words, we use natural selection to find out which microbes are best for our spot.
In addition, we protect our native biotope, which is otherwise displaced by sometimes invasive species. This can be partly intentional, but it brings the natural homeostasis (equilibrium) apart and can lead to undesirable side effects.
Another point is that the plant can develop to its maximum potential by controlling the nutrient supply itself. This relates not only to the yield but also to the quality of the material such as terpene content and trichome number or density.
But that doesn't mean that there are only good variations locally. You should stick to the recipes here and pay attention to characteristics such as color / smell, but I will show you exactly how to determine this with the respective products

Anyone interested in the philosophy and further in-depth insights into the development and application of KNF should of course read the books by Master Cho himself. There are also some very good YouTube videos from KNF greats such as Chris Trump or PureKNFDrake

The life cycle of plants

Now we have learned that with different inputs, different populations can be promoted, which in turn has an impact on the control of the plant. Now let's take a look at the life cycle of a cannabis plant and what is needed in which phase in order to be able to put together the various recipes

Seedling / clone

At this stage we do not need any strong nutrient products, we just have to prepare the soil and the seedling for the upcoming growth phase. We provide good microbes for this and prevent the population of pathogens from expanding

Vegetative phase

In this phase the foundation for a successful harvest is laid and we have to feed the plant accordingly. Products with a very high nitrogen or amino acid content should be given together with the basic supply. This is where the root system and stable branches / foliage establish themselves. That is why you should apply both soil and foliage fertilization

Beginning of blossom

We now have a strong / thick plant and want to move into the flowering phase as quickly as possible. It should not only go quickly but also with the corresponding earnings potential.
In order to create the right basis for a high yield, the plant needs the basic supply and above all a boost in calcium and phosphorus in this phase

Main flowering phase / reproduction

As the name suggests, we are in the phase in which the most weight is being put on and the quality can also be significantly influenced.
Particular attention should be paid here to the supply of minerals and potassium / phosphorus
It is also important to mention that we only work with soil application here, as we do not want any residues of the agent or a risk of mold (Botrytis cinerea)

Maturation process

We enter this phase in the last 1-2 weeks before the harvest. Now we want to induce maximum terpene formation and maturation of the trichome heads.
We use the same inputs as in the main phase

A brief overview of KNF products

Now you are probably wondering what should I use in the individual phases? The answer will probably be superfluous after this chapter, as I will now explain the main components of the KNF regime to you.
However, as with conventional preparations, you cannot differentiate here by a strict NPK specification, since the products are so much more than pure fertilizer salts. In order not to go beyond the scope of this brief overview, I will cover production and precise functions in the respective articles for the specific products.
That is why in KNF we tend to speak of tasks that the product takes on. At OHN, for example, the term medicinal component is used as this strengthens general plant health.

Structure: Abbreviation = written original name = German translation = effect

  1. OHN = Oriental Herbal Medicine = oriental herbal medicine = medicine -> general plant health is strengthened by stimulating the immune system
  2. BRV = Brown Rice Vinegar = brown rice vinegar = catalyst -> without this the pH fluctuates partially and some other inputs cannot be implemented
  3. FPJ = Fermented Plant Juice = fermented plant juice = food -> nutrients decomposed / available through fermentation from green plant material + carbohydrates for
  4. FFJ = Fermented Fruit Juice = fermented fruit juice = food -> same principle as FPJ, only that fruit parts are taken here and therefore in the flowering phase
  5. LAB = Lactic-acid Bacteria = Lactobacteria = support -> these very strong microorganisms displace pathogens, fight botrytis and accelerate them
  6. FAA = Fish Amino-acids = Fish Amino Acids = Fuel -> this preparation really gives gas, especially in Veg, due to the immense N content and the completely preserved
    Amino acids the soil life is so strongly stimulated that the soil temperature rises and the plant grows
    Make leaps in growth in a short time
  7. IMO = indigenious microorganisms = indigenous microorganisms = backbone -> IMO accounts for up to 80% of the KNF performance and is therefore the most important component because it
    brings the basic stock of soil life without which nothing works. There are a few here
    Gradations, but we will only go into this in the designated chapter
  8. WSCP = water-soluble calcium phosphate = water-soluble calcium phosphate = bone structures -> With this we support the plant in the development of flower approaches
    additional calcium and phosphate. This allows more nutrients to go through the
    ER (endoplasmic reticulum) are promoted and thus a better
    Care can be guaranteed
  9. SW = Sea Water = sea water (water + 5% salt) = mineral complex -> This rather simple preparation only consists of two inputs, but has a strong influence. Salt is extreme
    full of nutrients and should therefore be used sparingly

How do I combine these inputs now?

Now the question is what fits best in which stage. We have already roughly shown it in the description of the phases, but we still have an exact list for you here. This is the compilation that master Cho personally created for 4L of water

From this one can already deduce that the standard dose in each phase consists of the so-called “Maintenance Spray”, which consists of OHN, BRV and FPJ, except in the ripening phase, here the FPJ is replaced by FFJ made from ripe fruits. From there you can see what the plant needs or what would be beneficial and can then add this to the Maintenance Spray (MS).
For example, if there is a calcium deficiency at the beginning of flowering, you add WCP to the MS and spray it.
Now we only need the recipes and seasonal tips, then we have also worked through the KNF chapter.
A tip in advance, store a lot of brown sugar and by that I really mean a lot. You will still need it for the next recipes

I hope you still have a smoky day, see you next time!
Special thanks also to the people who read this through to the end!


  1. "Korean Natural Farming: Master Cho Biography"; Nico Hill for Garden Culture Magazine; 05/06/2019; (
  2. "Cho's Natural Farming: Recipes and Instructions for Use"; Cho Han-Kyu

List of figures:

  1. Pie chart; VOX; (
  2. Maize P shortage; Mary; (
  3. Improving Plant Phosphorus (P) Acquisition by Phosphate-Solubilizing Bacteria; (
  4. Root nutrient foraging; R. Giehl, N. v. Wiren; (
  5. "A Return to the Wild: Root Exudates and Food Security"; C. Prece, J. Penuelas;
  6. "KNF and IMO"; Nico Hill; (