Korean Natural Farming – Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB)

This is taken from the Korean Natural Farming Handbook p. 126

What is Lactic Acid Bacteria?

Lactic Acid Bacteria are anaerobic microorganisms that decompose sugar in the absence of oxygen.  Normally , they are separated and cultured with rice washed water and milk. Lactic acid bacteria are very effective in improving air ventilation in soil and are highly effective at promoting the growth of fruit trees and leaf vegetables.

The lactic acid or organic acid produced has a PH of 2 and thus possesses strong sterilization power. As lactic acid bacteria are conditionally anaerobic being able to survive with or without oxygen and in high temperatures.  Lactic acid decomposes or chelates minerals stuck to soil particles which are not easily dissolved; this making the minerals available in a form plants can absorb.

Furthermore, when plants absorb lactic acid their bodily fluids are adjusted and they become more resistant to disease and can also withstand heavy rain without becoming soft.

How to make LAB.

Using milk:

1. Pour 15-20 cm of rice washed water into a jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with handmade paper and let it sit in the shade.  After a week at 20-25 degrees centigrade lactic acid bacteria propagate and start to give off a sour smell.

2. Add this rice wash water to milk. The ideal ratio of milk to water is 10:1 This sometimes fails if you use store bought milk as this is often loaded with antibiotics.  The best milk is from cows not fed antibiotics. Milk in the market which has been pasteurized at a low temperature is ok.  Since milk has more nutrients than rice wah water the lactic acid bacteria will grow vigorously.

3. In 5-7 days, starch, protein and fat float on the surface and a yellow liquid remains at the bottom. This yellow liquid is the lactic acid bacteria. Remove the floating substance, save the yellow liquid and store it in a refrigerator.  In order to store it at room temperature it must be mixed with an equal amount of brown sugar. The use of rice wash water is to ensure that only strong bacteria capable of colonizing a nutrient poor liquid are harvested.

From Beans

1. Steam beans.

2. Add a little sugar and grind in a mixer.

3. When the milk is warm pour it into a sterilized bottle.

4.  Seal the bottle and put it in the refrigerator.

5. As time passes the liquids and solids will separate inside the bottle. The liquid in this bottle is pure natural lactic acid bacteria. This method is advantageous in selectively separating lactic acid bacteria that can withstand high temperaturies close to 100 degrees centigrade.

How to use LAB

The basic dilution ratio of lactic acid bacteria to water is 1:1000.  Indigenous microrganisms (IMO) are most aerobic so using anaerobic LAB helps restore the balance. For example if you add LAB when making mixed compost (p.149 to be detailed later)  or liquid fertilizer (p.137 to be detailed later) you’ll achieve excellent fermentation results.  It will be even better if you also add Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ). I suggest you try adding LAB to the mix if you have failed to make compost . The lactic acid (an organic acid) will help to prevent the compost from deteriorating.

Combine LAB to IMO and spray onto the fields. Anaerobic organisms are powerful tillers, digging into the soil and making it soft and fluffy. Feeding LAB and FPJ to your livestock when they are suffering from disease will help to restore their digestive systems.

LAB is also extremely effective at encouraging plants to produce large fruit and leaves. However care should be taken since if you use too much the sweetness will drop.  Thus, in the case of fruiting plants you should use less LAB in the later stages to manage proper sugar levels. Once again I must emphasize that in Natural Farming all inputs are utilized at precise times and quantities based on scientific theory.

Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are complementary. For anaerobic bacteria to function properly they need help from aerobic bacteria. This is why, in Natural Farming; we do not necessarily focus on makin completely anaerobic conditions when culturing lactic acid bacteria. We believe it is ideal to have a culturing condition that is aerobic and anaerobic  so that the end product can adapt to both environments.



  1. Mike Blackmon said,

    May 18, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Can’t seem to find a copy of Korean Natural Farming Handbook; can you help? Thanks, Mike

  2. Allan Roeser said,

    February 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Can i mix LABS, FPJ and IMO and store it for a longer period, or must they be sprayed at once?
    If it is possible to store a mixture, what is the amount of each ingredient in percent?
    I ask this, because i am afraid, that the different bacteria might kill eachother.
    So if it is possible, is there an amount, that keeps all bacteria alive?

    • March 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Hi Allan

      I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you on that. You might wish to contact Janong USA for advice on that. Should you get some, I’d appreciate it if you could pass it on. Spreading the word of this is good for the planet. 🙂


  3. krishna rao said,

    November 20, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Is LAB sprayed on plants or on soil?

    • August 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Both. It’s diluted down with water so splash it around indiscriminately. It’s not like a pesticide where you have to wear a mask. However, as with all bacteria don’t spray it at midday since the UV light from the sun kills bacteria. First thing in the morning would be better.

  4. kenji said,

    January 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    what are the specific bacterias included in LAB?

    • August 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      That would depend on your source material. Dr. Cho says that bacteria collected from unspoiled natural has evolved to live within its environment and so each batch would have different forms of lactic acid bacteria in them. This is a difficult question to answer in more detail than this. Frankly we know more about the surface of Venus than we do about soil bacteria.

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