The University of Georgia Costa Rica 2014-2015 Sustainability Report UGA Costa Rica 2014 - 2015 Sustainability Report - Page 42

Rica produces the natural cleaning agent called Mountain Microorganisms (MM), or Local Effective Microorganisms (LEM), used for cleaning campus bathrooms, the stables, and the compost shed. To make MM, semi-decomposed leaf matter from the forest floor on campus is combined in a barrel with molasses, yeast, whey, and charcoal. The anaerobic environment in the barrel enables the microorganisms found in the forest floor leaf litter to reproduce, creating a highly concentrated collection of bacteria and fungi to be used as a natural cleaning agent. In 2014, under the direction of Dr. Dory Franklin in UGA’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Laura Ney and Kishan Mahmud began an extensive research project centered around understanding the potential use of MM applied to the soil in conjunction with a fertilizer source, such as swine effluent or composted chicken manure. The project began with the completion of a solution of MM in Athens, GA and on campus at UGACR. The solution was then applied to 24 plots in the greenhouse on campus and 12 plots near Athens, Georgia, plots composed of grasses used for cattle feed, including stargrass and annual ryegrass. The main focus of this research is to examine the impact of MM on agricultural production systems, specifically the effect on nutrient cycling, nutrient availability to plants, and changes in soil microbial community structure, particularly ammonia oxidizers. It is hypothesized that the addition of MM, through the increased biomass of local microorganisms, will tie up