Soil Enzymes and it's effect

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Revision 1 published on 21 Oct 2020
Revised edition on 17 Mar 2022

I am a film believer of soil health and beneficial microbes. I personally witnessed my clayey orange soil transformed to rich dark loamy texture soil over time with right beneficial microbes introduced when I first embarked on the journey to grow food for own consumption. 

Yes, it takes time as compare to instant results using chemicals but it is definitely worth the while in the long run. I struggled for the first half to one year, see lights on second year and simply love it thereafter. 10 years on, you can take anything from my plot, but not my microbes rich soil.

To grow food for fun and have that occasional harvests is a great experience. Growing food with expected harvests outcome at timely manner bring planting to a total different level. To have that, soil health is absolutely important to achieve that consistent and predictable good yield.

Everyone that is into Enzymes knows eco enzymes or garbage enzymes. If you are into cleaning or very mild plant pests remedy, that is the best home made vinegar that you can up-cycle from kitchen wastes effortlessly. I have used this for my house floor cleaning for years. I started using them on soil 10 years ago, but with limited outcome. I have since switched to commercial enzymes after reading and understanding the important of having the right strains and optimal population of beneficial microbes.

The tests carried out here is based on professionally cultured commercial soil enzymes AGN LTE Organic by Cisbay, a US based Company. Everyone experience may vary, I encourage you to try out and conclude yourself.

As always, we will conduct a minimum of 3 planting cycles (for vegetables is typically 5 to 6 weeks per cycle from seeds, for fruiting vegetables is months depending on type). 

Some significant outcomes are observed:
  • Better roots system
  • Shorter transplant recovery time. Seedings recovered in 2 to 4 hrs time partly owning to better developed root system. It used to be the next day after a cooler night temperature.
  • Fuller and more uniform vegetables growth both for the seedlings as well as the matured plants/vegetables. As a result, overall yield of the plot increases by about 30% based on weight. From 6 shares per week per 100 square meter plot to 8.5 shares a week
  • Seeding time reduced by 3 to 4 days, from 18 to 21 days to 14 to 18 days. That is a good 15% to 20% improvement 
  • Asian leafy vegetables that has higher water content seems to see vast improvement as compare to the solid stem type like Kai Lan
  • We see better root mass for fruiting vegetables. Fruiting results to be added later.
For all tests conducted, we try not to disturb the overall operating processes of the farm (although ours is a mini farm but precisely because of that, we have limited manpower) and it should never disturb the committed output weekly. The weight improvement is taken as an average over 3 cycles. The first cycle being with least improvement and it really improves over time.

A quick summary below:

Proper growth starts from healthy seedlings. We used to need 18 to 21 days to properly seed various type of vegetables to form proper 5 true leaves seedlings ready for transplant, fastest asian leafy vegetables being Hong Kong Chai Sim and longest being all type of Lettuce. 

Here are the seedlings after just 14 days. Now we typically need only 14 to 18 days. Cutting down seeding time/growing period by 3 to 4 days right at the start. 

Fig 1. Healthy 14 days seedlings ( from front to back, Hong Kong Chai Sim, Japanese Mustard Green and Xiao Bai chai) 

These are some of the asian leafy vegetables that we have grown throughout the tests. The giant napa weighs as heavy as 550g per stalk at 70cm diameter ( the pen is 14cm in length) as shown in the pictures.

Fig. 2 Giant Napa

Fig. 3 Clockwise Hong Kong Chai Sim, Xiao Bai Chai, Nai Bai, Lettuce, Kai Lan and Japanese Mustard Green

We water the plot with 300ml of AGN LTE Organic weekly. @ dilution ratio of 1:300 (most optimal is 1:200 but we wish to test out the stretch). That makes 90L of water. Mixed and aerated for 1 to 2 hours before use. We used the same mixture to 
  • water the soil used to seed the seedlings
  • water all transplanted and growing vegetables and fruiting vegetables
  • use it to water the soil after soil treatment. ( typically after each harvest)
For more detailed of the science and weight gain of each individual vegetable types, please refer to "The Details" section of this document.

The Details:

We run the mini urban farm with minimum workforce. It is automated and the main workforce will be there only once a week on Saturday morning ( 6 hrs 7am to 1 pm). All seeding, pruning, harvesting and packing will be done on same day. Tuesday we just have one workforce to inspect and make sure all in order, maximum 3 hrs.

#Vegetables Weight
We used the weight of a vegetables with roots and all yellowed leaves removed, basically ready for sales state. This allow us to calculate base on actual dollar gain per kilogram. This together with planting cost per kilogram ( CAPEX and OPEX all in) will help a farm to decide if the business can stay profitable. All planting & harvesting processes stay.

The weight breakdown of the various vegetables are as follows:

Fig. 4 Ave Weight of Vegetables (per stalk in gram)

#Note on test
We pick 5 stalks of each vegetables random size, ensure a mix of big and small stalks and take the average weight per sample.
Sample 1 has the lowest figures as we feel it takes time for the beneficial microbes to thrive and grow in the environment. Sample 2 is high owning to very sunny weather that week. Weight projection between sample 2 and 3 will be about right for future calculation, which is pretty close to the average weight calculated anyway.

We did an early harvest on Kai Lan (a week earlier) to avoid aphids attack. Aphids season is here and they specially love full size Kai Lan. One additional week can easily add typically about 15% weight to the crops. That could explain why their weight is slightly on the low side.  ( Refer to updates at end of page)

All weight are taken after trimmed, all non ideal leaves and roots are removed. All these typically add on to about 10 to 15% additional weight. We only used the classic 5 types of vegetables that we plant every week. There are other vegetables that we do not harvest weekly hence not enough sample size yet to do the tabulations.

We used goat manure for soil treatment and organic Humus fertiliser to fertilise the transplanted seedings 3 days after transplant. We applied about 3-4 pellets to one seedling and do it only once throughout the planting cycle. 

If you apply more fertiliser like 3 days and 10 days after transplant, weight will likely to increase another 5% to 10%, however we avoid doing that to cut down manpower requirement as well as give time for all nitrogen to be used up totally by plants before harvest. We like the taste better this way.

#Application Instructions/Usage

At 8am, we will start mixing the solution to give it time to activate. AGN LTE Organic is shipped with dormant beneficial microbes. This dilution action wakes them up. As we do not have a huge container like a big farm, we did a 2 stages dilution. This will be the classic case for home too.

@ 8am Stage 1 dilution, mix and wait 2 hrs:
We use 2x 15L pail.  Add 300ml of AGN LTE Organic to 30L of water. (first mix ratio 1:100). Mix well and aerate the mixture for 2 hrs. Note: Minimum dilution ratio for the "wake up" action is 1:50 but we pick 1:100 for ease of calculation and execution.

@10am Stage 2 dilution, add more water and use:
Before use, dilute the aerated mixture further by 1:3 ( second mix ratio). Making a total of 90L solution

As long as the end dilution ratio is between 1:100 to 300 (recommended 200), it is good. Min 100ml of AGN LTE Organic to ensure there are enough microbes to bring about changes, whichever higher.

Fig 5. Our Stage 1 mixed AGN LTE Organic and our DIY 1L measuring bottle for easy farm use. 

We use a classic 10L watering can to water the plot. About 9 cans for a 100 sqm plot with 70% planting area. We repeat this whole process weekly for whole planting cycle of the crops. 

#Microbes Activities
Attached a microbes activities graphs with AGN LTE Organic mixed and the beneficial Microbes activities observed in a dosing tank/container. 
Fig. 6 Beneficial Microbes Activities in tank after mixing/activation 

In short, this graph explains the best mixing period is 1 to 2 hrs, after which you should apply to the soil ( the star on graph). Even in the tank, You will have pretty good striving beneficial microbes for next 72 hours (3 days) and stable population for another 95 hours.( approximately 4 days) before it starts to decline.

Once you applied to the soil, depends on many factors including soil temperature, moisture, oxygen level, and nutrient availability (the microbes strive in soil rich in organic matters), the stationary phrase can further stretched to vary between 7 days to as long as 6 months, way better.

Review After One year ( October 2021):

Posting a few instagram worthy pictures showing the success is only the start of the whole process.

For us, yield and constant output is every thing. Hence, product needs to work not only for pilot and initial production, It has to be repeatable.

The same process is kept track for a year to check it's consistency and repeatability before making it a permanent process/product in the planting process. 

This is a follow up summary of the final process adopted.

#Revised Weight on Vegetables
Kailan is the only one that missed the cut during pilot due to early harvest, to mitigate pests attack. Revised table with consistent data as follows:

Consistent figures like above are obtained for about 10 vegetables cycles over the year.

#Note on AGN applications and NPK relation
GAP, good agriculture practise is in place already before using AGN. High N humic fertiliser (non chemical) are applied to vegetables 3 days and/or 10 days after they are transplanted. Thereafter, no more fertiliser application till harvest. This is to ensure there are no nitrate "overdose" vegetables, as well as keeping ground water pollution to the minimum while maintaining decent growth and yield.

After each harvesting cycle, soil are treated well to ensure it gives a good start to the seedlings.

AGN are incorporated into these 2 steps to enhance yield, while reducing NPK usage hence limit nitrate concentration both in vegetables and the environment. 

During soil treatment, 70g of goat manure per square meter is used. With AGN, that is reduced to 50g per square meter. 1 L of activated AGN per square meter ( dilution ration of 1:300 that translated to 3.33ml of raw AGN per square meter) is needed to water the plot. This is the only place NPK dosage is reduced.

On the day 3 and/or 10 days after the seedlings are transplanted, seedlings are fertilised. Typical usage for asian leafy vegetables is about 1/4 teaspoon per stalk or about 75 to 100g per square meter. This is not reduce as our tools and application instructions are all standardised to this. Worker processes change is too tedious and not worth the little saving.

In summary, we are able to get the yield up by about 30% consistently. The treatment cycle NPK is cut down by about 20 to 25%. Healthier growth after transplanting, reducing the need for human intervention and check ($$$) is another plus for us.


  1. Well documented. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for the kind words.😊

  3. Thanks for sharing the experience, the product and well written. Our urban farmings do need this product real bad, our soil health is depleting faster than we ever thought. I will reach out to Cisbay and definitely will use their AGN LTE Organic for my farm and can't wait to refer to my farming community. Cheers to the microbes!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Thank you. I am glad the content is useful. I look forward to learning from you too.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and truly glad the information is useful.

      Our experience has always been on edibles. So far a big farm in this region used AGN with great success on their aloe Vera and edible cactus.

      Both crops yield and soil quality improved tremendously.

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