Mokusaku: A promising sustainable product for natural farming

The kiln used to make mokusaku or wood vinegar. (EV Sanchez Agri Farm)


Edna Sanchez, owner of EV Sanchez Farm, attended a seminar in Benguet, where she discovered the wonders of mokusaku, also known as wood vinegar. This natural solution serves as both a fertilizer and a pesticide, revolutionizing traditional farming practices. Intrigued by its potential, Edna wholeheartedly embraced mokusaku and introduced it to her farm in Rizal Province. 

READ: Beyond the desk: Office worker retiree is a pioneer of sustainable farming in Jalajala, Rizal

What is mokusaku or wood vinegar?

Mokusaku is a liquid obtained from the oil, juices, sap, and other liquid contents of organic materials like wood, coconut shell, bamboo, grass, and various plants after being heated in a chamber. It is an eco-friendly and sustainable fertilizer. It helps plants grow better and protects them from pests and diseases. Using mokusaku instead of chemical fertilizers nourishes the soil and promotes strong plant growth without harming the environment. It’s a great way to make farming more sustainable and reduce reliance on harmful chemicals.

Mokusaku or wood vinegar made on the farm can be used both as fertilizer and pesticide. (EV Sanchez Agri Farm)

The production process of mokusaku

The process of mokusaku production begins with arranging coconut shells in a charcoal or earthen kiln. The coconut shells are burned for at least eight hours, causing the liquid contents to evaporate as steam vapor. The steam then passes through a cooling chamber, where it condenses into a dark-reddish-brown liquid, which is collected in a container. This unrefined wood vinegar is aged for a period of six months or longer to enhance its quality.

The sedimentation process of mokusaku involves allowing the liquid to settle over time. After the initial production, mokusaku might contain some solid particles or impurities suspended in the liquid. These particles can affect the quality and purity of the final product.

The kiln used to make mokusaku or wood vinegar. (EV Sanchez Agri Farm)

To improve the quality, the liquid is left undisturbed in a container for a period of time. During this period, the heavier particles and impurities gradually sink to the bottom of the container, forming a sediment layer. The clear and purified liquid, free from most of the solid particles, remains on top.

Once the sedimentation process is complete, the clear liquid can be carefully separated from the sediment at the bottom. This ensures that the mokusaku is of higher quality, with reduced impurities, and ready for its intended use.

Various applications of wood vinegar

Sanchez Farm’s adoption of mokusaku showcased its versatility. Beyond its role as a fertilizer and pesticide, wood vinegar proved to be a versatile agricultural solution.

Enriching the Soil. To enrich the soil with mokusaku, farmers dilute wood vinegar with water at a ratio of 1:15 (1 part wood vinegar to 15 parts non-chlorinated water) and spray it onto the soil before planting. The recommended application rate is 1 liter of the solution per square meter of planting area.

Compost enhancement. For composting, farmers dilute 1 part wood vinegar with 50 parts water and sprinkle it over composting materials at an application rate of 50 liters of the solution per one ton of compost.

Fertilization for all crops. To fertilize crops, farmers dilute 1 part wood vinegar with 15 parts water and spray it onto the leaves twice a week, promoting healthy and balanced plant growth.

Seed germination and plant propagation. To enhance seed germination and plant propagation, farmers soak seeds in a mixture of 1 part wood vinegar with 15 parts water for 24 hours before planting.

Pest repellent and odor removal.  Mokusaku can serve as a natural pest repellent when diluted with water at a ratio of 1 part wood vinegar to 20 parts water and sprayed onto plants. Additionally, it can be used as an odor eliminator by spraying it onto substrates, depending on the specific case.

Advantages of using wood vinegar for fertigation

Fertigation, the application of fertilizers through irrigation systems, offers several advantages when applied with mokusaku. The recommended fertigation ratio is 1 liter of mokusaku to 10-20 liters of water, applied 2-3 times per week.

Control of nematodes. Mokusaku’s properties help control nematodes in the soil, reducing the damage caused by these plant-parasitic worms.

Activation of beneficial microorganisms. The use of mokusaku activates beneficial microorganisms in the soil, promoting a healthier and more balanced soil ecosystem.

Improved plant vigor.  Fertigating with mokusaku results in vigorous plant growth, leading to higher crop yields.

Mokusaku can play a vital role in sustainable farming by offering a range of benefits to both crops and the environment. Its organic origin and capacity to reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides contribute to improved soil health and ecosystem preservation. As a recommendation, combining mokusaku with other organic fertilizers creates a potent and synergistic approach to nourishing crops. Farmers can foster a greener and more sustainable agricultural future By adopting mokusaku to cultivate healthier crops while responsibly managing precious resources for generations to come.

Photo courtesy of EV Sanchez Farm

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