[Compostteas] re: Compost tea sampling

Soil Foodweb, Inc. info at soilfoodweb.com
Mon Jul 29 08:36:27 EDT 2002

Hi to the list -

Jeff Lowenfels wrote about the tea going anaerobic and thus getting no active fungi when his sample sat someplace too long.  We see this quite often.  We always put the date of arrival of your sample on the prelimninary SFI report form so you can tell if it sat too long.  Get your money back if they don't get it to us overnight.  We point out to you, on the final SFI report form (it
takes me a day or so to look at the results, but you get the preliminary report in 5 to 12 hours of the arrival of the tea in the lab), whether it is likely that the tea went anaerobic during shipping, or not.

We're doing some research showing that when the tea drops below 5.5 to 6.0 ppm, the bacteria that are growing then will attack the fungal hyphae.  We do not detect the fungi as active any longer.  The possible mechansims for this are many, and we are trying to determine which mechanism for the loss of activity is the important one.

We have some great pictures of the fungi being attacked, so anyone coming to my talks in the next couple months will see these pictures.  They will undoubtedly be in the next edition of the Compost Tea Brewing Manual.

But please note the oxygen levels where the fungi are attacked by bacteria.  If you have your tea maker in the hot sun, and you put normal amounts of your starter nutrients into the tea maker, you may be going anaerobic.  Bruce Elliott pointed out to me the oxygen tables on the USGS web site (Table 6.2) where you can see for yourself that at 21 to 27 degrees C, at the elevation of
Tempe, AZ, it is not possible to have had an aerobic tea brew with additions of sugars, yeasts or barley malt.

Adding ice packs - makes shipping more expensive, and usually the ice is completely melted by the time it gets here.  The only way to tell if it really helps is to ship the same tea with ice, and without ice.  Comparison of the organism counts after they get here would be useful information.  I recall doing this a time or two, and I recall (I just passed my 50th birthday, so the
memory can be faulty) that the ice made no difference in the counts.

Off to Las Vegas now, to do a talk for Helena Chemical Co!


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