[Compostteas] Subject: Bacterial tea versus Compost Tea?
Soilfoodweb at aol.com
Soilfoodweb at aol.com
Mon Jun 17 02:31:01 EDT 2002
Here's a question for discussion -
Do you think that a strictly bacterial tea can actually be called compost
Compost as defined by the NOSB for example, should have the full set of
bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Compost contains all those organism
groups. If a tea made from compost does not extract the set of organisms
present in compost, then should that tea be called a compost tea?
Based on data SFI collected from quite a few tea assays with all the compost
tea machines on the market that I am aware of, both the SoilSoup and the
larger volume Growing Solutions machines make strictly bacterial tea. The
fungal biomass in those teas is either nonexistent, extremely low, or lower
than the minimum level SFI has established as being needed to provide disease
suppression THROUGH OUT the growing season.
They provide "step one" in what I like to call a twelve step program -- sort
of like getting alcoholics to get off alcohol addiction, we need to get
people off pesticides.
To get completely off pesticides, you have to get ALL the organism groups
back. A complete compost tea can do this for you.
Soil Soup machines give you step one, maybe a little of step two. With
SoilSoup and the larger GSI machines, you need to find a way to get the rest
of the food web back into the soil or on your foliage to get full protection.
You can't get the benefits I talk about with life in the soil unless you get
ALL the organism groups living and happy once again. For example, you need:
- Bacterial biomass, and full species diversity, is just step one.
- Fungi have to be brought back to normal, active levels.
- Protozoa - all three groups in the right numbers and activity - have to be
- Then nematodes, all three to four groups of beneficial nematodes.
- Mycorrhizal fungi have to be brought back into the root systems - and they
need to be matched to the plant you are trying to grow.
- Then, these organisms have to set up condominiums, and neighborhoods, and
super highways in the soil. They have to interact, perform their synergistic
functions in the presence of the plant.
Can having just bacteria help? Sure! They get you started on the right
path. But the rest of the food web is necessary to get the full benefit
possible from the life in the soil.
So, tea from machines that CAN NOT give the full set of organisms should not
be called compost tea machines. They are perhaps bacterial tea makers, and
should be labeled as that.
If a tea made from a machine has only bacteria in it, does that make the tea
machine a bacterial-tea maker?
Not if it CAN give compost tea (i.e., it can routinely extract the full set
of organisms in compost). For example, while the larger GSI machines do not
extract a full set of organisms, the Hendrikus Schraven GSI 25 gallon machine
(www.hendrikusorganics.com) can routinely extract these organisms groups. I
see this type of acceptable extraction ONLY from people buying their machines
from Hendrikus Schraven, however, so I suspect it is something that Hendrikus
tells people about the machines, which other distributors selling GSI
machines do not know.
So the 25 gal machine can be considered a compost tea machine. But I have
seen no data to suggest that the larger volume machines made by GSI can
extract adequate levels of any organism group besides bacteria.
President, Soil Foodweb Inc.
Affiliate faculty, Southern Cross University, NSW
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