Compost teas

Discussion in 'Holistic Farming' started by ShooTa, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. Did a quick search and havnt found much here on FF

    has anyone used any, and seen good results?
    i have been reading/listening up on the work of Elaine Ingham

    and thinking it could be a great addition to getting rid of our nettles/thistle issues without subsoil ploughing/keyline plough
    Kiwi Pete and awkward like this.
  2. awkward

    awkward Member

    kerry ireland
    the lady knows her stuff. but to do it at farm quantities. find myself looking at biochar as well @Kiwi Pete makes his own I think he said one time
    Kiwi Pete likes this.
  3. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    Yes. I only make small amounts but it is really good stuff so long as it is activated/colonised with something IMO it is like bare white toast otherwise - just a base
    Put some yeasts or bacterium in a slurry with clover seeds and just take a small bucket and trowel and throw it on sidlings etc where the fertility has been robbed by grazing activity is what I do.
    I inoculate with kefir yoghurt via dosing the stockwater and tend to just use my seaweed compost tea brew, some molasses and stir up 100 litres at a time.

    I have a really simple and inefficient TLUD type biochar kiln, not a proper retort style one - just a fuel drum and chimney with a one inch airgap - I don't have heaps of feedstock but tend to put all my hedgings and tree waste through it when dry :cool:

    I also use really good biochar that has been soaked in seaweed through a trough and the stock will follow me down the road if I carry my blue bucket :) they absolutely love biochar.
    hendrebc and awkward like this.
  4. Kiwi - do you do the hot compost thing then? and i presume your brewing it in a 50 glalon drum?
  5. awkward

    awkward Member

    kerry ireland
    for the unfamiliar ( clueless like myself) inoculate?? and how do u airate your tea drum
    Kiwi Pete likes this.
  6. One of those little pumps used to aerate fish tanks?
  7. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    That's what Patsy and Spike were trying to get through the gate for, @hendrebc - "the smelly bucket" :ROFLMAO:

    Just as well it is all snake oil - sheep here don't get anything other than a clostridial vaccine - no wormings, no tail dockings, no vitamin jabs or any other formal mineral inputs - just a range of self-help options and old fashioned decisionmaking.

    I personally believe it doesn't matter how you encourage diversity and introduce minerals and micronutrients into your farm biome, eventually they restore the health and resilience and balance to all within :cool:

    More common is the belief that one product will fix things that have been going wrong over time - this is not something I really believe to be true - you need to interpret the clues and read the land

    However if all depleted and degraded soils had a little bit of biochar to help provide the habitat for new life, it would speed the process immensely - a tiny crumb of crystallised carbon is basically a 3D city for microorganisms to inhabit, and very durable compared to a soil pore.

    Put it through a ruminant's digestive system and it stands to reason it comes out the far end 'ready-to-go-to-work'
    With an oar! :ROFLMAO:
    I just stir them, compost tea may be different but kelp floats, so mixing is needed... an air compressor and a lance might work as well but this stuff has a whiff, so it sat well away from the workshop :oops:

    But yeah, I think the best way to use the char is not to simply throw it out on the land and let microbes find it; but rather put it through an animal or soak it in a biologically active brew of tea for a day and then apply it.

    Yep @ShooTa I used plastic detergent drums from the dairy farm next door, half filled them with chopped kelp and covered with rainwater for a start, (winter) then added other compostables as they grew during the growing season (comfrey, nettles, docks etc) and let all the hoverflies larvae break it down and die in there :rolleyes:

    I also put a fair bit of seafood byproduct in the drums, I do a bit of diving and fishing and all the guts go in :ninja::sick:

    So it is more of a witches' cauldron than a hot composting method, I only kept one drum with just kelp in it for the stock and put the other stuff in the remaining drums.
    Once the end of summer rolls around and the soil moisture comes up is when I apply liquid :)
    however the char can be applied anytime with no visible difference in effect, but cool damp weather helps keep the biology alive until the soil covers it/stock trample it into the surface/worms bury it

    So, that's a wrap-up of last years experiment.
    This spring I aim to just use IBCs and put washed kelp in whole, it breaks down almost completely and is very very rich in
    calcium, sodium, sulphur, potash, selenium, iodine, to name a few.
    It contains almost all the amino acids.
    Natural forms of gibberellin and other plant hormones.

    So it really is quite a boost, and I don't get too fussy about coverage, but just get it on :cool: I use a boomjet with large nozzles to apply liquid, it will handle quite large particles and covers 18 metres at a bout.
    Treemover, CornishTone, Treg and 2 others like this.
  8. awkward

    awkward Member

    kerry ireland
    so does the kelp brew have much effect on soil microbiology in your opinion or is it more taken through the leaf.
    Treg and Kiwi Pete like this.
  9. Crofter64 and Kiwi Pete like this.
  10. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    Probably a fair bit of both - ideally I put it on ahead of my stock grazing, or straight behind them.

    It isn't really something I have spent much time thinking about, but it definitely is taken up as a foliar spray very well, as in if I spray freshly grazed pasture I can see the overlaps as the gibberellins tend to stretch the grass a little and turn it a weird type of green for a week or so.

    I don't think it grows more grass, just a more complete and nutritious grass.

    Oddly the pH of the soil is becoming more alkaline over time and this is without lime application so there must be a fair whack of calcium in the seaweed -just in a very different form that suits the earthworm population well

    Given the low rate the only likely explanation can be that I am effectively deepening the A horizon of the soil and using more of the subsoil's untouched resources?
    I blame all the worms and protozoans and other life for cycling it from deeper, like much of the UK we just don't have the dry periods to really drive root depth naturally deeper but the soil

    Keen to hear thoughts on this, I am no expert. :) But anything I can contribute in the way of soil self-help, ask away (y)
    awkward, Treg and hendrebc like this.
  11. Ill add a few vids for those interested in biochar.

    big fan of his as im an axe junky.

    thanks pete - too far really from the coast to get decent seaweed, but lawn mowings and leaf mulch we have aplenty.
    awkward and Kiwi Pete like this.
  12. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    Just pile it up and light it from on top so it burns downwards - sheets of roofing iron can work really well for reducing the amount of oxygen available, like a teepee

    I have also seen it made in a silage clamp which made it really easy to gather up, and it was where I saw the tin sheets first being used to block the airflow...

    But the drum works good as for little burns, you get about half to a third of a drum back if you 3/4 fill it with decent stock
    awkward likes this.
  13. Barleycorn

    Barleycorn Member

  14. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    Some good stuff in there - my adaptation will likely be a little different to a gardener's as some things I just can't do at farm scale - but then gardeners don't really have 1000 staff to help them like I have.

    My goal is to have a decent stockpile of biochar ready for winter, we house our cattle so the big plan is to run along the feed trough and simply add the char to the silage and use them as the main tool to add it to their muck, which then composts in a heap before being spread on the grassland.

    At present I have not built a stockpile so I have been doing small burns and putting it straight on as soon as it is quenched, which is a much less ideal method, but I'll get it better with time!

    Ditto the seaweed juice, a bucket and jug onto the silage, to again make use of these big lumbering cattle in their shed; the manure is very dark but has little smell, so ammonia and methane outputs are quite reduced - and these additives should hopefully help control the nitrogen losses through the composting phase .

    Not lab tested, but we may at some point send some samples off as I know there will be gains from such information.

    I wonder if @Old McDonald has any info?
    awkward likes this.
  15. awkward

    awkward Member

    kerry ireland
    would the result be any different if it's slurry rather than dung heap. as the slurry would be anaerobic.
    was also thinking your tea contains molasses. would it be this that boosts the microbiology giving better growth
    Kiwi Pete likes this.
  16. Chasingmytail

    Chasingmytail Member

    Newport, SE Wales
    We've never got around to making it as the amount of compost we have made and the time to get it out. We just spread the compost.

    Im ok with Elaine Ingham but I agree her stuff relies on someone being scientifically switched on. We couldn't work out reading the results. I think my husband got too drawn in
  17. Old McDonald

    Old McDonald Member

    Inland Portugal
    Not really. I have comfrey (Bocking 4 obtained a long time ago from HDRA as it then was). I normally use it as a mulch or put it in a trench for tomatoes and potatoes. I used to feed it to stock, but no longer have any. I am well past my "best before" date and needed to cut back on my workload so planted more olive and almond trees where most of the work is done from the seat of a tractor. I have some harvest help. Probably need pruning help next year too - 1300 trees getting bigger each year.

    I did make some compost tea from comfrey - heavy duty plastic sack (used for temporary olive fruit storage until crushing) and snipped off a corner, allowing the liquid to drain into a container via a big funnel. The local ag college, the only place anywhere near me to do analyses, reckoned they could not analyse liquids. I have been waiting five weeks for an anlysis of almond and olive leaves so they are not particularly efficient, but all there is.

    I am not a fan of biochar, and frankly seeing somebody looking like the bloke in the video links above simply puts me off anything that they promote. I was a member of the Centre for Alternative Technology for many years and found the same thing. Pony tails and weird beards turn me off any ideas these people might have.

    I have a small paddock that is lower than the adjoining area (now in almonds) and there is a drain that used to be a ditch, stoned to the surface, on the almond side of the dividing fence, but the paddock side still lies wet and for the last three years I have laid all my tree prunings alongside the non drain side of the fence. I oversow with lupins and/or rye. The idea is to raise the surface level and keep the water on the drain side of the fence. I think it is working, and the prunings will eventually break down.

    I believe that any method of adding organic matter to the soil is worth doing, but I am still not convinced that biochar is the best.
  18. Crofter64

    Crofter64 Member

    Eastern Canada
    thanks for the heads up
    hendrebc likes this.
  19. awkward

    awkward Member

    kerry ireland
    to be honest I know very little about holistic farm practices bet Pete's idea of feeding the char sounds good . if the animal wants it . it will eat it kind of approach. much the same as feeding seaweed meal I guess
    Kiwi Pete likes this.

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