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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9420

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Dr. Elaine Ingham beküldte:
Oh darn! I have to plan in advance what we're going to want to eat next year! LOL! Make a little compost to make a compost extract to soak my seeds in, plant, and the system should maintain itself. What could be easier?

What's the difference between compost extract and compost tea?
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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9421

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Part two reply to #9418

Do you think it is a good method to determine the health of the soil in my garden by comparing its biological compostion with a sample from a healthy undisturbed forest soil that is near my place? I would think that there is no perfect distribution of different beneficial organisms, but it varies from place to place. Is that right? Is there any other way to determine what kind of organisms are missing from a particular soil? Are there other factors I need to consider? Like what kind of plants I would like to grow?

The balance of microbes depends on what stage of succession the plant you want to grow is from: so, for example:

- weeds (most production goes into the aboveground, not roots; rapid growing, r-selected. disturbance requiring) need a very bacterial dominated food web, a highly variable protozoa population
- most mustards need actinobacteria predominance, decent sets of protozoa
- vegetables need 2/3 bacterial., 1/3 fungal balance, good protozoa, mycorrhizal fungi, some fungal and bacterial feeding nematodes
- row crops and turf need balanced fungi and bacteria, both above 300 ug/gm soil, need protozoa, b-f and F-f nematodes present, require mycorrhizal fungi
- shrubs, bushes, vines need fungal dominated soil, fungi above 600 ug/g soil, excellent fungal-feeding nematodes and microarthropod numbers, require mycorrhizal fungi
- trees need very fungal dominated soils, 1000 ug of beneficial fungi which includes mycorrhizal fungi, need all beneficial nematodes, microarthopods

Thus, an old growth forest would have the species needed in all the younger stages of succession, and thus a good inoculum of species diversity, but the exact composition in the forest soil would not be what is wanted in the other earlier successional stages

Balance between fungi and bacteria seems to be a very good indicator of the types of plants that will flourish in any particular soil. But, people haven't examined every system, every condition to tell if it is going to hold everywhere. So, this information appears to be a principle, but more practical testing is needed.
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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9422

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Reply to #9420

What's the difference between compost extract and compost tea?

Compost extract is when we just extract organisms and soluble nutrients/ foods from the compost, without allowing time for them to grow. Extract is best for applying to soil directly.

Compost tea is when we extract the organisms and nutrients / foods and add additional foods to get particular organisms to grow to high numbers in a 24 hour (22 C conditions) to 48 hour (18 C conditions). compost tea is used when organisms need to be applied to leaf surfaces, because ACTIVELY GROWING organisms make glue layers around their bodies so they stick to the leaf surface instantly.

Typically compost is applied at a ton per acre (2.5 tons/HA).

Compost extract requires maybe 25 to 100 pounds of compost per acre to achieve the concentrations of organisms needed.

Compost tea requires only 2.5 to 10 pounds per acre to achieve the necessary concentrations of organisms, because the organisms (except nematodes) grow during the 24 to 48 hour brewing time.

So, it depends on what you are trying to achieve, which form of compost you would make. Also, it depends on how much compost you have, whether you would apply compost, or extract or tea.

Is one better than the other......well, compost is always better because it comes with all those great foods to keep the organisms happy for years. But, there's the cost of making that much compost, and applying that much material. Maybe it isn't feasible to do that. Maybe applying a liquid form of compost is easier. So then, where do you need to put the organisms? On the plant surface to protect against disease, pests, parasites? Use compost tea.

Or is it improvement of the soil that is needed. Then use extract.

Maybe you need both soil and plant above-ground surfaces protected..... use both.
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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9423

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Second part of #9418

I have many different sources of organic "waste" and I create different compost piles depending on the season. Sometimes I have access to fallen leaves only. At other times I can mix it with grass clippings and other higher N material. Some of my piles have only leaves and have no added water at all. They decompose much slower and some never heat up over 30 C. In terms of beneficial organisms is this material inferior to a properly prepared compost with sufficient water and C:N ratio at the start? What might be the difference? Can beneficials deal with pathogens at lower temps? How can I see the difference between pathogens and beneficials on a microscope?

I put the basic recipe for good aerobic compost that will reach high enough temperatures for long enough, if the high N is actually high in nitrogen. Water is important for microorganisms - if there isn't enough water, the organisms won't do their jobs, part of which is to decompose the plant material. So, no decomposition, no killing of the disease organisms, pests, parasites, and the product can't really be called compost then. Moisture needs to remain around 50% for thermal compost, and around 70% for a worm compost. Otherwise, the organisms won't do what they need to make good compost.

There are beneficial species that are selected at every temperature, usually hundreds of species, if not thousands of species. Scientists didn't have a good way to assess bacteria or fungal species until just a few years ago, when DNA analysis improved. Now we're focused on trying to decide what change in DNA base actually means a new and different species. Lots of discussion but I don't think it is worked out or agreed on yet. But, no matter what is decided, it is clear that in a gram of healthy soil there should be 50,000 species of bacteria, maybe more. There should be 25,000 species of fungi present, maybe more. there should be hundreds of species of protozoa, and 20 or more species of nematodes.

Unhealthy soil ---- well there we go again with what is soil and what is dirt exactly ---- so ----

Soil where the sets of organisms have been reduced, and the plants growing in that..... ah......soil (?).... are not able to get the soluble nutrients they need, and thus are susceptible to disease and pest attacks, clearly have many fewer species of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Use of pesticides lowers the number of species found by a serious amount. Use of inorganic fertilizers at high levels do the same. There is a dose relationship of course.
Tillage reduces diversity, but not as badly as the toxic chemicals. It is when farmers start tot till more than once a year that we start losing many species, and health is compromised. When the entire field is tilled, instead of just where the seeds are dropped in, then loss of species is significant.

Once the soil is healthy, there are hundreds of species that grow at each temperature, but not outside that temperature range.

Plate count methods cannot even begin to assess diversity, and so much of the older literature used that human-pathogen method of growing bacteria or fungi to assess total diversity. such a mis-leading method, and so mindlessly used for so many years. Chemical companies have published absolutes lies about how their toxic chemicals didn't kill any beneficial organisms in soil, based on no reduction in bacterial diversity as assessed by plate counts.

So, if DNA shows 50,000 species of bacteria per gram in healthy soil, what would a plate count show you? NO SPECIES PRESENT AT ALL, typically. Remember, I said healthy soil, and plate counts are for growing human pathogens.

So, back to the question (grin)....... can the microscope differentiate bad-guys from good-guys? Depends on which group we are talking about.

Bacteria - not at all close to being 100% able to ID good versus bad. Instead, we look for indicators like Spirilla, or Spirochetes or Vibrio, which are usually bad guys. If we see their very distinctive shapes, we know we're in trouble. But we can't differentiate E. coli, for example, from a 100,000 other species of good or bad guys. So, if your question is, do I have bad guys like human enterics, you do plate counts, because ..... plate methods are good for growing pathogens. If your question is, do I have too few, good, lots or too many bacteria, microscope works great.

Fungi - the beneficial fungi are usually wide diameter, have cross walls, and are colored. the skinny clear fungal hyphae are the scary ones. Not a perfect match, but close enough that you know you are likely in trouble if you only have the not-so-good present.

The bad-guy protozoa are the ciliates; good guy protozoa are the flagellates and amoebae.

Nematodes are pretty easy to distinguish based on mouth parts. Not 100% perfect, and of course we aren't trying to get to genus or species. but useful when we're trying to get an idea of really bad, ok, or really good.
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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9424

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Reply to the last question in #9418
How do you prepare the soil and compost samples for the microscope?

Phew! I think I'm caught up now with answering questions so far. Good bunch of topics!

For either soil or compost, you need to take a representative sample of what you are wanting to know. so in soil, do you want to know about the health of a certain plant? The health of your certain crop plant in a field? Or your crop across the farm? Or from this one compost pile, or from the batch of 5 windrows of compost all started at the same time?

Sample what you really what to know about, and always make sure you take multiple small cores and mix them together. And then you need at least three of each of the multiple small samples mixed together to do replicate sampling in a scientifically valid way. Or if you are just trying to get an understanding and don't require full replication, you can do just one sample, but you have to be careful to not over-interpret from that one sample. If you have trouble with figuring out how to do this, we maybe need to put together a training course to focus on this..... it takes about 2 to 3 hours to get people comfortable with sampling depending on what you are really trying to find out about.

But, let's say you have sampled correctly, then we need to gently mix the sample, take a 1 ml volume out, add 4 ml of pure water (not distilled, tap water has chlorine and chloramine which kills organisms, so has to be clean drinking water, no chlorine etc), shake GENTLY for 30 seconds, a drop on the microscope slide, gently put the coverslip on, make sure uniform depth of liquid under the coverslip, focus on the sample using 40X objective (400X total magnification) and assess biology in 20 fields.

Easy for me to show you step by step. There is a website that links a you tube video...... hum Gail Swithenbank manages the website. Don't remember the name. I'll try to track it down.
Utolsó szerkesztés: 5 éve 9 hónapja Beküldte: Dr. Elaine Ingham. Indoklás: typo
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Dr. Elaine Ingham - Soil food web 5 éve 9 hónapja #9425

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Reply to first part of #9407
Once the life is back to the soil with the help of compost and compost tea how do we feed the beneficial organisms? Is it enough to add organic matter (compost, green manure, chop & drop cuttings, fallen leaves, left grass clippings, etc.) regularly? Or do we need special foods (kelp, molasses, oatmeal, etc.) in special situations? Do I get it right we have to feed the organisms in the soil and not the plants directly? (And the organisms will feed the plants)
If plants are harvested and the soil is bare for any length of time, then organic matter is needed, to keep the soil organisms alive and to allow them to recover any damage that was done by equipment driving on the soil during harvest. The residue from the crop can serve to cover the soil, but those residues would need to be dense enough to protect the soil surface through the winter. So, usually, bare soil means a need to apply compost or mulch.

Kelp, oatmeal or other wide C:N ratio organic materials help fungi to flourish, more than bacteria. So if that is what is needed to balance hte soil for the plant you want to grow, then apply fungal foods. If the soil needs more bacteria (rarely if ever need), then apply molasses.

I think what we need to do to really be sustainable is to find those plants that put most of their effort into the soil. Plants that protect ion the soil surface, but only grow an inch or two high, while putting all their efforts into the roots, into improving soil life, into building soil structure.

The organisms in the soil cycle nutrients to feed the plant, but the exudates that the plant makes feeds the particular beneficial species of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, microarthropods, etc that the plant needs.
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