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Re: Regulation of compost teas (was: NOSB loses its head)
Hello James & other saneters following this interesting thread
(which I haven't had the time to to do very closely myself. I do
have a strong philosophical interest in accounting for this
JK> Soil microbiologists today typically are using estimates of 99
JK> to 99.9 % of bacterial species in soil are not culturable "using
JK> standard methods" (95 % is an underestimate). Standard agar
JK> plate techniques appear to give a biased and incomplete view of
JK> bacterial diversity in soil, compared to the diversity observed
JK> with molecular DNA methods.
If life is a contextual event, that makes sense. Take something out
of context and you lose it. It's like breaking a seed apart. If you
take it out of context, you not only disconnect it from it's source
of sustenance, you disconnect it from it's meaning for living.
JK> Species diversity in composts is often observed to be much lower
JK> than in soil with higher proportions of the species being
JK> culturable, probably due to the fact that composts are rich
JK> nutrient media favoring bacteria that grow on rich media, while
JK> soil is generally a carbon-poor medium, except for short periods
JK> immediately after incorporation of composts, manure, crop
JK> residues, or other organic matter sources.
JK> Even though composts may have higher numbers of total CELLS per
JK> gram, soils typically contain thousands of SPECIES per gram,
JK> while composts typically contain only a few hundred species per
For the sake of discussion, I will assume the above is true and
attempt to interpret it.
If human beings are shepherds and cultivators, stronger bonds are
established with the plants and animals associated with humans, by
choice on our end and by nature on theirs.
Cultivated crops consist of only those plants found in nature
that provide most for human survival or use. (Since GM crops are not
found in nature, those abominations would be discussed further here
at this time).
Agriculture recreates and extends select natural environments that
are suitable for plant growth.
Irrigated farming extends the conditions favoring growth beyond the
rainy season and the river & stream banks and lakefront shores.
Organic matter is also found in nature, just as a rotting fruit
feeds it's own seed in order help get it started.
Organic agriculture recreates and extends natural (and naturally
integrated) conditions much more precisely than conventional
Sugars are not found in nature in an isolated form (honey may well
come closest, but the natural context for honey is not in the soil.
By the same token, molasses too is found in a contained context and
in any case, is derived from boiling the sap contained within
another organism which on decomposing naturally, yields a very
In view of the above, the use of sugar and molasses in compost teas
is both too artificial and too out of context for organic
agriculture AND for successfully promoting the growth of the kind of
compatible and complementary soil microorganism populations that
Lawrence, Dale, Elaine Ingham and others refer to.
I suspect that the symbiotic and synergic interrelationships between
those microorganisms and the soil biosphere they jointly create is
much more significant than sheer (and possibly disconnected) numbers
of organisms as an indicator of soil fertility.
IOW, compatible and complementary relationships (compatible and
complementary with each other and with our own needs and
capabilities) are what count on this planet, rather diverse but
competing numbers of species.
The above may well contain a lesson for the internal working of
human society, as well.