[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: Regulation of compost teas (was: NOSB loses its head)
Hi Dale & other saneters following this interesting thread,
Dale responded to my saying:
>> 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,
Adding to that: A seed is an organism or the beginning of one. As
such, it's parts are integrated in relation to single goal - that of
being a plant. The function of each part converges with the rest so
that in the context of soil, nutrients, humidity & sunlight etc. the
plant will grow. Breaking a seed apart prevents it from performing
the function it was created for in the context mentioned above.
>> you not only disconnect it from it's source of sustenance, you
>> disconnect it from it's meaning for living.
DW> The essence of evolution is the taking of things out of context and
DW> creation of new contexts. This is how agriculture evolved.
Your "taking of things out of context and creation of new contexts"
sounds a lot like my "extending the contextual envelope" analogy.
In order to determine which is a more accurate description of a
given situation, answering the following questions may be helpful:
To what extent is the new context an extension of the old, to what
extent is it different, and what is the significance inherent to or
implied by those similarities and differences?
DW> As a parallel, this is how harvester ants evolved. I am sure you
DW> see them all the time in your region, clipping leaves and
DW> carrying them down into their nest,
That is correct. They are highly destructive. They'll strip a tree
of every leaf, if you let them. I've depopulated entire colonies
however by bathing and dancing with (on) them. It takes them a
while to regenerate but it's a lot of work.
DW> where they inoculate them with a unique fungal monoculture to
DW> cultivate for food.
They frequently harvest a crop planted by someone else to create
their own. If we analyze that we see that the relationship they
sustain with the providing plant (i.e. a peach tree) is highly
unsustainable. In relation to our own efforts (i.e. planting the
peach tree for other ends) the leaf cutting ants are a pest, period.
DW> Both the ants and the fungus have mutually taken each other out
DW> of old contexts, and created a life-system, a new context.
Dale, I see your point. My point is that I don't identify or
sympathize with leaf cutting ants or their way of doing things. The
relationships sustained with those they deal with is conflictive to
an unnecessary and unwarranted degree - and that's why we kill them.
(That's the complementary action they provoke).
DW> The reason that human innovation is seen as unnatural is that
DW> deep down, people [some people - DH] view humans as outside
DW> nature. But humans really are part of nature.
>> 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.
DW> This is entirely analogous to what the compost-tea-brewers (and indeed
DW> compost-makers, beer-makers, bakers, etc.) are doing. They are taking
DW> naturally occuring microbial processes and placing them in new
DW> "artifical" contexts suitable for the growth of a very small number of
We agree that a multiplicity of contexts are possible, but not all
are compatible. I suggested that adding sugar and molasses to
compost teas may not be compatible (appropriate) in relation to
the standards governing organic agriculture since last Monday.
I also suggest why.
Context and environment can be considered interchangeable terms here
and contexts can overlap. Looking at compost itself as en
environment (for microorganisms) compatible with other environments
(such as organic food production) I also suggested that the
environmental change resulting from the addition of sugar and
molasses to compost teas may not be compatible with the growth of
microorganisms that predominate in compost (as per the quote by
Elaine Ingham contained in the post I responded to), if the dominant
presence of those microorganisms is due to the capability of
forming symbiotic and synergetic relationship with each other and
the plant (crop) itself they possess.
IOW, it seemed to me that the addition of sugar and molasses to
compost teas may not be compatible with the GOALS of organic
agriculture (soil improvement, as well as crop production), since
NUMBERS of microorganism is less significant than QUALITY of
microorganisms, if microorganisms that engage in and are capable of
forming symbiotic and synergetic relationship with each other and
the plant (crop) itself are indeed what we want. (I sure do).
>> 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
>> different composition.
DW> This is all a matter of scale. All these things are found in nature,
DW> but at different concentrations and spatial scales. Just as cropping
DW> systems provide a rich environment for the culture of a few off-beat
DW> plant species,
And often add to the presence of plant pests.
DW> microbial processing grows a few species of fungi or bacteria to
DW> accomplish certain goals (like making a drug, leavening bread,
DW> or controlling a plant disease.
Which is not to say that adding sugar &/or molasses to compost teas
will provide results that we could define as good. I suggest we
ground our terms in specific examples (i.e. leaf cutting ants or
peach trees etc.).
>> 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.
DW> I think it is unproductive to be dogmatic about such things.
Dale, there's no dogma here. The only dogma is the need to define
goals and define the results obtains from determined practices and
try to identify or account for the cause, to define the principles
DW> People develop methods to get the job done (just like harvester
Which are pests, by my criteria.
DW> Some of these compost-tea methods may be very useful.
Useful for what purpose? MY purpose here is to emphasize the need
for defining goals and determining whether those goals have been
fulfilled in the best possible way.
DW> Things that seem "unnatural", eventually are perceived as
DW> "natural" when your system has evolved to fill the niche. In
DW> other words, the merits and costs of some new technology have to
DW> be judged on a basis other than "naturalness" IMO. "Natural" is
DW> just too slippery a word.
I maintain that the "nature" of different ways of dealing with the
"nature" you refer to (a general term) can and should be defined, in
terms of the objective stated, results obtained and means employed.
>> 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.
DW> But we are really talking about the leaf surface of a particular crop
DW> for a short time, a small portion of time and space. If a grower can
DW> control a devastating disease using a highly "artificial" compost tea,
DW> why not do it? Unless the practice can be shown to be dangerous in
DW> some way.
Agreed. But this needs to be researched and defined. And that is one
of the areas in which you have specific capabilities. All I have
stated in this thread are postulations of principle. Now we need to
examine and apply them to specific applications. (I do have some in
mind that jive with what Lawrence and others posted, relating to
phyto-hormones and antibiotic production by beneficial bacteria and
fungus, among other soil microorganisms - I don't have time to dig
them out at the moment though. I will later).
>> 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.
DW> Words like "compatible" and "complementary" are very relative and
They been defined in specific instances such as those described by
Elaine Ingham that Lawrence quoted. Please don't infer that I have
no specific instance in mind, just because I don't cite one. I'd
rather you asked for an example rather than claim I am generalizing.
The words themselves have an accepted meaning. Rather than reject
the use of them, we need to refer to specific situations in order
tot determine whether or not we agree regarding a given, specific
application of the terms.
DW> In the context of human evolution, your statement could be taken
DW> to negate all of agriculture, a recent and environmentally
DW> destructive innovation.
At this point in time, human beings are without-a-doubt the most
destructive pest the planet has ever known, and at this point in
time, the planet would be much better off if human beings were
removed from it. However, human beings are not without a still
unrealized potential (on a planetary scale) to do good, and many on
this list are probably doing just that to the extent they can at
>> The above may well contain a lesson for the internal working of
>> human society, as well.
DW> Douglas, I really think we agree on a lot of underlying values. I
DW> agree we need more complementarity and working together in human
Definitely. I see no conflict in our positions. On the contrary, we
all have much to gain by working with and learning from each other.
BTW: by putting two hyphens and a space then hitting <enter> after
your signature, the yahoo.com propaganda won't appear on a reply to
your letter (like this):