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Re: Regulation of compost teas (was: NOSB loses its head)
> 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)....
> 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.
The essence of evolution is the taking of things out of context and
creation of new contexts. This is how agriculture evolved. As a
parallel, this is how harvester ants evolved. I am sure you see them
all the time in your region, clipping leaves and carrying them down
into their nest, where they inoculate them with a unique fungal
monoculture to cultivate for food. Both the ants and the fungus have
mutually taken each other out of old contexts, and created a
life-system, a new context.
The reason that human innovation is seen as unnatural is that deep
down, people view humans as outside nature. But humans really are part
> 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.
This is entirely analogous to what the compost-tea-brewers (and indeed
compost-makers, beer-makers, bakers, etc.) are doing. They are taking
naturally occuring microbial processes and placing them in new
"artifical" contexts suitable for the growth of a very small number of
> 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.
This is all a matter of scale. All these things are found in nature,
but at different concentrations and spatial scales. Just as cropping
systems provide a rich environment for the culture of a few off-beat
plant species, microbial processing grows a few species of fungi or
bacteria to accomplish certain goals (like making a drug, leavening
bread, or controlling a plant disease.
> 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 think it is unproductive to be dogmatic about such things. People
develop methods to get the job done (just like harvester ants). Some
of these compost-tea methods may be very useful. Things that seem
"unnatural", eventually are perceived as "natural" when your system has
evolved to fill the niche. In other words, the merits and costs of
some new technology have to be judged on a basis other than
"naturalness" IMO. "Natural" is just too slippery a word.
> 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.
But we are really talking about the leaf surface of a particular crop
for a short time, a small portion of time and space. If a grower can
control a devastating disease using a highly "artificial" compost tea,
why not do it? Unless the practice can be shown to be dangerous in
> 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.
Words like "compatible" and "complementary" are very relative and
scale-sensitive. In the context of human evolution, your statement
could be taken to negate all of agriculture, a recent and
environmentally destructive innovation.
> The above may well contain a lesson for the internal working of
> human society, as well.
Douglas, I really think we agree on a lot of underlying values. I
agree we need more complementarity and working together in human
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