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January SFI E-Zine

I'm sending this out for Elaine, who is on vacation just now.  As usual, if you want this as an in-text message, just e-mail back to have us put you on the in-text address list. 

If you want to un-subscribe, please just e-mail us back with "un-subscribe" in the subject line.

January SFI E-Zine

Table of Contents

1.  Compost Tea Grant 2003 (and how to get data from 2002)
2.  Tree farms won’t halt climate change
3.  Fungal growth on composts with various fungal foods.
4.  Frost-protection and CT
5.  Compost Covers
6.  Cleaning EPM 100 gal machine and EPM customer service
7.  Feast of Fields Inc Results for 2002
9. Glyphosate resistance transgene from rr ready crops likely allergen
10. Mobilization of heavy metals by microbes increases plant availability



We would like to work with three to five growers of each size commercially available compost tea machines on the market to test the efficacy of the different machines.   

If you want to participate, please contact Kirk, or Elaine, at Soil Foodweb Inc.  info@soilfoodweb.com

The plan this year is:
1.    You do the soil sample this spring,
2.    SFI will run three tea samples during the summer from you,
3.    SFI will run the soil sample next spring without charge. 
You pay for the initial soil sample, and the shipping costs. 
If you are the east coast, send the sample to SFI New York.
If you are on the west coast, send to the SFI lab in Corvallis, OR
If you are in Australia, send to the Lismore lab in NSW
If you are in New Zealand, send to the SFI New Zealand lab
If you are in Europe, send to the SFI lab in Holland. 

More specific instructions:
1.  When soil temperature reaches 50 to 55 F, take five 3 inch deep, 1 inch diameter soil cores.

2.  Mix the five cores together.

3.  Send half a sandwich size zip-lock baggie of the mixed soil samples into the closest SFI lab. 

4.  On the SFI submission form (YOU MUST GET SPECIAL SUBMISSION FORMS IN ORDER TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS GRANT), order total and active bacteria, total and active fungi, protozoa and nematodes.   If you have roots, it would be good to add VAM (but this is up to you). 

5.  If the sample is from an annual crop field, or a permanent pasture, take the samples randomly from within the field.  If there are rows in the field, take the samples from where the crops will be planted, not from the mechanically compacted areas in the field.  If the samples are from perennial plant areas, take sample half-way between the stems and the dripline of the plant, along the row of plants (not out into the driving lanes).

Making the teas
Information about food resources to use should be obtained from the manufacturer, since that information is specific to each machine.  In general, we want to maximize fungi in the tea, so 1 ounce molasses in 5 gal when temperatures are lower than 75 degrees F (no molasses when temperatures are above 75 F), ½ cup kelp per 5 gal, 1 ounce humic acid or fish hydrolysate would be the best.  For 50 gal machines, 1 pint molasses, 2 cups kelp, 1 cup humic acid or other fungal food.  We will ask you to increase or decrease certain food components after the first tea brew you send in, and please let us know exactly what your recipe was with each tea brew.  IF this is proprietary information, we will not share the specific ingredients, but would like to indicate relative bacterial versus fungal food resources.

Each client needs to find a good source of compost (preferably tested to be E. coli free!).  A mix of thermal and worm compost would be best. 

Participants will make teas, and at 12 or 24 hours, based on manufacturer’s recommendations, will send the sample immediately into the closest SFI. 

The first tea you apply should be a soil drench, where you apply 5 to 15 gal of tea per acre to the soil around the roots of your plants, or where the roots will be, before plant growth begins in the spring. 

The second and third tea samples should be teas made for foliar applications. 

Tea should be placed in 4 to 8 ounce plastic water bottles, but only 1/3 to ½ full.  The head space is needed to keep the sample aerated on it’s way to the lab.  The bottle needs to be able to move and roll during transportation to keep the tea aerated. 

Please note the smell of the tea when you send it.  Please place a similar amount of tea in the same size bottle and seal it closed.  Smell the tea at 24 hours and e-mail us the information.

Obtain sample submission forms from SFI for the tea grant.  If you don’t have these forms, the tea will not be counted as part of the tea grant!  You will be charged for the tea if you forget the form!  These forms will automatically result in total and active bacteria, total and active fungi, protozoa and E. coli tests.

The second soil sample should be taken next spring when the soil reaches the same temperatures as this year when the soil sample was taken. 

Please note that if efforts are made to deal with the extraction and aeration problems with the Growing Solutions and SoilSoup machines, then these bacterial tea machines could be included. 

Growers should contact SoilSoup and Growing Solutions to ask what modifications the manufacturers would recommend to improve extraction/survival of fungi and protozoa in these machines in order to make compost tea, instead of bacterial tea.

If people have DO probes to check and make sure their teas remain aerobic, please send that data in with the teas.  Please, we would cherish that data.  But it is really up to the tea machine makers to do that testing, and give clients the information about how much molasses, kelp and fungal food to add to each size machine.

If we get the little hand-held microscopes on the market by this spring, we'll probably encourage the tea grant people to buy these little guys (wholesale price or we’ll send free ones for beta testing to participants).  That way we’ll have a database of information connecting on-site leaf readings, tea assessment at the lab, and what happens through the summer with respect to improving the plant's health, and soil health. 

If you can do BRIX readings before and after applying tea, that would really put the icing on the cake.

We would like to be updated on how the plants are responding to the teas.  Any problems, and we'd want to work with you on how to deal with the situation. 
Please remember that the tea grant will not be fully finished until spring of 2004.  Just as this year, we are waiting for the spring soil samples to be sent in from participants and won’t have the tea grant data finished until after those samples arrive. 
For those who would like to see the TEA data from the grant from last spring, we have those data summarized.  I will send the document to you by e-mail if you were a participant in the grant and request those results.   Otherwise, we’ll be showing these data at various meetings around the country this spring, and hopefully you can catch the results at a meeting.  Otherwise, I’ll write the data up for the e-zine when the data are all in…..

2. Tree farms won’t halt climate change, New Scientist, 28 October 2002

The Kyoto Protocol allows countries to claim credits for reducing their CO2 emissions by planting forests to store the CO2 in plant tissue.  New results from the CarboEurope research program suggest that the soils in these new forests will release more carbon dioxide than is fixed by the trees “for at least the first 10 years”.  This pulse of CO2 is produced soil microorganisms when soils are disturbed by clearing and planting activity.  Only after 10 years or so “will the carbon uptake by the trees begin to offset the losses from soils.”

3. Fungal growth on composts with various fungal foods.

I conducted a short test of the interactions of various commercial composts with the fungal foods we use in making compost teas.  Our interest was in creating a fungal dominated tea for treatment of Phytopthora root rot on avocado trees.  In the panel of photos you can see how various food and compost combinations generate different fungal growths and that some composts are poor candidates for making fungal extractions.  Also I think you can see that some foods are better at growing fungi in these composts.  One combination, fish hydrolase on Greenways Mulch (a greenwaste product made by Greenways Environmental, Inc) produced explosive growth.  My best picks are Grangetto’s (a garden center in S. California) compost and Greenway’s mulch with fish hydrolase and perhaps Algamin kelp.

You can see there is a variety of fungi produced in these combinations and I think that is important when thinking about diversity of organisms in our teas.  From Elaine Ingham’s comments on the need for high diversity of organisms it would seem prudent to select various compost components and pre-treat them with more than one fungal food before introduction into the tea extractor.  Of course these same mulches with grow fungi without any addition of foods if they are kelp in a moist dark place but the addition of various foods presents an opportunity to generate higher numbers of fungi.  The beauty and variety of fungi was extraordinary.  If anyone can help with identification of these fungi please contact me.

David Loring, Project Leader
Southeast Asia Project
Dietrick Institute for Applied Insect Ecology

David just added more fungal pictures – some Trichoderma, some probable Penicillium, and some general fuzzy white fungi (probably not pathogens).  When you have questions about WHAT fungi are they, send a sample into me and I can ID them to genus for you if they are sporulating.   Otherwise, we’ll do our best to ID them using more sophisticated techniques, such as enzyme and molecular methods that we are developing for the Beneficial Organism Assay.   The cost is $50 per sample for fungal ID. 
4.  BTW all of the neighbors lawns frosted and lost color except for those with regular tea treatments. CT seems to truly affect the cold tolerance!!!

Tom Jaszewski
www.livesoil.com                702-595-7012

5. Compost Covers!   


In dry climates, you need to cover compost to prevent evaporation. 
In wet climates, you need t o prevent too much rain making the piles become anaerobic.

1. Being made of 100% UV-light-protected fibers, these covers are incredibly
durable.  They are guaranteed for 4 years but field use shows they will last
15 to 20 years or more.

2. Being relatively light-weight, they are also quite easy to handle.  And
being permeable to air (i.e.. not prone to "sail" in the wind like impermeable tarps), are also relatively easy to secure to piles with anchors placed along the edges at 10 to 30 ft intervals.

3. Standard sizes (12 ft, 18 ft,  24 ft, and 36 ft wide  x 164 ft long) cost
as little as $1.33/sq yd plus shipping/handling.

Please contact:

Steven Wisbaum
Champlain Valley Compost Co.
Ph/FAX: 802-425-5556/5557
e-mail: steven@cvcompost.com

6.    Cleaning the 100 gal EPM machine and EPM customer service

Hi Dorothy,

We purchased a 100 gallon EPM,Inc tea brewer last year and used it this
growing season. This machine is industrial strength and made to be used
seven days a week if you want. It is easily cleaned if you rinse it down as
you empty it. We had very few problems with the machine and the company was
very helpful if we had any questions. Learning to use compost tea is very
interesting and rewarding as you see results developing.

Happy Holidays,

7. Feast of Fields Inc Results for 2002

Each year we introduce/try new things. For the 2002 growing season the
major changes we made were :

2001 fall - deep chisel plough alternate rows
2002 spring - install field broadcaster with BD preps
2002 spring - no dormant sprays no prebloom sulphur
2002 spring - disc in cover crop in areas hit hard by 2001 draught
2002 spring - begin compost tea program
2002 season - drastically reduced sulphur usage
2002 season - no copper or other products at all

Empirical data from the 2002 season shows :
* 40-45% increase in yield
*2002 drought was more severe that 2001 yet NO defoliation.
   During the 2001drought we had severe leaf yellowing,
   defoliation in 4 rows of Baco Noir and poor fruit
   ripening in 14 other rows
* Quality as measured by refractometer - the same or better

Anedoctal data :
* less black rot - we have one very suspectible variety
* no bunch rot
* no Asian lady bugs - big problem in 2001
* mildew was isolated to small patch with excess vegatation which meant
      poor spray penetration
* greener foliage
* pond end of vineyard is usually high mildew pressure and in 2002
   there was no observable difference

For the 2003 season we will control the variables. Other cultural practices
will remain basically the same but our compost tea program will develop in
a more vineyard specific direction. 

And to that end I would like to hear from all other grape growers on the
list !!!! how was your crop last year ?

> Laura Sabourin
> Feast of Fields Inc
>&  http://www.ragdolls.net/vineyard.htm
> Ragenesque Ragdoll Cattery http://www.ragdolls.net/ragenesq.htm
> R R # 1
> St Catharines, Ontario L2R 6P7


Our "Tea-riffic" brewer 17 gallon size is in beta testing and will be ready
to ship for the 2003 growing season ! We designed this unit to fit the
needs of market gardeners and CSA operations - ideally 2-3 acres of
intensive garden. It could work every day though and cover a much larger

This little guy will soon be followed by 100 and 300 gallon models.
Please visit  www.ecovit.ca   to see a picture of our unit.

Our units are be priced to be affordable, in Canadian $$. And for Canadians
customers this means no import hassles, brokerage fees, exchange commission
or international freight rates.

Our brewers will make their first public appearance at the Guelph Organic
Conference to be held in Guelph Ontario Jan 24-26th.

Laura Sabourin
Feast of Fields Inc
Demeter Certified Vineyard & Farm  http://feast-of-fields.ca
EcoVit Aerobic Compost Tea http://compost-tea.ca
R R # 1
St Catharines, Ontario L2R 6P7
9.  The article below found that a glyphosate resistance transgene from rr ready crops was a likely allergen.

IgE is the family of proteins from the immune system that
activates the allergy response. Further clinical testing is
recommended and the finding certainly refutes the claim the rr ready
crops are substantially equivalent. Such findings should
have triggered a moratorium on growth and sale of the
rr crops but incompetent bureaucrats are waiting for a
body count.

Screening of transgenic proteins expressed in transgenic food crops for the
presence of short amino acid sequences identical to potential, IgE –
binding linear epitopes of allergens
Gijs A Kleter  and Ad ACM Peijnenburg
BMC Structural Biology 2002 2:8 (published 12 December 2002)

Transgenic proteins expressed by genetically modified food crops are
evaluated for their potential allergenicity prior to marketing, among others by
identification of short identical amino acid sequences that occur both
in the transgenic protein and allergenic proteins. A strategy is proposed, in
which the positive outcomes of the sequence comparison with a minimal length
of six amino acids are further screened for the presence of potential linear IgE-
epitopes. This double track approach involves the use of literature data
on IgE- epitopes and an antigenicity prediction algorithm.

Thirty-three transgenic proteins have been screened for identities of at
least six contiguous amino acids shared with allergenic proteins. Twenty-two
transgenic proteins showed positive results of six- or seven- contiguous
amino acids length. Only a limited number of identical stretches shared by
transgenic proteins (papaya ringspot virus coat protein, acetolactate synthase
GH50, and glyphosate oxidoreductase) and allergenic proteins could be identified
as (part of) potential linear epitopes.

Many transgenic proteins have identical stretches of six or seven amino
acids in common with allergenic proteins. Most identical stretches are likely
to be false positives. As shown in this study, identical stretches can be further
screened for relevance by comparison with linear IgE-binding epitopes
described in literature. In the absence of literature data on epitopes, antigenicity
prediction by computer aids to select potential antibody binding sites that
will need verification of IgE binding by sera binding tests. Finally, the
positive outcomes of this approach warrant further clinical testing for
potential allergenicity.

10.  Soils tainted with heavy metals harm microbes, but microbes also re-mobilize heavy metals, increasing plant availability
from New Scientist Print Edition
Soils tainted with heavy metals from industrial pollution and sewage sludge may poison organisms that live in the soil far more readily than thought. The finding raises fears that unexpectedly high levels of toxins are getting into the food chain.
Contaminated soils are given hazard ratings that are based on the key assumption that organisms can only take up heavy metals and other pollutants if they are dissolved or suspended in water percolating through the soil. A large proportion of pollutants are assumed to bind tightly to soil particles, making them inaccessible to organisms feeding on the soil.
But Renaud Scheifler and his team of soil biologists at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon, France, have shown that this assumption is wrong.
They allowed snails to rummage around a container filled with cadmium-contaminated soil taken from near a disused lead and zinc smelter. After two weeks, they analysed tissue from the snails and found that around 16 per cent of the cadmium they had absorbed was from the supposedly inaccessible cadmium bound tightly to the soil. "Our work is, to our knowledge, the first evidence of this," says Scheifler.
The finding suggests other heavy metals could also be more "bioavailable" than assumed, and could be entering the food chain.
"While a lot of research has been done on availability to plants, this paper addresses the much neglected soil fauna," says UK-based researcher Ian Pulford, who studies the fate of heavy metals in soil at the University of Glasgow. "It means that more cadmium than predicted is getting into the food chain," he says.
Cadmium can cause kidney damage, anaemia and a painful bone disorder known as "itai itai", Japanese for "ouch ouch". Hundreds of people living in Yokkaichi, 300 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, developed the disease in the 1950s after exposure to cadmium from industrial pollution.
It is too early to know whether the finding will lead to improved risk assessment of tainted soils, says Scheifler. But he says it is now necessary to see whether other heavy metals such as zinc, copper, lead and mercury are also getting into the food chain more easily than anyone imagined.
His team also wants to check if other organisms that feed on soil can absorb heavy metals as readily as the snails. "We have to work with other invertebrates to find whether the snail is a particular case," he says. Pulford says we need to understand much more about the role of soil animals in bringing heavy metals into the food chain.
Journal reference: Environmental Science and Technology (DOI: 10.1021/ es025677w)