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Re: Regulation of compost teas

In response to a few questions posed by Douglas Hinds:

"I'm hoping one or more of you can direct me to a reliable source
for detailed studies on Compost Tea and / or EM Tea that specify:"

"  the organisms contained in them, the substances produced by them
  and the effects of those substance on a number of different plant

Allow me to point to a few items I've already compiled. They
also list primary information sources, so you can find additional
resources by starting here.

Notes on Compost Teas

Especially see the "Minimum Standards for Compost" and
"Minimum Standards for Compost Teas," on pages 5-6,
drawn from Dr. Elaine Ingham's experience at Soil Foodweb,

In the resources section, especially see:

"Compost Tea Brewing Manual" published by Elaine Ingham

Dr. Ingham?s Monthly E-Zine

Organic Teas from Composts and Manures by Richard Merrill,
OFRF Grant Report 97?40.
[This download contains 88 literature references in the
bibliography, ?Selected References for Organic Tea Extract

Compost Tea for Organic Farming and Gardening by William Quarles.
The IPM Practitioner. Vol. 23, No. 9 (September). p. 1?8

Papers by Will Brinton and Andreas Trankner


Nature Farming and Effective Microorganisms

EM contains around 80-120 microorganisms.

The main species of microorganisms in EM include:  [1] Lactic
acid bacteria: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei,
Streptococcus lactis; [2] Photosynthetic bacteria:
Rhodopseudomonas palustrus, Rhodobacter spaeroides;
[3] Yeasts:  Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida utilis;
[4] Actinomycetes:  Streptomyces albus, Streptomyces
griseus; and [5] Fermenting Fungi: Aspergillus oryzae,
Mucor hiemalis.

For literature, especially see the two volumes of Dr. Higa's book,
"An Earth Saving Revolution";  the conference proceedings of
International Kyusei Nature Farming (there are now six volumes);
and the following book which is available through Food Products
Press, the publisher "Journal of Sustainable Agriculture"
and "Journal of Crop Production," among others.

"Nature Farming and Microbial Applications," a Food Products
Press book edited by Hui-lian Xu, James F. Parr, and Hiroshi
Umemura, was co-published simultaneously published as Journal
of Crop Production, Volume 3, No. 1 (#5), 2000.  It contains
30 scientific papers on EM, addressing topics such as:  Nature
Farming history, principles, and perspectives; production and
application of organic materials as fertilizers in China,
EM-prepared organic fertilizers in the control of plant pathogenic
diseases and insect pests; EM-prepared organic fertilizers and
their influence on soil organic matter, soil moisture, and other
soil quality parameters; Nature Farming practices for apple
production in Japan; EM-prepared organic fertilizers in organic
sweet corn production; EM in the treatment of malodorous
poultry manure; and influence of EM on mycorrhizae,
earthworms, rhizobia, and other aspects of soil biology.

Excerpts / table of contents to Higa's books:

An Earth Saving Revolution, Vol. I

An Earth Saving Revolution, Vol. II

The web resources section in my working paper points to
a number of primary information sources.

Of special interest is the following paper.

Beneficial and Effective Microorganisms for a Sustainable
Agriculture and Environment. 1994.  By Higa,Teruo, and
James F. Parr.  International Nature Farming Research
Center, Atami, Japan.  16 p. http://www.agriton.nl/higa.html

This paper includes the microbial pathway sketched out by
Dr. Higa, "Flow Chart of Organic Matter Decomposition by
Soil Microorganisms and the Development of Soils That
May be Disease-Inducing, Zymogenic, or Synthetic."

In North America, Sustainable Community Development in
Missouri sponsors the EMtrading.com website which has
research reports of special interest.

Regarding EM as a liquid spray for foliar inoculation.

EM itself can be used as a foliar spray to enhance foliar
nutrition and to enhance pest control.

EM is also used as a microbial adjunct to plant-based extracts.

[In both instances, I refer to "extended EM" which is made
by mixing EM stock solution with molasses and water.]

In the organic and biodynamic literature plant-based extracts
are commonly referred to as "herbal teas" or "liquid manures."
Fresh plant material is harvested, chopped, and soaked in a
barrel of water for 3-10 days.  A simple extract may be a
single ingredient herbal tea, for example stinging nettle extract.
On the other hand, farmers in India, for example, are developing
complete recipes for liquid manures that include a mixture of
plants (stinging nettle, neem), lactating cow urine, and other

When EM is added to the solution it facilitates the extraction of
nutrients and bioactive substances from the plant leaf material
through a fermentation process.

[This is typical for EM as well as any microbial inoculant.
Microbes work on a substrate; i.e., organic wastes, organic
amendments, raw organic matter].

The resulting EM extract is known as a fermented plant extract,
or EM-FPE.

To gain a practical understanding of these approaches,

EM Application Manual for APNAM Countries
------------- three online sources --------------

Margarita Correa, working at Auroville near Pondicherry in
southern India, published a notable paper that describes
the use of EM, biodynamic preparations, and related organic
farming practices.  Of special interest are her notes on
EM-FPE for pest management.

The Impact of Effective Microorganisms (EM) in Various
Organic Farming Systems
        13-page PDF

Margarita Correa also published a paper describing EM-FPE.

Go to HTML Source:
AuroAnnam - research & development farm at Auroville

Download EM presentation as a zip file and open......

Experiences with Effective Microorganisms in disease and
pest control in farms and gardens in India
C. Margarita and L. Dengel


Selected excerpts from C. Margarita and L. Dengel:

EM was used to ferment locally growing plant material that was
known for its medicinal value and for its pest repelling or pest
controlling properties, such as neem and Calotropis gigantea.

All plant material was chopped, immersed with the help of a
stone weight in EM solution undergoing extension, and let
ferment for about five days under anaerobic conditions. For the
production of approximately 20 liters of FPE, the following
ingredients were used:

15 liters of water
3 kg of neem leaves (and flowers)
250 g of each plant material indicated as per Table 2
450 ml of EM stock solution
450 g of cane jaggery (which could be replaced by molasses)

Afterwards it was filtered and stored away for use, for at
least 90 days.

EM-FPE from fruits, weeds and plants with known pest repellent
properties have been observed to enhance the efficacy of pest
control. It seems that EM is capable of extracting the active
ingredients from plants and making them available as pest
control agents.

1.  Turmeric  (Curcuma longa)
2.  Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
3.  Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)
4.  Papaya (Carica papaya)
5.  Custard Apple (Annona squamosa)
6.  Vitex (Vitex negundo)
7.  Neem (Azadirachta indica)
8.  Calotropis (Calotropis gigantean)
9.  Onion (Allium cepa)
10. Garlic (Allium sativum)
11. Aloe (Aloe barbedensis)
12. Tulasi (Ocimum sp.)
13. Pongam (Pongamia pinnata)
14. Euphorbia (Euphorbia tirucalli)


Also see:

EM-Fermented Plant Extract and EM5 for Controlling Pickleworm
(Diaphania nitidalis) in Organic Cucumbers

In addition to traditional EM-FPE, a new EM practice is
to add EM ceramics powder to the solution.

For example, see:

EM-X Ceramic Powder (EM-XCP)

In general, adding a clay powder or rock dust component
to a foliar brew provides the ingredients for organo-mineral
and biotic-mineral interactions and complexes to occur.  In
some instances micronutrients serve as biocatalysts for
microorganisms, and in other instances organic acids from
microbial activity enhance mineral availability through
solubilization and mineralization.


What are the bioactive compounds produced by microorganisms
during compost tea brewing, or from compost watery extracts,
that function as biostimulants.

Microbial metabolites and bioactive substances extracted
from composts that come to mind include enzymes, amino acids,
nucleic acids, vitamins, and hormones.

Yet, while I mention these in general I can't think of any
papers that provide specific data on this point.

Krasilnikov's "Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants,"
located online at Soil and Health Library, comes to mind
as a background source on this topic.


How does vermi-compost compare to compost tea or EM
tea, and "detailed studies available regarding the worm-gut
bacteria / microorganisms that process the vermicompost?"

Compost teas and worm teas have greater fungal components
than EM, for one.

In addition to the resources from Elaine Ingham referred to
earlier, you may want to join the Compost Tea discussion
list at Yahoo!Groups.  The archives include compost tea
lab tests, comparative results between composts, etc.


Regarding "detailed studies on the microbial ecology of worm
guts and worm castings":

Here is a vermiculture paper worth downloading.  Dr. Sultan
Ismail is one of the leaders of vermicomposting technology
in India.

Vermitech-A Potential Technology for Soil Management
and Productivity
S. Sundaravadivel and Sultan Ismail | Institute of Research in
Soil Biology and Biotechnology, The New College,
Chennai, India

The following references from this paper are worth noting:

Nielson R L, (1965) Presence of plant growth substances in
earthworms demonstrated by paper chromatography and the
went pea test. Nature Lond 208: 113-114.

Parle J N, (1963 a) Microorganisms in the intestines of earthworms.
J Gen Microbial 31: 1-13.

Parle J N, (1963 b) A microbilogical study of earthworm casts.
J Gen Microbial 31: 13-23.

It so happens that India is a world leader in vermicomposting,
biofertilizers, and plant-based pest control (liquid manures and
fermented plant extracts).

To capture web-based resources on vermiculture in India,
I posted the following resource list on Permaculture.

[permaculture] Vermicompost + Cuba + India
30 May 2002

An additional worm-extract from India is vermiwash.
Vermiwash is made by dripping water (or something like
an occassional watering at weekly or bi-weekly intervals)
through an active worm bed or a worm barrel with an outlet
at the bottom to collect the vermiwash.  The vermiwash is
used as a foliar spray that functions as a foliar fertilizer,
biostimulant, and prophylactic pest control.  It is also mixed
with cow urine and plant extracts.

The following two links provide a glimpse into the many different
recipes and approaches used in India to prepare plant extracts
and vermiwash:

Growing Biodynamic Sugar Cane in India

Green Foundation Newsletter

On a related note,

The whole approach to plant-based pest control using native
plants and locally grown herbs to prepare liquid manures and
fermented plant extracts is well developed in India.

There are two indigenous knowledge data sources in India
that capture farmer experiences with plant-based pest control:

Indigenous Knowledge News
Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems || Chennai, India

Honeybee Network & Innovation Database
SRISTI || Ahmedabad, India

The Indigenous Knowledge News is an especially rich
online source to learn about plant-based pest control.
This newsletter was formerly titled "Pesticide Post."

The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems publishes
a series of booklets called "Plants in Pest Control."


Compost teas, EM, liquid manures, and fermented plant
extracts are worth exploring because they match the principles
of organic agriculture to use local resources and biological
processes.  They work with organic substrates and microbes
to transform raw materials into fertilizers and pest controls.
They bring a dynamic effect to the phyllosphere and the rhizosphere.
They are biological farming and humus management practices
that provide the terrain for microbes to do their work.

Steve Diver