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Re: fungal vs bacterial/ till no? No till?
i appreciate greatly your response. in fact, you are right. there's a
difference between the putrefactive and fermentative processes.
putrefactive anaerobic results in real foul stinky smells like sewage.
fermentative has much sour but not rotten smell. there are definite
subtleties on the smells and experience is our best teacher. some people
like the EM people also test the pH.
anyway, you definitely can use the yogurt. i however, make our own lacto
bacilli in a very simple way. we do a two stage process. we first trap
several microbes to its food like carbohydrate and then saturate them (on
the second stage) with milk. in this manner, we eliminate the other
microbes and keep a pure lacto bacilli culture. we then add another kind of
food to keep them alive rather than the customary refrigeration. in the
countryside, at least in the philippines, we don't have refrigeration. it
is very cheap to produce that it is almost unbelievable. i have a booklet
on this process that i distributed at the recent ecofarm conference. anyone
who will be interested would simply need to e-mail me at:
i was also told that lacto bacilli is both anaerobic and aerobic. i guess
it is more anaerobic or may we call facultative. lacto bacilli is really a
microbial workhorse. it is normally associated with the word probiotics.
and in organic agriculture, especially livestock, they use a lot of these
and combined with immune booster herbs like aloe vera. again, most of highly
nutritious foods are fermented foods. and lots of them are lactic acid
fermented. in the same token, the microorganisms that we get from the
forest are assumed by natural farmers to be beneficial (as you observe where
you get them) and maybe more fungal in association. and the bamboo
microorganism we use can be said to be more bacterial for its roots exudates
attract a lot of beneficial bacteria. as natural farmers, do i still need
tests and counts? probably yes. although most practical farmers will not
have to. through our experimentations and observations, we should be able
to "see". we natural farmers always believe that if we open our eyes, ears,
heart and being to nature, nature will start to unfold its mysteries to us.
the ultimate answer to all our agricultural questions lie not on man but on
nature herself. as long as we align our methods to the workings of nature,
we should be in good position. it is our holistic approach and broader
realization and appreciation of nature that will guide us and not
discriminating and dichotomized mindsets of the reductionist science.
elaine, i really enjoyed your workshop in tulare. i learn a lot. it pretty
much rationalize the things i have been doing in my natural farming with our
essential focus on these beneficial indigenous microorganisms and biological
i hope to bring you to the philippines one of this days. and i hope you
will also be able to set up an office-lab here so we can improve the
philippine agricultural practices and directions.
From: Elaine Ingham <Soilfoodweb@AOL.COM>
Reply-To: Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group
Subject: Re: [SANET-MG] fungal vs bacterial/ till no? No till?
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 13:29:47 -0400
In response to Gil's comments on anaerobic decomposition -
As Steve Diver and I have commented, individually, before, there's a
difference in fermentative and putrefactive anaerobic processes.
When dealing with the lactobacilli, you are setting the stage for a very
different set of processes than when you allow the run-of-the-mill
putrefactive anaerobes to proliferate.
Lactobacillus species establish a particular set of conditions that prevent
the growth of other organisms. Lactobacilli work to reach a particular pH
by releasing certain organic acids. They also control nutrient
availability and thus prevent the growth of bacteria like E. coli and other
Plant material from your garden usually does not contain lactobacilli, so
you have to inoculate them. You have to add an overwhelming number of
these bacteria in order to move things in the right direction. So the
"starter" can be fairly expensive. Grow your own, or add LIVE CULTURE
yogurt to your compost pile.
Gil, perhaps you know whether the lactobacilli in commercial yogurt are the
same species as you are adding to your composts?
How do you tell when you have the lactobacilli versus the putrefier
bacteria? Smell is one way. What is "ok" stink, versus what is "bad"
stink? The sour kraut smell is ok, brimstone is not (you are losing your
sulfur into the atmosphere). Strong ammonia is bad, a slight urine smell
can be ok. The vomit smell is bad, the cole slaw smell is ok. I need to
do a course to demonstrate to people the differences in smells.
Unfortunately, some people cannot discern the differences. The smells can
be subtly different, so they are not reliable in all cases. Perhaps it is
better to not worry about difficult-for-many-people-to-assess differences,
and just keep it aerobic all the time.
People who want to learn the differences in smells, should take a
composting course where there is a hands-on part of the course, such as the
Luebkes teach in Austria. Talk about people with know-how, obtained
through years of experience! They may not use microscopes every day, but
they figured out how to do things through trial and error. They probably
are better at distinguishing odors than I am. I am more likely to know the
name of the bug making the smell, but they can tell you more about the
conditions that allowed that organism to grow, and therefore make that
It is ok when the compost goes anaerobic for a short time (not too much
ammonia or hydrogen sulfide loss, please!), and then comes back to aerobic.
As long as you allow microbial growth to use up all the toxic anaerobic
decomposition products, then things should be fine. Of course, you will
lose N, P, S if you let the pile become anaerobic, so if you really don't
want to lose fertility, keep it aerobic.
Hope this helps -
President, Soil Foodweb Inc.
SFI Corvallis, OR
SFI Port Jefferson, NY
SFI Lismore, NSW, Australia
SFI Hilversum, The Netherlands
SFI Cambridge, New Zealand
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