WHAT IS COMPOST TEA?
Compost Tea is a water extraction of compost. The micro-organisms present in the compost is multiplied by adding selective nutritive substrata. As the number of microbes in the extraction increases, the levels of dissolved oxygen decrease and thus air is constantly bubbled through the system to keep the extraction aerobic.
Dissolved oxygen levels must be maintained above 6 ppm (6 mg of oxygen per liter). After 48 hours this brewing process is complete and the Compost Tea then consists of nutritive materials (organic compounds, micro and macro elements) and a wide variety of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes.
What happens inside this Compost Tea tank within 48 hours will astound the keen observer. Inside the Starter bag are billions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and beneficial nematodes. The bacteria can replicate approximately every 30 minutes in ideal conditions. Consuming the food contained in the Activator, they multiply exponentially and release metabolic by-products and nutrients. Compost Tea’s efficiency depends on the quality of the compost, the system’s extraction efficacy and the ability of the added food to increase the organisms without sacrificing the biodiversity.
Protozoa wake up and multiply, having feeding frenzies on the bacteria, releasing more metabolic by-products and nutrients. They stabilise the growth of the bacteria during the second day, consuming as many as are being reproduced.
They are extremely important for effective nutrient cycling to occur in soil. They consume bacteria and in the process release nutrients, especially nitrogen which other soil organisms and plants can utilise.
Fungi will germinate and grow on organic matter grouping them in clumps or flocs. In so doing, soil structuring is actually preceded inside the Compost Tea system. They too will release metabolic by-products and nutrients.
Free-living beneficial nematodes contained in the Starter will have no time to multiply but will consume certain bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other nematodes, thereby also releasing metabolic by-products and nutrients.
At the end of 48 hours the Compost Tea contains thousands of species of organisms numbering almost a billion per millilitre and all their by-products. These nutrients are in the form that plants want and require, because it is life giving and sustaining – as nature intended. It does not place the plant and the soil under undue stress, thereby opening them up to pests and diseases.
It requires the interested farmer to regard soil function as one of the primary concerns of his/her business – pivotal to farm profitability and resilience. Therefore, it requires the respect and attention due. Compost Tea is but a tool, albeit a very effective tool, to be used in conjunction with other tools in a holistic plan to make farms regenerative. It requires active and ongoing participation.
This requires a co-creative undertaking between the farmer, Ecosoil and nature. Nature knows best. By working with nature, instead of against her, this team will be able to restore soil function and lower fertiliser and pesticide use simultaneously. Individual circumstances and efforts will dictate the rate at which this happens.