Many theories exist in regards to how to make and use compost tea. The term “compost tea” has been broadly applied to the solution you obtain by steeping or extracting beneficial microbiology from compost into water. This concept has progressed through scientific study to where we are now adding microbial foods and air to this solution to cultivate the microbial population in an aerobic liquid environment. To avoid confusion with various other compost tea methods, BioLogic Systems has adopted the terms “Compost Extract” and “Active Aerobic Compost Extract (AACE)” to describe the specific processes we recommend.Compost Extract is made by releasing the clinging microorganisms and nutrients from high-quality compost into a container filled with water, and then adding microbial and plant foods. The result is a biologically active liquid nutrient that can be applied to the root zone of any plant. Making compost extract is a very easy and efficient process; a batch of compost extract can be made in about five minutes. First the compost is placed into a mesh bag, along with any other dry ingredients. Then a mechanical or manual motion pushes the microbes and nutrients through the mesh into the water. Next, the microbial foods (fish hydrolysate, kelp, etc.) are added to the solution. And finally, for root applications, we recommend adding mycorrhizae, a beneficial root fungus. A Compost Extract is a complete plant food with an active microbial population. Please refer to our Recipes page for specific ingredients and rates of application.Active Aerobic Compost Extract (AACE) is achieved by first performing the Compost Extract procedure, then aerating the solution for an 18-72 hour period. The result is an activated microbe population that has been exponentially increased and can be applied to your plants as a foliar spray. For root zone applications, we recommend a similar process, in which you apply your mixture without the aeration period, and allow the “brewing” to happen in the soil (which is an aerobic environment). Please refer to the AACE and root extract recipes in the Support section of our website for recipe amounts and specific plant applications.
Q: What fungi to bacteria ratio should I use for my application?
To understand the foundation of the fungi to bacteria ratio, you must first know the basics of plant succession theory. Nature tends towards increasingly complex systems that are ever-more diverse and ever-more productive, while disturbances (tilling, chemical fertilizers and pesticides) push succession backwards, reducing complexity and diversity. On the plant succession spectrum, a weed is on the bacterial dominant end of the scale, where an old growth conifer tree would be on the fungal dominant end, with woody annuals being close to the middle. Extract recipes should be plant specific to provide the proper ratio of beneficial microbes to maximize your plants’ potential. In the Recipes section of our website we provide recipes and specific plants to apply them to.
Q: Why don’t you include sugars in your recipes?
For most extract applications we are trying to cultivate a carefully balanced fungi to bacteria ratio, specific to the plant it is being applied to. Fungi are much harder to grow than bacteria, so we generally have to try harder to produce fungi than bacteria in a well balanced extract. The microbial foods used in our recipes feed both fungi and bacteria, and we can usually accomplish the desired level of bacteria with these foods. Sugar sources such as molasses, feed only bacteria in a compost extract, and tend to cause an overabundance of bacteria. This can sometimes be useful in bi-remediation contexts or turf applications, which require a bacteria-dominant extract.
Q: How does a brewer work?
Any good brewer must aerate the solution sufficiently, provide a mixing motion to prevent settling of the organic matter, should allow for efficient application, and the brewer must be easily cleaned. BioLogic Systems is a leader in extract brewer design. Our brewers are engineered to be functional, affordable, simple to use, and easy to clean. The most important quality in a functional brewer is that it maintains an aerobic environment (6% dissolved oxygen) throughout the brewing cycle. This is not as easily accomplished as you would think, many home-made brewers and even brewers for sale on the market, do not achieve the 6% dissolved oxygen level that characterizes an aerobic environment. If at any point your oxygen dips into anaerobic levels, the beneficial microbes that you’ve cultivated are going to be rapidly consumed by ciliates and/or other pathogenic organisms. We have done extensive testing on our brewers and our recipes to ensure an aerobic environment in our extracts. We use no air stones, which create an anaerobic growth pocket, and restrict air flow. We encourage you to test the dissolved oxygen levels in your own brewer with a dissolved oxygen meter, if possible.Cleanliness is a very important factor in successful brewing. A brewer must be easy to clean because it must be cleaned after every use. If you can’t clean every part in your brewer, you are going to have bio-film buildup which leads to anaerobic growth pockets. If you can’t t dismantle your brewer easily, it becomes tedious to clean. Our brewers are designed to take apart and clean easily in under ten minutes. We use all seamless, non-textured, food-grade barrels, which clean easily with soap. The mixing motion within the brewer is also very important. Any settling of organic matter in the brewer is going to allow a bio-film to develop and create an anaerobic growth pocket. We have designed our brewers to have no settling points, corners or pockets that resist the mixing motion in the barrel. In our systems, the stirring motion is accomplished with the air input, creating a convection motion that picks sediment off the bottom, and pushes it to the surface. This air flow also breaks the surface tension, creating constant gas exchange, and increased aeration. This cannot be accomplished in a system that uses air stones or small amounts of air input.
Q: How long does compost extract take to brew?
The brewing time on an Actively Aerated Compost Extract (AACE) is mainly temperature dependent. The cooler the outside air temperature, the slower the biological activity. This results in a longer brewing time because it takes longer for the full microbial bloom to occur. If outside air temperature is near 50 degrees, brewing takes 72 hours. If outside air temp is near 60 degrees, brewing takes 48 hours. If outside air temperature 70 degrees or above, brewing takes 18-24 hours. Brewing time will vary with different extract recipes, our recipes have all been tested on our brewers, with consistent results. Check out the Recipes section on the website for more specific information.
Q: Is it okay to apply microbiology to a conventional fertilizer program or hydroponic system?
Yes, the addition of microbiology to a conventional fertilizer or hydroponic system will provide many benefits. As a foliar spray an Actively Aerated Compost Extract (AACE) will inundate your plant surface with beneficial micro-organisms, aiding in disease prevention and promoting overall plant health. As a root drench, a compost extract will unlock tied up nutrients, prevent salt buildup, increase drought tolerance, and overwhelm any root pathogens with beneficial organisms. The introduction of mycorrhizae will expand your root system and allow for better uptake of nutrients. Any conventional fertilizer or hydroponic program can be improved with the addition of beneficial microbes.
Q: How do I apply compost extract?
Foliar: Actively Aerated Compost Extract (AACE) is used for spray applications. The beneficial microbes are multiplied and activated through the brewing process, creating a foliar inoculant. The microbes develop a slime layer, making them stick to plant surfaces better than an inactive extract. When spraying plants, try to achieve at least 70% coverage of foliage. Application rates are case specific, but in intensive cultivation, we recommend spraying undiluted AACE on your plants (the more beneficials the better). Apply AACE either when dark or with low light, because microbes are sensitive to UV light. Be careful to use a spray pump and nozzle that won’t damage the microbiology. With spray pumps, make sure not to use any propeller or sump pumps, as they damage beneficial organisms. We strongly recommend using a diaphragm style spray pump, which cause the least damage to microbes of any pump we’ve tested. For spray nozzles, be sure to stay away from any sprayer that gets the fluid to very small particles, or that causes a lot of friction as the extract is being sprayed. We have done extensive direct microscopy studies on the effects of pumps and spray nozzles, and have recommended pumps in the Support section of our website.Root Drench: For a root application, a Root Extract, is the best way to introduce beneficial microorganisms and plant foods to the root zone. Apply liquid directly to the rhizosphere, or root zone, of each plant, as some beneficial organisms (like mycorrhizae) must come in contact with a root to function. Our brewers are designed to apply extract with an application pump, through a standard garden hose, to your plants simply and effectively. We also have custom designs that run extract through irrigation systems, and commercial sprayers. Be careful to use an application pump that will not damage the microbiology. Make sure not to use any propeller or sump pumps, as they damage beneficial organisms. We strongly recommend using a diaphragm style pump, which cause the least damage to microbes of any pump we’ve tested. We have done extensive direct microscopy studies on the effects of pumps and spray nozzles, and have recommended pumps in the Support section of our website.
Q: How often should I clean my brewer?
Cleanliness is a very important factor in successful brewing. A brewer must be easy to clean because it must be cleaned after every use. If you can’t clean every part in your brewer every time, you are going to have bio-film buildup which leads to anaerobic growth pockets. If you can’t dismantle your brewer easily, it becomes tedious to clean. Our brewers are designed to come apart and clean easily in under ten minutes. We use all seamless, non-textured, food-grade barrels, which clean easily with soap.
Q: What materials do I put in my brewer?
To achieve the highest quality compost extract, you should source the highest quality organic materials to put in your brewer. Our standard Actively Aerated Compost Extract (AACE) recipe calls for the use of compost, worm castings, granular humus, soluble kelp, and fish hydrolysate. For a root extract we will add more plant foods to the mix as well as granular mycorrhizae, a root specific beneficial fungus. The best source of these materials is going to be different depending on many factors including your location, your scale of growing, your budget, etc. The Recipes section of our website has plant specific recipes, with recommended ingredients. We are also more than happy to give consultation on organic feeding programs for your specific needs. Please refer to the consulting section on our website for more information.
Q: What are microbial foods?
In order to cultivate a population of beneficial microorganisms you must provide them with an aerobic environment and a source of food. The foods you choose for your extract will determine which organisms will multiply in the brew period. The microbes that we select to feed in an extract are bacteria and fungi. Bacteria feed primarily on simple sugars: molasses, cane syrup, fruit juices, etc. Fungi feed on a variety of food sources including kelp, fish hydrolysate, humic acids, and protein meals (soy, oat, barley). The microbial foods we use in our recipes are fish hydrolysate, soluble kelp, and granular humus. Fish hydrolysate is both a bacterial and a fungal food. The bacteria feed on the simple proteins of the fish, and the fungi primarily feed on the carbohydrates, fats, and complex proteins. Soluble kelp is a microbial food that also provides a myriad of beneficial functions for your plant. Granular humus is the highly concentrated and biodigested remains of plant and animal materials which provide food for both fungi and bacteria.
Sasquatch Industries Inc.
3160 S. Valley View Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102-8316