Of Vermicompost teas.

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Stone

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Recently watched a program on tv where a flower grower has changed over from using regular fertilizer and pesticides/fungicides to exclusively using aerated vermicompost extracts as a daily? spray/drench. He claimed taller, stronger stems and freedom from pests and diseases.
His results were obviously outstanding (too my eyes anyway...the plants were spotless), so.....I did a little research :evil:

There is a huge amount of scientific literature available on the subject and the vast majority of it finds positive results (independant of fertilizer) in lab and field trials.

It is claimed to increase germination rates, growth rates, yield (sometimes), quality, suppress root pathogens, mites, aphids, mealy bugs and other pests.

The mineral content of the tea is directly related to the raw materials going in so this can be manipulated to some degree. And the preparation part would be important too or you could end up with brown water only:eek: But apart from the mineral elements, there seems to be many different effects from bacterial to hormonal and others.

It would be interesting to see if a regular spray and/or drench on our plants would see any benefits even if only pest or disease suppression.

Some reading for those interested:
http://www.samsoluciones.es/sam/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/produccion-con-te-de-compost1.pdf

http://growingsolutions.com/shop/images/bc0712_38.pdf

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/49t6942q#page-5

http://soilbiologicalsupplies.com.a...tea_-_Myzus_mealybug_and_2-spotted_mite_0.pdf
 
A

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Interesting that the macro-nutrients show low N, high P and really high K. Obviously something else is in play here.

I wonder who funded this research? And can these results be applied to epiphytes?
 

Ryan Young

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There is good info available also on compost tea foliar spray. The kind that gets the 24h aeration and added enzyme treatment. I was eventually going to try it out on my orchids but I am in an apartment and the orchids are in a greenhouse, so I need to dedicate a weekend to it to try out.

An old news bit about a prize winning vegetable grower in Alaska, is on the Web from several years back if I can remember. The compost acts as a barrier as mentioned above.



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naoki

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Thank you for bringing this up, Mike. It looks promising. I have wondered about the mechanisms of composted worm casing protecting against pathogens, but I hadn't looked into it. It seems that the mechanism is not completely known, but the 4th paper speculates that Phenolics could be a part of the protection. If plants can take up phenolics (and use them for defense), maybe there is other source to extract phenolics from, too.
 

Ray

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I was reading in a plant pathology textbook that many plants naturally have nontoxic phenolic glycosides in their cells, and in some cases fungi and bacteria can liberate an enzyme that hydrolyzes them, releasing the toxic phenols.
 

Stone

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Interesting that the macro-nutrients show low N, high P and really high K. Obviously something else is in play here.

I wonder who funded this research? And can these results be applied to epiphytes?
Yes the NPK can vary dramatically depening on what was used to feed the worms. Most kitchen sraps and many manures are very high in K but also usually high in N. It's interesting to note that the castings have most of the N converted to nitrate where as the ''regular'' compost has its N mostly as ammonium. Unless it has been well matured for a long period.

The flower grower I mentioned made up his own tea on an industrial scale and manipulated the ingredients to get the analysis he was after. But he was a bit vague as to what that was. He only mentioned using grass and some protein.

But I think its really the vast range of bacterial and fungal elements in it which is interesting. It was mentioned that when brewing the extract, you get a predominance of mesophyllic species (many of which can colonize the rhizosphere and thrive in wet environments) as opposed to thermophyllic species in ''hot'' composting.
 

Stone

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Just reading some stuff on the web and came across a blog which mentioned recent DNA sequencing found several trillion microbes in the rhisophere (per gram of root) and at least 30,000 species!

It is really begining to look like microbes rule our universe. Cutting edge medicine is finding microbes are the ''masters'' of our own immune system and many auto-immune diseases are being successfully treated with microbes. Simply changing your diet can dramatically increase the population of anti-inflammitory bacteria (the kind that eat fiber) in your gut!

Fascinating stuff.
 

Trithor

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Fascinating reading! I have been using an EM drench on my plants monthly for the last half year. I have noticed a definite decrease in disease in my greenhouse. I can't say if it is due to the EM or some other factor associated which I have not identified yet, but the change has been very noticeable that I intend to continue. I have not tried 'worm tea' yet as a feeding option, but the EM and lower feed rates have definitely had a positive effect.
 

cnycharles

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What is the EM you're referring to? Also having a thought that this method could be used to greatly enhance native terrestrial orchids growth and survivability for those who need more than just a pot, media and water to survive
 

naoki

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We, plant biologists, say that there are only two kinds of organisms: plants and the parasites of plants (well, strictly not true because there are cyanobacteria etc). But fungi and bacteria are the ones which make the ecosystem roll smoothly. I think there was a similar article in Discovery (or Scientific America) about the gut flora and health.

it would be interesting to see what proportion of the positive effects of worm tea is from microbe vs chemical (e.g phenolics or hormones) by killing the microbes in the tea.

It's interesting that you are seeing positive effect of EM, Gary. I think EM (effective microorganisms) is pretty popular in Japan, and I saw a web page saying that he/she got higher survival rate of deflasked orchid seedlings with EM inoculation (it wasn't scientific). It seems to be a little bit expensive here (here is the one I saw in the US), so I haven't tried it yet. It would be interesting to see the effect of EM in the coarse media we use.

Charles, I also wonder the same thing. I'm guessing terrestrials are probably more likely to interact with the microbe fauna similar to crops.
 

Ray

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Just yesterday, I had an long "business lunch" with the VP of a Canadian biotechnology company about First Rays becoming their primary retail outlet for their live culture plant and soil amendment in the US, which I characterize as "probiotics for plants".

The gentleman is a paph species grower, and claims that he sees much better survival and vitality in stuff like just-deflasked tigrinum by treating it with a dilution of the product. (Apparently Holger Pernar is seeing similar results, and is writing an article about saving tigrinum for the Malayan Orchid Review.) He also told me of a recent experience with a Paph victoria-mariae he had that was succumbing to rot (sounded like erwinia, from his description), so he completely immersed the plant overnight. The rot was completely stopped, and the plant now has 4 maturing growths.

I sent samples of the stuff to a few folks that are members here, and have not heard much, but one person I know in California that does a LOT of breeding got some, and he asked for the balance of my sample material, so that's encouraging.

But you're right, Naoki, their primary application is organically-grown terrestrial crops like vegetables, greens, marijuana, etc. By routine spraying, damping off of seedlings is greatly reduced, and it has been shown to completely wipe out botrytis in a strawberry crop in South Carolina, for example.

This is definitely "emerging technology", not so much about knowing that it works (although folks are still discovering what it works on), but more on understanding the mechanisms.
 

cnycharles

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All very interesting, thanks for posting the info. I've passes some links along


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Ray

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It's EM, Uwe. The product, unlike many that contain a single species, contains engineered "consortia" of them - controlled during the fermentation process to provide specific blends of species that work synergistically.

They've done quite a bit of field work with the stuff, and are working with McGill University and Clemson to learn more.
 

Ray

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My first foray into the world of beneficial microorganisms actually was connected to the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez spill.

At the time, the "state of the art" for oil slick cleanup was seeding the slick with "super bugs" - oil-eating bacteria. Unfortunately, the population soon died out and it had to be reseeded again and again. Researchers where I worked (Elf Aquitaine, which is now Total due to mergers) found that they could induce the indigenous flora into doing the job by spraying a emulsion of olive oil and high-nitrogen fertilizer on it. The olive oil was an easy-to-digest carbon source, and the nitrogen spurred-on reproduction of the colony. When the olive oil was consumed, the bacteria had to resort to consuming the heavy oil, instead.

In a test section of the oil-covered beach, six weeks after spraying, there were no signs of residual oil, with the added benefit of not killing the other indigenous species as the steam-cleaning process did.

We actually got into oil spill remediation for a while - rail yards are notoriously bad, but there are issues with biological remediation:

  1. Politically, it's not good. Up in Alaska, the beach was sprayed, then you walk away and wait for the bugs to do their thing. On the evening news, it looks like you're not doing anything. NOAA "owns" your bank account in such situations, so they're going to be active, even if it's not the best mode.
  2. On the legislative front, the EPA wants absolute remediation, but the biological process is asymptotic - when the concentration is high, the consumption is fast, as it depletes and the population dies in accordance with the food supply, it slows. It's a "half-life" type of phenomenon.
  3. Financially, it is so effective that it doesn't allow remediation engineering companies to keep sending invoices to the company responsible for the spill.

The company making the "Garden Solution" product, as it's called, Inocucor in the Montreal area, started in that field, as well, but the difficulty in overcoming that third issue led them to change directions.
 

cnycharles

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It's tough that a product works so well that you can't make any money from it (and the other issues)


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Ray

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The former, Lance. They are all naturally-occurring critters.
 
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