We have biology to help your plants grow with little or no added fertilizers. "We've spent the last 100 years trying to farm without nature, now let's use biology to see what the plants can produce" Dr David Johnson New Mexico State University
In December 2019 the Lourie's filled their first Johnson/Su bioreactor to produce a highly fungal compost for their garden. Since then, others have asked for our compost. This web site explains our story and the inoculating compost we sell. Make an extract and apply at two pounds per acre. We show how.
Our mature compost supports regenerative agriculture. Here you see three of our 18 grandchildren playing in leaves we used to build our bioreactors. We chop the leaves, wet them and fill wire cages. Then keep them moist for a year. The leaves compost and the fungi and bacteria from the leaves and air multiply into a powerful biological inoculant. When applied at 2 pounds per acre. This web page will explain what we did, how we built the process and how to use the compost we make.
It is possible to grow plants that resist disease and harmful insects, Johnson/Su Compost contains several thousand species of fungi and bacteria to strengthen plants.
Regenerating the soil is our primary goal. Help us by starting on your land.
We raised our family on the land of Colville Compost. In the 1800's when this area was settled it was called Colville community. We think it is a good name for our compost. Don and Talitha purchased this 3 acre parcel in 1976 and for 25 years had a 2 acre blueberry patch. It is here we have learned the importance of good soil health.
Our compost is available in quantities of 1 pound to a ton. Most orders can be filled the same day you order. For quantities over 20 pounds please tell us your plans and how much you want and we'll ship ASAP. You may also arrange to visit us and get a tour and pick up your product.
How To Use our Colville Compost
After a composting period of 12 months or more, the compost product from a Johnson/Su bioreactor can be used as it is, made into a slurry to coat seeds, or used to make an extract that can be sprayed on a field or into the furrow as you plant seeds.
Direct Application Without any further treatment after the composting period, the compost can be added to a growing media or spread onto soils at any desired rate. I have had good success at using ½ teaspoon mixed into a gallon of potting mix. Extracts of Compost product can also be used to create liquid extracts that contain a rich and diverse community of soil microbes, which includes hundreds of species of fungi bacteria, humic acids, fulvic acid and other tiny living organisms. The compost extracts are especially useful for inoculating large areas with beneficial soil microbial communities. This is not a tea. The typical organic brewed teas are sometimes tricky to make and can become anaerobic quickly if not done correctly. The extract described here is much simpler and can be made in quarts up to hundreds of gallons at one time.
An extract, or inoculum, can be made from this compost by vigorously mixing the compost with water for about 30 seconds with a paddle mixer and drill. The extract can then be added to many gallons of water and applied as a spray. To produce the extract, add a couple of handfuls (about ½ pound) of mature compost to a gallon of non chlorinated water in a bucket and stir the mixture vigorously. The goal is to dislodge as many microbes as possible from the organic matter. After vigorously mixing the compost and water solution, pour the mixture through a strainer. A paint screen such as a 5-gallon mesh bag from your local paint store works well for larger quantities. I purchased a stainless steel strainer at a restaurant supply store. It has a handle and works great for up to 2 pounds of compost. After straining, the extract is ready to be sprayed through a sprayer or sprinkler onto the leaves of plants or onto soil plots. You can pour clear water through the sieve to extract more of the microbes until the water comes out clear.
I have also placed the ½ pound of compost in my large funnel sieve and sprayed water through it until it comes out clear. This might use a couple of gallons of water in spray. Use a circular motion with the sprayer and watch as the compost kind of melts away. The residue left can be added to your compost pile since it will still have lots of good life in it. A good recipe is apply the compost at the rate of 1 pound per acre. If you have a small area like a yard or garden apply at the rate of 1 ounce of raw compost to 3000 square feet. After spraying the extract, water it into the soil with a garden hose sprayer or sprinkler to ensure the microbes have filtered down into the soil. Or apply just before a rain or during a rain. Do not let the extract dry out in the sun. On large acreages, the extract can provide very beneficial results when applied directly into the furrow while planting, a process which ensures that microbes are right next to seeds as they germinate. Through the spray method, application rates of 1 kg of compost/hectare (1 pound/acre) have been implemented with success. Beneficial microbes from the mature compost can also be applied directly to seeds before they are planted.
To inoculate seeds, create a slurry with the following ingredients: • About 1/2 cup of a milk or yogurt/molasses mixture (8 parts milk to 1 part molasses •About a liter (or quart) of undiluted compost extract already made. • Water (amount varies Add the water while stirring until the compost slurry has a viscosity similar to pancake batter) One quart of the resulting slurry can then be poured into a cement mixer or wheel barrow with about 50 pounds of seed and tumbled until the seeds are thoroughly coated. Smaller batches can be done by hand in a 5 gallon bucket. The coating process takes approximately 1-2 minutes, and then the seed can be air dried by spreading the seed out on a tarp in the shade and allowing it to dry, with occasional raking to expose wet areas. It is best to plant the seeds the same day, but if dried, this can be used up to a couple of weeks. After drying, the seeds can be planted. Alternatively, if the seeds are large, they can be planted wet because the seed will flow well through a planter. Some farmers have found that the drying is not necessary and the dampened seeds flow nicely through the planter. The wetted and not dried seeds actually sprout better. Please do not add poisons or fertilizer to this mix. If you want to add amendments with the spray, add them to the tank first.
How many microbes we are dealing with.
Let's say there are 1,000 total fungi per microgram in this compost. (Research by Dr. David Johnson shows this is the number of fungi that will benefit soil biology changes.) That is 1 millionth of a gram. So that makes 1 billion fungi per gram and 28 billion per ounce.
There are 28 grams per ounce.
There are 16 ounces in a pound so the total fungi in a pound will be 448 billion fungi. If that 1 pound of compost is extracted and applied to 1 acre (43,560 square feet) this would be will give a population of 10.2 million fungi per square foot.
These numbers are hard for me to comprehend! I had a laboratory analysis done on one of my first bioreactors and it showed 13 billion fungi per gram which if applied at the rate of 1 pound/acre would be 130 million fungi per square foot.
Recent research suggests that it isn't the fungi or bacteria themselves that provide the benefit to the other soil life and plants but the biochemical signaling. Each life form gives off and receives communication in the form of chemicals and electrical information. The more communication there is in an area, the better the plants and other life forms perform.
The opposite of this is the depletion of micro life in the soil with poisons, excessive tilling, toxic fertilizers, extreme drought or flooding. These soils then lack the communication needed to support the best plant growth.
So there are now hundreds of millions of acres world wide with deficient fungi and bacteria in the soil. Some think buying fertilizer will help but what really helps is more life. That is the great benefit of a high quality living compost!
Regulations The compost from the Johnson/Su bioreactor can be used on organic farms. It complies with NOP 5021 Effective Date: July 22, 2011
On large acreages, the compost can be made into an extract and sprayed onto the soil or plants.
This is some of our future compost in our hoop house. These bins were filled in December 2021 about 1 foot above the sides.
Thank you for your interest in our Johnson/Su style soil inoculant.
In December 2019 we built our first two Johnson/Su bioreactors in our garden in North West Arkansas. I was impressed with the research results of Dr. David Johnson at New Mexico State University and was excited to see what it would do for my garden, lawn and my little three acre plot of land. We followed the instructions from Dr. Johnson very carefully. The term, compost is used throughout this paper, but this product is really not like normal compost. For comparison, I checked some mushroom compost for sale locally and discovered it was sterilized before selling it. That means no micro life so the value is only in the nutrients locked in the organic matter. And composts purchased at garden centers are just a little better. The value is more in the mulching or loosening the soil.
Pictured above is our first pile made from concrete reinforcement wire mesh. We made a cylinder 4 feet in diameter and 6 feet tall, placed in on a wood pallet in our garden and lined it with landscape fabric. Before we filled it with organic matter, we installed 6 perforated, 4 inch plastic pipes and then put in 110 5 gallon buckets of chopped, wet leaves. Wetting the leaves took the most time and lifting the heavy buckets up a step ladder all day was work. Then we built a second pile a few days later. We kept the pile moist and out of the sun and watched it shrink in volume from 6 feet tall to just over 4 feet the first year. In the Spring of 2020 we added composting worms to the compost bins to help break down the organic matter and add nutrients. We began taking samples in September 2020 just to see how it would perform in our garden. I made an extract and sprayed this all over my yard and garden. One of the surprising results was our pepper plants endured 4 frosts and were still setting fruit well into October. It took a 24F frost to kill them. I learned later that vermicast with all the bacteria can give plants about a 4 degree protection from frost.
In August 2021, I dismantled the piles and sent a sample to Earthfort Lab in Corvallis, Oregon. The results were surprising and impressive. That compost had 14 billion fungi and 7 billion bacteria per gram with a high diversity. There are about 4 grams per teaspoon. The fungal to bacteria ration was 5.26:1. I posted the results of the lab test on the Johnson/Su Facebook group and farmers and gardeners started asking for product. In December 2020 we made larger bioreactors which should be ready for use by Spring of 2022. We built the piles with 100% yard leaves. I chop them up and use them to build more bioreactors. The leaves break down with the bacteria and fungi already on the material. But as the months pass, the air brings a multitude of additional bacteria and fungi from around the world. It is common in the 18 months of composting to have over 400 species of fungi and over 2000 species of bacteria.
The value of this type of compost is not the nutrient content but the diversity of the micro-life. Research shows that the higher number of species, the better they work together to feed the plants and build soil carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide.. Recent research calls this concept of different species working together, quorum sensing. The more diversity, the better they work. The detrimental effects of commercial fertilizers for decades has reduced our once rich soils to dirt with very little life to support the plants. And many farmers are finding out now they can eliminate about 80% to 90% of purchased fertilizer when they apply the Johnson/Su inoculant at the rate of just 1 or 2 pounds per acre. The application is best done with water as described in the How To Use section. This material is special but it should be used in a program of limited or no till and cover crops. It is vital that the soil be covered most of the year. The only way to build organic matter is living plants.
Compost or mulch applied at several tons per acre does not increase the organic matter by a measurable amount. A healthy soil with good plant diversity can build organic matter at up to ½ percent organic matter per year! This inoculant gives a superior environment for the plants to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into soil organic matter. Farmers are discovering that if they can apply the inoculant with seed planting, they get a benefit of almost the same yields as they did using many pounds of fertilizer. The biggest advantage is the soil micro life really starts to work better and can start to build soil organic matter. We are excited to help you with your home garden or agricultural enterprises. Please contact us with any questions about our compost inoculant.