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 wheelbarrow 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.
This is for example only. Our inoculant compost is way more potent than this example but it shows the huge number of life forms.
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 give a population of 10 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
This is our first two bioreactors with a painters drop cloth covering it. This kept the sun off and
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