I've been making manure teas since I was a kid and my dad rigged up a galvanised trash can with a piece of cross drilled PVC pipe in the bottom to steep the goatberries and make it easy to decant with a piece of garden hose. My method nowadays is even more primitive: I use alpaca berries, a few shovels to a half barrel, fill with rain water, and wait a week or so (the so might stretch out to the whole winter when things are wet and plants more or less dormant), then bucket out ad lib. If I think about it when I'm walking past one of the half barrels I might give it a stir. But that doesn't happen much.
My main use was formerly as a dilute solution sprinkled on plants and the soil. But now that I'm a full-on biochar zealot, I use lots of it to inoculate fresh char and it seems to do what I want...I haven't done microscopic inspections or anything like that, just noting that everywhere I use the finished biochar has responded positively.
I'm curious as to the pros and cons of manure vs compost teas, and wondering whether there is a time and place for one or the other. Also thinking about mixing the two, either in process or after the fact. Reckons?
Since I don't know, I will post my response as a question to add to the discussion. Would the manure tea be high in anaerobic bacteria vs aerobic for the compost tea? I would think without a thermophilic process to sterilize the base material it would be an issue for the plant and soil. I don't have any experience with alpaca dung, so perhaps it is like rabbit waste and safe for direct application?
hau Phil, have you thought about aerating your manure teas, the method you describe is not particularly conducive to growing the good bacteria and fungi, they will grow some but by leaving the oxygen to that which is dissolved in the initial water fill, you are encouraging the ciliates (the bad guys in the bacteria world for our purposes). The easy way to add oxygen is to simply fill a bucket and then pour it back into the barrel, the agitation created by doing this will add some oxygen to the steeping water and that will knock out many of the ciliates while encouraging the good bacteria to multiply and the same thing will happen with the fungi.
Alpaca dung can be used as a direct addition, while they are ruminants, they extract enough of the water from their dung to make it very similar to rabbit manure.
Using the tea to bio charge a load of charred wood is one great use of compost teas, you can also simply mix the fresh char into a compost heap so that you are spreading the char when you use the finished compost.
Anaerobic composts need aeration prior to use unless you are going to be burying the solids, the liquid can be used as a spray (which gets a lot of air as it is sprayed thus allowing for the die off of ciliates) or you can pour it on the soil around your plants (if you do this, it is best to pour it back and forth between two buckets before you add it to the soil). Fortunately the ciliates don't survive long in the presence of oxygen.
Did this answer satisfy your question as well Jack?