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Biochar Mycorrhizae and High Nitrogen

 
C Sanct
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I was looking into the use of mycorrhizae with biochar when I came across this article. When they experimented with biochar, high levels of nitrogen, and mycorrhizae, the results were a 42% decrease in above ground biomass of the sorghum seedlings. But, I can't expand the charts that they show to see how much nitrogen they actually put into the soil. I'm thinking that the fact they used industrial ammonium nitrate fertilizer might have something to do with it? They were suggesting that the nitrogen acted as a switch to influence the symbiosis between the mycorrhizae and the sorghum. I'm not sure what to make of this. I feel like biochar inoculated with mycelium would be like a double whammy for plant health. What do you guys think about this?

Here is the webpage

 
Alder Burns
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I think the key is right there in the abstract "during the 4 week timescale of our experiments" They didn't let the char and the nitrogen mellow long enough in the soil. And it was a trial in pots, where they hauled the plants out and washed the soil off and measured the biomass. I think that might be entirely different than if the char etc. had been applied outdoors and the plants allowed to grow for their entire normal season.
I know I had wonderful results with biochar liberally "inoculated" with urine....raked into longstanding garden beds and soon after, transplanting stuff into....
 
John Elliott
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Sometimes you wonder how things like this get past the peer-reviewers.

In addition to the good questions that Alder has raised, I'm wondering: what species of "mycorrhizae" did they use? what phase of growth was it in? how was the biochar made? what was its surface area and how was it inoculated? what was its cation exchange capacity? where did the nitrogen end up? what was the N mass balance?

From the abstract, I certainly don't want to pay $31 to see the rest of what they found out. It reads like a group of blindfolded men flipping switches and trying to hear if the lights go on, while they keep their blindfolds in place. Too many variables, not enough controls, and too short an observation period for them to be drawing any conclusions from the experiment.
 
C Sanct
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I won't dwell on the negative too long, (I know this is a place for positive permacultural outlooks) but these types of things depress me alittle. Not so much because I believe in what the researchers are saying, but because I feel other people will. It's like there's a scientific conspiracy to belittle natural holistic farming.

All I know is that as soon as I burn up some biochar for myself I'll be inoculating with mycelium, and I'm optimistic about the results.

This is getting off track, but I wonder why there aren't more ecologists, botanists, environmentalists, etc. that are heavily practicing permaculture. I mean, I would have thought that people who focus their careers around plants and ecosystems would be leading the charge when it came to organics, permaculture, natural farming etc. Anyway, I wish permaculture was a fixture of major universities.
 
David Hartley
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In addition; many species of endomycorrhizal fungi must establish their relationship with plants shortly (in some cases immediately) after germination.
 
John Elliott
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This is getting off track, but I wonder why there aren't more ecologists, botanists, environmentalists, etc. that are heavily practicing permaculture. I mean, I would have thought that people who focus their careers around plants and ecosystems would be leading the charge when it came to organics, permaculture, natural farming etc. Anyway, I wish permaculture was a fixture of major universities.


Because you have to pay the rent and put food on the table. They don't get paid to focus on ecosystems, they get paid to perform what they said they would study in a proposal that was sent to USDA, NSF, DOD, DOE, NIH, and the rest of the government alphabet soup. Since the people handing out the money go through the revolving door that exists between government and big business, all these proposals have to be very business friendly. Don't look for someone to get a proposal funded to study Corcyceps fungi as possible natural pesticides, when the petrochemical industry has serious money invested in synthetic chemical pesticides.

And biochar? How is big business going to make money off of charcoal that anyone can cook up in their back yard? Same with mycorrhizae. After a good rain, I can go out and collect up a bucket full of mycorrhizal mushrooms. (That reminds me, got to get the bucket out of the trunk and spread today's collection over the mulch on the fruit trees.) The things that make permaculture and natural faming attractive are the exact same things that exclude it from a place in the high energy input consumer economy.

Maybe I'm a little cynical because of my career. The interesting problems never got funding, and the ones that pushed the status quo in a more dangerous direction did.
 
Landon Sunrich
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So I have noticed on several occasions (too many to be a coincidence as far as I'm concerned) Whenever I burn slash (I hear you judging) the shaggy manes go nuts. Most dense around the burn pile and spreading much farther on the downward slope. I eat a lot of shaggies. I've tried moving my burn this year. I think they're going to follow me. Taking bets.

I'm thinking of planting a fruit tree in the clearing the burn pile made, maybe trying to throw some morels into the mix.

Also


John Elliott wrote:

This is getting off track, but I wonder why there aren't more ecologists, botanists, environmentalists, etc. that are heavily practicing permaculture. I mean, I would have thought that people who focus their careers around plants and ecosystems would be leading the charge when it came to organics, permaculture, natural farming etc.

Maybe I'm a little cynical because of my career. The interesting problems never got funding, and the ones that pushed the status quo in a more dangerous direction did.



Dudes - so I was about as cynical as they come for a long time. The hope is in getting young people to FORGET about things like going to big universities. Ecology and Biology require direct observation and participation. Its an applied science. The university system is bought out and corrupt to the core. no debate.

Motivated folks always find a way.
 
Uwe Wiedemann
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John Elliott wrote:
Maybe I'm a little cynical because of my career. The interesting problems never got funding, and the ones that pushed the status quo in a more dangerous direction did.


May I ask, what you are researching? I'm a biologist, too...

@C Sanct: Unfortunately I think, permaculture cannot exist inside a university. What happens there is too specialized and too academic. They would probably get rid of the systemic thinking and rip permaculture into several topics. Besides, the applied part can never be realized in a purely academic setting. Bill Mollison talked about that in the Melbourne PDC, that is available on DVD. This is one reason, why the name is protected by copyright.
 
John Elliott
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May I ask, what you are researching? I'm a biologist, too...


I was a research chemist and worked at several DOD and DOE facilities. I took mycology as a fun elective in graduate school, and never did anything with it. Now I am interested in the applications of it to bioremediation.
 
Uwe Wiedemann
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Great, yeah, difficult road in terms of funding. Nature doesn't pay money and the money system doesn't regard nature... serious gap here.

At the universities in Germany, only exceptionally versatile researchers get a chair for ecological and classical biology topics. Most money goes into molecular biology, health care research and so on. I think this is the same in the US. Biology in universities became more and more synonymous with molecular biology / biochemistry over the last decades.
 
allen lumley
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Landon Sunrich : Please keep us informed one way or another ! If you find any link between recently burned areas and Shaggys I for one will be very interested !

This could potentially open a whole new understanding of this Fungi, and I for one am excited about the possibilities Big AL !
 
Landon Sunrich
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Allen - I certainly will. Of course its only one of several possibilities of why they are thriving there. There is also a very large Laural providing good drip irrigation and shade. But I often spot Shaggy Manes along the roadside in unshaded grass. There is also a large decomposing pile of Golden Chain 'The soil is somewhat compacted and most shaggy mane patches I can think of off the top of my head are in compacted soils - but that doesn't prove anything.

Basically I just made my burn pile (for conifer slash primarily - and things with persistent thorns) fifty or sixty feet from the edge of where I was already seeing mushrooms in space I know I track inky goupy spores through. We'll see if they 'wander' that way or not. There is a golden chain stump near by. I am thinking late this summer of doing another small burn near another laurel to see if those conditions are more favorable. I had so many mushrooms last year I have a hard time imagining not getting any this year - and I'm definitely going to compare and contrast. Might as well do it 'out loud' on this board.

Also getting way off topic - but addressing Uwe's point about valuing nature in a monetary system - Is there an appropriate place to talk about PERHAPS THINKING about revaluing our currency which is currently linked - in my very limited understanding - to nothing and linking it to something relevant in the 21st century - Say Carbon and other 'greenhouse' gases with an emphasis on the value of keeping them in the ground as well as value in long term natural sequestration of the 'overages' we are experiencing in ppm in our atmosphere.

No? alright... I don't know exactly how that would work either.

There will be a shaggy mane thread this fall!
 
Logan Simmering
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The idea of a carbon backed currency is kinda interesting. assuming you had good accounting of the carbon cycle you could treat it somewhat like a central banks currency reserves, with sunk carbon being a positive to the balance and atmospheric carbon a negative.consequntly a high level of sequstration would act to loosen monetry policy, encouraging economic growth and assuming a tech base like the real world, increasing carbon emmisions, as atmospheric carbon rises, the money supply would tighten and slow down growth until emisions were back under control. such a regime seems impractical and ill advised for a number od reasons, but interesting none the less
 
Landon Sunrich
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Can you elaborate on impractical and ill advised? I have my own thoughts on that but I'm curious as to yours.

I will admit one of the most attractive things to me about a carbon based currency is that it would pretty much instantly up end and overturn the power structure associated with all major resource extraction companies and big industry who I feel have an undue influence on national and global political systems.

All of a sudden the resources we have already out of the ground (we have more resources to work with than at any time in history) take on a whole new value and we have to learn to live within our means. I bet google searches of "Zebbaleen" would triple!

 
Uwe Wiedemann
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This would be an interesting forum topic! We could ask Paul to start it...
I have no idea yet, how the money system could be linked to the ecological basics, but I'm getting more and more convinced that it is a necessary thing to do. Otherwise, extractive activities get always more funding (by selling stuff) than replenishing ones.

About the shaggy manes: Can it be, that there is soil compaction due to the burning? The upper soil layer could be hardened by losing water. When I think back, where I've seen these mushrooms (quite a lot, they are delicious ) most of the places were compacted, too. Also, they like to grow on landfill sites and something was burning there from time to time. But my guess is on the compaction. Nothing in the book here about that, btw, although they write two pages about the mushroom...


 
Jeffrey Hodgins
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I saw an other negetive test result using biochar. They used a more than %5 charcole to soil ratio. There attitude sugested that biochar is a hoax but I took it as an indicator as to how much charcoal is healthy in soil. I use charcoal but never more than %5 of the soil volume. Charcoal is also great weed control you can spread a thin layer and it will suppress weeds for years to come
 
Dale Hodgins
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Hi Jeff. Mom tells me that you've got food popping out all over the farm. She still refers to permaculture as a cult but is enjoying the food. I'll call tomorrow.

Did you powder the biochar and cover the surface for weed control ? I found that slugs won't cross a line of it. A handy trick in my area.
 
Logan Simmering
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Landon Sunrich wrote:Can you elaborate on impractical and ill advised? I have my own thoughts on that but I'm curious as to yours.

I will admit one of the most attractive things to me about a carbon based currency is that it would pretty much instantly up end and overturn the power structure associated with all major resource extraction companies and big industry who I feel have an undue influence on national and global political systems.

All of a sudden the resources we have already out of the ground (we have more resources to work with than at any time in history) take on a whole new value and we have to learn to live within our means. I bet google searches of "Zebbaleen" would triple!



As for impractically, simply getting an accurate enough count of the amount of carbon in the system would be extraordinarily difficult, especially differentiating between natural and anthropogenic sources of both atmospheric and soil (and ocean) carbon. it's easier with the stuff in the atmosphere because you can more or less say the level from x year is the base line, but for soil we're getting studies saying there might be 5 times as much carbon in some soils as previously thought, which implies a lot of uncertainty. There are also issues of how the newly created money would be distributed, in the current system the Fed (or other central bank) generally funnels new money in by tweaking the interest rates banks borrow at, in the new system would they just cut a check to Joe Soil-builder, and tax Joe Smokestack to keep the reserve balance? And how many dollars is a ton of carbon worth anyway?

For ill advised, for starters, I'm skeptical of monetary systems that don't allow for active intervention (like metallic standards), they tend to be volatile, leading to bouts of inflation and (especially) deflation. The carbon standard, avoids this somewhat by being naturally counter-cyclical, which is the part if find intriguing, but only so long as the economy stays structured more or less like it is now (if the economy becomes signifigantly based on carbon sequestration, the system becomes inflationary, with out any brakes), which is contrary to it's goals, and likely to involve lots of painful realignment, if implemented today, you'd have huge amounts of deflation strangling the economy until it with a positive carbon reserve is established.
 
Margie Nieuwkerk
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ok, I have a question for you who are knowledgeable on biochar mychorrizzea.

I'm planting about 100 shrubs and trees in my backfield this spring, and I'm also beginning to wintersow lots and lots of seeds in the coming weeks. I really want to establish the mycorrhizal network in my field and saw the following 2 products on Ebay UK, (I'd have to have them sent to me in Bulgaria.)

very basic mycorrizal fungi inoculant
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261128888854?var=560170366320

and a product with trichoderma and bacteria)
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251185045350?var=550197140517

for me, the amounts I would need would be probably above my budget, but I thought if I could make biochar in the next weeks, and then make a bucket similar to how John Elliott did with his chicken stuff, and made it into a drench, do you think I would get more out of the product? I wrote to the supplier and they said for a bare root tree would use a tablespoon full, and 200 grams is about 13 tablespoons full. So 13 trees.

Also I thought could maybe order a smaller amount of the stuff with the trichoderma, just for my peaches, because we do get peach leaf curl here a lot, and I thought it might help?

Also, I wondered if I could "Breed" these various fungi, by taking living root tissue, coating it, letting it do its thing, and then cutting the roots and putting those on top of/touching other roots? And just keep trying to breed more? Or could I just use the soil around areas which I've inoculated and make it into a "John Elliot Drench"?

I'm not science trained or educated, so I'm hoping I don't sound too off the wall.

I really like that this product seems to have a whole assortment of the beneficial fungi and bacteria. And I'm wanting to protect my shrubs in the backfield. From middle of July to Middle of August can get very hot and dry here.
 
John Elliott
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Margie Nieuwkerk wrote:

Also, I wondered if I could "Breed" these various fungi, by taking living root tissue, coating it, letting it do its thing, and then cutting the roots and putting those on top of/touching other roots? And just keep trying to breed more? Or could I just use the soil around areas which I've inoculated and make it into a "John Elliot Drench"?

I'm not science trained or educated, so I'm hoping I don't sound too off the wall.


You don't sound off the wall. The only thing I cringe at is actually paying someone money to send you mycorrhizae. Air is free to breathe; water is free, it drops from the sky all the time; mycorrhizae is free, all you have to do is dig it up. I drove through Bulgaria once, and what impressed me were all the scenic tree covered hills. They looked untouched by the backhoes and road-graders of modern civilization. If you want mycorrhizae, don't send for it mail order, go out walking in these untrampled woods and bring back soils under the biggest and healthiest trees. Brush away this years leaf fall and dig into the well composted organic material. That's got all the mycorrhizal spores you need to inoculate your shrubs and trees. Oak trees are particularly good ones to dig under, because oak trees are heavily dependent on mycorrhizal activity.
 
Margie Nieuwkerk
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Really? It's that simple?? That's such a relief and great news!

So I can just stick like a handful of that soil right by the roots as I plant them?

I'm really really happy about this, thank you!
 
S Bengi
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For the bacteria all you need to do to bread them is get some rain/spring/well water and aerate it (maybe with an air stone). Add some molasses (sugar+multi-vitamin), then add the bacteria and let it run for 36 hours.

For the fungi, that would not work. but you can get some coffee grind/sawdust/straw/etc and innoculate it, and let them multiply over a few weeks/month.
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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Landon Sunrich wrote:So I have noticed on several occasions (too many to be a coincidence as far as I'm concerned) Whenever I burn slash (I hear you judging) the shaggy manes go nuts. Most dense around the burn pile and spreading much farther on the downward slope. I eat a lot of shaggies. I've tried moving my burn this year. I think they're going to follow me. Taking bets.

I'm thinking of planting a fruit tree in the clearing the burn pile made, maybe trying to throw some morels into the mix.

Also


John Elliott wrote:

This is getting off track, but I wonder why there aren't more ecologists, botanists, environmentalists, etc. that are heavily practicing permaculture. I mean, I would have thought that people who focus their careers around plants and ecosystems would be leading the charge when it came to organics, permaculture, natural farming etc.

Maybe I'm a little cynical because of my career. The interesting problems never got funding, and the ones that pushed the status quo in a more dangerous direction did.



Dudes - so I was about as cynical as they come for a long time. The hope is in getting young people to FORGET about things like going to big universities. Ecology and Biology require direct observation and participation. Its an applied science. The university system is bought out and corrupt to the core. no debate.

Motivated folks always find a way.


morel. ive never gotten fresh morels before but id love to rase some

http://www.thefarm.org/mushroom/morel.html
is one of the few places that seem to explain it pretty plane.. i think using apple wood, and some rice hullchar would work really well (mix with other stuff) i wish i was still at uni.. or id try it out
 
Landon Sunrich
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Landon Sunrich wrote: So I have noticed on several occasions (too many to be a coincidence as far as I'm concerned) Whenever I burn slash (I hear you judging) the shaggy manes go nuts. Most dense around the burn pile and spreading much farther on the downward slope. I eat a lot of shaggies. I've tried moving my burn this year. I think they're going to follow me. Taking bets.

I'm thinking of planting a fruit tree in the clearing the burn pile made, maybe trying to throw some morels into the mix.

Also


John Elliott wrote:

Maybe I'm a little cynical because of my career. The interesting problems never got funding, and the ones that pushed the status quo in a more dangerous direction did.



Dudes - so I was about as cynical as they come for a long time. The hope is in getting young people to FORGET about things like going to big universities. Ecology and Biology require direct observation and participation. Its an applied science. The university system is bought out and corrupt to the core. no debate.

Motivated folks always find a way.



? wrote:

morel. ive never gotten fresh morels before but id love to rase some

http://www.thefarm.org/mushroom/morel.html
is one of the few places that seem to explain it pretty plane.. i think using apple wood, and some rice hullchar would work really well (mix with other stuff) i wish i was still at uni.. or id try it out


Tukunbo,

Where you contributing this or asking me something? the quote system may have snagged your comment

Edited a bunch of times to try and get the quotes right
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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yeah i got snagged.. i was explaining-- this guy setup a guide for it

morel. ive never gotten fresh morels before but id love to raise some

http://www.thefarm.org/mushroom/morel.html
is one of the few places that seem to explain it pretty plane.. i think using apple wood, and some rice hullchar would work really well (mix with other stuff) i wish i was still at uni.. or id try it out
 
Dan Tutor
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Margie Nieuwkerk wrote:ok, I have a question for you who are knowledgeable on biochar mychorrizzea.

I'm planting about 100 shrubs and trees in my backfield this spring, and I'm also beginning to wintersow lots and lots of seeds in the coming weeks. I really want to establish the mycorrhizal network in my field and saw the following 2 products on Ebay UK, (I'd have to have them sent to me in Bulgaria.)

very basic mycorrizal fungi inoculant
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261128888854?var=560170366320

and a product with trichoderma and bacteria)
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251185045350?var=550197140517

for me, the amounts I would need would be probably above my budget, but I thought if I could make biochar in the next weeks, and then make a bucket similar to how John Elliott did with his chicken stuff, and made it into a drench, do you think I would get more out of the product? I wrote to the supplier and they said for a bare root tree would use a tablespoon full, and 200 grams is about 13 tablespoons full. So 13 trees.

Also I thought could maybe order a smaller amount of the stuff with the trichoderma, just for my peaches, because we do get peach leaf curl here a lot, and I thought it might help?

Also, I wondered if I could "Breed" these various fungi, by taking living root tissue, coating it, letting it do its thing, and then cutting the roots and putting those on top of/touching other roots? And just keep trying to breed more? Or could I just use the soil around areas which I've inoculated and make it into a "John Elliot Drench"?

I'm not science trained or educated, so I'm hoping I don't sound too off the wall.

I really like that this product seems to have a whole assortment of the beneficial fungi and bacteria. And I'm wanting to protect my shrubs in the backfield. From middle of July to Middle of August can get very hot and dry here.


This might be better off in another thread, or maybe it already exists, but this is a great technique for harvesting local micro bennies for your soil.

Beneficial Indigenous Microorganisms(BIM) is a fermented microbial solution that can be used for many applications around the farm. It is loaded with microbes, and is a cornerstone of Gil’s Natural Farming method. It’s an incredible tool with a myriad of applications, some of which are discussed below.

How to Make:

The idea here is to collect microbes from natural healthy ecosystems. Different areas have different types of microbes in the soil – for example an old growth forest will have microbes that grasslands don’t and vice versa. To get the greatest diversity of microbes, you want to collect them from as many different habitats as you can. For starters, at least get from forest, grassland, and the boundary area between them.
TIP: Plant-specific microbes! If you are growing vegetables, find areas where natural veggies are thriving. If planting ornamentals, look for areas where wild ornamental type plants are. Also, target nitrogen-fixer plants since they have rhizobium bacterial strains present – legumes, as well as some other plant genuses such as Alder or Bayberry fall into this category.
Here’s how to collect microbes and make BIM:

Cook a carbohydrate source to use as the attractant. Rice, barley, wheat, oats, etc should work no problem, most often rice is used here in Asia.
Get a wooden box or perforated plastic box and fill bottom with rice. The rice should not be too deep, around 1 inch usually, otherwise it will take too long for all the rice to become infected. Don’t pack the rice, leave it loose to allow airflow. The whole idea is to create more space for the microbes to infect – the surface area of the rice.
Mark side of box with date and intended location.
Cover box with something that’s breathable – nylons stretched over, or newspaper, just something to keep big critters out – secure with string around top of box.
Dig a little depression in the desired location, a place with undisturbed soil where a healthy population of native microbes is likely to flourish.
TIP: In forest, look for areas where leaves build up and mold. In grassland, look for areas where grass is most thriving.

Place the box in the depression and loosely cover with the dirt and leaves around it.
After 5-10 days (depending on temperature), the first colony of microbes you will notice are white molds. Then different colors like yellow, green, black, etc if you leave it much longer. Generally we harvest when it is in the white mold stage. Disregard rice if black molds have formed on it, this is generally a sign of non-beneficial microbes. In nature when there is plenty of food the beneficial microbes dominate. When there is less food, the opportunistic, non-beneficial microbes tend to dominate.
At this time, remove container from habitat and transfer rice to a plastic container/jar, and mix with sugar
Mix 1:1 with sugar. E.g. 1kg cooked rice with 1kg sugar/molasses(molasses is great and cheap)
Mash up the mixture with gloved fingers until it’s mashed but don’t overmix or you’ll destroy all the mycelia
Cover this mixture for 3-7 days.
When it is quite liquid, add 3 parts water.
TIP: 1kg=1L, so if you start with 1kg cooked rice, you’ll add 1kg sugar and then 6L water to that

Leave this diluted mixture for 7 days. Cover the top with something air permeable just so animals don’t get to it – cheese cloth, nylons, newspaper, etc
You should end up with a mud-like juice. Strain the liquid out of the mixture into a glass jar but don’t seal the top – let it breathe until bubbles in the bottom stop forming.
After you stop seeing bubbles forming in the jar, seal it up
Now you have your microbial inoculant for that ecosystem
Repeat the above steps for each area you are collecting microbes from. The more ecosystems you collect from, the better!
To make the final BIM product, combine all your microbial extracts. To increase efficacy, combine this concoction 1:1 with lacto serum. Lacto is the workhorse and is good to have in combination with other microbes. Now you have created your BIM inoculant!

How to Use:
This is a powerful tool in the natural farming arsenal, with a myriad of applications! It’s a microbial inoculant, so it can be used wherever you are trying to increase/establish populations of microbes – the most basic level of a healthy ecosystem!

Add 1-2tsp per gallon of water.

Plants

Apply as a foliar spray or soil drench. Greatly enhances growth and health of plants by establishing a healthy population of microbes in the soil and on leaf surfaces. Check out the benefits:

Transports food to roots
Builds a healthy ecosystem from the ground up. This is an invaluable job and the greatest benefit of this serum.
Aids disease resistance – fights pathogens, occupies spaces that could otherwise go to harmful bacteria/molds.
Aid composting – massively enhances compost – there will be a whole separate post on this concept
Aid organic fertilizer. Add to your nutrient solution, microbes break down organic nutrients into bio-available forms that plants can utilize directly. Another key feature
Animals

This can be used the same way as lacto, but it is a more diversified solution.

Boost growth by enhancing digestion
Inoculate farmyard (spray ground) where animals occupy to maintain healthy microbial system.
Aids disease resistance. Fight the bad bacteria!
In aquaculture

Add 1L BIM per 700m3 of water containing fish(pond, lake, aquaculture tank, etc). Lacto works in this application also, though not quite as well as BIM(less diversity).
Example: You have a pond that averages 20m wide by 30m long by 2m deep. So, 20 x 30 x 2 = 1200m3. In this case you would add roughly 2L of BIM or Lacto (you can dilute the 2L in a larger amount of non-chlorine water if you want more even application). No need for exact measurements, more or less won’t affect it (to a point obv)
Benefits are built by the microbes:

Microbes digest fish wastes, cleaning up water and improving water quality.
Allows fish to grow larger due to digestive efficiency
Allows higher population of fish in the same amount of water! Literally, increases the carrying capacity of your body of water! This is awesome for aquaculture setups
 
John Saltveit
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Thanks Dan and John,
That's great how to info. I wanna go out and do it soon.
John S
PDX OR
 
Dan Tutor
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John Saltveit wrote:Thanks Dan and John,
That's great how to info. I wanna go out and do it soon.
John S
PDX OR


I'm glad you inadvertently reminded me of Gils methods! It's been a few years since I made a collection of native microbiota.
In the past, I've tried to find forest areas with deep loam, preferably under or around a big old growth tree. Another good spot is around the roots of bamboo, it has a unique host of micro bennies. Gil also has an easy method for brewing lacto bacteria, which could be of interest.
How to Make:

Get container, fill halfway with rice-wash. Rice wash is the water leftover when you rinse fresh rice. For example, go buy rice, whatever kind, bring it home, put it in a pot with warm water, swirl it a bit and then drain the [now milky colored] water. The water is now a rich source of carbohydrates. In this step, you can substitute rice with another carbohydrate source if you don’t have rice, as long as it is complex (don’t use simple carbohydrates like sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, etc). You can use wheat, barley, kinoa, other carbohydrates as the base to make your carbohydrate wash. This wash will attract microbes from the air, among them lacto bacilli.
Cover loosely and let stand for a couple days to a week
When is it done? When you see a light film on top (molds) and it smells a little sour and forms 3 layers. This is indicating the rice wash is infected with various microbes. This happens more quickly in warm temperatures because microbes are more active. Thus it is all relative since we don’t do this in controlled laboratory conditions.
The layers are distinct
Top layer: floating carbohydrates leftover from fermentation and possibly molds
Middle layer: Lactic Acid and other bacteria (cheese buffs will recognize this as a makeshift “rennet”). We will use this layer.
Bottom layer: Starch, byproduct of fermentation
Extract the middle layer using a siphon. This layer contains the highest concentration of lactic acid bacteria and lowest concentration of the unneeded byproducts
Get a new container, larger than the first. Take the extracted serum from the last step and mix it with 10 parts milk. By saturating with milk (lactose), we dissuade other microbes from proliferating, leaving L. bacilli. E.G. if you have 1cup of the serum, mix it with 10cups milk.
TIP: The best milk to use in unpasteurized natural milk. However, any milk will do, even powdered milk. In our experience, the best is unpasteurized natural but just use what is available. We just want to saturate with lactose to promote L. bacilli bacteria.

You want to keep this stage anaerobic as much as possible. You can use something like rice bran, barley bran, wheat bran, etc sprinkled on top of the milk. I use a sealed container with a one-way valve.
After about 1 week (temp dependent), you’ll see curds (made of carbohydrate, protein, and fat) on top of the milk. The water below will be yellow colored – this is whey, enriched with lactic acid bacteria from the fermentation of the milk.
NOTE: Microbes like L. bacilli are more active in warmer temperatures. The curds you see are a byproduct of the fermentation process. Fermentation is generally associated with microbial processes under anaerobic(no oxygen) conditions. Now, L. bacilli is a facultative anaerobe, that is it can live and work with or without oxygen, but less competition in anaerobic conditions.

The water below(whey+lacto) is the good stuff. You want to extract this. You can either skim the curds off the top, pour through a strainer, or whatever other methods to accomplish that
NOTE: Remember the curds, or byproduct of milk fermentation by L. bacilli, are great food. They are full of beneficial microbes like L. bacilli. Feed the curds to the soil, compost pile, plants, animals, humans – whoever wants them! They are full of good nutrients/microbes. No waste in natural farming.

To preserve at room temperature, add an equal part sugar/molasses to the serum. So, if you have 1L of serum, add 1kilo sugar or 1L molasses. Otherwise store in fridge to keep.
Example Recipe:

1 L rice wash
10L Milk
10kg sugar
After rice wash and milk remove curds – around 1L
= 20 L lactic acid bacteria serum


 
John Elliott
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Dan, I'm glad you have re-animated this thread. Now I can post yet another way of getting beneficial microorganisms into your soil: by weed yanking.

Does everyone here know what prickly lettuce is? Latuca serriola? It's that big ugly weed on the ditchbank that you are glad isn't growing in your yard, because then you would have to pull it:



You may not want it growing in your garden, but you do want the mycorrhizal fungi that are found on the roots. This paper talks about mycorrhiza that can be found on wild lettuce.

The nice thing is, the wild lettuces that are the biggest and healthiest are probably also the ones that have the most mycorrhizal colonization of the roots. As I drive into town, I can see ones that are 4 and 5 feet tall, going gangbusters. To get all that mycorrhiza into my soil, all I have to do is pull or dig the plant out (right after a heavy rain helps a lot), put the roots through the blender, and then use that as a root drench in my garden.

I hope this will inspire Permies to put away the checkbook and forget about getting mycorrhizae by mail order. Save your money and go out and do a little civic beautification with an ulterior motive in mind.

 
Elliot Fraval
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Alder Burns wrote:I think the key is right there in the abstract "during the 4 week timescale of our experiments" They didn't let the char and the nitrogen mellow long enough in the soil.


I totally agree. It is very easy to do a study which shows no or negative benefits. Negative is easy by adding raw / underprepared char over short timescales since the biology in the char is charging itself up, and hence not sharing with plants at the rate it otherwise would. When dealing with a very simple demonstrable 1000 year timescale fertility booster (in some soils) it is dishonest to look at it for 4 weeks and conclude. There are very few academic papers that have a robust study method and appropriate time length. I think this is exacerbated by funding cycles, which are far too short to set up a decade long trial, over multiple climates, soil and crop types, which is what is required to actually evaluate biochar rigorously.

Very promising local regenerative approach. Hard to monetize for big agra given the very low costs of biomass, and risks of shipping char unless it is in a slurry and therefore much heavier than required.

For peeps in Oz, these guys have some pretty nice claims re their VAM microrizae

http://biocoat.com.au/vam-in-action/commercial-agriculture/
 
John Saltveit
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Hi John,
I think you make a good point, that some mycorrhizae can be found locally by digging under healthy similar plants for free. However, the packet I got from fungi perfecti cost $5, and I've already seen two different above ground mycorrhizal fungi from that packet that never were in my yard, and they were part of the mix. That doesn't even begin to count all of the truffle like below ground fungi that are probably growing there. For $5, I can inoculate many plants and areas of my yard. I probably wouldn't buy it every year, because I think they can grow on their own once their inoculated. I don't think it's a question of either/or, but rather not only/but also. My yard is pretty new, and previous owners doused it with toxins, so I am creating a diversity of mycorrhizae: from the packet and from nearby nature.
John S
PDX OR
 
John Elliott
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John, since you are in Portland, there is probably a lot of overlap between what Fungi Perfecti offers and what you can dig up from nature. And what they have to offer is already adapted to your very similar climate, so you see results right away.

I'm in a much different situation. Many of the mushrooms that are standbys for Stamets are rare to see around here. And conversely, there are ones that are very common here that wouldn't grow in the cold of the Pacific Northwest. Ideally, I would like to see Stamets franchise his business model and branch out into desert, tropical, and other ecozones. There are not enough mycologists developing local remedies with local fungi, hence why I felt the need to point out how to get started doing it. But it's a long way from yanking a few local weeds and putting them through the blender to making a nice packet of inoculate to sell. Considering all the work they put in, $5 is a pretty good deal.
 
Beware the other head of science - it bites! Nibble on this message:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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