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A story of microbes, how they can accomplish seeming miracles and how to culture or buy them  RSS feed

 
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ray south, i always put in the plants and/or seeds before i innoculate. fungi perfecti says it is best to innoculate seeds with mycorhizzae. i do not do that (or rather i do it with legumes but not the other seeds) but rather plant the seeds and then put on the microbes. as i said it is not just that the plants do a little better by innoculating with the microbes. you can plant in horrific soil, pure sand subsoil, clay, etc, etc, in places like new orleans where all the microbes have been flooded out) and get a good crop the first season and in one case i got a great crop almost without water. this was in india with a failed monsoon (only 1 inch of water during the entire growing season)

i sense that this is mind blowing and it is easier for people to digest something slightly out of what our belief system allows, and not this far out of what we believe.

according to me our belief systems are way wrong and it is best to just throw out the old beliefs. seeing the 10,000 year old systems working in india opened my mind.

science as practiced in this country at this time is not our frend. scientific investigation is very costly and it needs funding. most of the funding is done by people with an agenda, i.e. their chemicals getting sold. our universities need funding and the big ag folks are doing the funding. if our methods mean less chemical sales, then monies will not come our way. it is amazing given this situation that there are soil science folks like elaine ingham who are finding ways to do the research on the ground so necessary for this revolution in thinking (paradigm shift) and acting that will allow us to reverse desertification, stop drought, mitigate climate change, allow farmers the money they need to survive, and end starvation. I feel like a rhetoric machine here, and the rewards are so worth it someone has to toll the bell.

one of the posts in millions of permaculture millionaires was talking of how most of our practices in construction served a purpose at one time and then all of our institutions get built around that and it is very hard for a new option to come forth. I said that permaculture is lock stepped in the same system. It is not that our elders have advocated these lock steps. it seems in the nature of humans to want to go down a well worn path and we keep creating them.

When i visited Narsanna Koppula's food forest outisde of Hyderabad, India, i was amazed that he had great yields with absolutely no water and no fertilizer of any kind, (other than mulch and rainwater.) his food forest is now 17 years old and fertility continues. Mr. Koppula did not use innoculants. he waited the traditional 3 years and applied huge amounts of mulch to get his results. fortunately he had a glyricidia forest right next door that he could use for mulch as well as growing a lot of glyricidia trees. there are fields in india growing annual crops which have grown the same 6 crops for hundreds of years adding no fertilizer of any kind, no mulch (although there are a lot of hedgerows) with fertility increasing every year and nothing but rainwater.

i was looking at material for my current project which is a 20 acre project in eastern oregon where there is 8-16 inches of rain a year. I found gabe brown in north dakota growing on 2000 acres in north dakota where there is only 15 inches of rain a year and getting great results with no fertilizer, no mulch. yes he has is growing grasses and legumes and yes he has cows (and mob grazing) and he is making good money. my project will show that we can increase our soil carbon quickly withi only microscopic fauna (and yes deer, rabbits, etc) the fact is that there is a balance for water, if you have too much or too little your crops will produce less. we can get the perfect balance of water or what they call whambasa in india (too much water leads to less oxygen in the soil) with high soil organic conent which we can achieve quickly with microbe applications. thank you all for opening your minds and hearts and starting to apply some of this.
 
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charlotte anthony wrote:When I was a body worker,( I was trained as a chiropractor), I found myself naturally looking for the place the human system with the smallest input from me would balance itself. We helped at least 100 people with end stage cancer, (only 2 people had cancer at the end of 3 months) and many hundreds of others in fairly short time, with these methods.



Charlotte,
I'd really like to hear more about your experience in helping these cancer patients. I know you are extremely busy at this time but at some point, if you could, start a new thread telling of your work healing end stage cancer patients. This, unfortunately, is a topic that affects so many of our lives.
 
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This thread has piqued my curiosity and will no doubt be fodder for many ag and hort investigations down the road. One of the more intriguing ideas is the notion that microbes might be able to degrade rock. Two references suggest that *some* capability exists for this conversion, but it's unknown on what time scale and under which environments this can optimally occur. Still, interesting all the same especially as granite, indicated in the second reference below, is considered one of the harder rocks.

"One of the main causes of deterioration of archeological rocks, especially in museums and mosques, is the microbial action, or biodeterioration. Stones of art works can be colonized by different groups of microorganisms, i.e. bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae and fungi. Microbial populations present in a stone substratum are usually the result of successive colonization by different microorganisms that has taken place over several years (Macedo et al., 2009). Microorganisms damage stone in a variety of ways; some create surface deposits, others cause discoloration, pitting or accelerated weathering. Chang and Li [1998] tested the ability of ectomycorrhizal fungi and their associated microorganisms to weather lime stone, marble and calcium phosphate. Research on biological deterioration of marble was done on bacteria, algae, fungi and lichens. Mosses and liverworts have received comparatively less attention because their impact has been considered primarily esthetic. Inorganic materials have always been good substrates for a large number of different microorganisms. Generally, all types of microorganisms are able to attack and degrade marble materials. Biological deterioration could be due to the excretion of metabolic intermediates and/or end-products as well as exoenzymes" -- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0570178312000292

"This study focuses on weathering of granitic minerals by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, specially how the ubiquitous soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis weathers granitic minerals through image analysis of mineral surface, and which mineral in the granite is the most vulnerable to weathering in a bacterial circumstance through comparison of using rock and single minerals analysis. Laboratory experiments reveal three basic conclusions: (i) Bacteria enhance weathering of granite and its constituent minerals by making pits on the mineral surface; (ii) The plagioclase is the most vulnerable mineral in bacteria-bearing granite. In the mineral experiments, albite (plagioclase group) is the most vulnerable in bacterial experiment; (iii) The orders of normalised pit-area ratio and pit density in bacteria-bearing granite are in accorded with the traditional weathering-series; this accordance suggests that bacterial weathering may have a large effect as biochemical weathering process." -- https://geomorphologie.revues.org/8038?lang=en
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Good post, John.

I'm not sure that hardness is necessarily a good guide. You'd probably need to know about the chemical bonds (which, obviously, are known about) and whether individual microbial species can break those bonds in order to make the ions available from transfer across their cell walls and/or make them available to your plants. Calcium carbonate (chalk; limestone) will be dissolved by the simplest acids, but if your soil is not deficient in calcium this may not do them any good. Other minerals contain other elements essential to plant growth. This is probably why the use of rock dust works, but also why results have been mixed. Soil sampling, followed by the addition of the right rock dusts, along with suitable microbes would probably produce better results, but systematic experimentation is needed.

There is also the question about how perennial plants tend to form associations with fungi, while annuals tend for form associations with bacteria.

Just talking about "microbes" isn't particularly helpful.
 
John Weiland
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Was also thinking more about how a soil "spiked" with a bacterial concoction might interact with the plants to accelerate carbon delivery into the treated soil. The concepts in the abstract posted below may have already come up under the recent discussions on carbon fixation and the global carbon budget.
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Neil Layton
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John Weiland wrote:Was also thinking more about how a soil "spiked" with a bacterial concoction might interact with the plants to accelerate carbon delivery into the treated soil. The concepts in the abstract posted below may have already come up under the recent discussions on carbon fixation and the global carbon budget.



Not in any detail, yet, although it's something we need to cover. I've certainly mentioned the subject in a couple of posts, and mainly in the case of fungi, but more as a digression, mostly because I don't know enough about it. Plants, mycorrhizas and bacteria exist in a number of complicated symbiotic relationships (thinking of woody plants as glorified lichens is quite eye-opening, and you may wish to try it). I think there is a lot of scope for practical field agroecological studies to take place in this area. I think we can do better than drenching the place in "microbes".

It's that woolly thinking again.
 
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Charlotte,

I live in the Terlingua, TX area where you originally looked at settling before going to Oregon. You mentioned using plants that grow readily in the area and I was wondering what plants you would have used had you settled there. For instance I have very little "weed" growth that could be used. I do have cactus, white thorn acacia, plenty of greasewood and mesquite. Would these make a good enough base for the concoction? I have thought I might have to go to drainages to get "weeds".

I am willing to try things to see if they work even if I don't understand how they work.

Kevin
 
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My current garden is too haphazard to do any kind of meaningful study, so I'm going to set this idea aside and just observe what others are trying. Please let us know how the experiment works, Todd. It seems as though you should get results almost immediately.
 
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:My current garden is too haphazard to do any kind of meaningful study, so I'm going to set this idea aside and just observe what others are trying. Please let us know how the experiment works, Todd. It seems as though you should get results almost immediately.


Up to this point, I chopped up nettles and comfrey and put them in a bucket. My plan is to let them sit for a few weeks to liquefy somewhat, dilute with water, and water one row with it. If anyone wants me to try something else in addition to that, I can add another row to test, as long as I can do it with materials I have or that are readily available and cheap.
 
pollinator
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Todd Parr wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:My current garden is too haphazard to do any kind of meaningful study, so I'm going to set this idea aside and just observe what others are trying. Please let us know how the experiment works, Todd. It seems as though you should get results almost immediately.


Up to this point, I chopped up nettles and comfrey and put them in a bucket. My plan is to let them sit for a few weeks to liquefy somewhat, dilute with water, and water one row with it. If anyone wants me to try something else in addition to that, I can add another row to test, as long as I can do it with materials I have or that are readily available and cheap.



I use exactly that - nettle and comfrey teas, for a couple of years. They act as natural fertilizer. I do not observe any significant "soil creation" happening. I do observe that plants grow well when these teas are applied on regular basis. The same happens if I use them on plants planted in perlite/vermiculite. None of these turns into soil of course. A lack of organic matter is the main reason why.
 
John Weiland
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@Richard G: "I use exactly that - nettle and comfrey teas, for a couple of years. .....I do observe that plants grow well when these teas are applied on regular basis. The same happens if I use them on plants planted in perlite/vermiculite. None of these turns into soil of course. A lack of organic matter is the main reason why."

From Wiki: "Soil organic matter (SOM) is the organic matter component of soil, consisting of plant and animal residues at various stages of decomposition, cells and tissues of soil organisms, and substances synthesized by soil organisms. SOM exerts numerous positive effects on soil physical and chemical properties, as well as the soil’s capacity to provide regulatory ecosystem services.[1] Particularly, the presence of SOM is regarded as being critical for soil function and soil quality."

I think either a sand or perlite/vermiculite substrate may be a good starting point for these investigations. There may be ways to add the different plant-based or manure-based teas in such a design, and then be able to monitor the increase (or not, if none is truly occurring) of SOM. When done in pots, it can be somewhat controlled with successive planting of same or different species to see what the effects may be of doing so, but initially it seems prudent just to look at how fast SOM builds up under fairly simple input parameters.
 
Todd Parr
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I think I will try a row with EM1 also.
 
Richard Gorny
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John Weiland wrote:@Richard G: "I use exactly that - nettle and comfrey teas, for a couple of years. .....I do observe that plants grow well when these teas are applied on regular basis. The same happens if I use them on plants planted in perlite/vermiculite. None of these turns into soil of course. A lack of organic matter is the main reason why."

From Wiki: "Soil organic matter (SOM) is the organic matter component of soil, consisting of plant and animal residues at various stages of decomposition, cells and tissues of soil organisms, and substances synthesized by soil organisms. SOM exerts numerous positive effects on soil physical and chemical properties, as well as the soil’s capacity to provide regulatory ecosystem services.[1] Particularly, the presence of SOM is regarded as being critical for soil function and soil quality."

I think either a sand or perlite/vermiculite substrate may be a good starting point for these investigations. There may be ways to add the different plant-based or manure-based teas in such a design, and then be able to monitor the increase (or not, if none is truly occurring) of SOM. When done in pots, it can be somewhat controlled with successive planting of same or different species to see what the effects may be of doing so, but initially it seems prudent just to look at how fast SOM builds up under fairly simple input parameters.



Certainly, soil organic matter IS building up when such teas are used, but its buildup is very slow. But, soil fertility is significantly increased, no matter if the soil is sand, or perlite. When you add cover corps and other sources of organic matter, it all speeds up. But, the fastest method to build up SOM is to add compost and to mulch heavily. This is just based on my observations, on my pure sand.
 
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Charlotte, how much of your tea do you apply per acre? I'm assuming that since you are working on broad acres the application can't be that heavy.

On the humus/ carbon production discussion, I can't help but think that there may be some confusion simply because of different conditions producing different soils.

I admit wondering where the carbon comes from. The key aspect of true science (which is really only a method of observation and verification and is never complete) is the acceptance of what IS and rearranging my theories to fit the observed facts. If we reject the observed facts in preference to what the authorities say then we are reverting to medieval reliance on who could quote the most prestigious authority (I think quoting Aristotle and Plato were like a get of jail free card). If you, Charlotte claim to have had the amazing results you have had for years, I must either call you confused, a liar, or accept what you say as observed fact and adjust my thinking accordingly. I choose to accept your statement as truth.

Back in the late 18th century there was a debate between two renowned geologists who both had incomplete views of reality. The two men were Werner in Germany and Hutton in Scotland. Each man was limited by his geographical location. They were only able to see the rock layers in their area and developed their theories accordingly. Werner saw only sedimentary rocks in his area and developed a theory that all rocks were deposited in a vast, primoridial sea. Hutton saw evidence of vulcanism in his area and argued that volcanic action was in some places significant. The debate went on for months in paper form with papers being fired back and forth. Werner had a great reputation and was an excellent speaker and was slowly winning the contest for professional acceptance of his theory. At this point, one of Werner's students went to southern Italy and witnessed an actual volcanic eruption with a lava flow (I think it was Mt Etna acting up). The discussion ended pretty quickly after that, Werner couldn't argue with observed facts. I don't think he really tried, once he realized the facts showed he was wrong. (volcanic eruptions (like Pompey) had been described in ancient texts, but were so far removed from what people were seeing in England or Germany that they were dismissed apocryphal.)

Maybe if we don't reject a repeatedly observed effect out of hand, we may find out there was an error in our thinking. Eventually what is really happening will become evident and we will all probably kick ourselves and say "oh yeah, I should have thought of that"!

I've been reading a book lately "Dry-Farming : a System of Agriculture for Countries under a Low Rainfall" by John Widstoe, written around 1915. It's an interesting read. One of the points he emphasizes is that desert soils (at least in the western US) are fundamentally different than the soils in the well-watered east or europe where most of the soil research at that time was done. He points out that the western soils, although very poor in organic matter will produce abundantly with enough water. His discussion indicates to me that the lack the topsoil/subsoil demarc is because there hasn't been enough water moving through the soil often enough to wash the nutrients down (unless they are held in place by the organic matter), and that this is the reason that soils in well watered areas need lots of organic matter, to hold the nutrients. (In extremely wet areas, like Amazonia, we are now talking about the need for biochar to do the same thing. Maybe that's because ordinary organic matter breaks down so fast in that environment).


 
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Mick Fisch wrote:
Maybe if we don't reject a repeatedly observed effect out of hand, we may find out there was an error in our thinking. Eventually what is really happening will become evident and we will all probably kick ourselves and say "oh yeah, I should have thought of that"!



yes
 
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I think many people make the assumption that carbon in the soil mostly comes from decomposing plant material. Actually a significant amount of carbon is deposited into to the soil in the form of plant exudates. Depending on where in succession the plant resides (weeds to trees) they will deposit between 15% and 40% of their total energy as exudates (a very carbon rich source). The exudates are to feed the microbiology in the soil to foster nutrient cycling.

So take the scenario where you have very poor soils. Plant your seeds and apply your very diverse microbe solution (eg dusting of compost, compost teas, etc). As Charlotte points out, the microbes will do what they do (cycle nutrients). Once the seeds set roots and start photosynthesizing they start pumping exudates into the soil to get the microbiology fired up. Now we are off to the races. Because we added a diverse microbe solution the nutrient cycling is rich and allows the plant to grow at its full potential. This is an example of how we can quickly turn poor soils into productive soils.

In the scenario above, if we didn't add the microbes we could have built the biology by mulching and successional planting. It is doable but it does increase the turnaround time and labor effort.

Thanks Charlotte for starting such an interesting and thought provoking thread. Soils Science is so fundamental and often overlooked.
 
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Neil, in with you on being skeptical of some of the more extreme claims I'm reading here. But I don't totally discount what's being discussed. I attended Dr Cho's natural farming seminar in Hilo, Hawaii several years ago. The first couple hours were filled with enough unsubstantiated fringe claims that the audience numbers dropped from over 400 to under 100 by lunchtime ( I'm just guessing at these numbers. The tent was crowded to overfilling at 9 am. After lunch there were empty spaces everywhere.) So I wasn't the only one who found the presentation to be somewhat unbelievable, thus not applicable to serous agriculture.

Much of the information was valid up to some point or other. There was a major emphasis on IMOs. I came away from the five day presentation with lots and lots of excellent information and ideas that have actually worked out well on my farm. But I also held much of the other information in reserve because it was quite questionable without any sort of validation presented along with the claims. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give Dr Cho's Natural Farming, as presented in the seminar I attended, 7 stars of 10.

Experimenting back on my farm with Cho's information, I found good results but often for the wrong explanations. When I used the IMO collecting method outlined by Cho, I saw two things.....1- the rice buried in the special basket in the dirt in the specially selected IMO collection site grew the same bacterial cultures as those in a covered pot left on my kitchen counter, though there was more fungal material via the Cho method. 2 - my compost, aged manure, and garden soil all grew great colonies of microbes when inoculated with a shovel of moist soil taken from a lush, shady area in the neighborhood of my farm. No need for Dr Cho's rice. Thus I concluded that it was far easier to simply collect a bucket of soil and leaf mold from locations in my area where the plants looked to be growing robustly, and use that to inoculate my compost piles. Once initially inoculated, as long as I don't let the soil become dried out or solarized, I don't see the need to keep adding more microbes. I believe that may be because I keep my soil moist and covered with either mulches, compost, or aged manure. Thus the microbes flourish on their own in my gardens. But whenever I open up new areas for growing stuff, or if I neglected an area and allowed it to become dry or be uncovered, then I apply a generous amount of my compost before proceeding to plant. Observation has shown me that this method gives better results than just trying to start out growing in my leeched tropical soil. I don't bother making Cho's IMO additive nor make EM teas. But keep in mind that I have tropical soils. Other soils around the world may respond differently. But I think much of the information about the IMOs and nutrient solutions were valid up to some point or other, just not 100%.

As for Cho's claims that surface IMO inoculation loosens deep compacted soil in a couple of months, I find that there are other factors majorly contributing to those observations. His applications of water and surface mulches are most likely significant factors behind his results. His claims of being able to degrade Hawaiian lava into soil in one year via IMO applications have proven to be wrong. He most likely saw some sort of results on the farming soils in Korea, but his conclusions of why he was seeing what he did are a bit off.

I'm not really bashing Cho's natural farming ideas. His observations were excellent!!! Many of his methods, which focus heavily on IMOs, give great results especially with degraded or marginal land. He has developed good systems to solve problems he has seen. I give him a lot of credit for observation and working out nature's solutions to problems. It's a true permaculture-ish approach.

I am not well educated in soil science. But I do run a functioning homestead farm. I do observe, experiment, and determine what works well for my own situation. I have two farm locations and have discovered that farming techniques have to be different for each location even though they are only separated by five miles. For example, while I find no need to repeatedly apply IMOs to my homestead farm soils, the seed farm responds well to repeated applications because what I see as its extremely poor base soil, excessive rockiness and drainage, exposure to tradewinds, and lack of sufficient shade. I expect the seed farm to improve to the point that repeated IMO applications will no longer be warranted. My problem is that I don't have the needed time nor resources to improve the seed farm situation in one or two years. The mulches I have applied are far too thing for that location. Plus to date, I haven't had compost to spare for the seed farm. But eventually it will get there. Each growing session is getting better.

If the stories that Charlotte relates about her experience using microbes jumpstarts others into experimenting on improving their own soils, then that's a benefit. There are parts that I indeed question, but perhaps I'm not seeing the entire situation. Are there other factors that are missing? Plus her definitions might be different than mine. When she says "no fertilizer", perhaps she actually means "no purchased commercial fertilizer" because the very manure, urine, sugar, and flour, combined with microbes, is indeed fertilizer unto itself. My questions would be how much is being applied, is the soil moistened with the application, is mulch of some sort being used to shade the treated soil? Is it routine practice to leave crop residues in the field? Are the fields used for human toilets? All of this may have been overlooked.




 
John Weiland
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@Brian V. : "...I think many people make the assumption that carbon in the soil mostly comes from decomposing plant material. Actually a significant amount of carbon is deposited into to the soil in the form of plant exudates. "

That would have been me before this thread. And what's even more curious in the abstract I pasted above is the idea that carbon may translocate out of the plant...out of the carbon fixation stream...and into AM **upstream** of the exudate pool. So all in all, some interesting potential here....
 
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Am I missing something in the article.

RE: Microbes - Have not read anything about how to "make them or buy them".

Would be interested in finding out.
 
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John C. Carlson wrote:Am I missing something in the article.

RE: Microbes - Have not read anything about how to "make them or buy them".

Would be interested in finding out.


Actually most of this thread is about making them. If you take organic material and water and mix them and give them time organisms that are present will decompose it. The organisms multiply. Even if you buy a starter you have to put it with organic material and water and multiply them. If you did not watch the video do so because it is avery simple demonstration of the process. I will make observations afterward that apply to much of the discussion above.

First he purchased some microbes from the cows. These are very effective microbes because they can multiply anaerobically in the cows stomach then mixed with air when the cow chews its cud. This is duplicated by letting it sit for 1/4 of the day and then stirring air into it.

Second he purchased some organisms from under a tree. These organisms live mostly aerobically in association with many other life forms and the sugars that are released from the plant roots. They are helped to multiply by adding sugar to the mix and stirring in the air. There has been much debate about the sugar. Some recommend molasses because it has minerals in it which may be needed by some of the organisms. Unrefined sugar same but less concentrated. Refined sugar and rock dust might work. For example the bacteria that make vitamin B12 need cobalt. We used to add a trace amount of cobalt chloride to the molasses and water we gave our dairy goats and we had exceptionally healthy animals and garden. One could probably use high sugar content plant material like corn stocks or sorghum to get the same results.

Now you put the seeds in the soil and they have enough nutrients in them to make a root and leaves to start making sugar. It can not do that very long without obtaining more nutrients and it is willing to trade sugar that it can make for nutrients that other organisms are able to gather. You pour on the inoculated water and the association gets started. If you cut off the weeds the dying roots feed other organisms and the decomposing tops protect the soil from the sun and feed other organisms. If the soil is exposed to the sun and wind the organisms are killed and it returns to dirt.

Therefore both camps are correct. If one covers the soil with a heavy layer of organic material organisms will build soil underneath and some of the organisms will carry it deeper ut plant roots will supply sugar deeper allowing soil to be built even deeper. If seeds are densely planted on dirt with water, beneficial organisms and sun the combination will build soil and the soil can grow as deep as the roots feed it energy.

Conclusion: Permaculture uses what you have all around you in a planed way to benefit the whole. e.g. If wood chips are abundant The work of spreading them is most productive be cause it smothers the weeds saving labor on that end. If one has limited organic material to start with then using it to grow the soil organisms will allow the growth of the soil and additional organic material from dirt.
 
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John C. Carlson wrote:Am I missing something in the article.

RE: Microbes - Have not read anything about how to "make them or buy them".

Would be interested in finding out.



All the different ways to make and buy them are sort of mixed in throughout the thread, and not so easy to locate via skimming. I tried to pull out the useful quotes for you and everyone else looking for a summary:

Microbes can be made via Cow Manure Tea[/url] (Also called "Liquid Manure"): You can look up recipes online, or follow the one Ben Allan linked to.

Ben Allan wrote:
We wanted to share this video for those interested in the cow manure tea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QPYwxJ91A4
Also to share Jagannath's great selection of videos. He has a great system of gardening that more of us can adapt to reduce our footprint in the garden as far as inputs are concerned. We use very similar Natural Farming techniques, in how we use our weeds for teas and mulch, watering only when absolutely needed and have started to adapt his poly-culture style kitchen garden into our processes.



Microbes can be made via Compost Tea
: I couldn't find a recipe in this thread, but much discussion was made about making sure to use an airstone or stirring at least three times a day to keep it aerobic. Here's one website I found with various compost tea recipes: http://www.compostjunkie.com/compost-tea-recipe.html

Microbes can be made via various plant teas: The basic recipe is to pack a bucket full of chopped up plants (nettle and comfery being used the most, Ben Allen uses alfalfa for nitrogen), cover it with water and add an airstone (or stir a lot) for an aerobic ferment (should smell like saurcraut/sourdough) for 3 or more days, or just leave them in the bucket with water for a few weeks for an aerobic ferment (will STINK, and some people think aerobic ferments are bad, others have experienced them working great in their garden)

Microbes can be made by making jeevamrutham/givumreetum:

charlotte anthony wrote: In India i used givumreetum, a combination of cow dung, molasses, cow uripe and a legume powder.



Karen Layne wrote:Found this recipe for jeevamrutham.



Microbes can be made by harvesting and using Indigenous Micro Organisms:

Sher Miller Lehman wrote:TMaster Cho has turned lava rock in Kona into soil just by inoculating with Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO). (There is a little more to the technique than just adding microbes but the microbes are the active ingredient.) I gained 6 inches of topsoil in clay, hard, highly acid, devoid of available nutrients and any signs of life clay in less than 10 years. The 6 inches was not including the clay that turned to soil but an additional 6 inches of topsoil build-up. It was so high I had to dig out buried root flairs lol.

Using Indigenous Micro Organisms gives you a robust and balanced microbial community. Dr Ingham was amazed at the balance she saw when she visited us. If you purchase Bokashi or EM or other products you are only getting a small number of only a few species of microbes, hardly a community and not one that is in balance with the environment in which you live. Natural, balanced microbial ecosystems that will not fight (causing imbalances and opening the door for pathogens) your existing microbial community. It is easy and almost free to collect, grow, and store indefinitely, your own IMOs.

Making it involves dry cooked rice (1:1), a wood box with small gaps, or a woven box, with critically important 1/3 airspace, covered by a breathable top, then covered with litter from a close-by forest, (you can inoculate the rice in the forest or bring the leaf-litter-soil home). The leaf litter inoculates the rice and in a few days should like like cotton candy puff. Add and mix an equal amount of sugar to rice by weight. Here is a link to the instructional paper on the CTAHR website, University of Hawaii. How to make IMO You can also find more Natural Farming papers on the site that My group and I co-wrote.

IMO#4 is used to inoculate normal soil a week before planting. If soil is poor it is inoculated, wait a week inoculate a second time, wait a week then plant. IMO#4 includes starches and nutrients to get the microbial communities established in the soil. For best success biochar is added with the IMO#4. Biochar is broadcast on the soil surface once a year for three years and doesn't need to be added again. There is no need to mix in IMO or biochar, the microbes do the work. How permaculture is that?



Microbes can also be introduced by bringing or creating forest litter: (Either by using lots of mulch, or by harvesting forest litter and applying it thinly over your garden)

Marco Banks wrote:Every time it rains on my food forest, I am getting thousands of gallons of compost tea spread over the surface of my food forest. How? I've got 6 inches of wood chips, mulching and decomposing on every open surface, and thousands of plants pumping root exudates into the soil. That rain washes through the composting wood chips and pushes those microbes down into the root zone of those plants, where they feed on the sugars provided by the plants. I'm not brewing anything, but I don't have to. Further, because plants self-select and feed the microbes that they find most beneficial, I don't have to worry about brewing the "right" kinds of microbes: the plants are already doing this for themselves.

As permaculture is all about biomimicry, this is exactly what is taking place in a forest. The rain washes through the carbon layer on the forest floor, and the microbes there-in wash down into the soil profile. No one is brewing compost tea out in the forest, but the soil is getting everything it needs. Nowhere in nature will you find compost teas being sprayed onto the leaves of trees.




Microbes can be bought through Teraganix: (Ben Allan uses Effect Microorganisms [EM-1] from Teraganix)

Joe Bourguignon wrote:Here's the link to Terraganix, which is what I believe Charlotte was referencing:

http://www.teraganix.com/




Microbes can be bought through Fungi Perfecti:

charlotte anthony wrote:soluble mycorhizzals from fungi perfecti (Paul Stamets)


charlotte anthony wrote:i always put in the plants and/or seeds before i innoculate. fungi perfecti says it is best to innoculate seeds with mycorhizzae. i do not do that (or rather i do it with legumes but not the other seeds) but rather plant the seeds and then put on the microbes



I hope that helps!
 
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My own experiences...

2 years ago I moved into a brand new house. It had minimal landscaping and nothing in the backyard. Since we have a HOA I am limited in what I can do out front. But I can pretty much do what I want in my backyard. I noticed right away that we had clay soil deeper then I can dig, and it had 0 organic matter in it. The site of our subdivision was a farm, and not an organic farm. The soil was completely dead, I mean completely. You couldn't even find a grub or anything living in it but ants.

We have a great resource in the Austin area called the natural gardener: http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/. They gave me good advice and sold great products, but I still had the problem with nothing alive in my soil. I tried adding compost, compost tea, and other products but nothing would work and we were very limited in what we could grow. I watched videos of Elaine Ingram and read books and I even tried Archaea. Nothing worked. Still had hard clay soil that could only grow weeds at best. I had planted some fruit trees and they started dying. I took a sample of a branch to the natural Gardener and they said it looked like I had sprayed it with herbicide. Of course I did not do any such a thing, but determined that there must be something in the soil that was poison to the plants.

I was doing some research and found a video from a guy named Paul Gautschi. He stated he had very poor soil that was mostly rocks. He was taking a walk in the woods and decided to dig down to see why everything was growing so well there and he found sticks, wood, and leaves on top and organic matter decaying below. the rest of it was moist and was a very nice and loose soil. Paul decided to do the same thing. He put down a layer of newspaper (over the weeds) and then 2 inches of compost and 4-6 inches of wood chips, and sprinkled some chicken manure over the wood chips, basically a light dusting.

What Paul found a few months later was staggering. The soil had turned from rocks to a beautiful, loose, rich soil.

I thought hey if he can do it so can I!

So I did the same thing when I planted my backyard orchard and created planters. First I sprayed my compost tea on the bare ground, and then I put down cardboard in place of newspaper, put a 2 inch layer of compost down and 4-6 inches of wood chips I got for free from Davey tree service, I then sprinkled horse manure on the top of the wood chips and sprayed again with compost tea. In 3 months the change was extraordinary. The soil stayed moist and it was now dark and rich and all the plants were doing wonderfully. I then started to add Archaea to my tea in the last hour of brewing and then my 6 inches of wood chips turned into soil in 2 months time. The soil was even better then before and you could stick your arm into it about elbow length in 6 months time.

So in my experience the compost tea accelerated the process when the soil had a "covering" over it like the wood chips. Without the covering the ground never changed and it remained contaminated with whatever was used previously that was killing my plants and trees. So it seems the back to eden system developed by Paul Gautschi was a complete success. I accelerated the process using compost tea and I believe that the Archaea supercharged the entire process.

For those who are interested here is a link to the back to eden website: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/how-to-grow-an-organic-garden.html

Kevin
 
Mick Fisch
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Still puzzling about the creation of rich black topsoil with no addition of carbon.

An often overlooked source of carbon in the soil is methane, sulpher dioxide, natural gas or some mixture of these with other gases leaking up from underground. if it were happening 24/7 a fairly small trickle would provide quite a bit of carbon over a few months and be distributed over a large area. Such leaks often are not apparent from the surface, but can cover pretty large areas.

The assumption we usually work from is that if an environment supports a species, the species will be there, but sometimes something else is filling the niche and until a critical amount of the new species is introduced replacement is not likely. (If only a couple of rabbits were introduced to Australia and a snake or dingo ate the female within the first few days, no rabbits in Australia. If I introduce a thousand rabbits, chances of initial survival go way up. Random chance has a bigger effect with small populations)

I think gas as a carbon source is a reasonable possibility because gas leaking up through the ground is not a rare event. In the old days, people digging wells would lower a candle into the well to make sure there was oxygen down there before they climbed down to dig. Underground miners, particularly coal miners need to be constantly aware of and guard against the poisonous or at least oxygen excluding gases in closed spaces (hence the 'canary in the coal mine. Canaries feel the effects of low oxygen content faster than people, so when the bird fell over, the miners left the area). Nowadays, accepted safety practice is to use an electronic gas detector (or maybe it's an oxygen detector, it's been a long time since I had the class and my work site doesn't have manholes) to make sure a manhole is safe to enter prior to climbing down into a hole.

In some areas, the amount of leaking gas could provide a lot of carbon for microorganisms that could digest it. Sandy soil would allow relatively free movement of the gases, as well as a large, sometimes moist surface area for the microorganisms to grow on (a byproduct of breaking down the gas is probably water). Clay tends to block, or at least slow down gas movement, but because of it's microscopic structure clay tends to rip organic molecules like hydrocarbons apart and provides even more surface area than sand.
 
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Mick, I'm pretty sure the carbon is coming from the dense plants being grown in conjunction with the Microbes. Both as root exudates [which feeds reproduction of microbes who go through boom and bust cycles and become soil carbon themselves] and as root dieoff which is quickly assimilated by the vast microbe population.
 
Kevin Lessard
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It seems the 2 inch layer of compost and the 6 inch layer of wood chips would provide the carbon and fuel needed for conversion no?

Kevin
 
Mick Fisch
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Mick, I'm pretty sure the carbon is coming from the dense plants being grown in conjunction with the Microbes. Both as root exudates [which feeds reproduction of microbes who go through boom and bust cycles and become soil carbon themselves] and as root dieoff which is quickly assimilated by the vast microbe population.



I agree that these are the carbon sources we normally look at and they provide lots of carbon. Doesn't necessarily mean they are the only sources, or maybe even the dominant sources in some select, drier areas.

It seemed to me that Charlotte's story (which I'm not seeing now in the thread for some reason. Did I dream it was there?) about her experience producing 6 inches of topsoil in 3 months in Colorado might need an additional carbon source. Maybe that's simply my own lack of vision or understanding of the vast power of living things.

I think what I suggested is a valid consideration.

Given the constant diffused leakage of hydrocarbons out through the soil in large areas of the world, it would be strange if there weren't something designed to eat it.

I realize this may conflict with some peoples "all petroleum based products are poison to the environment" idea, but there it is. (Off course, there is a problem with quantity, an ecosystem that comfortably handles a few hundred barrels a year may not be able to handle a million barrels all at once, just like manure in reasonable quantities is enriching, but a huge million gallon lake of pig waste is a problem.) In normal systems, hydrocarbon leakage is diffuse and remains well within the systems ability to use it. The Exxon Valdez and Gulf oil spill are obviously another kettle of fish.

Several years ago I read an article where they were examining contaminated beaches in the Prince William Sound a few years after the Exxon oil spill and found lots of oil in the sand a foot or two down. As an experiment they applied a heavy dose of fertilizer to some areas and when they returned the next year, those areas had no oil down to 10 feet (as deep as they looked), even the stains had been erased. The unfertilized areas remained oil stained and still contained lots of oil a foot or two down. The conclusion they drew was that the microorganisms eating the oil were being handicapped by a lack of other nutrients and so couldn't digest the oil quickly (I love the chips, but I only like them with dip, maybe?). When they were able to access the needed nutrients they digested and converted the petroleum pretty quickly. At that time the folks publishing the article were calling for lots of fertilizer on the rest of the contaminated beaches. Don't remember any more about it.

I have to admit, the article didn't mention any deep rich topsoil observed in the beach sand, so maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree.
 
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