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Can you introduce mycorrhizal fungi via compost tea?  RSS feed

 
Joe Camarena
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I've seen a few companies offering mycorrhizal dominated compost claiming that you can introduce the mycorrhizal fungi via actively aerated compost tea. Basic compost tea recipe but with their compost.

Brew 24 hours, dilute 4-1 and apply to the soil. Thoughts? Will this work?

Joe
 
S Bengi
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If you have a huge chunk of fungi mycelium and you puree it in some water aka compost tea. Then yes you would be able to inoculate an area with it.

With that said, compost is normally dominated by bacteria due to the fact that the amount of fungi existing after a 24hr brew will not increase by alot.
Bacteria however on the other hand will increase exponentially, perhaps doubling every three hour.
 
John Saltveit
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There is definitely fungal based compost tea and bacterially based. SOme diseases are fungal in nature and need to be combatted by aerobically activated fungal compost tea. The rust on my quinces and serviceberries, for example. To make mycorrhizal fungal tea, you'd have to get mycorrhizae. Often it is specific to one species, so spraying it generally around the yard doesn't seem to make sense. I don't really understand what you would do with it. The idea of mycorrhizae is you need to connect the spores with the roots of the plants that specifically feed off of it. A better approach is the one that John Polk or the other John (there are many of us) talks about: take some of the dirt from under a successful and large plant of that species and mix it with the roots of the plant you want to help.
John S
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Mike Haych
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Joe Camarena wrote:I've seen a few companies offering mycorrhizal dominated compost claiming that you can introduce the mycorrhizal fungi via actively aerated compost tea. Basic compost tea recipe but with their compost.

Brew 24 hours, dilute 4-1 and apply to the soil. Thoughts? Will this work?

Joe



Seems a pretty complicated way to introduce mycorrhizal fungi. Far better to add directly to the soil.
 
R Scott
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Mike Haych wrote:
Joe Camarena wrote:I've seen a few companies offering mycorrhizal dominated compost claiming that you can introduce the mycorrhizal fungi via actively aerated compost tea. Basic compost tea recipe but with their compost.

Brew 24 hours, dilute 4-1 and apply to the soil. Thoughts? Will this work?

Joe



Seems a pretty complicated way to introduce mycorrhizal fungi. Far better to add directly to the soil.


That's MARKETING!

It does work, sort of, and is the most efficient way for a big monocrop or pasture (large area consistent polyculture) but not the right answer for a backyard.
 
Mike Haych
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R Scott wrote:It does work, sort of, and is the most efficient way for a big monocrop or pasture (large area consistent polyculture) but not the right answer for a backyard.


If it's a big monocrop, it's likely to be tilled. Tilling will destroy the mycorrhizal fungi.
 
Joe Camarena
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Gleaning from the various responses I am thinking that simply side dressing with the fungal based compost would be the best way to get the mycorrhizal fungi into the soil.

Just to clarify, this is a compost created from a cold process. Wood chips are piled 6"+, inoculated with fungi, leaves are added a couple inches thick and then it is left to slow compost over the period of a couple years.

Joe
 
Zach Muller
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I have introduced mycorrhizal fungi into my soils by using compost tea and it was not as difficult as you might think, if you are already making compost tea.

If you are using worm castings as a base for the tea and you make sure to inoculate the worm bin, then you actually can speed up the process of inoculation by using the tea method. Here is why: during the tea brewing process the fungi spores sprout and grow very rapidly into a web shape, which allow bacterial populations to expand. The trick is to put the tea into the soil during this period before bacterial populations explode and start consuming the fungi. I have done this and found a web of white fungi throughout the top soil layer shortly after.

If you don't make tea already then doing a dry inoculation with some soil is quick and easy, but if you already have a tea brewer then it's just as easy to inoculate your compost and pour a solution of live and growing fungi hyphae into your soil or onto your plants.

There is absolutely no reason I can see to ever buy commercial compost to get fungi spores, when they are so available for free.
 
Mike Haych
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Zach Muller wrote:There is absolutely no reason I can see to ever buy commercial compost to get fungi spores, when they are so available for free.



You won't get mycorrhizal fungi in commercial compost, or any compost for that matter, if it's a hot compost. Where are you getting your inoculant from? Not worm castings. Worms don't produce mycorrhizal fungi. I'm not sure what you're seeing in your tea but it's not mycorrhizal fungi. You need a strong microscope to see MF and the knowledge to know what you are seeing.
 
Mike Haych
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Joe Camarena wrote:Gleaning from the various responses I am thinking that simply side dressing with the fungal based compost would be the best way to get the mycorrhizal fungi into the soil.

Just to clarify, this is a compost created from a cold process. Wood chips are piled 6"+, inoculated with fungi, leaves are added a couple inches thick and then it is left to slow compost over the period of a couple years.

Joe


Yep, Nature at work. If you google ramial wood chips or "bois raméal fragmenté", you will get good info on what you are proposing. Michael Phillips calls this building fungal duff. Jean Pain did it on a large scale.
 
Zach Muller
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Mike Haych wrote:
You won't get mycorrhizal fungi in commercial compost, or any compost for that matter, if it's a hot compost. Where are you getting your inoculant from? Not worm castings. Worms don't produce mycorrhizal fungi. I'm not sure what you're seeing in your tea but it's not mycorrhizal fungi. You need a strong microscope to see MF and the knowledge to know what you are seeing.



Mike I was referring to the commercial compost referenced by the op, he mentioned a compost that claimed to have the fungi.

As I mentioned in my post, i inoculate the worm bin with the fungi and other micro organisms. Worms produce poop not mushrooms! To get the spores I use freely found established soils, and shredded up mushrooms. Since the worm bin is not a hot compost it is a great place for the fungi to be. The tea brewing process is really only to multiply what is already present in the finished worm compost.

I admit I am not a pro at identifying different types of fungi spores under a microscope, but I do have a strong microscope and years of experience using it. Along with a lot of personal research on soil biology.
The evidence I base my words on are
1. I inoculated the worm bin with various soils and mushrooms (soils which I visibly observed what I thought were strands of mycorrhizal fungi)
2. I used the microscope to observe spores that would sprout and grow out over the brew time of the tea.
3. I observed similar fungi strands in my forest garden in soil where I had poured the compost tea. (Soil that previously had no strands in it)


Again, I use compost tea to multiply what I already have, if I had a dump truck full of beautiful worm castings then I would just side dress the plants and use the compost as a mulch. Since it is not feasible to produce that much compost in my small system I use tea brewing to take the cup of castings I can create and cover a lot more soil with it.




 
Mike Haych
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Zach Muller wrote:
Mike Haych wrote:

1. I inoculated the worm bin with various soils and mushrooms (soils which I visibly observed what I thought were strands of mycorrhizal fungi)


Yes, the fungal spores produce microscopic fungal hyphae. They combine to create fungal mycelia which are visible to the human eye. Some good sites: http://mycorrhizas.info/index.html and https://web.archive.org/web/20120425204553/http://www.world-of-fungi.org/. Also http://bookzz.org/book/2322271/d9baa0




 
ben harpo
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Adding MF to soil blocks at the same time as starting seed works! You can see the hyphae.
 
Joe Camarena
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Zach Muller wrote:I have introduced mycorrhizal fungi into my soils by using compost tea and it was not as difficult as you might think, if you are already making compost tea.

If you are using worm castings as a base for the tea and you make sure to inoculate the worm bin, then you actually can speed up the process of inoculation by using the tea method. Here is why: during the tea brewing process the fungi spores sprout and grow very rapidly into a web shape, which allow bacterial populations to expand. The trick is to put the tea into the soil during this period before bacterial populations explode and start consuming the fungi. I have done this and found a web of white fungi throughout the top soil layer shortly after.

If you don't make tea already then doing a dry inoculation with some soil is quick and easy, but if you already have a tea brewer then it's just as easy to inoculate your compost and pour a solution of live and growing fungi hyphae into your soil or onto your plants.

There is absolutely no reason I can see to ever buy commercial compost to get fungi spores, when they are so available for free.


What recipe do you recommend for brewing a MF compost tea? How long do you aerate it before using? Any tips or advice welcome.

Joe
 
Zach Muller
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Joe Camarena wrote:[]

What recipe do you recommend for brewing a MF compost tea? How long do you aerate it before using? Any tips or advice welcome.

Joe


Hey joe there are about a bazillion recipes to be had out there, I actually keep it as basic and simple as can be.
I will attempt an explanation without being confusing, since it depends a lot on your brewer and O2 levels
My recipe was developed from microbemans which is this.

MICROBEMAN recipe


compost or vermicompost (EWC) 24ml/L
molasses 5ml/L
kelp meal 2.5ml/L (max)
fish hydrolysate .66ml/L

make sure you have at least .04 cfm/gal. best harvest time 36-44 hours.


I personally have not used fish hydrolysate or kelp meal since they are not readily available to me. Although most people agree that molasses is a great feed for bacteria and the kelp meal and fish hydro are more feeding the fungal growth, I have found that using just molasses can still foster a balanced brew, it is just a matter of not overloading with feed and keeping an eye on the brew to see what is going on. You may have to adjust your feedstock level based on your Brewers efficiency. While you may have .04 cfm/gal in the brewer, I have found my own brewer is not as efficient as microbe mans and therefore I reduced my input levels to maintain a high enough dissolved oxygen. But my level maintains the ratio of molasses to vc, just scales it back per liter.

I know a lot of people are 'preactivating' their ingredients To lessen brew times and While looking around I found an interesting sounding recipe for an ultra fungal brew using a pre-activation technique.


To 5 cups of fresh worm casts, (pic 1) I added 10 tbsp. of oat flour (pic2) you can also use oat bran/soybean meal or powdered malt, and 2 tbsp of glacial rock dust (pic3). I mixed these ingredients together while dry until fully mixed. I then added enough water to be able to clump this mixture into a ball with a small amount of water runoff when squeezed.

Next, i put this mixture in a warm place on my seedling heat mat that keeps the mixture at about 80` F. After about 3-4 days, the mixture has a layer of mycelium fuzz growing all over it. (pic 4) The mixture will shrink away from the sides of the container and be firm, much like a drying clump of mud.

I'll then put the mixture into a paint filter bag that hangs in the middle of my 7 gallon tea brewer. You can use a nylon also. You want the filter to contain the compost mixture, but allow the fungal hyphae to pass through the sieve without damaging the strands.

Into the brewer, I'll add about 5-6 gallons of my well water. If your water is chlorinated, you need to let it sit out for 1-2 days to off gas the chlorine. Lake, river or pond water is a bonus if available.

To this water, I'll add a couple of shot glasses full of liquid fish hydrolysate, 3 tbsp of liquid kelp (ascophyllum nodosum) and 2 tsp of a liquid humic/fulvic acid(see pic 5) molasses, and thats it.

I'll only add 1 tbsp of molasses to this brew. Molasses is a good food source for microbes, but bacterial microbes seem to like it more, and the other foods I put in are more fungi friendly( fish hydrolysate/kelp/humic acid). You can also add kelp meal and/or powdered rock phosphate.


I actually may try a variation of this since it sounds cool.
 
John Saltveit
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Paint filter bag = good. It will let the fungal hyphae pass through. Nylons aren't a good idea. If the netting is too fine, the hyphae stay in the netting. It wouldn't kill the rust on my quince and serviceberries, so it's just brown water. You trap the fungi in the nylons. Socks are much worse.

One thing I've done many times after being told is to grind up oatmeal into flour, let it soak in chlorine and chloramine free water for several days and let the fungi grow. This will really get your numbers up in the microscope, I've been told.
JohN S
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Joshua Finch
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Mycorrhizal fungi rarely survive without their host species.

While it is possible to add mycorrhizal spores to a compost tea, they need to be put into close contact with the tree's root system to begin growing and create the symbiosis. It is then, perhaps, best to ensure that any transplanting of mycelial mass (which can probably contain more than one species, so be aware- as well as considerate of the origin of this mass' health) or inoculation with spores be done with this in mind. Putting mycorrhizal fungi spores onto the leaves/branches of a plant makes it much more difficult for those spores to reach the soil and the plant's roots. Many will probably die before they get to the soil.

Hard evidence of the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in your garden soil may be hard to come by, depending on the type of plant and its associate mychorrhizal fungi species.

I do not know of any endomycorrhizal fungi species that produce a mushroom. Instead, they release their spores underground. This group of fungi (of which there are many) associate with most plants including the majority of our favorite herbs, vegetables, and some shrubs and trees. If a compost pile or system is put into a garden setting and left to sit for at least a couple of years (endomycorrhizal fungi are usually slow growing), it is possible- though not guaranteed- that they will colonize the pile.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi, on the other hand, usually produce some kind of fruiting body- be it a mushroom or puffball. However, not every mushroom or puffball is of an ectomycorrhizal fungi species. These are probably the one group of mycorrhizal fungi with the most potential to reach a compost pile. Even then, they will more than likely not begin growing until they are in close proximity to a host species' root system. So if you have a pile of wood chips that has been colonized by fungi, they are, with a high level of certainty, not mycorrhizal; unless the pile of wood chips is a few years old and is close enough to an ectomycorrhizal fungi associated plant species. Again, spores of ectomycorrhizal fungi could blow in on the wind- and they do!- but unless a host plant is nearby, they more than likely not begin growing.

Mycorrhizae are wonderful and exciting. They can also be propagated in your garden. However, care should be taken not to conflate mycorrhizae and fungi. The terms aren't interchangeable. Putting spores of any mycorrhizal fungi into a compost tea and brewing it will simply not generate more mycorrhizal fungi.

Edit: I left a longer message in an older thread regarding commercial inoculants that may be useful:
http://www.permies.com/t/28298/fungi/Mycorrhizal-Products#304022
 
John Saltveit
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I agree. I think people mix up mycorrhizal with mycelium.

This is why i bought the mycospores from paul stamets. I planted wheat kernels several weeks before. WHen they got a substantial root base, I dipped them in the rain water spore mix, then planted the wheat next to trees in my orchard so that the roots of the wheat were physically touching the root of the tree. The wheat went on to live for months, ensuring the likelihood of the mychorrizae within the roots of the trees. wheat was chosen because it's cheap, hardy, and able to accept a wide range of mycorrhizal spores. Indeed, I later observed fruiting bodies of some of the species of spores in the dripline of my trees and had them positively Identified by my local mycological society.
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Travis Schultz
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My understanding is that mycorrhiza only live on the roots themselves. And most inoculates are going to say on the fine print that once mixed with water it needs to be used within 30 minutes. And the reason being is that mycorrhizal fungi can only thrive directly on the roots.

I used to use a product called Subculture-M, and my understanding is that you only need to apply it once, so long as you have not been disrupting your micro life with toxins.

I am also someone who thinks that consistent reapplication of mycorrhizal fungi is not only not needed, but its not doing anything. The health of the soil and plant are going to decide how healthy the fungi are that are living on the roots.

This is not necessarily true with fungi and bacteria who do not live on the roots themselves but rather just work in symbiosis with the plant.

There is a lot of money in selling an organic product that people think as long as they keep buying and applying that their garden will just do better.

Make plenty of compost tea, from plenty of different materials. Build soil and mulch, add organic compost or manure when it is available, and everything else will fall in place.

I myself with the knowledge I have on compost tea (I am not the end all expert by any means) would not think that mycorrhizal fungi are going to live in a compost tea for more than 30 minutes or so. In order for their cycle to continue they need to have access to living roots. If you had a hydroponic plant you could maybe place in your bubbling compost tea, that might give some living roots to grow on, just my 2 cents.

Good luck.
 
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