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Can I mix soluble mycorhizzals to my bokashi mix?  RSS feed

 
Adam Oaktree
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Im planning on making a bokashi mix, then adding bio char and soluble mycorhizzals.
Is it ok to mix these all together. And at what stages should i do this?

 
Tj Jefferson
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My understanding is that the bokashi is a rapid-growing lactate-based culture, which is going to be predominantly bacterial and minimally yeast-based. Mycorrhizal cultures will not be effective without a growing plant associated, per Redhawk, who is right a statistically ridiculous percentage of the time.

Biochar is normally added to compost and allowed to inoculate over a long period due to the channel size and slow colonization speed of the organisms. I have been cautioned to not attempt this rapidly, but many on here seem to advocate a rapid inoculation. Personally, I leave it in compost for at least a few months, but this is homemade biochar in a pit, which is incomplete pyrolysis. If you are getting commercial/retort biochar with a relatively uniform composition and channel you may have more success. Bad biochar will sterilize soil. There are many myths out there about it, and I think the science is really nascent. I am using it in areas that are poor soil culture, but I am hesitant to use it in areas that are doing well. Just my 2 cents. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Adam Oaktree wrote:

Im planning on making a bokashi mix, then adding bio char and soluble mycorhizzals.
Is it ok to mix these all together. And at what stages should i do this?



Bokashi is a yeast/ bacteria fermentation of organic materials. Adding fungi while the fermentation is ongoing would kill the fungi.

As noted in Tj's post, bio char needs time for the biological to grow into the cracked surface thus penetrating the surface of the char.

I would recommend you make the Bokashi first, then add the biochar and allow at least 6 weeks for inoculation by the bacteria and yeast in the Bokashi.
Mycorrhizal fungi are best used at planting time, either applied to seeds or spread around roots as the plant is going into the ground, this will give the best benefits.

Redhawk
 
Adam Oaktree
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Redhawk, Starhawks other half?

Hello helpful ones, thanks for the replies. I'd figured as much with the fungus.

Ive heard that mixing a pulverised bio-char with nutrients and EM with a water mix works well and takes about 2-3 weeks. I thought of adding in trace minerals too from rocksafe, but i cant imagine how these will make home in the carbon. I've done a lot of peeing onto biochar to add nitrogen... makes sense it'll soak in.. I guess other minerals will do the same?

So, make the bokashi:

wheat bran (best place to buy?)
black molasses
EM (www.teraganix.com)
water

Then add the bokashi to biochar and trace minerals. I'll leave the main ones out till i know whats needed in the soil.. Probably all of them but its best to be sure.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Adam,, no I'm not relations with Starhawks, my mate is Wolf.

I sounds like you are on a great path with your soil improvement regimen, I would keep on with that.

Usually you can find cheap wheat bran at feed stores, you can also use any bran (wheat, oat, barley are good for bokashi method ferments).

I normally use solution applications for mineral enrichment, that way you can get them down into the soil in the areas you want them.

Biochar is funny stuff to use, it seems to work best when applied to larger spaces in relatively thick layers (judging by the findings in South America).

Redhawk
 
Ben Zumeta
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If you can make a good diverse compost tea, you do not need to buy EM. I have made hundreds of lbs of bokashi with wheat bran, molasses and duck water-worm casting tea.

In regard to fungus, my theory/understanding of the bokashi starter process is that you take the most diverse array of microbes you can and put them through hell for all but the toughest (most resistant to ph fluctuations and low O2) die out. You are then  left with an inoculation of baddasses that are great for composting anything, but really specialized for subideal things in subideal conditions, which is something people in civilization need. Some of these are fungal (yeasts are fungi, though their byproducts can make some guys more fun and others belligerent asses). The stater  of bokashi should smell like wheat beer, so I bet the yeast are pretty prevalent. I would bet Bryant is right about most of the fungal strains dying, but you may still get a few tough ones through that increase your diversity in the end. I have read and found through experience that the fungus overtakes bacteria like in a tea or soil over time when left undisturbed. It is done after 2weeks, but more and more fungally dominated up to 4 weeks. After that you get green and black problematic molds. I feed bokashi starter to my fowl, my compost teas, and spread it in mulch everywhere each spring. It seems to really bring out full aromatics and flavor in what you grow with it, keeps the bird pen fresher, and increases breakdown of organic matter.
 
Ben Zumeta
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What does biochar do that straight buried wood cannot? Doesn't the surface area and porosity of a decomposing log get crazy high as well? Wouldn't you already have fungal inoculations from the wood if you didn't char it? Each year the outer layer of a tree collects spores that are stored between each growth ring and released over decomposition.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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If you want a hugel mound or trench you use wood, this does things other than what biochar is reported to do for soils.

Un charred wood will introduce hyphae (fungi) to the soil, this is great for building soils that already have some humus and a microbiological population present.

bio char is for extremely depleted soils such as what you find in stripped rain forest areas. It has been discovered and documented in the Amazon valley that in old world forest fields there is a layer of biochar, usually found between 6 cm to 18 cm deep and of a thickness of approx. 3-5 cm.
The function this layer of "biochar" is thought to have provided stability for the microbiome of the soil after the trees were cut down and removed. It is well known that rainforest soils are sad at best, while the trees are there, the litter fall replenishes nutrients to the otherwise nutrient shallow dirt.
Once the trees are removed the remaining nutrients are leached away within two years, leaving what I like to call dirt since there is no biome living once the litter fall materials are gone. The "soil" is clay based, dense and it is hard to find any measurable amounts of humus after the land has been cleared for just a few years.

It is thought that the biochar was spread inorder for bacteria and fungi to have a place to retain their foot hold and thus provide the minerals to the planted crops. It has been isotope tested and most of these deposits are around 100 to 150 years old.

Currently, biochar is being touted for use because of the current research, but if you have good, viable soil already, it may be of less benefit than if you were in say, a desert area or other place where there was little micro organismic activity already in place.
The problem with new biochar is that it must be inoculated with microbes which are then allowed the time to establish well and flourish before installation. Some recent uses have already been found to have not worked as it was thought they would.
When properly installed, with the right conditions, it works wonders, as it is thought it did at the inception of the idea.
Research is on-going and new developments and discoveries are currently being documented, both on the ancient sites and the new use sites. It is really a bit early to state conclusions as if they were fact.

Redhawk
 
Ben Zumeta
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Where did the biochar in the amazon come from originally? Ancient peoples doing slash and burn? I obviously am no expert on biochar, I just think it seems like a good thing if its there or if you have it around already, but if you have plain old wood making it into biochar would be a waste of energy/carbon emissions and you'd lose a lot of the wood's value to the soil. I also don't see why burying a rotting oak log in a desert soil wouldn't bring plenty of inoculants and you could soak it in compost tea to get more, or do anything you would do to inoculate biochar to the log. In my temperate rainforest area we also have shallow, rapidly consumed soils but they have been built with rotting wood that has only had a small amount of low intensity fire started mostly by native peoples to clear the understory to reinvigorate preferred plants like hazelnuts, tanoak and berries that get choked by western hemlock's shade without fire. I know fire has been and still is a useful land management tool/ecosystem function, but it just seems we are burning enough carbon already. I have made the analogy where I compare using woodchips versus in tact wood in a bed to how you might approach a newly discovered but ancient civilization as an explorer. The tree lying on the ground as a nurselog is the civilization that crumbled and fell with age, but it still has the imprints of roads and canals (the tree's vasculature) built for nutrient and water transport. Instead of utilizing that infrastructure, using wood chips is like taking all of it and crushing it for fill to build from scratch. It would seem biochar is like burning it to the ground and using the ashes and charcoal.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The bio char of old came from cooking fire leftovers, slash and burn leavings and probably any other fire they started and used. 

Bio char is not ashes, ashes are caustic, the way you make bio char is just the same as making charcoal, a fire that is turned into a smolder by reducing O2 availability, this means little carbon goes into the atmosphere.

if you put raw wood into clay and cover it, it will be raw wood (although soaked) 100 years or more later, there will be no fungal growth since there would be no oxygen available in such an anaerobic situation.
Sandy loams or even clay present loams are different than the almost pure clay found in the amazon basin areas where biochar was discovered.

The amazon is an entirely different ecosystem from all other rain forests, and things that work in other areas with rain forests seem to not work as well if at all in the amazon basin.
Borneo is an good example, the soils found there are much more friable, with about 1/4 the clay content (if that much) compared to the amazon basin forest.
There are many other areas of rain forest that don't share the horrible soil of the basin. Most of this has to do with the erosion silt that comes to the basin from the high mountains.
Most of the other rainforests on the planet are amongst volcanoes so the silt is totally different in composition and texture as well as mineral content.

Our carbon issue has been created not just by burning, but by many other means while at the same time we are removing the trees that used to sequester that carbon, so humans are helping create a lop sided situation when it comes to free carbon that can no longer be captured "the old way".

Wood breaks down, raw wood puts off just as much free carbon (as it rots away) as burning wood to ashes.
Creating Charcoal it is the carbon that is left, it is the left behind carbon that then creates the heat on the grill, smoker or forge.

Redhawk
 
Adam Oaktree
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Yes I've heard about records of civilizations living where they shouldn't be able to. Bio-char was found.

I was using it in the costa rican jungle, where yes leeching is a problem, layers of clay close to the surface are like rivers for water to course, along with all the nutrients being dropped by the wonderful life.
Which is ironic as clay is actually a great holder of nutrients and life within a balanced soil. Hummus is obviously the best.

My idea is that a small well inoculated spread of bio-char will help hold nutrients that'll I wish to deposit for many years to come. If I work a piece of land and invest in trace minerals.. all 88 of them. Then I'd like to tell a client these will stay around for a long time to come.
They get their monies worth.  From reading your posts there are some concerns.. which.. concern me   slightly. What i've read that makes sense is that, biochar that is not already living with life and nutrients actually leeches those things from the soil initially.

I'd like to know if these tests are done with whole biochar or not. I was using whole until i saw a youtube video by Jagannath.
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Ben Zumeta
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That is fascinating about the amazon, and I wonder if it has something to do with the biodiversity as it seems to me that arises most where the greatest challenges (like amazonian soil) meet the greatest rewards (the potential energy of the wet tropics). I am obviously not well informed on biochar so thanks for humoring me. Is what you said implying that pulling one's charcoal from the wood stove rather than letting it burn through would be more carbon/energy efficient?

Even with the highest biomass on earth this area has its own issues for a lot of plants with serpentine and acidic soils and redwoods being so difficult to break down.  This has led to the greatest soil biodiversity on earth. I have found with my own garden/experiments that wood on top of clay can be a great place for beneficials and ecological positive indicators (prolific worms, salamanders, etc) that would seem to indicate conditions that would inevitably lead to soil accumulation. I have generally stopped digging my wood into my soil with my hugelkulture beds, instead piling on top of sod and weeds directly and then piling topsoil from the paths/swales beside the beds.  Along with woody mulch, even in this wet (60-120"/year) and extremely temperate (min 25f-max 90f) climate, wood has built fungal soil on top of compacted clay quite quickly. Isn't that how the rainforest built itself? I am interested in the idea that pulling out coals at a certain point may be beneficial.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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My idea is that a small well inoculated spread of bio-char will help hold nutrients that'll I wish to deposit for many years to come. If I work a piece of land and invest in trace minerals.. all 88 of them. Then I'd like to tell a client these will stay around for a long time to come.
They get their monies worth.  From reading your posts there are some concerns.. which.. concern me   slightly. What i've read that makes sense is that, biochar that is not already living with life and nutrients actually leeches those things from the soil initially.

I'd like to know if these tests are done with whole biochar or not. I was using whole until i saw a youtube video by Jagannath.


hau Adam, great micro photos, thanks for those they are quite clear.

Your idea for using bio-char is spot on kola, that is how the research is showing what it actually does at the ancient sites.  The most important thing is to have it already supporting a living micro biome. This is easy to do if you are also making compost, just mix the char with the compost for the last while.
Once the char is supporting the micro biome it will hold on to minerals and the active bacteria will process those so that micorrhizal fungi can utilize them thus providing the minerals and other nutrients to the plant roots.
There are some studies that want to show that char also helps hold water, which it does but it is more valuable as a "barrier layer" that keeps humus from simply disappearing down to deep, this humus helps hold water far better than just char alone.

Your photos show both forms of char, the left one is "debraded" or in simple words, roughed up, the easy way to get to this stage is coarse grinding. The second photo is whole char. If you look at both photos you can see a long term (the left photo) end result and a short term (straight from the kiln) result.
I have used simple tools (sledge hammer and wood box) to debrade new char before mixing with a working compost heap, the results were pretty good.
I have used whole char, just mixing with a working compost heap then when the compost finished I sifted the produce and rubbed the larger hunks of char so they broke enough to pass through a 1/4 inch mesh screen.
The first trial worked well for holding minerals, and was biologically active within 4 weeks. The second trial worked but not as quickly as the debraded trial, it was installed and after 4 weeks, mineral and other nutrient holding was at a level 75% of the first trial results, however, at 12 weeks both test plots were equal.
This is year three for this experiment and both plots are showing equal results, mineral retention is 5 times higher than the non treated test plot. N, P, K, Mg, Mn, are all also holding at the 5x level over the non treated plot.

Hope this information is of help to you with your project.

Redhawk
 
Tj Jefferson
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Bryant, thanks for the update. I have read a great deal on biochar and was going to build a retort, but I have been hesitant as it is a tool that appears to be poorly understood. I have a clay-predominant soil with poor CEC, and it seems that is an appropriate use of it.

I do not assume I will get water retention from it, the sole point is to improve the availability of minerals via a vibrant soil web and I can make humus material because that is available. Then the process becomes virtuous. Does this seem appropriate?

The literature is very deficient in common sense application. You are not!
 
Adam Oaktree
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The first trial worked well for holding minerals, and was biologically active within 4 weeks. The second trial worked but not as quickly as the debraded trial, it was installed and after 4 weeks, mineral and other nutrient holding was at a level 75% of the first trial results, however, at 12 weeks both test plots were equal.
This is year three for this experiment and both plots are showing equal results, mineral retention is 5 times higher than the non treated test plot. N, P, K, Mg, Mn, are all also holding at the 5x level over the non treated plot.



Hau Rehawk

These are just the results I'd hope for in the service I wish to offer. Unfortunately I am not in a place to create a lovely compost pile. This is why i'm heading towards bokashi and large bins to hold it. Once its made I can store it until I have a plan for it, which may be for someones garden or orchard. Taking out what i need placing that in another container with the desired corrective minerals, trace minerals, calcitic lime and maybe some kelp ( though I hear this is being over harvested) and ground up bio-char

Then and this is where I'm a little concerned, I'd have to aerobically stir this soil web concoction and leave it for perhaps 2-3 weeks to inoculate the char hobbit holes. Im thinking in a cold but not freezing state so microbes can move and mold does not become an issue.


Bryant, thanks for the update. I have read a great deal on biochar and was going to build a retort, but I have been hesitant as it is a tool that appears to be poorly understood. I have a clay-predominant soil with poor CEC, and it seems that is an appropriate use of it.

 
I believe bio char to be the savior of a clay rich soil, that with chop n drop Agenda Gotsch style to protect and help cultivate a mycorrhizal web on top of the char allowing life and nutrients to reach out towards each other!
 
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