Apologies for my delay in response I am only just catching up with backlog of questions I received last week and one or two needed some extra time for me to give my best answer.
I like to concentrate on living things in the compost also, although my primary motive is that I seem to have a hardwired desire to want these small organisms to flourish. I’d like to think they help the plants I am growing too, intuitively I feel it’s the right direction. There are plenty of studies out there which support this view, but my starting point is more intuitive than rational.
10% nitrogen seems like a generous figure to me although it does vary with the plant and it can get washed away very easily unless you work out some kind of slow release. Too much can be bad because it encourages soft growth and it is an easy target for critters. I’m pretty sure you’ll be aware of all this, I’m just making sure for the sake of completeness and context.
When I was looking into the best length of time for brewing AACT tea around 3 days seemed best to me also. My reasoning was that larger and significant organisms need more time to develop their population. Protozoa in particular are factored in improved plant growth, but the mechanisms are unclear. In a recent interview (available in the free download) I conducted with Dr Gavin Lishman (Martin Lishman Ltd) he suggested much shorter times (18 hours) but his proprietary brewers were tweaked towards maximum efficiency and I did observe a lack of protozoa in the industrial product studies I had available, although that was not conclusive.
Eric, do you feel that creating a compost with as many different plant inputs as possible and adding some manure component will give a fairly well balanced compost for tea making?
Regarding your above question I support using varied inputs and
varied techniques, combined and/or separate. This could include plant or animal or substances from the less well publicised taxonomies in the tree of life. What you are asking is very broad, do you have a specific example Bryant ?
My one caveat to this is that if something is working well reflect on if you have reached the best point you can get already; rather in the way someone cooks a great meal but misses the sweet spot and just keeps adding stuff until it ends up getting spoiled. I wouldn’t be suggesting just randomly adding things, although it would be interesting. I would suggest finding out about what you are putting in and try and make it complimentary. The most basic example would be making comfrey tea but employing nettles too because they have a high (N) which the comfrey lacks. One study I came across was mixing up amendments of chicken manure tea and a plant based amendment which seemed to accidentally work better.
After reading 100’s of journals and studies 'diversity of products and processes' kept emerging in side notes but were almost never focussed upon. I think it is something in the nature of university studies that it can be channelled narrowly down a certain avenue, it can miss things that fall out of the selective gaze.
Regarding your descriptions of the other techniques you describe I think we have got to the same point by different paths.
Your manure tea sounds like a great compost starter. I am just curious now. Can you define the smell ? Do you leave the top off ? Is it seething with life ? What do you put in your small heaps and what size would ‘small’ be ?
I know the Bokashi method works marvellously as a soil amendment, soil builder and a stimulant to soil life. It is one those things that work so well I’d be inclined not to tinker with it much. One of these days I would like to set up an infra red camera and do some time lapse photography to illustrate the worm action.
I may get back to you on one or two of your points because I invariably find that after I have put some effort into something, like now, really useful points inconveniently come to the surface later on.