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eric fisher

pioneer & author
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since Feb 17, 2016
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Recent posts by eric fisher

Hi there,
Whoever thought up the 'pioneer and author' title it's much appreciated.  I have been enjoying your scavenger hunts in occasional moments and am wondering if Gir bot is on holiday or is confused with my title, because I've done the 'pioneer' hunt and nothing else has sparked up for a while.

We found combining 'The Work that Reconnects' (Joanna Macy) exercises with story telling a great resource on some of our permaculture courses. We took the particpants for a walk up a local mountain, framing the exercise with the idea we are all on the journey together and that 'something bigger is pushing us all up the hill'.

Hi Jasmine, don't know if you've come across the work of 'Carlos Castenada' but your comments above made me think of him because they look  to be going in a shamanistic direction.
4 years ago
Hi Mathew, hope you have an interesting week with the Permies. I might like to get my hands on a copy, I think storytelling can be a useful skill to cultivate.  Only recently I was looking for information on this and what I found was lacking; it is very under reported. I noticed there were some options below available for me to allocate forums so I added it to 'living art' and 'permaculture voices' thought that was reasonable, what do you think ? Good luck with your promotion.
4 years ago
looks like another interesting book for my reading list.
4 years ago
Hi Bryant,

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.

Best E
4 years ago

PS I don't understand why Natural Farming  automagically links to Eric Fisher's book that I haven't bought yet . I don't have that book. I refer to that term as defined in

Hi Adriaan,

Regarding book there is a strong element of Natural Farming which I converted from indigenous approaches (IMO-Indigenous Microorganisms Tea) in the Philippines which is very closely related to the approaches in Korea that you mention. I also engaged quite a bit with Masanobu Fukuoka's  work regarding no-till and seedballs.  I was a bit concerned that the way my 'Compost Teas' book was presented that the readership would just think it was about AACT when in reality, as far as someone  can be objective about their own work, it was more holistic looking at a number of different approaches wrapped around good holistic practice with loads of diverse applications.  Other approaches included tea for protection and control (had a look at IPM- Integrated Pest Management), traditional approaches (Steeping etc.), IMO as I mentioned and further out on the fringe which included some biodynamics which made the publishers a bit nervous. With this concern in mind I added a few posts emphasising other approaches and I think the clever bots noticed.

Last week I was involved, pretty intensely, with the book promo and I had tinkered around with the boost facilities because I am a geek and I was interested in the nuanced system they have running here. I was only doing boosts for a day or two at a time and I am thinking my hand must have slipped to carry it on a bit longer, so that would explain it. I get the feeling that there are quite a few people in the background here constantly trying out new things and expanding the capabilities of the site. In the context of social media/forums I think it's more interesting to engage with something like that even if it goes wrong occasionally rather than something that is rock solid but a bit bland. Obviously it would not be so good if you were running an exchange.
4 years ago

LOL! I believe it. I'm sitting here drinking a big glass of kombucha, and I think that stuff may mess with your mind, too. Thanks for the great info, Eric!

4 years ago

Thanks for the response Eric,
I am not worried about the worms.  I don't think that my fruit trees are susceptible to fish parasites.  However, I just meant, do you have any guidelines or caveats about using fresh fish in the compost tea instead of hydrolysate?

Hi John,
It wasn't the trees I was concerned about.  Just common sense really don't spray the stuff on the fruit prior to consumption. Best Regards.
4 years ago
Hi, thanks Diane.

Sorry I have been late in replying. Over last week I was inundated with questions and certain questions needed somewhat detailed responses to do them justice.

Just to be clear Lactobacillus sp. is the largest genus in Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) Order which is often used interchangeably by mistake. I'm just talking about Lactobacillus sp. here not the full Order. Lactobacillus is probably the most significant one for our permie needs.

Lactobacillus is great for a soil amendment, great feeding to livestock, great as a manure digester. It is also very good when used in soil remediation.
Fine as a (senesced,fallen) leaf digester if you keep it very moist and covered. Not a lot of use (living leaves) in foliar sprays – LAB is a facultative anaerobe so is not great at competing in very aerobic conditions such as a leaf surface. Not a lot of good against mildew.
To help Lactobacillus  cope better in aerobic conditions something like Epsom salts may be useful, because their aero-tolerance is manganese dependant, but it will still be just surviving and not in it's best environment.
Lactobacillus  is used in the Bokashi method, which is an excellent soil amendment/soil builder since the worms, and other beneficial soil life, love it.
Not wishing to re-invent the wheel there is a decent account that discusses the nut and bolts of preparation steps already on permies.

I watched the clip you supplied, it a was a nice introduction albeit a touch long winded and repetitive. The comments where switched off which can sometimes give an indication of something being amiss.

I was delighted to find that one Oxford study suggested  that Lactobacillus in your gut could mess with your mind to make you more sociable to increase the chances of its transmission.

If you want to research Lactobacillus  further I suggest you try :     google :     Lactobacillus and university, manganese and Lactobacilli, Lactobacilli and agriculture.

Best not to make any elaborate cocktails with this, why fix it if isn't broke.  Hope that helps.
4 years ago

…my state in all its wisdom decided that to "protect" us, so it is now illegal to sell or buy fish hydrolysate.  The experts had always said it's better than the cooked fish meal for the compost tea.  I have been just going to the grocery store, buying a small cheap piece of fish, cutting it up, putting it in the blender and adding it to the tea. The good news is it doesn't smell as bad. Do you see any down sides to this in making an effective tea? I mostly do foliar application but some soil drench as well.

Hi John,
Which fish are you using ?  What you mention concerning not cooking the fish I endorse (With one or two caveats below) because it denatures the fish; beneficial organisms tend to prefer the uncooked stuff.

Apologies for my late response, your post got buried in the abundance of questions I enjoyed last week. One or two like yours needed to some extra reflection. In researching my book I was stunned by the blatant stupidity of the regulations and rules that authorities in both the Uk and the USA were wanting to impose. I’m convinced that there is some kind psychological schism that happens to people in institutions, maybe it is just idleness.  I don’t understand it but I am incredulous of what it produces. I think in this instance it is part of the obsession in modern society with sanitising and sterilising everything which in many ways flies in the face of the many sophisticated approaches of organic/permaculture growers.  (Plagiarising myself)  The irony is that studies have shown that people living in overly sterilised environments are often more susceptible to the dangers of certain organisms because their systems are less accustomed to dealing them (pp.119-120).
 With this in mind I decided on an international approach and left it to the individual grower what relationship he/she wanted to have with Uncle Sam-Nanny State ; aiming only on crafting amendments that were safe and effective, regardless.

 I think at the root of the fish regulation is the concern around the existence in fresh fish of certain worms such as cod worms, seal worms, and tapeworms.  Cooking eliminates this concern. HOWEVER freezing also works. So if you are worried about this kind of thing this is also an option.

Because you are doing foliar applications, with safety in mind I would not use any fish that I  wouldn’t be happy to use in sushi/sashimi.

Cod worms can be spotted with the naked eye (cod, haddock, pollock, and hake).
Seal Worms can mostly be spotted, with sushi - vinegar fixes it (salmon, mackerel, Pacific rockfish, jacksmelt, some halibut, some flounders, some shad and especially jacksmelt and herring)
Cod and seal worms only cause minor ailments and quickly leave you system. The real baddy is Tapeworm – so stay away from fresh wild trout or largemouth bass.

Now I am going to my own fridge because this talk of fish has been making me hungry, got some nice freshwater Rainbow Trout !
4 years ago