Can You Use Herbicide That Is 2-3 Years Old Growing Blueberries Using Aerated Compost Tea: A Practical Alternative to Growing Without Chemicals

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Growing Blueberries Using Aerated Compost Tea: A Practical Alternative to Growing Without Chemicals

Introduction

In recent years, Aerobike brewed compost tea has evolved into a thriving business producing Commercial compost tea makers that make thousands of gallons of tea per day are available for purchase. There is considerable enthusiasm for aerobically brewed compost tea with an increasing number of growers using it. There is a large amount of anecdotal evidence reporting its ability to restrain plant diseases and disease management of blueberries.

Aerobically made compost tea offers ecologically and economically sound answers to problems faced by farmers due to chemical build-up in fields and in underground water sources. By helping the farmer overcome the chemical problems, other benefits include healthier plants, increased yield, less irrigation needed, and more resistance to stress and drought.

Aerated compost tea is great for acid loving shrubs like blueberry plants. Aerobically made compost tea should be the cornerstone of a fertilization program.

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Aerobically made compost tea can help make healthy soil. Healthy soil in turn resists diseases and insects and improves the mineral content. A new group of growers has begun reporting remarkable results from using aerated compost teas to boost plant health and help control plant pathogens. In this age of chemicals much of the soil has lost a large part of its health. Farmers and gardeners have become comfortable with the thought that we must use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. to successfully grow crops.

We think that if there is a bad pest or disease, we have to go out and kill it with pesticides. What we don’t realize is that there is a huge amount of useful life that goes on in the soil and on the leaves. When we go out there to kill the disease, we kill many of the beneficial organisms as well. What is not considered is the long-term effect this has not only on the current crop and future yields but on future problems such as pollution. Over time we kill more and more of the beneficial microbes in the soil.

As a result, there aren’t enough beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes) left in the soil to do much good. But now with aerated compost tea we can replace chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides with much needed beneficial microbes. By using compound tea, your garden can now be safer and be more protective of the environment. The beneficial microbes in compost tea Increases plant growth and provides nutrients to plants and soil, Provides beneficial organisms It also helps suppress disease and replaces toxic garden chemicals.

These beneficial microbes perform many functions such as converting and releasing nitrogen into the soil. Use of chemical fertilizers over time; we find that we need more and more nitrogen because the microbes are not producing as much. The microbes also hold nitrogen in the soil, but when they die, the nitrogen as well as other nutrients such as calcium, are no longer held in the soil and flow away from where they pollute groundwater, rivers, lakes, etc. pesticide chemicals are also washed away, polluting our precious natural resources.

A Brief History of Aerobic Compost Tea

Back in the day, farmers made their own compost tea by putting a bag of compost in a container of water and letting it sit for a while. This compost tea was anaerobic and often smelly. Within the last few years, a new technology has been developed replacing a container of stagnant water with a “brewer” that oxygenates the water. This produces live active microbes that are ready to work in the soil, which, if the soil is healthy, is also an aerobic environment. This process has proven to be very successful and differs from the old tea in that it is completely aerobic.

Compost Tea the Keystone of a Healthy Organic Fertilizing System

High quality, aerobic, compost tea is made from compost and other natural ingredients. The “brewer” extracts the beneficial microbes from these materials and also adds food sources for the microbes in the compost to grow. These microbes will multiply as the compost is created. Oxygen levels are maintained at a high level to ensure that these beneficial aerobic microbes reproduce and grow. These microbes when applied to the soil will repopulate the microbial population in the soil and on the leaves. These microbes perform various jobs in the soil including: Breaking down crop residues, unlocking nutrients as needed by the plant, retaining nutrients, reducing winter diseases, attacking disease organisms, fixing nitrogen, releasing soil nutrients especially phosphorus and adding organics. matter back into soil as they work.

On the leaves the microbes will occupy the space that could be taken over by pathogens and form a physical barrier to the pathogens. It is therefore important to establish these good microbes before any pathogenic invasion.

By adding these beneficial microbes back into the soil and onto the leaves, you replenish this invisible army that has been lost to the use of harsh chemicals so they can work for you. Less fertilizer will be required as these valuable microorganisms begin to repopulate the soil.

Corvallis Oregon Blueberry grower (Bob Wilt) uses terms like biologically rich and nutrient dense and is happy to tell you how compost tea has helped. Wilt said soil health has improved dramatically from growing organic blueberries using compost tea as a cornerstone of his blueberry operation. A healthier, tastier product is the result with soil health dramatically improved.

Compost tea formula.

Aerated composting is a bit more complex than non-aerated composting, and involves delivering oxygen using a mechanical air pump (such as an aquarium air pump) to the microbial population in the compost solution. Several compost tea brewers are now available commercially; you can also build your own.

A fairly typical recipe for aerated compost tea is based on vermicompost, with soluble kelp, humic acid, and ground fish carcasses (ie fish hydrolyzate) as added nutrients and a small amount of peanut oil to reduce foam.

The conditions necessary in the production of tea are:

1. Water at room temperature

2. no chlorine in the water (ventilate) if it is chlorine let it stand overnight

3. neutral water (pH 6.5 to 7.5),

4. oxygen maintained above 6 ppm throughout the brewing cycle, and

5. Good aerobic composting.

A compost tea recipe currently being used by some

100 gal. From de-chlorinated water (allow water to sit or aerate overnight) use natural well water if available.

30 lbs. of good quality compost or vermin compost (worm casting); the quality of compost is directly related to the quality of tea

32 oz. organic molasses or pre-mixed feed mix (Sustainable Agricultural Technologies)

16 oz. soluble cold water kelp meal

Optional: Finely crushed shells from one to two dozen eggs can be added to the fertilizer teas as you make it.

Note: the molasses is added near the end of making the compost tea but while the tea is still aerated. The molasses provides sugars for the microorganisms in the tea to eat and multiply.

A different level of microbial population will be produced in your tea based on weather, temperature, seasons, etc. In the summer time when it’s hot, you can expect your teas to brew faster and get the most favorable microbial levels sooner than in fall weather when it’s cooler.

Swearing by kelp

Almost all organic farmers in the know swear by including kelp as an essential component in making compost teas. Almost all of the extracts used in agriculture come from the common North Atlantic kelp species Ascophyllum nodosum. Kelp contains approximately 60 naturally occurring major and micronutrients, carbohydrates, and 18 amino acids, vitamins and naturally occurring growth substances.

Biological Factors

Over the years farmers find that they have to use more and more fertilizer to keep their crops growing. The main reason for this is the fact that the beneficial microbes are gradually killed in the process of intensive agriculture due to pesticide use, soil compaction, extensive cultivation, etc. If these microbes are not replaced, nutrients will no longer be held in the soil. soil and will run off into the ground water. By replenishing these microbes with good quality aerobic compost tea, you put the biology back into the soil that will hold nutrients and greatly reduce or eliminate leaching.

The beneficial microbes in the soil are also natural predators against disease organisms. When these beneficial microbes are not present in sufficient numbers, the disease organisms multiply causing more need for chemicals. The beneficial microbes in the soil need time to multiply and grow, so applications are best made the fall before harvest this spring, although spring applications are still beneficial if none were made last fall. Many diseases during winter in the soil and the microbes need time to find food, multiply and start their work.

These microbes need food. Applying the microbes without any food to grow on will have limited benefit, if applied to the leaves you need to spray the tea with an activator or microbial food to get the microbes started. An active bacterium secretes a sticky substance that will stick it to the leaf. Once the microbes have established themselves on the leaf, they will feed on exudates from the leaf and the leaves will feed on the exudates of the microbes. Aerobic compost tea is not a fertilizer per se, but it is part of the whole fertile picture. It contains the biological life that will significantly increase the benefits of the nutrients already in the soil, but it is still important that the nutrients are well managed and balanced. Failure to do so will diminish the benefits gained from the tea.

Applying Compost Tea

While aerobic compost tea applications have many benefits to the grower, the tea must be applied keeping biological laws in mind to ensure that the treatments are successful. Compost tea is a biologically active liquid concentration of living organisms that is highly perishable. It should be used as soon as possible after making it. The millions of living microorganisms in the tea use up available oxygen very quickly (within 4 -6 hours of brewing) if it is not oxygenated by pumping air through the tea, the microorganisms will die. Aerobic compost tea is a liquid containing a rich diversity of living bacteria, fungi, protozoa and more that are ready to work, but they must be given what they need to live and multiply.

There are some principles that should be kept in mind while applying. Oxygen levels must be maintained until application, but this is fairly easy using simple fish/aquarium equipment. There is some particulate matter in the tea, so larger filters (>25 mesh) and therefore larger nozzles are necessary. If possible, a diaphragm pump is recommended.

Aerobic compost tea should be applied in the cool of the morning or evening so that the microbes have a chance to establish before the sun is too bright. On the leaves, it is important to apply at least 6 hours before rain, so that they are not washed away before they can stick. If making a soil application, during or just before a light rain would be ideal.

The usual rate at which compost tea is applied is at the rate of 5 gallons per acre and at a temperature of about 65 to 70 degrees Use well water if possible not chlorinated water.

How Often to Apply

As a soil drench, at least 2-3 applications are recommended during each growing season. Applications on the leaves should be made every 10 days during periods of high disease pressure because the microorganisms do not live long on the leaf surface…

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