Building a Compost Tea System

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by DSmith, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. DSmith

    DSmith New Member

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    Hello All!

    I'm a PDC graduate, working here in Jordan, and we're trying to make a large scale compost tea system. I think I understand the basics of compost tea pretty well, but what I'm particularly interested in figuring out is the aeration system-is it important to have some sort of fixed tubing inside the container, or can we just loop some hose on the interior? Basically we're not trying to make a perfect system, just a good system, and we're trying to make it around 1000 liters. What is necessary?

    If anyone has any plans or advice, put it up. Importing systems to Jordan is complicated, so we're going to need to do it ourselves.

    All the best,

    Dan Smith
     
  2. SueUSA

    SueUSA Junior Member

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    I've only made compost tea in a 5-gallon bucket, so I'm no expert on large systems, but...

    Isn't a tea system simply a container with large 'tea bag' of compost suspended in it, with a pump/tubing/bubbler stone to keep the tea oxygenated? I would think a few tubes with their ends held down in the bottom of the tank would do the job.

    You can complicate anything all out of proportion to what is needed, but the more complicated it gets, the quicker it seems to break down. All you have to do is move air through the tank. That's it.

    Sue
     
  3. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    G'day,
    Have a look at https://trustnature.com.au/brewer_1000 and their brewers. They have specifically made them for fungal dominant brews, and they have found that it is best to have a circular motion in the stirring, from top to bottom, rather than an agitated effect.
    Also transfering to the spreader, its best to use a centrifugal pump rather than a diaphram pump.. again for keeping optimum fungi levels.
    Good luck, wish this stuff was open sourced!
     
  4. DonHansford

    DonHansford Junior Member

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    Here's some info I dug up, may help a bit. (From https://heartgarden.com.au/composttea.asp)

    "Methods of Compost Tea Production
    Bucket-Fermentation Method

    "Passive" compost tea is prepared by immersing a burlap sack filled with compost into a bucket or tank, stirring occassionally. Usually the brew time is longer, from 7 to 10 days. This is the method that dates back hundreds of years in Europe, and is more akin to a compost watery extract than a "brewed" and aerated compost tea.

    Bucket-Bubbler Method

    The equipment setup and scale of production are similar to the bucket method, except that an aquarium-size pump and air bubbler are used in association with microbial food and catalyst sources added to the solution as an amendment. Since aeration is critical, as many as three sump pumps may be used in a bucket simultaneously.

    With homemade compost tea brewing, a compost "sock" is commonly used as a filter-strainer. Ideally, the mesh size will strain compost particulate matter but still allow beneficial microbes—including fungal hyphae and nematodes—to migrate into solution. Single-strand mesh materials such as nylon stockings, laundry bags, and paint bags are some of the materials being used; fungal hyphae tend to get caught in polywoven fabrics. If burlap is used, it should be "aged" burlap.

    Trough Method

    Large-scale production of compost teas employs homemade tanks and pumps. An 20- or 30cm-diameter PVC pipe is cut in half, drilled full of holes, and lined with burlap. Compost is placed in this makeshift trough. The PVC trough is supported above the tank, several feet in the air. The tank is filled with water, and microbial food sources are added as an amendment. A sump pump sucks the solution from the bottom of the tank and distributes the solution to a trickle line running horizontally along the top of the PVC trough filled with compost. As the solution runs through the burlap bags containing the compost, a leachate is created which then drops several feet through the air back into the open tank below. A sump pump in the bottom of the tank collects this "tea" and distributes it back through the water line at the top of the trough, and so on. Through this process, which lasts about seven days, the compost tea is recirculated, bubbled, and aerated. The purpose of the microbial food source is to grow a large population of beneficial microorganisms.

    Commercial Tea Brewers

    Commercial equipment is available for the production of brewed compost teas. Usually there is a compost sack or a compost leachate basket with drainage holes, either of which are used to hold a certain volume of compost. The compost-filled container is placed in a specially designed tank filled with chlorine-free water. Microbial food sources are added to the solution. A pump supplies oxygen to a specially-designed aeration device which bubbles and aerates the compost tea brewing in the tank."
     
  5. april_luv

    april_luv Guest

    Sounds great that available for the production of brewed compost teas.
     
  6. david spicer

    david spicer Junior Member

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    gday i meet you while in jordan with nadia at dead sea project ,for your brewer no pvc in the componets you could use black polythen pipe but the best is stainless steel
    and try to follow trust nature design , you use a spa bath pump
    but get your self a microscope then you see your results clearly and then make modifcation
     
  7. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    Micro could be the macro here,perhaps you could just scale down and use 2 or three micro systems.They are easy to get parts for,and small batching makes it easier to handle.Mr Spicers microscope suggestion is a must,without it you have no quality control.You could be applying non beneficial,or lacking vital species of micro organisms.
     
  8. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Dive Spicer said
    can you explain this Dave so I can understand?

    I wonder what to look for in a microscope Fernando? I would have thought the life from such a brew would all be benificial.
     
  9. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    april luv, apropos of absoluletly nothing; I don't wanna be a boring old 'senior member', how do you get into the 'group for banned users' ?
     
  10. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    Lets just say that protozoa are lacking in the brew or the numbers are limited,one could brew a batch of great bacteria but have nothing up the food chain to consume that. Efficient nutrient cycling would be voided or at least lessened.
    Best Wishes
    Fernando Pessoa
     
  11. barefootrim

    barefootrim Junior Member

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    Dear Dan,
    For compost tea the rule of thumb is to have the aerator going at the same litres per minute as your container holds. eg if you have a 20 litre bucket the air volume moving through the the compost tea will be 20 litres per minute running for 24 hours,,,,but over night will sort of do. minimum 6 hours. If you only have a fish aquarium bubbler available to you for example that goes at 10 litres per minute ,,then you have to do only have a bucket load type of thing.

    Place the aerator on the bottom,,,"Jordan makeshift arrangement style" with a few rocks or something,,, so the air gets to bubble throughout the whole medium of tea,,,, if you can direct it one way on the bottom of your container to create a vortex all the better.

    If you are at Jurasseryie (?spelling) I've been there and its only a little place not more than 1/2 acre so why would you need to make a large compost tea system,,,,a 20 litre bucket with a fish aquarium aerator would be ample for that size area?
    maybe your at some other place of bigger acerage to justify a large system I dont know,,,but when it comes to compost tea a little goes a long way,,, you could make 20 litres and scoop a cup full into the mulch at the base of each tree in a little system for innoculation,,,,or dilute your tea into say 5 to 1 and do the whole area at Jurasseryie,,,that would be ample.

    Good luck with it,
    Barefootrim
     
  12. cdoug_e

    cdoug_e Junior Member

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    I highly agree with Fernando's sentiment. Actually brewing bad compost tea can be a very bad idea. Not all bacteria and fungi are good guys. Some are what actually destroy plants. So looking under a microscope is a must with making compost tea. This is the most perverted thing in Permacutlure. I teach with Dr Ingham, the innovator of the practice of compost tea, and she get throttled by people not checking the tea under the microscope including Paul Taylor who is Geoff's go to guy with all of this. I have a students of mine that also studied with Elaine as we teach the same uni in the states, and he just did his senior project on brewing compost tea. It took him one month before he got it right. Oh and by the way Elaine was there for greening the desert. Funny how geoff never mentions her name in that 5 minute slice of heaven.

    Anyways if you don't get the aeration system right, you will be breeding anaerobic bacteria which as a waste product create things like alcohols and phenols as waste products. Nasty substances for plant roots. First you even have to have good compost which has to be monitored by temperature and a microscope. We are talking about one the last frontiers of Science here and some permies have just completely abandoned reason with this idea. it is really easy to mess up a compost pile. It is really easy to mess up tea. You really should get properly trained on the microscope, otherwise just chop and drop.

    I do have plans for 25 gallon, 100 L rubbermaid trash can plan that i can email you though.
     
  13. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Thats some pretty special name dropping cdoug-e - you sound real proud.

    I get that you are perhaps saying that unless you have university training and some expensive equipment that you should, under no circumstances, attempt to make a liquid tea?

    That sure sounds preposterous to me as I have made some great looking brews with obvious benefits to the soil and the plants growing in them.

    It is a shame when people espouse the elitist programme for working with nature.
     
  14. cdoug_e

    cdoug_e Junior Member

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    relax, breathe, I am just saying that it is not as simple as it sounds in a PDC. I am actually proud to be a university professor at the ripe old age of 30. And when you work hand in hand with the best of the business, you take on what they say. SO man, relax, you always seem to get huffy on these posts. Don't take it personal, it is just a shot in the dark so to speak if you don't observe under the microscope. Would you breed chickens and not look after them, only watching from 100's of meters away. So why would you breed microorganisms and not look after them, and since they are micro-organisms, why wouldn't you observe them under a micro-scope?

    Nature is complex man, it takes geniuses to see at the pieces at play, and we are all geniuses, it is through permaculture that some of us can see through this lens to watch the symphony.

    Using tea is one of the most profound ways to accelerate succession and evolution. It is a powerful tool, and yes I think we should all get trained under the microscope. You think the geneticists at Monsanto aren't really well trained. If you start to use a microscope you see lots of patterns and realize the complexity of the microbial world. Its a beautiful thing, full of diversity, full of the unknown, and then it becomes a giant playground.

    I am not an elitist, I do lots of stuff for poor people, I just believe soil science is a science. breathe.
     
  15. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    I am inclined to agree with cdoug in his assessment of compost teas being a shot in the dark unless viewed under the scope.I love purple to death(we have a bro mance),so I don't want to get into that.
    A compost tea is only as good as the compost it comes from,to assure that you have a quality compost you can always use vermipost!!!
    Now worms are incredible in their ability to kill pathogens,they do this as they mineralize the bacteria's and fungi that move through their system.
    As all aerobic activity causes heat you can see even in small brew a rise in temperature over the brewing time,I use a small cheese thermometer to watch these incremental rises in temperature when the temperature plateaus, I consider the food resource of the microbes finished.It's at this moment that I use the brew.Many many other factors come into play,mesh size microns etc,oxygen levels the pump you use to deliver the tea on and on and on.None the less tea can be made on a village level or a backyard level,they do work and usually if you have enough existing good soil life you will sort it self out,it's a tropihic war down there and very competitive usually if you started with good pathogen free compost and keep great oxygen levels and use your tea quickly in the correct conditions afternoon or morning you will get a good result.
    On an industrial or commercial level get in an expert with the correct resources and a proven track record and you will see results.
    I use and recommend this man,truly a remarkable process of extraction,he is registered with Elaine and has worked with Paul as well.His product is unique in so far as it has a shelf life,unlike compost teas.He can ship you beneficial microbes as fungi not in hyphal form but with spores.
    This product is similar to "put to sleep teas",but better.I have used it on commercial applications and in my own home,can't beat it !
    so here is the good oil for anyone who wants compost tea but doesn't have the considerably costly equipment or expertise to do it.
    https://www.wormtec.com.au/
    Fernando
     
  16. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    you condecending asshole - it buggs me to bits when a "scientist" gets hold of a process that has happened for millions of years and makes it exclusively their own.
     
  17. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    cdoug, I can't comment on the compost tea, but I hope you aren't saying that people can't build good compost without a microscope (it's hard to tell from that post if you are telling people to chop and drop because they can't do low tech compost tea or composts themselves).
     
  18. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    he he he eh...FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT..........
    We have a fight ...here are the rules, no biting, no hitting ,no spitting, no scratching ,gouging and kicking are allowed only if the referee don't see.
    You can use the chairs that you are sitting on,but references to combatants mothers is illegal.

    This seems a discussion between simplicity and science.
    Using basic methods with the three essentials. good water(non chlorinated),(good aeration),(good compost) you can make a great brew. I have done it and then looked at it under a microscope with lots of success.
    Once you have a good recipe you just continue to replicate the process.
    I now a man in Brazil who has been doing this since 1977,long before any of this was even laid down by Elaine,he is sort of a Fukuoka character,a scientist himself he never saw the need to overly analyse his success .
    I have visited and been updated by him regularly as I am his great grandsons God father,he has one of the best organic gardens(3 hectares) I have seen he uses the same ingredients and brews at the same length of time and he has never once looked at it under the microscope.
    The real danger is in the anaerobes or in the lack of protozoa Lucerne,has an excellent association with protozoa and is worth including as a food source. Anaerobes are not present in well oxygenated water consider these two things and the science does become simple.You will maybe not make optimum tea but you will make a good quality tea without all the la la la that commercial operators such as Paul has.

    Also e doug please don't refer to Purple as huffy.
    Purple please dont refer to e doug as an asshole.
    As a newly reformed forum user, I am going to act smug and superior to all those lesser mortals and point out their failings.
    I do this because i like to throw a bone to the rabble every so often.
    Please make up you both have valuable things to say to each other and to learn from each other I would not like to see either of you leave because it would lessen my opportunity to learn.
    Best wishes Fernando
     
  19. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I would not say that wonder boy does not have a contribution to make - alot of what he/she said would no doubt make for a better tea if the facilities were present but to say (my words) that you should not put your head out the window till science says it is safe leads me to think of thalimide and ddt and necuear energy and it also makes me think of consumerism with a view that you can not be fulfilled unless you have the latest and greatest.
    please excuse the worst than normal bad spelling but I have boiling blood - is there something in scence for that?

    I guess the point I would like to make is that I strongly believe we have the answers within ourselves. If we approach our lives and our tasks with the right intent, ensure we remain observant, and trust our intuition then the things we need to achieve will be achieved.

    Besides wonder boy is probably a nice kid with an extensive education and will no doubt make an old dirt farmer look silly should this "debate" continue.
     
  20. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    Sounded like a middle ground;>)
    Love is in the air da da dadu dada.....love is....
     

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