Compost Tea 101: Breaking Down Techniques for Home Gardens and Commercial Farms
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small plot in your side yard or acres under commercial production, farmers and gardeners want to maximize the yield of whatever is growing. That’s why many people integrate compost tea as an addition to their growth plan.
A low-cost and natural way to improve harvests for nearly any crop, compost tea is used to introduce bacteria and fungi into the soils as a beneficial and nourishing additive for growing plants. Compost tea is used to override issues that come from poor soil health and problematic pests.
The process for making basic compost tea may be simple, but both farmers and gardeners alike can see a clear difference between crops that feed on the brew’s microbes. When bio-fertilizers from Impello Biosciencesare added to the mixture, the roots of plants are even stronger, less susceptible to stress, and more likely to yield greater fruit and grain production.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what makes enhanced compost tea such a powerful addition for growers. You’ll learn:
- How to Make Compost Tea
- Methods for Applying Compost Tea to Crops
- How to Choose the Right Microbial Inoculants
- Resources for Effective Compost Tea
How to Make Compost Tea
Gardening enthusiasts and professional farmers may already know the benefits of composting leftover food scraps for an additive to their crop beds. Simply spreading fully finished compost on top of the soil is a good start, but the bacteria and fungi in the organic compost won’t provide the roots full access to the microorganisms that stimulate growth.
Brewing tea is the solution. To make compost tea in a 5-gallon bucket, you’ll need:
- Enough non-chlorinated water to fill the bucket (collect rainwater, let tap water sit for 24 hours, or run an air pump
- 1-2 cups of fully finished good-smelling compost
- A nylon stocking or other porous cloth to create the “tea bag” filled with compost
- Microbial inoculant like Tribus GROW by Impello
To create the tea, fill the stocking with compost and the microbial inoculant and tie off the end with a rope. Dip the bag of compost into the water and let sit for around 24 hours. It’s important to keep a watch on the tea, as bad bacteria can ruin a batch if left too long. It should not smell bad.
Some people will also aerate their compost tea with an air pump (like those used in fish aquariums) to provide the microbes with added oxygen to increase healthy bacterial populations quicker.
For those with larger production facilities, compost tea can also be brewed in a tumbler-style rain barrel for larger batches. If regular food waste compost is not available, manure can be used as well. Of course, this method is usually smellier than using fresh, fully mature food compost.
Methods for Applying Compost Tea to Crops
Once the compost tea is ready, it’s best to dilute it either by 1:4 or even up to 1:10. Then, use a sprayer or watering can to apply the diluted tea directly to the soil where roots are growing. If the plants are already stressed, a foliar spray may be helpful.
Like all farming and gardening, patience is necessary before determining if the compost tea is working. Most people apply the additive at least two times a week throughout the growing season. Try experimenting with adding compost tea to just one section of the garden or farm at first to track results.
Also, it’s possible to enhance benefits by mixing compost from different piles to enhance microbial diversity in the tea. With time, leaves will be greener, and fruit and grains should be more abundant. While compost tea is not always described as a pest control method, many discover it helps reduce pest populations as well.
How to Choose the Right Microbial Inoculants
To facilitate the growth of good microbes, bacteria and fungi in compost must feed on organic foods. While some people experiment with blackstrap molasses, kelp, and fish fertilizers, Impello offers a proprietary blend of microorganism species that have been proven to mobilize the nutrients in the compost tea so it can become more bio-avail for root uptake.
The Tribus GROW formula is a natural addition to compost tea because it promotes the rhizobacteria that adjust nitrogen levels and improve overall growth. This soil amendment formula includes microbial inoculants such as:
- Bacillus licheniformis, which is an excellent enzyme producer shown to promote flower and fruit vigor
- Bacillus subtilis, which improves root growth and helps release macro- and micro-nutrients
- Brevibacillus laterosporus, which enhances crop vigor with unique growth promotion mechanisms
- Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, which improves salt stress tolerance and enhances water uptake
- Bacillus pumilus, which helps to cycle nutrients and improve availability and uptake
By adding these inoculants into the compost tea, the batch will stretch further and plants will suffer less from the everyday environmental stress that can negatively impact yields of all different kinds of crops.
Resources for Effective Compost Tea
Because the process of brewing compost tea can be time-consuming, it’s best to avoid the experiments that so many gardeners and farmers go through before learning how to maximize the benefits for their plants.
Compost piles are often started for homestead sustainability and waste reduction, but regular food scraps require additional support to break down into a useful compost tea.
For example, a banana peel in a compost pile is rich in potassium. But plants won’t receive the additional nutrients unless there are bacteria present to facilitate the uptake of not just that potassium, but also its calcium and iron.
Inoculants like Tribus GROW help break down the proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids that are found in most foods, so crops can more easily absorb what can be used to enhance growth. With this addition to compost tea, backyard growers and pros alike won’t have to be as vigilant with what leftovers end up in the compost bin.
To learn more about how plant bio-stimulants can help boost traditional compost tea effectiveness, read blog posts, white papers, and more on Impello Biosciences’ website today.
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