The production of high quality compost (= full with microbial life, especially fungi) is the basic ingredient for a successful regeneration of any land-based ecosystem.
With the active assistance of the present microbiology in a complete compost, we can re-stabilize even the most depleted soils and bring them back to their full, natural potential.
We’re using a hot composting process to do this. It is an aerobic process that needs to be monitored regularly in terms of humidity and temperature.
1. PRODUCTION OF SOLID COMPOST
The building of a hot compost pile involves layering three different materials:
1. MANURE – with a high nitrogen content, ideally from herbivores such as cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits (but chicken manure works, too).
2. GREEN – material with nitrogen content such as green leaves, grass clippings, green stems, kitchen waste, etc.
3. BROWN – carbon material such as dry leaves, dry branches, straw, etc..
By using the right ratio between these materials (normally 10% manure, 30% green and 60% brown) and a good water management of the pile (we want to reach 50% humidity level), we’re able to produce a high-quality compost that contains all the beneficial groups of microorganisms (especially fungi). These microorganisms are going to build a healthy soil, transform minerals and organic matter in plant available nutrients, and protect the plant from pests and diseases.
The type of microorganisms can be determined both quantitatively and qualitatively with the help of a microscope in our soil lab. This is important because it means that you always know exactly which microbiology you are working with, as not all microorganisms are useful for every purpose.
Depending on the type of application, the finished compost can now be spread directly onto the garden beds or around the fruit/ or olive trees. This will positively favor plant growth through the microbial activity around the root zone.
In contrast to a classic NPK-fertilization process (where usually “only” certain elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium are added in the form of salts), the compost application has a far more holistic effect, as the microorganisms also provide the plant with all other nutrients and trace elements and protect them from pest and diseases.
2. PRODUCTION OF LIQUID COMPOST (EXTRACT)
If one cannot produce enough solid compost with the relatively labour-intensive hot composting process (e.g. for larger areas / systems), there is the option of working with compost extract.
The solid compost is placed in a textile bag and “swirled” in a large water tank by blowing air into the water from below. This way, the microorganisms present in the solid compost such as bacteria, fungi strands (hyphae), amoeba or nematodes will be transferred into a liquid medium.
After a short time, the extract can be applied directly or used for irrigating a garden or an olive grove (i.e. fed into an irrigation system).
Depending on the amount of organic matter in the soil, the added microorganisms will settle there and thus favour the soil building process and the nutrient uptake of the plants.
3. PRODUCTION OF LIQUID COMPOST (COMPOST TEA)
The brewing process of compost tea is more time-consuming ( 24h / 48h) because, in this case, we need to add food to encourage microorganisms to reproduce in the liquid medium.
The application of compost tea pursues a different goal than the administration of compost extract. Sprayed directly onto the plant, the compost tea forms a protective layer (a so-called “biofilm”) on the stem/leaf surfaces of the plant and protects it from pests and diseases, especially on leaves and fruits.
With a sufficiently high ratio of beneficial fungal biomass, compost tea serves as a natural fungicide, i.e. it can prevent or cure most types of fungal infestation on leaves.
Like with solid compost, the same rule of thumb applies to both types of liquid compost (compost extract & compost tea):
A complete beneficial micro-biome provides the soil with the right biology responsible for building healthy soils and that will in return generate healthy plants. This way, we increase the natural resilience of the plants, so it can resist diseases better and is consequently less likely to be attacked by pests.
4. OTHER TYPES OF COMPOST (Coming soon)
This section will be updated shortly with more information regarding other ways of composting (i.e. vermicomposting / “Johnson-Su Bioreactor” / Black Solder fly composting).