Seaweed Science

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Gerry Miller, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    For the most part agreed, however none of the items listed, which could lead to a fungal decline, are an issue with this site. Considering clippings have been bagged, IMHO compost would be the better choice over ACT.
  2. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    Certainly, you would have a wider variety of organism using compost. AACT would provide more biology but in a more narrow variety. AACT is certainly easier to apply being less labor intensive and less expensive if you have to buy the compost. But, unless you are doing your own testing on the compost you make or a lab test is provided from the maker of the compost, you don't know what organisms you have or if the compost was made correctly. If you don't have good compost, your AACT won't be good either.

    Have you ever used Alaska Humus in place of compost? I does cost more but it has some remarkable qualities. In fact, the compost that I used is a mixture of Alaska Humus, vermicompost and compost made from woody materials and without any animal manures or kitchen waste products. I purchase this material from KIS inc that also do a lot of testing on the product to provide the biology that I'm looking to use on my lawn and flowers. I know that sounds like a commercial, but have experienced great results.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    While ACT does have it's uses, I don't feel this is one of them. If you consider the cost of materials, testing, production, etc.., ACT along with an appropriate food source when applied will many times exceed the cost of compost. I can get compost delivered to the site for $25/yard, which is significantly cheaper than what it would cost if taking the ACT route.

    I believe something that has been overlooked on this forum with respect to ACT is effectiveness. Yes, you can concentrate and even manipulate the types and levels of organisms in the tea, however no one has really mentioned applied effectiveness. At application time it really does not matter what the active ratio or quantity of organisms in your tea are, but what those numbers are with respect to effectiveness. In short, you will get nowhere quick if the organisms you have selected for in the tea cannot survive/compete in the environment they are introduced into, which pretty much reduces the tea to a liquid fertilizer.

    There is also the question of dilution ratios and application frequency required to achieve the desired effect. Some of the studies suggest ratios of 1:1 or 1:2 on a weekly basis for disease control. Given this, it is not hard to see how this can quickly become cost prohibitive.

    Humus is most effective if incorporated into the soil, as is the case with any soil amendment. Given the soils in this region, there are more effective (cost & end result) ways to improve the structure of the soil.

    In any event, all this means nothing until the weeds are removed.
  4. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Just wondering why you are suggesting that the humus must be incorporated into the soil for most effectiveness. I think its something like 70% of humis is found in the top 2 inches of the soil, and suppossely if incorporated into the soil the humus can be destroyed. I am pretty sure I have also read that humus is better if surface applied and not incorporated into the soil. I might have misread or misunderstood the other sources, so clarify some if you can.
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    Strictly speaking, humus is the most stable form of decomposed organic matter and will remain stable for a very, very long time without further decomposition.

    With respect to the role humus serves in a mineral dominate soil, the two primary benefits are what it contributes to the physical and chemical properties of the soil. These are only realized when it is in close association with the mineral/inorganic fraction and the soil solution.
  6. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    I find that using AACT is much cheaper than using compost, especially if you have to buy compost or other organic material. As far as the testing costs involved, it depends. I purchase my material from KIS Inc and they do all the testing for me. I don't pay a penny for testing, directly. Plus the amount of compost needed to make tea is very small, especially small in comparison if you are topdressing a lawn, for example. Not to mention, it's much easier to apply and much less labor intensive.

    As far as effectiveness, I can only tell you the results I am seeing. I don't have any disease issues, or insect problems, nor compaction problems. The drainage problems I have experienced in the past are no longer a problem. That is directly attributed to the use of AACT. My grass is very healthy, grows at an appropriate rate and I have never seen any lawn that didn't improve after the using AACT for a period of time. Of course, much depends on the prior abuse the soil has suffered from synthetic chemicals. The worse the abuse, the long it takes to correct. By the way, AACT is NOT considered to be a fertilizer. In fact, I don't know of anyone who claims that it is. It clearly is used to supercharge the soil with aerobic organisms to improve your soil. Now some people may add fish hydrolysate to the end of the brewing cycle to add N to their soil. But aside from that, it's not considered a fertilizer. As far as dilution rates, I see this changed from time to time. But for most home owners, it's not really an issue. Water is only a carrier, and used to apply the tea. But 5 gallons of tea as a foliar spray will cover one acre. As a soil drench, 5 gallons should cover 10,000 sq ft.

    Now if you are making your own compost, then you should have it tested to see what organisms you have present. That will cost some money if you have to hire someone or some lab to do the test for you. If you have your own microscope and some classes you can learn what to look for yourself and save lots of money that way.

    At the risk of being argumentative, I totally disagree that treating the soil with compost, in the form of topdressing, 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch, is cheaper than using AACT. It cost me pennies to make tea, you can't compare the price. The other expense you would have is to make or purchase your brewer. But that is normally a one time expense like any other piece of equipment you need to run your business or to maintain your home lawn.

    For disease control, yes you may have to apply for 4 to 6 weeks to accomplish control, in some cases, it still only cost pennies to make the tea. The real expense factor is the testing. But even with that, if you are consistent in making your own compost the same way each time, then only one test should be needed to give you a pretty good idea what organisms are present.

    And there is no argument that it's much more difficult to apply topdressing than using AACT. I've done both and there is no comparison.

    Additional information can be found at:
  7. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    As a home owner your time is free, mine is not. At a $100/hr, that adds up in a hurry.

    It is also worth nothing that Dr. Ingham states in her consultation form that in some cases compost is the cheaper alternative.

    With respect to compost tea used as a fertilizer, search google using the phrase "compost tea fertilizer"

    I'll comment on the rest when I have the chance.
  8. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    As far as Dr. Ingham, there may be some cases that compost is the cheaper alternative. But by far, most cases, tea is cheaper. I know this from my own experience as well.

    As I stated earlier, with regards to compost tea being a fertilizer, I was referring to people who actually knew what they were talking about, not some google search. AACT is NOT a fertilizer. Who ever says it is, doesn't know what they are talking about. Now AACT will improve the availability of nutrients already in the soil, but it is not a fertilizer. That why it is necessary to feed the soil biology that you just applied with a food source, protein meals. They work hand in hand.

    And being a home owner, my time is under my control but hardly free, even being retired. I spend a lot of time helping others learn to help themselves with their lawns and gardens. I help them save that $100 per hour. All for no fee. Saving two hours at that rate and most home owners can buy their own compost tea brewer and enough compost material for the first year! Even purchase some protein meals! God, what a country!!!:cool2:
  9. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    I would have to agree with Gerry that AACT is not a fertilizer. In fact, it has very little nutrient content because the microbes in the tea have used it up in their reproduction process. You can add ingredients after brewing, immediately before application, that will contain nutrients both for the plant and the microbes in the tea.

    I think compost could be a cheaper alternative on very small plots, but in most cases I would think that compost tea would be cheaper. That's not to say that there aren't cases where compost would be better, but that's not what we've been discussing. I would think the man hours to transport and spread the compost would add up really quickly.

    As for the effectiveness of AACT, I think we already covered that on the mycorrhizal fungi thread and didn't come to any agreement....

    I'd say that it works for Gerry, Kiril is skeptical, and let's leave it at that. I know we've had wonderful success with it, and most people that don't see results usually didn't make it correctly or test it properly. If you apply brown water that has no microbiology in it, of course you won't see any results.

    Unfortunately there is no standard in this industry beyond the desired ranges of organisms establish by SFI and Dr. Ingham. Even with that standard, many people try and cut corners, either on their brewer, or on their inputs and end up with something that doesn't work at all. I KNOW my tea has good biology because I look at it under a microscope. As soon as I get a USB camera, I'll post those results so you can see the difference between a good and bad tea.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    :eek: I've come to expect this type of response from Gerry, but you Tad?

    This is one the most fundamental principles of the soil food web, not some wild claim made by a manufacturer.

    I respectfully request you both step back, take a deep breath, and consider the following.

    Lets make the following very unlikely assumptions:

    1) The compost tea is nothing more than pure water and suspended solids.
    2) The water used for dilution is pure water.

    Now read the following statements and ask yourselves again how a compost tea can and does act as a fertilizer.

    And from the soilfoodweb site:

    Bacteria need N, P, K, Ca, and all the other nutrients as well, and obtain those from organic matter and from inorganic sources as well.

    I will be happy to go into more detail if the need still exists.

    Proper tools for the job. You don't use a shovel to spread compost over acres of land. Also consider if your also applying a food source for the microbes, not only does that incur addition expense (sometimes excessive depending on what your using and how much), but requires a second pass over the area to apply it. Compost applies both organisms and food in one pass and costs nothing if generated on site with raw materials that are "free". In general the site and situation will dictate what should be used and how much it will cost.

    I agreed that ACT has it's uses, but not EVERY situation is the use of ACT appropriate as Gerry implies. In the specific problem that I presented, ACT is not the first step I would recommend once the weed problem is dealt with. It might very well be a follow-up step, but not the first step. Furthermore, if the soil already contains the desirable biology and diversity of organisms, what is the point of using ACT for anything other than disease control or as a source of nutrients?

    IMHO, the biggest problem that faces ACT is inconsistent results with respect to disease control. Once we better understand what is happening and can produce consistent, dependable results, I think you will see wider acceptance of compost tea.

Share This Page