- Fertilizers & Compost
An Easy and Effective Method for Applying Organic Fertilizer
Microbes and Fertilization
Microbes do most of the work that maintains the environment that keeps us alive. When it comes to the fertilization of plants microbes play the most important role. Without microbes there would be no plants even if nutrients are available.
When plant and animal cells die they decompose and the organic matter in the cells are tranformed by microbes back into the soil as humus and into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. It is during the period when the dead plant cells are decomposing into organic matter and carbon dioxide that the fertilization process takes place.
The microbes control the nutrient uptake by the plants by establishing a symbionic relationship that provides the plant with nitrogen and other nutrients and in return the plant provides the microbes with an energy source. The nutrients are obtained from the soil and organic matter by the microbes; therefore, for good organic fertilization we need an organic fertilizer that is rich in organic matter and rich in microbial life.
The following described analysis was performed to test for the amount of immediately available microbial life in two composted materials, regular composted cow manure and humus compost made with fish manure. The analysis was performed to reveal the effectiveness of mixing the compost in water and immediatlely applying it as a liquid.
The regular compost used for the test was a leading brand of composted cow manure and the humus compost used was Fishnure™, a humus compost made from fish manure and oat straw. The difference between regurlar compost and humus compost is that a small amount of clay is added to the humus compost process during the decomposition phase. The resulting humus compost is moist and putty-like rather than granular like the regular compost. The clay provides for the capture of more organic matter by providing microscopic particles to which the carbon particles bind and provides a habitat for the microbial life to remain active in humus compost.
The Microscope Analysis
The analysis was made to test for immediate microbial life in each substance. The first test was made for the humus compost. A liquid mixture was created by mixing a teaspoon of the humus compost in 8 ounces of water and stirring the mixture for several minutes. The water used for the tests was regular utility provided water. If chlorinated water is deadly to the microbes then it would be deadly to the microbial life when watering plants with a hose or from an automated sprinkler system. It would also prevent application of the liquid using a hose end sprayer. The putty-like humus compost readily mixes with water and when stirred forms a homogeneous mixture of microscopic suspended particles as shown in Image 1.
A sample of the humus compost mixture was then analyzed by microscope at 400X magnification to test for visible microbial life. Extensive and active microlife was found moving about the suspended microscopic particles as shown in Image 2.
The same test was made for the regular compost. A teaspoon of the compost was added to 8 ounces of water and stirred. The regular compost is a dry granular substance with the consistency of coarsly ground coffee. When stirred the coarse particles remain suspended in the water for a short period before sinking to the bottom without any significant dissolving as shown in Image 3.
A sample was taken and analyzed under the microscope. No active microbial life was observed as shown in Image 4.
Summary and Conclusion
This indicates that some form of activation is needed to activate microbes in regular compost whereas the microbes are available immediately in humus compost. This test indicates that humus compost could easily be mixed in water and applied by sprayer immediately without a lengthy activation process making it an easy method for organic fertilization of lawns or gardens. Large areas can be treated quickly using a hose end sprayer.
As an example of a similar organic process, consider what is happening in an aquaponic environment where fish are growing in water that contains growing vegetables either directly in the water or in a medium exposed to the water. The water is rich in microbes and fish wastes. Various microbes convert the fish wastes into a form needed by the plants. No additional nutrients are required.