In the last month, we have been applying vermicompost tea to apricot trees in order to reduce potential infections by the brown rot fungus. Vermicompost tea (as prepared at Frog Hollow Farm) is a compost extract that is brewed in the presence of water with microbial food sources (kelp, humates, fungal foods). The compost tea brewing technique extracts and increases (by growing) the populations of beneficial microbes. At Frog Hollow, vermicompost tea is brewed for 24 hours with continuous aeration. The vermicompost in our tea is well managed and is analyzed as to its biological properties before use.
The production and application of vermicompost tea is primarily focused on increasing the populations and the diversity of microbes in the soil (drenching near the root zone), in compost piles and on leaf surfaces (foliar sprays). The mechanisms by which vermicompost microorganisms may suppress disease organisms (such as brown rot) on leaf surfaces are:
• Restricting the growth of pathogens by competing for growth on the leaf surface
• Competing for nutrients required by pathogens
• Stimulating the plants’ defense systems
In a future blog, we will review the scientific evidence that shows the disease suppressive properties of vermicompost tea on root and leaf pathogens. At the present time, Farmer Al believes that compost tea application has resulted in a dramatic reduction of infection by Monilinia fructicola (brown rot), an observation based on many years of practical experience.
Christophe Kreis MLF Soil Consulting PhD, Molecular Biology/Developmental Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada.
Christophe is co-founder of MLF Soil Consulting with his wife Monique. He started his career in basic medical research and after various positions in academia and industry Christophe slowly returned to his first passion Soil Ecology and Microbiology. It is his belief that human health is tied intimately to soil health through the production of healthy food. For this reason MLF Soil Consulting is committed to help farmers improve the management of their soil through composting, vermicomposting and biological analysis of microbial soil life.