ECHOcommunity Conversations

Compost Tea Use

Hello to the ECHO Community. This is Matt Cunningham, currently an intern at ECHO Florida.

I’m researching compost tea and am curious if anyone has used it and found to have seen notable improvements through its use.

I’m also interested to learn what kind of compost is used and what materials and methods accompany the compost preparation. If there is experience in brewing and application to be contributed, that would be helpful as well.

From my findings so far, it appears that compost tea, though promising, requires rigid controls in compost preparation that may be difficult in developing contexts. So I am curious to see what current use and application of compost tea looks like for those in the ECHO network.

Thanks to anyone who can contribute.

–Matt–

I have used compost tea mainly for fertilizer, but one great use that my bean growing friends in Oregon swear by is for frost mitigation. They spray the compost tea as a foliar application and are able to avoid major damage from mild overnight frost.

I don’t think that any developing country would have a problem making this. If you have a bucket or a hole in the ground that can hold a small amount of water, then you can make compost tea. Finding a sprayer might be hard but you could use a bucket and rag and quickly wipe the leaves almost as fast as using a hand sprayer.

Hi Matt,

I used stinging nettle compost last year for feeding young tomato transplants. It seemed to help them be more sturdy and resilient overall during their transplant and root establishment phase.

This was in daily 90-95F heat in southern France. We kept a covered plastic bucket of it in the shade outside, so the liquid was pretty warm but not hot. As for maintenance, we started the ferment with roughly a 1:3 nettles:water mix and let sit for 7 days. Whenever running low, topped off the ferment bucket with the same ratio of ingredients and let sit for 2-7 days.
We only occasionally sprayed the plants (I agree you could just wipe it on), but frequently used a 1:5 ferment:water ratio in our watering cans.

Hi Matt
we have been using simple compost teas for over 20 years in Nepal with farmers there many of whom are subsistance farmers so it needs to be simple & cheap, basically a mix of ingredients including cow dung & urine, ash, chilli, marigold, nettle, comfrey, wormwood depending on what’s available in a plastic drum (or plastic lined pit), and it’s used as a foliar spray or added to irrigation water for soil ammendment. There’s no formal research so difficult to say what ingredient does what, and we don’t have the technology to keep it aerated (other than an occasional stir) but farmers like it and they’ve seen it control some pests (beetles, aphids and catepillars in particular) and been a valuable addition to their fertility management toolbox. We made a Farmers’ Handbook printed in Nepali that then got translated and available online see Volume 2 Chapter 10 Liquid Manure.
Hope that helps!

Last week I watched a You Tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOEyIPVn2r0) on conditioning/ innoculating biochar with compost tea. Dan Hettinger, the presenter emphasized prior feeding and aeration of the compost tea in order to multiply aerobic microbes instead of anaerobic organisms caught my attention.